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Thread: Tips to get out of composer's block?

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    Default Tips to get out of composer's block?

    I do compose some however I always have the issue of starting so many pieces and never finishing them. Are there any suggestions for things I can do to help myself finish composing?

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    Senior Member Phil loves classical's Avatar
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    I can only speak for myself, but I would just keep trying out different stuff with the material; just shooting in the dark, and see if something stands out, that you could further refine. The more I try to form something on my own, the more it usually isn't worth listening to. Sometimes I take a long break, and relisten (usually being horrified by the state I left it in), and get ideas from a fresh perspective. Sometimes I try to go down a path, and it just gets murkier and murkier, and isn't worth pursuing anymore. But I can only say being proactive is the key.
    Last edited by Phil loves classical; Jul-24-2021 at 21:18.
    "Forgive me, Majesty. I'm a vulgar man. But I assure you, my music is not.“ Mozart

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    Senior Member Haydn70's Avatar
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    As I composer myself, unless I have a hard deadline, I tend to continuing work with a piece attempting to come up with the ultimate solution. Currently I am working on a string quartet revision (the original version was performed twice a few years ago), a symphony for string orchestra and timpani, a Kyrie for 5-part chorus and a solo piano piece. Unfortunately, expect for possibly the piano piece and the string quartet, there is little chance of getting performances. At best I can create .wav files of the works (I use Finale) and post them on my YouTube channel.

    I discussed this very problem with my composition mentor, a successful and notable composer. His answer was, although one can possibly keep working to improve a piece there comes a time when one has to simply say to themselves: enough, it is done!

    One question for you amadeus: do you compose your works from beginning to end OR do you compose various sections and then weld those sections together? If you use the beginning-to-end/compose-the-piece-in-the-order-it-is-heard method you might consider the other. For example, take one of your pieces and compose the final one or two minutes. If you compose various sections it might not be quite so paralyzing. If could free you up. If you get a great idea for one of your pieces that might last only 20 seconds sketch it out. You may or may not end up using it in the final piece, but you are working!

    But of course, one must always have an idea of the overall shape/form and thrust of the piece and how that 20 second section will fit into the whole.

    I used the beginning-to-end method in college and I wish I hadn’t. If I had used the other I would have been more productive. With the beginning-to-end method when you stuck it can be very hard to get unstuck. And there are other negatives too.
    Last edited by Haydn70; Jul-24-2021 at 22:50.
    “If it is art, it is not for all, and if it is for all, it is not art.”

    Arnold Schoenberg

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    Senior Member mikeh375's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn70 View Post
    As I composer myself, unless I have a hard deadline, I tend to continuing work with a piece attempting to come up with the ultimate solution. Currently I am working on a string quartet revision (the original version was performed twice a few years ago), a symphony for string orchestra and timpani, a Kyrie for 5-part chorus and a solo piano piece. Unfortunately, expect for possibly the piano piece and the string quartet, there is little chance of getting performances. At best I can create .wav files of the works (I use Finale) and post them on my YouTube channel.
    ....can you link us to your YT channel H70?

    OP, try mapping out a work in abstract form as one possible way to get out of a funk. One could just compose rhythms that feel good and ignore the notes for a while. You could then assign instruments to rhythms perhaps or stipulate dynamics or both. You could map out in bars a rate of harmonic change or map an imaginary melodic shape with literally pencil curves over a few bars, perhaps increasing rhythmic activity to coincide. One could literally scrawl any shapes, scribbles and marks horizontally and vertically across a page to represent anything from density, timbre right through to tempo maps, anything to do with the flow of music over time in order to work out an overall plan of form and a feel for how to achieve it, all without writing a single note. Thinking laterally like this will hopefully start to fire the imagination and provide a thought out framework to take away some of the guesswork one inevitably faces at the point of creation.

    Why not create new chord shapes from synthetic scales and play them on the piano or improvise with them to see if there's a "lucky find". There are so many technically orientated ways one can search for material , so much so that one is only limited by imagination and application. Thinking laterally with technique is also an excellent way to immerse oneself in the stuff of music.
    Last edited by mikeh375; Jul-26-2021 at 15:49.

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    Some great tips here, thanks!

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