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Everything posted by SSC

  1. I didn't say you are or aren't creative. I don't care either way, but you know composing is 90% hard work and 10% creativity. This is something you can practice.
  2. I literally meant that I don't know what difference you're making between "copying" and "rewriting." Explain what each means exactly since I don't understand. Copying is note-per-note copying? or is that rewriting? ??? I'm pretty sure there's enough analysis books out there on that, but there's no better way to study it than to study the stuff you want to imitate. Harmony, form, etc etc. What's so hard about that??
  3. It can help you, but if you want to get "better" at composing, you need to actually compose. Studying history and all this stuff is good and all, but you need to be composing every day, even if just exercises.
  4. Studying and composing are two different things really, so don't worry about that. If anything, letting stuff influence you at the start is a good idea and kind of natural for everyone.
  5. I don't know really, we'd have to ask him. But I think it's a procedure, like making Fugue subjects. Once he probably figure out a theme motive he liked, he could then figure out what kind of theme it would be and the general proportions. The typical proportions are 8(usually 4+4) measures and 16 measures, but this can change depending on the composer and the time period. You can also ask me about specific examples, if you have anything in specific in mind.
  6. So, the main "Sonata" type form used in the first movements works like this: Exposition -> Development -> Reprise. It's a long-form A-B-A, but within each segment you can have an arc form on its own. For example, expositions have 2 themes with a bridge and often a repetition, so that's a mini- ABA form right there in the exposition. You can do the same for the end at the reprise too. Development parts are much more free-form, and they depend greatly on composer taste. Usually the imply modulations and so on, but beyond that it's hard to generalize.
  7. What's the difference? No, not at all. I don't know what you're saying doesn't exist. This is all sort of weird since people have learned how to compose in specific styles for hundreds of years by just copying stuff in that style until you become familiar with it. I don't think it's any different with literature.
  8. Oh. Well, as it is, the best way to study those forms is to copy what already exists. That's the best and most effective way to do it, so I don't think a tutorial or... example? would matter. I mean examples are the pieces we already have in the literature, so what kind of examples are you talking about?
  9. I mean you can hammer it out in, what, three to six months if you just keep practicing? Keep writing variation exercises and you'll get pretty good at all sorts of things. My favorite exercise is doing "bridges." Take some random Mozart piece and some random Debussy thing and compose a bridge between one to the other. Pick some arbitrary measure and keep your bridge within 20 measures or so. Like, say, from measure 10 of Mozart's first piano sonata to measure 23 of Dr Gradus ad parnasum. This stuff really gets your brain working, imo.
  10. Think of it this way: when you're composing something, you're trying to solve problems. What problems? Problems like: What instruments? What form, what harmony? And each of those questions branches into more specific questions and this goes on until you have your piece written down. I don't think any composer is any more special than anyone else, we're all people trying to our best with whatever we have available in the short time we have on earth, right? Some guys got a head start (Mozart) some died tragically too early (Mozart,) some went literally crazy (Schumann) and some just didn't give a damn (...that's a lot of people I could name here. Let's go with Schubert for consistency's sake.) But each person will solve those problems in a slightly different way, right? That's what makes each individual composer unique, even if everything else is generally the same. The process they use to tackle each of those questions changes the outcome and everyone has its own method. Two concrete examples from literature: Schumann's second movement of his Piano Concerto and Liszt's "prelude and fugue on BACH". What's the problem we're looking at? The problem of the "second movements." This was a pretty big deal back then since nobody knew what the hell to do with the second movement of big long-form works like symphonies and so on. You see, during the Vienna classic (Haydn Mozart Beethoven, sort of) the idea of the second movement was to balance out the first. In practical terms, the musical complexity would decrease as the piece would go on. So second and third (and fourth, etc) movements were often much simpler than the first movement. This is why forms such as Rondos, Minuets (and trio), Scherzos, etc would be used instead of the main sonata form. However, as time went on, this paradigm changed and the second movement began losing its purpose. Also, composers were using the sonata form in all the movements, ignoring the typical 2nd and 3rd movement forms prevalent in the Vienna classic. So here's where our examples come in. Look carefully at Schumann's second movement, it's called an Intermezzo, of all things. It's barely its own music and conceptually it just links the first and the third movements. This is also the case with Grieg's piano concerto, but these are far from the only examples. Even Rachmaninov's first piano concerto does this, with an abnormally short second movement. Liszt's example is more interesting. In that Prelude & Fugue there's a weird small slow segment right before the fugue starts. The way the prelude & fugue is structured is very romantic in character, so it would make sense to make a sort of "intermezzo" between both parts, and that's exactly what he does. It's not enough to label it its own segment, but it's noticeable. There is clearly an intention of a "slow" movement after the start, even the Fugue starts slowly and builds up. And just like this, many other composers tried to wrestle with these kind of problems and came up with their own solutions, just like we do when we compose.
