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#1150368 - 10/12/07 08:03 PM How could you improve as a composer?
193866 Offline
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Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
How could you improve as a composer? My answer: "Go to bed an hour early and wake up an hour earlier allowing for more quiet-creative time alone." Sandy B
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Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1150369 - 10/12/07 10:04 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I'm uncomfortable with longer forms. I can do pieces of a page or so in length, which is good since I write a lot of didactic music, but I'd like to work on some big things - a sketch for a sonata and some ideas for extended variation sets are in my notebook.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1150370 - 10/12/07 11:13 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
pianoexcellence Offline
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Registered: 08/14/07
Posts: 753
Loc: Abbotsford, BC, Canada
I would like to really explore the 12 tone methods in detail, and see if there I can write truly euphonic and yet artistically pleasing music with this technique...I'll keep you posted.
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Jeremy BA, ARCT, RMT
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#1150371 - 10/13/07 05:16 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
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Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
An extended variation set should be a comfortable thing to write. It's just lots of small pieces gathered together, and derived in some manner from a common source.

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#1150372 - 10/13/07 10:31 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
An extended variation set should be a comfortable thing to write. It's just lots of small pieces gathered together, and derived in some manner from a common source. [/b]
Uh, that's one way to look at it, but I don't think you'll find the results satisfying. A composer simply must be cognizant of the dramatic progression of any larger scale work. There must be a climax or what I like to think of as a moment of magic. Such moments take planning and inspiration, they don't just happen in a collection of "lots of small pieces gathered together, and derived in some manner from a common source."

One of the reasons I suggest variations as a form is because it eliminates other issues in addressing this concern with larger scale forms. For example, gone is the issue of contrasting theme groups and how to keep them relevant to each other (as well as transitioning from one to the next). To those uncomfortable with larger scales the suggestion is obvious, practice makes perfect. It's said composers teach themselves by doing.

This thread is interesting because it should give each of us the most important issue we should be addressing in improving as composers. My issue is time, but I'm going through a life change (divorce) and may have a lot of time soon (hopefully at least more).

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#1150373 - 10/13/07 10:54 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Dear Steve, So sorry about your divorce and I have been there and done that too. Divorce is what caused me to break away from my composing. My teacher really was pressing me to go to a conservatory as a gifted future composer. Wish I had put the divorce off for my art. Hope you do not lose your artistic composing energy to divorce the way I did. Respectfully, Sandy B
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Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1150374 - 10/13/07 11:12 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Antonius...Your post reminded me of this: That is what I read recently that Leonard Bernstein said about" Rhapsody In Blue, he said, " It is many variations pasted together. "Could someone explain this to me please? I took it he was not giving a favorable review of this Gershwin masterpiece? Bernstein performed this himself at the piano as I have the recording. Sandy B
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Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1150375 - 10/13/07 11:13 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
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Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
I guess that's why you don't like Beethoven's Diabelli Variations, Steve. Not that I advocated putting those small pieces together without thinking at all about the organization. Or even necessarily using all of them. Beethoven of course thought about the organization, and the first variation is, for example, one of the last he composed for the set.

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#1150376 - 10/13/07 11:16 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
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Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Perhaps Steve can include an explanation of that, Sandy, in his very hypothetical future reply to me.

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#1150377 - 10/13/07 11:35 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Sandy,

I don't know a lot about Rhapsody in Blue, but variations are found in many compositions that are not called "variations." For example, in sonatas, the recapitulation is always a variation of the exposition (different key scheme, different transition, but same ideas). Sonata developments are no more than variations on small parts of the themes. Often a particular theme is played twice, but the second time it is embellished or played with a different left hand part or played in a different key -- i.e. the second time is a variation of the first. Sometimes, in Mozart's sonatas, the secondary theme is derived in some way from the primary theme -- i.e. it is a variation. Etc....

That being said, my impression of Rhapsody in Blue has always been that it's the same theme over and over again, and yet it still feels like a diverse piece of music. I don't know enough to say if it is a "Theme and Variations", but certainly it is composed of many variations on one of the themes.
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Sam

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#1150378 - 10/13/07 12:22 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Thank you and I appreciate your time to share your thinking. I have a more clear understanding now. Sandy B
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Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1150379 - 10/13/07 01:02 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Sometimes the sonata development contains a new theme or new thematic material, though, as in Mozart's 13th piano sonata (I'd recall/think). I also suppose there are some boundaries to just how far a theme can go without becoming a new theme and not a variation, even if it's still in some way derived from the original theme.

