#1
Very snooty/elitist, but this is NOT about song-writing (ie 4 chords, melodies, rock, etc).

This is for people who are writing concert music. Can be new/old/"organized" whatever the hell that means organized_jazz_feel.

Just been working on one goddamn thing for so long and it's extremely frustrating most of the time yet extremely rewarding when a breakthrough occurs after being stuck in a rut. So I'm just curious what your processes are like...maybe something I can consider.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#2
I come up with an abstract concept, then try to realise it into sound using my musical language. Did you want me to send you an example or something? The concept doesn't need to be a musical one. My pre compositional planning is actually quite thorough, so I have enough material to work with that I won't get stuck in a rut.
#3
Absolutely, feel free to share whatever you're comfortable with.

What would be an "abstract" concept?

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#4
This piece which I wrote recently is constructed backwards, I explored the idea of deconstruction and the whole piece is built on the deconstruction of one voicing of an Fmaj13#11 chord. I'll be happy to send you my critical commentary when I get home. I don't usually like sharing my music with strangers, so I'll delete the link when you're done.

This concept is not that abstract, but it was a good example so I used it.
Last edited by GoldenGuitar at Sep 18, 2014,
#5
so i guess the concept is deconstructing the Fmaj13#11 (I noticed how there's a lot of G7s since Fmaj13#11 is practically a G7/F). Then the question is...how do you go about making the specific choices that fill the music?

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#7
Not sure what I do qualifies for concert music, but personally I go entirely by the ear. If a track takes too long for me, I will usually get it to an adequate level and then publish it - it seems very ineffective to spend more time if no progress is made.

In my 0001 track which is my only published track right now - I spent several days trying to write the continuation for the track, but in the end I thought it would be best to keep it as short as it is.

With composing in general, I try to keep to small goals. After I improvised and have a base track written - piano or string progression, I will focus on specific details to be added like "add a violin ensemble track, after that add a percussion track". Keeping smaller objectives to pursue is psychologically less taxing than having a large idea and trying to implement it. So, my tracks progress from a compilation of smaller improvised ideas rather than having a grand idea and trying to see it come to light.
#8
The way I filled the space in this particular piece was quite simple, since there are not really any harmonic modulations, I just applied basic transformations to the idea introduced in the first minute, rhythmic displacement and rhythmic transformations, and then layered and built it until it became the predetermined climax. As you've probably heard, the rhythmic density also increases as the piece progresses.
#9
Quote by Xiaoxi
Very snooty/elitist, but this is NOT about song-writing (ie 4 chords, melodies, rock, etc).

This is for people who are writing concert music. Can be new/old/"organized" whatever the hell that means organized_jazz_feel.

Just been working on one goddamn thing for so long and it's extremely frustrating most of the time yet extremely rewarding when a breakthrough occurs after being stuck in a rut. So I'm just curious what your processes are like...maybe something I can consider.


My process is typically improvising until something stands out, and then further exploring and building on a good idea. Sometimes that improv is on guitar or simply singing or simply in my head or even on a keyboard or triggering sounds. If I'm halfway through a piece and stuck then I'll audition different parts and approaches to see what works etc.

Unfortunately, that approach might not work for whatever it is you are referring to as "concert music" - if you're going for that abstract a-tonal no-groove modern composition sound, then you should probably come up with something clever and strange that is somehow anchored in that tradition, or not!
#10
organized_jazz_feel checking in.

I have two different processes depending on whether I'm working with text or not (which I seem to be doing all the time for some reason).

When I'm not working with text though, my process tends to be all over the place. I do VERY little pre-compositional work or "sketching" (word makes me cringe) if any. One weird thing I always do is write the name (or what I think the name) of the piece is going to be in sharpie on a piece of paper and pin it up in my workspace. I find that that keeps the piece in my consciousness all the time and I often see it and stop to think about it or work through something in my mind even if I'm not explicitly working on the piece at that moment. In fact, titles are often a point of entry for me into a piece. I tend to either know the title before I even start writing and that kind of guides where the piece goes and what it becomes, or I have no clue what to call it and just slap some bullshit on it right before the deadline.

