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I want to ask the question that was suggested in another thread because I think it's important. The question is: How should an inexperienced composer who wants to write dissonant and rhythmically complex music learn how to do that?

I've been writing and playing music a long time but I'm basically a beginner at 'classical' composition. I can read score at an intermediate level. I know basic theory and have some experience with extended harmony and odd time signatures and syncopation. I can write four part harmony and I have a basic understanding of counterpoint. I haven't spent much time on orchestration. I do spend time studying scores and listening to a variety of composers. I can write basic pieces that mimic (poorly) composers of the baroque and classical period.

So my question is: What else should I be doing, what is the next step? I don't post music here because lately I haven't much time to write anything; and to be honest, the level of bickering and personal attacks on this site in the past at least makes me think that it is a waste of time.

But I'd like to hear any thoughts or suggestions.

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Charles, please see PM from me on this -

Gav

Thanks so much for your kind words Charles--very much appreciated:)

And we all look forward to hearing your music, when you're ready!

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Charles Holt said:

Your insights are most valuable Bob - I am still puttering away on my own meagre efforts in this direction and really hope to discuss with you more when I am brave enough to post my first music here.

Well Charles, I'd say go ahead and post. You can always post in the "Suggestions wanted" thread where people can see that you are open to changing things.  And the forum is a friendlier place these days than it has been in the recent past. I look forward to hearing from you!

Charles Holt said:

I know I'm getting on a bit but have even more posts have disappeared. I'm not just going senile am I?! I'd hoped to catch up on the discussion.

Your insights are most valuable Bob - I am still puttering away on my own meagre efforts in this direction and really hope to discuss with you more when I am brave enough to post my first music here.

Thanks Ingo, I will try to have something up next week. I'm glad it is friendlier! What was happening in the recent past?

Ingo Lee said:

Well Charles, I'd say go ahead and post. You can always post in the "Suggestions wanted" thread where people can see that you are open to changing things.  And the forum is a friendlier place these days than it has been in the recent past. I look forward to hearing from you!

Charles Holt said:

I know I'm getting on a bit but have even more posts have disappeared. I'm not just going senile am I?! I'd hoped to catch up on the discussion.

Your insights are most valuable Bob - I am still puttering away on my own meagre efforts in this direction and really hope to discuss with you more when I am brave enough to post my first music here.


Hi Bob.

Many thanks for your comments and observations. ALL very helpful and positive. I am all too aware of my shortcomings in the tech department. Notwithstanding the age of the recording of Tanto Meglio, it's about time I dragged myself into the 21st century and did some really clear recording of this, and - as you suggested - other relevant pieces.

As you say, I need to get my ideas as professionally presented and on as many platforms as possible to expect a decent amount of feedback. My main problem is,simply, time! I still have to work and pay taxes. What a waste of time!

You're also right about my having taken certain ideas and protocols for granted ( there IS a really good reason why I use the terms "a", "b" and "d".... Which I suppose I should have explained)

I will keep and archive your comments as they are really constructive. Thank you for taking the time and trouble look at my stuff.

By the way, I'm particularly impressed with your piano music . I've listened to "On that which becomes ", a few times now. Puts me in mind of Stockhausen, or perhaps Birtwhistle or maxwell Davies.

Anyway. Thanks again!

All the best

Nick c



Bob Morabito said:

Hi Nick--Thanks for your listening and for your kind words--they're very much appreciated:)

I can see how much you believe in these concepts and how much youve worked on this. Its all very impressive--GREAT JOB!!- but its a lot to take in, for anyone. So help me and others to want to understand your concepts.

I feel the very first thing you need to do is create a scrolling score of TANTO MEGLIO using notation software , and at least 3 or 4 more other showcase pieces of your concepts, all with clear scrolling scores and good audio quality, with explanations of how what we're hearing relates to your concepts.

As it is now TANTO MEGLIO is only heard by me in my left ear in a poor recording..which honestly doesnt make me want to dig deeper into your concepts.

The two Jerusalem fugue examples and Prelude version one, and overview of Newtonality are also left ear only here--so anything I could hear again holds me back from really getting into your concepts.

(I keep checking my audio with other pieces and only yours come out left sided only, so Im not sure if its just me.)

So I would do these as soon as possible, and then separate your theoretical writings from the rest of the stuff on your site as you have it now, and have them on their own site, away from everything else.

Id simplify all ideas and even, eg a small note why you skip the letter "c" and have all "a, b,d" in NEWTONALITY; THOMES & PHASES  would help.

You need to present these concepts in the most PROFESSIONAL way you can, to get people eally interested in them.

