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How To Get Good At Composing?


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Compose, compose, compose, and compose some more. You can compare composing to art/drawing. Sure there needs to be some talent, but at the same time you have to do a lot. Like Robin Jessome said, you need to practice. Read theory books, familierize yourself with what instruments can or can't do, and listen to a lot of music. Find out what other composers do that makes what they write work. Think about what makes a good phrase, what holds a section of music together, and then imitate the process by using their framework but with your original material.

Finally, remember, becoming a good composer, takes a lot of time!

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So how did you get better at composition? Were you born a prodigy? Do you take lessons? Do you perform a lot/not at all?

Important questions. What has not been stated yet that I feel is a vital aspect of developing as a composer is to LISTEN to composers you love, frequently, and analytically. This doesn't mean you have to break down the theory of all the music you love, but simply following the chords on your piano when listening to a piece you like can help you get some ideas on what chord arrangements you particularly like. Music is a language and everyone learns languages by first hearing language, then producing it themselves. Honestly, I think Johnbucket's advice is nonsense. DON'T be afraid of imitation. Every modern-day songwriter I enjoy has in an interview somewhere their favorite bands or composers from childhood and talks about how obsessed they were with that group or that guy. Now as you progress as a musician, and as your range of influences becomes broader, your works will sound less generic and eventually you will have your own style that could loosely be called a mix of your influences. Everything you listen to, music or otherwise, is stored in your subconscious, so if you like a certain composer, LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN ANALYZE!

There is no such thing as a childhood prodigy. Those who are called childhood prodigies are people who were either trained from a very young age by parents or other teachers, or who were able to get out of the public school system and spend their time the way they wanted to. Read about Laszlo Polgar - he homeschooled and trained his 3 daughters in chess from a very young age and 2/3 became Grandmasters. So there's very strong evidence, from a wide range of sources that geniuses are made, not born. People tend to like this idea of the childhood prodigy (not necessarily you) because it gives them a cop-out for not achieving excellence. "Well, I'm not talented enough to do this," is a common thing that goes on in people's heads. Also, check out ANY Youtube video of a virtuoso in ANY category and you will see comments like "I am in despair. Doubt I will ever play like that..." (I just copied and pasted that from an 11 year old virtuoso violinist'svideo). People who know they are underachieving either watch a master and get inspiration or get demotivated because they see what they are capable of, or at least what is possible and know they are not dedicated to achieve their maximum potential.

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