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How Can I Increase The Span Of My Musical Thoughts?


luderart
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Most of my music seems clearly divided into 4-bar sections or thoughts of reliable regularity that follow one another rather than truly proceeding from one another, or merging into one another as great music I have come to believe should.

I am seeing this as a shortness of the span of my musical thought. If so, is that a weakness and should one seek to remedy it? Indeed, can it be remedied or is it rather a reflection of one's maturity and life experience that can only be changed through developing maturity as a person first and only then as a composer?

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Well, if that is the only way you approach formal building blocks, it's not so much as a shortness in span, as it is the nonexistence of one. Whether or not it is a weakness is up to you to decide.

Since your idea of 'great' music, has similar structure to what you write, why are you concerned?

Maybe you have misunderstood. I mean great music (or at least a lot of great music) flows and does not seem as though divided into sections or clearly distinct 4-bar phrases that follow one another. Yet my music seems to be divided into sections like that. I was just wondering whether that would be considered a weakness in composing or it's just a reflection of one's psychic experience and maturity and therefore of the musical experience that proceeds from it.

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One thing that I found works for me is to focus instead on smaller motivic units and approach them similar to Phil's idea of single process structures. You'd be surprised how much you can get out of smaller units and how versatile a simple 3 or 4 note idea can be. One thing I would suggest, is perhaps to listen and study the scores of a variety of compositional styles. Eventually, you'll find what works for you.

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I think I know exactly what you mean, this is something I struggled with when I first started composing. I think the best advice is to listen to music, look at the score, and see exactly how they thwarted expectations. Haydn is great for this. However, in later romantic music, these expectations were not even there and odd-measured statements flow more freely into eachother.

Another problem is having your little phrase/statement and then repeating it immediately to justify its existence. This is something Debussy did a lot and can be a turn off for me.

But hey, if you like it, then go for it, there's nothing objectively *bad* about 4-bar phrases.

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Strive do break your habits, if you feel that is your weakness. Even if you don't feel that way, try 'new' things, you know you're not comfortable, or all too familiar with.

Agreed. Force yourself to experiment outside of your comfort zone. Give yourself specific parameters and constraints to streamline and focus your efforts in other directions. Harmonic, rhythmic, textural limitations will force you to use the unrestricted elements to expand on your current vocabulary and tools.

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