Banner: The symphonic suite Cantabile

Results 1 to 9 of 9

Thread: Composition

  1. #1
    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Philly-delphia, PA
    Posts
    512

    Default Composition

    I'm sure there's been a thread like this, but I can't seem to find one.

    As some of you know, I have been playing improv piano for about five years and have done a little composing on the side. However, I recently decided to seriously study composition on my own (i.e. without taking a course). What books should I use? I am well-versed in basic theory (so I'm fine with technical texts), but know little about the craft of composition.

    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Last edited by BuddhaBandit; Jul-15-2009 at 04:17.
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

  2. #2
    Newbies
    Join Date
    Jul 2009
    Location
    Athens
    Posts
    1

    Default

    Twentieth century harmony-Vincent Persichetti
    Technique of My Musical Language-Olivier Messiaen

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Samobor, Croatia
    Posts
    705

    Default

    I also heard Schoenberg was a great theoretical writer. His Theory of Harmony, for example.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, Canada
    Posts
    212

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by BuddhaBandit View Post
    I'm sure there's been a thread like this, but I can't seem to find one.

    As some of you know, I have been playing improv piano for about five years and have done a little composing on the side However, I recently decided to seriously study composition on my own (i.e. without taking a course). What books should I use? I am well-versed in basic theory (so I'm fine with technical texts), but know little about the craft of composition.

    Any help would be much appreciated.
    Yo BuddhaBandit,

    Here is my advice.

    Go right to the source - the score it'self! Pick a few diverse works that you are quite interested in, and learn them well - spend a year on 5-8 scores. Study with and without recordings. Spending time looking and hearing in the head will lead to greater understanding.

    Analyze the music creatively. How is the form marked? How is the melody constructed? What kinds of variations are there? What is the key structure? What is it that makes the work special to you. Also, think in terms of metaphor and meaning. Study the orchestration, registration, voicings etc and how it works with the form.

    I find that texts are good if you already have some formed concepts. Obviously, you do, but maybe by getting to know a handful of scores really well, you will gain more insight, which will give more clarity to the texts.

    I think that some work with Palestrina is a must - counterpoint as the source of functional harmony. Haydn or Mozart - form, melody, accompaniment. Some Romantic such as Chopin or early Beethoven - more chromatic, and illusive harmony - more diverse form. And a couple of modern pieces to your liking, but not too sophisticated (maybe Prokofiev, Ravel, Adams...)

    Then, once you have these, then Bach, Beethoven, Brahms, Wagner, Debussy, Stravinsky, Messiaen, Stockhausen, Grisey...lots to choose from of course.

    And compose! Get someone who's opinion you trust to show your work to and critique it.

  5. #5
    Senior Member BuddhaBandit's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    Philly-delphia, PA
    Posts
    512

    Default

    Thanks, Aris, Lisztfreak, and Scott. I will definitely study scores per Scott's suggestions (I've got many that I'm very excited about analyzing), but I want to read a couple books on composition so I can pick up on all the intricacies of the scores.

    And Scott, I think your advice on the sequence of composers to study is terrific. I was going to start with Bach (as he, with Stravinsky, is my favorite composer), but I think you're right- he's better to study after I've looked at "simpler" composers.

    In addition, I'm going to start composing short pieces on some of my improv themes. It'll be a jump into the pool, albeit at the shallow end.

    Keep the advice coming!
    Take a look at the Bandit's blog, Americana Avenue.

  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, Canada
    Posts
    212

    Default

    Cool, man.

    You know, if you want to do Bach, why not a cello suite? Just leave the big works till later - and the fugues - they are very complex. It is unbelievable what he can do with a single line. He is the man, y'know. Look at what he does with the opening statement in later development of the prelude, and even into the entire suite. Look how he uses the range of the instrument. Notice each line is governed by a variety of voice leading (the more sophisticated aspects).

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bWyrxAZCOhA

    Stravinsky: try 3 pieces for String Quartet. It's been awhile, but I know there are some interesting things (bi-tonality and metric play for instance) right near the surface. Neat rhythmic stuff to.

