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Thread: When and why did you start composing?

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Default When and why did you start composing?

    Hello, TCers.

    I have been wondering why some people become composers in the first place and I think it would be nice to share your story of how you started composing in this thread.

    My story:

    It seems a little fuzzy all those years ago, but I think it may have been in September of October 2007 when I decided that I wanted to be a composer. I was ten years old at the time. One of the music teachers at my school asked me if I had ever thought about composing and I said that I had not, but it seems like an interesting idea. He asked me to see if I could try and compose a piece for the classes rather unusual ensemble of pitched and unpitched percussion instruments, clarinet, cello, two keyboards, classical guitar ... can't exactly remember the instrumentation but it was something weird like that.

    So I went ahead and spent the next three weeks labouring over this extremely silly little motif in A major that I figured out on guitar. It took me the first week to work out what key it was in! Once I finished the whole work (only twenty-bars long, ternary form) I showed it to my music teacher. I can't remember what happened at this point in time, but I know for sure that the piece was never rehearsed or performed at all. But once I had finished that really silly composition I knew for sure that I wanted to write music. It must have been that feeling of accomplishment that you get once you finish something that you spent so much time and effort on. I spent the next fourteen months from November to the end of December 2008 working on my first symphony as well as a few smaller works.

    So that's it. That's how I decided on composing music.
    Now over to you.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    I've just started. I'm addicted to Baroque music. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are my idols.

    I draw the line at 1750. Anything composed past 1750 is tainted and impure.
    Last edited by Davincii; May-03-2012 at 21:11.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Davincii View Post
    I draw the line at 1750. Anything composed past 1750 is tainted and impure.
    Does that mean that anything you compose will be tainted and impure?

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    My first attempt to composition was in my first months of music and guitar (not classical at this point) playing. I don't remember it but what I'm sure of is that I hadn't any melodic, harmonic, rhythmic, metric ear. It must have sounded awfully bad.
    From that point until now, I'm still in the process of learning how to write à la manière de and the most fundamental (which are already very hard) things about the musical language.
    So I guess the answer is since I've began music and not yet

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    Senior Member emiellucifuge's Avatar
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    Composing was a requirement for the music examinations I took when I was 15. I loved it and just never stopped.
    "Beware of listening to this impostor; you are undone if you once forget that the fruits of the earth belong to us all, and the earth itself to nobody." - Rousseau

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    Senior Member aleazk's Avatar
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    I have started (more seriously) 1.5 years ago, because I was bored of practicing the same pieces on the piano, so I wanted to do a different musical activity. I still compose because it's fun, but I don't give much value to the compositions itself, I value more the fun while composing.

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    Senior Member Jeremy Marchant's Avatar
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    It all started when I visited the composer Paul Patterson in the mid nineties and he proudly demonstrated his Sibelius system (this was before the days of pc Sibelius – it was running on an Acorn machine). I immediately saw that this was the music software package I needed – other products I’d used were crap. I don’t have the facility to compose at a piano and write in pencil on manuscript paper so, in addition to the Sibelius software, I needed an Acorn to run it, a weighted Fatar keyboard, a Roland synthesiser and a dedicated hifi to play it through. Once I was set up, I started playing around.

    Because I was a choral singer, I composed a number of pieces for choir, including a John Adams-inspired piece for choir and organ on Blake’s line, He who kissed the joy as it flies lives in Eternity’s sunrise. (Used by Stockhausen as the motto of Momente, of course.) Even though I say so myself, it has some gorgeous, definitely non-Adams modulations at the end.

    One of my intentions was to get a public performance of a piece of my music by a professional. In those days there was an organisation in the UK called the Society for the Promotion of New Music and every year they ran a “call for works”. Anybody could submit any piece of music they’d written – in whatever format: you could whistle into a tape recorder if you wanted. Interested musicians would rifle though the submitted works and perform what they felt like.

    Reckoning that my two hour masterpiece for 97 ukuleles, including a crucial part for the rare piccolo ukulele, was unlikely to see the light of day, I submitted a short, ultra-violent piano work which makes Stockhausen’s Klavierstück X sound like a Gymnopedie by Satie. This was taken up by Ian Pace and brilliantly premièred by him.

    One of the pieces my choir had performed was Glass’s Three songs for a capella choir. The conductor was keen to do more Glass but there was actually very little choral music by him at the time. I had noticed the harmonic similarities between the Three songs and some of the tracks on Glass’s album Songs from liquid days, so I applied to the UK publisher (who I knew) for permission to make an arrangement for choir and small orchestra (mostly strings) of the whole lot (eight songs running 45 minutes).

