Any good composition courses (classical music)?

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by mediumaevum, Feb 9, 2019.

  1. mediumaevum

    mediumaevum Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    I really liked how the Evenant course avoided the sheet music notation, and kept it at a PianoRoll-equivalent way of explaining the notes and composition in general.

    However, the course was not in-depth enough for my taste. I want to be able to compose music like Ralph Vaughan Williams, like this:

    - taught using FL Studio's PianoRoll or something similar, please avoid the use of sheet music, as I am not familiar with it and it is too late for me to learn to read sheet music.

    More specifially I want to be able to use the short non-staccato notes in my compositions. Something like an arpeggiating countermelody, but not staccato or spiccato, and when to use it, when to pause such a thing (because it can get damn annoying when used too much) and when to use high violin counter melodies on top of the main melody, perhaps played by a flute.

    All these thing I'd like some theory to explain, using techniques I think most of us computer musicians are familiar with.

    Any ideas?
    Preferably free youtube-courses. There's plenty, but most of it are rubbish.
  2. D Halgren

    D Halgren Senior Member

    May 6, 2017
    Portland, OR
    I'm sure you probably already know this one, but it seems perfect for you.
  3. 5Lives

    5Lives Senior Member

    Nov 23, 2011
    Was also going to suggest Alex's channel. I don't think I've seen any courses apart from Evenant that spend time in the piano roll (I'm also taking it now because I liked that type of teaching).
  4. I'm really sorry to be that guy but... Is it too late, or are you too lazy ?
  5. OP

    mediumaevum Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    Well, good point...
    whitewasteland likes this.
  6. dzilizzi

    dzilizzi I know nothing

    Feb 27, 2017
    Somewhere near Los Angeles
    I actually get this - sheet music is not the same as a piano roll. And depending on how your articulations are set up, it can be really different. Now, maybe a class on how to interpret sheet music to a piano roll?

    I can read basic sheet music for piano and voice. It isn't too hard. But when you start getting into articulations for different instruments? It gets very confusing. And it is a lot to remember. As a hobbyist, I just want to make music in the limited time I have to play.

    However, if you want to make a living at this? You really should learn.
  7. I am a terrible reader myself and at this point, reading an orchestral score is pretty hard to me - I can decipher it with a bit of concentration but it doesn't "speak" to me like MIDI does. I have become so familiar with that "Piano roll" view that I can instantly identify a chord and its form, like minor, major, diminished, augmented, just by looking at the whole ensemble. Like when you're reading a word, you're not reading every letter.

    So, why bother learning to read sheet music ? Just because it's how music has been written for a very long time :) We have an amazing endless legacy of scores at our disposal that helps us understanding music better.

    If you're a hobbyist, I think there is no need to have a perfectly fluent reading. But having the basics, like @dzilizzi said being able to read basic sheet music for piano and voice could really do no harm ;)
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
    bryla likes this.
  8. dzilizzi

    dzilizzi I know nothing

    Feb 27, 2017
    Somewhere near Los Angeles has some great learning tools where you can quiz yourself on it.
  9. Leon Willett

    Leon Willett Active Member

    Apr 14, 2005
    Hey guys, sorry to hijack the thread, but anyone know of any good courses on becoming a chess Grand Master?

    I'd like to play like Kasparov, or maybe Magnus Carlsen.

    I'm thinking of giving it maybe 2 weeks, 3 tops.

    Free stuff only please, and bear in mind I don't understand when they say stuff like "bishop to a3" and I don't want to spend 20 minutes to learn what that means, so I would rather it be expressed as "the horsie goes to the black square beside the one with the pointy hat" or "the one that looks like a castle kills the horsie over there".

    I watched two and a half videos on youtube and they were rubbish. Also a friend gave me "Grandmaster Preparation" by Lyev Polugayevsky, perhaps the best chess book of all time, but it's like 200 pages or some shit so fuk dat shiat, AMIRITE?!?! lullululululuulu

    Any ideas?
  10. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    Learning to read sheet music feels like school, looking at the piano roll is the nerdy look of spare time spent at the computer. On the other hand: we learned to read at school and now you are reading this. So it's not that hard as it looks. Takes some time though. Like composing.
    But I don't think it's necessary to read score to compose. Knowledge of chords and modes and styles and instruments and rhythms and keys is more important. You need score reading and writing to communicate with other musicians. For communication with the computer piano roll is ok.
    But I like high violin counter melodies played by a flute.
    bryla likes this.
  11. synergy543

    synergy543 Senior Member

    Dec 11, 2004
    The Internets

    So you don't read music but you already composed, harmonized orchestrated and realized piece below?

