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Are We Still Composers?


old school
Lazy or not, a composer is a composer. Doesn't really matter what tools you use but not playing piano is like forcing yourself to use pillows to make orange juice.
I'm not sure composing is about the piano in some forms of music, especially orchestral. In fact I'd say the piano is a hindrance in orchestral writing.


Active Member
So if anyone buys your "composition" you are a composer?
If that's true then why bother discuss it?
Take all the extras at a filmset, are they actors? I don't think the "real" actors think so, but then again they might get picked out by the director to play a better part, and then they are, right?

To me composing happens inside my head and transformed to sound via paper (Sibelius/Dorico) and then recorded in my DAW. I my experience the moment in transition between the "paper" and the DAW is important, because the moment it's in the DAW every thing is about sound, and sound to me is the next level in composing. If the composition is good enough it will survive and "shine" in the end.
I worked in my youth together with a guitarist who always put on a drum machine when he composed. It worked very well for him, but to me it seemed that he always fell back into his comfort zone, and having a hard time to come up with something new. He is now the most successful film composer in Denmark!
And then I thought we had passed by all this nonsense about music theory and learning to read/write music! Reading music is a craftsmanship, it's a language to communicate music. Learning that language let's you understand the musical elements behind all the fine music written today and before our time. And the theory is not used to beat "the music" out of students, it's used - invented - to be able to understand and describe some common elements in music, making it possible to form a enlightened conversation about it. Sorry it has always p**sed me off to listen to people who defend their lacking knowledge in this field with the argument, that they don't NEED it, when I so many times have listened to - and worked with - the same people, and must say, yes you do.


Senior Member
Vangelis is on interview actually stating he doesn't. He has a Russian woman transcribe all his work by ear. Which is a feat in and of itself. Not that it means much though. Vangelis is talented in a way I think none of us could ever hope to be...:thumbsdown:

Just to clarify; reading and writing notes is part of a toolbox you can use to create music. It is a handy one, and partly, in some areas of music composition, an indispensable skill.

I could learn to read notes. Maybe one day, when the need arises, I will learn to read them. Right now, however, I am fully sunken into the synth-sound design aesthetic, which I truly, deeply love. I am not talking about the whole epic thing either, which I don't like. That said, stopping making music now to learn how to read notes would stop my musical aspirations dead in their tracks. There's only so much time to spend in a day; I choose to devote that to creating new timbres and textures that are as of yet unheard.

I still am musical, so I'm not mangling sounds for mangling's sake. I just love to explore that aspect and combine it with some more traditional musical elements.

Point is: I choose to focus on a completely different aspect of making music. An aspect which in my opinion is as much a part of the craft as anything mentioned here. And this is what I'm trying to get at: what is 'the craft' exactly? What does that constitute? If I choose, willingly, one aspect over the other to focus on, make me lesser of a practitioner of said 'craft?'

I say the I don't give a hoot about the craft as such not because I don't see it as a craft. I say it because I have had enough people saying you need to do x or y otherwise you are not a 'real composer', whatever that means. I learned to stop apologizing for something I shouldn't have to apologize for.

One man's composer is another's poser :)

Seriously though, you cannot tell me that great electronic music composers don't work to develop a craft, albeit it different from. traditional composing craft. You cannot be a really good consistent composer in any genre without craft. Without it, you may have moments of brilliance but it will be overwhelmingly outweighed by banality.

Thanks for correcting me about Vangelis, I am surprised.

Alex Fraser

Senior Member
What is musical craft though? Is it knowing how to read the dots, harmony theory? Or is it having the imagination and skill to do something like this?

Here are "the kids.."

The imagination and technical skill on display here is impressive. There's a craft on display that you simply don't get from the more traditional learning routes.
Despite having spent years learning theory etc, I'm humbled by stuff like this.


Senior Member
This video almost completely sums up modern popular music: a wind up toy that continues to walk well after it’s found a wall... while stabbing my ears.

Maybe if the tune they were working with was worth “remixing” and instead of just putting it in a blender they wrote a different arrangement, reharmonized it, recorded it to tape loops and played them until they flanged and created some new rhthym.

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Active Member
It's a personal choice imo. What kind of composer do you want to be?

Personally, I'm much more in line with Ned B.'s comment. Exploring new ways to make music and using new instruments and tools has been part of expanding as a composer since the inception of music as a creative outlet.

The tools today are just that tools. Kind of what I was bitterly seeing a few years ago on this forum that kind of prompted me to leave samples all together for a period was I would hear compositions from new composer looking for advice and I was hearing these amazing productions coming from those that absolutely had no idea what they were doing musically speaking. It was a complete 180 from were I came from. When production resources were limited and I had to rely on clever orchestrating and writing to get a professional result.

Helped one guy out on this fourm and it became clearly obvious that the basics of musicianship were completely lacking. But, his music sounded good production wise but he couldn't get off the one bright idea he did have or develop it because he just didn't know even the basics of constructing harmony or melody much less the more esoteric aspects of how an orchestra works or how to balance an orchestral mix. Now, a casual perusal through even the top music libraries will reveal that has become the norm rather than the exception. High production value to no musical value, ect. There are a few like Immediate Music, TSFH, ect and a few others that are still high on musical value but it seems like there are few of the more "traditional" trailer/music libraries left.

