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Poll

> Composingn by Hand vs. COMPUTER TECHNOLOGY <

Writing Music by Hand
5 (55.6%)
Writing Music via Computer
4 (44.4%)

Total Members Voted: 9

Composing: Are you Old School? 18th Century? or New School? 21st Century (Read 1258 times)

Offline pianoplayerstar

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I'm a purist. Somewhat ... that is a strong and firm believer is cursive, handwriting, and composing by hand.. although I won't discount technology and will use it as necessary.

I have this theory (perhaps many of you can rebut or support) that hand composers (writing music by hand vs. computers) have a greater ability (this is 'relative' as to 'greater') to compose great material (again, relative as to "great").

Any of you have a preference based on your own experience, research, and observation?

I haven't seen any new Mozart's or Beethovens lately... although perhaps a Creston or a Klein might be up there.. but surely a far cry from the real Classical and Romantics, the likes of Clementi, Chopin, and LIszt.

Your take and thoughts?

Offline arnerich

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Very interesting topic. I'm a composer and I write my music down on computer always and occasional by hand only afterwards. Writing by hand is more or less a keepsake if I'm giving the piece to someone it might be dedicated to. 

It does take me longer to notate music onto a computer than by hand, BUT once it's on the computer there is so much more you can do with it. Imagine if Wagner wrote down a whole section of an opera only to decide later he'd rather have it a half step lower. If it was on a computer BAM! with a few simple button clicks what would have taken surely hours to do is done in seconds.

In regards to your theory that hand composers are superior to those who use computers, I'd have to rebut it. I am not even close to a Beethoven or Mozart but I think my music can stand on it's own legs and can at least prove that there could be the potential for such a composer. I'll attach a few links to pieces I've composed and hope it adds to the debate.  

Variations on a theme of Scriabin


Etude in G major


Double Fugue in e flat minor, "Leviathan"


Polonaise in E flat



Offline avanchnzel

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I find that what I compose with paper and piano is better than whatever I do with software. I hate the sound that the playback makes; it completely ruins my impression of the music, so I only use it for four-part harmony these days. As for doing it on paper I can keep the 'original' version in my head with all the subtleties and rubato I want, and when I want to listen to it - I just play it. Exactly the way I want it.

People tell me just not to use the playback button on software, but sometimes I can't help but use it anyway just to hear how a certain chord progression sounds, and I have difficulty putting in things like bars without time signatures and making sextuplets, quintuplets and so on. On paper I can just write all the notes out, join them all and scribble a number.

Offline ted

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The answer might possibly depend to some extent on exactly how you compose. If a composition crystallises out of improvisation over a period of time, and is not written out until it is all in the mind, then either way would do. On the other hand, if you work strictly from beginning to end, writing a little each day, then a computer might be more useful, as it leads directly to the end product while allowing progressive alterations along the way.

It depends on just how amenable one's musical thoughts are to notation though. In the years before I became a dedicated improviser I composed very many pieces and wrote them out by hand because nothing else was available. My improvisation has since grown, in practical terms, next to impossible, at least for me, to approximate in any written form at all. Accordingly, I have not tried to do so. However, were I to make the attempt I would probably opt for pen and paper in order to be free from metre and typographically inflexible groupings of notes. Of course this obstacle might simply result from my own ineptitude with music software, I don't really know.
"We're all bums when the wagon comes." - Waller

Offline visitor

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you're theory is analogous to saying that walking to the market to buy food results in a better grocery haul or meal than does deciding to take the bus or driving oneself to market in a car.
you might enjoy one process more personally than the other,  but for the most part it's just 'helping hand' the creative process comes from the person. 
I don't write a better letter trying to use an old fountain plume and ink well than I do w a bic ballpoint or in a typed formal letter. actually, my  penmanship is atrocious, it's like 4 year old on a soda pop bender, so the latter is almost universally agreed upon by those I write to as the only alternative.

 :)

Offline awesom_o

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This is a subject I have thought about extensively.

In today's world, a composer must be able to work without limitation using either pencil and paper OR notation software.

I wish it were as simple as visitor's analogy of walking to buy groceries vs driving there!

It's important to remember that ultimately, the act of composing is done in the mind...the software program is simply an efficient tool to help us put our ideas on paper easily and neatly.   

I don't see midi playback as being very helpful to the composition process.

