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Music Composition Lessons on DVD?


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Does anyone know of any Music Composition Lessons on DVD?

I'm looking for a complete course if possible.

I'd be interested in anything you might be aware of.

Ulitmately I'd like to find something that address composition in depth for writing full orchestrations.

Barring that, I'd be happy just to find something that teaches music theory in general and gives examples. Especially with regard to counterpoint, writing interlacing melodies, and modulation techniques for getting to new harmonic places.

I'm actually looking at this course right now:

Reviews of Learn & Master Piano DVD Course

It's not actually a course on composition, but it looks like it might teach a lot of music theory. Then maybe not. I'm not even sure. I haven't actually seen course.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

An alternative might be books with CDs.

I can't learn from just books alone. I need to hear examples.

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Does anyone know of any Music Composition Lessons on DVD?

I'm looking for a complete course if possible.

I'd be interested in anything you might be aware of.

Ulitmately I'd like to find something that address composition in depth for writing full orchestrations.

Barring that, I'd be happy just to find something that teaches music theory in general and gives examples. Especially with regard to counterpoint, writing interlacing melodies, and modulation techniques for getting to new harmonic places.

I'm actually looking at this course right now:

Reviews of Learn & Master Piano DVD Course

It's not actually a course on composition, but it looks like it might teach a lot of music theory. Then maybe not. I'm not even sure. I haven't actually seen course.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

An alternative might be books with CDs.

I can't learn from just books alone. I need to hear examples.

This might not be exactly what you are looking for, but try the Leonard Bernstein's "Young People's Concerts". He explains to children how orchestras work, why the great composers are so good, etc., in a way no one else can. He just oozes with passion for this stuff and never talks down to the 1950's/60's audiences.

Amazon.com: Leonard Bernstein - Young People's Concerts / New York Philharmonic: Bernstein, New York Philharmonic: Movies & TV

I just found this excerpt on you tube to show you what it is like:

If that is too basic, you could try his Harvard Lectures which is basically a graduate course video taped.

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Of course it can be taught! You can be the most creative person alive, but if you don't have the tools at your disposal then you won't write scraggy!

Actually! If you ARE the most creative person alive you'll write ANYWAYS regardless if you have the tools or not because you'll CREATE THEM as you go along!

So, uh. Composition CAN be taught, but it's like reinventing the wheel somewhat. Though that's a bad example I can't think of anything better since reinventing the wheel in music is actually not so bad...

OH WELL!

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Well, I'm just looking for the music theory knowledge. I'm not seeking for anyone to teach me creatitivity. I already know what music I want to write. My problem is transforming what I have in my mind into sheet music. I don't understand the mechanics of writing it down. I also don't understand all the concepts of harmony transisitions.

I've been writing music already, but I'm doing it in a way that feels like I have both hands tied behind my back. I can't write the music that I hear in my mind because I don't understand the mechanics of it. Let's face it, the production of music in the world is a physical (and thus a mechanical) process. Music is a form of physics. That's not to say that it isn't also art, but music is meaningless if there is no sound, and sound is a physical phenomenon.

There are physical principles of why things sound good. We call those principles "Music Theory".

And of course, when we take the music theory and apply it to a whole lot of different intruments playing music at the same time, that's called "Orchestration" and there are reasons why things work and why other things don't, and I guess we call that "Composition Theory".

An artist can never go wrong learning about the medium in which they 'sculpt'. ;)

So far, I've been getting by with extremely limited knowledge of music theory in general and basically no knowledge of composition theory. But I also know that this limitation is holding me back tremendously.

Just to dive into things a little deeper I just now ordered four books from Amazon.com.

"The complete Idiot's Guide to Music Theory" with CD, by Michael Miller.

That one's probably beneath me, but it can't hurt to glean over it.

I also got the "Study of Counterpoint" by John Fux.

I think that's the book I need to read more than anything.

I also got "Composing Music: A New Approach" by William Russo

It looked like it had good reviews.

And finally I got, "The Piano Handbook: A Complete Guide for Mastering Piano" by Carl Humphries.

I don't know what that one will be like either, but it sounded like it contains some musical principles and it also comes with CD examples.

I'm currently downloading the Bernstein excerpt from YouTube that karelm suggested. I'm on dial-up so I'm limited to what I can see on Youtube. The only way I can watch those videos is to download them first and then play them from my hard drive. But at least that works that way.

One thing that scares me about buying the Bernstein videos is that I fear they won't have the "technical knowlege" I seek. I'm actually seeking a course that give actual hands-on examples. The Harvard Lectures sound good. I'll have to look into getting those.

Any other Youtube suggestions?