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#1150380 - 10/13/07 01:29 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
pianojerome Offline
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Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Good point, Antonius -- but what happens with that new theme?
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#1150381 - 10/13/07 03:03 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
It gets played, and then goes to see other themes in the graveyard of themes.

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#1150382 - 10/15/07 10:21 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
My hypothetical response to what? Rhapsody in Blue or the Diabelli Variations. Bernstein may have viewed Rhapsody in Blue as a set of variations, but I don't. Yes, there is variation, but they never reach the degree that would be normal for a set of variations and the fundamental character of the theme isn't changed. The point that Sonata form usually includes variation in the repetition of themes is true, but again the underlying character of the themes isn't changed. Development can include new themes, it can include rhythmic spinning out of motives from the main or secondary themes, it can include significant changes in harmonization. The whole point of development is to explore remote outposts such that when the recapitulation occurs you feel like you've come home.

As for the Diabelli Variations, we've discussed this. I just don't find them engaging music. Try not to be hurt by the fact that great minds don't always think alike. That's the beauty of diversity.

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#1150383 - 10/15/07 11:58 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
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Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
You don't have to like the Diabelli Variations, but if that's at all because the set doesn't showcase a sweeping dramatic progression, and is rather "a group of small pieces gathered together, deriving from a common source", then perhaps your idea of what a "very satisfying" variation set consists of isn't "very satisfying" to some of us, including Beethoven (when he was alive). That's what I was getting at.

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#1150384 - 10/16/07 01:17 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
You don't have to like the Diabelli Variations, but if that's at all because the set doesn't showcase a sweeping dramatic progression, and is rather "a group of small pieces gathered together, deriving from a common source", then perhaps your idea of what a "very satisfying" variation set consists of isn't "very satisfying" to some of us, including Beethoven (when he was alive). That's what I was getting at. [/b]
Are you telling me I'm being unfair to old LvB because one of the components I consider necessary for a large scale work to be considered "great" is that it be engaging music from start to finish. Since when is "a group of small pieces gathered together, deriving from a common source" sufficient to call a piece of music a work of genius or even a satisfying set of variations?
Frankly you're grasping at straws and being insulting in the process. I thought I was being gracious by admitting that great minds don't always think alike. Sadly, you are not returning the favor.

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#1150385 - 10/16/07 01:34 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
i love Beethoven's Diabelli variations, and wish i could have a fraction of such an ability as Beethoven's to develop a variation set like that. i usually have some ideas on themes, but once i need to develop something from the theme, i would find myself wandering around without knowing where to go...

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#1150386 - 10/16/07 10:43 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
I like Op. 34 and Op. 35 more. \:D
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

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#1150387 - 10/17/07 07:44 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
 Quote:
Originally posted by Steve Chandler:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
You don't have to like the Diabelli Variations, but if that's at all because the set doesn't showcase a sweeping dramatic progression, and is rather "a group of small pieces gathered together, deriving from a common source", then perhaps your idea of what a "very satisfying" variation set consists of isn't "very satisfying" to some of us, including Beethoven (when he was alive). That's what I was getting at. [/b]
Are you telling me I'm being unfair to old LvB because one of the components I consider necessary for a large scale work to be considered "great" is that it be engaging music from start to finish.[/b]
No. And I wonder how you read that into what I wrote. Even suggesting that I could care about your being anything to Beethoven seems ludicrous to me (unless I cared about it for your own sake). The Diabelli Variations doesn't need your approval any more than mine, even far less does Beethoven. The set is already considered as one of the greatest works that Beethoven composed, considered as such by greater minds than you. Alfred Brendel, for an example, writes that it's "the greatest of all piano works." And I suppose there's no need for me to elaborate on *Beethoven's* status.

My previous response was a clarification of my initial response to *your* initial reply to my first post in this thread. My point was, and continues to be, that you can write me "uh, [what a stupid thing to say]" all you want, but I'm more concerned with how minds far greater than yours have approached the composition of variation sets, in this case how Beethoven approached it in his greatest variation set.

