Balancing study and music composition

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by EnabledLife, Mar 23, 2019.

  1. EnabledLife

    EnabledLife New Member

    Aug 9, 2018
    Hey all, I've been having a bit of an issue balancing studying the theory/orchestration of the greats, and actually writing music. I spend whole days of frivolously writing notes, ideas, and tips, but don't really know how to stop, and start a piece. Any suggestions?
  2. JohnG

    JohnG Senior Member

    Nov 13, 2007
    could try singing into your smart phone and then using that as a basis for a piece.

    Also, if you start the day on other people's music, it can be hard to switch gears and end up with anything original. Sometimes better to start with your own ideas and only later look at someone else's if you're stuck for an orchestration idea or "how to arrange a woodwind choir" or something technical / specific like that.
    EnabledLife and goalie composer like this.
  3. ed buller

    ed buller Senior Member

    Mar 23, 2011
    Time management is your friend. It's boring and not in any way fun , but scheduling time to "work" ,write music and "study" is best.................just hard to do


    Last edited: Mar 23, 2019
    MartinH., EnabledLife and JohnG like this.
  4. OP

    EnabledLife New Member

    Aug 9, 2018
    Thank you for the help. The thing is, since I still feel so new to orchestration (13 months), I think of my notes as my "orchestral alphabet" in a way, so I feel compelled to learn all of the "letters" before writing "poetry". Is this common?
  5. Tod

    Tod Senior Member

    I think the key to all this is the imagination, and the imagination is only as good as the nourishment that it's had. Basically I think that's the "letters" that you're talking about Dyllan.

    Theory doesn't mean much unless the imagination has a grasp of all the variations and directions it can lead you. Listening is the key, listening to everything, not just Mozart, Bach, or John Williams, jazz can be a great influence. Even some of the rock and country can add to your imagination's portfolio.

    From there I think it's important to have a concept, like a video, thought, or personal experience. I never have believed in, "okay, I'm going to sit down and write something neat today". For myself, I've got to have a better reason then that.

    That's kind of my take on it. :)
    mikeh-375 and whiskers like this.
  6. MartinH.

    MartinH. Senior Member

    Jun 16, 2018
    Think back to how you learned to write. You probably learned 2 or 3 letters first and then started to write your first word using those letters. You didn't learn the whole alphabet first and then the first word.
  7. agarner32

    agarner32 Active Member

    Nov 7, 2015
    Couldn't agree more and I teach music theory full-time. I always stress to my college students that listening is super important.
    jononotbono likes this.
  8. jononotbono

    jononotbono Luke Johnson

    This would definitely be the point of the evening, after I've had a few beers to say "You don't know what you're talking about. And you're a shit Pianist" but sadly, the truth is, you have taught me more about music theory and how to apply it and understand it than any single person ever has.

    You're a pretty good Pianist too.
  9. agarner32

    agarner32 Active Member

    Nov 7, 2015
    Luke, you are my hero and amazingly talented. I've learned more shit from you than anyone else. Plus you've saved my ass so many times when a deadline was looming. Now go drink more!! -
  10. BezO

    BezO The Artisan

    Jun 11, 2018
    I have a similar issue. My keyboard playing is far behind my theory, writing, and to a lesser degree, my producing & sound designing.

    Said another way, my technical ability to play my ideas are far behind my ability create them.

    I've tried putting in an hour of piano practice before writing sessions. It too often gets interrupted with the urge to create. So I guess my issue is a simple case of staying discipline. Paid lessons would probably speed the process and add inspire me to practice more.
  11. mikeh-375

    mikeh-375 old school

    Feb 8, 2016
    Tod hits this for me, but I will add one more word to accompany imagination and that is invention. Imagination is used to manipulate the learning in order to make it your own. Once principles have been practised and learnt, it becomes easy to invent new adaptations of learnt technique if one has imagination and as importantly, open ears. My advice to the OP is to do study and writing in equal amounts and don't shirk any of it. Let the study (technique) feed the writing and always seek to see what's beyond the theory with your invention and imagination whilst never know what you'll find... (after you've done the exercises of course..:thumbsup:.

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