Music Composers Unite!
What tends to happen to me is the moment I begin writing the music down it starts taking new directions and I lose sight of the bigger picture, I'd be hard pressed to plan two measures ahead without ending up somewhere else. I just assume that with enough practice I will begin to keep hold of longer passages as I get faster at getting it down on paper. I'd suggest just playing 2-3 notes and hold back playing any continuation until you can imagine one clearly, then setting it down. It's far easier working from the momentum of notes already set down than starting from scratch, especially if those notes leave you in a place of unrest and beg for a sense of closure.
In a word no! I wish I could have these tunes running around for me to cherry pick from.
I have the same problem. For years I had attributed it to not having a very good ear, but when working out things I hear by other composers I don't have too much difficulty, so I don't think that's it. I frequently will have a thought and won't be able to put it to paper, and when I sit down at the piano I can't "find" what I'm hearing. I'd love to hear others weigh in on this.
A good ear does help, and I find that composing away from a piano also helps, interestingly enough. At a piano I tend to forget what I just did, not so much when I do everything in my head.
Thing is, then the problem is trying to find out what you just heard in your head. For a lot of people, that is the piano... Though trying to figure it away from a piano seems to work better for me, for not everything can be played at a piano. And now we've gone full circle.
I often find it rather difficult to play something exactly as I hear in my head. But, fortunately, the music never stops as I can sort of play it back over and over, which sometimes disturb me for I can't make it stops. This probably happens as I repeat the music again and again in my head which somehow helps it to get stuck there.
I've got this exact issue! We've also got a near identical basic background! How I'm solving it? I'm not! I'll be attempting to address it though. I believe for me --- I'll need a place inside I can go that's a place of peace and a path to take to bring the wonderful flowering music to fruition for one and all to love as I love.
I have experienced the same type of thing as Karl and Gordon. I think the hardest part of translating that amazing symphony in your head into something someone else can hear is figuring out the instrumentation - the symphony in your head is a collage of sounds, not lines of staff paper(If it is then you're a freaking genius though!). It seems like it takes quite a bit of trial and error to successfully transcribe your idea into something that is an accurate representation of what you heard.
I've always "heard" musical ideas in my head (not sure if "hearing" is the right word, but it will have to suffice)
mainly if i am daydreaming while listening to ay style of music, I will get ideas, and "hear it" in my head... but i can in NO WAY recreate anything I imagine in my head.
I have no real "control" when making anything, either... if i sit down to make a nice, pretty piano piece... it might end up a heavy rockish thing... if i try to make a guitar rock song... it could easily end up going classical.
I am starting to "hear" things in all sorts of music i listen to... but its slow going. I am a beginner, and a self taught music sort of guy... I cant transcribe or re-create what I HEAR or imagine...
when i am making something, it goes where it wants to go, if i like it, I keep at it, or if not, i scrapp it and try somethign else.
In my EXTREMELY limited composing experience (started Spring of '12), I have found it helpful to "hear" the song in my head (hopefully it's not voices I'm hearing!!) I then try to transition that to the keyboard. I have tried pounding it out at the keyboard endlessly, hoping for a good sound, and it just doesn't happen.
I'm with Lara... going over the tune in my head away from the keyboard helps to sort it out. While at the keyboard, I tend to try to make it overly technically correct.
Hope this helps.
I think every composer has this problem. The difficulty is "translating the vague into the specific." You get an idea, it seems good, then you try to write it down, but fail. Why? Because you are deceiving yourself. The idea was never really very good, or as well-defined as you thought. It's similar to dreams - they make sense until you wake up and try to remember them.