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Good day everyone and thanks in advance for any advice.

Beginner pianist with lots more experience listening to (solo) piano repertoire than orchestral work, but have recently been listening through and trying to get more familiar with the standard symphonic repertoire. Piano teacher suggested I start with something simple like a piano composition, but I (by strokes of luck) put some things to paper (musescore) that I quite like and have decided I am going to try my hand at writing a symphony... May take ten years. That's fine. Just the learning process is worth it. I've gotten through lots of reading on music theory and am almost done with Piston's orchestration.

As an absolute beginner, theres a certain thrill when you start to develop an idea and add depth and complexity and it sounds... Good! at least to you.

My biggest question at the moment is this: why does my stuff sound like a Hollywood movie score and not a typical "classical" work? Obviously this can't be answered in detail without seeing the score, but is there some fundamental difference in scoring or orchestrating that I'm missing?

For example, I love Howard Shore's scores for The Lord of the Rings films, but they obviously don't follow the "traditional" symphonic structure as far as development of themes (sonata form, etc.)

I have a guess at where my problem may lie. From the time I was in grade school I was in concert bass and wind bands (very good ones in high school), and I think I'm calling back the structure of single movement concert band works, keeping melodies in single instruments or sections and I tend to fall back on low woodwinds or French horns instead of the real backbone of the orchestra, the strings, to carry the melody.

In looking at what I write (on the piano first then to the orchestral score), I have lots of four- or eight-bar phrases with harmony and countermelodies, etc. But these seem too... Straightforward or plain for a symphony.

Sorry to be so wordy and vague. Thanks.

Edited by foreignwords
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My biggest question at the moment is this: why does my stuff sound like a Hollywood movie score and not a typical "classical" work? Obviously this can't be answered in detail without seeing the score, but is there some fundamental difference in scoring or orchestrating that I'm missing?

 

This is the wrong question to be asking.

 

The question you should be asking is what do i want to write, a hollywood movie score or a classical work?

 

Film composition and classical composition are two completely different disciplines and the music is structured in completely different ways. Several composers' work inhabits a sort of neutral zone between the two (e.g. Vaughan Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Tan Dun) but all of those composers started out in the classical world with rigorous training—their first loves were classical works or popular music, rather than film scores—and went on to write for film afterwards. Not many people ever seem to go the other way round. Writing classical music requires so much more knowledge and training and for most people it has to be training that starts very early.

 

If you really want to write a classical work, particularly in a large form such as a symphony, you need several things. First of all an intimate understanding of every instrument you are undertaking to write for, its actual sound, capabilities, range and expression. Books tell only part of the story. Second the ability to create a musical argument. If you are working in a relatively traditional style (something i recommend for beginners) this means you must give the piece a focus—a key, a theme, a leitmotif, a twelve-tone row—develop it, depart from it and return to it. This is also rather vague, but dedicated analysis of major works of the symphonic repertoire from Haydn to Shostakovich (roughly) should prove instructive. Third and probably most important is the ability to visualise the entire structure in your mind—to give every sound a meaning in the overall direction of the piece. A film score is discontinuous, but in a classical piece each note must inevitably lead to the next, such that the piece could have been composed no other way. If you write tonal music a sense of key (or at least "grand cadence") is necessary—in a film score one can modulate up a semitone every time the suspense needs to be cranked up, but in classical music this palls quickly and makes all keys become more or less interchangeable (this is carried about as far as possible in pieces like Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande with tiresome results) to the detriment of the tonal hierarchy according to which the piece is organised. If your music is post-tonal in technique you are responsible for determining the musical logic that will be the generating entity of your composition. 

 

For some specifics—there is no fundamental difference in scoring or orchestration between film and concert music (a lot of film scores use orchestration clearly derived from Tchaikovsky & Wagner). There's nothing wrong with being linear—all music is linear; in fact it's much better to be consistently linear than to stop on a perfect cadence every eight bars. Keep your four- and eight-bar phrases for forms that do not exceed twenty-four bars in length. In a symphony you want to space your music in much broader phrases, and more importantly, elide the ends of those phrases so that the music never stops dead. Periodic phrase rhythms can still be used, but they should be alternated with phrases of irregular length to avoid monotony. If you want a locus classicus for this sort of thing in a symphonic context, this (large file) is probably it. (along with most of the other things i mentioned, although i wouldn't necessarily recommend it as an orchestration manual.)

