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#1944488 - 08/17/12 01:21 PM Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music?
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2760
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Hi All,

I was away on vacation for a while and saw a play that posed a very interesting question. The play was about writing a play and interestingly enough the playwright didn't know at the beginning how the play would end. This is analogous to how I compose music, when I start writing a piece I usually don't have much more than a theme or textural idea, certainly not an ending. To all my fellow composers do you know how a piece will end when you start writing it?

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#1944514 - 08/17/12 02:15 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
LoPresti Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/07/10
Posts: 1304
Loc: New York
That play sounds like a take-off on Federico Fellini's 8½ .

I have not seriously written anything in a long time, but the question facinates me.

When I was writing, I almost always started out with some interesting themes, and followed each around for awhile to see where they led. Some that at first seemed most promising, lead nowhere; while many of the initially less engaging ones took me to surprising places! (Reminds me of women . . .)

I frequently had some sort of over-arching form in mind ahead of time, but NEVER knew how things would end. In fact, as I think more about it, it was most often the ending sections that would receive the highest number of trial "versions" and the most revision.

Ed
_________________________
In music, everything one does correctly helps everything else.

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#1945115 - 08/18/12 03:24 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
ScottM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 556
I just finished a piece for strings that I knew how I wanted to end it before I started it, but it was conceptual and no specific notes were written until the rest of the piece was written.

That's almost unique in my many years of composing, though. Most of the time I don't have a form, length, name or ending in mind! As you might guess, a large portion of my works are through-composed.


Edited by ScottM (08/18/12 03:25 PM)
_________________________
Scott

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#1946044 - 08/20/12 10:30 AM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
rada Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/07/06
Posts: 1124
Loc: pagosa springs,co
I rarely know the ending until I get there and there's a good chance I may be in a different key and meter. I go where the music takes me.

rada

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#1946106 - 08/20/12 12:23 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
One very practical and widely-performed composer who I know tells how sometimes he comes up with an ending first, unravels it and then starts from the beginning, using all the details as building blocks. It's not his only method, just one of many.

It's rare for a satisfying piece of music not to have some sort of structure.

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#1946170 - 08/20/12 01:55 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Steve Chandler Online   content
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 2760
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
One very practical and widely-performed composer who I know tells how sometimes he comes up with an ending first, unravels it and then starts from the beginning, using all the details as building blocks. It's not his only method, just one of many.

It's rare for a satisfying piece of music not to have some sort of structure.

Thanks for the interesting comments. I started this discussion because for me every piece is different and I seem loathe to do the same thing twice. I'll usually start with a concept or an idea of what I want to accomplish with a piece. Then try out musical ideas to see what fits the concept. The ending is usually the last thing that comes to mind, but I have composed a three movement piece by composing the last movement first. That was an interesting experience. However, usually an important part of the concept is a sense of structure.

For me the most important aspect is why am I writing this? If I don't have a good reason I can never seem to get past a few ideas on paper. I write slowly and the process can be arduous so I need a good reason to continue. I have been known to scrap pages when the concept of a piece became clear in my mind and some of the music didn't fit.

An example of these ideas is the piece I finished this past weekend. In browsing Youtube I came across The saddest Piano Piece Ever! It didn't sound that sad to me and I thought I could write something sadder. It took 2 - 3 weeks (I write slow), but I finished a modest 2 page piano piece that's pretty brutal. When I told a friend he got concerned for my mental well being. I'm fine, I was just challenging myself, but I did tell him I was also working on writing a very happy piece (as yet unfinished). That seemed to assuage his concerns.

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#1946748 - 08/21/12 04:37 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
Nikolas Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 5305
Loc: Europe
LOL on the concern of your friend Steve! laugh

I adore working on large structural works and maths and ideas and stuff... I do find that from a philosophical point of view somehow all the inside stuff happening in a work will impact the final result and the actual experience the listener will have.

Then it so happens that Sketch Music (which is totally improvisatory in nature) sells much much more than anything else in the EMF catalog! Which screws up any philosophical ideas about structures, and fractals and the such in music! grin

____________________

But to get back to the original question: Most of my works are 'predefined' in a sense. I have a pretty strong idea on what's going to happen, and it happens in a flash, sort of saying. That is if the inspiration/idea is there: There's a thread about challenging myself to work on music under extreme pressure (I should start next week or so, btw), in the piano forum. Several people offered their ideas on what to write and I've already ideas for all of them, but still haven't found the time to sit in front of a computer, on a manuscript, or the piano anyhow to work them out (any would work equally well).

____________________

And, if I may comment on something else: I've heard the string suite that Scott (ScottM) is mentioning and I say that it's awesome! We've had a very nice exchange of e-mails and I'm extremely excited by the result! just thought I'd share!
_________________________
http://www.musica-ferrum.com

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#1957627 - 09/11/12 08:46 PM Re: Do you know the ending when you start writing a piece music? [Re: Steve Chandler]
pianojohnw Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/09/12
Posts: 126
Loc: UK
No I usually dont know how a piece is going to end when i start writing it. I usually improvise some ideas and melodys, and from that a piece develops.
_________________________
I am a self taught piano player who has been playing the piano for 4 years, I love piano and love composing new music :-D

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