Composers' Forum

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1: Using FL studio or other software to compose directly.

2: Humming or playing with an instrument, then interpret into notation.

3: Writing on paper by music theory and music sense. 

I am going to write some simple new age piano music, which way do you recommend for me to start.

What's your music style and how do you usually write songs?

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I just hope to create some beautiful piano songs. I usually use piano to play around to see if I can get something, but I feel blocked and hope to change another method.

Dave Dexter said:

The best way to start is probably the way you know, unless you have absolutely no knowledge of any method you described and are asking the best way. I use Logic to compose directly, or work out things on guitar and then enter into Logic, using piano roll not score for input. Others compose at piano then transcribe later/during, and still others work straight to manuscript. All the methods work if you're good at them!

1 and 2 allow you to directly hear what you're doing as you do it. If you need that, there's your answer. If you're good with theory and inner ear and can get it right onto manuscript, that's quicker as it misses a step.

Also, what's the music going to be used for? Do you need scores or just music? If you only need music and aren't trying to produce parts for players, 1 is the quickest way to produce unless you have a piano with a microphone ready. It's very much on you, I don't know what you need :)

Hi,

For me the most optimal path (from a tune in my head to something in my DAW) is to work out the song on my piano. Once I am familiar with it, I switch to my DAW (Sonar) and lay down the structure and work from there. I cant read or write music, I only play by ear and yes, sometimes I get a tune in my head and I am no where near my instrument, I hum the tune into my phone voice recorder - the danger here is what I hear in my head is a sonic palette and a tune. I can only capture the tune this way. To capture a sonic palette that occurred to me, i write it down in an email to myself - sort of like how a director would describe a scene + something like swelling pads with tinkling textures leading into the main tune etc. Then I hope to recreate that. Of course in reality, what ends up is nothing like what it started out as but I think thats the journey that I enjoy with writing music - the journey is fun for me and the end result is hopefully fun for others :)

I would suggest u pick the most optimal path for you - only u can work that out. There is no right and wrong imo. Of course if u can write music that u hear in ur head onto paper then thats fantastic. 

Good luck!

Vn

Agree, taking a quite hike, playing tennis or something relaxing helps me get my creative juices flowing again. I took an online course by a famous hollywood music writer once - his suggestion to break such blocks is to sit in front of ur instruments with your hands tucked under your legs - so you cannot play the instrument anymore. Then your mind is free to float around and come up with random tunes without your muscle memory getting in the way. 

Dave Dexter said:

Do you play piano by itself, or keyboard into software? If you feel blocked you could just take a break, listen to some other music, all the cliches. If you're confident with piano I'd stick to it as your main tool, but I can't play piano.

I like to improvise, using my voice or playing piano, starting anywhere and letting it flow. If something interesting happens I repeat and play with the idea and record it. If an idea for a piece comes, I then develop my idea with notation on manuscript paper, feeling into and thinking through the piece, continuing to improvise in slow motion, linking motifs and developing themes, harmonics, rhythmic ideas until I create a cohesive whole. When I hear music come through in this way it is very gratifying.

One technique that works for me personally is to find a scale that is non-standard in terms of western music, and start trying out melodies in it.  In theory writing a melody in a non-standard scale ought to be as easy or hard as writing one in a standard scale, but for some reason the context of a non-standard scale seems to prompt musical lines I wouldn't have thought of otherwise.  

An example: I noticed that some Sephardic songs are written in a scale -- I don't know if there is a technical name for it -- which can be created by taking a standard Western major scale and simply sharping the dominant:

It's remarkable how different this simple change makes the music sound.  Exploring this scale led me to come up with the following (it's for alto flute but I've converted the score here to concert pitch which I think will make the scale clearer.)

Computer-generated sound file: The_Empty_Plateia.mp3

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