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Not to be pedantic, but a DVD doesn't seem like a very intuitive way to learn theory and composition. Those books you've ordered seem like a good start though. I wouldn't discount the "complete idiot's guide" book; I've found them to actually be pretty helpful, especially for a beginner like yourself.

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The main things I want to really get a handle on right now is counterpoint and modulation techniques. At least I think that's what I need to learn.

I want to be able to write simultaneous independent melodies, as well as compelemtary melodies. As it is right now I have a hard time even writing good base lines that aren't extremely mundane.

The other thing I need to do is learn how to break out of harmonic boxes. I think that by focusing on counterpoint and modulation I'll be well on my way to feeling like I've sprouted wings.

Cleary there is a lot more to learn. But those two things seem to be the things that are currently holding me back the most right now. If I get past these two concepts and find another hurdle standing in my way at least I'll feel like I've made some progress. ;)

By the way, to Karelm, I listened to the Bernstien video excerpt. Quite interesting. Although, I'm not sure if that's the kind of instruction is what I'm seeking. That's almost more along the lines of inspirational lectures. I'm seeking something more along the lines of the actually HOW-TO nitty-gritty of the mechanics of how it's actually composed.

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Not to be pedantic, but a DVD doesn't seem like a very intuitive way to learn theory and composition. Those books you've ordered seem like a good start though. I wouldn't discount the "complete idiot's guide" book; I've found them to actually be pretty helpful, especially for a beginner like yourself.

I like video courses. They're easy to watch over and over again and each time I usually get something new.

I have have this Music Fundamentals Course from the Teaching Company.

Understanding the Fundamentals of Music

There are 16 lectures on 4 DVDs.

It was a good course, the only problem is that it was pretty introductory and didn't even get into music notation at all. Certainly not into music composition. He did touch on modulation techniques at the end. And he also gave examples of Wagner's Tristan in that course. He had lots of examples of how different things were done.

I think what I'd like to see is some examples of how to write a symphony from scratch. Kind of like one of those painting programs where the artist shows how to paint the background and then build things on top of that.

If fact, according to the reveiws I've read that one book I ordered "Composing Music: A New Approach" sounds like it precisely that kind of thing. It supposedly teaches to build a background and then "hang" melodies to decorate it. (ha ha)

Hey, I'm game for anything that works.

I just prefer to watch a video than read a book. I'm lazy. ;)

There's no reason people can't make these books into video lessons.

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By the way!!!

If anyone is interested in that Teaching Company Course don't pay $254 for it!

All their courses go on SALE at least once a year. I think this course is like $69 when it's on sale. That's what I paid for it I think. So if you're interested in that course send them an email and ask them when it goes on sale next. It is pretty basic though. It's a nice course for a raw beginning to music theory, but it's probably too simplistic for most people on this forum.

It's certainly not going to teach anyone how to compose. It's really like a basic intro to the rudiments of music theory. I watch sometimes just because it's interesting to watch. (ha ha)

He's a good lecturer I think.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Fundamentally, music composition comes down to three methods that you can use interchangeably.

Method #1: Compose linearly based on what you hear, then fill in the harmonic gaps with what sounds like it works.

Method #2: Compose a harmonic progression of sorts and compose any melodic content from that

Method #3: Write a bunch of matrices, sets, and motifs you are fond of, bunch them together as you would hear them, then call it art.

Anyone? Anyone else have a thought for the guy? People, stop dodging the question and give him some ideas. I mean, c'mon!

-AA

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  • 6 months later...
Well it's my theory that it really can't be taught. You can watch all the DVD's, read all the books, know all about music theory, but whether you can compose or not comes down to YOU and your creativity.

That's just a very generalized idea to say 'I can't explain much about creativity,and because it's a mystery to me as it is to you,I'll tell you that you either have it or you don't'.

But the reality is that EVERYBODY has creativity. Look,it's very simple: there are people who don't need much instruction,and there are people who need it.

This was actually said by Arnold Schoenberg in his book. He should know what's creativity,since he not only made a few important innovations on music,he also knew personally many masters like Mahler,Brahms,etc

The ones who need instructions are not to be considered inferior. And also LOOKING for instruction,is not a sign of cluesness,it's a sign of strenght. So no point in saying things like 'it's down to YOU'.

Of course it's down to you,who else? But that has nothing to do with wanting to learn good things from experienced people who wrote,in book format (or DVD format,etc) 30 years of experience in the world of music making.

Like the OP said,he's just looking for the standard tools,the ones who were also learned by anyone,from Beethoven to John Williams. Or do you think that they just got to the piano one morning,as if by magic,and wrote their best stuff? That's just an idealization. Beethoven tore away many versions of his themes and melodies. So? This isn't a perfect world.

