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Nekdo

learning music composition

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Nekdo    2

Hi! 

I'd really like to learn basics of music composition. I'm very interested in writing classical orchestral or piano music, but I have no idea where to start. I know that the best option would be finding a good tutor, but I'd rather learn by myself via internet.
At the moment, the wish to learn is basically all I have, apart from small theoretical background. I don't even know what skills are necessary for composing (which makes searching for articles online incredibly hard). I would very much appreciate if someone could give me some advice on where should I begin. Should I first improve my piano skills? Should I improve my ear? Should I find myself a book? Should I start with an online course? How much money should I spend (I presume it's hard to get good quality content for free)? Should I use multiple sources? If anyone has experience with books or online courses that suit my level of expertise, I would be grateful if you could share it. 

My current knowledge and skills: I can recognise and use major scale, melodic and harmonic minor scales, as well as a few modes of major scales (I have some experience with jazz improvisation). I have no problems with constructing and recognising intervals and some basic chords with inversions (minor, major, augmented and diminished, a few types of seventh chords). I have pretty developed ear. I'm quite good at playing saxophone and I also have some experience with piano (which is convenient I guess ...). 

I would be very grateful for any piece of advise :) 
 

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Samtaylor    1

I started out from two books. 1. Walter P. Piston Harmony and 2. Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux, which is part of something else I don't remember. anyway. if you don't already have a notation software, there are some for free. legally. the two one that come to mind are finale notepad and Musescore. However many composers don't do work in the software they only write it down. If you feel ready or even not, you can always just fool around with a few chords and figure out what sounds good. 

some links to the things i mentioned:
Harmony, walter P.Piston http://www.mediafire.com/download/d17zo6d2l6c5328/Walter+Piston+-+Harmony.pdf

The Study of counter point:http://www.opus28.co.uk/Fux_Gradus.pdf

Musescore: https://musescore.org/

Finale Notepad:https://www.finalemusic.com/products/finale-notepad/

All that being said. I don't think there is one way but many ways to the same place. Don't take my word as gospel, if you don't want to read books, don't. you could always find someone to ask questions.

 

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danishali903    142

I'm not a big fan of online learning, especially if you're just beginning to learn something new. I only use online stuff as a supplemental tool. I would advise you to focus on theory and harmony first. I would suggest reading the Kostka Tonal Harmony book, it's usually the one used by most colleges in music theory courses. When you have a good grasp of theory, then you can focus on specific things like counterpoint, orchestration, etc. I also agree with Sam, that you should just experiment writing whatever you feel like using the free notation softwares.

I would also urge you to listen to all different kinds of music, and keep an open mind about new and unfamiliar genres and styles. If you can read music well, I would also tell you to read and study scores....lots of them. 

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pateceramics    261

Sounds like you've got a good skill set, so start composing.  Also start reading about composition, and the more specific questions will begin to arrive.  Those questions will lead to more questions and as you go, you'll start to understand more of what you're reading, and also realize that composition is one of those lovely open-ended studies that is never done.  You'll get more knowledgable as you go, but there will always be more to learn.  So go ahead and plunge in.  If you can find a class, great!  If not, don't let that stop you from doing what you can do right now.  Anything you learn now helps prepare you to learn more in the future.  But if you want to learn composing, step one is to start composing, and then let what you are writing direct your next steps.  

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Nekdo    2
18 hours ago, Samtaylor said:

I started out from two books. 1. Walter P. Piston Harmony and 2. Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux, which is part of something else I don't remember. anyway. if you don't already have a notation software, there are some for free. legally. the two one that come to mind are finale notepad and Musescore. However many composers don't do work in the software they only write it down. If you feel ready or even not, you can always just fool around with a few chords and figure out what sounds good. 

some links to the things i mentioned:
Harmony, walter P.Piston http://www.mediafire.com/download/d17zo6d2l6c5328/Walter+Piston+-+Harmony.pdf

The Study of counter point:http://www.opus28.co.uk/Fux_Gradus.pdf

Musescore: https://musescore.org/

Finale Notepad:https://www.finalemusic.com/products/finale-notepad/

All that being said. I don't think there is one way but many ways to the same place. Don't take my word as gospel, if you don't want to read books, don't. you could always find someone to ask questions.

 

 

 

17 hours ago, danishali903 said:

I'm not a big fan of online learning, especially if you're just beginning to learn something new. I only use online stuff as a supplemental tool. I would advise you to focus on theory and harmony first. I would suggest reading the Kostka Tonal Harmony book, it's usually the one used by most colleges in music theory courses. When you have a good grasp of theory, then you can focus on specific things like counterpoint, orchestration, etc. I also agree with Sam, that you should just experiment writing whatever you feel like using the free notation softwares.

I would also urge you to listen to all different kinds of music, and keep an open mind about new and unfamiliar genres and styles. If you can read music well, I would also tell you to read and study scores....lots of them. 

 

 

16 hours ago, pateceramics said:

Sounds like you've got a good skill set, so start composing.  Also start reading about composition, and the more specific questions will begin to arrive.  Those questions will lead to more questions and as you go, you'll start to understand more of what you're reading, and also realize that composition is one of those lovely open-ended studies that is never done.  You'll get more knowledgable as you go, but there will always be more to learn.  So go ahead and plunge in.  If you can find a class, great!  If not, don't let that stop you from doing what you can do right now.  Anything you learn now helps prepare you to learn more in the future.  But if you want to learn composing, step one is to start composing, and then let what you are writing direct your next steps.  

 

 

thank you all for your reply :)  

I finally have a few guidelines and am a bit less confused. I will definitely check those three books you mentioned and tried to build on that (and yes, I will treat your words as a gospel  :P ... I need to begin somewhere).
I will also check the finale notepad. I already have some experience with Muse Score... Pretty awesome program, I have to say... Though I've never tried to actually compose something with it.
So I finally have a plan. I will begin studying harmony and than move to other topics like counterpoint. I will also start composing today (though I will probably need to turn off my sense of estethic when listening to my "masterpieces" or else I will damage my ears :P ). I will invest more time into listening to other music genres and I will learn, learn and learn untill I die (or lose my motivation... Which hopefully won't happen).

So thanks once again for sharing your tips. I'll definitely make use of them. I's really encouraging to hear that I already have some basic knowledge and that I should just put my head down and start creating something. 

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JohnKiunke    1

My biggest mistake as a beginner (I still am very much a beginner) was that I though a book would tell me how to compose. The only methods that have immediately improved my own skills are playing figured bass (it gets you familiar with progressions and tendencies of chords without the dry reading material and exercises), following along with scores while listening to the piece (helps with orchestration and form, it can get boring sometimes so I suggest taking a pencil/stick/pen and "conducting" the music, which is much more fun) and third, once you have basic knowledge of how chords work (which you probably already have) the only way to get better is to compose every day. I suggest setting a schedule, for example I compose for about 10 minutes to an hour every morning, depending on how motivated and full of ideas I am. I just started with a schedule and I've been able to write 3 short piano sonatas, a string quartet, and a small symphony movement in just over a month. Consistency is key.

Edited by JohnKiunke

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Nekdo    2
On 10. 7. 2017 at 2:11 AM, JohnKiunke said:

My biggest mistake as a beginner (I still am very much a beginner) was that I though a book would tell me how to compose. The only methods that have immediately improved my own skills are playing figured bass (it gets you familiar with progressions and tendencies of chords without the dry reading material and exercises), following along with scores while listening to the piece (helps with orchestration and form, it can get boring sometimes so I suggest taking a pencil/stick/pen and "conducting" the music, which is much more fun) and third, once you have basic knowledge of how chords work (which you probably already have) the only way to get better is to compose every day. I suggest setting a schedule, for example I compose for about 10 minutes to an hour every morning, depending on how motivated and full of ideas I am. I just started with a schedule and I've been able to write 3 short piano sonatas, a string quartet, and a small symphony movement in just over a month. Consistency is key.

 

John, thank you for your advice. I have also been noticing for the past two months that just sitting in front of the piano and trying to reconstruct my favourite pieces improved my ability for coming up with good harmonic progressions immensly. As for scedhule ...  Composing and coming up with stuff is quite fun so consistency is not that much of a problem ... However, It's a bit different with staring at the score and following notes, but I guess it's also much more benefitial.

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18 minutes ago, Anna and her demons said:

Maybe I'm not experienced enough to give advice, but I think you should just try it.

 

In fact, the best advice you can give in my opinion!

Composing music is a process: you write music and on the basis of the experiences you have got from writing the composition, you gain more knowledge and you can continue writing new works with more knowledge.

Practice, practice, practice!

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