Matthew, thanks for sharing your compositions! I enjoyed listening to all of your pieces.

This piece I wrote first by hand. Once completed, I copied it to Finale.

Offline hfmadopter

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I can tell you first hand that most of the modern and especially new age piano soloists are composing right at the piano. All my improv style music is done the same way, I've had now probably 20 pieces of music come to me in the last three years and non are written but if it were, then playing it off to a computer program would be awesome, even if it printed just a rough score that you then properly aligned ( something like how musescore works but automated, for instance).. I'm personally too lazy for that but these guys get promoted and end up on tours etc.. Most send their music off to be published from rough drafts and get it sorted and proofed that way before final print. Non I'm aware of write then play their music, the music comes to them at the piano and is then written. As does mine.

There are still writers I'm sure, in the sense that you speak of, who write show scores and orchestral pieces etc. I'm sure.
Depressing the pedal on an out of tune acoustic piano and playing does not result in tonal color control or add interest, it's called obnoxious.

Offline pianoplayerstar

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Matthew, I like your Etude in G - sounds kinda like a Waltz.

.. on the issue of composing.. I thought it'd be cheating if we used  computer, since you actually press a button and hear what the note looks like.. instead OF: writing it and then playing in on the piano (PURIST view).

isn't computer composing cheating for those without the best compositional ear?

Offline pianoplayerstar

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1. Writing Music via Computer - more efficient, quicker, saves time, but more robotic = no "x" factor
 vs.

2. Writing Music on the Piano (in your own head) - slower, more methodical (arguably), gives more inspiration = the presence of that "x" factor needed to actually get a good piece.

My take seems to be:  "It's better to compose 1 or 2 really really good pieces", rather than 30-40 average pieces" == YES/NO?

____________________________   
This topic leads to an important point:

How many years, or how often must you play the piano... OR... WHAT TYPES OF PIECES MUST YOU PLAY.. in order to read music in your head and play it in your head?

Is this like PERFECT PITCH?  that is, those who have it, will always have it; and those who don't, will NEVER have it, no matter how hard they try until they're 80 yrs. old.

... or simply, the more you play, your learn the note and the SOUND via "Musical Osmosis"?

Unless there is some actual Technical Practice to get this this level of achievement?

Online ronde_des_sylphes

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Computer software is just a more modern way of exporting the composition than pen and paper. Often more convenient too, with selective cut and paste, automated transposition, short cuts to enter repeated notes ,etc. There can be problems too which require some experience of the compositional software, like bars with dual metres, ornamentation which leaves 43 demisemiquavers in a bar, etc. I wouldn't compose with a computer per se but only ever use it in the secondary or even tertiary stage of getting the stuff formally notated. In short, the computer (to me) is only a secondary tool to facilitate getting the music in a publishable form and not a primary method of composition.

Ted is right in drawing attention to the issues in notating improvisations; I doubt that it is always feasible, or even desirable, to attempt absolutely precise rhythmic notation of filigree, for example.

To answer, personally speaking, one question raised, I have no idea at all when it first was that I could read piano music in my head and play it back, but I can't remember a time when I couldn't. (There has to be a small caveat in that I'm far less capable at playing back multi-instrumental polyphony in my head.)

Interesting to hear other members' compositions. The Polonaise reminded me of some Frank Bridge and similar music.

This is one of mine, and began life as an improvisation - I removed the bits I didn't like, improved the bits I did, and shifted around the various remaining segments until I liked the dramatic effect, writing linking passages where needed. I can assure you it took forever to notate with software  ;D (and even then the notation isn't absolutely 100% accurate in terms of correlation with what I've played..)

Offline sumpianodude

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personally i find writing by hand a lot more musically supportive of the piece than by computer. but maybe this is just limited to me but pieces i compose are always just out of my skill range... and so i can only get a idea of what it sounds like on a computer. i do think that composing my hand and moving it to a software afterwards is a nice idea.
excuse pleeze de gremmar and spelling and CapItALizaShuns

Offline pianoplayerstar

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TIME

this is the main issue why one would use the computer.

ESPECIALLY, if you don't have an ear or perfect pitch to 'sing' the note in your head by reading it on paper, it'd ALWAYS BE THE BEST OPTION TO USE THE COMPUTER "if" Time is your main concern.

Otherwise, going old-school/traditional is the best way it seems (assuming you've got TIME).

