Where to start?

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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charles.patrick

Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sat Dec 28, 2013 12:05 pm

Hello,

I would like to start composing little bits and pieces. First instrument was (and still is) guitar.

I learnt theory when I was a kid as part of going through the grading system, never got passed undergraduate university level though so never really touched on much to do with composition.

Where do I start? Are there some standard texts? Should I start with a particular simple form - minuets or something? Do I start with a study of early music and work forwards?

Thanks.
Last edited by charles.patrick on Mon Jan 06, 2014 6:39 pm, edited 2 times in total.

charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:59 am

Well if anyone would like to reply.... that would be great.....

35 views and nobody has anything to say?
Last edited by charles.patrick on Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:44 am, edited 1 time in total.

drew p

Re: Where to start?

Post by drew p » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:46 am

chill bro, it's been less than a day

counterpoint is a good place to start

Tarbaby (1953 - 2016)

Re: Where to start?

Post by Tarbaby (1953 - 2016) » Sun Dec 29, 2013 2:15 am

Hi Charles,

This is a great community, but that's a pretty hard question. :chaud:

I've never composed anything, but I have had lots of musical ideas. The problem is that I forget them. If I ever decided to compose a piece, I think the trick (for me, at least) would be to write the ideas down right away. I'm a bit lazy in that respect... :oops:

Good luck!

Alan

charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:46 am

Oh ok, sorry. I honestly didn't realise it was a hard question.

I was assuming there would be a pretty standard way to teach composition. Is that not the case?

I thought, if anything, people would say stop being so lazy and do a quick search for some standard texts.

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petermc61
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Re: Where to start?

Post by petermc61 » Sun Dec 29, 2013 11:53 am

charles.patrick wrote:Oh ok, sorry. I honestly didn't realise it was a hard question.

I was assuming there would be a pretty standard way to teach composition. Is that not the case?

I thought, if anything, people would say stop being so lazy and do a quick search for some standard texts.
Charles

Stop being so lazy. Do a quick search for some standard texts. :-)

Peter

charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:08 pm

petermc61 wrote:
Charles

Stop being so lazy. Do a quick search for some standard texts. :-)

Peter
Well I already did and couldn't find much, hence the question in the composers workshop section of a classical guitar forum.

However, it looks like I might have to try again or perhaps try a different forum. A piano forum is probably a better idea actually.

simonm
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Re: Where to start?

Post by simonm » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:11 pm

charles.patrick wrote:...
I was assuming there would be a pretty standard way to teach composition. Is that not the case?
...
OK. I will bite. I don't compose and I am not a formally trained musician so i am offering an opinion about something I know nothing about. I think many people's first reaction is that you need an internal drive to compose. It is something that comes from inside you. It is not something that you learn.

Once you have ideas and bits of music running round in your head then you can study formal composition in order to improve and formalize what you are doing. Trying to learn composition from a book first is putting the cart before the horse. First get some ideas out and then look at formal training.

Everybody learns things differently but I think in musical composition the inspiration comes before the perspiration and your question implies that it is the other way round. I think this reverse order is what is puzzling others. Kind of like going to art school. You need to present a portfolio of work before you get accepted - the analogy being that before you study composition you need a portfolio of ideas you have tried on your own.

I hope that makes some sense. :mrgreen:

drew p

Re: Where to start?

Post by drew p » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:16 pm

I disagree, I find a lot of the time if you just start writing, come up with something meh, tweak it til you like it, etc is the best way to get started


Counterpoint is the standard, so to speak. 90% of our repertoire comes from people who have studied counterpoint, and even most modern music follows it to some degree--jazz is just counterpoint with 7ths & 9ths

charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:20 pm

Yes I agree that you need ideas. And I have them of course, just like everyone here probably does. In fact for many years I've been "improvising" little things pretty much everytime I sit with a guitar or other instrument. I think we all do that don't we? We all twiddle around but sometimes we hear something we like and we think "I could probably make something of that...."

So the ideas bit probably isn't a problem. It's the development of ideas that I'm more concerned with. And that's where I think there must be some rules or guidelines. Harmony for example, it's not an accident that composers put different intervals together and it moves the music along in the right direction. Neither is it always a case of sitting with an instrument and just fiddling until it sounds right, I don't believe that's how the majority of pieces are written.

I realise that "rules" are there to be broken and for every rule there will be a million and one exceptions. However, initially, for the purpose of learning, rules are useful.

There is surely a way to teach it though. Composition is a fundamental module on most undergraduate music courses.
Last edited by charles.patrick on Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:24 pm, edited 1 time in total.

charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:23 pm

Ok so I guess I'm buying a book on counterpoint. Looks like that's the place to start.

