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Advice for New Composer

Xiaddle

New Member
Hi there,
I am a professional musician, however I perform rather than compose. I will occasionally arrange and compose pieces for myself and my quartet but nothing larger than this. I am looking to extend my skills and start composing larger pieces for an orchestra. I would think my music theory knowledge is mostly basic.

I would want advice on how to learn this.

Thank you
Sorry if there have been any mistakes, English isn't my first language.
 

JMJ33101

Member
Hi there,
I am a professional musician, however I perform rather than compose. I will occasionally arrange and compose pieces for myself and my quartet but nothing larger than this. I am looking to extend my skills and start composing larger pieces for an orchestra. I would think my music theory knowledge is mostly basic.

I would want advice on how to learn this.

Thank you
Sorry if there have been any mistakes, English isn't my first language.
Hi! I would start learning about Sonata form. It’s a great start to longer forms and is widely used among composers such as Beethoven and Haydn and lots more. Once you learn about sonata form and get the basic structure, I’d suggest having a listen to the 1st movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and the 1st movement Mahler’s 6th which is 20 mins at least. I can give you a good intro on Sonata form if ya like!
 
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Xiaddle

New Member
Hi! I would start learning about Sonata form. It’s a great start to longer forms and is widely used among composers such as Beethoven and Haydn and lots more. Once you learn about sonata form and get the basic structure, I’d suggest having a listen to the 1st movement of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony, and the 1st movement Mahler’s 6th which is 20 mins at least. I can give you a good intro on Sonata form if ya like!
Yes please! I know a little bit about sonata form, but not too much.

When I go to listening, what is it I should make note of?
 

JMJ33101

Member
Also if you know the Circle of Fifths or the basics of it, sonata form will be easy! Ok first I gotta give intro to Sonata form. I’m going to DM you first
 

JT

Senior Member
I would suggest analyzing, listening a piece of music while looking at the score. Take a section of that score, maybe 32 measures and do a piano reduction. That is, taking all of the parts and condense it down to a grand staff. Taking note of what instruments the composer doubled and how that affects the sound.

Then do the opposite. Take a short piano piece, and then expand it for full orchestra. Using the techniques that you learned from the first piece.

I would also suggest studying orchestration, learning the different ranges of orchestral instruments and how they blend together. It's not a quick process.
 
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Xiaddle

New Member
I would also suggest studying orchestration, learning the different ranges of orchestral instruments and how they blend together. It's not a quick process.
How would this be best done?

I would suggest analyzing, listening a piece of music while looking at the score. Take a section of that score, maybe 32 measures and do a piano reduction. That is, taking all of the parts and condense it down to a grand staff. Taking note of what instruments the composer doubled and how that affects the sound.
How would I know if this is done 'well'?

Thank you
 

JT

Senior Member
Orchestration, there's the books by Samuel Adler or Rimsky-KorsaKov which are great reference sources.

Basically you need a text telling you what the ranges for each instrument in the orchestra, the various playing techniques for each instrument (i.e., mutes, pizzicato, etc....) and understanding the idiosyncracies of each instrument. For example, you might write at the piano and come up with a great melody for french horn, it's high but it's all in the stated range. But when you give that to a real player to play, you find out that maybe one or two high notes are fine, but the whole high phrase is not going to happen. This is a common pitfall when writing with sample libraries.

How would you know if it's done well, it probably wouldn't be at first, this is a learning exercise. You get better with practice. MY point was, find an orchestral passage, maybe 30 seconds and listen to it 100 times, until you know it like the back of your hand. Then while studying the score for this passage, find the melody and put it in a piano staff. See what the basses and low instruments are doing. Put that in the bass clef of the piano. Look for any other instruments adding rhythmic or harmonic interest, then add that to your piano part. In the end, you want your piano sketch to sound like the orchestral passage, just condensed down to one instrument.

You could always find a teacher, but you can also do this by yourself and get feedback from other forum members.
 

5Lives

Senior Member
Conversely, I would definitely NOT start with Mike Verta's class if you're new :) They're mostly made for people who are already composing, are fairly unstructured, and can be hard to follow IMO.

If you want something more structured, I really recommend Evenant's Cinematic Music: From Idea to Finished Recording as it is the only course I've found that is very well structured in how it teaches you to go from basic melody concepts through orchestrating a full piece. Once you have that under your belt, the other suggestions here are much more digestible IMO.
 

marclawsonmusic

Senior Member
How would this be best done?



How would I know if this is done 'well'?

Thank you
If it's a piece of music that you like and is orchestrated well, then go with that.

If you are into film music, the John Williams signature series from Hal Leonard are a masterclass. If you prefer classical repertoire, check out imslp.org for pretty much any score imaginable. Find a few bars of something that connects with you, and reduce it down to understand how it was orchestrated. There really is nothing better than an actual score of great music to learn from.
 

Paul T McGraw

Senior Member
What you need to learn depends on the style and genre of music you wish to compose. If you want to write like Boulez, you probably already know all you need to know. If you want to write in a later romantic or classic film (Williams, Goldsmith, Korngold) style you are going to have to master chromatic harmony, voice leading, long forms, short forms, melodic construction, thematic development, and orchestration.
 
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Xiaddle

New Member
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