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#1149239 - 01/19/06 12:19 AM Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
hanna2222 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 78
Loc: Northeast Ohio
HI,
I loved the movie Amadeus and especially the
scene when he was ill near the end of the film
and sat in bed, taking dictation (apparently)
from Spirit....(my interpretation)...flawlessly,
no where near a piano.
I generally always write at the piano...using
my fingers first, and then recording what comes
along...rather than thinking it out first.
I can make up a melody while walking in the
woods...but I generally am not able to remember
it by the time I get home, unless I keep singing until I get there. Often that is impractical!
Now, of course, I generally carry an ipod
with a Griffin recording device on it, so I
can record anything anywhere. Thats been great.
So how about you?
_________________________
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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#1149240 - 01/19/06 02:23 AM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
It's almost always in my head first. I hear something in my own head...sometimes one voice, but I've heard entire orchestrations before, and even had dreams of entire concertos (where I could see and hear every note in the score, and played along with the orchestra, and remember having done so, but when I woke up, could not reproduce it). There are very few points in the day that I'm not listening to my own "personal radio station". :p Sometimes it gets annoying, but at least, right now, I can shut it off if I have to concentrate on something else. Otherwise, I usually let it play. ;\)

(For you, a personal example...my latest work [the first few minutes of the Dm concerto I sent you] is entirely out of my head. At no point did I touch a piano while writing it, and only after each section did I play back to hear the harmonies/etc. And I have a feeling it's going to get very hard to play rather soon because of the fanfaric and intense nature of the piece...though it does have its subtle moments of reflection. ;\) )

The same goes for the C-sharp minor fantasy I wrote a month or two ago...did it all on paper first. I did do it on paper-paper before I even put it in the computer. I got bored during a class and started writing it...I think it took me a good 5 hours or so to write. It sounds difficult to play (and is, I assure you), but is really fairly simplistic in structure. (It repeats the theme note-for-note before the final variation, which just puts the melody in the right hand...at last. :p ;\) )


Usually, if I do something on the piano, it's improvisationally-based. If I like it, I may continue with it. (I improvised an 18-minute sonata this way, and have refined it to its current, fairly constant 12-minute state.) Mostly, I play blues/jazz/pop/rock if I'm going to improvise. I find it more fun to explore. But, every once in a while I'll try my hand at "interesting" chords...and then only God knows what the result will be! ;\)

If only I had a "perfect" ear, I'd be set. But alas, my ear is relative, and nowhere near as accurate as it should be. (It's a defective part...I should be allowed to return them and get another set. :p )
_________________________
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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#1149241 - 01/19/06 08:42 AM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
iNBi Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/22/05
Posts: 220
Loc: Switzerland
I actually have a problem. I hear amazing melodies, orchestrations etc in my head ALL the time. Things which make me feel like crying while they're still only abstract! The problem is once I start playing the piano I get distracted away from those melodies. I cannot sing directly with the piano. Now it's something I assume will come with time, but the source of the melody is definitly in my head.

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#1149242 - 01/19/06 09:21 AM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by iNBi:
I actually have a problem. I hear amazing melodies, orchestrations etc in my head ALL the time. Things which make me feel like crying while they're still only abstract! The problem is once I start playing the piano I get distracted away from those melodies. I cannot sing directly with the piano. Now it's something I assume will come with time, but the source of the melody is definitly in my head. [/b]
If I may offer a suggestion. Musical dictation is a skill that is essential to the composer and a basic part of learning music theory. Now I wouldn't presume to suggest you learn theory, if you're composing I assume you already know plenty of that. But dictation is a skill that's easy to let lapse, but crucial to the composer's task. So next time a melody is coming through go to the piano and find just the first note and dictate from there. It's not even necessary to get the rhythm perfect at first, you can work that out later. This is the essence of the first task of composing a piece, getting notes on paper straight from the muse. The skill of dictation takes practice, but then so does playing and every other musical skill.

