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Why do you compose?

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He guys, I am doing a report on music creation. I thought it would be good to get insight from other composers. My questions are, How do you feel when you create music? how much time do you spend on one piece? why do you create music? I would really appreciate honest sincere feed back. any advice for writing this essay would be much appreciated. Thanks

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It's interesting to me that composing isn't something more people are encouraged to do.  Think of how young you were the first time you drew or painted.  What grade were you in when you wrote your first story?  You didn't just look at other people's art and listen to stories others had written, it was expected that you would like to make your own as well. 

We spend a lot of time exposing small children to music, and fortunate ones also learn to play music, but not many are given any tools or guidance to compose their own.  And yet all preschoolers make up their own songs and sing them without a second thought.  So I have a question for you.  Why do so many people NOT compose?

Why do I create music?  Why not?

When the tune comes easily and all I have to do is write it all down, I'm frantic to write it out before I forget something.  When I have an idea of something specific that I want to do, but I don't quite know how to achieve it, composing feels more like solving a very difficult puzzle.  I try lots of possibilities, very diligently, and may change my mind several times.  

It usually takes me between a week and a month to complete a three-minute piece because I like to put it away, clear my brain, and come back to listen to it again with fresh ears to be sure I still like all my decisions.  

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I compose because I love music am a mediocre musician at best, so writing music is the best way for me to be an active participant in the music making process.  It's a great outlet for me as a stress reliever as my day job is actually quite stressful.  I actually go through a series of emotions when I write music, the initial excitement when I come up with (what I think at least) is a great theme, melody or harmonic progression, frustration as I struggle to put down what I have in my head onto the page or notation software (I do not have perfect pitch), pleasantly surprised when I inadvertently discover an interesting chord or modulation, and finally a bit euphoric when I finally finish a piece.

Time wise, I'm all over the place.  Some of what I consider my best smaller scale works only took me from beginning to end, a few hours.  Another large scale work took me seven years to finally finish and a work which I would consider my magnum opus has been in progress for over 20 years.  If I am able to devote regular effort on a piece, it probably takes me around 3-4 weeks to write 5 minutes or so of quality music.

Best of luck on your essay.

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13 hours ago, pateceramics said:

It's interesting to me that composing isn't something more people are encouraged to do.  Think of how young you were the first time you drew or painted.  What grade were you in when you wrote your first story?  You didn't just look at other people's art and listen to stories others had written, it was expected that you would like to make your own as well. 

We spend a lot of time exposing small children to music, and fortunate ones also learn to play music, but not many are given any tools or guidance to compose their own.  And yet all preschoolers make up their own songs and sing them without a second thought.  So I have a question for you.  Why do so many people NOT compose?

Why do I create music?  Why not?

When the tune comes easily and all I have to do is write it all down, I'm frantic to write it out before I forget something.  When I have an idea of something specific that I want to do, but I don't quite know how to achieve it, composing feels more like solving a very difficult puzzle.  I try lots of possibilities, very diligently, and may change my mind several times.  

It usually takes me between a week and a month to complete a three-minute piece because I like to put it away, clear my brain, and come back to listen to it again with fresh ears to be sure I still like all my decisions.  

 

I couldn't agree more.

Also, for me music is another way to express myself. When I have an idea I want to share or a story I want to tell, but can wait with it, I compose it. The problem is, that composition takes a while, and a feel that I can't fully express my idea in a short time. At times like these I like to draw a sketch of my idea and write a few notes if I can. Therefore, for me. what I express in music has to be a long continuous feeling or idea. 

Composing music feels great, it's like writing a story or painting (a... painting?), but it has a potential for something that feels much better. You see, people can like a story of yours, and they will maybe tell it to others and recommend it to others if you publish it as a story. But with music... there's a feeling of great joy that I don't feel anywhere else... when it's being performed. When people express themselves with the performance of your instructions where you expressed yourself. It's... incredible. At least for me. There are so many moments that I feel much better thinking of my next piece that'll be performed and about the ones that were performed already. It helps me through hard times.

I think that's it.

If I'll remember that I forgot anything I'll come and fix this later.

I know that there probably are some English mistakes in the comment,

but I don't have the time to go over the comment now.

Maybe I'll come back to  fix them later.

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2 hours ago, Rabbival507 said:

Also, for me music is another way to express myself. When I have an idea I want to share or a story I want to tell, but can wait with it, I compose it.