You can also get locked in the past too. Since most musical knowledge comes from exploring the work of past artist it's easy to not innovate at all. In that case then, one becomes dated very quickly. I have in the past fallen into this category were I refused to take into account new tools and stuck to the pen and paper and live musicians for everything and I went a long time before I could meet the demands of working in the industry. I was a very late adopter of sample based libraries and to this day even prefer to work away from samples. But, it is what it is. These tools are part of our landscape.

Example, I wrote a choir piece not using a DAW at all. Just straight into a notation program using and very bad piano sound. It was a great experience because I realized that I would spend an excruciatingly large amount of time fretting over each note, each bar, each dynamic until I got in printed music exactly what I was hearing. Now on the performance and recording that introduced another element and I didn't and couldn't get everything from the group I was using. So that got me thinking: First, I could put the care into a computer, samples and synths I would probably get better results than what I had been getting. Secondly, I would have to write for the strength of the ensemble. If my ensemble were samples and synths and sound design then I need to write for that and not some imagined real orchestra. I still imagine the real orchestra but if my libraries can't do it convincingly then I either need to get other libraries or if not possible, change the music to suit what I had. Much more practical way of thinking.

Not saying that my midi mockup stuff was bad just wasn't as good as when I had a live ensemble because the care and human factors were there with a live ensemble and they weren't there with samples (I am a people type of person so if you get people in front of me then I naturally have better understanding of what I'm after. Computers and sample libraries are dumb. That would frustrate me until I fully accepted in my own heart that the computer/library/synth, ect. will only be as good as what I personally put into it. I can't lean over to my computer and tell it to take that decrescendo down to niete. I'd have to slave over it for as long as it took to make it the way I wanted it. I hardly have the patience for that but it is what it is.

Long winded way of saying that in our hearts and in our minds we have to take a careful account of what type of composer we want to be? Do we want to be button pushers chasing after the next prefabbed library or do we want to create something that actually has some spiritual value to us as creative artist.

I am not saying that I have the answer for that other than now I'm more certain at my age that we have choices and you can use those choices creatively or you can use those choices in the dumbest manner possible. You can make a living in either way. I've made money on dumb stuff and also on smart stuff. I won't say what gets better accepted. But, I know for myself that my work has to have meaning to me and if it doesn't I won't waste my time on it.

I have a lot more to say on this and I may say it but for now. I think that's it.

--If interested link to the all live no samples, non-cinematic, choir piece I did where I slaved over every note but in the end got only 80% of what I wanted from the ensemble. Mostly the technical skill of the some of the singers weren't up to par with what I envisioned. I may record it with a different group because I think the piece has a lot of potential with the right group and can't be done with samples.

stalking your posts because it's good to see you back lol


Senior Member
But inspiration ignites the creative process, no? What you hear in your head has been inspired by something, even subliminally.


Senior Member
But inspiration ignites the creative process, no? What you hear in your head has been inspired by something, even subliminally.
Yes, but it does one no good if they are totally dependent on it. I have no idea what writer's bloc feels like because when I went to Boston Conservatory it was required of me to write at least a page every day. As a result, at any time I can create some music. Whether it is good or not, inspired or not, will be for the listener to decide, but it will make musical sense and will achieve its goal.


I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.
Yes, but it does one no good if they are totally dependent on it. I have no idea what writer's bloc feels like because when I went to Boston Conservatory it was required of me to write at least a page every day. As a result, at any time I can create some music. Whether it is good or not, inspired or not, will be for the listener to decide, but it will make musical sense and will achieve its goal.
That's why I always recommend writing every day, regardless. The benefits are ongoing, at least in my experience.


Active Member
I’m a good formula one racer on industry simulator software, I can beat many top players, I’m i as good as a real F1 racer? Shall i call myself a Formula one contender even though i haven’t got into a F1 car?
I gave my next door neighbour a video of the simulator recording, he says wow , ( cos he cldn’t tell the difference ).. so he’ll pay me £1000 just to see another race video. Now i’m getting paid, so i must be a F1 racer! ...no i’m not. .I am a simulator F1 racer, but wish I cld afford to buy the car to actually ride in one...if i can.....

I like to use the term Music Programmer to differentiate between a traditional Composer. I think they earned the right...wether they get paid or not.


Active Member

I'm a total hack. But that isn't anything for me to feel bad about.
Why should you feel bad? Respect is due to all operators of music.

The RAF have started employing drone pilots to be trained further for use in the military, excellent idea, imagine the dreams fulfilled- one day you will be flying real aircraft from a chair!! But I will call myself a drone pilot..seems some of you would consider you’ve earned the right to be called actual aviation fighter pilots? It’s just common sense.

Also I think there should be a new oscar catergory to recognise ‘Computer Musicians’
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