Welcome to the Piano World Piano Forums
Over 2.5 million posts about pianos, digital pianos, and all types of keyboard instruments
Join the World's Largest Community of Piano Lovers (it's free)
It's Fun to Play the Piano ... Please Pass It On!

Gifts and supplies for the musician

the Forums & Piano World

This Search is powered by Google
Sanderson Accu-Tuner
Piano Life Saver - Dampp Chaser
Dampp Chaser Piano Life Saver
Grotrian Concert
for Pianoteq out now
Piano Buyer Guide
Acoustic & Digital Piano Buyers Guide
Who's Online
141 registered (agraffe, ajames, ando, 36251, Almaviva, 31 invisible), 2322 Guests and 8 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Estonia Pianos
Estonia Pianos
Quick Links to Useful Piano & Music Resources
Our Classified Ads
Find Piano Professionals-

*Piano Dealers - Piano Stores
*Piano Tuners
*Piano Teachers
*Piano Movers
*Piano Restorations
*Piano Manufacturers

Quick Links:
*Advertise On Piano World
*Free Piano Newsletter
*Online Piano Recitals
*Piano Recitals Index
*Piano & Music Accessories
*Live Piano Venues
*Music School Listings
* Buying a Piano
*Buying A Acoustic Piano
*Buying a Digital Piano
*Pianos for Sale
*Sell Your Piano
*How Old is My Piano?
*Piano Books
*Piano Art, Pictures, & Posters
*Directory/Site Map
*Virtual Piano
*Music Word Search
*Piano Screen Saver
*Piano Videos
*Virtual Piano Chords
Topic Options
#1247423 - 08/11/09 05:37 PM Harmony or Melody, Simplicity or Complexity
steinwaymaster Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/08
Posts: 52
Loc: New York City
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)

Piano & Music Accessories
piano accessories music gifts tuning and moving equipment
#1247467 - 08/11/09 07:28 PM Re: Harmony or Melody, Simplicity or Complexity [Re: steinwaymaster]
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 6157
Loc: Down Under
I seem to recall a thread about this - I might try to find it. I wonder what I said in it? smile
Du holde Kunst...

#1247546 - 08/11/09 09:47 PM Re: Harmony or Melody, Simplicity or Complexity [Re: currawong]
Steve Chandler Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 3184
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
If there was a previous thread I don't recall responding to it. So I'll respond here to this. My pieces evolve over time and every piece is different. Generally the thematic materials tend to determine how a piece comes into being. I'm a strong believer in I only work on the material that holds my interest. I have lots of sketches that vary from a bar or two to most of a page and then I lost interest. Many times I've come back to such a sketch and found inspiration and then went on to finish a piece, but more often that not I've had good reason to lose interest.

To respond to a few specific questions, if I have a melody generally the bass line comes next. Then I'll fill in the middle, but reserve the right to completely change things. BTW most melodies can be harmonized many different ways and in the course of a piece I hope you'll utilize a few of those different ways.

As for my approach to form I usually devise a very general framework for a piece then fill in the details. In that respect I'm somewhere between Beethoven and Tchaikovsky in that I have an overall view, but build the details expanding on motives and melodies. I strive for an overall form that sounds natural and unforced to my ear yet has a few surprises.

I hope you find that useful.

#1247552 - 08/11/09 09:54 PM Re: Harmony or Melody, Simplicity or Complexity [Re: Steve Chandler]
currawong Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/15/07
Posts: 6157
Loc: Down Under
THIS might have been the thread I was thinking of. It wasn't as long ago as I thought!
Du holde Kunst...

#1248063 - 08/12/09 05:18 PM Re: Harmony or Melody, Simplicity or Complexity [Re: currawong]
Claude56 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/02/09
Posts: 470
I think about chords first and melody seconds. Then I go into detailed harmony........

basically it goes from simple to advanced. I start out making a "sketch" (chords and melody) of the whole piece and then go into detail.


Moderator:  Piano World 
Pierce Piano Atlas

A. Geyer Pianos
A. Geyer Pianos
Lindeblad Piano
Lindeblad Piano Restorations and sales
Pearl River
Pearl River Pianos
Piano Acc. & Gift Items in
Piano World's Online Store
In PianoSupplies.com ,(a division of Piano World) our online store for piano and music gifts and accessories, party goods, tuning equipment, piano moving equipment, benches, lamps Caster Cups and more.

Free Shipping on Jansen Artist Piano Benches
New Topics - Multiple Forums
Duane Shinn's "Naked Music" Course?
by newbert
02/22/17 01:30 PM
Kawai GL50 versus Yamaha C3X
by Classical Pianist
02/22/17 12:43 PM
Chicago piano treasures
by Duke of Dunning
02/22/17 12:38 PM
Baldwin hitch pins
by P3T3R
02/22/17 12:19 PM
Collecting learned pieces in one book/folder
by RVDowning
02/22/17 10:54 AM
Sheet Music Plus
Sheet Music Plus Featured Sale
Forum Stats
86,764 Registered Members
44 Forums
178,647 Topics
2,600,804 Posts

Most users ever online: 15,252 @ 03/21/10 11:39 PM

Visit our online store for gifts for music lovers

Help keep the forums up and running with a donation, any amount is appreciated!
Or by becoming a Subscribing member! Thank-you.
Donate   Subscribe
Our Piano Related Classified Ads
Dealers | Tuners | Lessons | Movers | Restorations | Pianos For Sale | Sell Your Piano |

Advertise on Piano World
| Subscribe | Piano World | PianoSupplies.com | Advertise on Piano World | Donate | Link to Us | Classifieds |
| |Contact | Privacy | Legal | About Us | Site Map | Free Newsletter | Press Room |

copyright 1997 - 2017 Piano World ® all rights reserved
No part of this site may be reproduced without prior written permission