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Composing music

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Kwesi, Sep 29, 2008.


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  1. I'd like to start composing my own music but i have a few questions. I have some stuff written out already but and while i know what i'd like it to sound like there are a few hang-ups. The biggest one is probably that I haven't the slighted clue as to what drum notation looks like. For those of you who write your own music how to did you get past this?
     
  2. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    Unless your a drummer you're probably best not writing out drum parts. Write out the roadmap with rests, places to do fills, and write description of the type of style or feel. Some will write a couple bars of drums with the basic feel then do slashes for rest of tune. If you do have specific breaks or rhythms write them out in slashes. You could write out a master rhythm chart the whole rhythm section gets a copy of.

    Unless you play an instrument enough to know how to write for it, best to just give the musicians a skeleton of the tune and let them do what they do best.
     
  3. climb

    climb

    May 1, 2007
    Baltimore, MD
    Why not use a computer based sequencer to lay down your rhythm tracks? Good ones can even notate for you.
     
  4. mutedeity

    mutedeity

    Aug 27, 2007
    Sydney
    I disagree with this completely.

    How many orchestral composers can play every instrument in the orchestra to an expert degree? I think the best advice here would be to tell the OP to research and consult as many people as possible about writing percussion. Find some notation and study it, and then listen to to drummers and notate what they are playing.

    I know I am not an expert at playing every instrument I write parts for, but if I write a chart for someone I expect it to be followed, unless I am purposely giving the musician that opportunity. Like everything research and practice are the key to developing your skill in this area.
     
  5. I'm at the same place - same questions - but think that I will get past this when this great guy gives that gorgeous Spector 6 String he is trying to sell. Then drum notation will be a distant memory as I luxuriate in the 6 String Bliss that is my destiny :D
     
  6. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    I'm inclined to agree with this, with one provision. IF you are wrting for a drum kit, then DocBop is correct. IF you are writing for percussion in an orchestral or band setting or some kind of setting where there are multiple players with different instrument then, yes, you have to be very specific about what you want from each player.

    I've written drum kit parts for decades for all styles of music and the bottom line is that if you want the best from your drummer (kit) then you give them an understanding of the style and let them know the 'road map' of the music. A good drummer will know many different ways to convey a style, what they need to know to play your music is how long each section (phrase), where you DON'T want them to play, and any place that a specific rhythm has to be played (unision kicks with other instruments).
     
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    I've seen literally thousands of Jazz charts - printed, handwritten etc etc.

    But 99.9% of them have no drum notation whatsoever - they will just have tempo and a basic description of the feel or style.
     
  8. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification

    And, most importantly, kicks. And breaks. And anything that is rhythmically different that the groove. In fact, it all you needed was a description of the feel and style, there wouldn't even be a drum chart.
     
  9. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    That's what I said....:eyebrow:
     
  10. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    No, it's not. You said "tempo and a basic description of the feel or style"
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam


    That's what I was getting at!
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    This is typical of the kind of thing I mean :

    [​IMG]

    ..I've lost count of the number of A4 sheets like this with no drum information, that I and drummer have been given and played immediately! ;)
     
  13. HaVIC5

    HaVIC5

    Aug 22, 2003
    Brooklyn, NYC
    If you give a drummer a very specific thing to play, chances are he will A) not play it or B) play it, but know of about 50 ways to play it better. Writing specific rhythmic events (hits, whatever) is a far more effective way of writing a drum chart, in my opinion. Only in exceptional circumstances do I write specific notation.
     
  14. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    You know, I've got to go back to remedial reading.....

    You said "jazz charts" and I read "drum charts". My mistake.

    However, drum charts are often called "kick sheets", and they contain info on what everyone else is playing. This gives the drummer opportunity to emphasize what he wants, as it relates to the music....
     
  15. BassChuck

    BassChuck Supporting Member

    Nov 15, 2005
    Cincinnati
    True. I've been in a number of situations where just giving the drummer a copy of the lead trumpet part was enough.
     
  16. DocBop

    DocBop

    Feb 22, 2007
    Los Angeles, CA
    You're comparing writing orchestra percussion to writing Pop, Rock, Funk, etc for a drum kit. I wouldn't but if you want to that's your prerogative.
     
  17. ryco

    ryco

    Apr 24, 2005
    97465
    If I'm composing a rock or rock/fusion song, I'll usually make a rough demo on tape or CD with bass, drum machine and a vocal of the melody. If lucky, have a guitarist strum chords and accents.
    At most I'll give them a chord sheet. Very few players I deal with can read.

    If I was writing a jazz chart, I'd just write out a lead sheet like the one Bruce posted. I don't remember enough composition to write charts for an entire band anymore. I'd have to hire one of you! ;)
     
  18. lol. Tell you what, its yours....

















    ...if you buy it :bag::p

    on the topic, thanks for the response. If anything i think what i plan on writing would be considered fusion. I have have all the melodic and harmonic ideas and and depending on which instrument, its just a matter of transposing that specific part to fit the instrument. That shouldn't be a problem.

    But basically unless i have a very specific idea of how i want the drum part to sound or there's some fill i'd like the drummer to do i should leave it to the drummers better judgment?
     
  19. kb9wyz

    kb9wyz

    Sep 8, 2008
    Bloomingdale,IL
    As long as your drummer has the right to call himself a drummer, leaving it up to him should be fine. I have found that if I want something fairly specific that I can just describe the kind of beat I want. Saying things like, "Kind of poppy, with the hi-hat on the upbeat in the second measure," tends to to work with the guys I know. Otherwise, I just try to "sing" the drum pattern I'm thinking of.
     

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