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Topic: Too Old?  (Read 2302 times)

Offline piano_learner

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Too Old?
on: October 29, 2004, 11:37:42 PM
I am 36 and I would like to compose a piece at some point in my life. But I am only starting to learn Piano (properly) and have had only a few lessons many years ago in music composition. I got as far as Chord inversions but that is only a distant memory now. If you look at all the notable geniuses throughout history, they all achieved their greatest and most memorable works before the age of 30.  :'(

Offline bernhard

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #1 on: October 30, 2004, 12:05:09 AM
Not composers.

Two that come immediately to mind are Domenico Scarlatti who only started composing the 555 keyboard sonatas for which he is famous at age 53 (it is true that he composed some stuff before that, but it was mostly mediocre), and Emmanuel Chabrier who was a public servant for some 20 years and only at age 40 started composing seriously (he gave up his job to do so).

Then you have the likes of Arvo Part who stopped composing for seven years, and when he came back to composing (in his late thirties) his style was so different that it was as if he was a completely different composer.

There are plenty more examples. Here are a few more:

https://classicalmusic.allinfoabout.com/late-bloomers1.html


Do some googling (“late bloomer composers”) and you will get over 600 links. This should reassure you. ;)

The only true limitiation is death.

Best wishes,
Bernhard.
The music business is a cruel and shallow money trench, a long plastic hallway where thieves and pimps run free, and good men die like dogs. There's also a negative side. (Hunter Thompson)

Offline CC

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #2 on: October 30, 2004, 03:44:36 AM
If you really look in detail at the history of practically any composer, you will find that none of them were ever born that way -- they were created or developed.  The myth that great musicians were born talented arose because people couldn't believe that such insurmountable differences in human capabilities could be developed.  But that myth is based mainly on ignorance of the real facts.

Logically, it is not difficult to convince yourself that being born with music is impossible, mainly because music is a totally human concoction. Otherwise, why wouldn't an Afircal pigmy start composing Beethoven sonatas if he happened to inherit the right genes?  You might laugh and say that's utterly impossible -- but think about it -- that means you knew it all along!

Music is like religion --  it is a totally human creation.  So if you can create God, (Jesus, Buddha, etc.), why not a mere mortal musician?  All you need is love, desire, and enjoyment of music  -- and a little research wouldn't hurt either.  Welcome to reality!

How do you get there? If you have no idea yourself (a bad sign -- it will probably take you a while), then start making music by practicing. As you start playing different composers and different genres, you will pick up plenty of ideas. Theory is not necessary and, some say, can be detrimental at first.
C.C.Chang; my home page:

 https://www.pianopractice.org/

Offline jlh

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #3 on: October 30, 2004, 04:12:59 AM
Theory is not necessary and, some say, can be detrimental at first.

That depends entirely on  what you want to accomplish.  If you're going to be writing music, you need to be able to write it in a way that others can interpret it properly.  Also, without understanding the theory behind what you're listening to, it will be more difficult to gather ideas that can be recycled in your compositions.
. ROFL : ROFL:LOL:ROFL : ROFL '
                 ___/\___
  L   ______/             \
LOL "”””””””\         [ ] \
  L              \_________)
                 ___I___I___/

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #4 on: October 30, 2004, 03:45:58 PM
Theory is not necessary and, some say, can be detrimental at first.

That depends entirely on  what you want to accomplish.  If you're going to be writing music, you need to be able to write it in a way that others can interpret it properly.  Also, without understanding the theory behind what you're listening to, it will be more difficult to gather ideas that can be recycled in your compositions.

I think the emphasis on needing to be well versed in theory in order to compose is misguided.  Irving Berlin, one of the greatest American composers that ever lived could neither read nor write music.  That did not stop him from writing over 1,000 songs, 30 Broadway shows and 17 Hollywood musicals in his lifetime.  Berlin reflected later in life, "I've not done badly for a poor immigrant boy who can't read music."  Of course, if you want to write a fugue in the style of J. S. Bach you probably need to understand harmony and counterpoint and the rules of baroque composition.  For anything else, use your ears and listen to the song in your heart.


"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Offline BoliverAllmon

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #5 on: October 30, 2004, 05:12:31 PM
If you really look in detail at the history of practically any composer, you will find that none of them were ever born that way -- they were created or developed.  The myth that great musicians were born talented arose because people couldn't believe that such insurmountable differences in human capabilities could be developed.  But that myth is based mainly on ignorance of the real facts.

Logically, it is not difficult to convince yourself that being born with music is impossible, mainly because music is a totally human concoction. Otherwise, why wouldn't an Afircal pigmy start composing Beethoven sonatas if he happened to inherit the right genes?  You might laugh and say that's utterly impossible -- but think about it -- that means you knew it all along!

Music is like religion --  it is a totally human creation.  So if you can create God, (Jesus, Buddha, etc.), why not a mere mortal musician?  All you need is love, desire, and enjoyment of music  -- and a little research wouldn't hurt either.  Welcome to reality!