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#1150388 - 10/17/07 04:43 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
I'm more concerned with how minds far greater than yours have approached the composition of variation sets, in this case how Beethoven approached it in his greatest variation set. [/b]
Well, then you've no need for this forum, have you?
_________________________
Sam

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#1150389 - 10/17/07 07:23 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
193866 Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/02/06
Posts: 777
Loc: Manassas,Va
Gentlemen get out of the sandbox. So immature and childish this behavior. How are we going to attract decent people to our Piano World Forums with such bad attitudes of verbal attacks on each other? People will back off. Not fair to others. You are restricted to private posting as bad boys. Chuckles, Sandy B
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Sandra M. Boletchek 08/02/06

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#1150390 - 10/17/07 08:55 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
I'm more concerned with how minds far greater than yours have approached the composition of variation sets, in this case how Beethoven approached it in his greatest variation set. [/b]
Well, then you've no need for this forum, have you? [/b]
I don't think this forum is solely, or even primarely, about approaches to the composition of variation sets. Do you? And define "need".

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#1150391 - 10/17/07 09:00 PM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
Sorry Sandy, we kidults need to play once in a while. The best way to play is taking things out of context and applying interesting forms of logic. Who wouldn't love that?

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#1150392 - 10/18/07 12:40 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
 Quote:
Originally posted by Antonius Hamus:
I'm more concerned with how minds far greater than yours have approached the composition of variation sets, in this case how Beethoven approached it in his greatest variation set. [/b]
Well, then you've no need for this forum, have you? [/b]
I don't think this forum is solely, or even primarely, about approaches to the composition of variation sets. Do you? And define "need". [/b]
If you're not concerned with us lesser minds as regards variations... prefering instead Beethoven and Brendel... are you concerned with us lesser minds as regards other musical applications? (I say "us", because Steve's is a far greater and more experienced mind than mine, and, I'm sure, some others here as well.)

Why not stick with Beethoven and Brendel?


See, Sandy likes to play in the sandbox, too, calling us immature and childish "bad boys" who scare away the newbies. I'm starting to wonder if that's why we're all here... not to talk about variations at all. ;\)
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Sam

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#1150393 - 10/18/07 08:39 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Kreisler Offline


Registered: 11/27/02
Posts: 13792
Loc: Iowa City, IA
The biggest problem with this post is that nobody seems to remember or care about the original premise.
_________________________
"If we continually try to force a child to do what he is afraid to do, he will become more timid, and will use his brains and energy, not to explore the unknown, but to find ways to avoid the pressures we put on him." (John Holt)

www.pianoped.com
www.youtube.com/user/UIPianoPed

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#1150394 - 10/18/07 09:28 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Antonius Hamus Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/24/05
Posts: 2230
 Quote:
Originally posted by pianojerome:
If you're not concerned with us lesser minds as regards variations... prefering instead Beethoven and Brendel... are you concerned with us lesser minds as regards other musical applications?[/b]
Not as concerned as with Beethoven and Brendel, certainly and naturally.

I know my motives for frequenting these forums, and learning isn't one of them. My posting history should provide evidence for that. When I want to learn something, I visit the library. I have more than once recommended this procedure to others here. The quotation below recommends it implicitly every time I post. My pet turtle didn't teach me how to hunt.

By the way, let's try not to trouble Kreisler for a while. In other words, if you have something to say to me, by all means send me a private message.

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#1150395 - 10/18/07 10:32 AM Re: How could you improve as a composer?
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2739
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
 Quote:
Originally posted by Kreisler:
The biggest problem with this post is that nobody seems to remember or care about the original premise. [/b]
Amen to that!

This discussion got off track when the subject of variations came up. As I posted long ago (1st page of this thread) composing variations allows a composer to concentrate more on long line and dramatic progression and eliminates concerns with contrasting themes groups, harmonic structure, etc. I haven't listened to Rhapsody in Blue for a while, but if memory serves it could be viewed as something of a hybrid, a set of variations on multiple themes? I honestly don't know, but I've explored the idea of writing larger scale works in which thematic material is varied significantly and many of the themes are derived from each other then developed. I say developed because in my mind sonata form development is different from variation because I try to maintain the fundamental character of the theme, but dress it up in different ways. When I compose variations I strive for fundamental changes to the theme that show it in many different lights. An analogy might sonata development dresses the model in different clothes, but you have different models (theme groups), variations takes a single model and changes not only the clothes, but the setting, the lighting, and perhaps even make up in such a way that the model is unrecognizable.

As I mentioned earlier what I need is more time to explore these ideas. That's how I could be a better composer.

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