Author Topic: October, 2019: What made you a composer?  (Read 190 times)

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sandalwood

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October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« on: October 02, 2019, 08:01:44 AM »
What made you a composer?

Do you come from a music-related family? When you were a child, did you and everybody else know you had a future  in music? What factors have been decisive, do you think, in your developing an extra-ordinary interest in music?  Not all musicians are composers, how did you take the extra step?

tbmartin

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #1 on: October 02, 2019, 09:16:48 AM »
I wrote a piece as a just-graduated senior in high school as a gift to a good friend and his family who had hosted me at their cottage several times during the summer. I have no idea what possessed me to write a piece of music rather than just buy a case of beer. (Lord knows I'd consumed enough of theirs to warrant having me replace it!). The piece was a piano rag with only 2 strains. I posted it to this forum several years ago in a thread about early works. That was 40 years ago.

I started arranging for saxes in about 2002 when my son started to take sax lessons. That led to composing for concert band, which is really still quite new for me.

My grandmother was a huge musical influence on me, always encouraging me to "play it the way YOU want to play it," which was permission to improvise, take liberties with the score, expressions, etc. Perhaps that is what planted the initial seed. That's one of life's "if only..." items for me: If only she could see what I'm doing with music now....   I think about that before almost every concert, gig, and often when I sit at the computer to compose/arrange.
Terence Martin

Tools: Finale 2003 on Windows XP
Day job: Actuary
Composing/Arranging output: mostly sax quartets
http://bit.ly/TerenceMartinSaxArranger
Goal: Improve quantity and quality of concert band compositions.
Play: Saxophones (all, but tenor primary), Bass Clarinet, Piano (poorly)

Tónskáld

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #2 on: October 02, 2019, 11:42:39 AM »
Thanks for this thought-provoking topic, Reha! My ramblings begin below.

As far as I know, I'm the first (and so far only) musician in my family—immediate or otherwise. I'm fairly certain my musicality comes from my father, who was raised in a very poor and underprivileged household with no extra income or tolerance for music as a career. He is a fantastic singer and probably has something close to perfect pitch, but he pursued athletics as a youngster instead of the arts, so that part of him remained undeveloped. Although my mother played in her high school band (alto sax), I'm quite sure music isn't "in her blood." She much prefers the hard sciences to the arts. I have at least two siblings who are musically inclined, though I remain the only one of my siblings who has stuck with playing an instrument and seriously composing.

My parents (and other close family friends) knew I was "gifted" from pretty early on. I could sing anything at the exact pitch I heard it and could play any instrument I was given with suprising proficiency in just a matter of hours. (Ah, to be young again!) However, owing, I suspect, to my father's poor upbringing, I was strongly discouraged from pursuing any career in the music field and instead pushed towards the STEM-related careers. I strongly opposed this notion, and even went so far as to enroll in all music classes as a freshman at university, but my parents coerced me to switch to the sciences—which I did. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I honestly cannot recall a singular incident that led to my discovering music. It has always spoken to me. As a young kid, I can remember hearing classical music played for Olympic ice skating and gymnastic routines on the TV and just being swept away by the emotions the music carried. I would often watch movies just to listen to the filmscore, or burst into tears during moving passages of instrumental music. To me, music was the purest form of human expression; I felt most alive when engaged in some aspect of music. I guess some things never change.

I've always been creative: never satisfied with just reading a good story or hearing a good piece of music, I had to recreate the experience with my own head and hands. Stories were my first creative ventures—and I still love writing! But words contain an inherent problem: they only move those who understand them. So I started writing in the universal language of music at around age 14. Nothing fancy—just a few short piano ditties—but it was enough to kindle a fire that continues to rage to this day. For my 16th birthday, my parents sacrificed and bought me my own copy of Sibelius software. Twenty years and five upgrades later, I still operate under that same license. I'm sure my story as a composer/musician would have turned out much differently if I hadn't had such supportive parents. But the world of "what-ifs" is entirely nebulous; I might've ended up composing no matter what!

Thanks again for this topic, Reha! I enjoy relating my story to fellow composers, as I feel you all appreciate it more than most.
Tools: Sibelius 7, Windows 10, Spitfire Audio VSL, Ivory Synthogy
Day job: Pharmacist
Composing/Arranging output: all musical forms except chamber
Goal: Write emotional, impressionistic works that move the soul and make one think; also trying to develop my own distinct style
Play: Piano (advanced), viola (intermediate), French horn & clarinet (student level)

mjf1947

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2019, 02:23:55 PM »
Well I was a poor blue collar kid from Brooklyn.  My first instrument was a Mandolin taught by a local guy who was a "jack of all trades" musically.  He taught them all.  In high school the music teachers came to an auditorium and ask who would like to learn an instrument.  I went down to the music rooms and saw a picture of a strange looking instrument.  I said I'll take that one ... I didn't even know what an Oboe was or how it sounded.  I took lessons with a really bad teacher and developed very bad habits~!  Play a bit in college the first year and then stopped until I was 40 years old.

