#1
im wondering how someone goes about writeing a classical style peice like a sonata or something like that. it seems much more advance then just writeing a metal song or a rock song.
#2
well when i write classical pieces i think of what type of mood/theme/technique i want in it. so them i decide i want a more sad mood i will play some arpeggios that i just randoml play until i find something i like then i work with that. and lets say from example i want a sready tremolo melody throughout i try to find a melody that works and sounds nice the throw in as well.
#3
come up with some nice sounding melodys maybe in the harmonic minor and harmonise parts, layer sections, work on structure... see wat u come up with, just experiment really
#4
Sonatas are pretty easy, since it's a set form. More or less you come up with a melodic idea (or two or three), set them, reapeat them, modulate and develop, reapeat, modulate back, and recap everything.

Understanding sturcutre & form, and a really good understanding of theory, as it applies to comp (melodic constructs, phrases/phrase groups, large scale melodic forms) helps a lot.
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#5
Quote by Corwinoid
Understanding sturcutre & form, and a really good understanding of theory, as it applies to comp (melodic constructs, phrases/phrase groups, large scale melodic forms) helps a lot.


theory, if you know it decently, isnt a big difference from song to song, a rock lead melody, could PROBABLY (dedending how it is) be atleast somewhat transferable to a classical piece (different instrument obviously).

the biggest difference is structure/form i find.

its not: intro, verse, chorus, verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, outro anymore. so dont try to write it like that.

tho i myself dont know about sonata's, so i wont go into them in detail (because i cant ), im just speaking in general.
#6
^ Yeah, but for 99% of the people here, theory ends with understanding modes; and that's an incredibly rudimentary understanding of theory. Most people couldn't explain melodic structure if asked, and that's the kind of thing that actually matters when writing in a classical form.
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#7
Quote by Corwinoid
^ Yeah, but for 99% of the people here, theory ends with understanding modes; and that's an incredibly rudimentary understanding of theory. Most people couldn't explain melodic structure if asked, and that's the kind of thing that actually matters when writing in a classical form.


you're right, 99% of the people here DO think it ends with modes.

so if i didnt use the word theory, 99% of the people here would think im stupid

jokes aside, i see your point, i just wanted to expand on the important of structure, as i do actually know a few guitarist friends who were thinking about composing classical (or -esque) music, but went with the Rock song structure.

thats not a bad idea if you wanna try something new, but its not technically classical anymore.
#8
Yeah... just to clarify for the OP, what defines a sonata as being a sonata is that it has a specific form; that's it, really. Which is why both me and manga said structure is important. I gave a pretty basic run down of SA form to start, but it's really not just that simple.
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#9
"The forms of music are not molds into which one merely pours his ideas" -L.V. Beethoven.

Sonatas are easy when looked at from the broad perspective. The difficulty in writing any music, whether attempting to emulate "Classical"* or not is to write with originality. The string quartet is considered by many to be the most sublime form of musical expression. A string quartet is a sonata for strings. All a symphony is is a sonata for orchestra. Sonata forms, when studied with any degree of seriousness, get quite indepth and I am sure are far outside the realm of understanding of most of the people who might read this. I do not write this to be condscending, rather to illuminate the fact that writing a "classical" piece is no casual affair, and it is insulting to those who actually take music seriously to see it treated so.

That being said, it is possible for one to "tinker" with emulating classical ideas in their music. Soanta form is and has been the dominant form of most serious music since the end of the Baroque era. The idea is to state a theme in the tonic key, contrast with a theme in the dominant key, and then develop the ideas. Recap by returning with both themes in the tonic. I suppose that by stating it this way, I too am guilty of the insolence with which the subject has been treated with here already.

My professor told me when I went to him and said "can't you just show me how to write a concerto?" that there were no shortcuts to creativity. Learning the forms, not as molds, but as a study in how musical thought has evolved throught the last 400 years, is essential if you wish to write any serious music. Writing a short "orchestral" part for your own amusement is quite different than attempting to do anything of real worth.

I am sorry if I come off as a musical snob, I am one I guess. Here is my suggestion to you or anyone wishing to explore this topic further. Depending on your level of commitment, you may wish to enroll in some music appretiation classes. Or, buy books on the history and forms of music. The forms make so much sense when their historical relevence is understood. Also, start listening to music by the masters.

