Music By Jason

Music By Jason Forums => The Composers' Workshop => Topic started by: Goliath on September 12, 2005, 05:13:03 PM



Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Goliath on September 12, 2005, 05:13:03 PM
Ok, when I listen to most of your guys' music, I hear not...set instruments.  Let me explain.  You start writing a song, and add what instruments you feel are necessary to make the piece sound good.  However, when I write, I say to myslef, "I want to write a song for X amount of  Y instruments in Z key..." etc.  I play around with the instruments, keys, and time signatures until I figure out exactly what I want to have.  Should I be doing this differently?  Thanks for any advice.


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: NightShader on September 12, 2005, 05:21:43 PM
Everytime when I'm starting to compose a new song, I take some approach. One time other than the other...

There really is no 'one way' to do it... just do it the way you think is best for you, and makes you reach the goal you've set for yourself.

And if you don't have a goal... just play around, and be happy ^_^.
Music is about fun after all... isn't it?


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Anonymous on September 17, 2005, 01:10:45 AM
Process varies from composer to composer. Composing for 'set' instruments is more maleable when you are working at a computer. Being able to write with hundreds of instruments in your back pocket, so to speak, is really fun. Instrumentation in concert music composition, however, is more difficult to stretch when you don't have unlimited budget. You're not going about it the wrong way, bro, you are going about it YOUR way. Don't let anyone tell you what you'e doing is wrong.  8)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Melda on September 17, 2005, 06:27:32 AM
Quote from: "Adam"
You're not going about it the wrong way, bro, you are going about it YOUR way. Don't let anyone tell you what you'e doing is wrong.  8)

Unless of course you're engraving the notes into the air, without any music being recorded for performance. (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/lol.gif)

But to be more serious, I agree with Adam. Every composer has their own way of writing, and although I think it's interesting to learn how others write their music, I do think it is important to go about it however feels right to you.

Of course, if a method someone else is using makes more sense to you, then I guess there's no harm in adopting the method -- that old reinventing the wheel axiom. (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/smile.gif)

That said, something that works very well for me, is to come up with a plan of what I'm trying to accomplish, and how I'm going to do it (squiggly lines, vague scribbles, and text are often easier to give an approximation of what you're trying to achieve, without getting tied up with details in the beginning (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/smile.gif)). But once the plan is made, whether I follow it or not is pretty much irrelevant (depending on the situation, of course). Being flexible, and allowing inspiration to take you wherever it will is very important I think. However, the whole point of devising a plan, is as far as I'm concerned, merely to get you thinking about what you're doing, and setting mechanisms into motion in your mind.

Like I said, that's what works well for me (as opposed to throwing dots on the page without any groundwork), but as Adam pointed out, everyone has their own ways of going about things that work best for them.

So: figure out what works best for you, and if you're happy with the results, stick with it! (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/grin.gif)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Anonymous on September 18, 2005, 01:08:27 AM
Quote from: "Melda"
Like I said, that's what works well for me (as opposed to throwing dots on the page without any groundwork)


Cage bugs me, too.


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: MostlyDifferent on September 18, 2005, 12:47:39 PM
Quote from: "Adam"

Cage bugs me, too.


Cage had some great concepts.  It's just that there's only one piece of his I really care to listen to...


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Melda on September 18, 2005, 01:16:12 PM
Quote from: "MostlyDifferent"
Quote from: "Adam"

Cage bugs me, too.


Cage had some great concepts.  It's just that there's only one piece of his I really care to listen to...

Is it 4'33"? (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/lol.gif)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Goliath on September 18, 2005, 02:33:55 PM
Thanks for the input guys  :)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Anonymous on September 19, 2005, 01:09:13 AM
HAHAHAHAAAA!!!!

Melda, you crack me up.

I can respect whatever music you may be into, Mostly (Alex), but unfortunately I can't respect 'great concepts' without equally as incredible realizations.

Maybe I'm a punk for tonality, but hey, I'm one of the many composers that would actually like to make money. :wink:  :D


Title: Money!?
Post by: SnakeEyes on September 19, 2005, 08:40:13 PM
Composers.... make... money?!?  :shock:


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: MostlyDifferent on September 19, 2005, 09:44:34 PM
Darn, Melda, you guessed it!

Indeed, Adam.  My complaint with Cage is always "Oh wow, that's such a cool idea.  If only it didn't sound like crap."  Like Boulez' Structures 1A.  Cool idea.  Sounds like crap.

One of my complaints (of which I have very many) of modernists (e.g. Boulez) and closet modernists (e.g. Cage) is that they try to invent a new system, write one lousy piece with it, then abandon it.  Imagine if we defined Western tonality by the first thing some random monk sang.  Sucks.

I think that any of the systems these "make a system" composer-types create can be made to sound really cool and have great stuff.  That they write one piece and abandon it without really investigating how to make it sound cool is disappointing.  Given time and a bunch of trial and error, I think there could be lots of cool stuff.  But we seem to prefer one of two extremes:  Invent a new kind of wheel that you can't figure out how to roll yet, or stick with a system where you know how it works.

I bet I could make a really cool-sounding piece using the exact same setup Boulez did with Structures 1A, or with one of Cage's bizarre inventions, given time and a few tries.  Perhaps I'll try my hand at becoming a PDQ Stockhausen.

