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Connecting the dots - Need some advice.

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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!

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You have pretty much summed it up in your final paragraph. I believe those are disciplined techniques to make a composition solid whether tonal or atonal. Brahms was a master of these! I want to be like Brahms when I grow up!

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This is why I tend to write linearly.

As for Whitacre, you'd be better studying Copeland. But that's neither here nor there.

I'm not sure if the techniques are all there is -- there's also quite a bit of left-field that can be useful. I dunno, talking in such vague generalities about music isn't quite useful. Best to slap something together and look at the beast in its natural habitat.

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Greetings! So here's 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.

The great thing about music is, it's a flexible art. There are many, many different ways you can put together a piece of music, without the overall concept or quality of the music suffering.

One common thread between all methods, though, (at least in my eyes), is, be patient. Once you've set up your piece of music the way you think you want it, listen to it several times, and continue to do so for several days. (I think this is a vital step, since if your music doesn't hold up on repeat listens, what's the point of writing? Music that is excellent is endlessly listenable, and never really "gets old".)

9 times out of 10 you'll think of something you can do to improve the overall experience. Maybe this section here is a little too repetitious upon repeat listens? Or maybe this section isn't repeated enough? Oh, gosh, this section really is too short. Egad, this one is really too long! Huh, this phrase here -- what is the point of it? Does it serve to provide any sort of structure to the piece as a whole? If not, what can I do about it? Etc. Revision, revision, revision. And continue to revise it, until it reaches the point where to add something seems contrived to you, while taking away something seems to make it "miss something" to you.

When you get to the point where you've done everything you can do -- what a wonderful feeling that is :happy: You don't have any regrets about the piece, and you can hold your chin up and say, "I have written this [name of piece]. It is now set in stone -- I will move on to my next work of art."

I hope this advice and the advice of my colleagues will be beneficial to you in some way. I wish you the best of luck! :nod:

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The great thing about music is, it's a flexible art. There are many, many different ways you can put together a piece of music, without the overall concept or quality of the music suffering.

One common thread between all methods, though, (at least in my eyes), is, be patient. Once you've set up your piece of music the way you think you want it, listen to it several times, and continue to do so for several days. (I think this is a vital step, since if your music doesn't hold up on repeat listens, what's the point of writing? Music that is excellent is endlessly listenable, and never really "gets old".)

9 times out of 10 you'll think of something you can do to improve the overall experience. Maybe this section here is a little too repetitious upon repeat listens? Or maybe this section isn't repeated enough? Oh, gosh, this section really is too short. Egad, this one is really too long! Huh, this phrase here -- what is the point of it? Does it serve to provide any sort of structure to the piece as a whole? If not, what can I do about it? Etc. Revision, revision, revision. And continue to revise it, until it reaches the point where to add something seems contrived to you, while taking away something seems to make it "miss something" to you.

When you get to the point where you've done everything you can do -- what a wonderful feeling that is :happy: You don't have any regrets about the piece, and you can hold your chin up and say, "I have written this [name of piece]. It is now set in stone -- I will move on to my next work of art."

I hope this advice and the advice of my colleagues will be beneficial to you in some way. I wish you the best of luck! :nod:

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!

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I dunno, I'm a big fan of having broken, unfinished things in my music. Mussorgsky comes to mind and his orchestration as opposed to the sanitized version from R-K or whoever else got all up in dere.

Having that kind of "this is too long" or "that tone really is annoying" I think humanizes the music -- takes it out of the realm of Beethoven and Mozart and puts it to Betty and Mo. But then again, Nurse With Wound always interested me more than "the greats" so maybe I'm in the wrong kind of mindset for the music or something.

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Well, you can do both. You don't have to "finish" it.

I recall one time writing a wind quintet which my teacher liked but I thought was too rough in its presentation of ideas. He said that is what he like about the piece.

On the other hand, I wrote a piano piece which I always got this reaction of a general liking but nothing big. It seemed something people wouldn't mine listening to but would forget pretty soon. When I had a performance opportunity of the piece, I had not worked on it for awhile. The time off and then the return made me see how I cut off one section for fear of being TOO repetitive when all I had to do was continue a canon to its natural end and it would lead automatically to the section I wrote. I fixed some minor things - a few notes and voicings but that was it. I find that there is one point where we get myopic and need distance and time for our mind to make connections. It must be organic because I do best when I either 1) work intensely for a stretch and then take time off or 2) think about it for a long time but don't do anything, as if you were thinking about a vacation spot and what you would do and then as the deadline gets close get to work.

Finally one simple method is to determine about how long you want the piece to be and divide it up into daily and weekly amounts of music you need to write. BE sure to show your progress to a very experienced composer to keep you on track. This is an excellent method to get large scale works of a significant duration done.

Finally, patience! It took me nearly 2 years to write a 10 minute wind trio. The reason was the form I thought of initially - write a series of mood pieces without worrying about how they linked. However, as I worked on it I found they were linking ... so I took my time to have all this material to flow as one while still presenting these changing moods.

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I find that what helps me when I am getting stuck is to just sit down and compose something new. Try a different key, time signature, or any number of things to completely do a 180 from the direction you are going. For me this helps to clear the "memory bank" of monotonous ideas. Normally, when I want to write a piece of music, and its been a while, I tend to noodle around with the same type of idea and get frustrated. But when you just sit down, and knock it out and then move on, you can have a rush of creativity on the next piece you write.

It's like pulling yourself out of a rut. I agree that patience is key. I still go back occasionally and listen to stuff I wrote 10 years ago, wanting to tweak it. Most of the time I don't, but occasionally I do.

Another thing that helps me greatly is setting up constraints. You may have a vague idea of how long you want the piece to be, or how you want it to peak and so on, but if you sit down, write out the bars, and draw out the curve of the melody, it can actually improve creativity by giving you a framework to work with.

As far as the techniques for extending shorter pieces into larger ones, have you read Schoenberg's book, Fundamentals of Music Composition? It is pretty much all about those techniques, but it gives great explanation and a huge amount of musical examples.

Composing can be so frustrating sometimes, don't you think?

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Another thing that helps me greatly is setting up constraints. You may have a vague idea of how long you want the piece to be, or how you want it to peak and so on, but if you sit down, write out the bars, and draw out the curve of the melody, it can actually improve creativity by giving you a framework to work with.

I've done this a few times, but without knowing it. I'm going to try this approach more often. Thanks!!

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