  11. Well no, that's just a bunch of fanboy nonsense. There are certain composers that made certain things more popular, such as Chopin and 6th suspensions, or Schubert's cadences with the double dominant -> tonic, Beethoven with suspensions and resolution notes being played at the same time, etc, but these are just general examples and often it's a much more nuanced thing. In the end a lot of people sound very similar since they are culturally all very closely related. Nobody used "specific progressions," since the musical language set a framework where everyone did kind of the same thing generally speaking. However, this doesn't mean everyone just wrote the same thing, as there are plenty of experimental pieces. Specially the so-called character pieces (Schumann's Kinderszenen, Chopin's preludes for piano, Grieg's lyric pieces, etc) where composers usually wrote small pieces with pretty forward-thinking harmony or experimental elements. It works this way: The more experimental the piece is (harmonically, counterpoint, whatever), the shorter the actual piece was since the structure was secondary. Almost everything I mentioned as examples earlier are all ABA forms that are quite simple, however harmonically they are probably far more complex than the "big works" those composers wrote. This is the case with almost everyone (Lizst's "annees de pelerinage" are also great examples, specially the third volume, of what he could really do harmonically. It's crazy stuff. He also has a bunch of late pieces like Nuages Gris that might as well be from the 1940s) from that time. When composers wanted to experiment with form, they would use the symphonies and long form pieces (Brahms was pretty well known for having pretty so-so harmony but very interesting takes on form, specially reprises.) In that case, the actual harmony wasn't that important and it was also just as well since big pieces like that wouldn't get played if they were too experimental. (Schubert's Symphonies are weird precisely because he knew nobody would perform them so he didn't have to hold back in composing them.) So, to recap, the more complicated the actual music, the easier they'd do form and the more complicated the form the easier they'd make the musical material. It's not always the case, but it's most often how they worked. If you want to find out what composers were "really like," you'd do well to study the small things people overlook. Mozart's Rondo in A minor (K511) is a great example of how forward thinking Mozart actually was, but he almost never wrote that way (except when he did!) This gives us much more insight into what he was actually thinking about as a composer than just whatever you read in a history book. In fact, I'd say this is much more important that studying the famous things, since usually stuff that is famous is rarely famous for reasons useful to other composers. Also, don't be afraid of repetitions. Don't feel you need to be super original and do tons of unique variations, that's not a good pressure to have. Just practice variations on their own too. Grab some 5 note motive and just write 20 variations of it, each of like one or two measures. Do this like 2 or 3 times, it should really help you get some ideas of what you can do!
  12. Well that's just general knowledge that would be helpful, yes. Just don't think this is some sort of high esoteric thing, it's just personal preference at the end of the day. Also: Don't forget the quote attributed to Stravinsky: Which is also my opinion of a vast majority of music from the late romantic period. Or just in general, actually. I think length is pretty much a personal thing, but I personally can't stand a lot of grand 40+ minute pieces that never ever end.
