Composing long, highly developed music is hard.
This can be made more so, by not having a clear understanding of how music is put together.
Have you ever started composing, and about 1 minute into your masterpiece, feel like its going nowhere, and just doesn’t seem right?
The answer is understanding Sonata Form.
In Composing Music in Sonata Form, you will learn to compose, develop and combine themes, while following the model of Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1, composing your own first movement.
If you have something to say, this something will never emerge more distinctly than in your unintended unfaithfulness to a model. ~Maurice Ravel
- Learn how to take the guess work out of composing large movement pieces.
- Discover how to really learn from the old masters by using their music as your model for composing.
- Finally have the boost you need to start and finish that symphony or sonata you’ve always wanted to write.
If you want to hear an example of what you’ll be composing, first listen to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st Movement.
Beethoven Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st Movement
Next, listen to my own composition, in which I follow the exact plan in the book. I humbly submit for your listening pleasure.
My Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st Movement
What’s in the Book
The subtitle of this book is “An Intermediate Guide to Composing” for good reason. Its not just your typical description of Sonata Form.
Instead, in 96 pages, we go through developing your philosophy of composing, review topics covered in my free beginner’s course, learn how to use models for composing… and ultimately, how to internalize and use the concepts of sonata form to improve your composing.
This is my philosophy on being a composer.
This lays out for you what the book is all about. But I also cover important topics like:
- the skills of a composer
- how to deliberately practice your composing to improve
- and what it takes to make it through this book
Chapter 1. Melody and The Basic Idea
I go in depth about writing two-bar basic ideas. The basic idea is the foundation of your music. Practice writing these, and the rest will come, but only if you know how to develop it.
Chapter 2. Main Theme Types
I go back over the sentence, period, small ternary and small binary forms. This is a review of what is covered in the beginner’s course, with some additional information.
Chapter 3. Hybrid and Compound Themes
I go into depth about the ways you can break up the main theme types to create new, hybrid themes and compound themes. These add another dimension to your composing arsenal.
Chapter 4. Loosening Techniques
Loosening techniques are all about learning to expand your themes to fit different sections of the sonata form. Learning these techniques will really take your composing up a notch.
Chapter 5. Overview of Sonata Form
This gives you a one over the world of sonata form. Each section, each function… they are all covered in detail. Finally, take the guess work out of sonata form.
Chapters 6 – 12
These chapters are the heart of the book. I take you, step by step, through composing each section of your sonata form. Along the way, we look at two models. First is Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1, Op. 2. This is one of the most famous movements in sonata form, because of it’s clarity. Beethoven is truly a master and learn how to use his genius to improve your composing.
Listen to Beethoven’s Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st Movement
The second model, is my own first movement, to my first Piano Sonata. I humbly submit for your listening pleasure.
My Piano Sonata No. 1, 1st Movement
- Day 1: Basic Ideas
- Day 2: Themes
- Day 3: Transition
- Day 4: Development
- Day 5: Recapitulation
- Day 6: Coda and Completion
Just imagine, in 6 days you could have your first real sonata under way.
My journey as a composer has been all over the place. When I was a teenager, I composed purely out of luck. Everything I wrote was just done by ear… what sounded good to me was kept, what sounded bad was tossed. But I found it frustrating to attempt longer works, because I would lose focus of what I was writing, and in the end it wouldn’t flow very well.
Something was missing.
Form to the Rescue
After starting artofcomposing.com, August 2011, I began to read many music theory books in search of answers. There had to be some secrets that I just didn’t know about, that if I could find them I would be able to compose the way I always wanted to.
I created the free beginner’s composing course out of everything I was learning.
I went from composing like this in August 2011:
To composing this just a few months later:
But I was still having trouble composing longer works.
Well it turns out, there were secrets that I didn’t really know about… but they weren’t what I expected.
Secret #1 – Composing takes a lot of work, regardless of inspiration and talent
I am sure you have heard that some have it and some don’t. If you are not given the gift of talent at birth, then you are destined to be mediocre your entire life. Well, its not quite true. In reality, some have been taught it, and some haven’t. The lucky ones are the ones that have had good mentorship, teachers, and the drive to put in the hours of study and work needed to become composers.
Secret #2 – You have to understand the rules before you can break them
I think this is said quite a lot, and is probably going into the realm of cliche. But I did not have a true understanding of it, until I really did start to understand the rules… on a deeper level than I had before. Not just knowing what the rules are, but why they are there in the first place is the key.
Secret #3 – Doing is more important than thinking about doing
You have to eventually just get down in the trenches and do the work. If you compose the things you are comfortable with, you won’t improve much. You have to push your limits, and compose the pieces you truly want to compose. But this takes guidance, and a plan. This is where Composing Music in Sonata Form comes in.
Become the Composer You’ve Always Wanted to Be
Composing Music in Sonata Form is all about demystifying the process of composing music, and allowing you to free yourself from worry. Many people have tried to write sonatas, and many people fail, or end up writing something that doesn’t actually fit the definition of sonata form. Why? Because of a lack of understanding about the process. Once you know what goes into it, and have a clear idea of what you want to write, the actual writing process comes pretty easily.
So what are some concerns that people have about sonata form?
Sonata Form is Outdated
No form can be considered truly outdated. In the hands of a master, sonata form can be groundbreaking, even today. Sonata form is all about pushing your limits as a composer. You are forced to create something interesting and fresh, while developing basic ideas and themes into larger sections. If it was good enough for Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven, Schubert, Liszt, Mahler, Ravel, Prokofiev…. it is good enough for you.
Sonata Form is Too Complicated
The end result may sound complicated, but when you break it down, chunk by chunk, the process is actually pretty simple. Now I am not going to lie, it will be work. But the feeling of accomplishment you’ll have after writing a full movement in sonata form, well that can’t be beat.
There is no Sonata Form…
Yes there is.