I was just wondering how everyone looks upon the matter of composing for your own sake, what you really live for versus composing for others, what you probably really live from.


Myself I have done a few arrangements for choir and one or two commissions just to make an extra dime but this music is not what I compose for my own sake and certainly not anything I would like to show to others, for example on the composers' forum.

The music I compose for my own sake is on the other hand less easily sold but much more rewarding to write. And much more developing to my creative side.


Of course the pieces presented in the first example were composed and arranged exactly as the commissioner demanded, and left little freedom to create something of my own. Other commissions can of course leave greater creative freedom but this mostly seam to be the case for professionally established composers and not for us who do it semi-professionally or on a purely amateur bases.


What is your take on this dilemma. Do you prefer to compose what's in your heart and try to get it out there just as it is or do you/would you prefer to sell the composition (in advance) and then write it with the circumstances given to you by others (perhaps even in a different style/genre than you normally prefer)?


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  • I do both. 

    Usually when I get a commission, they commission me based off of my music I have already written. So in essence, they are commissioning me to write a piece that has me in it. Because their are already so much music out their for almost every type of ensemble so their is really no need for me to alter my composition style or personality to fit what the client wants in the music. 

    Of course, I do take into consideration the ensemble Im writing for (I wouldnt write super hard atonal serial music for a middle school wind ensemble). But I do still write whats in my head and my heart no matter what. Im not a craftsmen or a tailor, Im a composer. 

  • I think it also depends heavily on the type of commission. It's another thing to be asked to write "chilled out tunes for an ambient game" (osmos comes to mind), and another to be commissioned for a "scene of X length, with THAT kind of mood at THOSE cues" and so on.

    In any case it takes compositional ability, along with craftmanship to bring you and your ideas in accordance to what you are asked, unless the commission has great freedom.

  • It will be great if we could get paid for what we do (writing music); but there will be risk that business considerations might lock your ideas. 

  • Hi David, Steve here, I thought I'd stick a view in here. Do what the public wants to make money to live on. Do what you like as a hobby. However your hobby may also strike a chord at some point and make dollar too !. So,  good luck. Ta Steve.


  • Chris you make a lot of sense, look at my forum on looking for composers and think about working with me. Why ?, because it sounds as if you know enough to recognise the difference in being inventive and creative, and doing what sells. Ta Steve

    Chris Burridge said:

    Personally, i wouldnt mind either way. 

    For the composing from the heart, it provides the greatest freedom to write whatever you want, although it can also be quite difficult due to the limitless possibilities, and there isn't really a provided "starting point" to get your creativeness going. 

    As for the writing to specific limitations of a commission, it does provide a starting point to get some ideas down on paper and get going. The downside, as the others above have said is that there is less freedom. But this is how a composer will develop, by limiting themselves and writing within those limitations. It can help channel the creative process into a more defined direction. 

    However for either i would say that for me, mainly my personal creativity is displayed more than any circumstances that are given to me, even if it does mean theres an instrument i want is unavailable for a certain commission - i'll find a way to replace that instrument within the piece. I enjoy writing for others just as much as writing for myself, because in my opinion, if no-one but me likes my music then i have failed as a composer to provide a piece which is likeable. 

    Commercial composing vs. "Music of the heart"
    I was just wondering how everyone looks upon the matter of composing for your own sake, what you really live for versus composing for others, what yo…

  • Hi, no this was a dvd done by children at the primary school where my wife works, the children aged 6 to 8 made all the scenes for the Christmas open day, I did this one with my bad Santa vocals for fun too. It was to encourage kids to have a go with this song and to overcome their fear of singing...which they did and raised £1000.00 for the schools funds. They sang on stage and had alot of fun with it, so yes, a little money on the side for charity. 
    Raymond Kemp said:

    Steven, is this what you call "fit for making a little money on the side"?

    do us a favour

  • Hi, thank you for your comment and advertising my childrens work, there is another copy of this on U tube without my voice, try that one too. Like your work on Youlicense.com, your real picture shows you in a better light too, lovely, Ta Steve.

    Raymond Kemp said:

    Well done Steven,
    You're obviously a great charity worker.
  • The only answer that comes to me right now is a question.

    What was in Brahms' heart, mind and soul when he wrote the Tragic Overture, Op. 81?


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    Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
  • I think it all boils down to what you really want to accomplish with your music:

    -If you only want to make money, than you need to write music that people will pay for

    -If you only want to express yourself creatively, then write exactly what is in your heart

    Ideally we can reach some type of middle ground.  Not that I make much money from this yet, but I try to find enjoyable and expressive aspects to all of the music I write, even if it is very specifically commisioned.

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