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twilexia

What's your composing routine?

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First, I think. Then I write. Then I let it sit for a little, either out of busyness or lack of focus. Then I revise.

Thinking is precomposition -- what do I want to say? How should I say it? What are my sources?

Writing stems from that. If I'm thinking melodically, that comes first;if I'm thinking harmonically, that comes first; etc. This is where the magic really happens, and any challenges act as guides to where the piece goes.

Sitting is important -- some things are good to just come out; others need to percolate on the shelf for a little. Paralysis is a problem in this step.

Revision happens after it sits -- do i replace that line? Is the process valid? It's important not to paralyze on this step, either in analysis or in the "is it good?" stage.

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i try to capture the right emotion first, then i sit by the technicals.

just by playing random notes that will materialize to the right emotion- after that the melody, harmony comes very naturally, and i get a solid nut in which i can expand its roots.

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Sitting is important -- some things are good to just come out; others need to percolate on the shelf for a little.

I second this. I somewhere read: Be your own theorist. For me that means. write/sketch something, keep it in the fridge for a little time, and then look at what you have done. Analyze it, dissect it, and consider what you found the material to mold into something new.

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Well, for me it's this:

I generally get an idea about once a week that's worth writing down. I'll work it out on the piano or viola, then I'll write it down. Generally, it then sits forever before I find any use of it :P

But sometimes I get a ton ideas at once. Then, I again work them out, and try to connect them. Those are the ones that generally get written down, and transformed into my pieces.

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Many variants of this question have been asked down the years. It is important to remember that what works for one person won't work for another, and that trying to apply what seems like a good routine is not a quick way of creating a successful composition.

About half of my compositions are to a specific brief (these are usually the ones I get paid or at least commissioned to do), and the others are just things I want to write. But for both, I often have a good initial idea soon after I know what I have to write - usually a short melodic idea, a chord sequence, a particular sonority, just something. I used to always try to come up with the very beginning but I found this limiting. So I will play this on the piano or put it into Sibelius and try to make it continue, without having any specific goal for the moment. This will generate other ideas and if these come easily enough, I know the idea is good enough to base the whole piece on. After this I start thinking about devising contrasting ideas, overall structure, how to begin and end, important motifs: it gets more complicated and I start thinking more technically. The whole thing is repeated on a bigger scale; so now one whole section of several minutes will start to dictate the overall structure or the form of other sections, simply by thinking about how to expand it and throwing up other ideas.

Sometimes music will be written with limitations, such as a cantus firmus, particular intervals or strict counterpoint. However, the writing process is basically done in the same way, just with more pruning of unsuitable ideas.

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So what's your routine/steps you take? Where does your inspiration come from?

Inspiration can come from almost anything. A lot for me is to hear a piece of music I like and I want to incorporate that feeling into something I do. I'll start with a riff or idea. Work on the chord progression. I use a Tyros 4 arranger keyboard. It will create up to 8 parts depending on the chords you feed it. I do a rough take of this. Add some riffs, theme or melody. Then I might go back and look at the chord progression closer. Make some variation or alter chord progression etc. I use some of the stuff the Tyros generates. Most often I do extensive editing on it, or use it as inspiration for me to play the part myself - gaining a better perspective.

I'll lay down as many parts as I feel comfortable that day. I multi - score it out in Logic, and edit/cut/paste/replay sections - until it feels cohesive. Most often I do editing from the 16 part score, cutting pasting, rewriting riffs etc. To see all the parts at once is a godsend. I don't know why I waited so late in my life to come to this process.

I shut everything off, and listen to it the next day. I will erase/mute/alter parts until it feels better. One thing I have learned, is when I'm in a bad mood, it is not a day to edit or review music. When I'm emotional I become very critical of myself. Better to wait till a day you're more neutral.

Sometimes in the editing stage, some of the passion has gone out of it. Now you're just looking to fix problems, or awkward spots.

With the computer you don't have to throw anything away. Just save a copy and move on. I work until it feels done, or I am just OVER it. Occassionally I can go back and rescue a piece. Sometimes I make changes, and then go back to the original idea a week later.

But I feel each song, is an explorational journey for me, with the melody, chords, harmony. I'm constantly making little discoveries. As I add new parts, I delete others. Often I'll realize I have two instruments playing what could easily be condensed into one part. For now, I'm sticking with 16 tracks, it's more than enough for my needs.

Over the course of a piece, I might reject 5 - 85% of it. And once in a great while, when I get really fed-up. I DELETE the whole project.

Paul McCartney when being interviewed about the the song "Yesterday'" ending his dialogue, with 'hey, but it's only a song'.

I record directly into

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My process, like Ferk and others, relies on a a majority of time spent thinking about composing....

I poke a piano, I think... Poke, scribble, poke, think, think, poke, scribble, think, poke, think, think, scribble ... and so on.

The scribblings look like this...