The other pre-compositional work I do is most often written. I rarely deal with detailed ideas about notes or rhythms or even structure before I start a piece, but I will often just sit and write down what I want the piece to be in really vague terms. It's at this point I might start to think about things like, "a lot of ninths would be cool" or other super broad pitch material ideas, maybe how I plan to make the piece not ABA, which is always a struggle.

After I have some general ideas I usually just set about writing. I almost always write a piece start to finish (meaning in order not all at one sitting lol). What I'll usually do is write out 30 seconds or so of music almost purely by ear with my basic background in mind and then kind of analyze what I've done and pick up more details about pitch material, motives, rhythmic things, etc. that I'll use to inform the rest of the piece. After a while I stop to think about where the piece might go in the broader sense in terms of structure and contrasts of material. Effectively I do my sketching on the fly while I'm writing the piece instead of beforehand. But it's still mostly intuitive for me and not too planned out, which can be kind of a weakness. I've heavily planned out pieces before and they don't turn out well for me.

So in essence... I make it up as I go along.
#11
A couple of my tricks:

Development. Uniting a bunch of small fragments is easier than coming up with 20 minutes of melody. Hell, you can even take it one not at time.

Improvisation. Play what you have up until that point and then just go. Improvising is composing, without the paranoia. All you have to do after is filter.

I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but harmony is irrelevant. Using traditional chord structures, there's about 50 different ways to harmonize the pitch "C." The possibilities are literally endless. It might be worth it go make it to the end with one voice and then go back and harmonize the whole thing.

Reverse it. Write the ending first and work your way back to the intro. That way your brain no longer has to think about what to write next. It eases the "flow" somewhat.

And of course, there is no problem musically that cannot be solved with a little creatively and efficiently applied serialism.

Also: Genre is stupid. Unless you specifically are being hired to NOT be original, don't ever throw an idea away because its "not in the style", whatever the hell that means.
"There are two styles of music. Good music and bad music." -Duke Ellington

"If you really think about it, the guitar is a pointless instrument." - Robert Fripp
#12
Kind of the same as 4 chord tune kind of things, except always on the computer with midi, more mouse work rather than instrument work, and although I might work in sections, it's in linear fashion, from the start to the end, rather than working on the chorus first, or something like that.
#13
I may start with some kind of central idea, like a rhythmic or melodic motif, or harmonic scheme, and that becomes the germinal information that I basically just develop. This is a small-to-big approach, where I have a little detail that I build upwards and outwards from. Often, I'll conceptualize visually by drawing something on a blank piece of paper, graphically showing gestures, almost like a graphic score. Or, I'll take something someone else has drawn/painted, and use that as my basis. This is a big-to-small approach, where I get the big picture first, then fill in the details (this is my usual way).

I also will write endings first, especially if I’m doing something for specific purpose, like film/video where you have a pre-determined amount of time to fit the music in. A lot of the time, it’s ending, beginning, then the rest. If something’s not working, often I’ll move things around into different voices/timbres. I’ll use common practice techniques like imitation, augmentation, diminution, stretto, etc. If you get stuck, don’t be afraid to just continue, even if you know it’s garbage – it can still lead to something good. Sometimes I’ll purposely write something as a joke and I’ll end up with some usable.
#14
This thread made me want to start composing again. I've been working on my jazz chops and neglecting my composition.

I haven't composed a lot of pieces so I suppose I'm still working on my method, but here's what I seem to do so far. I usually think of the climatic or transformational points first and then add the bits leading up to and after them. For example, I would think "I'll have a piece that prominently features a falling minor third and then suddenly augment it." I like general starting points like that because I can keep the idea and write stuff around it. I'm usually not happy with what I write (yet) so I try to remember the core idea to work with again as I get better. Once I've written out my general idea in music I look through what I've got and see what else I can derive from that. I usually decide on how I'm going to structure the rest of it from there, depending what other material I have and on how I want to order it.