After all thats done I would then post in a few sites with their own topic  and see what kind of response you get, make adjustments, and then all over the web, again in their own post..but the condition of your audio, and lack of more good examples to explain whats being heard. plus all that other stuff on your website I truly believe are holding you and your concepts back from getting the interest and response they truly deserve.

Hope something here helps!

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

.



Nick Capocci said:

Hi Bob.

I listened to some of your music on the soundcloud, so I'm guessing you will hate my piano piece, with its deliberate references to older tonal idioms and textures. Nevertheless, you obviously know your onions and I would greatly appreciate your opinion. 

Also (if/when you have the time and inclination!!) I'd value your opinion of the method I used when composing it, Thomes & Phases. It's a technique derived from atonal serial technique which I studied with Humphrey Searle ( who was a student of Webern in Vienna).

I much prefer these day discussions on a one-to-one basis with people who's work and opinions I respect to the open forum, where, let's face it, anyone can "have a go"! 

Btw, enjoyed reading your comments very much.

Best regards, Nick 

http://www.nickcapocci.co.uk/thomes-phases/

Hi Bob, yes you are right, the intro to this thread is vague and open ended and hasn't focused on a specific style or work and therefore hasn't produced a lot of specific results. I mainly posted this thread because it had been suggested in another thread as a good discussion topic.  But this thread has had over 80 replies including interesting ideas and good music as well. And this has happened with very little digression or bickering which I am also pleased about.

I think your larger point here is that "modern" music is under represented on this forum.  Hopefully that will change going forward.

Thank you for explaining your approach to composition, I hope you will discuss that in more detail. I've always been impressed with your flow of ideas and the general texture of your works; but I have trouble finding an overall progression or unity to some of your pieces. I believe you told me at one point that you have ways of addressing that issue. I would be interested to learn more about that; if I am remembering your comment correctly.

Bob Morabito said:

This entire thread, in my honest opinion sadly suffers, as so many have, by having a very vague, not clearly defined term, and then trying to discuss that.

That term is "atonal music"....

Now this term gets a little more clarification here:

"How can I learn to write atonal music..... dissonant and rhythmically complex music?"

But there isnt one single flavor of atonal music that fits that description..so thats a HUGE problem in my opinion. What may have really helped this thread is the OP naming and linking to an "atonal" work  that embodied the atonal style they wanted to write in.

Secondly Ive found it really helps me to listen to the compositions of those answering a question, especially something like this one..

and see exactly how many here ARE actually writing "dissonant and rhythmically complex music". There simply arent many if ANY at all...so almost all thats being offered isnt borne from the experience of actually WRITING this kind of music.

So in light of the above I can't see having a really in depth, really worthwhile discussion on this topic and we end up with the usual page after page of replies and side discussions that really dont help anything, or anyone. YMMV

I can only speak for myself and say how I did it, and am still doing it as everyday is a learning day--and my music page at Soundcloud is linked to below.

I started from total scratch, discarding all I had done (I originally wanted to be a contemporary choral composer, and stopped composing for many years due to illness; and restarted very roughly about 10 years ago) and throwing myself into the deepest part of the musical ocean I could find as the music there really appealed to me..the New Complexity.. and see if Id sink, swim or hopefully at least thread water:)

I saw what the big composers who were doing what I wanted to do, were doing--recordings, articles Youtube videos with scores, etc and then note by note measure by measure tried to write in the same ball park as them. I stopped listening to any older classical music at all, so that the old ways of saying and doing things wouldnt slip into what I was trying to do.

Of course this may sound drastic to some, but I feel its worked and is working  for me...

So my answer to this question would be for the OP to clearly define what kind of dissonant and rhythmically complex music they want to compose, with specific articles, music score videos etc of as many examples they can find from the big contemporary composers, that sounds like where they want to go musically, and then from there proceed however much in depth they want to go.

For my money you need to be all in to do this kind of music and get the result youre looking for, as anything else wont sound like the kind of music youre really trying to compose/

Again YMMV

Thanks Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Hi Nick--youre welcome, my pleasure:)

And I know all too well the problem of not having enough time to do what we really want to,  and need to, as work, chores and stuff gets in the way!

But perhaps you could find someone who could do TANTO MEGLIO for you for a small fee, or even as a favor..that would be a HUGE step forward for your concepts, IMHO.

And thanks so much about my piano music--Im working on a piano piece now, again, and its always a time of great joy satisfaction, frustration, pains in the a** and heartaches..ALL rolled into one!:)

(I forgot to mention pulling hair out of my head.LOL:)

Thanks again Nick!

Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito

Nick Capocci said:


Hi Bob.

