Author Topic: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano  (Read 171 times)

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sandalwood

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November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« on: November 02, 2019, 02:26:37 PM »
Ravel (paraphrasing): Away from the piano you write music you know, at the piano you write music you don't know.

What do you think?

tbmartin

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2019, 06:14:29 AM »
Mostly agree, but not always.

My piano skills are weak and my original compositions, so far, have had a strong element of a concept that defines a certain motif or structure. Example: My "411 Fanfare" was written for the local high school and was based on the motif that spell EAGLE, their mascot. (L was interpreted as the digit 1 because those of us old enough to work on typewriters remember that there was no digit "1" and so we would use a lowercase "L". In the motif, 1 became the tonic.) All the composition was done directly in Finale.

My current project is also based on motifs that have specific meaning to the overall piece, so it become "music I already know" in that sense.

Years ago I remember just noodling around on the piano and ending up in places I never would have expected ("How did I end up in E major??"), so I can totally relate to the Ravel quote.
Terence Martin

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Tónskáld

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2019, 07:53:06 AM »
If I understand Mr. Maurice correctly, I believe I would agree with him.

The piano acts as a literal sounding board for my musical ideas. At the piano, I can try things I haven't thought of before, simply because my ear doesn't hear them. New scales I'm unfamiliar with, or unusual chord progressions... those kinds of things I can't hear in my head. So I try them out on the piano.

If I'm not at the piano, I can only write music that's in my head—music that I know. It works and I've done it before, but it's not music I'm especially fond of.

So those are my two cents. :)
Tools: Sibelius 7, Windows 10, Spitfire Audio VSL, Ivory Synthogy
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flint

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #3 on: November 04, 2019, 05:41:11 PM »
My music tends to be dense or layered, so a piano helps me hear all of the tones. I can internalize it after that.
"Music is like wine; the less you know about it, the sweeter you like it." - Robertson Davies

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2019, 09:08:33 AM »
I don’t have the sight singing skill to accurately notate the music in my head without hearing it.
 
However, with the advent of music programs I can use the computer rather than the piano alone to try out ideas.
 
It’s far better to hear the instruments interacting than to rely on the particular sound of the piano.
 
Cheers,
Jer
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tbmartin

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2019, 05:35:29 AM »

It’s far better to hear the instruments interacting than to rely on the particular sound of the piano.
 

... maybe....  Speaking as one who works mostly on the computer, I tend to agree, but I can see how someone might use the piano as a initial place to test out various ideas before moving to the computer with all the instruments available. Sort of like a painter doing a charcoal study-sketch of a painting before moving to the actual paint.
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: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2019, 07:23:25 AM »

It’s far better to hear the instruments interacting than to rely on the particular sound of the piano.
 

... maybe....  Speaking as one who works mostly on the computer, I tend to agree, but I can see how someone might use the piano as a initial place to test out various ideas before moving to the computer with all the instruments available. Sort of like a painter doing a charcoal study-sketch of a painting before moving to the actual paint.

Not that there's a right or wrong way here, but my creative process is more in line with what Terence suggests. For whatever reason, my works that were composed exclusively at the computer are sigificantly shallower and less inventive than those I work out first on the piano—even if the work doesn't feature the piano at all. However, this phenomenon is probably not true of everyone, as Jerry pointed out.
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)

Jerry Engelbach

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2019, 09:43:23 AM »



It’s far better to hear the instruments interacting than to rely on the particular sound of the piano.



... maybe....  Speaking as one who works mostly on the computer, I tend to agree, but I can see how someone might use the piano as a initial place to test out various ideas before moving to the computer with all the instruments available. Sort of like a painter doing a charcoal study-sketch of a painting before moving to the actual paint.

Terence,

Good analogy.

That's how I had to work before I discovered a decent computer sound set.

I use the piano, but often without the piano sound. I either key directly into the score or I use the strings voice on my Korg to sketch on a grand staff.

Cheers,
Jer
Finale 26
NP3
GPO 5
JABB 3
iMac Mojave

gogreen

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Re: November, 2019: To piano or not to piano
« Reply #8 on: Yesterday at 02:21:58 PM »
I used to compose at the piano first, and then transcribe material to staff (in pre-Finale days). I haven't used a piano to compose now in some 30 years. When I conjure up material, I hear it as an instrument or section, or combination of instruments, so, these days, working at a piano first and then transcribing adds an additional step. When I'm working in a score, I'm familiar enough with instrument ranges and other instrument technical considerations so that I hear the music as I flesh out the score. I admit, though, that I often need help with some aspects of playing strings and some percussion instruments.