Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

This one should be posted under the "why don't we just all...get along?" category.


I had a running debate with a good friend, phenomenal guitar player, who was very anti-music theory.  He would point to great guitar players like Wes Montgomery and Jimi Hendrix and say that they knew nothing about music theory and kicked the crap out of everybody else.  My counter argument was: yes, they did know music theory, in fact they knew it better than most music theorists, they just didn't know the terms.  Music theory, when done right, simply gives labels to concepts that musicians intuitively know.  Sometimes people can get caught up in these terms and think they are what matters, so theory can be dammaging, but it can be helpful in that it can make it easier for musicians to talk to each other about what they do.  So composers who write by ear and those who know music theory, at least the good composers, often use the same criteria: their musical sense.  There is sometimes snobbery on both sides of the aisle: the ear composers who assume the theory people must write cold, calculating music with no heart, unshaped by feeling, and the music theory people who say "pshaw!  I bet that guy couldn't write in 7/8 or modulate to a chromatic mediant!  What a barbarian!"  Most people do not feel that way though, but it is something to watch out for in our own thoughts.


Try to be tolerant y'all.

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Ive been a self taught advocate for many years.22 of them now and i can say hand on heart there are times when being completely primitive and 'feeling' your way through composition is a very personal second nature affair while other times, the sheer lack of musicality within the vast vocab thats on offer means you take longer and play catch up in some areas.

I have worked around some truly gifted and highly trained producers and writers in my youth and i was a passionate believer in my limited language and i think some of it is just pure pride.

I felt like an outsider and you work twice as hard in other areas to prove your 'chops' and show the world you still have something to say.I always felt half a writer not having all the tools and skills but over the years, im filling the gaps my own way and by taking this long long journey un aided,the main benefactor is not being someone elses clone or a text book composer in any way.

There is a spark of original path walking that a self taught writer benefits from but i will always acknowledge i have missed out on some technique,tools and music math that would take me a lot further with greater overall depth.

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