Many thanks for your comments and observations. ALL very helpful and positive. I am all too aware of my shortcomings in the tech department. Notwithstanding the age of the recording of Tanto Meglio, it's about time I dragged myself into the 21st century and did some really clear recording of this, and - as you suggested - other relevant pieces.

As you say, I need to get my ideas as professionally presented and on as many platforms as possible to expect a decent amount of feedback. My main problem is,simply, time! I still have to work and pay taxes. What a waste of time!

You're also right about my having taken certain ideas and protocols for granted ( there IS a really good reason why I use the terms "a", "b" and "d".... Which I suppose I should have explained)

I will keep and archive your comments as they are really constructive. Thank you for taking the time and trouble look at my stuff.

By the way, I'm particularly impressed with your piano music . I've listened to "On that which becomes ", a few times now. Puts me in mind of Stockhausen, or perhaps Birtwhistle or maxwell Davies.

Anyway. Thanks again!

All the best

Nick c


Hi Ingo--

That was exactly my point--the replies you got I felt werent specific because the question wasnt.

I think your larger point here is that "modern" music is under represented on this forum.  Hopefully that will change going forward.

I wasnt specifically making that point as I enjoy well structured, original pieces in all styles--just that it makes more sense to me to get advice how to do something by someone who's actually DOING it, and not just offering the usual well intentioned, but non specific ideas--which came thru in this thread.

So I still feel a more specific question would have gotten a much more specific answer.

Thank you for explaining your approach to composition, I hope you will discuss that in more detail. I've always been impressed with your flow of ideas and the general texture of your works; but I have trouble finding an overall progression or unity to some of your pieces. I believe you told me at one point that you have ways of addressing that issue. I would be interested to learn more about that; if I am remembering your comment correctly.

Thanks so much for your kind words, Ingo.

And I almost always am extremely hesitant about answering very specific questions about how I do things in my own music as I feel  all decisions are basically made by the music itself--

listen to it repeatedly. and observe with care the visible, (the score) to hear what the music should do, and where the music should go next. The more you listen to yours and others modern works, the easier this becomes.

And I think my comment was that things followed each other in my music perhaps not in the way one was expecting, but it might happen later, after some other material was heard.

I feel its very important in listening to the most complex of music to simply willingly accept the logic of the composition itself,  and not look to impose old ideas and concepts onto it and be disappointed. One way that helps make things clearer and allows our brain to recognize new kinds of groupings, and patterns in new music is to listen to a small section, a few times over at half or a third speed...find what holds it together, and gradually increase the speed until you can hold onto that idea at normal listening speed.

Hope some of this helped and answered some questions--

Thanks so much Ingo:)

Bob https://soundcloud.com/bob-morabito
 


Ingo Lee said:

Hi Bob, yes you are right, the intro to this thread is vague and open ended and hasn't focused on a specific style or work and therefore hasn't produced a lot of specific results. I mainly posted this thread because it had been suggested in another thread as a good discussion topic.  But this thread has had over 80 replies including interesting ideas and good music as well. And this has happened with very little digression or bickering which I am also pleased about.

I think your larger point here is that "modern" music is under represented on this forum.  Hopefully that will change going forward.

Thank you for explaining your approach to composition, I hope you will discuss that in more detail. I've always been impressed with your flow of ideas and the general texture of your works; but I have trouble finding an overall progression or unity to some of your pieces. I believe you told me at one point that you have ways of addressing that issue. I would be interested to learn more about that; if I am remembering your comment correctly.

Hi Nick. I just wanted to say that your Thomes and Phrases is a fascinating read.  I agree with Bob that a more accessible presentation would be helpful and visuals go a long way.  

The first few ideas  you presented gave an impression of juggling mathematical concepts somewhat like stacking equations that work both horizontally and vertically. But in adding traces of concepts such as symmetry, microcosm/macrocosm and self similarity, your process reminds me of clockwork with various sized gears fitted together with function in mind and meticulously having crafted cogs.  I mention this as it might make a useful visual aid for an overview.

Your ideas brought two questions  to mind which apply to atonal music in general.

I thought to myself, where is the opportuity for creativity here beyond picking the initial notes. Then it occurred to me that one possible place is in an error as an upset to the form you establish . Much like a ripple in water. Since the brain will find logic in the structure, perhaps slight changes can have an effect similar to bending notes as a form of expression. I find this concept inspiring. This could be particularly successful as humans are hard-wired to notice things that are wrong or out of place as part of our survival instinct.

