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#1150714 - 01/17/06 12:15 AM Where to begin?
Rach.3Freak105 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 11/06/05
Posts: 446
Loc: Moorestown, NJ
I've been playing the piano for quite some time now and I have always wanted write something of my own, even if it's only a line or two. The problem is that I don't even know where to begin. How, when you write something, do you even begin? If you could give me a few pointers that would be great.
Once during a concert at Carnegie Hall, the violinist Rachmaninoff was playing with lost his place in the music and whispered to Rachmaninoff, "Where are we?" Rachmaninoff replied, in all seriousness, "Carnegie Hall".

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#1150715 - 01/17/06 12:32 AM Re: Where to begin?
hanna2222 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/26/05
Posts: 78
Loc: Northeast Ohio
Well this is how I'd suggest you begin.
Get relaxed and alone. Turn off all lights
but maybe just a candle.
If you know how to meditate, do that first...
to get in the "zone"...if you don't know how,
then at least close your eyes and breathe awhile
til you slow it down and allow your breath to
"breathe you"...surrender to your breath.
With eyes still closed, allow your hands to rest
gently on the piano, and then to just feel their
way along....picking out a little melody of their
own....repetition is good...you might find a little
four note melody line...and play it over and over,
adding an emphasis HERE or there....repeating one of the notes for example, finding a sound that
delights you...think like a child splashing in water....not worrying about getting wet..just
playing in it.
If that one doesn't feel good....plop your
hands down somewhere else...all black keys can
be very satisfying...
Try to play notes that match how you feel in side. Do you have a sad spot in your tummy?
Find the note that makes that feel resolved and more
peaceful...perhaps add a simple rhythm section...
allow the music to lead you into it...the
way horses know their way home to the barn after
a long day....
Don't think, trust that your essence knows
and loves music and will find something that
is pleasant for you. "Blurt out a sound"...
avoid self consciousness and judgement at all costs...Don't think you have to play perfectly
or awesome. Just play for pleasure. Only pleasure.
Just flow.
I call it "fiddling about"....the way you
might doodle, or the way you might casually
trim the hedge or mow the lawn...if you can get
yourself into alpha...a rather relaxed state of
mind and just enjoy it, that should be enough.
Let me know how this goes...I'd love to see
how it feels after you've tried a few things.
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.

#1150716 - 01/17/06 07:04 AM Re: Where to begin?
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
I suppose before I could suggest anything, I'd need to know what you've already tried. For me, the process is quite simple because I know how to write musical notation ("notes on the page") and I can improvise. If you can already do those two things, I think the problem is an inner fear that you have to overcome...one that says you must produce a "masterpiece" on the first try. Many people fall into this trap and never write because of it. Indeed, it is why Rachmaninoff fell into depression and stopped composing (after the failure of his first symphony).

So, provide a little more insight, and I'll do the same. ;\)
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.

#1150717 - 01/17/06 11:45 AM Re: Where to begin?
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
there're basically 3 parts of writing a simple composition:
1) melodies
2) construction of a song/piece
3) accompaniment (which could be melody as well)

1) is relatively easy. how you can learn to write a melody is to pick up any existing song and see how the phrases composed (motives), especially the 1st phrase/sentence which is usually the main theme of the song. usually, a melody is cantable within an octave range and with rise and fall or sometimes long 'line' of flow.

2) once you have a melody/theme to start with, then there're several ways to form the next few sentences. for example:
A - theme (establish tonic key)
A' - 2nd phrase (variation of A)
B - 3rd phrase (new phrase in contrast of A)
A'' - 4th or final phrase (A in different form and end with tonic key)

another form could be: A B A1 C A2 D A3 (or whatever you choose)

3) accompaniment could either be the imitation of the melody line (with delay) or counterpoint lines in case of canon or simple fugue, or just harmonization of melody line (which you need to know at least the simple chord progressions).

it's just a simple way to get you started, and you just have to practice a lot to get better with it, and sadly i haven't been practicing composing myself...

#1150718 - 01/17/06 11:38 PM Re: Where to begin?
Steve Chandler Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2947
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
The most important question regarding how to compose is why?

You say you've always wanted to write something, so explore your feelings as to why. Is there something you really want to say? Ned Rorem (an American composer of the 20th century) when asked why he composed quipped, "because no one else is writing music I like." What's your reason for writing? When you have a good answer to that question the hard work of learning how to compose won't seem daunting nor the blank page intimidating.


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