Hi all, I haven't been on in a while... I recently was thinking about composition and I wondered how most composers develop music. Let's take part-writing chorales for example, a simple four-part harmony. Does one first write a good melodic line for a couple of phrases, then utilizing harmonic implication through intervals, repeated notes, and strong beats, determine the harmony, then write an acceptable bass line with inversions and scale lines, lastly part-writing inner voices? Or does one determine a good harmonic progression lasting a couple phrases, then write the bass line using inversions etc., then fit an acceptable soprano line that would fit with the bass, lastly filling in inner voices? There are many combinations, that I recently have notices composers have their own preference of order.
Thinking about this, led me further to consider other forms of composition, large scale symphonies, sonatas, and others. One could possess an extremely capable ability as to envison a complete symphony in his/her own mind, seeing each instrument's role and all the harmony, melody, and orchestration in such complex forms. They would then simplify it until in a usable form, then develop it into the work, which when completed would be written down as a whole. This method was what Beethoven worked with, going from complex to simple.
However, others most notably Tchaikovsky and Schoenberg, worked the opposite direction, taking simple melodies, motives, and ideas, and expanding and developing them into full scale pieces. What I was so interested is how the two methods compare. Obviously, we can't compare Beethoven to Tchaikovsky. They are two different people with different training, different time periods. So I want to ask you all out there. How do you compose? Is it melody to harmony or harmony to melody, simplicity to complexity or complexity to simplicity? I look forward to hearing your answers and opinions.
“Music . . . can name the unnameable and communicate the unknowable.”
- Leonard Bernstein
-Middle School music teacher
-Private Piano Teacher
-Amateur composer (hobby)