Composers' Forum

Music Composers Unite!

I'm trying to figure out the best workflow for me when composing orchestral stuff. So far it looks like this.

1. Singing melodies
2. Doing a harmony foundation in YouCompose on my iPad, or composing straight into Sibelius.
3 either moving to Sibelius for dynamics, voice adjustments, woodwinds, brass and percussion , and some last adjustments. Or doing the four part dynamics and pre adjustments in Notion on the iPad and then moving to Sibelius.

How does your workflow look like?

Views: 565

Reply to This

Replies to This Discussion

Hello again.

Lennart, please excuse my bird-brain moments...  If you wish, I will delete my parrots post.

Here's my workflow, but keep in mind that most of what I compose is just for piano, so this may have limited interest.

1 - A tune emerges (usually several bars, but sometimes just a few initial notes).

This is something that happens spontaneously, and all I have to do is pay attention to these little tunes.  Some of them I pick to work on later, and to make sure I'll remember them I typically hum or whistle the tune into my phone (often way out of tune - you will see why below).  (Other tunes sound difficult, less tonal, and I discard them -- though it has occurred to me that I should try to develop some of these and see what happens.)

These spontaneous tunes are made up of 2-parts (i.e., 2 counterpoint melodies).  Over the last few months, I've been wanting to have more parts to my melodies (rather than just 2 parts) and I've succeeded in making this happen in a few cases - where I have now a few melodies that are 4-part rather than 2-part (and I'm trying to write them for strings, wishing I understood strings).  But most of what comes into my head is still 2-parts.

2 - I develop the tune in (1) while I drive to and from work.

3 - Sit at the keyboard and play out the tune. 

Even when I can hear the entire piece in my head after step 2, and have even gotten used to it like a familiar tune, I still have trouble finding the right pitches on the keyboard.  And what this actually means is that what I hear in my head appears to be pitches but is not really made of actual pitches.  Finding the pitches that make up the piece is a process of translating what's in my head into sound. 

For example, you may know exactly what your dog looks like, and if you saw a very similar dog, you could tell it's not your dog.  You can visualize the dog in your head PERFECTLY.  But if you are asked to draw a picture you might not be able to do it.  It might take you a long time to draw the dog, even though you can "see" your dog in your mind with crystal clarity and would recognize him/her anywhere.

It's the same with the music in my head.  I can hear it PERFECTLY in my head, I might even become familiarized with the entire piece by playing it in my head.  But when time comes to identify the pitches on the piano I might not be able to do it without spending some time.  This difficulty stuns me because it really means that what I originally play in my head is distinct from sound, though it gives the illusion of being the same as sound. 

4 - I write it on my iPad (Notion software) or sometimes on paper.

Typically, a few iterations of steps (2-3-4)-(2-3-4)-(2-3-4) are needed to get the piece finished.

5 - Play to my husband and son, my biggest fans! :-)

No need to delete anything. We are artists, our minds are supposed to be turbo charged : )

I can recommend this app for understanding string: Course For Orchestration - The String Section av ASK Video
https://appsto.re/se/Jcm48.i

And this app to get a kick start when composing: YouCompose av Elstar
https://appsto.re/se/U31iP.i

I have a lot of help of both these apps. To be able to get up and going fast, in a very controlled and easily edited way, is worth gold.

water bear said:

Hello again.

Lennart, please excuse my bird-brain moments...  If you wish, I will delete my parrots post.

Here's my workflow, but keep in mind that most of what I compose is just for piano, so this may have limited interest.

1 - A tune emerges (usually several bars, but sometimes just a few initial notes).

This is something that happens spontaneously, and all I have to do is pay attention to these little tunes.  Some of them I pick to work on later, and to make sure I'll remember them I typically hum or whistle the tune into my phone.  (Other tunes sound difficult, less tonal, and I discard them -- though it has occurred to me that I should try to develop some of these and see what happens.)

These spontaneous tunes are made up of 2-parts (i.e., 2 counterpoint melodies).  Over the last few months, I've been wanting to have more parts to my melodies (rather than just 2 parts) and I've succeeded in making this happen in a few cases - where I have now a few melodies that are 4-part rather than 2-part (and I'm trying to write them for strings, wishing I understood strings).  But most of what comes into my head is still 2-parts.

2 - I develop the tune in (1) while I drive to and from work.

3 - Sit at the keyboard and play out the tune. 

Even when I can hear the entire piece in my head after step 2, and have even gotten used to it like a familiar tune, I still have trouble finding the right pitches on the keyboard.  And what this actually means is that what I hear in my head appears to be pitches but is not really made of actual pitches.  Finding the pitches that make up the piece is a process of translating what's in my head into sound. 

For example, you may know exactly what your dog looks like, and if you saw a very similar dog, you could tell it's not your dog.  You can visualize the dog in your head PERFECTLY.  But if you are asked to draw a picture you might not be able to do it.  It might take you a long time to draw the dog, even though you can "see" your dog in your mind with crystal clarity and would recognize him/her anywhere.