:dunno:

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My process, like Ferk and others, relies on a a majority of time spent thinking about composing....

I poke a piano, I think... Poke, scribble, poke, think, think, poke, scribble, think, poke, think, think, scribble ... and so on.

I do a lot of thinking as well, often too much, and I've been known to poke the piano (but not much more on that instrument). I wish I could say I have a method or routine. My days are often screwy with classes and rehearsals that change each week and office work and school work and trying to go to concerts and travel time (I swear I spend the majority of my time on public transit, and I have a hard time composing on a bus or train), so setting aside a specific time to compose every day has been a challenge. Deadlines are good motivators to find the time to write, usually at the expense of sleep. My approach to composition seems to change with every piece, and every piece requires a different way of thinking. I almost always start at a piano or other instrument and jot down noteheads without rhythms in a notebook since I have a far easier time remembering rhythms than collections of notes. If I have very little time I write directly into Finale. Starting a composition is typically like banging my head against a wall until something pops out. It's a painful and slow process, but the end results have been worth it so far... mostly. I often worry that my life will be music and I'll have little time for anything else. It's one thing to have music as your mistress, but to be married to her can be a $#@!%.

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Inspiration can come from almost anything. A lot for me is to hear a piece of music I like and I want to incorporate that feeling into something I do. I'll start with a riff or idea. Work on the chord progression. I use a Tyros 4 arranger keyboard. It will create up to 8 parts depending on the chords you feed it. I do a rough take of this. Add some riffs, theme or melody. Then I might go back and look at the chord progression closer. Make some variation or alter chord progression etc. I use some of the stuff the Tyros generates. Most often I do extensive editing on it, or use it as inspiration for me to play the part myself - gaining a better perspective.

I'll lay down as many parts as I feel comfortable that day. I multi - score it out in Logic, and edit/cut/paste/replay sections - until it feels cohesive. Most often I do editing from the 16 part score, cutting pasting, rewriting riffs etc. To see all the parts at once is a godsend. I don't know why I waited so late in my life to come to this process.

I shut everything off, and listen to it the next day. I will erase/mute/alter parts until it feels better. One thing I have learned, is when I'm in a bad mood, it is not a day to edit or review music. When I'm emotional I become very critical of myself. Better to wait till a day you're more neutral.

Sometimes in the editing stage, some of the passion has gone out of it. Now you're just looking to fix problems, or awkward spots.

With the computer you don't have to throw anything away. Just save a copy and move on. I work until it feels done, or I am just OVER it. Occassionally I can go back and rescue a piece. Sometimes I make changes, and then go back to the original idea a week later.

But I feel each song, is an explorational journey for me, with the melody, chords, harmony. I'm constantly making little discoveries. As I add new parts, I delete others. Often I'll realize I have two instruments playing what could easily be condensed into one part. For now, I'm sticking with 16 tracks, it's more than enough for my needs.

Over the course of a piece, I might reject 5 - 85% of it. And once in a great while, when I get really fed-up. I DELETE the whole project.

Paul McCartney when being interviewed about the the song "Yesterday'" ending his dialogue, with 'hey, but it's only a song'.

I record directly into

I liked what you said about, you wait until you are in a neutral mode before you edit your pieces. That is a great thing to do. Sometimes I edit my work out of a fit of anger, and I end up making it worse. (Yes, I get angry easily, but don't worry, if you ever talk to me, you will think I am the nicest person ever. Lol yea, very bipolar)

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Odd - I wonder why there would be a set ''method'' for composing. As for me, I tend to go at it in a more-or-less linear fashion (that is, from measure 1 and on), but whether much use of the piano or instruments are involved depends on my mood more than anything else.

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I improvise a lot (as in, I could literally improvise all day long, and it would be a huge range of styles and ideas...but man would I be tired....)

This just lets me come up with ideas like crazy, the problem I have is choosing the best ones, refining them, and not getting distracted with other pieces :P. I've finally gotten over that last barrier....but my works now still have a lot of variation in them. Which is good to some degree, I guess

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I typically write out a theme, edit it loads, harmonize it, come up with a couple/few interesting counter melodies, then swipe over it a bunch of mini motifs that will make it obscure - then I write. Either that or I don't do that and just willy-nilly write out whatever comes to my head and leave it at that. It changes depending on my mood and station.

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I generally start with a simple idea or concept then I work out, mentally, various means at which I can utilize that idea or concept. Once I have an idea, which is generally by this point a few measures, I'll give it a serious listening and will tinker with it several times to get that right texture that matches my idea or concept. After listening to the idea, I'll generally work out a structure in my head that I feel will aide in me working with the idea. The form of the piece generally comes after for me. The idea or concept definitely aides in generating the form itself. After I have the form, the rest is pretty much smooth sailing. I put a lot of thought into it as I write AND I listen constantly (either rendering or me plucking on a piano or viola).

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