Hello everyone, a couple questions. I would like to develop the skill of composing music that depicts or seems to suggest a visual scene or subject. The closest I can find on this right now is impressionism. I'm also looking for some great contemporary examples. I want to see how a variety of composers pull this off. Any ideas? Classical, jazz, film music? Also, what are some mental ways to approach this kind of writing process? I can write stuff that sounds great but I'm not at all confident writing like this. Thank you in advance for your time.
You pretty much need to study scores to see the various techniques that produce the impressions, or better yet perform some of the music. Here is one of my favorite pieces to play on piano. I learned it some 40 years ago, Ravel's Jeux 'd eau or The Fountain. I think you can hear the water, feel the spray and see the glimmer. There are some pretty bad recording by some famous pianists on You tube. I think this is a good one.
I think there are two kinds of visual music, one which conveys a mood, and one which tells a story. Impressionism attempts the former, movie music the latter (and yes, there can be crossover of course). I have composed a bit for visuals, mostly cartoons, and the one thing I would say about it is that it is all about syncing the music to the visuals. This means doing things differently than a standalone piece, such as extending a musical phrase to 5 bars instead of 4 so that it doesn't end before the visual. As to how to practically approach - for the first one, just pick a mood and write to it. For the second one, find an existing video, mute the sound, and try to write something which syncs with what you see in the video.
Hope that's helpful,
This sounds ok to me, but I am stumped as to what kind of mood or visual you are aiming for, can you say a little more about the piece?
What I want to do, is tell a story. Problem is, everything that I just described is what I thought and felt about that intro after I created it. It was composing for what sounded good, but not with a specific goal. It's after I stopped and listened to it that I experienced these things. Now that I have this seed, I want to develop it further. I simply don't know how to do this process in reverse very well. Think up a scene, turn it into music. I normally just compose by ear.
I think you are stuck because your story is not yet a story, just a fixed point in your imagination. Have something happen in the story - such as walking along the bridge, what you see as you walk, and what you see at the end, and what you do in response to it. As the story advances, ideas in music may come to mind to match what happens -