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About MattGSX

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    Music Advocate
  • Birthday 12/13/1986

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  • Biography
    Student, composer, future educator, violist, and avid reader
  • Location
    Oshkosh, WI
  • Occupation
    Director of Operations + In-House Composer - E.G. Stratt Industries, LLC
  • Interests
    20th Century music, Early Music, biking, skiing, jogging, bowling, baseball, education psychology
  1. 1. Take time to learn how to read music (at least one clef). I go to a state school in what Nico has insultingly referred to as a "thrown-together composition program" (I study privately with our theory teacher/electronic music director [ASCAP/BMI/SCI awards recipient] and our artist in residence [ASCAP/BMI/SCI awards recipient]), and the entrance audition for the music dept (regardless of major/vs minor or content area) included music reading and basic theory. You have to learn it. Most guitar majors come in reading very little music, but they can still read it. I know the test for most people coming in to check for note reading was to write out "Mary Had a Little Lamb" and have the student identify the melody without playing/singing it. 2. I facepalm every time I see the phrase "I just write what sounds good". I'm sorry, but unless you have a very well-developed internal sense of pitch and harmony, it's probably not going to sound good. In your case (Your case being the OP) if you consciously can say that you write modally and that you write outside of your implied harmonies, you probably know enough theory to get by. Again, for the average "state school" audition, this will mean writing out a scale, writing a key signature, etc. 3. I don't know how it is for conservatories or the top-rated state schools, but most universities that I've checked out (including the one I attend) didn't start the actual comp track until you've gone through AT LEAST your first year in theory (2 semesters), and in some cases, 4 semesters. 4. Worry about getting into a school's music department first. Learn to read music, learn your scales (for guitar), work on your fingering technique, and learn/memorize a repertoire piece or two. It's easier to get into school than it sounds, and if you can get in as a BA or BFA student, it will be easier to get into a comp program. Again, this doesn't apply if you plan on going to a specialized music academy, but since you don't read music, I'm guessing this isn't the case.
  2. Most of the arrangers I know work directly for a publishing company, with their assistants working as interns to the publishing company (at least, this is the case for school music). I'd really consider applying to publishing companies offering your services as a copyist/arranger. I don't know how jazz/pop goes, or how independent arrangers work, so I can't offer advice in that area.
  3. Another thing to keep in mind; do you "really" need the extra money? I teach and transcribe far below what one would normally charge "professionally" because I enjoy the work and experience. Just my two cents.
  4. There are the basics of acoustics to consider, though. Keys that fall inside an instrument's natural resonance will generally sound better. For example, keys that contain the lower partials of a vibrating string instrument will sound "better" than keys that don't. this is because the open strings will vibrate sympathetically, giving the instrument a richer tone.
  5. Fair Use law DOES give schools much more latitude in how they can use copyrighted material, but since your arrangement would be reprintable and could be distributed easily, I don't think it's covered under fair use. You COULD, however, contact the copyright holder and offer them the arrangement for their distribution with conditional rights for performance. I doubt that would work, though, unless the arrangement is fantastic.
  6. I can't speak for Max, but there are several composers that DO use polytonality as a comic effect, where the audience is intended to perceive wrong notes. While it's effective, it's also hackneyed and really makes true polytonal music seem less artistically valid.
  7. Ein musikalischer Spass. It's used as a comic effect, as alluded to by the title of the piece, but it's used nonetheless. I don't have a Mahler 9 score or recording to reference, but I wouldn't be surprised. Mahler, later in his compositional output, really started pushing the envelope in terms of harmony and tonality to achieve truly linear counterpoint. Though he never went as far as his contemporaries and completely disregarded tonal centers, Mahler definitely challenged what was acceptable to the modern "large concert" audience.
  8. To take that a step further (and to clear up any confusion), I think the similarities between Williams' music in Home Alone and the Nutcracker are entirely intentional, and probably requested by the director/producer. Why else would they use the Trepak for the airport scene?