It's the same with the music in my head.  I can hear it PERFECTLY in my head, I might even become familiarized with the entire piece by playing it in my head.  But when time comes to identify the pitches on the piano I might not be able to do it without spending some time.  This difficulty stuns me because it really means that what I originally play in my head is distinct from sound, though it gives the illusion of being the same as sound. 

4 - I write it on my iPad (Notion software) or sometimes on paper.

Typically, a few iterations of steps (2-3-4)-(2-3-4)-(2-3-4) are needed to get the piece finished.

5 - Play to my husband and son, my biggest fans! :-)

"the whole body involved in highly expressive dancing (scroll forward to 1:30): Scroll to 1:30 minutes:"

I haven't been to many bars or strip clubs in order to see naked birds dance. I didn't know what I was missing. This one is quite provocative.  I'm surprised the clip isn't marked for age only appropriate, and/or species appropriate viewing.   

Bless my Psittacopasserae !!

[See:

 

Psittacopasserae

And on top of all that, these birds are from the Holocene !  How did they ever get here?

O -- i am glad to hear that others play along with mockingbirds.. I find that they do indeed echo and variate response, and to my mind, humorously 'change it up',  when the pattern needs a contrast…  :)   I also notice when there are 4 or 5 mockingbirds talking/singing to each other from perhaps a distance of a 1/4 mile or more… I love the sensurround thing :)

I find that their sense of pitch is quite fluid, with an array of bending notes and dramatic portamentos -- which slide down as swell as up… But they do seem to return to 'favorite' pitches for any given tune… They definitely seem to have a theme and variate it...I love to hear how they morph a timbre, with an seemingly endless ability to vary the overtone thickness… plus, sometimes i'll take a drum outside, and they seem to play in interesting ways off the rhythm - using a very percussive - staccato  - sound, as if to mimic my drum… Also, they tend to mimic the crows and blue jays and even the hummingbird pizzicato  'chirps'… 

Yes, i hear no diatonism here :)

ps…. and many times when i am at the piano, one will be perched just outside my open door, singing away… What a most wonderful blessing… I even hear them now as i write.

Thanks for responding to this idea, O..  (copyrights  notwithstanding) 



O. Olmnilnlolm said:

The mocking birds do it every time.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNNX3f3_svo

Mocking Bird Serenade

A discovery has been made by Ornithologicalographologists.

They learned that if you play music out your window, certain birds actually learn the tune and mimic it.  [This is true, and you can find discussion and examples on Youtube].

It works best if you write pieces with distinct short four or five note motifs, played over several times on piccolos or flutes, and play the sequences on your composer software, LOUDLY, with the window open, during spring.  I have done this regularly now, for a few years, and my wife even noticed it.  She said, "That's weird.  Why is that bird outside singing the melody from your last piece of music?"  

Once, I was composing a melody, and playing it back, a melody BASED ON, or resembling birdsong (as Olivier Messiaen did), and a bird actually flew right into the house [with the obvious intent of learning the theme and disseminating it later, without any attention to copyright laws].

I heard Donald Trump is suing various politicians, in Wisconsin for violating his copyright on the phrases "Make America Great Again," and "I'm a common sense conservative,"  phrases which he claims to have "coined." 

If we all hurry up and copyright all the bird songs, none of our avian cousins will be able to utter a peep again, without being dragged into court.

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=Mocking+bird+sound

Does anyone know:

[Perhaps people with "perfect pitch" could answer this better than most people:]

A.  Are birds song generally "tonal?" Does the horizontal line of their "song" correspond to intervals of a standard scale?  Is it in tones, semitones, quarter tones, or all of these and more?

B.  If the "notes" are part of some scale, when you hear numerous birds in one location, are they all singing "in the same keys," or related keys, or do their songs harmonize in some other way than in a "diatonic" manner?

  

I compose directly into Sibelius when writing for ensembles outside of guitar, bass and drums.

when composing for guitar based music I often start in my DAW and just improvise around an idea with a metronome click. when I have a bunch of music down I will play it back, often move things around and then transcribe the results.

I have also had much luck just sitting with my acoustic guitar and a pencil and paper and write that way. then transcribing it digitally.

sometimes... alot o the time... I will rearrange something on the fly while recording a demo or in rehearsal with my band.



I greatly enjoyed your response, Gregorio, to my comments and query about bird song.

I loved your description of how you listen to the mocking birds and what you hear.

