writing easy music

Posted by: TrueMusic

writing easy music - 12/07/12 04:37 AM

So I have this problem. I never seem to be able to write something simple. Even when I set out with something simple in mind, I end up with an idea to make it better...which results in a difficult piece.

For example, I just finished a piano duo piece. The goal was to write something that wouldn't be particularly difficult for the performers. What came out was something, that while not virtuosic, certainly requires two good players to pull it off. Lots of cross rhythms, syncopation, extended chords and ranges, and a few 32nd runs to spice things up.

I guess since I know what the piano can do, I find it REALLY hard to write something simple.
Generally my writing for other instrument is a bit simpler since I don't truly know what they can do, so I write easy.

Anyone else have a similar problem? How do you keep yourself to something simple if that's what you want?
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: writing easy music - 12/07/12 04:46 AM

Hmmm...

It's not easy to write easy music actually (pun intended of course... grin).

I think that part of the main hurdle is that if you're a composer, you are usually NOT a teacher. Thus you're not exactly aware of the difficulties younger pianists face. The opposite is much more a problem: Teachers publishing scores after scores, methods after methods, which although they capture the technical parts of learning the piano for the younger(est) they fail to capture the musical part most of the times...

Out of the composers here, I think that Ben Crosland has done a great job with his jazz series and my sketch music is also not too shabby either. But both of us are piano teachers AND composers and as such we do know (a tiny bit anyhow) what's going on.

_______________

The other reason why things usually end up more complicated than we want them to, is quite simple: Our ego. As composers we are the kings and the performers should serve us. Composing more complicated stuff makes us (in our head) look and feel better... And when the performers complain about something, we get to explain how it works. So we go back and compose something else equally difficult. And the loop continues...

My advice? Get in touch with performers and young children and THEN go after composing simple!
Posted by: Sean Montgomery

Re: writing easy music - 12/07/12 08:24 AM

I agree. You write what you want to write - what sounds good to you. I also find that I write within my technical abilities - I have a large hand span and trained as an organist so finger substitution comes naturally. I have a friend who can play but is at a beginner stage. I will very often complete the melody and then sketch just a few bars of what the accompaniment will look like and send it over for feedback. I will keep sending rough drafts through out the composing process until I know that it is within their grasp.

Sean
Posted by: rada

Re: writing easy music - 12/07/12 10:37 AM

What about using a piece as a template....any piece that you like that you consider to be easy.

Yesterday I was listening to some classical/baroque music and I found it a bit boring because it sounded easy....simple to figure out.



rada
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: writing easy music - 12/16/12 01:05 AM

Originally Posted By: TrueMusic
So I have this problem. I never seem to be able to write something simple. Even when I set out with something simple in mind, I end up with an idea to make it better...which results in a difficult piece. . . . . . How do you keep yourself to something simple if that's what you want?

For me, there were two "forces" working against writing pieces that were inherently simple.

The first and most obvious was that the work itself, once started, dictated mostly where it went, and how it developed. I continually "asked" questions of the piece on which I was working, and then mainly served what it answered. Typically, the answers I received were not simple ones.

The second factor working against simplicity is this: Most things that are quite simple and obvious have already been written. So, if a composer wants to say something new, s/he needs to avoid the really simple, obvious, predictable, hackneyed, stereotyped, canned, tried-and-true, over-done, non-original fare. Beethoven could create significant color and tension by interjecting a chord that was not closely related to the current key. In the twenty-first century, we need to work a little hander to achieve surprise.

Ed
Posted by: Allazart

Re: writing easy music - 12/31/12 06:41 AM

I feel I could do simple...

For me, aiming for simplicity is often freeing. I find it paralyzing to put too much pressure on everything I write. Granted, I'm not getting paid, graded, or performed but since I love music, I have personal goals I usually shoot for. Anyway, sometimes I'll pick an idea that I'm not over-the-moon about and take it somewhere. Some ideas seem to demand a grand treatment whereas others you can have fun with. In fact I have at least one example of something I wrote because I was not ready to complete something else (which I still haven't gone back to after several years...lol). Now that I remember it I'll probably post it in the December compositions thread (last day!).
Posted by: peterws

Re: writing easy music - 01/05/13 06:08 PM

You start out with a coupla simple chords, and things change. Interesting stuff works it`s evil way into your `ed and, when you add flesh to the bones, you get a not so simple tune. And a complex melody.

On a good day. I wish I had more good days!
Posted by: Kreisler

Re: writing easy music - 01/06/13 11:21 PM

I write a lot of easy music. The trick is to give yourself very specific restrictions. No 32nd notes, no rapid double-note passages, favor passage work that uses standard fingerings, make sure difficult or awkward moments are isolated and prepared, and most of all...

Edit, edit, edit. Always ask yourself "could I achieve this musical effect in a simpler way?" Force yourself to write 3 or 4 versions of everything that looks difficult.

