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About JMBMusic.net

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  1. I would strongly suggest something small. Short form, maybe reduced instrumentation, pick 3 or 4 notes that you like in sequence & try to make a melody out of them. Look at the intervals between them and try to analyze every angle of your melody. Polish, polish, polish, and make sure you look at everything you do critically. Once you have a good product to put on here, post it and let some people give you constructive criticism. I was once told by a well known band composer to write a piece about an idea, like a fire burning. Also, can't hurt to study scores to look at how they make certain sections work, voice, notate, etc.... Good luck, and keep your head up!
  2. Getting better at writing music one day at a time!

  3. I've done this a few times, but without knowing it. I'm going to try this approach more often. Thanks!!
  4. robinjessome, just to be clear. I'm talking about playing the individual parts you wrote on the piano, not on their respective instruments. I don't expect someone who plays trombone to be able to play a grade 5 piece (if thats what you wrote hypothetically) on clarinet. You might not get whats tough and whats not out of the piano, but everything else can get fixed. Whats tough/ not playable / rough spots will be fixed when a) you have an actual player play it, or b) ask for their personal input.
  5. Clearly you haven't tried playing what you wrote on your instrument. Trust me it works. It'll stop you from making stupid mistakes, and you'll understand from the players perspective what they will go through playing your music. You know the piece inside and out, they don't. Most performers could careless outside of playing their part accurately. If their part is ridiculous, say for example you write any of the saxophones playing 16th notes at the bottom of the instrument going from Bb to B to C# to C, and repeating.... You will be lucky if they tell you nicely thats not manageable. On paper, anything looks great. Need to take care of your performers. You look out for them, they'll look out for you.
  6. Interesting perspective there Ferkungamabooboo. Its definitely food for thought! Thanks!
  7. That does help! I usually use the repeat process when I'm arranging. (It drives my girlfriend nuts!) I need to keep in mind everything happens in layers and that Beethoven didn't right Symphony 9 on the first try. There were lots of revisions and steps to the end result. I guess I need to be more patient. I'm extremely comfortable with arranging. I'm arranging professionally now for college and high school marching bands. I feel that I've matured astronomically over the last few years with my arranging skills, but I need to beef up my composition skills. I think I just need to sit down and grind it out. I get nervous about writing anything anymore because everyone is so critical of everyone else in our field. College showed me that, and almost turned me off of music. I hate the pettiness of talking crap about someone. I appreciate all the help and insight. I'll be posting something here in the coming months for critique and review. My goal is to have a piece done for submission to a publishing company by april 1st, 2012. Thanks again and welcome any other advice!
  8. Writing my tail off, but enjoying every minute of it! Also awaiting my new computer.... c'mon fedex!!

