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#1147782 - 12/20/05 10:36 PM How did you get interested in composing?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
How did you get interested in composing? How did you first get started? How long have you been at it? Have you had any formal classes or lessons in composition? Why do you like to write music?

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#1147783 - 12/20/05 11:39 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Jeanne W Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/28/04
Posts: 1240
Loc: New England
Sarabande, you pose some interesting questions.

Here's my story...

When I was about 9 years old, my brother and I taught ourselves to play guitar. Both my brother and I started writing our own songs, it just came naturally.

I had, for years, wanted to learn to play piano. I often DREAMED (at night while sleeping) I was playing a piano. When I was about 13 years old, I got an electronic Wurlitzer piano and taught myself how to play. I had already learned to read the treble clef for guitar, which was helpful.

When I was about 20 (I was playing pretty well by that time), I took about 5 or 6 lessons from a woman who taught me how to take a popular song and play it "fake book" style. She showed me how to improvise chords and some bass runs. That freed me up immensely from slavishly playing every note on a piece of sheet music! A whole new world opened up to me. I found this very valuable!

I was then on my own after that. I never took any further lessons - until this past February when I began taking formal piano lessons with a classically trained piano teacher. Suffice it to say, I have a LOT of things to learn!

I have been composing for many years, I have some piano compositions dated back to 1976. I have no formal lessons in music composition, so God only know how good or how BAD it is. \:D

Why do I write music? Why WOULDN'T I write music? I CAN'T IMAGINE not writing music! It's something I do, is all. The creative process is one of the greatest joys in my life. I find it absolutely fascinating. Just put your fingers on the keys and play around with a few notes and see what you can *hear*. You are creating something from nothing, that didn't exist a minute ago. And you never know exactly what's going to make its way into the world. I am always searching for a beautiful phrase, harmony, whatever it is that sounds GOOD to my ear.

I can't imagine NOT composing. The music takes you places. It's something that comes out of your soul.

Jeanne W
_________________________
Music is about the heart and so should a piano be about the heart. - Pique

1920 Steinway A3
My Piano Delivery Thread:
http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/1/8776.html#000000

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#1147784 - 12/21/05 08:46 AM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
ncsteff Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 15
Loc: NC
I tinkered about on a Wurlitzer organ and acoustic piano as a child, beginning around age 7-8 or so, mostly learning to play melody lines for "popular" songs and Christmas carols. Never had formal instruction. After a hiatus from this sort of thing in high school, I took up keyboard playing more seriously as a freshman in college, still academically untrained, but managed to learn how to play with more than one finger (haha). Never could read music fast enough to effectively sight read, but could decipher it well enough to learn (memorize) songs that I had heard before.

Began composing immediately upon rediscovering music at age 18, largely due to my inability to play anybody else's music to my satisfaction. My playing has progressed steadily through the years (I'm on the precipice of age 40 now), and except for the first 5-6 years or so I have never maintained a repertoire of memorized pieces other than my own. My piano technique is sorely lacking and I'm sure would cause many forum members to run screaming from the room, but I'm happy with where I have ended up. In essence, my playing is purely for my own enjoyment and as a means to compose.

Took a music theory course in college, and learned a great deal. Unfortunately, I was placed in the "advanced" section of the course because on the first day the instructor gave us a quick test to assess prior knowledge, and based upon the (previously unannounced) criterion of being able to recognize key signatures, I was thrown in with everybody who had been formally trained,a number of whom could sight read and improvise, etc (I know, why were they taking an introductory level course?) ... needless to say, I felt overwhelmed technically.

Having used a variety of MIDI keyboards and ultitimbral sound modules, I have learned to orchestrate by the seat of my pants -- that is, by ear and trial-and-error. From early on, with the use of sequencers, I began composing the various instrumental lines de novo rather than pulling them out of a "composite" piano version.

I compose for the sheer delight of creation, for emotional release, and (hee-hee) so I'll have something to play when I sit down at a piano. I feel driven to compose by a force that I cannot explain, and would spend my enire day at this if I could. For now, I still have a time-consuming, completely non-musical day job (which does buy the equipment, though!) and a 2-and-a-half year old daughter, so music time is restricted to after-her-bedtime-and-my-chores in the evenings.

So that's my brief (not) tale, from the savage land of unschooled barbarians ;-)

Looking forward to reading everybody else's story!