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#1149243 - 01/19/06 04:43 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
N.S. Canzano ^_^ Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/06/06
Posts: 49
Loc: Livonia, MI
I had the same problem.

But for the reason of this post:

I compose with my head...I hardly EVER use the piano...

haha ^ that smiley is kinda cool
_________________________
Nicola Saraceni Canzano

Student Composer

Lover of Music

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#1149244 - 01/19/06 07:46 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Sostenuto1016 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 29
Loc: Pineville
I will play the piano, find a good theme, and then make variations of it in my head. Then I learn how to play that. And 2 weeks to 2 months later I have a song.

-The T
_________________________
"Surely I have written better things"
-Beethoven speaking about the moonlight sonata

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#1149245 - 01/20/06 01:41 AM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
Ideas come to mind first, typically simple melodies. I've always struggled to add more to a piece harmonically than just a melody, but thanks to a couple tips on this forum, one from Requiem A. who talked about composing works on paper entirely away from the piano in the style of those like Mozart and someone else who mentioned to really listen for the bass line. I noticed if I really stop and listen, I can hear rhythmical harmonies in my mind that coincide with the melody as well. I think a lot of it no matter how one goes about it comes with "the more you do the easier it gets approach" to writing music.

Another thing I've struggled with is figuring out how to notate the rhythm of what I hear in my head especially syncopated rhythms. I think the best thing for me would be better skills in ear-training.

Someone mentioned trying to sing a melody that one hears which I struggle with too and lately I discovered I can whistle a melody I hear in my mind that matches the pitches almost exactly and then I can find the pitch on the keys so give that a try.

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#1149246 - 01/21/06 01:40 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
mary808 Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/20/06
Posts: 16
Loc: Dallas TX
 Quote:
Originally posted by Sostenuto1016:
I will play the piano, find a good theme, and then make variations of it in my head. Then I learn how to play that. And 2 weeks to 2 months later I have a song.

-The T [/b]
This is exactly how I do it too. I also work a lot of hours in an office, so when inspiration strikes, I open up my virtual piano and play it out on there - so it sticks in my brain until I can get to my Piano. :p
_________________________
Mary

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#1149247 - 01/23/06 01:31 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
I always start a composition by playing the piano. Actually the piano and mind become one.

When I get a piece of something I like, then I develop it.

I think as long as the job gets done it doesn’t matter what method you use.

Best, John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1149248 - 01/23/06 04:55 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
Actually the piano and mind become one.
You must have a big head to get the whole piano in there. :p
_________________________
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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#1149249 - 01/23/06 05:13 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Johnny-Boy Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 661
Loc: PA
 Quote:
Originally posted by Derulux:
 Quote:
Actually the piano and mind become one.
You must have a big head to get the whole piano in there. :p [/b]
It's just a figure of speech to describe the union of mind and piano.

John
_________________________
Stop analyzing; just compose the damn thing!

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#1149250 - 01/23/06 05:19 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
sarabande Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/18/05
Posts: 1597
Loc: Mo.
 Quote:
Originally posted by Johnny-Boy:
I always start a composition by playing the piano. Actually the piano and mind become one.

When I get a piece of something I like, then I develop it.

I think as long as the job gets done it doesn’t matter what method you use.

Best, John [/b]
I think that's a good point and a person doesn't have to take the same road each time to get a completed compostion.

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#1149251 - 01/23/06 08:17 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5321
Loc: Philadelphia
 Quote:
It's just a figure of speech to describe the union of mind and piano.
It's just a bit of satirical commentary on the ridiculousness of some colloquialisms. ;\)
_________________________
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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#1149252 - 02/01/06 06:31 PM Re: Do you compose in your head first, or at the instrument directly?
Ethan Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/26/06
Posts: 6
Loc: Charlotte, NC
At the piano, entirely. I use my mind for reflection, search for weak points, and where to go next. But all actual composition is done strictly at the piano. I write the song through completion and play it from memory before any notation comes around.

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