This viewpoint of how art should be produced is kind of outdated, no? Humanist expressionism is kind of dead in my opinion.

To answer OP's question:
I don't think composition is that important or worth much in the grand scheme of things. Art is pretty much inherently worthless and the transcribed manipulation of sound isn't that much more engaging. I'm decently experienced at, and their countless others who are far more than I, but that doesn't mean that it adds anything you wouldn't find otherwise.
Of course you're free to write what you want if you think it expresses your emotions, but just like T.S. Eliot and Barthes said, emotions will never be able to transcribed in art, literature, music, or otherwise. It may be the closest you can get, but that doesn't make it a viable substitute. This is not to say you can't get enjoyment out of it, because you totally can, and I do, as well, but that does not mean your point will ever come across as how you want it to. 

I spend as little time as possible on my pieces because I unfortunately get bored of the pieces I write (I can't help it). The musical I'm writing write now, I'm expecting to get done in 3 months as a draft, with revisions later. The ballet I wrote only took 2 months, not because I'm better at writing than any other person, but because I can't keep focus with good ideas for very long after.

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@Monarcheon

How do you think that art should be produced?

I don't tend to have much fun following rules, mathematically producing music.

Why do you think that expressing one's thoughts and feelings in a music piece is a dead idea?

People have been doing that for hundreds of years,

but that doesn't make that a bad thing...

How do you have fun composing music with nothing real to say?

Maybe that explains why you can't work on a piece for a long time, 

with no strong idea behind it there's nothing that keeps you going... 

 

I think that the greatest pieces in history tell a story or express an idea...

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Looks like I answered the questions in the wrong forum department.

I would like to say a few more words about why I compose.

To be honest, I do not know. It takes extremely much time; it can be very frustrating when trying to compose, but nothing comes down on paper; nobody is going to pay you for it; there is a lot great music already in the world; getting your pieces performed is rather a privilege than a right of a composer.

In conclusion, I declare myself a stupid boy that writes music just for himself. I write for myself. Myself.

The question then remains why I write music if it is only for myself. Again, I do not know. My only answer is that it might be an addiction.

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This year, I need to choose whether I go study Composition at the conservatorium or German at the University.

An internal battle is fought in my body: ratio versus feelings. My ratio tells me to study German, since it gives me enough possibilities to survive and I do not hate the language at all. Unlike composition, I can earn enough money to live from as a teacher. Furthermore, teachership appears inspiring. 

On the other hand, my feelings command me to follow my heart, which says composition; my love; my life. If I choose for it, every day will be unsure about my money, but I do have my love. The study is expensive too (concerning moving to another place). My family is everything except rich. Am I going to pay this high price?

Ich weiß es nicht und vielleicht werde ich's nie wissen.

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12 minutes ago, Maarten Bauer said:

This year, I need to choose whether I go study Composition at the conservatorium or German at the University.

An internal battle is fought in my body: ratio versus feelings. My ratio tells me to study German, since it gives me enough possibilities to survive and I do not hate the language at all. Unlike composition, I can earn enough money to live from as a teacher. Furthermore, teachership appears inspiring. 

On the other hand, my feelings command me to follow my heart, which says composition; my love; my life. If I choose for it, every day will be unsure about my money, but I do have my love. The study is expensive too (concerning moving to another place). My family is everything except rich. Am I going to pay this high price?

Ich weiß es nicht und vielleicht werde ich's nie wissen.

 

I'm at the same position... although I have four years of army before that -_-

And for me it's computer science that I think of, for I never learned German.

Right now the plan is to go learn computer science at the university, 

that way I'd be able to earn money and, if I'll have some free time, be a composer as a hobby.

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1 minute ago, Rabbival507 said:

I'm at the same position... although I have four years of army before that -_-

And for me it's computer science that I think of, for I never learned German.

Right now the plan is to go learn computer science at the university, 

that way I'd be able to earn money and, if I'll have some free time, be a composer as a hobby.

 

Yes, music as a hobby. That is the best choice, but do I want to make the best choice?

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7 minutes ago, Maarten Bauer said:

Yes, music as a hobby. That is the best choice, but do I want to make the best choice?

 

I don't know. I think that usually when you follow the other choice it makes you happy in the short run, but after a while you regret that you didn't take the one that's good for the long run.

At least that's what usually happens to me.

You might be able to earn some good money for music,

you're 17 and got your piece performed in a national competition,

which is very impressive and might say that you have good future in music and should stick to that.

