I feel bad about composing 2 min songs...

Discussion in 'Composition, Orchestration & Technique' started by sIR dORT, Mar 19, 2019.

  1. sIR dORT

    sIR dORT Member

    Oct 26, 2018
    Should I? I think it's knowing that classical composers of the earlier eras could create compositions of much longer length that does it for me. I compose just for myself (at least for right now), and just wondered if I should try and compose longer pieces or be content with writing a two minute song as long as it has good content.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
    kleotessard, Wolf68 and TheSigillite like this.
  2. studiostuff

    studiostuff Active Member

    Dec 15, 2015
  3. TheSigillite

    TheSigillite Active Member

    Jun 22, 2018
    Southern California
    I've been at this for a few months and I'm still hovering around the 1min - 3 min song area. I usually just write little tid bits with new knowledge or skills i've picked up. I felt the same way at first. I was under this self imposed pressure of extending these pieces just because and it really only lead to needlessly extended pieces. Write what suits you and what makes you happy (at least for know, as you put it). Once you do it for pay, you'll write what is requested from you, but for now enjoy your creations no matter the time. I recently wrote a 1 min piece for my youngest daughter and she loved it. Just write. Soon i hope to implement some formal structure into my writing and then my pieces might evolve into longer more cohesive works. Best of luck!
    whiskers and sIR dORT like this.
  4. dzilizzi

    dzilizzi I know nothing

    Feb 27, 2017
    Somewhere near Los Angeles
    Well, my first piece that didn't involve using AI to write was probably about a minute. It had a nice (okay, my opinion, it was probably barely okay) oboe solo. So I copied the whole thing, but changed all the instruments so the solo was now a cello and the string background instruments were now woodwinds. Then I said, oh it's still too short. So I copied it again changing the instruments to brass/horns and changing the solo to violin (changed the octave), thought it was too boring for the violin and moved notes around.

    I have no idea how good it is and I'm a little afraid to share it. but I enjoy listening to it.
    sIR dORT and TheSigillite like this.
  5. CGR

    CGR Pianist/Composer/Arranger

    Jan 14, 2016
    There's a lot to be said for creating, developing and then distilling an idea into a 2-3 minute track. Some of my favourite pieces of music are this length. I'm not just referring to pop/rock songs - check out some of Craig Armstrong's tunes from 'Piano Works'. Beautifully written instrumental themes which say what they need to say, and then leave - often in 2 minutes or less.

    So many times I'll listen to a 5-6 minute track and after a while it just becomes repetitive and it's like "OK - I get it". Sometimes all the track needs is for you to state your theme/idea and not over-stay your welcome!
  6. Saxer

    Saxer Senior Member

    Mar 30, 2008
    Listen to Beethoven's 5th. He's starting with this BababaBaaaaa and it's more or less all he uses to build a long track. Actually you don't need much to stell a story. When you have a motive you can do creative things with it. Repeat it, repeat it on different steps, transpose it, stretch it, shrink it, turn it upside down, reverse it, give it to different ranges, use it as bass figure, play it on different modes, make it big, reduce it, use ornaments, use fragments, make it a question or an answer, use it as one part of a dialogue, make it a part of a larger structure, harmonize it, reharmonize it, make it consonant, make it dissonant... and at that point you didn't even start to orchestrate.
    It's a bit like jokes. Many jokes belong into categories. Lonely man on a small one palm island jokes. Boss & employee jokes. Cheating dad and smart children jokes. Woman at the doctor jokes. Car driver and police man jokes. Endless list of well known cliches. But the fun is to get something unexpected out of those well known situations. Use your ideas as a starting point.

    Beside that it isn't wrong to write short tracks. But if you want to write longer tracks it's good to look how others did it. It's not a miracle.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2019
  7. JT

    JT Senior Member

    Feb 20, 2011
    Short songs are fine, but for your own sake you should try to expand your comfort zone. Do what Saxer wrote, turn your theme into as many variations as possible. Some ideas will work better than others, but nobody has to hear this except you. Just try different things. Let your ideas lead you to different places that you wouldn't have found on your own.
    dzilizzi, sIR dORT and CGR like this.
  8. miket

    miket Team Dany

    May 17, 2016
    New York
    Tonight I happen to be taking a close look at a good example of how much you can do in just two or three minutes.

    Robo Rivard likes this.
  9. Robo Rivard

    Robo Rivard Senior Member

    May 11, 2016
    It reminds me of the "Stabat Mater" by Francis Poulenc. Many short pieces pasted together.
  10. ChazC

    ChazC Cryogenically frozen in 1986 and just thawed out

    Jun 8, 2015
    Think yourself lucky - 2 mins is an age! I've been stuck mainly writing 30 second theme tunes for the past year or so!
    Motr3b likes this.
  11. Jeremy Gillam

    Jeremy Gillam Active Member

    Jun 10, 2017
    Los Angeles, California
    Share it! Dare to suck!