 

With all this said... if what you really love is film music, there's no reason to feel you need to write classical. It may help in some aspects—the way an english degree has a chance to improve your writing skills—but it's hardly necessary or even desirable. If you're passionate about both genres, you should definitely try doing both (i know much less about film composing but Max Castillo/Jem7/several other people can offer superior advice on the subject).

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YAY!

Thanks so much for such fantastic information. I will check out the Brahms score. I've been trying to listen through as much of the more standard repertoire as possible, but admittedly only at work when I can't follow a score or give it my full attention (I make notes about certain things to go back and pay attention to and listen to everything multiple times): mostly Schubert and Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. Haven't touched Mozart, really. 

Your advice about the short phrases is probably what I needed to hear the most. I have some progressions and ideas and phrases and things I'm really happy with, but they're far less 'big picture' and don't really propel enough for a movement of a symphony... Funny you should mention an English degree. I'm an English major, and I write quite a lot. It's like... the 'plot' of the structures I have (for one 'movement' for example, has a few little themes, and they vary and come and go and interact but they) aren't large enough. They're like teeny tiny anecdotes, and no matter how far I stretch them, they don't make a full novel. 

I don't really have much interest in the film genre (as a composer; there are some film scores I adore); this entire project for me is totally one of personal edification, and it would be kind of a lifetime goal to write it, have it premiered and be there to hear it. It could be decades away, if it ever happens. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the learning and creative processes involved. Just kind of unsure how to proceed. Thanks so much for the advice!

P.S.: Any other symphonic works anyone could recommend that would be good to really study the scores of? I've read through some that I enjoy but I'm not sure they're great for beginners to get an idea. Recent reads are Mahler 1, Rach 2, Bruckner 1-5, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann 1, Nielsen 1, Tchaikovsky 2, 4. (Also reading through Holst's Planets suite, which is a different sort of work not only in structure, but sound. It's interesting to hear the difference). I had another question but forgot it. 

Thanks again for your insight!

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If you're a total beginner, I personally think you should leave the idea of a symphony aside for a while (just google "symphony Op.1": nothing), and try pieces with fewer instruments (sonatas, trios...), which you may orchestrate later. After all, Schubert's symphonies were conceived as piano 'sonatas', while Beethoven sketched whole movements in one staff, and so on...

 

But first, of course, you'll have to begin with short pieces, maybe bare themes of around 16-32 bars...

 

For the composers you've mentioned, I'll asume you want to write in a tonal common-practise language, in which case you should have swallowed at least 1 harmony treatise (e.g. Piston's, or at least sth. succinct like Rimski's, stay away from Harmonielehre) before trying anything. You should also know the forms in which movements and sections tend to be laid out (a good start: www.teoria.com, wikipedia... for sth meticulous: Caplin's Classical form).

 

If you already have the right 'tools', then listen and analyze scores! For form and harmonies you don't need the full score, use piano reductions. Then try some of this:

 

Deduce the form of the movement (sonata form, ternary...), and mark out the sections. Spot all the themes and recurrent motifs. Count the bars of

every phrase, section, everything (proportions, (a)symmetries, (ir)regularities?). Find all the cadences and modulations, and check out where are they (are  they structurally meaningful?). Analyze the harmonies (chromatic or modal inflections? treatment of dissonance?) and the movement of the basses. Finally, look how things are developed.

 

Other stuff:

http://imslp.org/wiki/Musical_Composition_%28Stanford,_Charles_Villiers%29

http://archive.org/stream/largerformsmusi01goetgoog#page/n202/mode/1up haven't read that in full, though

all these Bernstein videos are pretty cook for beginners

 

... And try to put in practise all what you've learned from time to time.

 

Later you can learn to orchestrate. Read a treatise... well, maybe you could start with this: http://www.music.indiana.edu/department/composition/isfee/

Edited by AlbertPensive
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This is the wrong question to be asking.

