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Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Superdave, Mar 6, 2005.

  1. Superdave


    Apr 20, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    How do you usually go about composing? Start with a key, use basic progressions (ii-V-I, whatever), work off a riff? Jazz, funk, rock, anything.

    I've been working on composing and writing, but I'm sort of stuck in a creative rut, not knowing where to start. Any input at all would be great.
  2. ireidt


    Mar 6, 2005
    Well, Actually, first you sit down and take a tonal harmony class ( 19th centuary musis theory ) Study, reallll hard.....pass the classs... then when you want to commpose something, froget the rules, 20th centuary music throws it all out the window.

    20th centuary music breaks all the rules of music theory, i mean yea, there is theory for bass, guitar, and all that, but thats mostly sight reading, the whole V7/ii crap doesnt apply.

    Now if you want to sound like mozart, take th etonal harmony class ( I am in one right now, AP Music theory )
  3. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000
    I always have lyrics composed before I ever compose any music. So as I'm writing the lyrics, I have an idea of how I want each verse of the song sang, what kind of melody/rhythm going on behind the chorus etc.

    Then I sit down with my bass and do my best to take what I'm hearing in my head and apply it.
  4. Kelly Coyle

    Kelly Coyle

    Nov 16, 2004
    Mankato, MN
    More often than not, I'll start with a melody. That will suggest a feel and the chord progression, and then a bridge can be devised to complement that. (I'm curious that you don't list that as one of your options!) A bonus is that listeners really respond well to singable melodies in instrumental music.
  5. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    It's all relative to what style of music you are composing in. There are a whole bunch of songs on the radio at this very moment that consist of a beat, a few melodic "hooks" and words, either sung or spoken. Do many of us consider these real songs, well if the idea of a song is to sell your art, then yes, they are songs..In smooth jazz you drop a catchy melody over a dmin9 to A7 vamp, think up a quick bridge(Bbmaj7-Ebmaj9-dmin7 bla bla bla), sax solo, and in theory you have written a song..
    Learning music theory will get your ears in shape help you make practical sense of what you are listening to, so if you like something it is easier to add to your vocabulary..the wider your vocabulary, the less you will sound like someone else and the more you will sound like everyone you listen to, which will mean that you are starting to sound like yourself!
  6. Superdave


    Apr 20, 2003
    St. Louis, MO
    Oh yeah, I know theory, I've just been working on applying it to my writing, and writing something creative.
  7. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Theory doesn't help the "creative process", it just helps some people understand what they are listening to so they can "catalogue" it. I know many people who don't know what a Fmin7(b5) chord is, but they know what that chord sounds like, how it makes them feel, and when they think they should use it. There isn't any right or wrong way to writing a song, but it's a hard process to force, it's like making a #2 when you really don't have to, you might be sitting there all day before anything happens. Keep experimenting, keep listening to and learning tunes that you really like. You may also think about becoming comfortable playing piano or guitar(depending on what kind of music you are working in)if you are not already. The bass CAN lack harmony, which is a basic part of most musical compositions.
  8. what he said ^

    i'm studying it on my own, not enough people signed up for it at my school so the class was cancelled.

    1. learn to read
    2. work on your ear training... day and night
    3. some people create chords around a melody, some people create a melody around chords... i'm the latter, but decide which one you are and learn to do both

  9. theory DOES help the creative process. if i set about writing a novel, it would do me no end of good to be able to analyze and pick apart the stylistic elements of other novels which i like. same thing with music theory.
  10. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    I am still trying to "analyze" what "no end of good" means, but I think you mean the same thing as I said, you know, the part about "(theory)helps people understand what they are listening to"...?
  11. saying that studying theory doesn't help the creative process, but it does help you understand the music you listen to, is contradictory. it's impossible to write music without borrowing from someone else, and by knowing how other composers think you expand your vocabulary of stuff to borrow from. i'm not saying everything is totally rehashed and that originality doesn't exist, but the more music that you understand, the better equippped you are to create it. if i were to take what you said to its logical conclusion, if i were to sit down and study modal music and try to understand what Miles was doing then it wouldn't change my creative processes at all.

    oh yea, and the key to composing is a powdered wig. until you have one of those you're just writing music :D
  12. usually when I write music I will just start by messing around keys untill I come up with something I like, then experiment playing differnt things in the corresponding key untill I find something to make me happy, I also like to use this program called PowerTab It lets you type out the tabs and hear them played back in a large variety of instruments, it uses midi which isn't perfect, but I found it very helpfull when you want to hear how numerous intsruments will sound together, it also displays the sheet music which is a great learning tool.
  13. I tend to get most of my ideas while at work, and many hours away from my keyboard or bass.
    I write the chord or chord sequence down(short order style as another T-B'er once described it as).
    At home I have something on paper to work from....
    While this is a different method than what you were using, it certainly helps keep the thought or idea alive.
    A smaller portion of ideas for me actually come from noodling after practice or written exercises.
  14. a friend of mine once told me heard an idea in his head that was really good and he wanted to get it down, cept he was in school... he rushed out of the class to a payphone so he could whistle it into his answering machine.
  15. I think it would be valid to say that theory doesn't *necessarily* help the creative process. (And I say that as a theory nut.) Yes, it can help many of us, but it guarantees nothing. Someone could have good command of theory and not have a "creative" bone in his-her body, in terms of compositional ability. By way of analogy, understanding something of literary theory could help you write, but then again, there are a number of literary critics who don't really write literature.
  16. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    Many great composers know little theory. Many great Theory Masters cannot compose well, and they usually end up "arranging". Theory builds the foundation for the "creative process" (for those of us who need it), but the bottom line is a song comes from the heart, which is a different part of the brain than the theory is kept..
  17. Cool. As long as I was clear that I was NOT making the "theory gets in the way of creativity" argument, which is unmitigated BS AFAIAC. And I definitely wouldn't agree that arranging is not creative--it is. But you can know a lot of theory and not be an inspired arranger either.
  18. powerslave

    powerslave Guest

    Feb 24, 2005
    United States
    +1 lol, thats funny i also do the same thing at work with a note pad, and i use a little digital recorder to sing lyrics or melodies into so i can remeber them later
  19. lowphatbass

    lowphatbass ****

    Feb 25, 2005
    west coast
    COOL.COOL. I wasn't saying that because someone isn't a great composer that they would lack creativity and I surely a great arranger would need creativity( i.e. Gil Evans, to use another Miles nugget). I think it's the ability to produce the "SEED", to convert personal feelings into an "original" composition. When done well it is a special gift.