Your comments inspire me listen more carefully to the birds around me, and to learn as much as I can from them.





gregorio X said:

O -- i am glad to hear that others play along with mockingbirds.. I find that they do indeed echo and variate response, and to my mind, humorously 'change it up',  when the pattern needs a contrast…  :)   I also notice when there are 4 or 5 mockingbirds talking/singing to each other from perhaps a distance of a 1/4 mile or more… I love the sensurround thing :)

I find that their sense of pitch is quite fluid, with an array of bending notes and dramatic portamentos -- which slide down as swell as up… But they do seem to return to 'favorite' pitches for any given tune… They definitely seem to have a theme and variate it...I love to hear how they morph a timbre, with an seemingly endless ability to vary the overtone thickness… plus, sometimes i'll take a drum outside, and they seem to play in interesting ways off the rhythm - using a very percussive - staccato  - sound, as if to mimic my drum… Also, they tend to mimic the crows and blue jays and even the hummingbird pizzicato  'chirps'… 

Yes, i hear no diatonism here :)

ps…. and many times when i am at the piano, one will be perched just outside my open door, singing away… What a most wonderful blessing… I even hear them now as i write.

Thanks for responding to this idea, O..  (copyrights  notwithstanding) 



O. Olmnilnlolm said:...

Sounds like an effective way to compose. Usually what comes out of improvisations are quite interesting. I did an album with synth improvisations, just setting up a couple of synths in Main Stage, hitting record and play.

Mike said:

I compose directly into Sibelius when writing for ensembles outside of guitar, bass and drums.

when composing for guitar based music I often start in my DAW and just improvise around an idea with a metronome click. when I have a bunch of music down I will play it back, often move things around and then transcribe the results.

I have also had much luck just sitting with my acoustic guitar and a pencil and paper and write that way. then transcribing it digitally.

sometimes... alot o the time... I will rearrange something on the fly while recording a demo or in rehearsal with my band.

Lennart:  Thank you SO MUCH for telling me about the app (Course For Orchestration - The String Section av ASK Video).  I will order it, once I've figured out which other app to delete, because it wouldn't install on my iPad for lack of space.  It looks really useful, and I'm looking forward to using it.  Also, thank you for tolerating my turbo-brain dancing-bird intervention in your thread.

Bob:  I was very interested in your workflow description.  Though different from my own, I can well imagine doing it that way as well, though I've never tried.  I feel pretty sure it'd work, working step by step, all the time provoked by the previous step. Those decisions you mention that you have to make concerning which instruments to use at each time must be actually quite exciting if you know what you're doing and have some experience.  It's gotta be enjoyable!  I've only had the piano (not your personal favorite!...), and it is really the only instrument I know other than doorbells. 

To answer the question you asked me:  A few people (5 or 6) here in the forum have been encouraging me to compose for more than 2 voices.  I meditated a bit about it to "reprogram my subconscious" (how's that?) and it may or not have worked.  But meanwhile, with 4 voices and only 2 hands, I thought I'd try (again) the string quartet approach.  At some point I may need someone to help me out with some specifics (bowings being one).

Gregorio and O.O.:  I don't think there are any mockingbirds around where I live.  There are tons of crows, though, and they make all sorts of sounds.  There's also robins, starlings, chickadees, junkos, hummingbirds, hawks, eagles, and many others.  Did you know that fish emit lots of sounds and some are quite noisy?  Though I've never listened to a humu humu nuku nuku apua'a nor have I seen one dance, naked or otherwise.

Here is something quite indicative of what i hear outside my window - many hours each day -- though many times in the middle of the night..

Oh, if you listen for the whole 7 minutes, you will notice so much!

The  (amazing) Mockingbird:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNNX3f3_svo

also, the Nightingale:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK2_bcQcoD4  

I would say on this matter is depends on the musical education of the bird itself, wether it can sing classical songs and operas like nightingales or wether it is more involved into aggressive stuff like metal, a genre in which crows do excel. Some might also think that there is some kind of racism within this approach because one could say crows are good in metal because they are bigger with a lower and darker voice... I disagree on that nevertheless :-p

I don't want to sound too serious and be banned for this but the only "serious" stuff about birds musicality i know is that there is a primitive syntax within the sounds they make and have meanings, like a dog barking. It would be also reasonable to say that depending on the specie the bird will not produce the same sound, nor have the same syntax and therefore not use the same notes / scales.

Hahahaha that is an interesting debate indeed ! 

What about eagles then ? Is there a jazzman around to comment ? :-p

Interesting to see how many people use Notion on the iPad. I typically start off on guitar, and get something. Sometimes I'm inspired by other things, sounds, nature, random thoughts, the desire to tell a story. But I get so far on guitar, then move to Notion, transcribe what I have, then start to add. I have found this way more productive. I used to try to do an entire guitar piece on guitar, and this could take up to two years to do. I was restricted by my actual playing - it got in the way. On Notion, I try to hear things in my head, try to transcribe them, then I can easily mess around with the notes, rhythm, arrangement, add and delete parts if desired, change instruments.

Once I have the arrangement, I export as midi, and import into my DAW on the iPad, Auria Pro. I then replay the parts I want to, leave the rest as midi. I have found this to be a fantastic way to get a piece complete. Last one was about 4 weeks from start to finish, an order of magnitude improvement in time.

Reply to Discussion

RSS

Sign up info

Read before you sign up to find out what the requirements are!

Store

© 2021   Created by Gav Brown.   Powered by

Badges  |  Report an Issue  |  Terms of Service