I did this the long and hard way through university study and plenty of time spent with books, CDs, musical scores and evenings spent with the local symphony orchestra. Serious music, that is to say artful music which is not necessarily composed for entertainmnet value, is my life. More than the guitar, my commitment to carrying on the tradition began by Bach, carried forward by Mozart, Beethoven, Brahams, Stravinstky, Schoenberg, etc... defines me.

IF you wish to write like this, the logical starting point is Bach. Begin with the simplest of his collections, the Two Part Inventions. These were composed so that his children might use them in order to master basic fundamentals in motivic development. There is a wealth of musical knowledge in every one!!! Get a study guide, a score and a CD and spend a few weeks living this music. Then move on up to "The Well Tempered Clavier" This collection is usd even this day to give would be composers the meat they need in order to grow into creators of music.

A couple books you may wish to read are Walter Piston's Harmony, Arnold Schoenberg's Fundamentals of Musical Composition, Wallace Berry's Structural Functions In Music, and Richard Crocker's A History of Musical Style. The Crocker book is a good starting point. Most of the rest assume at least a couple years theory. MAster the Piston book, which has some great writing exercises, then you will be ready for the Schoenberg and Berry books.

Again, I apologize if my tone is a little curt here, but I see mangled guitar info on forums every day, most of which I simply ignore because misinformation is the norm on the net and I figure most guitarists I meet online really have no need for any real depth in the information they are seeking as they will likely end up playing in rock or emo bands or something of that nature. But this is my particular area of expertise. I have spent my life for the last 20 years or so studying and teaching compositional techniques and I never get over people's indifference towards the masters of the various forms. As my favorite professor once saidwhen I asked him why I had to learn so much about the history of music "We study the work of the masters in order to avoid duplicating their efforts."Obviously I don't expect the random people I encounter on a beginning guitar forum to share my level of commitment to perfecting my art, but when I can, I do offer some help to those who wish to.


*(I use the term loosely as I am sure most people here make no distinction between Baroque, Rococo, Classical, Romantic, etc.... )
#10
^ I would disagree, quite strongly, on a few points. And to clarify, I used the term classical in a much more strict manner.

Firstly, I'd disagree that a symphony is just a "Sonata for orchestra." The first movement may be, but the entire series of movements in a symphony is anything but a simple sonata. Furthermore, that changes even more in the late 18th & 19th centuries.

Second, I have a hard time believing that the sonata is the most common form of music written; to the degree that in the romantic period they were rather rare, today they're extremely rare, and opera (most of it, thankfully, lost) is probably much more common than the sonata, overall.

Third, the Beethoven quote is quite misdirected, considering he was more of a romantic than a classisict. Classicaly speaking, that's exactly what a form is. I would hope you understand the distinction.

Fourth, I'm not thoroughly convinced that I would start with Bach, in an attempt to understand composition. (Okay, everyone classicaly trained just probably looked at this and went "WTF?") In all seroiusness though, if you don't already have some form of understanding about structured counterpoint, harmonic structure, and more theory, from a classical perspective, then even the two part inventions are going to be hard to understand. Even if you do, the first few inventions you look at are going to make almost no sense without someone holding your hand and pointing out all of the intricacies, and how they're working (not to mention, the various types of invention, and their style).

Finally, I'm not sure I agree with the book selection. Any beginning theory text will get you prett far, at least far enough to understand harmony through most of the 18th century, and a basic idea of how form works. Good ones will explain melodic structure and phrasing (I'd be incredibly hestitent to send someone into a study of form if they didn't have a good grasp on phrases and phrase grouping, as I said above). After that, I'd highly recommend Fux's counterpoint book, before or with the two part inventions.

BTW, Bach's choral's are much simpler, and probably a better starting point, especially since most here won't grok melodic ideas at all, let alone melodic structure, large scale structures, or form.
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#11
Yeah, the Chorales are simpler and actually likely a better starting point than the Well Tempered Clavier, I guess. However, this only reinforces my Piston recommendation, which thoroughly explores all aspects of such writing. The book selection was just a sample of the books I started on, and I could proabably go through and find a different selection, but I have yet to find better written titles on their respective subjects. However, I stand 100% behind the Piston recommendation. It starts out extremely basic, and works it's way into all aspets of writing. There are hundreds of 4 part choral writing exercises in there as well. The completion of these exercises can be as simple of complicated as the student likes.