Cheers, ncsteff
_________________________
Cheers,
ncsteff

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#1147785 - 12/21/05 09:31 AM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Katey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/22/05
Posts: 108
Loc: London,UK
From my first music lessons, I composed at any opportunity! I remember writing a piece on glockenspiels and vibraphone called the "normal family!!" for a school festival when I was about 8 or 9 and then continued to try things out on the piano. At about 13, I wrote a song I was really pleased with, and my music teacher was pretty excited about it, so that stimulated me to write more. Then I used to be "commissioned" to write soundtracks for school plays etc and won a few school compositions. Than had a break for 5-10 years, but as I have mentioned before, am now seriously composing again!! I never thought about why I compose, but when I am not doing it reagularly I genuinely get very depressed, frustrated and feel like I am not doing what I should be doing with my life.
_________________________
The skates' songs are calling me to the sea

Pass by and hear my tunes at:
http://www.myspace.com/elazmomusic

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#1147786 - 12/21/05 01:25 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
initially, i wrote down some melodies i heard in movies or somewhere, then i thought it'd be neat to write down my own melodies. that's long time ago, and then a few years back, i happened to find an old notebook contains some melodies i wrote long long time ago, and so i just put some of them into Finale Notepad with additional material and LH part. suddenly, i sort started composing. but i put it off for long time since, and just let some unfinished compositions or themes stay there in folders or somewhere...

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#1147787 - 12/21/05 03:27 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
I heard stuff nobody else wrote, and wanted to play it. ;\)
_________________________
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

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#1147788 - 12/21/05 03:30 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
ncsteff Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/08/05
Posts: 15
Loc: NC
Well put, Derulux!
_________________________
Cheers,
ncsteff

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#1147789 - 12/21/05 07:05 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
DCshoesGIRL Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/13/05
Posts: 102
Well I started playing the piano about 8 years ago....I began composing about 4 years later....Its not that I decided one day "Im going to compose a song", its something that came naturally, one day I just started to mess around, and started coming up with something, I heard something in my head that I wanted to express through the piano....and ever since then, Ive been composing.....but one important thing is that, as I learned more and more in piano and the theory and played more difficult pieces by a variety of composers,they gave me ideas and inspired me to create ever better compositions

I love to compose my own music beacause for me its like transfering my feelings and mood into music......and doing so allows me to express and release my feeling through the piano......I also realize that my music I compose is very different....People fall in love with my compositions ive performed.....but its not exactly that soothing soft music...(well most of my pieces arent,)But one thing I know 4 sure is that I couldnt live without being able to let out my feelings through music.
_________________________
My music reflects me......and my mood.....[Monica]

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#1147790 - 12/22/05 09:44 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
PianoBeast10489 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/17/04
Posts: 830
Loc: Virginia Beach,VA
Curiousity. Looking for more things to do with my music.

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#1147791 - 12/22/05 10:26 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Requiem Aeternam Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/28/04
Posts: 1395
Loc: Brooklyn, NY
All you composers in here, come on into this thread to join the composing project:

http://www.pianoworld.com/ubb/ubb/ultimatebb.php?/topic/41/22.html#000005
_________________________
"He who turns himself into a beast, gets rid of the pain of being a man."

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#1147792 - 12/25/05 06:24 AM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Allazart Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/16/02
Posts: 389
I got interested in composing the moment I got interested in music.

I really like how Derulux put it.

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#1147793 - 12/25/05 03:33 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
kcoul058 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/27/04
Posts: 972
Loc: UBC, Vancouver, Canada
I kind of grew into composition, I didn't really get interested in it until my last few years of Conservatory study, and definitely once I got to University, comparing myself to the other piano majors and other instrument majors, I saw that I fit the composition profile role than any of the others. Since I love to perform, I decided to double-profile, but I know I'd never be the performer some of the other students could easily be. Regardless I can get through alot of the tough stuff and am mainly just interested in being able to premiere and give definitive recordings of any of my works that involve piano, and maybe guitar too (can play it fairly well).

I just finished my first term in the composition program (didn't really get much out of it so far), and am planning on staying in the course for the next 2.5 years if they let me (otherwise just 1.5). Planning on doing a Masters and maybe even a Doctorate in Composition as linked to Music Technology, as I believe now they will allow that since the fields are so closely related. Years of theory, harmony, analysis, and counterpoint classes have probably done the most good for me, as well as alot of music exposure in music history. Still planning on studying analysis (especially Schenkerian) and counterpoint much much further, as well as orchestration and choral arranging. Conducting classes will probably also be in order, I really hope to be able to write fluently for chamber ensemble, choral ensemble, and orchestra before I finish my BMus. Right now my opus list includes (starting to work out opus numbers only because I'm getting really close to publishing soon!):