EDIT: I was reading Harmosis' post It reminded me that I'll usually get how I'm going to end it before I start or while I'm writing it. Once I have the 'important' bits all I have to do is write stuff around them that helps to make them important. Filling out the spaces between the beginning middle and end.
Last edited by Duaneclapdrix at Sep 18, 2014,
#16
Well, it varies from piece to piece, but usually it involves some sort of formal sketch and some jotting down of ideas. Then I let it mull around in my head a bit and after that, the process of writing it down starts.
#17
My composing process?

I have never really gotten into define what that is for me but I am getting there.

This means my old analog Tascam 414 MK I 4 track cassette deck is now finally ready to get some serious use as songs on tape is not something I have cared for since I got it 21 years ago.

But it always starts with an idea and thoughts then my ears to judge the quality being worth it. Is it great, good or totally bad material.

So like sorting thoughts I now sort and analyze my guitar/drumming a little more until I can get it down on tape to work further on it.

The question for me is what kind of songs can I compose and I am rather new to the whole process of composing. I have spend my time getting to know my guitar and the basics of playing drums + some singing to at some point instead.
Last edited by anders.jorgense at Sep 20, 2014,
#19
thanks for all the inputs so far...I haven't had time to parse through them but will soon

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#20
My composition process... once the initial idea is formed, well, I stop thinking (which is easy as a guitarist, comes so naturally.... with drool too) and see where it goes. Blank slate as such. Thereafter one can always refine and sift out the shit. But sometimes the doodoo brings in a unique concept.

The latest stuff I've been messing with is two or three voices with mini clusterfks that always adds a different sound to something craving constant resolution (which seems to never happen for quite some time), but anyway.

You say concert music, I'm saying classical guitar on my part. But I pretty much do the same when composing for orchy (which has really taken a back seat for a long time)
Last edited by evolucian at Sep 24, 2014,
#21
1. get portable recorder
2. throw dart at map and go there
3. record whatever is there
4. come home
5. pick random objects
6. smash/do things to objects in front of mic
7. arrange sounds on top of first ambience
8. soundmagic spectral on a bus, automate more or less at random
9. F# sub
#23
^Well, technically you could push the play button in a concert hall therefore it qualifies. But other than that... pffft.... prepare yourself for the "Wrath of Xi".

PS: You also didn't answer his question.... unless you did that tutorial.... did you?
Last edited by evolucian at Sep 24, 2014,
#24
I'll often start with a riff and then try to develop different variations or extensions of that riff to see where it can go. I think it's important to always keep something that returns later within the song that the listener can remember or relate to.

My process usually revolves around coming up with a full rhythm track for the guitar with the riffs, chords etc and then when I'm recording I'll experiment with different melodies and arrangements etc. If I have a "block" in a chord progression I'll try to go to a chord which I would't normally associate with or use after the previous chord just to see where it takes things. The process is flexible really and trying to keep the main goal of creating a cohesive arrangement in the back of your mind.

If you want to check out a couple of my tracks I've recently uploaded two songs at www.soundcloud.com/morphitis.
#25
@Morphitis "Voices" was very good. Coherent, good flowing ideas. Clean playing too.

@snazz, will... LMAO

@Organized_Rockabilly_Romp Very interesting idea with the title inspiration. Although I find myself eschewing any meaningful title for personal compositions.

Other than that, I'm very much the same way but I embrace the term sketching. But yeah, just working through this linearly but it's so hard... which brings up the next suggestion...

@Harmosis that is an interesting perspective to compare with film making process. I should definitely look into making the music non-sequentially. Although this being traditional tonality, I fear that in parts they may not match up harmonically or that I will have to artificially manipulate the harmony to match things up.

...modes and scales are still useless.


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#27
For me, a few approaches I like using.

1/ choosing a few phrase rhythyms (not worries about note choice at this point), balanced or unbalanced.
2/ common pitches across varying harmony (sometimes diatonic harmony, sometimes not)
3/ thinking of a melodic contour (a few notes I want to stand out, and where)
4/ fill it in.

Forces me into some interesting areas I wouldn't consider if I just went for it. I use this to an extent when I'm writing Jazz.