Tag Archives: compositions

Orchestrated version of ‘Innocence’

I decided to release a second video this week – something I’ve been working on and was too excited to fit into my usual schedule of one video per week!

I’ve been working on orchestrating some of my piano music recently (the first ones were Theme of Oppression and To Arms!, though the latter is a rock arrangement rather than an orchestration. I’ve got a few compositions in progress and have been figuring out what works when it comes to combining instruments and learning a little about how they’re played as I go along. I’ll make a more thorough study of orchestration when I’ve experimented more by myself, as I’m a firm believer in having some practical knowledge to stick the theory to.

The video this week is an wind and strings version of ‘Innocence’. I say version, as I believe that it’s worth making multiple versions of the same piece of music to explore the many different ways that a melody or harmonic progression can go. Arnold Schoenberg advocated a systematic approach to composition in his education materials, exhausting all of the possibilities that you can think of, and Moshe Feldenkrais designed his Awareness Through Movement classes in such a way that you try a whole bunch of different variations of movement that are “wrong”, but they give your nervous system more information to work with and allow you to find new ways of moving outside of the habitual.

Soundtracks often have many variations of the same compositions, to give a sense of coherency to the story and characters and is particularly effective in video games. I remember Jak II adding an extra layer of rhythmic elements over the existing music whenever you drew a weapon and finding that really raised the tension. More recently A Hat in Time impressed me with just how many versions of every piece of music it has – as you move around the levels and encounter different characters, the instrumentation changes to reflect the mood.

I’ll link the original piano version of this composition, so you can easily compare the two. I’d be glad to hear what people think works in each version, ad whether people have a preference for one or the other. If you use YouTube, please consider subscribing, and let me know what you think in the comments.

Performance of my composition, Grief

Hi, everybody! I have a new video on my YouTube channel – me performing my own composition, Grief. This piece is a variation on another one of mine called Innocence – they’re both themes for a character, but Grief is the minor key version of Innocence. Not all is dark and depressing in it, though – I aimed to capture how it feels to work through one’s feelings of Loss, and memories of good times gone by.

If you enjoyed the performance, please consider subscribing to my channel!

Time of the Oppressed – performance video

Hello, everyone!

I have a new video this week, which is a performance of one of my own compositions – the one that started my journey as a composer. I actually wrote the initial draft of it back in 2013 and it’s gone through multiple revisions over the years before I settled on this one. If you’ve listened to my recent album, you’ll know it already. Despite having written it so long ago, I think that it’s still one of the strongest melodies that I’ve written.

When I first wrote it, I was experimenting with polyrhythms – I didn’t have much experience with them but knew that I wanted to use them to increase the sense of something not quite being right in the repeat of section A in this piece. Writing them into was pretty easy, but I struggled with playing them at the time.

Since then, I’ve explored how to practise polyrhythms fairly extensively. I’m in the process of writing the script for a video dealing with how to effectively practise them, though it’ll take a while because it’s the first of this kind of video that I’m planning to make. Does anyone have any notable polyrhythms that they struggled with (or are struggling with)?

Also, which other topics would you like to see teaching videos about?

To Arms! – proof of concept video

I’m excited to announce that I have a new video on my YouTube channel! This one contains a rock arrangement of one of my earlier piano tracks, titled ‘To Arms!’. For anyone that prefers rock to solo piano, this is for you! If you’re a fan of epic (in the original sense of the word) guitar solos, please have a listen. The solo in this piece was written by the fantastic Ainsley Stones, (who plays in the band Girl Gone Bad), and is the first of two collaborations we’ve done recently.

There’s a link in the video description to my Soundcloud page, which has a version without the sound effects from the game.

I’m a fan of making multiple arrangements of the same piece of music (I love the classical form Variations on a Theme), as I think there’s so many different directions a melody or harmony could be taken in. I hope that this rock version can provide an interesting demonstration for my pupils when compared to the original piano version (see below) for how different two arrangements can sound, while still keeping the same essence.

Theme of Oppression proof of concept video

Another new video is up on my YouTube channel. This one is my attempt to integrate one of my compositions into a video game level. Actually, this is a remade version of a composition that I wrote back in 2013 that inspired me to take up composing more seriously, though it took until the recent pandemic for me to really start focusing on it.

The game is in the style of 90s JRPGs (Japanese Role-Playing Games), such as the Final Fantasy series. My intention is that the music matches the visuals and dialogue and helps convey the story and emotion.

Let me know if you think I succeeded in this. Does the video feel oppressive, as the track name states?

Piano Variations on We Wish You a Merry Christmas

This week I released a set of variations that I wrote on the theme of We Wish You a Merry Christmas. They’re available on my Bandcamp as ‘pay what you like’ (i.e. free if you want, just enter 0 when asked to choose the price) along with the sheet music: https://nicholasowen-petch.bandcamp.com/…/variations-on…

They’re also up on my YouTube channel:

And just went up on Spotify today: https://open.spotify.com/album/39rHITso7TKVvLtZXTaM8j…

Let me know if you enjoy them and please pass them on to anyone that you think might like them.

Variations on We Wish You a Merry Christmas

Since Christmas is on the way, I thought I’d dig out a set a variations that I wrote on the theme of We Wish You a Merry Christmas years ago for a pupil of mine. She was from China and not really familiar with traditional English Christmas carols, or with much in the way of Western Classical music, so I wrote these variations as a way of combining both of those things.

They are very (very) loosely in the styles of Bach, Clementi, Schubert and Beethoven, but are only pastiches aiming to evoke the feeling of those composers – if anyone who knows their music well takes a look, I’m sure they’ll be able to pick them apart. My original plan was to write a couple more variations in Romantic styles – if anyone is interested in hearing that, let me know and I’ll give it a shot.