  9. You're kidding, right? Mahler used the idea of the pedal A to open the symphony, derived from Beethoven's 9th symphony (and he didn't hide it, either), at a means of showing continuation from old to new. In letters to friends, he admitted that he was structually basing his symphony upon Beethoven's 9th. Think about it, Justin - start a symphony on a long pedal, slowly build to a big climax. Pull out the choir at the end of the symphony to use the choir as a regular part of the ensemble, and not just as a solo section. If you look at early revisions of the symphony (Mahler's) the similarity and influences are more apparent (with the exception of the Blumine, which was sort of an odd duck). If you do a structural analysis, the symphonies are not entirely dis-similar. You have to remember, Mahler's 1st symphony was a work in progress for an extremely long time, and while Mahler was working on this symphony, he also spent time re-orchestrating Beethoven's symphonies to be more appropriate for the modern symphony orchestra (as did Liszt). You can see a similar transformation in Mahler's music with linear counterpoint in his later work after he started spending time re-setting Bach. So did Wagner as a conceptual basis for his operas, but Mahler took it a step further and used elements of the symphony within his own music. No, ROSSINI borrowed only from himself. Handel also lifted passages from other's work. It's actually a pretty big controversy. I'm not going to start quoting copyrighted material, but there's an article about it "Recontextualizing Handel's borrowing" in the Journal of Musicology from 1997. I know there are many more articles about it, but I don't have library access right now.
  10. Why? Even Mozart used polytonality as an effect within his music with great results.
  11. I know there are threads out there that ask "who influences your music?", but these usually turn into arguments and name-dropping. Instead, I encourage/challenge users to really sit and think about this one. What specific techniques introduced/mastered/developed by past composers do you use in your own work, in what way? I'm not looking for a "xxx composer is the best ever, and they just influence me!". I'm looking for the nitty gritty. This can include techniques a composer is famous for, as well as references to specific pieces. Hopefully, this will be a good self-examination process. 1. Schoenberg - Developing variation - I know this was done by Brahms before, but I don't feel like I owe much influence to Brahms. Developing variation refers to the technique of avoiding literal repetition or exact sequences through constant variations of the motive/melody/passage. This is something I constantly come back to and struggle with, but I feel like Schoenberg really did well. 2. Dvorak - Melodic Fragments - Rather than develop long, drawn out melodies (as was common with many other romantic and late-romantic composers), Dvorak would repeat motives and short melodic passages with differing instrumentations, keys, and variations on rhythm and other elements. Not until this idea was fully exhausted would he move on to a new idea. 3. Haydn - Brevity/Organization - Many, MANY composers have employed this same technique, but I feel like Haydn really set the standard for this. The idea of writing monothematic music that is still varied and exciting is a true challenge, and I like to refer back to his works to see how one can use a single idea and keep it fresh and exciting through an entire piece. 4. Bartok - Idiomatic writing - I'm not saying his music is easy by any means. However, Bartok truly writes music that would not "work" for any other instruments other than the ones used. This includes use of open strings, natural technique, and music really written "for" an instrument, as opposed to "being playable by" an instrument. I know I have more, but I can't think of any. YOUR TURN!
  12. (disclaimer: I am a novice to film music. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE correct me if I'm wrong) To me, it seems like orchestration would be more important than the actual composition for film music. I'm not just saying this to bash any composer, or to be argumentative, but I feel like the treatment of different instruments and coloristic effects have more of an impact on the audience than just a catchy hook. (Comment withdrawn because I was dead wrong.)
  13. Bartok "Mikrokosmos" is always a good starting point for many compositional techniques, and it certainly applies here. Bartok regularly employed the technique of "one hand plays in one key/modality, one hand plays in the other". Charles Ives took a different approach to bitonal/polytonal music (which I happen to be more fond of), and you can use it as a great exercise: write a short melody that strongly implies a certain key. Harmonize it in a different key. Try this multiple times. Try distant key relationships, or keys that share few common tones. When using polychords and multiple tonal centers (keep in mind, I'm not experienced with this), a great tool is to use different registers and/or instrumentations (at least, at first). This will help you (and the listener) discern the different tonalities. Again, this is a technique employed often by Ives, as the listener will hear the different tonalities as different groups of sound (at least, in theory). If you want a book that gives different approaches and exercises in an introductory format, I'd suggest Leon Dallin's "Twentieth Century Composition". He offers little previews (with many examples and critiques) of different techniques used in twentieth century writing, as well as exercises to explore the ideas. It's written more toward performers and educators, but I've found it to be very helpful. Hope that helps.
  14. I forgot about another one - Alec Wilder. He wrote a lot of music that crossed borders between "art" music, popular music, and jazz.
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