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yankeefan2001

Quality V.s. Quantity

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Hi, I am a beginning composer, but I have been singing since 4th grade. I was just wondering since I'm sort of brand new to it, should I try to compose as many works as possible and not try to perfect them or try to make the works I do compose have more quality.

Thanks for your help! :nod:

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Write short pieces. Work on developing your ideas with compositional devices. Don't take on more than you can chew. But, don't feel STUCK in cretain things. Don't be afraid to move on.

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I would strongly suggest something small. Short form, maybe reduced instrumentation, pick 3 or 4 notes that you like in sequence & try to make a melody out of them. Look at the intervals between them and try to analyze every angle of your melody. Polish, polish, polish, and make sure you look at everything you do critically. Once you have a good product to put on here, post it and let some people give you constructive criticism. I was once told by a well known band composer to write a piece about an idea, like a fire burning. Also, can't hurt to study scores to look at how they make certain sections work, voice, notate, etc....

Good luck, and keep your head up!

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Go for both. With a large quantity of exercises and a large amount of feedback and self-criticism, you might achieve quality in the long run.

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I've always been of the school that one large fantastic work is better than 50 crappy short works. However, for a young starting-out composer, the 50 short works is more useful because you can identify quickly where you need to improve. And, of course, large works take more skill to write which you probably don't have yet. But enough little works and eventually a big work will become possible for you!

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Tokke's got a good point.

The more crap you write NOW, the less time you'll spend writing crap in the future. ;) haha.

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Tokke's got a good point.

The more crap you write NOW, the less time you'll spend writing crap in the future. ;) haha.

Great quote :D

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I agree that starting with more small-scale works is best. I wish I had a dollar for every misguided attempt I made at a symphony before I was 20, for example; I learnt very little from those attempts, except that I wasn't ready to write I symphony. It is really easy early on to get overwhelmed with the details of a major work before you're ready for it technically. As Justin says, in a small work it's easier to identify quickly where you need to improve.

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50 short masterpieces are better than one mediocre long work. Webern's complete works can be performed in one sitting, and he's considered one of the most important composers of the 20th century.

I've written seven miniatures and I've learned a great deal from all of them.

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Talent without refinement and business skills is like a nice car without an engine: It looks nice but gets you nowhere.

Indeed!

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I also find that writing arrangements is helpful to hone part-writing and orchestration techniques and also (for me at least) sometimes helps to jumpstart the creative process if I'm stuck on a piece (which happens a lot for me.....)

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I also find that writing arrangements is helpful to hone part-writing and orchestration techniques and also (for me at least) sometimes helps to jumpstart the creative process if I'm stuck on a piece (which happens a lot for me.....)

Seconded. I learnt everything I know about orchestration from arranging other's pieces. You can do it twice, once copying the style of the composer and once according to your own tastes.

I am going to push the boat out a bit here and say that 'talent', as it is understood colloquially, doesn't really exist. It's just a shorthand way to describe being perceived to be highly skilled at something, whether that's because a lavish marketing campaign says so or because of years of practice and experience. The widespread (not to mention often inappropriate) use of the word is largely responsible for the lazy assumption that 'talent' is a mystical force that a chosen individual is destined to be born with rather than the result of diligent study and determination, things which anyone is potentially capable of. A better term would be simply ability.

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So how do you explain people being better than you at music in the 5th grade when you all started in band class at the same time?

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So how do you explain people being better than you at music in the 5th grade when you all started in band class at the same time?

5th grade is about age 10-11, yes? (I'm British). I can't really answer that directly, because we didn't have any 'band class' involving instrumental tuition; everyone took lessons individually. But the reason would be simple: if anyone was better it was because they practised more effectively, had a better teacher, or simply cared about doing the thing well (most people had dropped out by the time they reached secondary school). What I want to dispel is the idea that 'talent' is something a chosen few are born with and the rest aren't, and this magical superpower means that taking lessons is a mere formality to get them started on instrument/singing/taekwondo etc, after which even the most formidable feats are just jumping through hoops at which the rest of the world can only gaze in awe (and hopefully buy their records). In other words, anyone can master a skill simply with the correct instruction and sufficient determination to do so. 'Talent' is an unhelpful and highly inaccurate concept, akin to belief that any sufficiently advanced technology must be magic.

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'Talent' is an unhelpful and highly inaccurate concept, akin to belief that any sufficiently advanced technology must be magic.

Beg to differ. This logic would suggest that anyone could become Mozart or Mahler (or Lionel Messi, for that matter) with just enough training. Of course hard work is very important, as raw abilities need to be developed; but there's something beyond just that.

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I started with arrangements of existing music and did hundreds of them. I learned a lot about instruments this way. But when composing my own music it took me longer to achieve better solutions of form. Perhaps you should start with chamber music or string orchestra or use instruments which are not difficult to compose for (winds). I remember my first large orchestra attempts. They were terrible.

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By the way, I started to compose at the age of 18, there were some earlier attempts but only substantional work is my Sonatina for piano op. 1 which I wrote when I was 13. I just didn't start as early as Mozart... And I don't give a damn! I am composing with great pleasure ever since and it payed dividence! :)

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Beg to differ. This logic would suggest that anyone could become Mozart or Mahler (or Lionel Messi, for that matter) with just enough training. Of course hard work is very important, as raw abilities need to be developed; but there's something beyond just that.

There's a guy my dad knows who can't keep a simple beat. Tell him to keep a basic 4/4 beat, just cannot do it for the life of him, even with lessons. He's tried to play guitar his whole life, yet never gets further than a few simple chords, which he plays sporadically because he can't keep a beat. I believe talent is real, not in a "magical sense", but in a way that maybe some of us are genetically predisposed to do certain things others can't.

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^that. :) I believe this is true.

Some of us are just better at some things than others. It all has to do with genetics AND epigenetics.

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