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Mystic Water

How do you compose?

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Heh, I'm surprised someone else knows about that. If every person on the planet lived a life of doing nothing but indulging the senses, I suspect they would all die and only people who feel they have immense personal significance (an ego) would be left. (These are typically the least indulgent, most self-concious people).

Ego is often a result of indulging.

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I personally just find a tune by playing notes in a certain key (Am minor is a favourite). It works! I came up with a piece for Woodwind quartet called the Bee-Eater!:toothygrin:

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Let's see. I usually never write in specific keys especially in bigger works. I usually start off my compositions with some sort of rhythmic phrase in one instrument or group of instruments. The piece then evolves from there and takes it's own shape. Most of the time the piece doesn't even come out sounding anything like I envisioned it but more often then not if I'm able to spend more than a few hours on it, it ends up sounding good to my ears.

What I find most frustrated is sometimes I can sit down and crank out a good 8-10 minute piece in a few hours and then other times I can spend weeks on something and end trashing it cause I hate it. Anyone else encounter this?

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What I find most frustrated is sometimes I can sit down and crank out a good 8-10 minute piece in a few hours and then other times I can spend weeks on something and end trashing it cause I hate it. Anyone else encounter this?
Some thoughts come fully-formed, others don't.

I never ever destroy anything, however. It all gets saved and reviewed occasionally for cannibalization of ideas.

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I just found a text file with some of my composition notes. I'll let y'all peek into my (dis-)organized mind for a moment:

backgrounds: "birds," slowly planing piano high clarinets, toms, claves, temple blocks, sustained vibraphone, harp glissandi and arpeggios

tuba solo, trombone and trumpet solo dialog, leads into quintal build for brass

feroce!! section, builds to pedal, drums

horn call, brass chorale, builds to "lush"

This all means something to me - I look at it and say, "oh yeah, that part" but it's not supposed to mean anything to anyone else. ;)

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Interesting. I've drawn pictures before as compositional shorthand but never narrated a piece in the way you have.

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Some thoughts come fully-formed, others don't.

I never ever destroy anything, however. It all gets saved and reviewed occasionally for cannibalization of ideas.

You are lucky to be able to salvage ideas you don't use right away. Whenever I write it will either sound good to my ears and I will be able to elaborate on the idea or it will sound bad and no matter what I do it will never sound good to my ears. I still save anything that gets half finished but normally when I try to finish those ideas I just make them sound worse. Maybe its because whenever I compose I tend to disregard any theory I've learned over the years. I use good notation but I always write according to what sounds good in my head.

I have done quite a few compositions where I will take a certain idea from another piece I wrote and write something new based on that idea.

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Well yeah... of course we do.

We're just getting specific. Don't you have a ritual?

Usually, I'll put some manuscript paper on the kitchen table(which is very large and imposing), brew some tea, and just go.

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Well yeah... of course we do.

We're just getting specific. Don't you have a ritual?

Usually, I'll put some manuscript paper on the kitchen table(which is very large and imposing), brew some tea, and just go.

I mean, I just play something and then write it down. That's not enough for you? :sadtears:

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Uh... no. Like I said... That's not very specific.

There's so much happening when you "just write it down" that you could probably fill a couple libraries with information on this subject.

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Uh... no. Like I said... That's not very specific.

There's so much happening when you "just write it down" that you could probably fill a couple libraries with information on this subject.

Not for me. I'm actually quite the simpleton.

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I don't compose very often (one wonders how I found this website), but does any one else hear one phrase or part of a phrase, or sometimes a skeleton of how it may be, play it, (I guess in your cases, write it) then hear the next part only after that, and play it, and then the next, etc.?

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To me, it all depends of the mood i am in.

sometimes i just sit and "hmm" some music and i start writing it on paper, maybe just some staves...a melody that can be 8 or more measures, then i play it on the piano and i add the bass line, then i go on and i start improvising and i go through some ideas, and then i do play everything again and i add some more parts to it, and if i need other voices like in a score with more instruments, i just write them out. but basically i write first the melody and the bass, so i can play it on the keyboard and then i add the other voices (if needed) and if in a passage i have to go to another voice, i do it...sometimes i also write ideas i will add later, little sections, and also the conclusion of a piece, if i came up with that idea. and then i keep writing again untill i fullfill all the measures and the piece is done :-p

Sometimes i don't use all the "little sections" i create in a score, so i save them for other pieces, maybe changing instruments and tonality and making some variations in it to fit the possible new instrument range and capabilities...

...but basically i first write the main/s part/s and then i go trough the score and add other things. i found it as the quickest way to write music, even if in the past i was used to go measure by measure...not that i don't do it nowadays, but not that much frequently as i was used before.

