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froglegs

is anyone out there still composing by hand????

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Greetings fellow composers!

I would like to find out from you all if anyone here composes by hand. I have

always written my compositions by hand and I think it is a far better way of

composing for the following reasons:

1. Developing your inner ear and being able to hear the composition in your head

2. Far more freedom in what you can do e.g. Graphic notation, complex polyrhythms

3. It's cheaper

4.I find it quicker.

None of the 120 something compositions I have written (I have been composing

for almost four years now) were written entirely on Sibelius or Finale or whatever.

This post i'm writing isn't saying that notation software is bad, cos I think that they can be great for making parts and scores, but I think that everyone would

benefit from using the good old fashioned quill and parchment (or pencil and

paper) from time to time.

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I write by hand about half of the time. I just find that it gets really messy since my manuscript isn't always neat---but it definitely has gotten better. I like that as the composer, you are not limited to a software's programming when composing with pencil and paper, and often times the software doesn't have what you need in order for your piece to work properly.

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I learned how to write by hand. it was fun, but I don't do it much.

Frankly, saying it's quicker is a stretch. It took me a minute to write a BAR. Cheaper, it depends. If you write everything by hand forever, and one person uses 1 or 2 or even 3 different systems for their life, they have it cheaper.

Other than that, yes I do like handwriting.....sorta ;)

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I always, always, always, ALWAYS write by hand everything I wish to write, nowadays. It really helps the quality of my pieces -- I'm able to add detail to my pieces, so they are not just blueprints and half-finished ideas. And so much for the quality and depth in music comes from paying attention to detail!

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With the exception of jazz, I hardly ever write by hand. Now believe this, I can do it because I first learned that way. I imply the same techniques when I use Finale (meaning I don't use hyperscribe.)

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Writing by hand has always seemed to lead to better compositions. I think its because when you write by hand, you have a deeper connection with the piece. When I sit at a computer and type out the notes, yeah they are mine, but it just doesn't feel as natural.

But when you sit down and write by hand, you have a connection to the piece of music that you would not otherwise have. I do know there have been studies on writing essays by hand vs typing, and writing by hand usually yields better essays.

Another aspect as well, writing by hand I think adds to the learning process when composing. There are feedback mechanisms in your brain that help reinforce what you are writing. For me, this goes hand in hand with not just composing out of the blue whatever you want, but actually composing with a purpose. Specific, targeted composing. Working on things that you are not good at.

My hand goes up for the hand.

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I have the opposite affect. My pieces written on computer tend to turn out better than those done by hand, especially those done by hand without a pitch reference. I guess I just like instant feedback on what I'm writing so I can pick and choose what I want while I'm writing it. It speeds up the process incredibly.

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Well. True.....but some do it right. I compose by instrument, but I suppose if you're good enough, it just comes to you!

And then there are people who can "play" something............

;)

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I rarely compose with an instrument in front of me. I guess that once you know what instruments like to play you don't really need to.

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If you can hear the music in your head you don't need an instrument. People make the case for working on a computer that they can play it back as they write it, which basically means you're not good enough at any one instrument to use that instead to hear your work.

Well said!

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I like sitting down behind my keyboard and let my hands play things. Finally I come back to the same melody again and again. This is most of the time something I like. Then I go to the computer and write it down. That's just the method that works for me. I'm not a professional composer so this is also the only way to get my music played, even though it's not a very nice sound :phones:.

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It's true that it's not always the neatest, but there is something liberating about writing freehand on a manuscript, just like how the classical composers did it. It's kind of a tough call.

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IPlaying music live is nothing like playing music on sibelius. You'll never get the complete feel for what you're writing if you only hear it through your headphones.

I think you meant playing music on Sibelius is nothing like playing music live! :thumbsup:

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The majority of my composing process is done by hand by sketch. I've never done an entire score by hand but 95% of my music is first hand written. All of my orchestration is done when I am transfering it into sibelius but I already know what instruments I want to play what line or embelish with runs etc before punching it in.

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Well, I think that the majority of composers today use sequencers as opposed to notation software. Sure, they use notation software when they need a score that looks neat, but most of the time it's playing it in via midi keyboard. So I don't know if you could classify that as "writing". After that if a need arises for a score, most will use notation software. I think that mostly old school composers still use pen and paper simply because they are more proficient with those tools than with a computer, so it definitely is faster for them. And I see no harm in this, since most of us will hardly get a chance to work with a whole orchestra and with the development of sequencer and sampling software you can get pretty close to that sound without leaving your computer. That being said, I really do not know how beneficial it is to still write by hand if you can play something and record it, writing cannot ever be faster than playing. I only write by hand when I'm writing something something like choral music because it is easier to follow the vertical and horizontal parts, see what all of your voices are doing, avoid parallels, wrong doublings etc. But most of the time it's keyboard and computer for me.

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you mean choral EXERCISES ;) No need to avoid parallels nowadays :P

you mean choral EXERCISES ;) No need to avoid parallels nowadays :P

I'm actually writing a choral for a church choir right now, and I do keep to the classical harmony rules. There's no avoiding that if you're trying to make it sound like standard church chorales.

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you mean choral EXERCISES ;) No need to avoid parallels nowadays :P

Yes there is a need. Its called good voice leading. One day you'll learn about it when you go to college.

...most of us will hardly get a chance to work with a whole orchestra and with the development of sequencer and sampling software you can get pretty close to that sound without leaving your computer.

No its not. You can get a good facsimile of an orchestra, but it will never sound like the real thing live, simply by virtue of it being a recorded medium. Live orchestra will always trump recorded orchestra which will always trump synthesized orchestra.

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Yes there is a need. Its called good voice leading. One day you'll learn about it when you go to college.

Uhm. guess where I'm going buckaroo. In an exercise, YES, you need good voice leading and no parallel 5ths and such, but in a normal choral work, which is what I was referring to, you can have dissonant things and all that. EXERCISE: yes. just a piece for chorus? no.

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It's funny this thread started when I was faced with what this thread is about: writing by hand. For the longest time, I have used Finale solely in writing my works. Three weeks ago, my laptop had major issues and I was forced to reformat the hard drive - losing Finale! Since I am required to write daily, I pulled out my pads of staff paper and transcribed the works I was working on from the PDF to the score. The PDF seemed odd - so I wrote the motivic material down and began afresh in constructing the three pieces I'm working on. The results at my lesson were amazing. The works were FAR better than they were originally. I never thought that would be the case - but after reinstalling finale and entering in what I've written... I can truly say writing by hand is superior.

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Yes there is a need. Its called good voice leading. One day you'll learn about it when you go to college.

You can have parallels and still have good voice leading - at least in most modern ethics of music composition. I think you need to qualify this by saying, though, that if you are writing utilizing tonal harmony -and, even without, if you are striving for line independence- you need to avoid certain types of parallels (5ths, 8vas).

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That's the definition of good voice leading Jason, I don't have to qualify it. Voices being independent is a good thing, especially in choirs. Whether its tonal or not is irrelevant.

BTW, Graham, Julliard Pre-college doesn't count as college. Voice leading doesn't have to do with dissonance (unless you're talking about resolving the tri-tone or sumpthin), it has to do with voice independence.

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