thoughts on music, design and literature

Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Fourth Fruit Should Be An Orange

Last weekend, I was explaining to my girlfriend (who's a graphic designer) how a composer's mind works.

Basically, composition at its simplest form is the arrangement of ideas; knowing what note should follow the previous one, and when it should follow it. Start off with one note. Does the next note repeat it, or does it go up or down? Then does it go up or down again, or does it repeat? Or does it stop? It's just decision making.

Think about it this way. Give someone a bag of apples and a bag of oranges, and tell them to line them up in a row on the counter. A visual artist might approach it one way--having a good balance of colors, maybe developing a pattern, etc. A composer will think sequentially. A composer will know when it's time to shift from one fruit to another... so for example, a composer would know, that if he lines up three apples in a row, that fourth fruit had better be an orange.

Why? Because four of the same fruit in a row is just too much.

Of course, in actual composing, not only do we have a whole cornucopia of fruit, but fruit in different sizes, different varieties of each fruit, different sizes of each fruit... oh, and we can vary the space between fruits, too.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have explained this so well. I played 3 instruments up through my second year of college and also graduated with a graphic art degree. How you were able to blend the two together to explain that was right on. Wonderful!

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