 

The question you should be asking is what do i want to write, a hollywood movie score or a classical work?

 

Film composition and classical composition are two completely different disciplines and the music is structured in completely different ways. Several composers' work inhabits a sort of neutral zone between the two (e.g. Vaughan Williams, Leonard Bernstein, Tan Dun) but all of those composers started out in the classical world with rigorous training—their first loves were classical works or popular music, rather than film scores—and went on to write for film afterwards. Not many people ever seem to go the other way round. Writing classical music requires so much more knowledge and training and for most people it has to be training that starts very early.

 

If you really want to write a classical work, particularly in a large form such as a symphony, you need several things. First of all an intimate understanding of every instrument you are undertaking to write for, its actual sound, capabilities, range and expression. Books tell only part of the story. Second the ability to create a musical argument. If you are working in a relatively traditional style (something i recommend for beginners) this means you must give the piece a focus—a key, a theme, a leitmotif, a twelve-tone row—develop it, depart from it and return to it. This is also rather vague, but dedicated analysis of major works of the symphonic repertoire from Haydn to Shostakovich (roughly) should prove instructive. Third and probably most important is the ability to visualise the entire structure in your mind—to give every sound a meaning in the overall direction of the piece. A film score is discontinuous, but in a classical piece each note must inevitably lead to the next, such that the piece could have been composed no other way. If you write tonal music a sense of key (or at least "grand cadence") is necessary—in a film score one can modulate up a semitone every time the suspense needs to be cranked up, but in classical music this palls quickly and makes all keys become more or less interchangeable (this is carried about as far as possible in pieces like Schoenberg's Pelleas und Melisande with tiresome results) to the detriment of the tonal hierarchy according to which the piece is organised. If your music is post-tonal in technique you are responsible for determining the musical logic that will be the generating entity of your composition. 

 

For some specifics—there is no fundamental difference in scoring or orchestration between film and concert music (a lot of film scores use orchestration clearly derived from Tchaikovsky & Wagner). There's nothing wrong with being linear—all music is linear; in fact it's much better to be consistently linear than to stop on a perfect cadence every eight bars. Keep your four- and eight-bar phrases for forms that do not exceed twenty-four bars in length. In a symphony you want to space your music in much broader phrases, and more importantly, elide the ends of those phrases so that the music never stops dead. Periodic phrase rhythms can still be used, but they should be alternated with phrases of irregular length to avoid monotony. If you want a locus classicus for this sort of thing in a symphonic context, this (large file) is probably it. (along with most of the other things i mentioned, although i wouldn't necessarily recommend it as an orchestration manual.)

 

With all this said... if what you really love is film music, there's no reason to feel you need to write classical. It may help in some aspects—the way an english degree has a chance to improve your writing skills—but it's hardly necessary or even desirable. If you're passionate about both genres, you should definitely try doing both (i know much less about film composing but Max Castillo/Jem7/several other people can offer superior advice on the subject).

Quoting the whole post, 'cause it's pure gold.

 

 

whatsa "grand cadence" though?

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I echo the above post: please do not try and write a symphony straight off, you will give up in a few weeks and fall out of love with composing. I'm looking at PhD composition and have not yet felt ready to take on a symphony - whatever the word actually means in modern composition.  Start small and you will feel like you are progressing.

 

So what would be a good path to take? Piano is on the right track, but you should learn an orchestral instrument too and join an orchestra as soon as you are technically able to (what did you play in the concert band?).  This will give you familiarity with the repertoire, knowledge of how to deploy the different instruments and hopefully some friends who can play your music. 

 

I would recommend spending some time on traditional methods of theory such as chorale harmonisation and figured bass.  Whilst they may seem completely irrelavant to modern music and the style anachronistic, they actually remain the most valuable starting points for the composer even today. In particular, they will encourage you to consider the indicidual 'horizontal' lines of a texture and not just the 'vertical' chords. Too much film and TV music today is just based on overused sequences of chord-chord-chord-chord with equally cliched rhythmic devices to keep it moving and no interest in the individual parts. That's the main difference in 'sound' compared to classical concert music which isn't just an atmospheric accompaniment but a self-contained work.

