This site is for anyone who is passionate about composing music. Plain and simple. There are a million different styles of music, and everyone has slightly different tastes, but the underlying theory and guidelines apply to all, no matter if you are trying to learn to write a large romantic symphony, or a tune for your garage band, or even an avant garde minimalist piece. You still have to know and understand the craft.
My dad has always been somewhat of an inspiration and guide for me. He was a classical guitar performance major back in the day. And he is very opinionated about one specific type of music. Film music. Its not that he is a film music expert, (although, I think everyone is a film music expert just a little), its that it seems to be the most important thing for him. I think it just about every movie we’ve ever seen together, within the first 30 seconds, he’s made his final judgement on whether it is a good film or not. Music good. Film good. Done.
He likes to tell me, “You can always tell when they’ve hired someone who doesn’t really know the rules. See, you can break the rules, but you have to know them first, in order to know when to break them.”
The Rules of Music Theory
So rules… Yeah… I thought music was about what you heard in your head and then putting it down. I heard thats how Mozart did it. And besides, doesn’t learning music theory make you sound robotic?
Not exactly. You see, I have come to learn something very interesting about composing, and I learned this from playing Jazz. Its as simple as this, learning music theory doesn’t stunt creativity. Learning things like harmony, melody, form, structure, counterpoint… they will set you free.
I recently read an interesting book called This is Your Brain on Music by Daniel J. Levitin, and in it he talks about a lot of interesting topics concerning music and they way we hear it, process it and learn it. But in one part, he specifically talks about what we would call “musical geniuses,” guys like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, that took music to a whole new level.
The question he posed was this. Were these guys born with this innate ability, or did they learn it. The answer was simple. They learned it.
But I’ve always heard Mozart composed his first symphony at the age of three, he must have been born a musical genius, right? Actually, Mozart was eight when he wrote his first symphony, but more importantly, his father was a great music teacher.
The important thing pointed out in the book is that anyone can become a master of their craft. All it takes is roughly 10,000 hours of practice. Thats it.
That seems like a lot of hours. And it is, but don’t get discouraged. What he also talks about, is that most people make the most gains at the beginning, but don’t continue to practice what they are not good at. Instead, once their comfortable with what they have learned, they stick to that.
Translation – get out of your comfort zone.
The Point of All This
My point. We have to be ready to start our 10,000 hours, and make them count. I’d love to be a master, wouldn’t you? Where do you go from here. Stay tuned to find out.
Until next time,