    My approach in making the arrangements was to suppress my personality completely and put myself in Mr Glass’s service. I wanted everyone listening to the arrangement to assume Mr Glass had made it.

    When it was finished, I met Mr Glass (he was in London for a sixtieth birthday concert at which the choir was performing part of Satyagraha (a pig to sing!)). We sat in the stalls of an otherwise empty Royal Festival Hall after rehearsal as he studied the full score, occasionally making suggestions (which I diplomatically took to be instructions). It’s been performed both side of the Atlantic and recorded (I was co-producer, a task I enjoyed immensely).

    412QSZ00RKL._SL500_AA300_.jpg

    I’ve not written anything since I became a self employed coach in emotional intelligence eight years ago (though I do work as a professional classical music journalist). The major work on the stocks which I do want to finish is a song cycle to poems by James Fenton, Out of danger. I was delighted he gave me permission to write my settings and it seems churlish not to finish it!
    Last edited by Jeremy Marchant; May-03-2012 at 22:46.

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    Senior Member Cnote11's Avatar
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    I didn't get past the "I'm 14" part.
    Last edited by Cnote11; May-04-2012 at 07:14.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davincii View Post
    I've just started. I'm addicted to Baroque music. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are my idols.

    I draw the line at 1750. Anything composed past 1750 is tainted and impure.


    Well, since you just began, regardless of your chronological age, you are a newborn who can talk -- maybe one year old, even.
    That cuts you a tremendous slack allowance for making such a ridiculous-silly pronouncement as,
    I draw the line at 1750. Anything composed past 1750 is tainted and impure.[/QUOTE]

    If you remain here, grow on all fronts and I am, still, one on this forum, I will not hold this quote up in your face later.

    Anyway, so many of us know better. It is widely agreed upon that all music went rapidly downhill to the devilish dogs who ate its bones and spat it out ever since Guillaume de Machaut ~ 1300 - 1477 ~ penned his last note / last put down his quill.
    Last edited by PetrB; May-04-2012 at 09:01.
    Cnote11 and Ravndal like this.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Can't say exactly. Starting lessons at six had me also not much later 'noodling around,' at the piano. That noodling was keyboard-hand configuration habit dictated, certainly. This was occasional.

    Some years on while in practice of some repertoire being worked, Bach, Schumann, Beethoven -- standards, a strike error or slip brought a different pitch to a chord, sounding another good possibility. I became more curious, the pleasure of 'finding' a different chord change maybe pulling, too.

    So a gradual growing interest is how it worked and the pleasure while working it which drew me, noodling and notating later yet, that ultimately drew me to study and so I could put my hand in more.

    Whether it gets you directly and quickly, or it still gets you because it did not let go, those who do it are the bitten, whatever measure of little or great skill they have. No one else would dream of bothering with that particular labor....

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davincii View Post
    I've just started. I'm addicted to Baroque music. Bach, Handel and Vivaldi are my idols.

    I draw the line at 1750. Anything composed past 1750 is tainted and impure.
    We will soon change that!
    Cnote11 and Iforgotmypassword like this.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cnote11 View Post
    I didn't get past the "I'm 14" part.
    Cnote, no one said they were 14.
    Cnote11 and Iforgotmypassword like this.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Quote Originally Posted by ComposerOfAvantGarde View Post
    Cnote, no one said they were 14.
    Maybe tge first poster did. He started composing in 2007 when he was 10.

    But that would make him 16 not 14... :S
    Cnote11 likes this.

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    Senior Member ComposerOfAvantGarde's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Davincii View Post
    Maybe tge first poster did. He started composing in 2007 when he was 10.

    But that would make him 16 not 14... :S
    That was me. And I'm 14 years old.
    Cnote11 likes this.
    It's the greed of huge companies and huge organizations which control life in a kind of a brutal way ... It's gotten worse and worse, somehow, because physical science has given us more and more terrible deadly weapons, and the human spirit has been destroyed in so many cases, so what's the use of having the most powerful country in the world if we have killed the soul.
    ~Hovhaness

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    Quote Originally Posted by emiellucifuge View Post
    Composing was a requirement for the music examinations I took when I was 15. I loved it and just never stopped.
    +1. mo fos!!!

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