 

Play through scores at the piano. You will take apart the orchestra and see how different sections and instruments can be combined. 

 

Finally - take an interest in contemporary music, whatever that means to you. I come across far too many people who think they want to be composers but won't listen to anything that isn't a product of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century cultures. Copying the stye of Bach or Mozart to learn the basics is fine but you should think about developing an individual voice as soon afterwards as you can.  However, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to sound like Schoenberg or Philip Glass to be valid either.

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Your mentioning Howard Shore means that you know how to pick the most classical of movie scores. Shore decided to write LOTR using a bunch of different leitmotifs and combine them in different ways throughout the film. Basically, the only difference between LOTR's score and a classical concert was the length of ideas being presented. Point being, you are on a right track. Don't be scared if your style sounds like one or the other, you sound like you. If you want to change how you sound, this place is here to help guide that. 

 

Yes, a symphony is long and hard. You have 8 minutes of music, which means you've almost written more than this. You will probably want to take short breaks to compose little sketches, ideas that you've been working on, or just something that strikes your fancy, and going on a whim is good for you. Think of Berg, writing a viola concerto in the middle of Lulu (ok, bad example, because he died before he finished the latter. Please don't die, ok?). Just because a symphony is your main goal doesn't make it the only thing you can work on, and little side trips are great steeping stones for the bigger picture. Maybe you'll want to re-write a smaller piece into the larger whole, who knows?

 

There's a category on the site for incomplete works. If you ever get stuck, or want advice, maybe you should post your work there? It might help take the vagueness out of your questions, and I'm always interested to see what others are working on. Regardless, welcome to the forum, and concert band FTW!!!

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....

For the composers you've mentioned, I'll asume you want to write in a tonal common-practise language, in which case you should have swallowed at least 1 harmony treatise (e.g. Piston's, or at least sth. succinct like Rimski's, stay away from Harmonielehre) before trying anything. You should also know the forms in which movements and sections tend to be laid out (a good start: www.teoria.com, wikipedia... for sth meticulous: Caplin's Classical form).

 

If you already have the right 'tools', then listen and analyze scores! For form and harmonies you don't need the full score, use piano reductions. Then try some of this:

 

Deduce the form of the movement (sonata form, ternary...), and mark out the sections. Spot all the themes and recurrent motifs. Count the bars of

every phrase, section, everything (proportions, (a)symmetries, (ir)regularities?). Find all the cadences and modulations, and check out where are they (are  they structurally meaningful?). Analyze the harmonies (chromatic or modal inflections? treatment of dissonance?) and the movement of the basses. Finally, look how things are developed.

 

Other stuff:

http://imslp.org/wiki/Musical_Composition_%28Stanford,_Charles_Villiers%29

http://archive.org/stream/largerformsmusi01goetgoog#page/n202/mode/1up haven't read that in full, though

all these Bernstein videos are pretty cook for beginners

 

... And try to put in practise all what you've learned from time to time.

 

Later you can learn to orchestrate. Read a treatise... well, maybe you could start with this: http://www.music.indiana.edu/department/composition/isfee/

Albert, 

Thanks for the links! I've almost finished Piston's Orchestration and I have Berlioz' treatise, but should I still read that after having read the far more modern one? 

And yes, I am more interested in 'common practice.' The most 'modern' music I've really taken to is the piano sonatas and later works of Scriabin, which I LOVE, and similar things in that vein (Ornstein, Roslavets, Feinberg, but Mosolov and all that tends to be beyond me). That's the style I like, and I assume that may or may not come out in whatever I eventually write. I'm familiar with the standard 'layout' of a symphony (Sonata form, ternary form, which movements play which parts in what era, [the menuet or the scherzo] etc]) and I do already have some sort of general idea of what I would want mine to 'look like' on paper. Sortofkindof. 