We moved to a school district that was a little conservatory ...full orchestra in the 3rd grade and a district that won many awards for their music and arts programs.  My oldest daughter came home with a saxophone ... I sent her back for an Oboe.  The rest is history.  Her teacher squeezed me for a few minutes of instruction.  Her teacher pulled me into a local community orchestra ... I didn't even own an oboe ... just a bad rental.  First concert a 2 note solo ... boy did I sweat it!.

(By the way my daughter became an all eastern Oboist in High School.  Later in college she ditched music and went an to became quite good in business/marketing.) 

32 years later ... her teacher, now is my colleague,we play together in multiple orchestras ... alternating the principal seat.  I am on my 4th Oboe teacher .... the present one the best instructor for my present skill level.

My daughter had Finale (1997) for college.  I transferred the program to my name and the rest just came naturally as an outgrowth of my orchestra playing.  I always dabbled a bit here and there; however, once I found the Composeforums I began in earnest to write.  My growth is attributed to a very large part to this forum in combination with my growth as a musician.

I am always surprised how easily the melodies come to me.  The architect of music is fascinating and a puzzle I very much enjoy.[/color]

Mark

« Last Edit: October 02, 2019, 02:26:48 PM by mjf1947 »

whitebark

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #4 on: October 04, 2019, 11:08:29 AM »
This is a great topic, Reha! 

My family when I was growing up was a little bit musical - my dad played, of all things, a "Gut Bucket" a.k.a  "Wash Tub Bass" , in an amateur folk dance group. Otherwise, I had little exposure to classical music in my early years. Two things sparked my interest in classical music and musical performance- our school system had a good music program and I quickly signed up for the elementary school orchestra. Perhaps following my dad's gut bucket skills, I chose to play string bass. Also my best friend's family was very musical and had a great record collection - along with a fine grand piano I could pound on.  Perhaps seeing some potential, my bass teacher started to instruct me in music theory and that's what really got me started in music composition. At first, all I created were little compositions for piano. In high school, I became more ambitious and wrote a piece for my string orchestra. This was my first performance success!  The crowd went wild after we played the piece - of course the crowd was mostly parents of the orchestra members, so the enthusiastic applause was only natural.

After that, there was a long slump in my composing efforts, even though I took some music courses in college and continued to play bass in orchestras.  My interest in composition restarted when computers began to be able to generate and play scores in the '90's.

Jay

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #5 on: October 04, 2019, 06:23:56 PM »
Another winner, Reha!
 
When I was 15 years old an accordion player friend of mine explained what those little symbols above the melody line meant on popular sheet music.
 
Like many kids, I had sort of picked up the treble clef — you know, FACE and Every Good Boy Does Fine.
 
Being equipped now with the ready-made harmony of chord symbols I devoured all the sheet music I could get ahold of. Many of the changes were wrong, of course, but I worked all that out later.
 
Now that I could play harmony without having to learn to read individual notes on two clefs, I experimented with putting my own melodies on the chords to standards.
 
That led to composing simple songs, and by the time I was ready to graduate high school I was writing songs for the senior class variety show.
 
However, it took several more years before I really understood harmonic structure and was able to write and play real jazz. And it's only fairly lately, in advanced age, that I've been studying orchestration and trying to write for more than a small jazz combo.
 
Cheers,
Jer
Finale 26
NP3
GPO 5
JABB 3
iMac Mojave

smartysocks

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #6 on: October 11, 2019, 11:15:31 AM »
What made me a composer?……..funny……..I think it is a combination of a number of factors….

One, as a drummer in many bands, I really got tired of playing cover tunes and taking cues from other people’s behinds.  Besides the lead singer and guitarist got all the chicks !

Two, I had a wonderful music teacher in school. We had our first instrument (for me percussion) but also in the last term each year we had to try another instrument part-time. As a result, I  was able to experience baritone sax, tuba and trumpet. She also made us go out into the school with small reel to reel tape recorders, record sound and take the tape apart and splice it back together in a different organization aka Musique concrčte. We had to learn about form by analyzing Beethoven etc. A wonderful teacher who introduced us to a whole new world !