The only downfall of this particualr title is that it can get a bit bookish, perhaps daunting to some. But, I would assume anyone interested in learning this type of writing would be up to the challenge.

The Two Part Inventions are child like in their simplicity, which is why I suggeted them. One could not hope to find simpler, clearer instances of melodic development. The two part texture makes them quite easy to study. The whole point of the pieces is that they are simple and in every bar one can see clear instances of motivic devices at work. Likewise, one may trace theses processes through various basic harmonic schemes.

I never said that the Sonata was the most common type of music written, what I did say isthat the form dominated serious music since it's inception. Yes Sonata form has been used quite extensively even into and through the Romantic era.

To clear up a misconception about Sonatas and their forms, the "Sonata-Allegro" form, or Sonata form, is used primarily in the first movement of Sonatas, Concerti, Symphonies, etc..... Pieces of work titled "Sonatas" do employ this form in their first movement. The subsequent movements employ forms such as Rondo, Minuet/Scherzo, Theme and Variation, etc..... So my statement about a Symphony being a Sonata for orchestra stands...... Sonatas, string quartets, symphonies, etc.... all have their root in the same forms. All are multimovement forms, all begin most commonly with the sonata form, all employ various other forms for the subsequent movements, although it is not uncommon at all to find the sonata form employed in the allegro movement of a classical or romantic work. Fianle movements are typically either rondo or sonata form as well. Obviously the scale and texture differs between each.

The thing that makes the sonata form so beautiful and useful is it's built in flexibility.

Brahams, the foremost composer of the Romantic era (OK, perhaps second to Wagner) was just as enamoured with sonata form as Mozart was. His symphonies and concerti employ it extensively.

Berlioz employed sonata form in his "Symphonie Fantastique".

Mahler, a Romantic composer, made great use of the form. It can be expanded in virtually limitless ways. Mahler's symphonic themes were often compound themes made up of many sub themes. It was often said that he used too many themes in a single work.

Shostakovich, one of my favorite composers, used the sonata forms extensively and he was a modern composer, born and working after the end of the Romantic era.

Stravinsky, another favorite of mine, even in his attempts to avoid typical V-I cycles, still relied on the form.

Arnold Schoenberg, one of the great musical minds of our time, the man who along with Webern and Berg founded the "new Viennese tradition", employed a variant on sonata form to keep some of his serial works cohesive. Berg even employed the form in his very famous atonal violin concerto (Concerto #2, it is the one in which his tone row was chosen bcause it yielded the theme from a famous Bach choral, which he uses in it's original harmonization at the end of the work. However, the movement in which the Bach choral is used in it's actual harmonization is a theme and variation movement).

I will go so far as to say that any orchestral work NOT employing the sonata form is not a symphony at all. This is born out by the titles of such works, such as Lizst's "Symphonic Poems" or Schuman's famous song cycles.

True, Beethoven was more of a Romanticist, or, more accurately, the bridge between Classicism and Romanticsim. His quote struck me when I was a beginning composer and has stuck with me anytime I was tempted to write a "cookie cutter" sonata. I suppose for a student composing a sonata by "filling in" the sections. The Beethoven quote again stemmed from the fact that poor composers did in the classical era make a habit of treating forms as molds for their ideas.

What differentiates a man such as Beethoven is the ways in which he would deviate from, or rework, the various forms he employed. The great thing about sonata form is it's inherent ability to be as simple as a composer needs it to be, or as complex. It is very scalable.

Corwinoid you obviously know some things, more than most people reading this thread would get for sure. I have enjoyed debating this and would gladly continue discussing the fine points if you like. I think perhaps we have strayed off subject here though and our replies (beginning with mine) will do little to help a guitarist who likely merely wishes to "dabble" a little. I do confess the fault lies with me and my post because all I need is to see a slight bit of interest in subject matter such as this and my fingers start flying at the keyboard out of control. I do not wish his to degrade into a hositle argument though so please do not take my tone to be one of hostility. If you check any source material of repute you will find my statements to be of merit.