I also found the concept that the disintegration of consonance and dissonance as a mark of atonality to be interesting.  I've found that music can be consonant vertically while still lacking a tonal center or resolve.  This often occurs wihen I write music that uses all 12 notes but is unrestricted by further rules such as serialism. To me, consonance is more relative to the fabric of the music (space-time fabric, but in musical matters space is often time).  It's a concept I intend to further explore in the future.  For the time being, it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on atonality.

 

Nick Capocci said:

Thank you, Ingo. I omitted to mention my own technique of Thomes and Phases. More complicated than pure atonal techniques, but with the "advantage" of employing tonal structures. I tried to explain it here a few years ago, but met largely consternation!!... I'd be happy to expand if you're interested. Anyway, here's a link.   ( hope it works, as I'm pretty crap at modern technology).  http://www.nickcapocci.co.uk/thomes-phases/

Ingo Lee said:

Hi Nick, thank you for responding to this thread.  'From the heart' is always the best compositional approach I think but I wouldn't normally associate it with atonality and that is a mistake. Artists with skill and experience can usually 'fake it' pretty well but for art to really resonate it has to, on some level, be 'from the heart' I believe, and there's no reason atonal music should be any different.

I see you've been a forum member for a while and are getting back into it.  There have been some changes you'll see, so welcome back!

Nick Capocci said:

Once I asked my teacher, Humphrey Searle, how to write atonal music of real character. He said" just write it from the heart, as you would any other music". 

Anyway, technically the best place to start is with serial technique. It's relatively uncomplicated!

Hi Em.

Many thanks for your kind comments and suggestions. It's great when people actually take the trouble to read before rushing to judgement!

ive used this technique for many years now, though - as an unknown composer! - only on a part-time basis. Reading some of Bob's observations prompted me to search out the following, which I posted some time ago. Have a listen, and a read. I feel it makes the basics reasonably clear. Would to God I had more time to explore the possibilities of this technique, as I have only scraped the surface.

the Newtonal thesis was an afterthought (1983). It's general implications are mind boggling!

once again, SINCERE thanks for taking the trouble to look at this stuff.

(btw, the PDF and MP3 are ok, but the video is a bit naff!)

all the best

Nick C 

https://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/atonality-made-easy



Em Coston said:

Hi Nick. I just wanted to say that your Thomes and Phrases is a fascinating read.  I agree with Bob that a more accessible presentation would be helpful and visuals go a long way.  

The first few ideas  you presented gave an impression of juggling mathematical concepts somewhat like stacking equations that work both horizontally and vertically. But in adding traces of concepts such as symmetry, microcosm/macrocosm and self similarity, your process reminds me of clockwork with various sized gears fitted together with function in mind and meticulously having crafted cogs.  I mention this as it might make a useful visual aid for an overview.

Your ideas brought two questions  to mind which apply to atonal music in general.

I thought to myself, where is the opportuity for creativity here beyond picking the initial notes. Then it occurred to me that one possible place is in an error as an upset to the form you establish . Much like a ripple in water. Since the brain will find logic in the structure, perhaps slight changes can have an effect similar to bending notes as a form of expression. I find this concept inspiring. This could be particularly successful as humans are hard-wired to notice things that are wrong or out of place as part of our survival instinct.

I also found the concept that the disintegration of consonance and dissonance as a mark of atonality to be interesting.  I've found that music can be consonant vertically while still lacking a tonal center or resolve.  This often occurs wihen I write music that uses all 12 notes but is unrestricted by further rules such as serialism. To me, consonance is more relative to the fabric of the music (space-time fabric, but in musical matters space is often time).  It's a concept I intend to further explore in the future.  For the time being, it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on atonality.

 

Nick Capocci said:

Thank you, Ingo. I omitted to mention my own technique of Thomes and Phases. More complicated than pure atonal techniques, but with the "advantage" of employing tonal structures. I tried to explain it here a few years ago, but met largely consternation!!... I'd be happy to expand if you're interested. Anyway, here's a link.   ( hope it works, as I'm pretty crap at modern technology).  http://www.nickcapocci.co.uk/thomes-phases/

Ingo Lee said:

Hi Nick, thank you for responding to this thread.  'From the heart' is always the best compositional approach I think but I wouldn't normally associate it with atonality and that is a mistake. Artists with skill and experience can usually 'fake it' pretty well but for art to really resonate it has to, on some level, be 'from the heart' I believe, and there's no reason atonal music should be any different.

I see you've been a forum member for a while and are getting back into it.  There have been some changes you'll see, so welcome back!

Nick Capocci said:

Once I asked my teacher, Humphrey Searle, how to write atonal music of real character. He said" just write it from the heart, as you would any other music". 

Anyway, technically the best place to start is with serial technique. It's relatively uncomplicated!

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