    He is using the same notes over and over, yet there is a sense of tension and release - mostly from the play of meter in the 1st movement.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3OS0...layer_embedded

    And, if you are looking for a text dealing with 16th century counterpoint, I would suggest Gauldin - avoid fux or anything to do with him. That is my opinion. Study of fux is like learning to box by only doing pushups - your gonna get creamed. Gauldin gives it a few pages. But honestly, I think it is so worth the time spent on 1st practice, Palestrina music. Once this is mastered to a degree, the rest that follows come much easier, as you come to realize ALL good harmony is a product of voice leading (including and especially Jazz).

    This will take some time. But the music is so great, it's worth it.

    The book "New Directions in Music" by David Cope is a very good read (make sure to get the most recent copy!). He goes through in interesting, digestible, and technical detail the main trends of the 20th century. Lots to read there.

    The Persichetti is Ok - Messiaen very good. Schoenberg is ok, good information, but I do find his writing style kind of dull...if that matters (but there is much much much to be learned from his scores - he is an unbelievable orchestrator!). I actually really like the Josef Rufer "Composition with 12 Notes" - he just loves the subject so much it is infectious!.

    Perhaps if you start digging into something, we can all throw our 2 cents in. Would be cool if someone could up load the score...

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Samobor, Croatia
    Posts
    705

    Default

    I've got a rather off-topic question for anyone who knows something about instrumentation. I've been wondering if a chamber-orchestra combination of 3 flutes (one of which possibly piccolo), 2 clarinets, 2 violins, 2 cellos, a harp and a tabor drum would be balanced? Plus 3 to 5 male singer voices (say, 2 tenors, baritone and bass).

    I'm asking because I thought how cool it would be to put the dwarves' song from The Hobbit to music.
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

  8. #8
    Senior Member danae's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Athens/Milos, Greece
    Posts
    498

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Lisztfreak View Post
    I've got a rather off-topic question for anyone who knows something about instrumentation. I've been wondering if a chamber-orchestra combination of 3 flutes (one of which possibly piccolo), 2 clarinets, 2 violins, 2 cellos, a harp and a tabor drum would be balanced? Plus 3 to 5 male singer voices (say, 2 tenors, baritone and bass).

    I'm asking because I thought how cool it would be to put the dwarves' song from The Hobbit to music.
    I think any combination can be balanced, if you know how to balance it, in other words, if you know how to orchestrate a piece or transcribe it for a different ensemble. There are many cases in which you are required to write something for a sometimes weird combination, and you need to have the skill to make it work. I don't think your combination is so unbalanced, although I think you may trouble when you just use only one percussion instrument in such a combination.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Lisztfreak's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Samobor, Croatia
    Posts
    705

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by danae View Post
    I think any combination can be balanced, if you know how to balance it, in other words, if you know how to orchestrate a piece or transcribe it for a different ensemble. There are many cases in which you are required to write something for a sometimes weird combination, and you need to have the skill to make it work. I don't think your combination is so unbalanced, although I think you may trouble when you just use only one percussion instrument in such a combination.
    Thanks a lot for your opinion! Not enough percussion, you think? I have in fact copied the instrumentation from the book itself, Tolkien says exactly which dwarf plays which instrument. Of course, Tolkien was no musician.

    What other percussion instrument might I add? How about a tambourine and a glockenspiel?
    ''Oh, the String Quartet - oh, the Divine Scratching!''

Similar Threads

  1. How composition software contribute to today composition?
    By jurianbai in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 11
    Last Post: Mar-17-2014, 02:22
  2. An Oral History of Australian Composition: Comment
    By RonPrice in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 6
    Last Post: Feb-02-2011, 02:21
  3. International Composition Competitions
    By teodor in forum Classical Music Discussion
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: Mar-22-2008, 22:50
  4. Question about composition music
    By nader in forum Musicians
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: May-30-2007, 04:59
  5. Question about composition music
    By nader in forum Beginners
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: May-03-2006, 09:45

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •