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Hugget Zukker

Discussion of long composition

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If you've ever written a long piece of music (say 10+ minutes), or got bored trying, what inspired you to do so, and how did the creative process feel different from that of writing a short and sweet piece (say < 5 minutes)?

A lot of western art music is very long compared to popular music. Are there certain things that a long piece, in your opinion, can do better than a short one?

I'm asking because I have long wanted to make a long music, simply to try it and see how it changes my perspective.

I've read that Sonata form (exposition > development > recapitulation) is a good solution to writing a long piece. Can you propose a thoroughly analytical explanation of why Sonata form may be such a popular choice, and are there any other large scale forms which might be equally applicable?

Thanks

Edited by Hugget Zukker

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Are you talking large-scale multi-movement works or single movements that last 10+ minutes?

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I was thinking long single movements, but multi-movement works that sound highly cohesive and structured seem closely related to the topic. I'm curious about craft and appraisal of music that is longer than most popular music. I'm trying to "get it". Most of my life I've listened to and composed only 3-6 minute music, but I wish I could better "feel" and appreciate longer music. I tend to miss the big idea if it's too long.

Edited by Hugget Zukker

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I think the key for writing long single-movement composition is connecting ideas with smooth transitions. I generally don't care about the length of the piece, as long as it sounds complete.

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One year ago I found it important to write large-scale music. Large-scale music appeared better to me than short pieces.

Now my view on that has changed: I write music until I feel that it has to stop. So, sometimes I write music of 1 minute, but I have also composed a longer piece of 30 minutes.

I guess that pop songs are short - and getting shorter and shorter - because the longer a song is, the more expensive it is to play on the radio.

I want to be careful with this, but I think that classical composers care more about art than about duration. With pop artists the duration is more important. I am not saying that pop is not art.

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Mr Stravinsky pointed out that:

Quote

Too many pieces of music finish too long after the end.

 

I tend to violently agree with him.

 

As for the Sonata form and other forms, they are there as tools to make "filler" as to allow your ideas to breathe a little. That way you don't have to keep coming up with new motives and harmonies every two measures, but if you want to do that there's nothing stopping you either. It all depends on why you would fixate yourself on the length of the piece rather than its content, which I find much more important.

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Historically, sonata form developed out of (rounded) binary form as a way to write longer pieces that sustain interest but are still coherent. Thus, it's not surprising that it is well-suited to provide a basic structure for longer forms. But concerto form (ritornello with tutti - contrasting soli) and a well-planned Rondo can do this as well. And by the way concerto form can be written for small ensembles as well. And there are certainly numerous other strategies for interesting long-form writing.

Personally,  I haven't written anything in long form. Four minutes is currently my upper limit.

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On 11/9/2017 at 10:33 PM, Maarten Bauer said:

One year ago I found it important to write large-scale music. Large-scale music appeared better to me than short pieces.

Now my view on that has changed: I write music until I feel that it has to stop. So, sometimes I write music of 1 minute, but I have also composed a longer piece of 30 minutes.

Yes, but if you always found yourself writing 2-5 minute instrumental pieces like me, but often consulted a repertoire of instrumental music for inspiration often extending beyond the 5 minutes, wouldn't you begin to suspect it might be a good idea for you to challenge yourself to write longer pieces so that you could naturally write pieces at any duration, say 0 to 12 minutes?

If writing long pieces feels completely normal to you, then your attitude makes perfect sense. If you were like me, feeling overwhelmed when a piece becomes too large, I think it makes some sense to seek further education.

Please don't write off my wish to grow so lightly. The fact that you used to think large-scale music superior (which I don't and never have) must have given you a special appreciation that must have really aided you in writing large-scale pieces more intuitively than I could.

Edited by Hugget Zukker
Re-phrasing

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2 hours ago, Hugget Zukker said:

Yes, but if you always found yourself writing 2-5 minute instrumental pieces like me, but often consulted a repertoire of instrumental music for inspiration often extending beyond the 5 minutes, wouldn't you begin to suspect it might be a good idea for you to challenge yourself to write longer pieces so that you could naturally write pieces at any duration, say 0 to 12 minutes?

If writing long pieces feels completely normal to you, then your attitude makes perfect sense. If you were like me, feeling overwhelmed when a piece becomes too large, I think it makes some sense to seek further education.

Please don't write off my wish to grow so lightly. The fact that you used to think large-scale music superior (which I don't and never have) must have given you a special appreciation that must have really aided you in writing large-scale pieces more intuitively than I could.

 

Of course you can practise to compose longer pieces.

I don't want to say that you should not practise it, but I try to say that there is no rule like 'the longer a piece, the better it is'.

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