Great concepts are a dime a dozen.  Cage just happened to get through to the musical world with the "look at this traditionally unmusical thing, I and my mushroom forest declare it musical!" concept.  For me, Cage suggests that random can be more musical than note perfection.  And he also gives permission for people to listen to things other than notes on a page.  And for me, I'm perfectly happy to do that outside of the concert hall.  Which is why I'm always smiling at shopping malls and around ridiculous arguments.

Also, largely because of Cage, we can now have very LONG boring pieces that are declared masterpieces because they are supposedly in tune with Eastern philosophy, never mind that the composer likely just heard about Eastern philosophy in an article s/he once skimmed, probably regarding an equally boring piece.


Title: Funny and true story
Post by: SnakeEyes on September 20, 2005, 12:01:11 AM
Ok.... on that subject, I don't remember if it was here that I heard it, or if I read it somewhere else, but someone was talking about how some "composer" put everybody on stage and they were just completely silent for some duration of time, and that was his musical piece... silence.

To that I say the same thing I say about modern art (sculpture and painting): any child can do that.

I always say that around here and I will continue saying it, there is a reason Bach/Mozart/Beethoven are considered "immortals" and also there is a reason we study "Classical" music... the name that stuck with what we study is because of Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven and like Brahms used to say: "If Haydn/Mozart/Beethoven/Brahms did something, you do it too". At least, that is my approach to what I want to do.

Just my 2 cents.


Title: Composition
Post by: groovecentral on September 24, 2005, 10:33:04 AM
As much as it is great to develop 'your way' of doing things, there are certain approaches that are tried and tested and can make things a lot easier and quicker (ie you don't get stuck as much).

Choose your cast. You are definitely on the right track choosing your instrumentation first. Then, come up with your themes. Sometimes it helps to write the notes out and move them around to see how your melody changes.

Then you can start harmonising or building up your theme. Working this way will allow you much more freedom. I'm looking at things like phrase structure in Beethoven at the moment and just analysisng a piano sonata and seeing how he expands his musical themes has given me a whole heap of inspiration.

Yes you can just sit down and see what comes out, but in the long run, having an understanding of how to work with musical phrases, adapting themes and tying that in to a narrative (if you are writing for a story, game, whatever) will get you much futher.

It really is so easy to buy a couple of sample CD's or sound libraries and produce something half decent, that to get ahead of the crowd (and there is a big crowd) you have to (in my opinion) go that bit further.

Writing is an art, but doing it everyday will build up your 'muscles'. Go for it.


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Anonymous on September 25, 2005, 03:54:07 PM
Alex...true. Good call.

Groove...very academic response, brother. It is assumed that Goliath has already met those prereqs. It would be a folly to lose connection with your compositional ancestry, but the reality is, there is no 'compositional methodology'. Only theory and harmonic study. You can't TEACH composition (any more than one can teach inspiration), though analysis CAN be taught. Therefore, when Goliath asks if he's doing things the 'right' way, the answer is, as long as he's coming up with material, yes. Maybe you've found the golden ticket, but as far as I'm concerned, composition technique can NOT be institutionalized, broken down, or taught. It is what it is! I'm sure most would agree?

 8)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Melda on September 25, 2005, 04:02:48 PM
I agree with Adam. Lessons with my composition teacher are more used for 'guidance', and directing me to measures of thought that I may have not considered before, and recommending that I listen to certain musics which may expand my musical sound world -- usually relevant to whatever music I am planning to work on next.


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Goliath on September 25, 2005, 07:01:16 PM
Quote from: "Melda"
Lessons with my composition teacher are more used for 'guidance', and directing me to measures of thought that I may have not considered before, and recommending that I listen to certain musics which may expand my musical sound world -- usually relevant to whatever music I am planning to work on next.


Yes, but you see, I do not have a composition teacher...I only play one instrument in the top band of my school, and I'm trying to be as musically involved as I can, because I figure that the more music I hear, the more tricks I can pick up to use in my own work.  I do not play the piano, because the only piano we have is old and broken and I can't afford lessons.  (I want to learn the piano so very badly though! :( )  I'm only a sophomore in high school yet there are so many things I want to do with composing later in my life.  The compositions I do now...I don't even know where or how I come up with them  :wink: but I try to use the skills I've learned since I first started playing.  You say it's unteachable, but somehow I think there is a lot more I need to learn before I can really start composing real music.   So for now, I'm just trying out and seeing what methods work for me and what doesn't.

Thanks for all the info guys  :)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Anonymous on September 25, 2005, 08:06:38 PM
Yes, Goliath, as a high-school student you need to be listening to lots of music in order to make your own opinions on what you like and don't like. Then, in college, you'll be able to do some of the things that Groove suggested. Composition CAN'T be taught! Ask ANY comp student, and they'll agree (mostly!). The things you're 'missing' you'll get in college...harmony, form, analysis, exposure, opinions...they all come later. Now, just listen and write whatever you can. Process comes later.


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Melda on September 25, 2005, 08:15:07 PM
Agreed. Otherwise you're in danger of becoming institutionalised, and becoming a compositional machine, rather than a composer.

At your stage it's probably best to just feel your way around, instead of thinking. "Feel, don't think". Once you've felt around a bit, then you can start trying to refine your skills, but it is important to play around a bit first. Try everything. And have fun with it. (http://forums.samods.org/html/emoticons/grin.gif)


Title: Am I going about this the wrong way?
Post by: Goliath on September 26, 2005, 05:43:24 PM
:)  Thanks guys.  I shall do that.