Also, write for a specific kind of pianist. Don't write for yourself. Or model your piece on something written by a major composer at the level you're trying to achieve. If you're going for late intermediate or early advanced, look at lots of Grieg, Heller, Mendelssohn, Kabalevsky, Prokofiev Op. 12, 22, or 65. Tchaikovsky Album for the Young or the Seasons.
Posted by: rada

Re: writing easy music - 01/10/13 10:31 PM

Hmmmm, that edit. edit, edit caught my attention and I think of pieces that were written in the moment that probably were not edited and I think therein lies their beauty. Too much thinking can get complicated.


rada
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: writing easy music - 01/11/13 09:00 PM

Hello, Jim Brickman, pianist of inspirational music, New Age etc. I suggest listening to his style before you compose to inspire you. Maybe you have heard and played mostly complex selections and this would level you out a bit? Sandra M
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: writing easy music - 01/12/13 01:50 AM

Originally Posted By: Sandra M
Jim Brickman, pianist of inspirational music, New Age etc. I suggest listening to his style before you compose to inspire you.

Sandra,

Thanks for the suggestion. I was not familiar with Jim Brickman, but after listening to a couple of his compositions, it appears that he writes music very similar to the works of my granddaughter. I guess I need to start listening to HER pieces for inspiration, although I had not thought of that possibility before.

Ed
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: writing easy music - 01/12/13 08:10 AM

Thank you Ed for your response I was beginning to not feel welcome in this forum. What inspires you to write music? Keep a journal and note if there are patterns. If you just decide to write and you are not inspired maybe this is your answer. Writing too complex is usally a sign of what we know and not what we feel. Do events inspire you, emotions, visuals etc? Learn about yourself and why you want to write music. First work from your heart then your head is a thought for you too. I suspect you are working from you head only now. Sometimes if we know too much it gets in the way of our creative process as we become too technical. When composing be creative first and then edit later. Have you heard this one that was said to come out of Nashville," Do you read music?" The answer? " Not enough to get in the way of my playing." Sincerely, Sandra M...
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: writing easy music - 01/12/13 09:42 AM

Excellent suggestion and thank you for posting. When taught the basics of composition my students ages 5 to 11 wrote wonderful little compositions. Some were very good. They go with feelings and keep it simple as you stated. Sincerely, Sandy M
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: writing easy music - 01/12/13 12:50 PM

Hello Ed, Quote:
Rachmaninoff about his contemporaries:
"The new kind of music seems to create not from the heart but from the
head. Its composers think rather than feel. They have not the capacity
to make their works exalt – they meditate, protest, analyze, reason,
calculate and brood, but they do not exalt."

Ed this is so much better than I could write so decided to change and replace my thoughts with a great man's thoughts as above...Sandra M



Posted by: LoPresti

Re: writing easy music - 01/13/13 01:53 AM

Originally Posted By: Sandra M
Hello Ed, Quote:
Rachmaninoff about his contemporaries:
"The new kind of music seems to create not from the heart but from the
head. Its composers think rather than feel. They have not the capacity
to make their works exalt – they meditate, protest, analyze, reason,
calculate and brood, but they do not exalt."

Hi Sandra,

I wonder if Old Serge was referring to his fellow countrymen Dimitri and Igor? I can not recall if they exalted in any of their "new kind of music" works . . .
Posted by: Nikolas

Re: writing easy music - 01/13/13 01:59 AM

He could very well be talking about Schoenberg et al! wink

Sandra: Do not feel discouraged by the lack of replies... I don't care for new age music, and as such I didn't feel inclined to check out the name you mentioned. But this thread is already at page 2 and going, so there certainly is some activity going on!
Posted by: Sandra M

Re: writing easy music - 01/13/13 07:01 PM

Nikolas, Thank you for your kind words. I am enjoying your post as I will be reading and hearing the compositions of those of you who post them etc. I am honored to be welcomed here as I hear much talent when I am listening to your music. I love being with creative people. Sandra M
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: writing easy music - 02/03/13 12:55 AM

Hello,

I like to start with two simple phrases, 4 measures of question and 4 measures of answer. This will be done with simple chord progression in the circle of fifths to put the frame in place. Accompaniment will give the foundation, and various inversions will give the ease of flow. Melody will be put in place with all the rules followed.

Finding a motive and/or sequence will be a big task as I think motive will need to make a statement.
Posted by: Schubertslieder

Re: writing easy music - 02/03/13 01:02 AM

Whether you choose rhythmic motive or melodic motive, it should make a statement in my view.
Posted by: Manolito Mystiq

Re: writing easy music - 02/13/13 04:31 AM

Have some fixed variables: tempo up to x, y syncopation(s) max, z chords, etc.
Posted by: LoPresti

Re: writing easy music - 02/13/13 07:21 PM

Originally Posted By: Manolito Mystiq
Have some fixed variables:

Pondering this. Pondering . . .