Music Composers Unite!
point 2 is serial composing, but it took too long to write point 1 so I have to procrastinate it until next time! :)
Roberto Soggetti said:point 2 is serial composing, but it took too long to write point 1 so I have to procrastinate it until next time! :)
I consider serialism to be kind of a science exercise rather than a technique composer could efficiently use to express his ideas in atonal way. However, one might use it to severely limit the endless amount of possibilities which come when you're free from tonal thinking - might be helpful when you're getting started.
Pointilism seems intriguing, though :)
That sounded cool Roberto! I think the hardest thing to do when writing atonal music is to bring it to a convincing close. A V-I cadence is sort of like "and they all lived happily ever after, the end." When you take that away you have to focus on other aspects like texture, dyanmics, and "musical gestures" for lack of a better term. Er well, you can write an atonal piece and bring it to a close by slipping into tonal procedures at the end, but that's sort of like cheating, it sounds kind of cheesy, uncharacteristic for the piece. There was one atonal piece I was writing where I did something like that and my wife sort of laughed at me...it came from nowhere. So I went back and thought "using the material I have used throughout the piece, how do I make it end?" I made it build and build in intensity through rhythm and dynamics until it sort of exploded. I'm glad she laughed! Here's the piece. (ya know, listening again, it stilll doesn't quite sound like it "ends")
I agree it's a "duh!" thing, but that's the answer. Write what sounds good to you. If what sounds better to you is something tonal, write that. You shouldn't write something atonal if you don't like that better unless you have to (and you were overlooking work-for-hire gigs for that). Write something atonal if that sounds better to you when you're tinkering around. It seems obvious to me, but apparently it's not obvious to everyone.I don't believe there are any composers who write music they think sounds horrible unless they are writing an academic excercise to please their teachers. Telling somebody to use their ear and do what they think sounds good when composing is like telling somebody to use their arms and legs while running...it's sort of a "well duh!" But yeah, if you want to write atonal music you should internalize the style by listening, reading, and playing it so you can train your ear about it. If you use your ear without knowing the style, your ear will most likely cause you to write something tonal because that is what we are most accustomed to, or well, most of us, from the time we are wee bitty babies we hear music on TV, in little wind up toys, from our parents, we learn songs in school, so on and so forth, and pretty much 99.7% of it is tonal.
I take an opposite approach there. When I'm composing, I try to more or less forget about the chords I know and just experiment with combinations of notes. Once I have chords I like the sound of, only then do I figure out what the most convenient name for them would be (if I'm writing something like a lead sheet, especially--where I need to give players chord names to execute). Working that way, sometimes it's tough to come up with a name, and sometimes you end up having to give different players (like, say, a guitarist and a keyboardist) different chords to play at the same time (warning them beforehand to not be surprised by it), because the chord ended up basically being something like a Cmi/Ma7 over an AMa7(b9) or something like that.There are so many different sounds, i think you really just have to experiment and listen.
I usually stick to chords I know: triads, add6, M7, b5, half diminished, quartal...