    Sometimes when I think I should write longer/more complex/more adult/more classical/more contrapuntal/ more whatever music I end up just getting overwhelmed and write nothing, or what I do write is very bland and I chuck it. But when I focus on making 1 bar or 4 bars or 8 bars sound as good as I can it usually leads me somewhere that I'm more satisfied with, regardless of length. Often I just throw in some markers and figure out what I want to the structure to be, then I populate each section with some synth/sound design or percussion elements before I actually get into harmony, and God-willing, counterpoint. Everyone's "way in" is different, but for me the production and the way things sounds is important and also inspiring, so spending time on that first can help me sneak up on the actual notes.
    dzilizzi likes this.
  12. Jimmy Hellfire

    Jimmy Hellfire Senior Member

    Jun 28, 2015
    I don't like long pieces. It's a kind of masturbation. Nobody wants to hear that. I wouldn't expect folks to sit through +30 minutes of something I noodled out, and I most certainly wouldn't feel bad for not doing it, or perhaps struggling to do it. Even most symphonies are burdened with meandering nonsense that should have been left out for the benefit of everyone.

    I love it when a strong musical statement is elegantly distilled into 2-4 minutes of music. That's a thing of beauty. Writing like that also really forces you to listen carefully, waste no time, work everything out in detail, eliminate anything that's half-baked and sub par and get to the point. I think it has more value than "oh from here I can modulate on for 15 minutes".
    dzilizzi and SchnookyPants like this.
  13. Vardaro

    Vardaro Active Member

    Feb 16, 2014
    Near Paris, France
    A song theme, however good, starts and stops. A symphonic theme can creep in unannounced (at least on the surface) but its ending is open ended, lending itself to evolutive transformations
    noises on, dzilizzi and sIR dORT like this.
  14. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

    Sep 7, 2015
    E. YeeHaw, Indiana
    I think it's safe to say Mahler is the exception?
    miket, dcoscina, JF and 1 other person like this.
  15. mikeh-375

    mikeh-375 old school

    Feb 8, 2016
    Well I for one certainly enjoyed Beethoven's Wankfest in C minor the other day and as for Mahler, he must've had a strong prescription for his glasses and yet boy, what climaxes.
    Your right Jimmy I probably wouldn't sit through 30 mins of anyone's noodling, but 30 mins of music written by a master?
    muk, miket, dzilizzi and 4 others like this.
  16. pmcrockett

    pmcrockett Senior Member

    Nov 3, 2014
    Saint Louis
    If your goal is to write longer pieces, I'd suggest thinking a lot about the large-scale form of the piece and about how you'll introduce, develop, and repeat your musical materials before you even start writing. If you're able to get the big-picture stuff out of the way first, the process of writing the actual notes becomes more and more like following a script to fill in the blanks between key points and less like creation ex nihilo. And I find that approaching things this way makes it much easier to write long stretches of music that hang together properly.

    Before I start a piece, I like to actually construct a timeline with verbal descriptions of what will be happening in the piece at any given clock time (usually in increments of 5 to 45 seconds). At this point, I'm basically dealing with the rhythm of the piece's overall pacing so that during any point of the actual note writing process, I know where I'm headed and when I'm supposed to get there. I also usually try to come up with the major themes and their variants, orchestration paradigms, large-scale harmonic shifts, and general harmonic language at this point. I find the less I have to think about these things when I'm actually writing the piece, the better.

    The ideal is that the piece should already basically exist before you even start writing it down, because once you start putting notes down, it becomes much more difficult to make large-scale creative changes without having to do a lot of rewriting. Best to be comfortable with these large-scale decisions up front, because then you won't have to second guess them later.
    miket, Saxer, sIR dORT and 1 other person like this.
  17. jules

    jules Julien Duc

    Feb 6, 2013
    Hey, what's wrong with short pieces ? It's the future...
    Montisquirrel, dzilizzi and Spike2000 like this.
  18. OP
    sIR dORT

    sIR dORT Member

    Oct 26, 2018
    So what's the balance then between variating a theme and overkilling it? CGR made this point and I agree, but at the same time, I think you can repeat a theme several times/ways and not bore the listener, so how do you know it's been enough?
    dzilizzi likes this.
  19. Parsifal666

    Parsifal666 I don't even own a DAW, I'm just a troll.

    Sep 7, 2015
    E. YeeHaw, Indiana
    There's Star Trek the Motion Picture (done oh so right). The fact that it's SUCH a great theme doesn't hurt (not to mention there are several other knockout themes in that score that have little to do with the main musically, at least until they are wonderfully worked in later in the score) BUT....

    check out Damien: Omen II where Goldsmith took the amazing, famous chorale from the first and basically pounded it into the ground (and not always in interesting variations). He never wrote this cannibalistically or as belaboriously before or since...and I've always wondered if he himself was aware of this beating-a-dead-horse anomaly in his repetoire.

    But before I get too crazy, allow me to proclaim I love Jerry's music so much, and thought Omen II was overall scary fun both as a movie and score.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2019
    dzilizzi, dcoscina and sIR dORT like this.
  20. dcoscina

    dcoscina Senior Member

    Nov 16, 2004
    Try to not just think in terms of straight recapitulation but rather deconstruction. My composition professor from my college says said that if we were stuck, try writing the main expository section or climax and work backwards. Listening to Shostakovich's 11th Symphony these last few days, it's clear he was able to work up to his main material by teasing and hinting at the exposition. He stretched out the piece by using elements of his thematic material. Not surprising, much of his symphonies come off as tone poems even though they do adhere to symphonic structure.
    Wally Garten, sIR dORT and dzilizzi like this.

Share This Page