-Guglielmo

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First of all, I keep a sketch notebook (and boy, when I found out Beethoven did the same thing... it was awesome knowing that). Most of the time, I compose simple melodies or melodic figures, always at the piano. Then I write it down before I forget. And there they still sit in the notebook just waiting... Anyways I come back to them every once in a while, and play around with them on the piano, searching for possibilities... boom I find one (or some) rush to the computer and sequence. Usually the rest of the composing takes place at the computer, and I usually surprise myself at how much more I compose with a mouse than a piano. Of course if I need something fresh to work into the piece, I'll go back to the piano and compose something real quick (since I already know what I'm kinda looking for). Go back to the computer, stick it in... Anyways, this process pretty much shows why almost all of my pieces are piano solos. However I am working on others... namely a symphony and an electric guitar concerto. The main themes for both of them were composed in the same way as stated above.

In one case, I used a technique that I probably reinvented the wheel on. I made a rhythmic figure, then put notes to the beats, which in turn became a melody. And actually a very nice melody, though I haven't used it yet. Anyone done something similar to that?

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Guest peachy

How I compose depends entirely on what I am doing.

If I am working the domain of serialism, I will begin by writing out my rowes, and applying the various manipulations of them rowes.l Then after that it just down to deciding on what instrumentation to use, or whether to go into the computer domain for it.

Sometimes I jam about on me piano of guitar.

but as most of my work is in the computer synthesis domain. I begin by programming some sounds in a chosen language, and then develop the piece that way

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Good (t)r(h)ead.

I usually begin with something that urges me to do some composing. Might be a chord change, might be just a set of intervals, or an interesting chamber ensemble. Or a poem I want to compose.

The last work I started was about playing around with some Elliott Carterish techniques (or at least creative misunderstandings). I chose a three layer model, or a three voice counterpoint, if you may, with a distinct tempo character and a set of intervals for each voice. Then I came up with a simple chaconne of symmetric 12-tone chords, and a tempo for it, so that it's independent of the three voices or layers.

Next, I started thinking about instrumentation and structure. I'm always nervous about structure, because I find it very difficult to contain all of my ideas, and often end up with so many development possibilities, that the piece ends up swelling like dough, and never gets finished. So I want to decide as much as I can on the structure -- sometimes even a second to second plan of the dramaturgy of the music (this is the part where I can freak out with fibonacci numbers). It usually gets changed along the way, but I like to have some constraints to get me going creatively, instead of just repeating stuff I've already done or heard.

In this case, I had to figure out the rhythm of the harmony, how to create suspension with accelerations etc., and what kind of dynamics each section would contain.

As for instrumentation, I chose to use two strings for the first voice, two woodwinds for the second, and a lone piano for the third. So the three-part polyphony ends up being a counterpoint of counterpoints of sorts, almost-a-triple-duo, if you may, with each voice/layer profiled with a distinctive set of intervals, own tempo, and instrumentation, and perhaps spatial distribution. That ought to enable me to use rather dense textures and still keep things under control.

Next comes the process of combining the interval material of each voice with the chaconne I came up with, to see how they mix up, what kinds of situations I'm going to get myself in. Tweaking some details. Although I have to admit, that this piece isn't about harmony anymore. It's about textures, mostly. And having fun. Lots of it.

One thing I must do before I start putting more stuff on paper is coming up with a limited set of textures -- something to cut down the amount of possible situations. So far it seems that the piece isn't turning out very Carterish, as the introduction starts with unpitched and quiet long notes colliding with one another.

The question of notation is still a bit open, but I'm hoping to keep it as conventional as possible.

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i just do it.

its strange.

ill have an idea and then an urge to compose...and well...then i do.

however, only about 40% of the time will i ever finish the work.

so you can imagine all the unfinished works i have lol.

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Hello everyone!

As for me..I begin by planning the structural top voice of the ending of the piece. Then from it I will weave the melody, put a convincing bass line against it then add all the missing parts. After doing so, I now have the material to use for the other section. Sometimes, the alto has a good melody or the tenor that i can use in developing the other sections. However, I give prime importance to the structural top voice of the score that is why I plan them so closely. My composition teacher told me that once I have the ending, it will give me some idea where the piece is going.

The materials used in the ending of the piece which I created first can be manipulated in many different means. It can be modified as it approach the beginning. This procedure somehow gives me a clear map of the score as I am able to plan the weight of each closure and climaxes, of course I give the greatest climax to the end of the piece.

This is a very nice thread!!

God bless us all!

Rolan

Philippines

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