Developing the Composition
The next phase in the music composing process is developing your composition. All composers must go through this process. You have to take that messy glob of musical ideas and inspiration and turn it into something real.
The key that binds composers here is a mastery of musical form and other aspects of musical theory. Music theory is not about making a piece of music conform to an outdated formulas or rules. In essence, it is about understanding your options as a composer and why you are are writing what you write.
Do you know how to create a feeling of stabilization in your composition? How about uncertainty? How do you prolong an idea without keeping it from cadencing? The answers to these lie in a deep understanding of music theory.
Musical Form – The Glue of the Music Composing Process
Form especially ties together all of the other aspects of music. Within a phrase, you not only have formal functions accomplished purely by the form, but also by the harmony, and the melody. This happens throughout entire compositions. Understanding form will bring you further along than probably any other type of study, in terms of bringing together your musical knowledge.
Where To Start With Musical Form – The Basic Idea
When learning musical form, a lot of people start with the motive. It is the smallest musical element. But I believe you should start one step up – start with a Basic Idea. The reason is, basic ideas are closer to a complete musical thought than a motive.
A motive may be the driving force behind your music, but a basic idea harnesses that driving force. If you are unfamiliar with basic ideas, it is simply a short musical sub-phrase, that is a complete musical thought.
Think about it this way. Let’s say you were going to do some errands around town. You need to go to the mall, and then the grocery store, and finally pick up your kids from school.
You wouldn’t think to yourself, “Hmm, I go, mall, meat. School, driveway, home.” Well, maybe you do if you are a caveman. You probably are thinking more along the lines of, “Today i’ll go to the mall first, then after the mall, I’ll go to the grocery store, because I need to pick up some meat. Then off to the school to pick up the kids, and then home.”
From there you can learn by going up each step along the way.
Perserverance, a Part of the Music Composing Process
Inherent in all phases of the music composing process is that the composer is actively reflecting on what he has composed.
You’ll probably find that your feelings about a piece of music ebb and flow. When you first write our your ideas, you really like them. You think, “Man, this is awesome. I really am a genius.”
But reality sets in. You start working out the details, expanding the music. You listen back and think, “This is not working. I need to give up composing all together and just go back to being a (fill in the blank, whatever your day job is).”
This is where perserverance comes in.
The only things in life that are worth your time, are always difficult. You need to be able to push through the doubt, the drudgery and the fear, and just keep going. After a while, things start to come together.
Some composers will take years for their stuff to “gel.” Beethoven for instance, wrote ideas for his 9th Symphony in sketch books for years, before it all came together. If it was easy, everyone would do it.
But perserverance is, by far, the most important aspect of the music composing process. You could have all oft he expertise in the world, but if you give up, you’ll never be a great composer.
Last, but not least. When you have completed your piece of music. You need to learn something from it. It could be something technical, like a few new modulations or something ethereal and fuzzy, like perserverance.
If you haven’t come away with something of value for yourself, then you will not see the kind of improvements you want to see.
And improvement is important. In the world of composing, many people think that art is art, and that whatever you create is a reflection of who you are. The rules don’t apply, blah blah blah…
Improving your skills or your understanding of yourself are important. It takes focus to become a better composer. Always be striving for improvement and you will never out grow composing.
I want to hear about your stories of perservance. Have you been working on a Symphony for 21 years, like Brahms? Leave a comment.