Good ideas for the score reading exercises. I should do that. Up to this point, I've just been following along on my iPad, which is good enough for following along, but not so great for literally taking it apart, setting it side by side, making notes and highlights, etc. Any scores you'd suggest? A suggestion in Piston's Orchestration is to pick a familiar score (he suggest Eroica) and follow just one instrument throughout the whole thing and pay attention its function, who it's doubled with, where it goes, how often it's used, etc. Sounds fun. 

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I echo the above post: please do not try and write a symphony straight off, you will give up in a few weeks and fall out of love with composing. I'm looking at PhD composition and have not yet felt ready to take on a symphony - whatever the word actually means in modern composition.  Start small and you will feel like you are progressing.

 

So what would be a good path to take? Piano is on the right track, but you should learn an orchestral instrument too and join an orchestra as soon as you are technically able to (what did you play in the concert band?).  This will give you familiarity with the repertoire, knowledge of how to deploy the different instruments and hopefully some friends who can play your music. 

 

I would recommend spending some time on traditional methods of theory such as chorale harmonisation and figured bass.  Whilst they may seem completely irrelavant to modern music and the style anachronistic, they actually remain the most valuable starting points for the composer even today. In particular, they will encourage you to consider the indicidual 'horizontal' lines of a texture and not just the 'vertical' chords. Too much film and TV music today is just based on overused sequences of chord-chord-chord-chord with equally cliched rhythmic devices to keep it moving and no interest in the individual parts. That's the main difference in 'sound' compared to classical concert music which isn't just an atmospheric accompaniment but a self-contained work.

 

Play through scores at the piano. You will take apart the orchestra and see how different sections and instruments can be combined. 

 

Finally - take an interest in contemporary music, whatever that means to you. I come across far too many people who think they want to be composers but won't listen to anything that isn't a product of eighteenth- or nineteenth-century cultures. Copying the stye of Bach or Mozart to learn the basics is fine but you should think about developing an individual voice as soon afterwards as you can.  However, don't fall into the trap of thinking you have to sound like Schoenberg or Philip Glass to be valid either.

I can play (or could play) most of the more common concert band woodwinds. I have a flute, and played saxophones (tenor and bari) (not orchestral I am aware [but was not aware in third grade]) for over a decade. Clarinet (mostly bass), and some bassoon (my favorite and poorest). I have zero time to join an ensemble, and I don't know I could find a community ensemble here. Thanks for the advice about figured base and harmonization. I do need to learn all this. Up to this point, it's been a lot of trial and error. I actually like a lot of Glass' work (again, his film scores, but Symphonies 2, 3 and some string pieces I love). 

 

Your mentioning Howard Shore means that you know how to pick the most classical of movie scores. Shore decided to write LOTR using a bunch of different leitmotifs and combine them in different ways throughout the film. Basically, the only difference between LOTR's score and a classical concert was the length of ideas being presented. Point being, you are on a right track. Don't be scared if your style sounds like one or the other, you sound like you. If you want to change how you sound, this place is here to help guide that. 

 

Yes, a symphony is long and hard. You have 8 minutes of music, which means you've almost written more than this. You will probably want to take short breaks to compose little sketches, ideas that you've been working on, or just something that strikes your fancy, and going on a whim is good for you. Think of Berg, writing a viola concerto in the middle of Lulu (ok, bad example, because he died before he finished the latter. Please don't die, ok?). Just because a symphony is your main goal doesn't make it the only thing you can work on, and little side trips are great steeping stones for the bigger picture. Maybe you'll want to re-write a smaller piece into the larger whole, who knows?

 

There's a category on the site for incomplete works. If you ever get stuck, or want advice, maybe you should post your work there? It might help take the vagueness out of your questions, and I'm always interested to see what others are working on. Regardless, welcome to the forum, and concert band FTW!!!

And yes.... I think LOTR is actually kind of a fantastically great example for someone to learn about classical music in some "accessible" familiar popular form. His motifs for each of the places or characters or races are familiar but not identical throughout the entire score. Although the film score obviously doesn't fall nicely into the four-movement form, nor does it follow sonata, ternary, binary, or any other form (aside from the plot of the film), it has very clear themes that come and go and intertwine. Also, it sounds fantastic. Alas, the score isn't on IMSLP for the next.... century. 