    You apparently have quite a good ear.

    You seem to be getting quite a lot of mileage out of your "intuition" and libs already. Pretty good sense of timing, phrasing and dynamic arcs too. And pretty good 3D skills with Blender too. Almost too good!

    I agree with dzilizzi that is a great place where you can learn skills such as how to read.

    Please share a bit on how you accomplish this. Please tell us how you composed, harmonized, orchestrated and realized this?
    Last edited: Feb 9, 2019
  12. kevthurman

    kevthurman Active Member

    Dec 18, 2018
    I am going to tell you right now that there is no way to get better at composing music that does not involve learning to read music. Either you are so good at using your ears and midi editing that you can compose as well as all the greats, who all studied music extensively, or you're delusional. I see a lot of people ask questions like this in this forum and other places and it's honestly insulting. Would you ask how to become a physicist without knowing how to write and read equations? No! Then why do you think you can compose music without learning to read and write it first?
    bryla and mikeh-375 like this.
  13. mikeh-375

    mikeh-375 old school

    Feb 8, 2016

    Except you will never fully understand how far your creativity could go and what you are truly capable of. I'm not being a theory dictator here (well not much..:geek:), but if folk put their mind to proper learning, they will find that they start to find their true capabilities and voice.
    If you are in the business of composing orchestral music believe me, you need to know what you are doing to do it to the highest levels and to achieve personal highs and that does not come from youtube or any other quick fix.
    The saddest part about composition and computers is that how on earth do you think you could learn music better without knowing its technique and theory - I mean where else is there an attitude like that to a profession????? Are we at the stage whereby expert knowledge, legacy and learning is passed over for the easy route? (that leads nowhere other than same old same old). Of course you can write without theory but you can, in a lot of cases I'm sure, do so much better with it...seriously, why would it be anything else?
    bryla likes this.
  14. novicecomposer

    novicecomposer Member

    Apr 15, 2014
    Humans are highly adaptable. I used to write music by ear and looking at midi notes only but now I can't write a single note without scores. Can't work with messy midi data at all. Get free scores from and learn how great composers in the past did what they did. Their level of orchestration is way beyond all the shit tutorials on YouTube.
  15. Massimo

    Massimo Active Member

    Dec 10, 2006
    I don't mean to patronize in any way... It is never too late to learn something you are passionate about. Learning to read music will open up so many opportunities and routes in your musical journey. It will require effort... for sure... the reward(s) though are going to be so massive. My two cents, Max T.
  16. BenG

    BenG Senior Member

    ...I mean, I went to school for music and I still can't write like that:P
    ed buller likes this.
  17. OP

    mediumaevum Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    Thank you... well, that was one big deja-vu, as I've also been told this elsewhere. It's just that I find it really, really difficult to learn to read it.

    Seems like there is no other way around this than to learn this stuff.

    So, which youtube-channels would you recommend to teach me this? I prefer to keep expenses at a minimum level, preferably free.
  18. OP

    mediumaevum Member

    Jun 21, 2018
    I did this, and no, I can't read sheet music. I don't know if I have a good ear, but maybe I do have it, though I don't know what I'm doing as I know very little theory. I did the Blender 3D-picture of this cathedral (fantasy, non-existing) as well, yes. It took me years to learn this stuff, the hard way - by intuition and by youtube tutorials.

    I'm glad you like it, it could be better, and I want to become better skilled.

    If you want some "proof" that I composed this, here is the original version I composed back in 2015. The sheet score is probably wrong, so ignore that - I had some software (I think FL Studio or MuseScore) convert the MIDI-data into score.

    I composed it by playing on my keyboard (not a midi-keyboard, but the one I'm typing this text with). I couldn't play piano at the time of writing that stuff either. I just played around.

    I have zero musical education - whatsoever.
    I may have a good ear, but I do not know what or why I'm doing the harmonization the way I do. I just listen if it feels "right".
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  19. ptram

    ptram Senior Member

    Nov 30, 2013
    Not exactly an answer to the original question, but learning how to read a music score is all contained in this agile book. Not free, unfortunately, but can be had used for around one dollar:

    As for composing like Vaughan Williams: I admit not being able to do it, even if I have a lot of articulations in my sound libraries. Maybe I should look on YouTube a bit better, or find a better library to download.

  20. HeliaVox

    HeliaVox Active Member

    Aug 27, 2017

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