thoughts on music, design and literature

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Open Forum: Becoming A Composer Pt. 1

I recently got an email from a young, intrepid high schooler named Danny K., who asked me a few questions about pursuing an education and career in creating music. So rather than just respond to him via email, I asked him if he would mind if I answered his questions on my blog, just in case other people might find my answers informative or useful. I'll probably break up my response into two separate blog posts, so check back in a few days. So with that in mind, here we go:

I was wondering if you have any tips on composing, how to make memorable melodies, themes, orchestration, etc. just really awesome tips that I could utilize to make better sounding pieces...

The most important thing, I think, is to learn how to use your ears. Listen to as much music that you think is memorable, highly melodic, catchy, etc. and really pay attention to how they construct things. For example, what's the overall shape of the melody? Does it repeat? Where does it repeat? When it repeats, does anything change, or does it stay the same?

I was lucky in that I was born with a good ear. When I hear a piece of music, I can pretty much write down for you most everything that happens in that piece. And so in fact, when I hear music, what I'm actually doing is creating a mental transcription of it in my head. I think that's what helped me learn to write good melodies. Over the course of my lifetime, I've transcribed in my head thousands and thousands of melodies. And after you do that, you pretty much intuitively know what makes a good tune.

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1 Comments:

Blogger Lencias said...

Whoa! This is awesome!
Thanks for the response, Chris :)

I forgot to ask about good harmonies/counterpoint though, so it'd be great if you could talk about that as well in the next post!

Listening to Baba Yetu...

- Lencias, aka Danny K.

April 26, 2009 at 9:46 PM

 

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