I may consider sharing what I have (the more developed half of it, albeit maybe very derivative) and going from there (advice on posting formats? PDF and .ogg?).

And yes... most of what I played was concert band repertoire: Alfred Reed, David Holsinger, Ticheli, those folks. We did play a concert band version of Hindemith's Symphonic Metamorphosis, which I loved. We just didn't really have enough strings in High School. 

Thanks again everyone! Such valuable information. 

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YAY!

Thanks so much for such fantastic information. I will check out the Brahms score. I've been trying to listen through as much of the more standard repertoire as possible, but admittedly only at work when I can't follow a score or give it my full attention (I make notes about certain things to go back and pay attention to and listen to everything multiple times): mostly Schubert and Beethoven, Schumann, Brahms, Tchaikovsky, Bruckner, Mahler, Rachmaninoff, and Prokofiev. Haven't touched Mozart, really. 

Your advice about the short phrases is probably what I needed to hear the most. I have some progressions and ideas and phrases and things I'm really happy with, but they're far less 'big picture' and don't really propel enough for a movement of a symphony... Funny you should mention an English degree. I'm an English major, and I write quite a lot. It's like... the 'plot' of the structures I have (for one 'movement' for example, has a few little themes, and they vary and come and go and interact but they) aren't large enough. They're like teeny tiny anecdotes, and no matter how far I stretch them, they don't make a full novel. 

I don't really have much interest in the film genre (as a composer; there are some film scores I adore); this entire project for me is totally one of personal edification, and it would be kind of a lifetime goal to write it, have it premiered and be there to hear it. It could be decades away, if it ever happens. In the meantime, I'm really enjoying the learning and creative processes involved. Just kind of unsure how to proceed. Thanks so much for the advice!

P.S.: Any other symphonic works anyone could recommend that would be good to really study the scores of? I've read through some that I enjoy but I'm not sure they're great for beginners to get an idea. Recent reads are Mahler 1, Rach 2, Bruckner 1-5, Beethoven, Schubert, Schumann 1, Nielsen 1, Tchaikovsky 2, 4. (Also reading through Holst's Planets suite, which is a different sort of work not only in structure, but sound. It's interesting to hear the difference). I had another question but forgot it. 

Thanks again for your insight!

 

For a good place to start look at the three symphonies that served as the "model" for most of the great symphony composers—Mozart 39, 40 and 41. (This was a model first broken only a couple of decades later with Beethoven 9, but that was somewhat of an exceptional work until later in the nineteenth century) If you have the spare ink and paper it may be helpful to print out scores in order to doodle analyses of harmony/melody/phrasing/counterpoint thereupon.

 

I recommended that particular Brahms movement simply because of the way Brahms makes every phrase feed into the next—something he "corrected" from the finale of Beethoven's 9th, much of whose structure is derived from the fact that Beethoven's big tune is only slightly more square-cut and therefore ends half a bar earlier than Brahms's. Little things like that can have big consequences, in this case Beethoven's 27 minute and notoriously problematic four movement symphony-theme and variations hybrid vs. Brahms's 17 minute and generally satisfying sonata form.

 

bb_0001.png

 

But for something else to analyse, turn to page 166 of this symphony. Here Mozart writes a symphonic movement almost entirely in periodic four-bar phrases with the occasional two-bar phrase thrown in at cadences. How does he nonetheless keep the music moving along? No more than 1000 words, due wednesday ;)

 

If you're a total beginner, I personally think you should leave the idea of a symphony aside for a while (just google "symphony Op.1": nothing), and try pieces with fewer instruments (sonatas, trios...), which you may orchestrate later. After all, Schubert's symphonies were conceived as piano 'sonatas', while Beethoven sketched whole movements in one staff, and so on...

 

I don't necessarily agree with this, but what does take more practice is writing in large forms. I started out with piano sonatas, then moved on to chamber music and concertos before writing a symphony, trying to increase the scale and scope of each composition as time went on. If it's large orchestra music you're most interested in, do write a symphony—but don't write just one, write many, and try to work out the various formal/technical problems you encounter as you go. It was 11 years before i wrote a symphony i was satisfied with. i imagine that may be faster than average since i work pretty quickly.

