Author Topic: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?  (Read 2551 times)

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sandalwood

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October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« on: October 02, 2018, 01:50:47 PM »
While lively discussion continues in the September Composition Topic of the Month, I guess we could as well start a new one for October. So, here is my proposal for a topic or rather a question which I believe may elicit interesting and instructive replies:  What sets you off to start writing a new piece? What is the first conceptual step? An enchanting harmonic progression gift-wrapped  by the muses? A promising theme or a catchy tune?  A sober and calculated decision to write, say, a rondo for a wind quintet when you have yet no idea on what the theme(s), etc will be? A predominantly intellectual urge to write something in the minimalist idiom or employ some exotic scale or write something to showcase virtuoso clarinet writing? The enjoyment and appreciation a repertoire (or other) piece elicits and the resulting urge to have something similar under the belt?

The more experienced and accomplished among us happily receive  commissions to write music for more or less defined orchestras/ensembles, sometimes with hints at a program, but even then there should nevertheless be a moment when they make a first constitutive decision on the piece. No?

So, what's your trigger?
« Last Edit: October 02, 2018, 02:36:00 PM by Ron »

Ron

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2018, 02:41:08 PM »
A trigger for me is usually a fragment of an idea that has promising possibilities. That is if it is a purely "musical" concept. Sometimes, an image or idea might set off ideas, such as a tragedy caused by government incompetence, or some other outrage. Such cases are more of a "story" concept. I can't really say which works best for me. Sometimes I can go with one until complete; sometimes it just sputters out.

PS. Apologies, but I invoked moderator privileges to modify the title of your post, to make it conform to the pattern established in other entries in this section.
Ron
Rules? What rules?

sandalwood

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2018, 03:46:37 PM »
I was so preoccupied with examining whether there was precedent to not making every word in the topic title start with a capital letter that I missed the more important requirement. Thanks for the correction, Ron. I'm making a habit of needing corrections :)


gogreen

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2018, 05:11:04 PM »
So you're asking what inspires me?

First, I can more readily say what doesn't inspire me: Illness--my own. Worrying about illness--my own. Fretting over a family member. Publication rejections.

What inspires me through and through: Publication acceptances. Good news from the doctor (my own and family members). Unsolicited compliments. Invitations to conduct my own music. Snowstorms (just a memory now). Sunsets. Sunrises. Foreign travel. Fresh Zeppolis with chocolate sauce.

Art

mjf1947

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #4 on: October 02, 2018, 06:28:47 PM »
For me .....

It's usually playing a few interesting notes/progressions on the Oboe or Piano ....... or singing an interesting string of notes.

Sometimes .... it's a visual image which evokes a melodic response.

Mark


tbmartin

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #5 on: October 03, 2018, 07:28:52 AM »
....
PS. Apologies, but I invoked moderator privileges to modify the title of your post, to make it conform to the pattern established in other entries in this section.

Did anyone else notice the irony of Ron's statement above with his profile tagline: Rules? What rules?   ;)

But to answer the question:  I'm usually inspired by an event in my own life, and what typically comes first is the title. The title "411 Fanfare: The Eagle Reborn" was inspired by the local High School renovations. The title "Halftime Reflections" came in response to the death of a friend-the longtime arranger for the Michigan Marching Band (work still in process). The title "Zacapa Suite" is named for the region in Guatemala where my wife and I had a missions trip, and the titles for the individual movements are based on scenes/incidents during that trip (work mostly still in the conceptual stage).
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sandalwood

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #6 on: October 03, 2018, 08:08:28 AM »
For me it is mostly the desire to work on a melody, a tune and try to let it unfold to a musical work as well as I can. This is sometimes coupled with admiration of a more or less well known piece and adopting some feature of it as a template. The Latin thing, on the other hand, is sort of homage/nostalgia to childhood times, when there was much music of this sort everywhere.

Looking at it from another angle, however, I couldn't agree more with Art. It is definitely "feeling good" and high spirits, whenever and to the extent that they show up, that provide me with the courage to start a piece and the vigour to keep working on it.

Reha

LA Dierker

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #7 on: October 03, 2018, 09:20:09 AM »
Reading the last post, the words "the courage to start a piece and the vigour to keep working on it." jumped out and grabbed my attention! 
   The intimidation of the blank page. The answers all of you have given give courage and inspiration, so thanks for the question and the answers.
                  LA

sandalwood

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #8 on: October 03, 2018, 11:27:38 AM »
Snowstorms (just a memory now). Sunsets. Sunrises.Fresh Zeppolis with chocolate sauce.

