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Scoreclub Essential Composer Training Foundation - is it right for me?

Sean

I don't know what I'm talking about
Hey guys, I am finding I have more time to really get "serious" with my composing hobby so I'm trying to learn more theory and composition techniques vs just writing stuff and hoping it sounds good.

To give some background, 5 years ago when I went into college I started as a Music Ed major and did that for a year before switching to Computer Science. So I have basically a first year Music Major understanding of theory. Looking at the curriculum of the Essential Composer Training: Foundation, I'm seeing that I have learned most of that stuff, though I do need to brush up on it. I'm curious what others think about it, I know it has a lot of rave reviews but is it better for someone with less music theory background than me? How much will I still benefit from this if I know about traditional voice leading, counter point, intervals, triads, etc.? I understand it puts it into a composing context vs just straight music theory but the $200 seems steep for me.

Let me know what you guys think, thanks!
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
im not entirely sure, as I've not purchased his foundation either.

I can say that so far -
practical counter point = exceeded my expectations, even if it's a review in a lot of ways - he goes over it at a steady enough pace to catch some of his insight, and covers a lot of ground before my attention span wanders.

orchestrating the line = underwhelming, and while I feel like this is meant to be the foundation of the next in the series, ive been a little hesitant to pick up the next in the series.

that said, part of the way through practical counter point 2 - and it's feeling like I've gleamed more orchestration ideas from it than I did from the orchestrating the line 1 lessons.

Personally, I really enjoy his format - as seeing and hearing examples is excellent, and he's very quick with his writing, while remaining pretty readable. He spends his time condensing and perfecting the pacing of his lessons, so they really are well laid out(and thus can help you justify the price tag associated with the lessons).

If you're rusty or unsure - do what I did, and pick up either counterpoint or motivic mastery - and decide if you like his format.
 
OP
S

Sean

I don't know what I'm talking about
im not entirely sure, as I've not purchased his foundation either.

I can say that so far -
practical counter point = exceeded my expectations, even if it's a review in a lot of ways - he goes over it at a steady enough pace to catch some of his insight, and covers a lot of ground before my attention span wanders.

orchestrating the line = underwhelming, and while I feel like this is meant to be the foundation of the next in the series, ive been a little hesitant to pick up the next in the series.

that said, part of the way through practical counter point 2 - and it's feeling like I've gleamed more orchestration ideas from it than I did from the orchestrating the line 1 lessons.

Personally, I really enjoy his format - as seeing and hearing examples is excellent, and he's very quick with his writing, while remaining pretty readable. He spends his time condensing and perfecting the pacing of his lessons, so they really are well laid out(and thus can help you justify the price tag associated with the lessons).

If you're rusty or unsure - do what I did, and pick up either counterpoint or motivic mastery - and decide if you like his format.
Thank you that's very helpful! I might look into the counterpoint course then, I'm sure I could use a refresher and it's a good deal cheaper as well.
 

jonathanparham

Active Member
Hey guys, I am finding I have more time to really get "serious" with my composing hobby so I'm trying to learn more theory and composition techniques vs just writing stuff and hoping it sounds good.

To give some background, 5 years ago when I went into college I started as a Music Ed major and did that for a year before switching to Computer Science. So I have basically a first year Music Major understanding of theory. Looking at the curriculum of the Essential Composer Training: Foundation, I'm seeing that I have learned most of that stuff, though I do need to brush up on it. I'm curious what others think about it, I know it has a lot of rave reviews but is it better for someone with less music theory background than me? How much will I still benefit from this if I know about traditional voice leading, counterpoint, intervals, triads, etc.? I understand it puts it into a composing context vs just straight music theory but the $200 seems steep for me.

Let me know what you guys think, thanks!
you remind me of an alto soloist in the big band I was a part of in college. Really good, but majored in computer science lol.

I studied music but I was looking for a way to review what I studied almost 2 decades ago without dropping 1K in an online orchestration course I may or may not have time for.

I've taken four of Scoreclubs courses and will gladly sing/notate its praises. I've taken Foundations, Modal Mastery, Counterpoint, Orchestrating the Line 1, and I'm slowly working my way through Orchestrating the line 2. I did not have orchestration in my degree program at school but did have counterpoint. I'd say you're right. For you, Perhaps the knowledge is still fresh. The Foundations IMO is like an advanced high school theory or maybe one and a half years of college. BUT as much as I enjoyed my time in school and the profs and grads that taught my theory classes, I don't remember it being as compositional as Alain approaches it. I really like how Alain is doing it. At first, I was even mocking up some of the homework but quickly realized, that I'm not going to get through the course if I keep doing that for everything lol. It's very thorough IMO and as I've mentioned in other threads I like how even in Foundations Alain is asking you to compose in chorale with voiceleading in different styles such a western, sci fi, etc. It may seem limiting BUT it makes you think about the voiceleading early on before you move onto larger works and compositions.

