Actually, thats not true, but hopefully I got your attention. The fact is, most people will get this idea in their head at least once in their career. Many will get it over and over again. So let’s take a look at why you may think your compositions suck.
I have spent the last year and a half, really digging into composing seriously. Over that year and a half, I have had plenty of ups and downs about my abilities and the work that I’ve put out. Sometimes, usually when I finish a piece, I feel pretty good about it. Other times, normally a little later down the road after the composition is finished, I think, “Wow, I thought this was good… there is no hope for me.”
Really there are some specific things going on here:
My Composition Craft is Improving
There is one thing that above all that is leading me to these conclusions that is actually good. The most likely reason I think I am a terrible composer is that I am actually becoming a better composer, and I can legitimately say my older compositions are worse than my newer compositions, specifically in style, technique and overall coherence. As you improve, not only will your ability to spot errors will improve (meaning voice leading, counterpoint, harmony, orchestration, etc.), but your taste will develop. That is the reason why accomplished composers generally have their opinions respected about compositions that novice composers do.
My Overall Mood is Fluctuating
I am, and I suspect you are also, not immune to having a bad day. This can lead to devastating results when it comes to judging your compositions. So if you are just having the worst week of your life, or even if you just had a crummy night sleep, I recommend three things:
- Take a break. Everyone needs a break once in a while, even from the things you love. My wife and I try to have my son spend the night at Grandma’s house at least once a week. It’s not because we don’t love him, we do. It’s just, well… he’s three years old, and a little bit crazy sometimes. A break is good for everyone.
- Don’t even think about analyzing or judging your or anyone else’s music. Wait until you are 100% again.
- Go exercise. If you don’t exercise, start exercising. I have said it many times on this blog, and I will say it again, exercise is key to health and creativity.
You May Be a Terrible Composer
Seriously, you may be terrible. But that’s okay. No one came out of the womb composing a symphony. Not even Mozart (Mozart’s father was one of the greatest music teachers in Europe at the time, and probably had a hand in most of the early works of Mozart). So if you are, then you really need to focus on understanding great music first and “expressing yourself” last. Chances are, you are making simple mistakes, like not putting cadences in the right place, not following standard harmonic patterns, poor voice leading, or strange form.
Find a Mentor
The best thing you could do, is probably find a mentor. Someone with more skill and experience than you, who is willing to take the time to understand where you are within your composing journey.