I want to ask the question that was suggested in another thread because I think it's important. The question is: How should an inexperienced composer who wants to write dissonant and rhythmically complex music learn how to do that?

I've been writing and playing music a long time but I'm basically a beginner at 'classical' composition. I can read score at an intermediate level. I know basic theory and have some experience with extended harmony and odd time signatures and syncopation. I can write four part harmony and I have a basic understanding of counterpoint. I haven't spent much time on orchestration. I do spend time studying scores and listening to a variety of composers. I can write basic pieces that mimic (poorly) composers of the baroque and classical period.

So my question is: What else should I be doing, what is the next step? I don't post music here because lately I haven't much time to write anything; and to be honest, the level of bickering and personal attacks on this site in the past at least makes me think that it is a waste of time.

But I'd like to hear any thoughts or suggestions.

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Replies

  • Hi Nick. I just wanted to say that your Thomes and Phrases is a fascinating read.  I agree with Bob that a more accessible presentation would be helpful and visuals go a long way.  

    The first few ideas  you presented gave an impression of juggling mathematical concepts somewhat like stacking equations that work both horizontally and vertically. But in adding traces of concepts such as symmetry, microcosm/macrocosm and self similarity, your process reminds me of clockwork with various sized gears fitted together with function in mind and meticulously having crafted cogs.  I mention this as it might make a useful visual aid for an overview.

    Your ideas brought two questions  to mind which apply to atonal music in general.

    I thought to myself, where is the opportuity for creativity here beyond picking the initial notes. Then it occurred to me that one possible place is in an error as an upset to the form you establish . Much like a ripple in water. Since the brain will find logic in the structure, perhaps slight changes can have an effect similar to bending notes as a form of expression. I find this concept inspiring. This could be particularly successful as humans are hard-wired to notice things that are wrong or out of place as part of our survival instinct.

    I also found the concept that the disintegration of consonance and dissonance as a mark of atonality to be interesting.  I've found that music can be consonant vertically while still lacking a tonal center or resolve.  This often occurs wihen I write music that uses all 12 notes but is unrestricted by further rules such as serialism. To me, consonance is more relative to the fabric of the music (space-time fabric, but in musical matters space is often time).  It's a concept I intend to further explore in the future.  For the time being, it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on atonality.

     

    Nick Capocci said:

    Thank you, Ingo. I omitted to mention my own technique of Thomes and Phases. More complicated than pure atonal techniques, but with the "advantage" of employing tonal structures. I tried to explain it here a few years ago, but met largely consternation!!... I'd be happy to expand if you're interested. Anyway, here's a link.   ( hope it works, as I'm pretty crap at modern technology).  http://www.nickcapocci.co.uk/thomes-phases/

    Ingo Lee said:

    Hi Nick, thank you for responding to this thread.  'From the heart' is always the best compositional approach I think but I wouldn't normally associate it with atonality and that is a mistake. Artists with skill and experience can usually 'fake it' pretty well but for art to really resonate it has to, on some level, be 'from the heart' I believe, and there's no reason atonal music should be any different.

    I see you've been a forum member for a while and are getting back into it.  There have been some changes you'll see, so welcome back!

    Nick Capocci said:

    Once I asked my teacher, Humphrey Searle, how to write atonal music of real character. He said" just write it from the heart, as you would any other music". 

    Anyway, technically the best place to start is with serial technique. It's relatively uncomplicated!

    How can I learn to write atonal music?
    I want to ask the question that was suggested in another thread because I think it's important. The question is: How should an inexperienced composer…
  • Hi Em.

    Many thanks for your kind comments and suggestions. It's great when people actually take the trouble to read before rushing to judgement!

    ive used this technique for many years now, though - as an unknown composer! - only on a part-time basis. Reading some of Bob's observations prompted me to search out the following, which I posted some time ago. Have a listen, and a read. I feel it makes the basics reasonably clear. Would to God I had more time to explore the possibilities of this technique, as I have only scraped the surface.

    the Newtonal thesis was an afterthought (1983). It's general implications are mind boggling!

    once again, SINCERE thanks for taking the trouble to look at this stuff.

    (btw, the PDF and MP3 are ok, but the video is a bit naff!)

    all the best

    Nick C 

    https://composersforum.ning.com/forum/topics/atonality-made-easy



    Em Coston said:

    Hi Nick. I just wanted to say that your Thomes and Phrases is a fascinating read.  I agree with Bob that a more accessible presentation would be helpful and visuals go a long way.  

    The first few ideas  you presented gave an impression of juggling mathematical concepts somewhat like stacking equations that work both horizontally and vertically. But in adding traces of concepts such as symmetry, microcosm/macrocosm and self similarity, your process reminds me of clockwork with various sized gears fitted together with function in mind and meticulously having crafted cogs.  I mention this as it might make a useful visual aid for an overview.

    Your ideas brought two questions  to mind which apply to atonal music in general.

    I thought to myself, where is the opportuity for creativity here beyond picking the initial notes. Then it occurred to me that one possible place is in an error as an upset to the form you establish . Much like a ripple in water. Since the brain will find logic in the structure, perhaps slight changes can have an effect similar to bending notes as a form of expression. I find this concept inspiring. This could be particularly successful as humans are hard-wired to notice things that are wrong or out of place as part of our survival instinct.

    I also found the concept that the disintegration of consonance and dissonance as a mark of atonality to be interesting.  I've found that music can be consonant vertically while still lacking a tonal center or resolve.  This often occurs wihen I write music that uses all 12 notes but is unrestricted by further rules such as serialism. To me, consonance is more relative to the fabric of the music (space-time fabric, but in musical matters space is often time).  It's a concept I intend to further explore in the future.  For the time being, it would be interesting to hear others' thoughts on atonality.

     

    Nick Capocci said:

    Thank you, Ingo. I omitted to mention my own technique of Thomes and Phases. More complicated than pure atonal techniques, but with the "advantage" of employing tonal structures. I tried to explain it here a few years ago, but met largely consternation!!... I'd be happy to expand if you're interested. Anyway, here's a link.   ( hope it works, as I'm pretty crap at modern technology).  http://www.nickcapocci.co.uk/thomes-phases/

    Ingo Lee said:

    Hi Nick, thank you for responding to this thread.  'From the heart' is always the best compositional approach I think but I wouldn't normally associate it with atonality and that is a mistake. Artists with skill and experience can usually 'fake it' pretty well but for art to really resonate it has to, on some level, be 'from the heart' I believe, and there's no reason atonal music should be any different.

    I see you've been a forum member for a while and are getting back into it.  There have been some changes you'll see, so welcome back!

    Nick Capocci said:

    Once I asked my teacher, Humphrey Searle, how to write atonal music of real character. He said" just write it from the heart, as you would any other music". 

    Anyway, technically the best place to start is with serial technique. It's relatively uncomplicated!

    ATONALITY MADE EASY!
    Hi all!   Someone – I don’t remember who exactly - commented a while back on one of my posts that my technique/theory didn’t have enough musical exam…
This reply was deleted.