Music Composers Unite!
So I'm doing a course design presentation for my Music Theory Pedagogy class and I need your help. Just answer the following the questions. Thanks in advance.
Please just answer the question and refrain from responding to each other in this thread. thank you.
1. I have a small amount of informal training, and no formal training (by circumstance, not by choice).
3. I think that my lack of knowledge of theory is the biggest hindrance to my composing. Although creativity and inspiration also play vital roles, theory is needed in the development of these ideas for their growth into pieces.
Good thread, Tyler.
1) I currently hold ABRSM Grade 7 theory. I will be taking my grade 8 in February. This was mostly done by my own personal choice, as opposed to official training. I would seek help from my college tutor if I needed it but theory "sessions" weren't directly given.
2) Yes. Theory is incredibly important as a composer, in my opinion. Theory alone won't make you a composer, that's for sure but it is a vital element if you want to be successful. Just like a successful artist has to study form, lighting, anatomy - the theoretical elements that make a great painting - a successful composer must study music theory. Theory is also relevant when studying other composers works. You cannot make a meaningful analysis of a piece without understanding theory, nor will you fully understand someone else's analysis if you don't understand the theoretical elements they're talking about.
I reiterate - theory alone will not make you a composer but to grow as a composer and improve, you need theory as a foundation to build upon.
I hope this response, and hopefully the coming responses, will help you in your presentation, Tyler.
I had some music theory as a piano student throughout my early education age 7 - 18. When I went to college I had some version of theory (including counterpoint) every semester for all 5 years of my time as an undergraduate. My first 2 years it was the required 4 semesters of basic harmony plus another two of keyboard harmony (at the same time -- first 2 years). Then I had upper division classes in counter point, modern serialism, baroque style (which was both performance and theory) and score analysis. After I graduated I then took private composition lessons which reviewed all of the above in greater detail and with writing of samples in each period.
At first I thought theory irrelevant and was impatient, but the more I studied it the more I valued it. To the point now, that all my private students, regardless of being in voice or keyboard, have elements of theory incorporated in their lessons from the very beginning.
pitty there isn't a "like" button on comments! Consider your's "liked"
Fredrick zinos said:
1) I have some formal training in music theory
2) Its incredibly important, I wish I had more
3) Anyone serious about the composition will soon find that training in theory ranks right up there with being awake
Breaking the rules keeps it interesting. Being a composer is similar to being a lawyer in that, the more you know about the laws, the more ways you can find to get around them. Agreed, a "like" button would be nice.
I find it odd this concept of rules and rule breaking. Do you really think Bach or Beethoven or any of the "majors" set out to make or break rules? They worked with what worked, what sounded, what expressed their thought well. It is only in hindsight we call what they did "rules." Rules? I prefer the term practice. By knowing and studying best practice we can observe and learn. I am of the opinion that if we understand the practice of the time and they way a "major" used it, we can observe a composer's mind at work, and we can learn things that apply regardless of time or idiom. Unfortunately the way harmony is taught reduces it to "rules" and people either fall in the camp of rule followers and rule breakers. Seems to miss the point entirely to me.
Actually I believe the "rules" or as I prefer "observation of effective practice" are fairly universal in the larger sweep. Even if the sonority is different (pentatonic, ragas, etc.) there are still many things that are part of the common set musical tools. The fruitful study of harmony doesn't have to be just western structures. Consonance and dissonance still are functional sound realities. Composers still have to think about them and manage them regardless. Rhythm, pulse, timing, counter themes, repetitions, development, the weaving of different strands of sound to create a unity -- these are all tools that are fairly universal to any work of music. Learning how a master composer treats these element is always helpful.
1. I had two basic music theory classes in college long ago, and have learned a little on my own along the way. But I fear that my music theory knowledge is rather slim.
2. The little bit of formal theory I had has proved helpful. I do most of my composing on an instrument and by ear, but I have learned that I can compose more diverse compositions if I, for example, purposely use less common scales and/or chord progressions.
3. This is similar to the question of is it better for a musician to play by ear or read music, and my answer is the same. Both are useful. I mean that I think that more theory would give me useful tools to play with during composition but that I should not be so dependent on those tools that I forget to play.
How much formal/informal music theory training do you have?
Was self-taught with the barely the basics, enough to read treble clef, and figure out bass clef. At 45 yo, started "formal" training as a music composition major in college, eventually earning a bachelor's degree.
If you have music theory training, did you find it relevant to you as a composer? Why or why not.
I thought I needed more than the basic theory to compose. After graduating, I basically picked up where I left off before returning to school, using my initial limited basic theory skills to compose! However, the more I compose, the more the formal training skills arose to the surface. I never felt like I fully absorbed what I learned in school, but the training has a way of magically appearing when I need it. Kind of hard to describe, really. Lots of "Aha! That's what this means!" I'm finally absorbing the theory I learned in school in practice (now that I'm not composing just for a grade), and am just beginning to use it with a bit of foresight (as opposed to recognizing it in hindsight). The value of my formal training hasn't fully revealed itself yet, but continues to every day I compose.
1) 2 years formal training, including a year as a composition major where I took nothing but music courses.
2) It is highly relevant to me, although going with my heart is also highly relevant.