  13. Yes he did. As I said previously, a lot of the names given to pieces are meaningless when it comes to the actual structure in them. He has preludes that are fugues for example, just with a different name or some variation. The point is, you need to organize this by composer specifically, and Bach's music in its majority does not have the future-looking elements his Inventions or late organ works do. That's a function of his time and job more than anything. Yes, generally speaking that's the case. It's very in accord with the aesthetic paradigm of his time as that kind of complexity was desirable (but not too much, note how Wagner railed against Brahms' first symphony becuase it had too much "chamber music" elements and it irritated him!) Considering traditional classical-period forms (Sonatas, etc) are all based on cadences, knowing how cadences work and connect to each other is pretty key. I don't know what you mean with coherent, but think of those forms as an overlying plan as to what goes where. You don't need to follow it entirely 100% (In fact almost nobody did!) but it gives you an idea of what you expect. You can play around with long forms, see how you come up with your own variations as you go, until it makes sense to you. The first long-form Sonata I wrote is very Beethoven-esque until around half-way through when I had gotten more comfortable and started doing my own thing, but I was building on foundations I had observed from other composers (as with everything else, really.) It's not really about copying someone's (Beethoven, whoever) structural ideas, it's more about finding your own forms that are suited to your own ideas. In the end that's what everyone did, hence why Liszt, Grieg, Mahler, etc etc all have similar ideas but in their execution they are quite different.
  14. Don't get me wrong, Debussy was very much based on the romanticism aesthetic in the way he structured his music (much like Schoenberg and co.). I mean he even wrote "Sonatas" later on as the last music he wrote before he died. The problem with structure is that it is an inevitable consequence of the way music works. Even a free atonal improvisation has a structure, even if only visible post-facto. So in Debussy's case, he has structures that are either very very simple (ABA-type forms) or stuff that just does its own thing. In the end they still adhere to similar ideas than, say, Beethoven, if only because that's how the structural paradigm was at the time. Debussy and those turn of the century composers did very much start to break out of this, but it only really began to happen in the 20s-30s and during the early post-war period. This means that Debussy, perhaps unwillingly, also had "development" elements in his music even if he tried to avoid it. Another way to see it is to go further back. The "codification" of form during the 1750-1800 timeframe was very important but it doesn't mean that structural ideas were meaningless before then. Going back to JS Bach again, it must be said that he was also very much struggling with the concept of form as well but in the context of his Fugues. This is specially evident in something like BWV 543 in A minor where the fugue is not only rather long but the subject is very strange for its time (and of crucial importance to later composers like Beethoven himself, who would go on to write fugues in a similar and even more extreme fashion.) A fugue is not a structure, it's a set of parameters for the start of a piece, but what happens after that exposition is entirely up to the composer. In fact, it must be said that Baroque music is very difficult to organize through structure as there are many pieces which are entirely free (Preludes, toccatas, fantasias, etc etc. None of those names really mean a form (in the classical sense) at all! It's not analogous to a rondo, scherzo etc in the slightest.) Observe Grieg's Fugue in F minor EG114 for String Quartet. This a pretty clear example of how these things evolve with the paradigms of the time as even though it has a fugue-start, the way it's developed is much more like a Sonata, with proper romantic-like "development" portions and treating the exposition as a theme while at the same time having a second theme (just like you would in a Sonata!) It's a really fascinating mix of both things. That overture's entire point is to avoid the A minor cadence at all costs while doing that little suspension with very fast resolution that sounds so special (and that Schoenberg liked so much, lol.) Wagner is basically the pinnacle of Beethoven's ideas, so to speak, in the way that he was also very consequent (and economic) with what showed up in his music. Debussy wasn't a fan. Seeing it with our modern perspective tho, it's very obvious that as much as Debussy and Schoenberg were so opposed stylistic in their own minds, their music has so much stuff in common that it's kinda funny. But as mentioned, that's just a consequence of the time they lived in and that they were standing on a rather large tradition that was very hard to escape from. If anything, Satie was one that really got away from everything, much further than Debussy or mostly everyone else of his time. (Hence John Cage's interest in him and attempt to bring him into the spotlight.)
