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I am considering writing a piece of music, advice from you guys?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by enderbass14, Dec 1, 2000.

  1. enderbass14


    Sep 28, 2000
    Hey, I'm 14 and I'm in a dixieland band from my middle school (i'm in hs now but we split off and went to different schools, so i say "from my middle school"). I play the trombone AND bass, just so you know, but in the band I play trombone. I was considering composing a simple yet fun piece of music for our four piece band. (Trombone, Trumpet, Saxophone, Clarinet)... (our tuba player left, current getting a barry saxophone for and addition). I am sure some of you have composed pieces before and was wondering if you could help me. Practice is in two days (12/3)... we got a paying gig also (finally) on 12/16/00. Maybe I could meet any of you (I live in Raleigh, NC). Any help would be appreciated with the composition of an original song (w/out lyrics, by the way). I know this sounds like an advertisement but I don't mean it to be. Thanks.
  2. enderbass14


    Sep 28, 2000
    Also, I said practice is in two days- I didn't mean I was going to plan to compose a piece of music that soon... or even before our gig. Thanks for helping to all.
  3. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    my advice to you would be to listen to, and study, the music that you like that you may wish to inspire or pattern your piece after. learn what is going on, what makes a section attractive or enjoyable to you, and quantify it - the bones do this, the saxes do that, or whatever. the best way to learn how to write music is to listen to the people you like and learn from their work. ask yourself some questions about the music you like and pattern your piece after the answers.

    questions like :

    1. what is each instrument's role in the arrangement, meaning rhythmically and harmonically.

    2. what is each instrument's "sweet spot" register-wise, meaning what ranges of notes sound the best for each instrument in the ensemble. also, examine particular ranges of different instruments that are different from their commonly accepted ranges but that sound good anyway - i always like the way bones sound in a higher register than normal.

    3. what kind of rhythmic structure would you like to have in your piece? how would the instruments play off of each other - in a rondo-like format, where every instrument exchanges, a more unison-based harmony format, with each instrument fulfilling a particular role in the chordal structure, or some combination of the 2?

    4. write a simple melody. keep it simple. chord structures, arrangements, rhythms, they are all slaves to a simple melody. the melody makes the songs. the classics, the songs that will _always_ be sung, are the ones that have the most simple, direct melodies. all that great jazz and classical pieces, pop music, everything. that's not to say that complexity is bad, but as any good jazz player will tell you, the simple melodies can often make the most interesting and complex music and they are extrapolated and developed upon. john coltrane was a master of this. so was beethoven, as was many other romantic-era composers.

    i know that's esoteric, but hopefully there's some points in there that will help you out.

    good luck
  4. enderbass14


    Sep 28, 2000
    Thanks for the help. I was also going to ask what any one thought was the easiest instrument to start a piece with.
  5. jazzbo


    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Why...the bass, of course! :) :) :)
  6. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Boy this really takes me back......I remember my first piece of music..........
  7. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Seriously - isn't it always easiest to start with the melody and then fit the chords and embellishments around this? If you have an idea of the melody and it's range then you can "orchestrate" to suit the instruments.

    I remember doing 4-part harmony from the melody and this was something that I could do pretty easily, but if somebody had given me a bassline and asked what the melody was, then I really would be struggling!

    Second easiest would be the chord sequence - a lot of Jazz musicians write alternative tunes to existing chord sequences. It might be easiest to sit down at a piano and decide the melody and get the chord sequence together, by trial and error possibly - seeing which chords fit best. You don't have to be a good pianist to do this, but a keyboard does help.

    Having said all that - I used to write a lot of things completely the opposite way and build them up from a rhythm track using sequencers/software - but this is more determined by what gear you have.
  8. pkr2


    Apr 28, 2000
    coastal N.C.
    Man, this is a scary first. :)

    Bruce, I agree with you on every point in your last post. The chord structure of a song indicates very little of the melody in a song.

    I've had a lot, and I mean a LOT, of guitarists that tried to show me how the melody of a song went by going through the chord progression, calling out the changes. There are an infinite number of melodies that can be played over all chord progressions.

  9. enderbass14


    Sep 28, 2000
    Well... practice is tomorrow, I haven't even started on it. But I'm using a bass part from one of my practice books. I think I'm gonna do a 12-bar blues thing where we'll haave improv solo's. It should be cool. I guess. Any advice for melodies in 12-bar blues songs? I have no idea what to write.
  10. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    Here's my hint: make it bluesy. :D

    But if you want something more specific, try listening to Kind of Blue (Miles!) for inspiration or delve into some other blue jazz things, like T. Monk's Blue Monk (the song I learned to walk on! hehe). Even if you're in a guitar-driven band, taking ideas from melodies performed by brass instruments isn't a sin.

    I've found that personally, I have trouble coming up with a decent melody when I'm just "jamming" or messing around trying to find something that "works". It helps ME to have chord progression previously laid out to guide my melody/solo. I haven't actually written any songs, but I do like to practice solos on my own and this has been my personal experience. I constantly get stuck either repeating the same notes or just playing stupid notes to begin with unless I have a set progression to follow. Just a thought, at any rate.
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member In Memoriam

    Or you could make it Jazzy - there are lots of variations of the blues and I find the additional chords - substitutions - make it more interesting. There are lots of Charlie Parker heads to 12 bar blues like this - try something like the Omnibook.
  12. furtim


    Dec 12, 1999
    Boston, MA, USA
    I was digging through some old links, and I found something that might be helpful. Try out http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/primer/index.html -- Marc Sabatella's Jazz Primer. It's actually geared to improvising jazz players, BUT it's got reference material on scales and modes. Truly comprehensive. Check it out, you might get some ideas for chord progressions or substitutions over a standard 12-bar blues. It's pretty heavy stuff, though, so be ready for that. =)
  13. enderbass14


    Sep 28, 2000
    thanks for the tips!

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