  9. Well it would be difficult if you were to use this technique for a Miles Davis type setting. I however won't have that issue because I do not write jazz. I have arranged it for marching band, and know some of the jazz theory, but as for big band that is not my area of focus. I focus on the concert band, marching band, and drum corps mediums. I don't think that this technique that I suggest for band would work in a jazz setting where its more free. Might be good to test it, but with jazz there is so much openness and creativity from the individual it would be virtually impossible to get anything close to accurate on how the performance would go.
  10. Greetings! So heres where I'm having issues. I can come up with a section of music. Might be a big moment, or something that might be good as a middle section that is not a climatic part of the song. I'm having issues developing the material in-between, and struggling with form a bit. Am I over thinking things when it comes to form? Or should I just let the music happen. My gut says yes I'm over thinking things, and I need to let the music happen. I've studied Eric Whitacres October a lot, and he takes simple ideas and makes them into something huge. Any tips for this besides practice practice practice? What is everyone else doing to develop their material? Obviously their are numerous techniques like retrograde, augmentation, diminution, etc.... but is their a specific approach you use when going about it? Thanks!
  11. Oh no no no it doesn't create Beethoven like piano harmonies. The harmonies are what you make of it. The goal of playing everything into the piano is to check part writing, and the individual parts to make sure they are correct. You can find missing dynamic markings, articulations, wrong notes, missing accidentals, etc.... from that plus you can (in some cases) see how your orchestration is and maybe adjust the chord for a better purpose (more /less powerful). Harmonies are what you should get from playing notes on the keyboard, not from this method of checking your parts. If you go to my soundcloud page: http://soundcloud.com/john-brennan, you can hear at least in the first 4 tracks tunes I have wrote for marching band. I played through every part in the piano to check it, and you can definitely tell its a marching band arrangement and not beethoven like. The more you plan off the page, the better the product, and the greater chance of success you will have. Not sure if I follow your, "Or are there ways to strip the method from the result?" comment/question. I hope this answers your question!
  12. I'm writing this post in response to several people who have wrote things in their respective notation software that sound great in the program, but would not work out in real life. I'm not writing this at all to slam anyone nor will name names. Everyone has been guilty of this one time or another including myself! I want to give you a few things to think about when you place notes in the computer and hope that will help you with a better product. It will present challenges for you when you start thinking along these lines, but it will be well worth it in the end ESPECIALLY if your end goal is to become well known and make a living writing. Who are you writing for: First you need to decide who you are writing for. Middle School Band, High School, The middle ground between MS / HS, your top HS Band that can play low end college music, Professionals? If you don't know the answer to this stop what you are writing and assess what you have done and make a decision on what level. If you are not sure what level your piece is look at other concert band works, orchestral, etc... and figure out what its similar. That can help but not be the end result. Physical Pacing / Limitations: Think about if you were playing your music. If you have piece that is 5 minutes long and you don't have a single rest in the whole song try playing it, or have a friend who plays that instrument play through it. I'm certain they won't make it. Trumpets can NOT Wail the entire time. Not even college, drum corps, top level high school, etc can have their trumpets above the staff 24-7 when playing. It doesn't work. The Drum Corps when they play high they pace everything so that they a) lead up to the high note, and b) they aren't off the staff immediately on a power chord. Not saying you can't write it, but write it when the music calls for it. If its a big moment, go for it, but don't keep them up their forever. Woodwinds can NOT play 32nd not runs at a moderate - fast tempo forever. If you want to write varying rhythms, dove tail (so that it sounds like running 32nd notes but a part might play 8 3nd notes then an 8th note that is short, and another part will play the same thing just offset by an 8th note). Also check the register, and see where the runs lie on the instrument. If you don't know if its a bad range or not ask someone who plays the instrument to look at it, or have them play it. I play through everything on the piano. I usually write in concert pitch, and play each part (recorded) into the keyboard and listen to play back. This a) lets me mark my scores and make corrections bc I see the individual part, and b) allows me to hear it by a different playback method. It has some issues compared to finale, but also fixes some things that I can't hear in finale that I know through experience will be there in real life. You will learn a lot about voice leading, part writing, if its a fun part, etc... by playing through your own music. Its extremely important and is a great use of quality control. Stay humble, write with emotion, stay self critical, and smart about what you write and you will go far. I plan everything out on paper (sections, form, keys, who's playing what where) before I put notes into the computer or down on paper. I know my music in my head inside and out before I write on the computer. Sometimes what I have planned doesn't work out, but the more I plan ahead the faster I get a product out with higher quality and I'm getting more accurate with it. Its my system, it works for me, but the planning stage is the common ground for all great writers. Plan ahead, but the music dictates what is right. Hope this helps!
  13. Awesome help guys! I'm trying to stay away from "normal" secondary dominants i.e. V/V (ex: C major modulating to G major, I V/V (D major chord), and bam new key to G). Sometimes those type of mod's don't work with marching bands, but it just depends on how they are approached I guess. By don't work I mean they work harmonically but they are just a little cheesy with them (or they are for my taste). After listening to a lot of drum corp some modulate with more crazy chords like using bVII's in different keys and having the new tonic pedal so for example ( Eb major to Bb Major. simple progression in Eb: I -> IV -> V (just root) then add the Ab Major Chord (IV in Eb / bVII in Bb) then add a F (M6) to the chord almost giving it a function of a minor v7 in Bb and then bam! resolve to Bb. My main goal is to improve my marching band writing. thats where my career has led me and that is to be my main focus. if you want to check out some of my music look at my website! http://jmbmusic.net Any other suggestions are definitely welcome!
  14. So I was thinking about my strengths and weaknesses, and what I need to do to improve my writing. One area I seem to struggle with is modulations. I can't write a smooth modulation to save my life. Now I know that modulations and being in your initial key, and moving to another key has to have a purpose. I do a lot of marching band writing so modulating for power ranges of different instruments, and maximizing impact for the brass is important. Anyone have any suggestions on different exercises on how to work on the different types of modulations? (please don't suggest putting a drum break and then direct mod. been there done that ;) ) Anyone want to share tips on how to modulate more smoothly? I'm becoming a fan more and more of common tone modulations. :) Thanks Everyone! -Cheers
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