Counting "Fresh Zeppolis with chocolate sauce" among factors of inspiration for music was a genuine "artist's touch" in my opinion and a real pleasure to read. Since this is some serious matter (our TBMartin takes an interest in culinary mischieves, too, IIRC) I felt urged as -sort of- the Topic host to reciprocate with a couple of servings  from this corner of the world.

Zeppole is at home from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. It is mostly a dessert but here is a relatively rare variant with a tomato&herbs&spices sauce.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35HvN12-VY

Another rare variant from the Caucases made with thin sheets instead of bulk dough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUY1x6WHxqs

A particularly sweet one: zippoli are momentarily immersed in sugar syrup right after deep frying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g_78hSo7hk

Michel.R.E

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #9 on: October 03, 2018, 11:35:46 AM »
I honestly can't give a "single answer" to this question.
I started my violin concerto as only a slow movement, at the time a stand-alone piece. It was a means for me to work through some difficult emotional issues after a near-death experience. But then, the other movements just came to me as the pleasure of continuing work on a form, and an ensemble, from which I was deriving a great deal of pleasure.

My string quartet was a very specific commission, so I can't say that *I* had any input into what started me composing it. I had a deadline, I had a set subject matter, as well as a specific ensemble to write for, and that was that.

My 2nd symphony came to me (at least, the opening movement did) in one shot (VERY rare for me to not struggle endlessly with a new work) after a beautiful ride through the Laurentian Mountains and a stop at Mnt. Apica (an observatory, which also has a very scenic look-out for tourists). I just got home, sat down, started writing, and that was that. I honestly can't say anything "made me" start writing it. It was just there and begging to be put on paper.

Many of my works started out as me forcing myself to write at least a little every day. Every once in a while some good things would come from those sketches and I'd develop them into a completed work.

Some works have come from an unfulfilled need to write a specific type of work, missing from my catalogue. For example, my string sonatas.

However, for the foreseeable future, every work I have to write will be a specific commission: the string quartet concerto, another string quartet, and a piano concerto (the piano concerto MIGHT get replaced with another movement for my orchestral suite "Impressions".)

Unlike seemingly everyone else here, I don't normally have melodies trotting in my head. Those I usually work out as I'm writing, note by note.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
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gogreen

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #10 on: October 03, 2018, 11:41:00 AM »
Snowstorms (just a memory now). Sunsets. Sunrises.Fresh Zeppolis with chocolate sauce.

Counting "Fresh Zeppolis with chocolate sauce" among factors of inspiration for music was a genuine "artist's touch" in my opinion and a real pleasure to read. Since this is some serious matter (our TBMartin takes an interest in culinary mischieves, too, IIRC) I felt urged as -sort of- the Topic host to reciprocate with a couple of servings  from this corner of the world.

Zeppole is at home from the Mediterranean to Central Asia. It is mostly a dessert but here is a relatively rare variant with a tomato&herbs&spices sauce.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S35HvN12-VY

Another rare variant from the Caucases made with thin sheets instead of bulk dough

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QUY1x6WHxqs

A particularly sweet one: zippoli are momentarily immersed in sugar syrup right after deep frying.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9g_78hSo7hk

Nice, Reha!

I could have said "comfort food," but I wanted to be specific. Comfort food makes me feel safe and happy. That's inspirational to me, and in those moments, I conjure up musical ideas.

sandalwood

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #11 on: October 03, 2018, 12:17:38 PM »
I wanted to address the more mundane :) aspect as a temporary divertimento from the topic.

Edit: I believe I totally get your point and just love the way you depict it.
« Last Edit: October 03, 2018, 03:46:26 PM by sandalwood »

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #12 on: October 03, 2018, 02:56:46 PM »
One of two things usually gets me started.

In the past I've often written music to order. I like the challenge. In the theatre, I wrote new melodies to songs in plays and occasionally created pieces to open a show or use as background. And I've written for specific combinations of instruments for my own jazz group and for the short-lived All About Jazz Orchestra.

For myself, I'll occasionally hit a melodic fragment while improvising jazz, or discover a chord progression that strikes me, and I'll develop it further.

I'm lazy, and not too prolific. I've rarely sat down and decided to write something just like that.

Cheers,
Jer
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gogreen

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #13 on: October 03, 2018, 06:24:51 PM »
This discussion is becoming more and more fascinating with each post. It's amazing how different we all are in our reactions to creative sparks--and what each of us perceives as a creative spark!

LA Dierker

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Re: October, 2018: What makes you start composing a new piece?
« Reply #14 on: October 04, 2018, 12:22:13 PM »
Indeed, my mind keeps coming back to this topic, like Why AM I doing this again?... and as I think over the question of the creative spark, wondering if for me it is the visual.  An image comes to mind, along with all the inherent emotions,..and then the musical ideas. It is through the music that I have wandered into creating film, to accompany my music of course.  LA