.. this day an age, nobody's got time.

Offline quantum

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Computer notation has its merits in my books:  one of the primary features of why it is attractive to me is non-linear editing.   Frequently, I may construct a piece of music by starting with the skeleton then gradually going back and adding more details.  It is much more difficult to insert a measure or two with a paper score (this instills visions of stories my teachers told when they were writing their dissertations on typewriters they would cut out strips of paper and paste lines of text).  

Another strong point for computer notation is redundancy and backup strategies.  With the computer, it is easy to make additional copies and upload to the cloud.  With paper, you need to head over to the copy machine or scanner.  

Version control.  What if you were juggling several versions of a passage in your head and wanted to test each on out.  Another point for software ease of use and data management.  

Forwarding drafts to performers.  Relatively easy to go back and forth with drafts between performers, and have them try out the music with speedy delivery of the scores.

Where computer notation gets more challenging is when you are trying to do non-standard things with the score.  It requires more planning, and perhaps a paper draft will help one visualize the content.

Made a Liszt. Need new Handel's for Soler panel & Alkan foil. Will Faure Stein on the way to pick up Mendels' sohn. Josquin get Wolfgangs Schu with Clara. Gone Chopin, I'll be Bach

Offline pianoplayerstar

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my other question along these lines of computer v. hand-written composition:

WHEN SIGHTREADING A MODERN POP SONG OR EVEN A NEW AGE TYPE OF PIANO SOLO, WHY DOES IT SEEM LIKE THE INITIAL SIGHTREADING SEEMS TO BE 'SO SO' DIFFICULT, AS IF THE ORIGINAL COMPOSER REALLY IS EITHER

(1) TRYING TO TRICK THE AUDIENCE WITH SOME KIND OF COMPLEX COMPOSITION (A LA MOZART'S INTERJECTIONS OF TRICKS AND FOILS IN HIS SONATAS - A PERSONALITY DECISION),

OR

(2) NOT A GENIUS, BUT JUST PLAYED A TUNE ON THE PIANO 1ST, AND THEN COMPOSED IT, .. OR ... HAD SOME PROFESSIONALS REVIEW AND EDIT, AMEND, EDIT, AMEND.. MAKING THE FINAL COMPOSITION SEEM LIKE SOME KIND OF GENIUS WHERE ONLY FINGERS FINGERS LIKE THAT OF HOROWITZ COULD PLAY WITH LONG OCTAVE FINGER REACHES, AND ALL KINDS OF SIMULTANEOUS KEYBOARD REQUIREMENTS.

.. i don't know, but the other answer is:

The dude just sat down, started tinkering on the piano -- something sounded great! --- then either used the computer to compose the skeleton, OR hand-wrote it to compose the skeleton, and THEN let someone else or himself add the meat and potatoes to the score.

this is quite interesting to me.
#1? #2? or NONE OF THE ABOVE?

Offline visitor

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they're just tools. the artist is what matters.

Offline vaniii

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I saw this in my feed this morning and wondered if it would be posted.

Offline keypeg

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The title itself doesn't lead to the question.  "18th century composing" suggests to me the way you structure your harmonies, the structure of the music itself - not the choice of writing equipment.
If you use software, then it has to be relatively sophisticated, and these seem to never be for free.  You also have to learn to use the features of this sophisticated software.  I have the Notebook version of Finale, and it hardly allows me to do anything.  I'm dragging notes in by hand which is slow, and at best if I have a passage that repeats almost exactly I can copy it over.  There's a host of things that it won't let me do, such as changing time or key signatures in the middle, or choosing an enharmonic spelling that "it" doesn't like.  If I had the expensive version and took a lot of time to learn it, that would be different.
I have the sound off, so whatever tones it emanates doesn't affect me.  It is also not a matter of piano vs. computer tones.  One can hear something in one's head and write it down (also depends on the complexity of the music).
I only use Finale because that allows my teacher to work with me.  Most of the time I write it down on paper, use pencil and eraser to change things, and then put that to Finale.  Since he has the full version of Finale and knows how to use it, he may stick in new key and time signatures, courtesy accidentals etc. which my software won't allow me to do.
Quality and creativity wouldn't be affected - simply being able to get written down what you want to get written down.  If the software (of primitive cheap versions) won't let you, then you're hampered.  But it doesn't have a magical effect on the inner process of creation either way.