  15. That's an interesting observation. Debussy can be said to be "athematic", in terms of the romantic idea of a "theme." It's not that he doesn't use motives and repeats things, it's that the idea of a theme that is developed is missing. Usually this goes hand in hand with the non-functional harmony since that is often a big factor in traditional themes. Specially the concept of a harmonic rhythm, which Debussy does use, but almost to subvert how it would usually work. The idea of "development" in romanticism is a very important one, to the point that it ends up taking over almost everything by the late romantic. Take for example the "Satz", which is a type of theme (opposed to the "periode") where it includes within itself development portions and often ends in a different key than at the start through modulation. For example, Beethoven's 5th Sonata in C minor has a 16 measure "Satz." It has the development elements included therein. Contrast this to Beethoven's 2nd Sonata in A major which has an 8 measure "periode" for a theme, this one does not have development segments and has a pretty simple symmetrical pattern and repeating harmonic rhythm. If you have more questions please do ask them, this stuff can be hard if you aren't familiar with the form analysis methods.
  16. I think it's a sign of maturity when you can actually decide how long a piece has to be and have enough to say to fill up that space in a way that is not forced. That's why, in my experience, young composers(LOL) usually tend to choke on longer pieces since they expose all their material very fast and then have trouble developing or repeating things. There's nuance in working with existing material that makes it not such an easy thing to do. Yes, those books are good, but what you have to do more than anything is actually learn your literature. Study Beethoven, and specifically the piano sonatas. It's not because they're amazing or anything, it's mostly just how he's the king of motif economy. He basically reuses everything he can as much as he can and when he adds things it usually means something. JsBach started to do this too, curiously, in his inventions. There's a whole point (Erwin Ratz's book on form talks about this to some length. It's a good book, btw.) that argues that the way Bach actually developed his material in the inventions parallels what Beethoven did later and that it was not merely the typical baroque sequencing ("Fortspinnung.") Essentially, what it boils down to, is that "Development" in romantic period terms, is the division and sequencing of thematic material. So you split stuff up and make sequences out of it. That's basically the main mechanic of any kind of development. It's the concept that the form is like an arc, it starts and it rises gradually to a peak before coming down again to where it started, like a bow of sorts. This is basically what the AB:A form means, it ends how it starts. Almost all classical forms are arc forms in some way or another. In fact, there's a type of Rondo that's just like that, which does A:B:A:C:A:B:A, for example, so it also returns and uses the Ritornell as the end point.
  17. I think the best thing you can do is think of WHY something has to be longer. Think in terms of Beethoven's economy of material, how his sonatas are mostly the same stuff repeated over and over in different ways, joined by a loose arc structure. In other words, you can make something as long as you want if you just keep repeating things in different ways. Think of how Fugues work, which is kind of a similar idea. The point is, "form" is a really complicated topic altogether and Schoenberg's entire point with his system and so on was to allow for the creation of new complex forms (like a new Sonata-type form?) using his different tonal material. It's not the form that gives something its length, it's how long you want to take with developing your own ideas. That's why even if there are many pieces that are "sonatas" and adhere to the form, that says nothing of the length itself. A good example is Symphonies, which really are "Sonatas for orchestra," they are often much longer than piano sonatas, but they have the same structural ideas. That's because the orchestra can be used to develop things as well as just the actual notes being played. Instrumentation plays a big role in structure there, hence usually longer works.
  18. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    I'd buy that for a dollar.
  19. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    The problem is that there is SO MUCH music that can be called "classical music" that you'll always find something that you like if you look. The problem like you said it's all the associations the name has. This is my main argument when talking about modern and experimental music. That stuff only really works if you're right there to experience it live, specially if it's stuff that has different sounds or other effects that you can't really get from a recording. Best example is Ligeti's Atmospheres. Anyone who hasn't heard that live cannot really get very far with just a recording, no matter how good. There's stuff that just happens when you hear it live that you can't record, the acoustic effects and just the sheer mass of sound, it's awe inspiring. This is the same problem Organ music has, specially stuff from Vierne or Messiaen. It's stuff that just can't really be recorded, the sound is much more complex than any reduction would allow. When people experience stuff like that it reaches them in a way a recording never could and that's why I try to go to as many concerts where I know there's no proper recording possible. This specially is true of stuff like Bach's organ music, much of which I think is pretty amazing live, but in recordings it's quite hard to hear.
