Some of us use only DAWs, others prefer to write the score, with a pencil or with the computer...

Sometimes we compose on an instrument, other times we use only our head...

Knowing that the graphical representation is not the same on a piano-roll or on a score, knowing also that on a computer you hear immediately what you compose, and finally knowing that you play in a certain way on your instrument : Do you think that the way of composing has a big influence on your music?


You need to be a member of Composers' Forum to add comments!

Join Composers' Forum

Email me when people reply –


  • I think that one's method always has a great effect on the final composition. If you start designing a melody while playing a guitar or piano, the result will be different from starting with, say,  sampled strings played via keyboard or a synthesizer with a unique timbre. The timbres and capabilities of an instrument will often dictate how the melody or harmony will flow, what direction it will take. With guitar, because of my past history, I will gravitate toward a pentatonic blues scale. So I can go with that or rebel against it. With piano, I'd gravitate toward more visual note relationships, favoring bridges based on a relationship of 5ths. Another example of a different method would be to begin with a melodic idea that I would capture by singing into a pocket recorder and then proceed to find the right instrumentation. The recording process can greatly affect a composition. You can invent a progression using a string section and then improvise a horn section to go with it, through trial and error, seeing what works and what doesn't.  ....Just a few examples of different methodologies that greatly affect the final composition.

  • Here's a thing I created originally some 20 years ago on my Ensonic workstation synth. The whole idea of the composition is reusing two bars. Of course it could have been done on paper, but with some good software or a good old fashioned workstation synth you kind of stay more truly to the idea.


    - YouTube
    Enjoy the videos and music you love, upload original content, and share it all with friends, family, and the world on YouTube.
  • I use a DAW for making music. I use FL Studio for all my composing needs. It might seem like an odd choice, since I'm actually not using it for electronic music, but rather for jazz, rock and even orchestral music sometimes. It pretty much defines how I compose. I fell in love with FL Studio because it was easy to use, and because I could hear what it sounded like right away. Getting a good sound right away tends to have an inspiring effect on me, where I'll suddenly hear a lot of possibilities.

    Working like this also comes with a downside, however. Sometimes I'll get stuck on getting the sound right so much that it interferes with actually writing anything down. For instance, I will often open a project I've been working on for quite a while, finding out right away that the EQ is completely wrong and that it doesn't make sense at all. Too much reverb here, the levels aren't right, weird EQ settings, you name it. Then I'd spend a lot of time getting it right, and then finally can I get back to writing. By that time though I'm usually not in a creative mood anymore, haha!

    Nowadays, after buying several high quality sample packs, I worry less about getting the sound right, since the source material is already of decent quality. Nothing ruins my creative moments more than an annoyingly bad sample (bad or obvious looping for example, or it sounding 'thin'). Surprisingly enough the sheer simplicity of a sine/square/triangle waveform is actually quite inspiring.

    Oh right. I guess I should mention that I actually 'click in' all the notes, instead of using a MIDI keyboard. Ahh, the herecy! :')

    Overal working with a DAW has really been a big improvement over.. Well.. Whatever I was doing first! I think I was working with Modplug Tracker (as I was making music for games) and some basic MIDI program (my first steps into using MIDI). I would often render my MIDI files using a Soundfont program after finishing them.

    I hope to some day pick up standard notation and then work with Sibelius or Finale. I've been learning to read it lately. Composing orchestral pieces in FL Studio is definitely possible, but if there's something I'm missing it's a readable overview of what's going on. That, and manually 'clicking in' vibrato, crescendos and other dynamics for each instrument is not only tiring, but also very inconsistent.

  • I started composing, where I would sit in front of a piano with a pen and a piece of paper and write what I played. I found that this method of composing was difficult for me, as it became quite slow and tedious. I would have a great idea and then whilst in the process of writing it down, I would loose it.

    I think that having a computer and either recording live audio from my synthesizers, live midi data from my controller or writing it on a sequencer has really enabled me to achieve a lot more with my compositions. If I have an idea I can record it straight away, then continue working on it or save it for later.

  • YES!  I find that composing straight into Sibelius hinders my rhythmic spontaneity and flow.  Honestly, a piano and audio recorder do the best for me, then transcribing it.

  • Elizabeth, with piano I think that's especially true because many piano pieces vary in rhythm and dynamics so much that composing straight into a computer program can make it harder to think of such alterations.

This reply was deleted.