Op.1 - 5 Romantic Pieces (Prelude, Waltz, Nocturne, Serenade, Nocturne-Fantasy) for Solo Piano (planning on orchestrating the Serenade)(hommages to Liszt, Chopin, Chopin, Schubert, and Chopin respectively... you can tell I like Chopin!)
Op.2 - La Suite du Petit Prince (programmed Impressionist Piano Suite) for Solo Piano (planning on orchestrating the entire suite) (hommage to Ravel and Debussy)
Op.3 - Piano Concerto in Eb minor (writing for 2 pianos right now, going to take my time orchestrating this to not waste any effort on poor orchestration, 3rd movement uses the mysterious Chopin's Devil's Trill Prelude as thematic material) (Hommage to Scriabin and Rachmaninov)
Op.4 - Variations on a Theme by Clara Schumann (uses unique varying format - the set is divided into sections, each of which is headed by a "wild card" variation, in the style of Robert Schumann, thus, can deviate wildly from theme - and then followed by several variations in the style of Clara Schumann) (this work is being loosely modelled on their entire output of variations AFAIK, thus, Claras op.20, Robert's op.5, and his mysterious WoO 24 "Ghost Variations") (Hommage to Clara and Robert Schumann)
Op.5 - "Doppelganger" Quintet for Solo Flute, Effected Classical Guitar, Harp, Cello or Double Bass, and Piano. (The Doppelganger name is coined by the electroacoustic technique the work uses, the Classical Guitar, serving occasionally as a solo instrument, occasionally as an accomp. instrument, is effected to delay exactly to the tempo of the piece, and various effects are created by blending the tone and texture with that of the Harp, which also takes the solo role from time to time. The piano and string instrument serve as the harmonic foundation of the work for the most part, but not always. Since the nature of the piece requires a strict tempo whenever the guitar is playing, the result is a very sinister effect a little like Ravel's "Le Gibet", which is also usually performed in strict time.) (This is the first work that really starts to display a distinct voice of my own and as such is not an hommage to any of my favourite composers like the others are)
op.6 - Choral Vocalises (this is a large scale work that may result in several volumes, and may employ several electroacoustic techniques since convincingly high quality vocal and choral samples are now available for the audio-engineer/composer. There will be an alto solo and the entire work will be senza vibrato, even for the soloists. One predominant technique will be a polychoral effect achieved by treating the live choir and sampled choral material as concerting instruments, and blending as in the Doppelganger Quintet will also be quite likely) (This is an Hommage to Josquin Des Prez even though it will continue my efforts to find a unique compositional voice with which to hopefully gain distinction)

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#1147794 - 12/27/05 11:41 PM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
hanna2222 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 78
Loc: Northeast Ohio
What a lovely question. My Dad played the violin,
mandolin, guitar and piano. He was best on the
violin, but had a free style on the piano. I never
saw him use music...he played by ear, though he
knew how to read music.
I think he was influential in this process...
as he loved music so. We had house parties when
I was a kid..lots of booze, and jam sessions...
the guys would play and sing: "Five foot two,
eyes of blue, could she could she, could she
coo"...and I was enthralled.
I got my first piano lessons when I was about
6. Dad traded roofing a house for them. Looking
back she wasn't a good teacher, but she got me
started.
I, like Dad, played so easily by ear, that
I could fake my simple lessons.
So my practicing was only a spring board for
composition.
I have ADD...am extremely right brained...
am a professional clairvoyant..and began channeling music almost as soon as I started
playing. My Mom would be listening to me practice from the kitchen, and she'd say...
"whats that? That sounds good..." and I'd say
"oh, I'm just fiddling about." And she'd say,
"well it sounds better than your lesson."
Both parents encouraged the music, you see?
I've written over 100 songs, many with lyrics.
I've written music for school plays, even a
minuet for School for Scandal at Solano College
in Fairfield, CA.
Sadly, I've been away from my piano for
years..but just bought a new to me one today...
and purchased it entirely on the fact that I
could A. Afford it, B. Felt comfortable "fiddling about on it"...it had a good heart, good tone,
and friendly key action.
I am into sound healing/music therapy and
do toning in my work. Am also a REIKI Master.
I am aware of how I heal myself with my composing.
I sit at the piano with a piece of angst in my
soul and I "work it out" with the music until
I feel peaceful.
Its easiest for me to compose in the dark,
or with my eyes closed. I much prefer a standard
piano to an electric one, though they have their
place.
If I could give any tip to a would-be
composer, it would be to learn to meditate.
Its the same process I use to do readings.
I breathe, relax, and surrender to Spirit to
bring through all good things!
Thanks for letting me share.
_________________________
The truest insights into a person's
character are two things:
1. How he treats people who cannot help him.
2. How he treats those who cannot
fight back.

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#1147795 - 12/28/05 10:02 AM Re: How did you get interested in composing?
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2760
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
I heard stuff nobody else wrote, and wanted to play it. ;\) [/b]
Ned Rorem said something similar, "Nobody else writes music I like." I guess it's not that similar. ;\)

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