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The Path of Composing
A book that contains important advices that will elevate the level of composition by a notch. It states that it is "an incredible that raises the level of composition just by detailed reading.."
A detailed reading may raise the Music Composition skill from C to B.
- The Compositional Journey -
Written by Audran
- The Compositional Journey -
Written by Audran
We have had a huge increase of score sales as of late. Wherever you go, you will find people playing music everywhere. The fact that so many people have become open to enjoying the beauty of music seems to show that our world is every day becoming a better place to live.
However, there are aspects of this trend that are somewhat disconcerting, which is that the world is increasingly filled with music that is either pitifully generic or totally not accessible.
I think that this is because many aspiring composers do not know how to write their own music despite the abundance of musical inspirations everywhere. I considered for a long time just how I could contribute to dealing with such mediocrity of musical output across the board and thought it best to share some of the ways that I have overcome these hurdles myself. I decided to write a book about the things that I have learned throughout my compositional journey, and hope that it will prove to be a helpful resource for aspiring composers.
This book was written for aspiring composers with great talent who have not had the opportunity to study with a great teacher. Many such young talents end up merely regurgitating other music they have heard and this book is meant to help such students learn to tune into and listen to their inner ear.
I do not discuss any compositional techniques in this book. There are so many techniques in existence in our world, especially of the bards, who continuously develop their own techniques for composition as well as performance. They write so many songs on a regular basis, that it is nearly impossible to keep track of each songwriter. If I start discussing compositional techniques, I could end up spending the entire book discussing techniques but that would defeat the purpose of this book.
This book will give you guidance as to the perspective you should have as an aspiring composer, as well as how you will need to train yourself.
This is a small book, but I hope that it will help some aspiring composers to find their way.
- Transcribing songs is mere practice.
Transcribing songs that have been passed down orally, and to study the various performance techniques, can be quite rewarding when studying music composition.
However, one cannot move forward as a true musician by being content with such transcription exercises. If you are truly serious about being a musician, you cannot let yourself be satisfied with transcribing others' music.
Transcribing the music that flows from one's inner soul and seducing the audience with a song that is truthful and honest is the way of a true musician.
First of all, you should recognize the fact that you are a musician, and realize that your job is to move people. Transcribing others' existing music can be good compositional practice but a true musician must not see transciption as being equivalent to musical composition.
- Foster your sensitivity to pitch
Music is created by using existing pitches, setting them up in a particular order which then becomes a sound that moves its listeners. As a result, it is absolutely important that a composer has a certain sensitivity and analytic understanding of pitch, which is the main device and constituent element of music.
A composer must pursue a variety of questions concerning music, such as pondering about which pitches go well together, which instrumentation produces the most seductive sound, how pitch is affected by the tempo of the piece, which instrument would best carry the theme of your piece, and many other musical devices and means to most effectively communicate one's ideas.
And to do this, a composer must be able to play an instrument. If you are asking why a composer would need to learn how to play an insrument, then remember that the language with which a composer conveys his/her ideas is through pitch. Fostering a senstivity toward pitch is not something that one should take lightly or disregard as useless. Also, learning to play an instrument is one of the most effective ways to foster one's sensitivity to pitch.
- Discipline the sounds of your heart through improvisation
Once you have become sensitive to pitch and have expanded the number of instruments you can play, I would like to suggest that you try improvising. Improvising simply means to perform as you feel, that is to flow with your feelings without a score, to simply play your instrument in the moment.
By doing so, you can hear, with your own ears, the melodies that are emerging from your heart. There is no need to remember all the melodies that you are playing during improvisation but the feelings that you experience during improvisation become the soil from which your composition grows.
- An analytical appreciation of music
Music composition is a journey that is taken by music lovers, but one cannot make great music when you are buried under the emotions of that piece. It is certainly important that you are absorbed in the music you are listening to, but it is even more important to have an analytical position when listening to one's own music, and to be able to break down the ways the structural elements and/or performance techniques come together in the piece. Otherwise, it is highly likely that your composition will be any more than just a familiar tune you feel like you've heard somewhere before.
The way composers listen to music must be qualitatively different from the way non-musicians listen to music. Of course, approaching music from the perspective of logic and reason may seem like a surefire way to lose the warmth and passion behind music. And such concerns do indeed have a reasonable basis as music is not a world that can be created by reason and formulae. However, you must always remember that music that is not filtered through the process of reason cannot have the power to move its listeners.
This is not only applicable to music composition but is true in all areas of the Arts.
- Know the instruments.
I have already discussed that one of the steps to composing has to do with playing an instrument so as to hone your pitch sensitivity, but getting to know instruments is a whole other thing than to perform on it. It is important to learn the physical characteristics of the instruments, so that you, the composer, can know which instruments go together, and the types of sounds that each instrument can make.
There is no need to play all instruments so perfectly. However, you must, at a minimum, be familiar enough with the characteristics of each instrument to know which instrument would be best used for particular performances and the types of sounds that each instrument can make for particular types of effects etc..
For this, I would suggest listening to music while paying close attention to the various instrumental timbres and sounds. It is also a good idea to listen to music with instruments that you are not familiar playing with. Once you have fully explored the instrument's characteristics, the musical motif of your soul will find its wing and learn to fly.
Here I have reviewed some of the shortcomings of today's composers, and suggested some guidelines for aspiring composers to follow throughout their personal artistic development based on my own experiences.
This is simultaneously a mentor's guidance as well as a record of my own regrets as a composer. I truly hope that you will become a great bard whose work is able to transcend from being a mere transcription of something that's been passed on through generations, and that you can create a truthful narrative of melodies that emerges from the heart.
If any such bard is to remember this book one day, attributing this book as the very source of inspiration that led to his/her rebirth as a great composer, then I will have done everything I had ever hoped for accomplishing through this book.