I was a little hesitant about posting this, as I wasn’t sure if it would be considered the right place. But then it is rather a ‘general’ question so I guess it’ll be fine here. Anyway...
Music has jumped back into the foreground in my life recently, and I’m currently making a start on my A Level music composition task. I’m writing for a string orchestra with a little bit of percussion (timpani and cymbals), and I feel I’ve made a decent start. But I can’t help but feel rather inexperienced with this whole composing thing – as indeed I am. I’ve read various materials on music writing, including some of the lessons in this forum’s interactive ‘Principles of Orchestration’ (notably the sections for melody and harmony with strings). I’ve also studied four part harmony at school, and I have a good idea of chords and inversions for major and minor keys and suchlike.
But for all that, I find I’ve never been given a great deal of guidance about the process of composing. After all, it’s not something they really teach at school. What I’d really like to know is how people here work; in particular, how do you get from the idea in your head to a finished piece?
I’m aware that a lot of composers write piano sketches before orchestrating their work. For those here that do this, I was wondering how detailed you make these sketches before orchestrating. Do you just write down the melody and a chord structure underneath, or is virtually every note that would be in the final piece written in the piano sketch? If the latter applies, how has each voice been developed from a simple framework of chords?
Some of these questions may be a little awkward to answer without giving me an entire lecture, but all I really want to know is how composers here would describe the process – what happens between the mental idea and the finished piece?
Thanks for your time, and a very happy New Year to you all!