How do you get there? If you have no idea yourself (a bad sign -- it will probably take you a while), then start making music by practicing. As you start playing different composers and different genres, you will pick up plenty of ideas. Theory is not necessary and, some say, can be detrimental at first.

no we are not born with it. all gifts and knowledge come from God.

boliver

Offline dinosaurtales

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #6 on: October 30, 2004, 06:04:25 PM
Unless you have ambitions of composing the next great symphony, you will probably be just fine.  My husband just started music two years ago, at 48, and has composed 7 little pieces, two of which won state awards.  They really aren't bad pieces, just not huge or massively complex.  But they have catchy rhythms and he has figured out how to build to a climax and end the things properly, so they come off well.  He'll get better with time, but don't think you can't do something because of AGE! 

So much music, so little time........

Offline piano_learner

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #7 on: October 30, 2004, 07:34:52 PM
They really aren't bad pieces, just not huge or massively complex.  But they have catchy rhythms and he has figured out how to build to a climax and end the things properly, so they come off well.  He'll get better with time, but don't think you can't do something because of AGE! 


I am a 'minimalist' myself and like a clear melody without massive complexity. Maybe there is hope for me!?  :o

Can anyone recommend a good book for theory & composition techniques?

Spatula

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #8 on: October 31, 2004, 04:58:44 AM

The only true limitiation is death.



I'll be able to attest that...already composing some stuff...although 3rd rate at best.

Offline galonia

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #9 on: October 31, 2004, 06:59:47 AM
This will probably cause people to start flaming, but here goes...

I agree that in the end, composition is about what you think sounds good, but if you want to learn the theories behind harmonic structures and all that, then you can get a book and do it.

I use Wiliam Lovelock's books - very very old fashioned, and some people just hate them.  First Year Harmony and Second Year Harmony explain all the "rules"; Third Year Harmony is, I believe, more about stylistic concerns, but I haven't used it myself.  These "rules" are guidelines which suggest what sounds "nice" but in the end, it's all about individual taste.

I also find "The study of Orchestration" by Adler a really helpful reference book.

Offline mound

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #10 on: October 31, 2004, 06:54:08 PM
Irving Berlin, one of the greatest American composers that ever lived could neither read nor write music.  That did not stop him from writing over 1,000 songs, 30 Broadway shows and 17 Hollywood musicals in his lifetime. 

Do you know how exactly he went about writing 1,000 songs w/o knowing how to write? I'm not suggesting he didn't "know how to read or write" as I've heard that before, but I'm wondering just what his process was for translating his ideas? Did he just play all the parts and orchestrations into a recorder and pass it along or something? Did somebody do the transcription for him?

-Paul

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #11 on: October 31, 2004, 07:18:13 PM
Here's a paragraph from an old TIME magazine article regarding Irving Berlin's composing process:

It's true that Berlin, an emigre from Czarist Russia, had no formal training in composition. He could not read music. He employed arrangers to transcribe the pulsing melodies and often complex harmonies that poured out of his head and through his clumsy fingers. He could play in only one key, banging out his numbers on a special piano (he called it "the Buick") that, with the push of a pedal, could transpose keys. Even on his own machine, Berlin was a lousy salesman of his music; his ragged vocal and instrumental technique could undermine his best work. In 1934, Fred Astaire and the "Top Hat" production team gathered to hear the numbers Berlin had written for the movie. "And then he would sing the song," Hermes Pan, Astaire's choreographer, told Bergreen, "and we were all asking ourselves, Is this any good? I remember 'Cheek to Cheek' especially: the way he sang and played, it sounded so awful."

"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke

Spatula

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #12 on: November 01, 2004, 01:45:12 AM
Here's a paragraph from an old TIME magazine article regarding Irving Berlin's composing process:

It's true that Berlin, an emigre from Czarist Russia, had no formal training in composition. He could not read music. He employed arrangers to transcribe the pulsing melodies and often complex harmonies that poured out of his head and through his clumsy fingers. He could play in only one key, banging out his numbers on a special piano (he called it "the Buick") that, with the push of a pedal, could transpose keys. Even on his own machine, Berlin was a lousy salesman of his music; his ragged vocal and instrumental technique could undermine his best work. In 1934, Fred Astaire and the "Top Hat" production team gathered to hear the numbers Berlin had written for the movie. "And then he would sing the song," Hermes Pan, Astaire's choreographer, told Bergreen, "and we were all asking ourselves, Is this any good? I remember 'Cheek to Cheek' especially: the way he sang and played, it sounded so awful."



So was he a terrible composer?  I'm not catching the flow...

Offline piano_learner

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #13 on: November 01, 2004, 08:32:10 AM

So was he a terrible composer?  I'm not catching the flow...

I'm thinking along similair lines. I am an utterly terrible poet and can only read and write English(barely  ::) ). If I was to give vague ideas to a Russian would s/he transcribe beautiful Russian poetry for which I would be credited?  :-\

Offline jazzyprof

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Re: Too Old?
Reply #14 on: November 01, 2004, 03:36:40 PM
So was he a terrible composer?  I'm not catching the flow...

Here's the flow: read reply#4, then #10, then #11 in this thread.
"Playing the piano is my greatest joy, next to my wife; it is my most absorbing interest, next to my work." ...Charles Cooke
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