One more thing, back to the Walter Piston book; this book is really, really good. I have said 1000 times every musician on the planet should read and study it. Corwind has mentioned choral study as a way to get a grasp on phrase structure and such, this book has literally hundreds of exercises, many of them, perhaps most of them, are choral analysis and composition. I personally always employed an 18th counterpoint type when completing these exercises, indeed some of my major works began with themes that I came up with while working through the book. Dr. William Schirmer of Jacksonville University guided me through the book, chapter by chapter. It is an awesome compendium and I recomend it to anyone with a real interest in composing music. Typical exercises include composing parts for blank spots in a choral, completing the final measures of a phrase, reharmonizing a melody, adding passing tones to block chord movement, composing a choral or set of phrases from scratch, etc........

The two part inventions I mentioned studying I also highly endorse. They really are gems of simplicity, with obvious harmonic changes (the harmony of Bach's era is very simple by today's standards) and easy to trace motivic developments. True, choral writing leaves one free of the distraction of counterpoint, but for the sheer simplicity of tracing the melodic developments, the 2 Part Inventions cannot be beat.
Last edited by spaivxx at Jun 19, 2006,
#12
Quote by spaivxx

Corwinoid you obviously know some things, more than most people reading this thread would get for sure. I have enjoyed debating this and would gladly continue discussing the fine points if you like. I think perhaps we have strayed off subject here though and our replies (beginning with mine) will do little to help a guitarist who likely merely wishes to "dabble" a little. I do confess the fault lies with me and my post because all I need is to see a slight bit of interest in subject matter such as this and my fingers start flying at the keyboard out of control. I do not wish his to degrade into a hositle argument though so please do not take my tone to be one of hostility. If you check any source material of repute you will find my statements to be of merit.


Tbh, i really enjoy these kinds of well mannered, backed up arguments by two (or more) intelligent people. Whenever you try to back up your opinion/fact or w.e, you're bringing more info to the discussion. Would i have known some of the less known composers you listed otherwise? not unless i studied and researched classic and romantic era composers (somone's gonna come here and say "no they were in the baroque era, you're getting it all wrong" or something )

If only ALL UG arguments were this well mannered and backed up
#13
^ Almost all of the composers named are romantic/post-romantic... and you probably should study them, or at least listen to them to learn what you probably won't like (Actually, you'd probably enjoy Brahams, Mahler, and Berlioz ... symphonie fantastique is truely awesome ..., and a host of other romantic composers, especially the western nationalists, and especially the spanish ones).

Anything post-Wagner you probably won't. Or at least, not at first... Stravinsky's the godfather of metal IMO, but it's hard listening at first.

But on the topic of romantic composers, those named, other than Berlioz (and this is arguable), were classicists in their use of structure. Most of the period specifically tried to abandon set form. It's one of the things I really don't like about that era in music (not to mention the all too common complete lack of taste in the treatment of a performer's abilities). A good example of this is Holst and his 7 movement symphony that completely lacks any type of symphonic from; programmatic music just doesn't lend itself well to strict ritual and expectations.

If you're really interested, a good music appreciation course would do you well.
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#14
threadstarter, i would suggest that the first thing you do is take a good class in music theory. this way you can develop a nice solid base for yourself, then can work from there. i know as of right now i probably couldnt understand most of the stuff Cor and spaivxx are calling basic without some help. which is why im taking a college class on theory in the fall, so that i can get these ideas and have a good teacher to help me when i need help. thats probably the first step to most of this writing, develop a strong foundation and find people who you can sit down and talk to for help. after that ill probably start looking into a few of these books mentioned so i can expand on what ive learned and work on this stuff. thats at least my opinion, to start with a good theory class/teacher.
#15
Quote by Corwinoid
^ Almost all of the composers named are romantic/post-romantic... and you probably should study them, or at least listen to them to learn what you probably won't like (Actually, you'd probably enjoy Brahams, Mahler, and Berlioz ... symphonie fantastique is truely awesome ..., and a host of other romantic composers, especially the western nationalists, and especially the spanish ones).


what i probly wont like? since when did i give you permission to assume my genre tastes ?

i have a brahams piece on my playlist right now (as in, ive had it before this thread).

i AM going to study composers soon enough, not only but also because im soon starting cello, as i've become fascinated with it and its capabilities.

(cough cough, i saw apocalyptica ) but seriuosly, thats not the biggest reason im starting cello i'm really interested right now, and have done a tonne of research and have asked some friends who play cello about the topic.

if all goes well i might think of having it as my main instrument, but i shouldnt get a head of myself.