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25 minutes ago, Monarcheon said:

@Rabbival507 
I would suggest a read of this: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/articles/69400/tradition-and-the-individual-talent
It does refer to poetry, but I believe it applies to music as well.

 

"There are many people who appreciate the expression of sincere emotion in verse, and there is a smaller number of people who can appreciate technical excellence. But very few know when there is an expression of significant emotion, emotion which has its life in the poem and not in the history of the poet."

I think that by that he means that good piece actually do have emotions within them,  not personal emotions of the composer but... general (?) ones.  I don't think that general is the right word and can't think of a better English word for that, I'll write in my native language and you can go translate it: גולמי (I'm not even sure that's a good word to describe it, I hope you got the idea).

Also I wonder- if you don't believe in one's emotional expression in a piece why did you choose that as the winter competition's topic?

 

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@Rabbival507 I don't want to dilute the OP's question too much, but you're misinterpreting the essay, possibly simply due to language. In context, it refers to how art cannot convey human emotions as they are felt, only a falsified replication of those. 
I chose the emotions contest to see if anyone could actually convey them. I'm curious for the results. 

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"Denn alles Fleisch ist wie Gras und alle Herrlichkeit des Menschen wie des Grases Blumen. Das Gras ist verdorret und die Blume abgefallen." 

 
"I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?" -Mary Oliver

 

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If it is impossible to include emotions into music as a composer, let me at least think that I can, because when I can think I can, I will feel my emotions.
Maybe I fool with my minds, but I like it then.

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@Maarten Bauer@Rabbival507

I was kind of in a similar position when I finished high school 8 years ago. I went into software engineering at first because it didn't occur to me at the time that music was something I'd be able to pursue really seriously. Even as I started hating software engineering, and realising that I really needed music in my life, I still worried that music wasn't something I could do as a 'job', and that IT would be safer even if I hated it. But then I hated it so much, and was so miserable, that I decided that I would switch to music and just take my chances. This was after 3 years of uni. I then had a 4 year music degree (in percussion performance) which I loved almost every second of. It was at a university rather than a conservatoire, which I think was better for my own development.

Then during the music degree I gradually realised that what I actually really wanted to do was to write music. The composition tutor at my uni recommended I finish my degree in performance rather than switch to composition, so I stuck out in performance and I'm glad I did. A chance visit to London two years ago gave me the inspiration to audition for a masters degree in composition at various places in the UK, and my backup plan was a masters degree in performance at the Sydney Con (I didn't want to do composition there). I got accepted in Sydney and was about to start class when I got the offer from the RCS in Glasgow, and there was not a moment's hesitation before I accepted it.

So I guess if I have any advice, it'd be to feel free to start a degree in something other than music, but remember that it's never too late to change your mind.

So the reason I write music is that I can't imagine doing anything else. Even if I had stayed in IT (and would by now be working in some sort of desk job), I would still be composing in my spare time. It made sense to me that I should therefore try and study it to get better at it.

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On 2/8/2018 at 12:41 AM, The_music_man said:

How do you feel when you create music?

I really feel "light" when I create music. Because I usually make music when I feel depressed, so it makes my thoughts (specially negative ones) "heavy" in my head. They become like a huge Iron ball in my brain and I have to make them seen or heard. So, I prefer to write music when I don't feel good, and the procedure of making music, makes me feel good. Even better than when I'm coding (Yes, I'm a programmer and computer engineer) or making digital electronic devices.

On 2/8/2018 at 12:41 AM, The_music_man said:

how much time do you spend on one piece?

It depends on circumstances, usually 2 or 3 hours for the basic idea, one day for "forming" the idea in a musical way, one day for writing a piece (sometimes forming and writing are done in the same day) and depends on the complexity of the piece , 2 or 3 days recording, writing in DAW and mixing and mastering. usually 4 days for a usual piece. But, if I want to convert and idea "directly" to the music, I can spend 4-5 hours. Like lots of my pieces available in this forum. 

On 2/8/2018 at 12:41 AM, The_music_man said:

why do you create music?

Please read my answer to the first quote :)

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How do you feel when you create music?

