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composer457

Step By Step (How You Start And Finish A Piece)

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It is possible that this topic was disccused on sometime in the past. My research abilities lacked this evening, so I venture out in presenting this sometimes controversial topic. If I may so, this could be enlightning to some young composers connected to this site.

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Totally depends on the piece. For example if i am writing a piece with paradigms or motifs I usually start at the micro level and work my way up. At the moment I am working from a macro structure that also applies to the micro rhythm of the piece.

 

So I guess overall you just start with an idea or concept and think of the possibilities. There isn't really a definitive step-by-step way for me.

 

1. Create concept/idea

2. Think of possibilities either structurally or the theme development

3. Write piece and use critical judgement to inform decisions. 

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I'm afraid this is not a question can have an answer as simple as the question was, I don't know but if you make a question like this perhaps you should start by learning an instrument until you reach an intermediate level, and all the music basics including minimal harmony theory, (Learning a polyphonic instrument like piano will help to make this process much faster), because it looks to me that you're hoping to find in internet something like this but in compositions, and can tell you, this is not like that.

tvstand.jpg

 

I could give you a sort of instructions to do something like this, but it would be my composition and not yours.

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Music composition is to complex as it stands to even begin to ask such a simple question such as this. Here's why:

1) the numerous of forms/ styles to choose from

2) the tools one needs to learn before acesses these forms and styles.

and 3) how to do a score study properly will suffice enough here.

 

Thus, If one wants to learn how to compose music from start to finish:

1) Begin by studying a score

2) try to emunate the style in that score (not plagerize the score, but make you themes and harmonize them)

3) learn harmony, Cpt, form, and orchestration.

4) pratice 1 and 2 over and over.....

5) make you music with out emutaing others.

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I don't think there's a right or wrong process. It's not as though what you're building requires a specific process such as a piece of architecture. So long as you wind up with something decent, how you got there doesn't matter. When I write music I generally write it in the same way you might write a research paper. The process involves about 35% study, 20% research, and 30% brainstorming and maybe 15% writing actual drafts.

 

When you write music this way, the first three questions you might ask yourself is "What is my score trying to accomplish - what are some good examples of some songs that accomplish this fairly well - What is it about these songs that make them work?" You might also ask what era the music is trying to depict if any or what kind of culture might have spawned this kind of material. Basically, you can use this as the basis to transcribe and examine, and write down chord progressions, techniques, and ideas. You'll end up with a strange mix of influences and ideas that you can use as a foundation. From here, it's just a matter of coming up with a strategy to string them together coherently.

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If I am writing for a small ensemble (say, a brass quintet) I just lay out the staves and start writing.  I might have scratch paper next to me to experiement with chord progressions, but pretty much everything goes onto the main project.

 

Now, if I am writing for a larger group (e.g. orchestra), I've found that sketching the piece out on a system of four staves is the most efficient.  Four staves gives me plenty of room for counterpoint as well as space to jot down ideas for instrumental groups I have in mind.  I will sketch the entire before I actually try to orchestrate it (check out my "The Strasburg Song" under my profile for an example--I still haven't orchestrated it, but the score posted will give you a great example of what I'm talking about).

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1) Noodle on piano.  Write down scattered snippets.

2) Something seems to be OK.  Play it more.

3) Think, play...  twist, mangle, crop, dismantle, assemble.

4) Realize it's scraggy, back to step 1.

--

5) Occasionally, something will work.  Play it more, write it out.

6) Does it make sense?  Yes, Put it in Finale.

 

...

 

This thread might also have some additional insight.  You can see what my steps 1-4 look like:  http://www.youngcomposers.com/t28167/show-us-your-process/

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I like to start by thinking about the ensemble or, if there is some extra-musical aspect, that. What sounds/textures/harmonies/rhythms/colours does the 'feel' of the piece suggest?  If I think about the idea of 'harp and strings', I instantly think of a texture that could be used as a starting-point: the strings are holding a chord whilst the harp plays ascending notes.  So I go and write that down as best I can and then try to think about how to continue it based on my memory and experience of other compositions/orchestral playing/technical limitations of the instrument/any extra-musical stimuli. As long as I'm still at it after about an hour, I can usually structure the rest of the piece around that first idea and complete it eventually.  Sometimes it doesn't even get used in the final piece but it's enough of a focus to create the work around.

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HOW DO YOU DO IT MORE SPECIFICALLY? Ex:

 

Do you outline the harmonies and harmonic rhythm first?

Then add the melody and the bass (skeleton)?

Add the counterpoint?

Then orchestrate?

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