 

Later you can learn to orchestrate. Read a treatise... well, maybe you could start with this: http://www.music.indiana.edu/department/composition/isfee/

 

I prefer this: http://andrewhugill.com/manuals/intro.html ;)

 

Quoting the whole post, 'cause it's pure gold.

 

 

whatsa "grand cadence" though?

 

not sure if the term is much used anymore, if it ever was

 

but a piece like Nielsen's 4th symphony, while not tonal in a typical sense, makes a convincing progression from D minor to E major, providing unity in the sense of a tonal direction rather than an individual key center.

Edited by .fseventsd
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Welp, I went ahead and posted the .mp3 and score here. I wrote a bunch of little notes and other stuff about it there. I can elaborate, but I'm wordy so I tried to keep it simple. I am eager to hear thoughts and feedback. I'm excited about even this little bit I have, but am kind of just unsure how to get the broad symphony-like structure and phrasing and development out of it instead of that film-score or concert band structure. I dunno. Have a look and thanks in advance!

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I've almost finished Piston's Orchestration

I meant Piston's harmony treatise, or sth similar.

In your score you're using the natural D minor scale throughout, with C instead of C#. That's the quintessence of film music. In fact you didn't use a single chromaticism in the score. You need to read one of those treatises to learn how to spice it up.

Of course, as .fseventsd said, you could start with a symphony, but still, the number of composers who began to sketch out scores with ~20 staves is (statistically speaking) really small (maybe Shostakovich?). A few more examples: Wagner sketched his operas in 3-5 staves, while Elgar used piano scores, like Schubert...

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I meant Piston's harmony treatise, or sth similar.

In your score you're using the natural D minor scale throughout, with C instead of C#. That's the quintessence of film music. In fact you didn't use a single chromaticism in the score. You need to read one of those treatises to learn how to spice it up.

 

This sounds like good homework. I don't really know where/how to use dominant/diminished sevenths, augmented sixths, etc. effectively. I am almost done with orchestration and I have harmony as well. Sounds like it should be my next one (probably should have read that one before orchestration). 

I am interested that you mention the reason for the film-score-ness. What do you mean about C instead of C#? There wasn't any particular reason I chose Dm, but that's where it started and I kind of liked it. Where does C# come in? I'll go do my homework now. 

Thanks!

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hello to all, 

 

I'm not here to give much advice but I'd like to say that all this information has been fantastic. I have a pretty hefty background in playing guitar and pretending to be alright at piano, but I'm just now getting into full compositions and I've learned a lot just from the replies and links shared here. 

 

Thanks to all who participated. I will surely be turning to this forum more often! 

 

-SP

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Of course, as .fseventsd said, you could start with a symphony, but still, the number of composers who began to sketch out scores with ~20 staves is (statistically speaking) really small (maybe Shostakovich?). A few more examples: Wagner sketched his operas in 3-5 staves, while Elgar used piano scores, like Schubert...

Heh, I sketch with 22 staves. Beat that! :P

 

A friend of mine who is a jazz composer linked me to an interesting site about advanced scales and modes, but it's all in French (darn it!), so I can't read much of it, but it points out some interesting looking patterns using the number of halfsteps (scroll down a bit and you'll see). Perhaps it might be fun for those of you trying to write more interesting stuff to pick one and see what happens if you're looking for a way to spice things up! Just pick one and build a melody from it, then try to stick in that scale with harmonies (or don't)... it's all about experimentation, I say. Theory can give you a very solid foundation, but only experimentation can give you the remaining 10%- if your 'ear' points you one way, try going another, and best of luck Stephen and foreignwords in your work. :)

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Thanks all. This thread is also helpful to me althuogh my style is a little different. I am into the slow and romantic stuff like Jim Brickman and soothing/uplifting urban worship. I don't think I am ready for any orchestration composition yet, but I do love to try video games. It's fun and I actually enjoy it cuz it's repetitive and so does electronic dance music, they're arrangement is what I am more familar with, but not with any of these ya talking about.

Edited by newcomposer
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