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riemsesy
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Re: Where to start?

Post by riemsesy » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:33 pm

can't you just record what you have in mind and after that write it down?
of course you need to know how to write it, but does it matter if it is in a standardized sequence?
I learned a piece of carulli last months and my teacher said that is called AABA. The first part is repeated then a middle part and then the first part is repeated again
but there are so many songs that are just different from that.
Best regards, Richard Frank
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charles.patrick

Re: Where to start?

Post by charles.patrick » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:42 pm

riemsesy wrote:can't you just record what you have in mind and after that write it down?
of course you need to know how to write it, but does it matter if it is in a standardized sequence?
I learned a piece of carulli last months and my teacher said that is called AABA. The first part is repeated then a middle part and then the first part is repeated again
but there are so many songs that are just different from that.
Yes I have lots of little recordings of bits of things. A few bars of something, no beginning, no end, no movement usually.

This is my problem.... how to develop ideas.

simonm
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Re: Where to start?

Post by simonm » Sun Dec 29, 2013 12:56 pm

charles.patrick wrote:Yes I agree that you need ideas. And I have them of course, just like everyone here probably does. In fact for many years I've been "improvising" little things pretty much everytime I sit with a guitar or other instrument. I think we all do that don't we? We all twiddle around but sometimes we hear something we like and we think "I could probably make something of that...."
...
There is surely a way to teach it though. Composition is a fundamental module on most undergraduate music courses.
So hurdle number one is taken care of. Maybe if the thread were entitled "where to go next" it might attract more of the kind of feedback you would like.

I suspect the next step is to write down some of the "doodles" then play with one for a while and see where it brings you. Lets say its in walz time. Can you make it into 2 x 8 bar sections for example. You have been playing music for years so a quick look at some "standard" formats will show you the typical number of bars, number of sections, and for more formal pieces, the typical repeat structure. Can you stretch one of your "doodles" to fit the bill? I think getting a few of the ideas written down is key Otherwise you will simply forget the idea and it won't get developed further.

While it is good to understand some of the formality, how many of the undergraduates who "learn" "composition" go on to compose anything in the rest of their lives? I would guess its a number vanishingly close to 0.

Your suggestion about looking more towards piano is probably a very good idea. Professional piano players (or KB if your prefer) are always "composing" in the sense that they will be picking up popular songs of the day and creating accompaniments almost automatically. I doubt is the average prof piano player buys fully arranged sheet music for every pop song they play whereas as people playing classical guitar almost inevitably follow a formally written score.

If you have the ideas (I call them "doodles") then what you have to do is some development and some "arrangement" and that latter is where the piano idea probably comes in. It is interesting to note tht a number of my favourite guitar playing singer song-writers over the years increasing use piano. Seems to go with composing and writing.

drew p

Re: Where to start?

Post by drew p » Sun Dec 29, 2013 1:42 pm

simonm wrote:
charles.patrick wrote:Yes I agree that you need ideas. And I have them of course, just like everyone here probably does. In fact for many years I've been "improvising" little things pretty much everytime I sit with a guitar or other instrument. I think we all do that don't we? We all twiddle around but sometimes we hear something we like and we think "I could probably make something of that...."
...
There is surely a way to teach it though. Composition is a fundamental module on most undergraduate music courses.
So hurdle number one is taken care of. Maybe if the thread were entitled "where to go next" it might attract more of the kind of feedback you would like.

I suspect the next step is to write down some of the "doodles" then play with one for a while and see where it brings you. Lets say its in walz time. Can you make it into 2 x 8 bar sections for example. You have been playing music for years so a quick look at some "standard" formats will show you the typical number of bars, number of sections, and for more formal pieces, the typical repeat structure. Can you stretch one of your "doodles" to fit the bill? I think getting a few of the ideas written down is key Otherwise you will simply forget the idea and it won't get developed further.

While it is good to understand some of the formality, how many of the undergraduates who "learn" "composition" go on to compose anything in the rest of their lives? I would guess its a number vanishingly close to 0.

Your suggestion about looking more towards piano is probably a very good idea. Professional piano players (or KB if your prefer) are always "composing" in the sense that they will be picking up popular songs of the day and creating accompaniments almost automatically. I doubt is the average prof piano player buys fully arranged sheet music for every pop song they play whereas as people playing classical guitar almost inevitably follow a formally written score.

If you have the ideas (I call them "doodles") then what you have to do is some development and some "arrangement" and that latter is where the piano idea probably comes in. It is interesting to note tht a number of my favourite guitar playing singer song-writers over the years increasing use piano. Seems to go with composing and writing.
Accompaniment is so underrated... I've played entire wedding gigs without learning a damn thing :)

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