  20. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    Apathy is the problem there. It's not that "quality" (whatever that is) has enemies or not, is that a lot of people don't care because they have too many options. The point you can always go back and listen to whatever recording of whatever music you want, forever, is what pretty much killed much of the appeal of live performances. This came up actually with composer John Sousa when he argued that the phonograph was going to destroy musical tradition, his fear was that instant access to music will make people forget how they used to share and do music together. I think he was right in that regard, but he did not foresee the other ways that access allows people to know things they wouldn't otherwise have ever heard. Oh, here's the actual thing Sousa said: I think it's pertinent to the current topic.
  21. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    Hm, I don't know. I think right now we have such an overwhelming amount of musicians but most of them are not capable of playing I'd say 80% of the music composed. I do get what you're trying to say tho, we need to get more people engaged in the "process" so to speak, of writing and playing music. I don't think it has to be easier or more difficult than X composer, Beethoven is plenty difficult as it is, but it has to be a match for the person's ability and motivation. The problem is people aren't willing to pay for commissions, in my experience, unless they know they'll get a return on investment (they're actually already giving concerts.) The economics of this don't work unless, again, you're in an university. People aren't just going to practice and give out their time for nothing, even if some people are willing to do it "For the love of art," financial investment is a big deal. It's a money thing, in the end. You can just brute force your way through most of these problems by throwing money at it, you can pay musicians and rent out halls, pay for rehearsals, etc. The main issue is, who has this kind of money? It doesn't guarantee you'll be successful, people still need to want to go to your concerts, but you can put out as many as you want at a loss until you break through. I know people who've done this, specially if they held a different profession that paid well at the same time. I mean, unless you're renting an entire orchestra, this isn't such an extreme expense, at least it hasn't been for me when I've done it. And there are other ways too, but I find that once you have a track record of putting out good visited and well reviewed concerts, stuff happens much faster. It's still hard to get that initial push and that's usually what university should help you with, but often they don't. Specially if your music is a niche genre.
  22. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    You are extremely interesting. You know, I kept coming back because once I understood you weren't making a disguised plea to traditionalism, this stuff started to haunt me. I think I get what you mean now. Let's see, you mean a "common practice" but not necessarily rooted in traditional stuff nor (traditional) modern stuff either. I think your point is maybe more philosophical in nature than practical. Classical music is a dead genre mostly because performing it is very difficult and time-consuming and the people who can actually do it are few. Those few people are probably going to play what brings in the $$$ so that's the Pareto distribution from earlier, that means only overwhelmingly popular pieces and composers "everyone knows." It's really really hard to change any of this so long as money is the main drive. Hence why all the experimental stuff happens in universities, it's the reason why you have those spaces in the first place. Sadly, almost none of it survives its contact with the "real world." So if you compose music for people to play, you also need to give them a reason to play it, so what happens is that you end up with a lot of stuff that sounds like discount Beethoven, Bach, etc etc, because you want to tap into that "star power" of those warhorses. It's, again, why nobody who does that really could ever outshine them. If they become too different, it's a niche and they end up forgotten. If they do exactly the same thing, why bother when the originals are still around? There, fixed it for ya. Y'know, people are capable of liking things you don't, I know it's shocking but that's just the "harsh reality."
  23. SSC

    The lack of "Common practice"

    And I thought you stopped? Words (specially your own) don't mean much to you, do they? Ooh, you still got some fight left in ya, eh? Nah, you're just overwhelmingly jealous of my achievements as a composer, let's all admit that right now before you embarrass yourself even further. I mean, you're obsessing about my music as it is, which I guess is flattering, but you really should just mind your own business at this point if all you have are ad hominems, lol.