Letters of an Empath

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The theme presented for this piece was a response to violence, with the ensemble being the Debussy Trio (flute, viola, harp). My approach was based around a balance of violent outbursts and calm reflections, being recounted as though reading a letter. The experience of writing for the harp for the first time was definitely a bit of a challenge, but it was a greater challenge to make these instruments come together in interesting ways!

The recording for this one experienced a number of technical issues - I've done my best to clean up the majority of those things, but some of them cannot be worked around. This was recorded in early December of last year, but I've been holding off on it because I wasn't sure how I felt about the music. However, seeing as I'd like to treat Newgrounds as more of a "sketchbook environment", I don't see the harm in it.

Hope you enjoy!

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I absolutely love it

Deemo-R responds:

Thank you <3

It's nice getting to hear one of your own compositions on here! I might argue that NG isn't the best place for contemporary classical stuff, because people here tend to shy away from stranger modern stuff like this (A comment about jazz having lots of wrong notes comes to mind lol). On the other hand, if you'd like to post 'sketchbook' kind of stuff here, then by all means go ahead! Just don't necessarily expect most people to know what's going on compositionally haha.

As for the piece itself, nice job! Some of the combinations of sounds were able to get were very nice. Especially the combinations of the viola pizz. with the plucked harp, they made for a nice background/accompanimental element against the flute. The main bit of critique I could offer would be to make the distinctions between the 'violent' sections and the calming ones more distinct. The opening REALLY caught my attention with the intense dissonance and sfz attack. Some of the subsequent sections still had a bit of that 'violence' but it felt like it kept getting weaker each time until it the two starting blending together a bit too much. I think you could have gone even more intensely with the 'violent' sections later on to really create contrast.

Overall, really beautiful piece! Always enjoy hearing your music! :D


Deemo-R responds:

Thanks a ton, Collin! Honestly, I've considered the "audience disparity" issue for quite a while, but eventually I came to the conclusion that I might as well have something to post rather than nothing. The users of NG are relatively hands-off when it comes to content they aren't interested in, so I think it's a pretty safe place for some experimentation; perhaps not a ton, but I don't have a massive following to worry about here. I dually appreciate the comments I do receive on pieces like this, regardless of the theoretical knowledge they may possess - I think there's some value to be seen in those perspectives as well.

It's been a while since I worked on the music, but I remember this being a really stop-and-start writing process. Without getting into too much detail, the pieces were made for this theme, which was actually part of a project for a graduate dance group. What I originally sent them was a mockup of the section starting at 2:37, which they enjoyed. Following up on it with the full piece, they seemed to want the response leaning more on the side of "a response encouraging emotional recovery", so I kept the sections following the initial "violent outburst" a bit lower. It may have also been part of my thought process in development, but I can't remember too well. I do know that I ended up writing in the program notes that 0:37 was "the act of violence" and everything following it was the response of another person, but that was a bit of post-mortem makeup application, lol. The section around 3:40 is really the only other "violent" section I'd identify, but the whole recording around that part is a bit of a mess. It's both a funny and really sad story - sad for me at the time, but kind of funny in retrospect. Regardless, I think your point still stands - if I had brought more of the "violent" timbres to the table in certain sections (and potentially cut down on a few others) I think the cohesion of the piece would improve quite a lot. I wish it were easier to get players together for an ensemble like this, because I've heard quite a lot of beautiful things from it. The other student pieces were also fantastic, and some of them make me feel like I have a lot of catching up to do!

You're too kind, thanks so much for the constructive criticism! Always appreciated in my book!

Yeah, in my opinion it's kind of a bit more dissonances here than it should be (it would be more calming if it didn't have so much of them). I don't actually feel the overall form, it's a bit messy, the rhythm is changing too constantly.

It would be tough to say it's a little boring because well it's just three instruments and they sound as good as it's possible. But it's just five minutes of them.

Changes of c-moll with gis-moll are executed pretty well, except H more sounding like C in cis-moll in the viola part (I'm talking about the bit at 03:55).

But these are all some small things about it. Overall the soundtrack really sounds like it was done at a pretty high level. Keep up the good work.

Deemo-R responds:

Some of the rhythmic stuff comes from the conductor's interpretation, but yeah, there's a lot of change in activity happening here. Even though form isn't quite the focus of the piece here, it would be a lie to say that the resulting compositional structure is entirely intentional. I'm very much to form what the DCEU is to cinematic universes: earnest, trying to find success based on the models of others, but often missing the point and creating something with a lot of strong elements placed in all the wrong spots. It's probably one of my weakest aspects as a student writer, so I'm not too surprised to hear that criticism. The dissonance is - for the most part - an aspect of the piece. What you notice in the viola is coming from the fact that it was having a difficult time staying in tune in the environment where we were located. Unfortunately it's a bit pitchy, but the general lines are still intact. One of my most likely faults in this piece was not using more dissonance, so that it could become as common a part of the experience as the consonance. I get where you're coming from on this. I also understand that feeling of being tired of the sound by the end of the piece - I've heard quite a bit of music that can feel that way. It's usually a personal thing, but I always appreciate knowing where people stand on it.

Thanks so much for taking the time to critique, it's very helpful! :)

this is so f*cking good dude! nice work

Deemo-R responds:

Hey, thanks so much! Really glad you liked it! :D

Credits & Info


4.96 / 5.00

Mar 19, 2018
12:17 PM EDT
File Info
6.5 MB
5 min 41 sec

Licensing Terms

Please contact me if you would like to use this in a project. We can discuss the details.