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Learning to Compose (Read 1074 times)

Offline oullman7130

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Learning to Compose
« on: September 27, 2015, 04:39:05 AM »
How did the great composers learn to compose? More specifically, I know they trained counterpoint and harmony, but how did they practice composition specifically, which would be the practice of bringing everything together.

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #1 on: September 27, 2015, 04:06:22 PM »
How did the great composers learn to compose? More specifically, I know they trained counterpoint and harmony, but how did they practice composition specifically, which would be the practice of bringing everything together.

surely you aren't going to believe someone who tells you they know the answer to this because there really isn't one. 

Mozart composed in his head like Beethoven and wrote it down when it was finished
Chopin sat and improvised at the piano until he came up with something cool--then he wrote it down.

you can study all the theory in the world... and it will only teach you formulaic concepts and give you an  understanding of what tonal harmony represents.   Studying counterpoint helps you to understand, among other things, a applicable formula for composition.   It will not teach you to be original though...

some composers borrowed themes from folk music and used that--such as Bartok --and others, such as Liszt wrote complete transcriptions of symphonic pieces.

other composers--like Berlioz--experimented with taking one thematic element--a fixed idea and making it the focal point of an entire symphony which was carried on by Wagner and his Leit Motif

and then there's Schoenberg who used all twelve tones in his compositions and composed with a total formula called the 12-tone matrix... yeah... it didn't go over real well... some people are going to argue that ... but whatever.

there are lots of ways to compose music.  Some people do it without and knowledge of tonal harmony whatsoever.

Offline listesso_tempo

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #2 on: September 27, 2015, 06:35:49 PM »
For most composers, refined improvisation is the key, alas with a firm theoretical background. But indeed there is no standart way, some people may possess so much musical sensitivity that they will need little cognizance of what makes the music sound the way it does, and some people will be so artistically poor that they can never utilize the vast theory they know to their best extent.

Many great composers have been self-taught, with some in the 20th c. not even being able to read music.

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #3 on: September 27, 2015, 07:58:43 PM »
surely you aren't going to believe someone who tells you they know the answer to this because there really isn't one. 

Mozart composed in his head like Beethoven and wrote it down when it was finished
Chopin sat and improvised at the piano until he came up with something cool--then he wrote it down.

you can study all the theory in the world... and it will only teach you formulaic concepts and give you an  understanding of what tonal harmony represents.   Studying counterpoint helps you to understand, among other things, a applicable formula for composition.   It will not teach you to be original though...

some composers borrowed themes from folk music and used that--such as Bartok --and others, such as Liszt wrote complete transcriptions of symphonic pieces.

other composers--like Berlioz--experimented with taking one thematic element--a fixed idea and making it the focal point of an entire symphony which was carried on by Wagner and his Leit Motif

and then there's Schoenberg who used all twelve tones in his compositions and composed with a total formula called the 12-tone matrix... yeah... it didn't go over real well... some people are going to argue that ... but whatever.

there are lots of ways to compose music.  Some people do it without and knowledge of tonal harmony whatsoever.

Well said Dc saved me the effort lol.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline adodd81802

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #4 on: September 27, 2015, 08:04:24 PM »
Just to add to this try to take inspiration from either your mood or things around you.

Take something that you hear or see and try and represent that in a melody or riff and progress from there.

Obvious piece for example like the finale of William Tells overture is often used to the thought of horses galloping and it sounds very much like that.

As Dc mentioned someone such as Chopin would often take a small pattern melody and develop it and improvise it.
"England is a country of pianos, they are everywhere."

Offline dcstudio

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #5 on: September 27, 2015, 08:14:27 PM »
Well said Dc saved me the effort lol.

thanks :)  after 10+ years of being a member here...  that's not the first time I have answered that question...lol.  That's my standard answer now...  I should write a macro for it :)  save myself the effort, too.

Offline oullman7130

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Re: Learning to Compose
«Reply #6 on: October 02, 2015, 04:13:37 AM »
Thanks DCSTUDIO!