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This is a collection of questions, which may be somewhat basic (and could even appear naive - but they are not), to stimulate thoughts on the process of how we are growing (or have grown) into composers.

1) How much in a waking day are you keeping yourself actively busy with music (e.g. playing, listening, analysing, immersing, discussing...)? How much of that is sketching, writing or imagining own music?

2) How much composing output can you manage on an average day, or on a good day (in terms of time, let's say, one minute, or three minutes; or in terms of bars)?

3) If you do not play the piano or any other multi-voice instrument, how do you work with that, or around it, with regards to writing harmonic and multi-voice pieces?

4) Is composing for you more an intellectual and imaginary process (mostly in your head), or largely a matter of practical improvisation, playing, trying out and capture what comes up?

5) What have you found a good approach to learning how to write music for instruments, that you don't play at all and have relatively little practical knowledge of?

6) Have you seen a kind of clear progress in relation to effort and time put into learning the craft (let's say, the famous concept or model of needing 10,000 hours of learning to reach proficiency)?

7) Do you tend to only compose with specific occasions or purposes in mind, or do you respond to whatever catches your interest, even if it ends up with a piece just for its own purpose?

I hope that this could be interesting for novices, as well as for advanced members.

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1. Besides spending time with family, from sunup to sundown, and sometimes on through the night. 
2. Since the pandemic hit in March I have composed over 200 finished, professionally engraved pages of sheet music. 
3. I can hear it in my head. 
4. I compose it all in my head then engrave the sheet music.

5. Ask people questions about the instrument, write examples for the people to play, learned to play the instrument even a little to understand it. This past 2 years I have learned how to write for the pipe organ.
6. Composing is like playing an instrument, you need to practice it.

7. My music is never for my or its own purpose. I write for God and God alone. Everything that I compose that I deem “worthy” to be performed it happens. 

1) How much in a waking day are you keeping yourself actively busy with music (e.g. playing, listening, analysing, immersing, discussing...)?

>>>>An hour a day minimum, up to the whole day on weekends

How much of that is sketching, writing or imagining own music?

>>>>Sometimes none of it. Occasionally all of it.

2) How much composing output can you manage on an average day, or on a good day (in terms of time, let's say, one minute, or three minutes; or in terms of bars)?

>>>>Sometimes I spend days on one bar and produce nothing. Sometimes I can compose as fast as I can notate. But mostly a minute is a challenge to produce in one day. 

3) If you do not play the piano or any other multi-voice instrument, how do you work with that, or around it, with regards to writing harmonic and multi-voice pieces?

>>>>>I play piano, and use it for harmonization of other instruments

4) Is composing for you more an intellectual and imaginary process (mostly in your head), or largely a matter of practical improvisation, playing, trying out and capture what comes up?

>>>>>When composing for the piano, I do it at the piano. When composing for any other instrument(s) I do it at the computer

5) What have you found a good approach to learning how to write music for instruments, that you don't play at all and have relatively little practical knowledge of?

>>>>>I find that composing for any instrument which can play a single-note melody, it is easy to write for and combine with other instruments. I have not divined a way to compose for more complex instruments, such as guitar or percussion

6) Have you seen a kind of clear progress in relation to effort and time put into learning the craft (let's say, the famous concept or model of needing 10,000 hours of learning to reach proficiency)?

>>>>>The more you do it, the better you get

7) Do you tend to only compose with specific occasions or purposes in mind, or do you respond to whatever catches your interest, even if it ends up with a piece just for its own purpose?

>>>>>Having a specific "reason" to compose sometimes makes things go easier. I used to write more "out of the blue" - not having a reason to do it, but I do less of this lately

Music has been in me as long as I can remember. Perhaps that's why I never considered it a career. The numbers of who earn a living exclusively from composing are probably very few. I can't consider them "professional" because they aren't - their conduct and codes of practice aren't governed by a professorial body. They're just tradespeople like plumbers and electricians. They work to order.

So to me it's a nice pastime. It brings me in touch with musicians and related creative groups.

