When composing something melodic (I really do, sometimes), I frequently play a long passage of it on the piano. It will sound exactly as I intend. Then, I sit at my desk and write it out on paper. Lovely melody, nice, pleasant harmony and rhythm. Problem is, I can't find a way to write the rhythm as I played it. It is almost as if I had composed two separate pieces, one all melody and harmony, the other, all rhythm and harmony, and I can't make them fit, at least on paper. I have spent hours on two measures and a pickup, and have learned a bunch of things that won't do the job. Eventually, maybe next year, or? the solution will hit me. I am wondering how many other people find themselves in such a predicament and how they handle it without losing sleep. I may be awake all night because of this. ~~~Richard~~~
1. Write down an approximation of what you want
2. Record yourself playing it the right way (in MIDI or otherwise)
3. DON'T listen to the recording
4. Move on to something else (work on the rest of the piece, or something else entirely).
I find it best to not interrupt my flow when I'm writing. Just keep going and don't get bogged down with the nitty gritty until you've laid out all or most of the piece. There are plenty of time later to work out details, but if you spend hours and hours on 2 measures you'll never finish a piece.
This is easier said than done--I have a tendency to do the same thing as you--but I've found that when I just keep going I tend to write better.
Come back later to the details--there will be plenty of time for tweaking and fine tuning when you're in the final stages of composing a piece--but when you're doing the actual creation, let it go.
just my two cents. one day I'll learn to follow my own advice.
Well, what I did was to write the rhythm and melody as separate pieces. Then I discovered that both seemed to demand 4 beat bars, but one or the other had to have one beat stretched and another shortened. Good illiustration that music notation is an approximation of intention. I have tried playing it in with and then trying to read the resulting muddle, but for me, that is not a good idea. When I hit a dead end, I usually go for another cup of French Roast, then a short nap, and try again. It worked here, and I got a good night's sleep. ~~~Richard~~~
Well, what I did was to write the rhythm and melody as separate pieces. Then I discovered that both seemed to demand 4 beat bars, but one or the other had to have one beat stretched and another shortened.
In that case I'd just write "rubato" and let the performer sort it out!
I'm joking of course, but there's some truth here--dots on paper are just dots on paper, they're not music. Why go crazy trying to squeeze a beautiful, living piece of music into a 2-dimensional language that cannot possible express it properly. Most cultures have learned music purely by ear for thousands of years, and have never written it down. Sometimes I think Guido D'arezzo did music a great injustice.