As profoundsilence puts it, feel free to try the counterpoint class. No ones keeeping track but God and you lol. Loved the counterpoint course and excited to see the second counterpoint class. He introduced a couple of species I didn't know about or couldn't' remember.
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
t first, I was even mocking up some of the homework but quickly realized, that I'm not going to get through the course if I keep doing that for everything lol.
I can hear alain's voice whispering the phrase "it's not because you can see it that you can do it"

really though, some of the stuff doesn't take a whole lot of time to practice for some people... if you were one of the kids in highschool who hated homework but had no problem on tests - then apply the appropriate amount of practice to retain the skill.

of course writing everyday WOULD be nice - and all of the greats do. Interesting that there is a voice leading exercise in different styles... are there general guidelines for each style? Or just assumed you know how to write 'western'
 

jonathanparham

Active Member
I can hear alain's voice whispering the phrase "it's not because you can see it that you can do it"

really though, some of the stuff doesn't take a whole lot of time to practice for some people... if you were one of the kids in highschool who hated homework but had no problem on tests - then apply the appropriate amount of practice to retain the skill.

of course writing everyday WOULD be nice - and all of the greats do. Interesting that there is a voice leading exercise in different styles... are there general guidelines for each style? Or just assumed you know how to write 'western'
you lost me on your quote from Alain. Not sure what you meant.
As an artist and parent, I've learned people learn music a lot of different ways. (which has been debated ad nausea on this forum). Like you said, 'some people.' Some people need an online course, some a book, some a private lesson, some university, some conservatory, or a combination of those.
I affirmed your post by saying if you or the OP 'got it like that' and don't need the first course; skip it. Whatever floats your boat and gets you to your goal.
To your last point, No IMO the course doesn't teach you to write like a western or sci-fi with four-part harmony. The course just says apply it and gives some written examples. This is more than what I remember in school. The concept was given then an aural example but not a lot of application which is what I think Alain's courses are good at.
I'd say that course OR the OTL1, is subtle and doesn't teach any style BUT does teach when you're composing how to musically support what you wrote and show orchestral examples.
I'd say there's some room for improvement. For example, I've emailed through the forum for clarification on assignments where I think the character graphics were not clear. Alain will verbally list several things to try, but I can't always get it. I'm rewinding the video to hear it and write it down. Also, I'd like more modern music examples, film music is used but I could use more. Also, another critique is this is all on pencil and paper and not in a DAW. I'd like to see OTL 1 and what I'm learning in OTL 2 transferred to any DAW, so when you orchestrate a diminuendo, you're also learning to program as well.
However, I think Alain's courses are very thorough and systematic which works for my personality. I'm a play/write it in all twelve keys kinda person. Writing in short score has helped me organize my thoughts. Also, I have a demanding day gig, so having something regimented and linear really works for me.
Again, everyone learns very differently.
 
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ed buller

Senior Member
It's a wonderful course. But it is for the Novice......which perhaps your not. If I where you I'd buy Rimsky Korskaov's Practical Manual of Harmony. Amazon is sold out. It's a about 20 bucks but is also free on line somewhere . It's THE best book on Harmony ever written...short and precise. It only covers Harmony up to the 1890's....none of your devious impressionistic nonsense in this book !!. So you'll need to cover that too !

Go through it and remind yourself of what your forgotten. Alain's courses are fantastic though !

best

ed
 
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thesteelydane

Senior Member
It's a wonderful course. But it is for the Novice......which perhaps your not. If I where you I'd buy Rimsky Korskaov's Practical Manual of Harmony. Amazon is sold out. It's a about 20 bucks but is also free on line somewhere . It's THE best book on Harmony ever written...short and precise. It only covers Harmony up to the 1890's....none of your devious impressionistic nonsense in this book !!. So you'll need to cover that too !

Go through it and remind yourself of what your forgotten. Alain's courses are fantastic though !

best

ed
I have been looking for an english version of the Rimsky Korsakov online for ages, but I have found nothing. Do you have any leads? I have found French and Russian (on IMSLP) but I speak neither (my high school Russian teacher will no doubt be sad to hear the latter, but that's what happens when you don't keep practicing a learned language every day).
 

thesteelydane

Senior Member

best $24 you'll ever spend

best

e
I was hoping it would be available as a PDF somewhere, since it's in public domain now. I live in Hanoi and it's impossible to get anything shipped in because of the corrupt postal service (a friend was asked to pay 50 $ just to receive a christmas card from his mom), but especially books. If the postal service will even bother to try and find my house, and not just pretend “it got lost”, I will get slammed with an arbitrary "fee" (bribe) to get it released, but worse than that is that someone has to sit in an office somewhere and read it to make sure it doesn't contain anything that could threaten the party - and this takes 3-6 months. No kidding, a friend had to wait 4 months to get a cookbook! He's also the only person I've ever heard of in Hanoi who has successfully ordered and received anything from Amazon....

So yeah, there must be a PDF somewhere, otherwise I'll have to wait till the summer when I'll be visiting my parents.
 
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