I am frightened and full of doubt. I approach it like a sailor in a flat world about to go out to sea. I am frightened that all my instincts and common sense will leave me, because they always do. I am afraid of the world passing by while I sit for hours with so much to say and no talent to say it. But then as men and women we  all share a strengths as well as a common fears. But through experience and training, the fear subsides  and the strength is allowed to bubble up, and suddenly this strength seems unique only to me, as if I were the first to discover a tomb left undisturbed for thousands of years.  That is - something to covet. I wish I could skip all the angst and get right to the discovery  part, but it doesn't work that way. I go through this each and every time I have to write. 

 

Edited by Ken320
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I compose music, partly because I love to do it, but also I HAVE to do it..  It just wants to come out of me..  Occasionally when I write music, I get into a 'zone' where I feel the music is coming 'thru me'.  I become a 'conduit' for some energy that is a vague feeling, and I translate it into notes..  Keith Richards summed it up very well, when asked, how he could write so many great rock songs.  His reply, 'I receive - I transmit'.  

I was shy and awkward as a kid. My first ambition was I wanted to be a poet at the age of 8.. We got a Hammond Chord organ when i was 10, then two years later a Hammond A100 organ.  (like a Hammond B3, with grillwork, instead of the four legs..  That with a Leslie speaker, was and continues to be one of the most addicting sounds I have ever heard.  I started modifying my poetry into songs.  And at 12, had a local band doing a couple of songs I wrote.  At 14 I joined a band, several thru the years. We were very successful, and a lot of opportunities opened up for me.. By age 30 I quit bands, just to work in recording studios, and do my own material.  

I always did pop, rock music. I bought several 2nd hand instruments, and learned them well enough to play the various parts to my demo tapes.  What I loved about composing and recording is I could create my own 'reality' and I was in total control of it.  I jumped on the synthesizer craze by late 60's.. Having bought an ARP 2600 synthesizer, made me very in demand at Bostons 3 multi-track studios.  I had access to all of them, to use when the studio was not booked.  

I spent 1000's of hours recording. There is nothing like playing something, then hearing it back immediately to teach you..  Music (and computers has always been my passion).. The first music I did was on Mainframe computers. Bought the first home computer, and wrote some simple melody type generator programs in basic.. Of course they were about useless. But it was fascinating.. In recording studios, I also engineered, head arranged bands, and produced, other peoples material, plus my own.

I love creating some music, then jamming on it, exploring all the possibilities, of where it can go.. Then refining it.  Creating a mood or atmosphere.  Music serves many purposes.  it calms, it excites, it creates a mood.  it makes a statement.  Of course, I go thru the range of emotions when writing.. (what the hell am I doing?, this is garbage, I am brilliant. etc)

Mostly I love the process, of exploring, finding a kernel of an idea, and flushing it out, when to jettison a musical idea.  I made a decent living doing music, supported myself the majority of my life just doing it music. Didn't get rich or famous, (but that  was never my goal.. I did it for the joy of creating.. Like many musicians I've met, I also loved art, writing, poetry and music.  I've met a number of musicians who were quite good at art too..  The reward seems to be 'creative expression'..  There is nothing greater, than being in the middle of writing something great, refining it. Then it is done. And you have to start over on a new piece. 

Like some musicians I've met, music came first, Loves, relationships, always took 2nd place.  Most of my Lovers, left me, because they were always going to be 2nd in my life.. As I've aged, I realize that there ae all kinds of musicians, who treat it as a sometimes pastime, to an all addicting activity.  Indeed as I've aged. I've realized I had to get a good perspective on it.  You have to keep a roof over your head, make sound business decisions, in order to keep making music.  Two strokes, lessening my finger dexterity, but that led to a greater thing. focusing on arranging and composition even more.. Which I am very grateful.  

Music brings great joy to many people, whether they create it, or listen to it.   Any form of creative expression is necessary for the human soul.. I continually try to challenge myself and learn new things about music.. You can learn 3 chords on a guitar and be creating music in 15 minutes, and easily spend the rest of your life refining and perfecting it. 

For a while I went to mental health counseling that focused on playing music live..  30 minutes of playing and singing Beatles songs (in my barely adequate voice) was a great mood enhancer. Music is one of the greatest, anti-depressesnt anti anxiety tools that exist. 

I've also come to realize that other non - musicians can be very creative, which makes them artists in their own right.

We may never completely understand why music affects us the way it does.  There is a free course at Coursera.org.  called 'Biology as music"..  It is rather dry, but presents a very valid argument, that the human bod seemed designed to crate and    use music.  It engages more of the brain than many activities.  

Even though being a musician is not an easy occupation, in many ways, it seems the most suited to me as a person. 

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