Author Topic: Hello from Jon  (Read 1167 times)

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artofcomposing

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Hello from Jon
« on: December 26, 2011, 04:39:06 AM »
Hey everybody.

My name is Jon. I have been composing for about 15 years, and a run a website about learning to compose music. I look forward to being a part of this forum.

Jon

Ron

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Re: Hello from Jon
« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2011, 09:43:11 AM »
Hello Jon and welcome.

I took a quick look at your site and am left wondering: why do you not mention any of the great composers of the 20ieth century and their techniques? Surely that would make a better starting point for a contemporary than music of 200 years ago. Beethoven studied the music of his time and wouldn't dream of writing something in a style 200 years old so, why should anyone today do less?  ;)

Have you taken a look at the basic lessons that Alan Belkin has been offering for years? https://www.webdepot.umontreal.ca/Usagers/belkina/MonDepotPublic/bk/index.html

In any case, breaking music composition into separate subjects is a very difficult task and I wish you luck with it.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2011, 09:47:47 AM by Ron »
Ron
Rules? What rules?

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hello from Jon
« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2011, 10:07:43 AM »
I'm not exactly sure how someone with no real formal training in composition can put together a website that purports to teach others how to compose.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

Michel.R.E

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Re: Hello from Jon
« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2011, 10:47:22 AM »
I notice some things lacking in your articles, for example in the one on "learning to compose".

You start with "learning music theory and notation". I'd have to say that that isn't even a starting point. You cannot become a real musician without those.

The you go on about "inspiration". It has nothing to do with the craft of composition. Inspiration is nothing more than another word for "having ideas".  If you have the craft (the right tools), then you don't need to "wait for inspiration to strike". You can compose, using the tools at your disposal.

"Connecting"? Where did you get the notion that having connections was necessarily an element of learning to compose? If by connections you mean meeting the right teachers who will teach you the craft of composition, then by all means. But cultivating connections with PERFORMERS is FAR more useful to a composer.

The reason you can't "define creativity" is because it precisely cannot be defined. It is an abstract construct. The search for originality is part of it.  If you are interested in writing like Beethoven, then I'm sorry, you aren't "creative". If your interest lies in imitating ANYONE, then you aren't "creative". Creativity, as the only definition that really can be applied, is the search for one's one means of personal expression, the expression of something as only you can express it.

But honestly, that is one of the LAST things I would list as something that helps in "learning to compose". Philosophical issues are not a necessary part of the process for a beginning composer.

You want to learn to compose? Fine. You CAN learn the craft of composition.

Study structural and harmonic analysis. Gain an understanding of harmonic motion.

Study counterpoint. Gain an understanding of how voices interact with each other. And when I say "study counterpoint", I don't mean study by reading Bach fugues. that is almost entirely useless to gaining a REAL understanding of counterpoint.

Study instrumentation. Learn which instruments can do what. The most horrible errors young composers make are generally related to this complete lack of understanding of the capabilities of different instruments.

Study orchestration. Again, not something that you can study just by reading other peoples' scores. To learn, one needs guidance. Or else, as so often happens with those who insist on "doing it on their own", you end up MISunderstanding principles and applying them in a completely erroneous fashion.

Once you've assimilated all of these elements of technical craft, THEN you start studying the various techniques that other composers have developed. This has nothing to do with imitating them. It has to do with understanding HOW they applied the principles they used in whatever composition.

And again, once you've gotten through all of this, some philosophical elements come into play.  For example, why is such-and-such a work worthy of being called "a symphony", while another work which seems to share many of the same characteristics is NOT worthy of it? (for example, Aaron Copland's 3rd symphony, most definitely a "symphony" in the very purest sense. But Ned Rorem's 3rd symphony only barely passes the test.)

I know that my response will seem harsh. I hope you take it for what it is: comments from someone who has been making music for 45 years, who's been composing for 40 of those (yes, I started quite young to compose, although I don't consider any of those works as being "in my catalog"), and working professionally as a musician and as a composer for 30 of them.

Because I notice some distinct errors in your compositions, like parallel octaves, which demonstrate a certain understanding of basic principles of harmony and voice leading.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2011, 11:00:30 AM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"