Three, everything came together when I played hand drums, as an accompanist for ballet dancers in modern class, at Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet School. The teacher I played for choreographed her exercises in odd times and phrases, and encouraged me to experiment with other instruments and sounds besides hand drums. I recorded many pieces for dance on my four track playing all the parts on whatever instruments I could find. Definitely a labour of love !

Four, I became an entertainer for families and children. All of a sudden I was able to create works in whatever genre I wanted. I could put a swing tune, a folk tune, a symphonic tune and a rock tune, all the same cd and in the same show! Talk about liberating !

Finally, when I discovered notation software ……..WOW ! I could write music anywhere, at the coffee shop, or in the park, and hear what I had written instantly. Well as long as the battery remained charged!!

All that being said, I still have a long way to go. I have an insatiable appetite for composition. I can’t seem to learn enough.

Thanks Reha for the suggestion……….. btw I noticed you haven’t shared your own story !!

Just sayin’ !

Mark
Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets; art deserves that, for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine.

Ludwig van Beethoven

sandalwood

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #7 on: October 11, 2019, 04:14:50 PM »

That caught me unaware Mr Mark! One reason I stay silent is I don't have much of a story to tell. Considering all the accomplished composers/musicians here with formal/informal training and hands-on practice mostly as professionals, I feel it would be pretentious to call myself a composer. That said, I do try to compose music and -most of the time- enjoy it. I'm a retired Turkish engineer coming from a monophonic culture. No musicians in the family and there were talented kids at school but I was not one of them. Via casual exposure to all sorts of international music in the late 60s, early 70s, I was already an avid classical music listener at the university.

Thanks to an early retirement, I had time to devote to my interests, meanwhile to reading music theory and history.  With the availability of notation and sequencing programs, this went hand in hand with trying to put together music, myself. So, I'm one of those who are pejoratively called "Cubase composers", though I have used Musescore and then Finale and never used DAWs. :)  The forum has been a wonderful place of learning for me and of community.  The handful of short pieces I have written so far have been posted here in their in-progress and completed stages.

I told you it was a dull story :) To be honest, on the other hand, getting involved in writing music (I mean, trying) has been all in all a wonderful experience, really enriching the last 6-7 years of my life, not to mention all the fine people I've come to know via the forum.

Reha

Tónskáld

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2019, 04:24:26 PM »
Reha, while I completely understand your feelings of inadequacy, I still feel that, had you not shared, you would have robbed us of hearing about you and your journey! (For one, I had no idea you were not a native speaker of English. You wield this language better than most, I have to admit!) Your experiences are just as valid as everyone else's here on this forum. I always find your insight quite valuable and accurate, and your responses are extremely thoughtful and kind.

I daresay this forum would suffer greatly without your input! So... thanks for sharing!
Tools: Sibelius 7, Windows 10, Spitfire Audio VSL, Ivory Synthogy
Day job: Pharmacist
Composing/Arranging output: all musical forms except chamber
Goal: Write emotional, impressionistic works that move the soul and make one think; also trying to develop my own distinct style
Play: Piano (advanced), viola (intermediate), French horn & clarinet (student level)

sandalwood

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Re: October, 2019: What made you a composer?
« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2019, 09:12:25 PM »
Jordan, thank you for your kind remarks. My acknowledgement of and respect for the talent and accomplishments of fellow members here is not at all coupled with a feeling of inadequacy. It is perhaps quite the contrary in a funny way. As I had once told Jamie (perpetuo studens), I consider myself mildly untalented in music  like the 95% or more of humanity and feel not a bit sad about it.  Conversely,  I do take some pride and satisfaction I guess in  having succeeded, despite such modest endowment, to write some music  to my satisfaction through study and perseverance (albeit in a leisurely fashion :)).  I'm aware of course that all serious music has to withstand scrutiny and competition on a level playing field, as it should be, regardless of whoever has written it and whatever excuses she has. To tell the truth, engaging in music for me is foremost a part of realizing a retired man's fantasy of following a Renaissance/Enlightenment ideal: that of being conversant in multiple disciplines.

As to the language thing, thanks for bringing this up so I can let everybody know that as a non-native speaker I'm  always on semi-alert to avoid unintentionally offending anybody, but still...I have been to places from Lund to Lumpur but, a twist of fate :), never set foot in an English-speaking country, neither had  sustained business with native speakers. My English comes from exposure to people speaking mostly varieties of poor English or from reading (lately also from utube, etc). So, when you read something unexpected from me please bear in mind that I might not have really meant it (and give me a nudge).

Sorry for being too talkative. It's not totally my fault though, Mr Mark started it all! :)