Of course the great composers were very creative. But listen to the works by Mozart when he was 9 years old,and listen to his works when he was 25....I think you'll hear a difference. We are still talking about human beings.

We are all here to learn,man....not everybody is born with perfect pitch. But everyone has creativity. For some of us,the road to create is a different one. That's why there are good books. They were written for people who have the balls and dedication to study them and applied what they learned.

I am one of them,and sorry if I sound arrogant,but my own experience is that books and DVDs are great. I have studied them for years and at first it was hard to understand how to use what I was learning,but is now all coming togheter for me? You bet it is. I have learned from harmony books and I am glad I did,because I like to know how things work and how I can use them on command. And that's creativity as well.

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Abracadabra,here's my advice. Bear in mind that I am not an advanced composer or anything like that,but whatever I learned,I learned from books,and it works,big time.

My best advice is: lear how 'motivic development' works. How to make phrases out of one single idea. That one thing really projected me into creativity effectively,because you find yourself using the 'rules',but also your ear.

I have learned that from a Paul Sturman's book called 'Harmony,melody and composition'.

Yes,that's just a book,no cd or anything. Unfortunately I do not know of books like that ,that come with a cd.

I understand what you mean about wanting to find a composition course on cd or dvd (or books with a cd) and I'll tell you,I have been looking for the same thing,for two years now. I didn't find them. The best I have found to date are the DVD courses by Duane Shinn. But they aren't coruses on composition,only on piano playing. Still,lots of good concepts that you CAN use in your compositions. But I'd say that they are useful only if you already know quite a lot of theory,otherwise the concepts could be too 'obscure'.

I also prefer theory explained by classical textbooks. With jazz,the concepts are a bit too generalized.

Anyways,you can learn from anyone,but I'd say this: don't wait for a DVD course,get started with the best books you can get hold of,like the ones written by Paul Sturman ,Stewart MacPherson (another very good teacher) or Walter Piston.

You know,I even studied some of these books and actually recorded all the examples. You could do the same thing. Think about it: I know it looks fatiguing to watch at a piece of paper with notes written on,but once you record the examples,it will be a thrill to review quickly all the material studied. And you'll need to do that.

Ultimately,to compose well,I think you need to know in detail :

1. Motivic development,how to build phrases,sentences,periods,and small forms (and I am still getting there!)

2. Harmony: how to use strong root progressions,how to use dissonances

3. Counterpoint ( and with that one, I got barely started at all,but I am sure a lot can be done with that skill).

It would be good to have a nice,laid-out system on DVD,but I still could not find it,and I can't afford to wait. Maybe you can't either.

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Abracadabra,the best DVD's I came across as for now,are from Duane Shinn and Yoke Wong. Google the names and you'll find their sites. Duane Shinn has a shocking assortment of material. Like 300 different courses!

I 've got Duane Shinn's 'Intro and Endings' dvd and it's very good!

I am planning to get his 'Pro Secrets' course and his dvd on Modulations. To be honest,if I had the money,I'd buy them all.

Also,from Yoke Wong I've got 'Christmas Arrangement'. Quite good too. It's a great idea to take these old folk songs as 'experiments'. If you already know about harmony, you can do quite a bit with these tunes,like different harmonizations,etc

If you don't know much harmony,that's really the first thing I'd advise you learn about.

Just google the names and you'll find the websites of these people. All in all,it's very good value for money. Many hours of instruction at a reasonable price. And they are the best I came across as for now.

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I just found a website which seems to have masses on music theory, and it also links to another website in places which also talks in great detail about composition.

Dolmetsch Online - Music Theory Online - Staffs, Clefs & Pitch Notation

The other website it seems to link to a lot is this:

Alan Belkin, composer

Hope that helps (even though this thread started a long time ago lol)

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  • 2 weeks later...

thethirdpoliceman,great links!! I am going to have a very good look at them,thanks

Abracadabra,I've just gotten some amazing books: 'The complete musician' by Steven G Laitz, it's really,really impressive ,800 pages book with two dvd's of examples performed by a real orchestra! It's not video, just audio,but I think this is a miracle in itself because I don't know of any other book like it.

This is a very serious course in classical music. Exceptional. It also comes with supplementary accessories,like workbooks and more DVDs !! But even as it is,there's enough stuff to keep someone busy for years.

And that's not all....I have also gotten 'Tonal Harmony' by Stefan Kostka,that one too comes with CD's !!! Although the author gives you the choice to buy the book alone,if you so choose. And it's proper classical instruction,so it's really the best instruction anyone can get.

These books are a though act to follow

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