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Topic: How do you compose.. Chronologically?

  1. #1

    How do you compose.. Chronologically?

    I know this has been posted in every forum known to mankind (at least the music ones). But I have to ask: How do you guys compose?

    The reason I ask is because I sat down to write a Waltz (inspired by Waltz of the Flowers by Tchaikovsky), and the ORDER in which I wrote it was... umm f00ked up... as they say hehe

    But then I thought... wait a minute, self.. Is the order really messed up? Who is to say what in order you are supposed to write? I wonder what othe...

    And then it dawned on me, like a fat kid realizing he shouldn\'t play dodge-ball, that I should stop. Take a breath. And seek the wonderful advice of this here forum (The fat kid would probably seek advice elsewhere).

    Anyways, with that said. I wrote it in this order: 1st theme, chorus (the second theme that I wrote turned out to be the chorus), 2nd theme, 3rd theme, transition from 4th to 1st (i had the end of the 4th theme in mind), 4th theme. I\'ve yet to write the intro, and the very end recapitulation part.


    - juNkroscopy

  2. #2

    Re: How do you compose.. Chronologically?

    OK I\'ll bite. I don\'t know how much I can help here, I don\'t really know what I\'m thinking. But I will just start and see where it all goes.

    There is no real set way that I approach composing when I\'m doing it for fun or my own pleasure. The majority of my work has been \"for hire\" and I usually don\'t have the luxury of more that 60 seconds of silence to fill. I call my approach to this particular scenario the \"Letter to Your Boss\" approach.

    If you\'re going to write a letter to your boss, you usually don\'t dilly dally around with the \"Hi how are you? What are you up to?\" and you don\'t let yourself stray from the subject. It\'s probably going to be more \"to the point\" and after your boss is done reading the letter, he\'s going to take an action on it. You have to decide before you write the letter what action it is that you want him to take. Every word in your letter should support that action. Am I making sense?

    So somebody comes to me and says \"I need this type of music\" or \"I want to excite the listener\" or \"I need this to sound like I\'m walking into the land of the dinosaurs\" (don\'t laugh that last one actually happened). I generally start by listening to my brain. If there is a melody, I work off of that. Sometimes it\'s a strong change that I build around. Sometimes it\'s an atmosphere that I\'m trying to create. But everything I write and every instrument I use supports that feeling or mood or \"action\" that I want the listener to feel or do.

    I think I\'m writing myself into a hole, and I don\'t know what good it\'s doing. I don\'t think I have ever written a piece of music the way you are describing. Find the melody or the change that you like and build around it. Listen to what\'s coming next and figure out how to make it happen. Each person is going to approach each task differently, and I don\'t think there\'s a right or wrong way to do it. Make sure each note supports your main goal (oh, I forgot, make sure you have your main goal in mind first).

    So like I said, probably no help whatsoever. And after I post this I\'ll read it back and ask myself what in the hell I\'m talking about.

    Are you sorry you asked yet?


  3. #3

    Re: How do you compose.. Chronologically?

    Well, I haven\'t been asked to write anything short yet (i.e. student film music or the like), so what I compose is usually around 5 minutes in length, and is usually done for fellow students who want something fresh on their recital.

    The order in which I normally compose is this:
    1. <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Have an idea of what kind of music is desired (either the person who \"commisioned\" the work lets me know what they want, or I have free reign and do my own thing).</font>
    2. <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">On a keyboard compose a few themes (usually up to five, but no less than two) including harmonic progressions (block chords notated above the staff).</font>
    3. <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">The next step is to plan out the music ahead of time. I make a sketch on a timeline, of sorts. What will the intro be like, if any? How many variations will the first theme go through? In transitioning to the second (and later) themes, do I want to change the mood? How (tempo, change of key)? In the resolution of the piece, do I want to revive a previous theme, or will everything just fade out?</font>
    4. <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Only once the sketch is done (and it\'s nothing fancy, just a really braod and general idea of a plan) do I sit down at the keyboard again and begin writing, referencing the sketch continuously. I write using Finale and a keyboard controller (and recently GPO as the synth since it\'s so nice to hear a very good approximation of how my instrumentation reacts in real-time).</font>
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">I hope that helps!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Kauai, Hawaii, USA

    Re: How do you compose.. Chronologically?

    All of the above!

    TylerWBennett’s suggestions are excellent, as are FossMan’s and those of Cerrabore!

    Sometimes, if I’m in an exploratory mood, I sit at the MIDI keyboard and choose a tempo, set a “click” in Cubase, pick an appropriate basic instrument (usually piano of “full strings”) and just start recording. I also use the SCORE capabilities of Cubase SX (2) and print out the “noodlings” (either before or after tweaking/editing) and then mark up things that I want to change and/or eleminate. I print out scores of scores! For me, it’s very helpful to see the rendering of those notes on the page.

    And sometimes I’m riding along in the car and start orchestrating something in my head. In those cases, if I’m lucky, I’ll grab a pad and jot down a melody line and/or chord progression so that when I get back to my studio space I can get it “down”.

    i hope this helps ... kev

  5. #5

    Re: How do you compose.. Chronologically?

    I write three or four versions of something, then forget about the whole piece, then redo it a couple months later, forget about it, then a few months later say, \"Hey, the earlier versions of that sure did suck, but I can make a much better one now!\" etc., etc.

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