Composers' Forum

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Hi guys,

I've already posted some things around this forum but recently I realized that until now I've only tried to compose by just diving into it without any basic knowledge of anything that involves composing. I tried many times to compose a piece (piano/trio sonatas, symphonies, concertos, string quartets) but I had to break off the process because I just wouldn't know how to go on with a certain piece after a number of measures, due to lack of knowledge

So I decided to build a basis for myself. I'm a huge fan of Bach and Beethoven and am willing to immerse myself into the world of counterpoint and harmony to begin with. Then compose simple pieces, putting to practice the things I learn on the go. My question is: does anyone have good recommendations as for books to learn practical counterpoint and harmony?

Thanks in advance.

BW, Marijn

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Though the best option really is to find a teacher, a class, or someone to talk to about harmony and composition on a regular basis is preferred I can recommend a few books to get you started. 

Tonal Harmony by Stefan Kostka and Dorothy Payne is one of the standard theory books undergraduate music students learn theory. Easy to read and has a lot of interactive components to better learn the material. 

Counterpoint by Kent Kennan is a very comprehensive book but it is a dense read and can get very technical. It won't give you exercises to teach yourself how to write counterpoint but it will teach you how counterpoint is written through analysis and gives you the basic norms of the time of Bach in regards to counterpoint. There is a learning curve, and it does require you to know basics about harmony first though. 

other than that here are some links I have posted a while ago here as online resources for self-taught composers:

I also have a free class on music theory that has most of the basics on harmony and theory (though I havent updated it in a while). Let me know if you want to join that class. And of course, our members here can always help with specific questions. 

Hi Martin

Development is an important part of any composition otherwise a piece is just a tune played over and over. Check out some of great symphonic works, I am currently studying Dvorak's sixth.

Tyler was running a theory class so check with him.

There are loads of books around but I am using Robert Gauldin's harmonic practice.

Mike L
Love this advice! That's how I learned transposition.

Fredrick zinos said:

Take a composition you love, purchase the sheet music, and then sit down and copy the composition by hand. Don't use a computer. Force yourself to think about every note and why the composer of a composition you love, used this note, that harmony, this spelling of a chord, that inversion etc.,  You will be surprised at how much your hand can teach your brain. 

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