It would be difficult to answer most of the questions precisely. I have to practise instruments. I've spent too much time on composing this year partly because of lockdown to the extent I need a rest.

I compose mostly in my head with the help of a piano; sometimes sketch out ideas in coloured pastels/paints on black Ingres paper.

Until recently I wrote legible finished scores by hand.

I somehow doubt I'll get notation software because it ceases to be relevant as any public exposure of my bigger music is likely to be renderings. There may be exceptions. So I use a daw to set up a finished piece. Sometimes I use it for trial and error where orchestration or extended sustained harmony is giving me trouble. I can't always get what's in my mind right first go.

The prospect of composing with notation software is an offput. Too constraining to see bar lines, time and key signatures. I need freedom.

I walk a kind of a tightrope writing "controlled" atonality (meaning that it has to sound satisfactory to me). Impressionist composers have always been my mainstay inspiration, them and Bruckner, so they're my musical ancestry if anything. I'm also well aware that it's dead easy to throw anything together with no regard for any composing principles - and claim it to be music. I witnessed enough during such training as I had of embarrassing moments when it was obvious that students hadn't a clue what they'd written. It persists these days on contemporary music broadcasts which hardly sound different from an orchestra tuning up.

And there were recent comments when I posted a diatonic piece, mentioning such skills as I apparently have, proving I write my atonal stuff by choice not because I haven't the skill to write diatonically. Be assured that my atonal things are far more wearying; take ages longer to compose and the orchestration is much more difficult. (That's where proving in a daw is so useful.)

It's easy to make noises. Not so, to construct the noises my mind tells me to write. Would it be a surprise that I use many of those CPP practices in atonal stuff?

It's also fairly easy to write diatonically. I ran up a minuet thing this morning straight into the daw. It was an exercise to recapture a facility to handle standard harmony. I may post it later. A bit unorthodox scoring but.... What worries me is did I nick someone else's tune?

1) These days, almost none. :-(  COVID-19 has thrown my schedule off-balance, plus I have too many other hobbies besides composing soaking up what scant free time I have, so these days very little progress has been made in music.

2) On an average day, practically nothing. :-(  On a good day, could be 6-8 hours? But that was before COVID-19. These days, maybe 3-4 hours would be amazingly good.  I don't go by number of bars, because these days I mainly write fugues/fugal music, and that involves a lot of back-and-forth, 3 steps forward 2 steps back. and even on a good week I could have written 32 bars and threw away 31, but that 1 bar is well worth the week's effort.

3) I play the piano (so-so, nowhere near performance level). But that skill makes almost no difference with harmonic/multi-voice writing; for that I rely partly on theory, but mostly on ear. My criteria is that if it sounds good, it's good.  If it doesn't, the theory helps to make it better (usually, though not always). If it conforms to the theory but doesn't sound good, it's no good.

4) For me it's a synergy of both. There's definitely an intellectual and imaginary process (back when I was more active musically, I would spend hours walking and letting the orchestra in my head play, and I often get them to rehearse difficult passages :-P until I remember it by heart, then I'd go home and jot it down). So I'd let my imagination wander, but also continuously refine it in my head. The two go side-by-side, reinforcing each other. I capture some musical idea, improvise with it in my head, jot the gist down, then go through a long process of playing it in my head over and over, revising it each time, refining it, playing with its possibilities, refining it. Then I put it down on paper (or these days, in digital format), and revise it some more.  Sometimes in the process of working out the precise notations, I'd notice weak parts, and proceed to rewrite them.  Sometimes I'm unhappy with a passage, and struggle with it for a long time, then inspiration strikes and I throw it out and replace it with something altogether new.  So it's a synergy of both, neither one or the other exclusively.

5) Listen, listen, listen. Listen to idiomatic writing for that instrument, and try to pick up its idioms and "flavors".  Complement that by reading orchestration texts to learn the basic principles by which the instrument operates. Then listen some more, with and without score in hand (the former being highly recommended).  The more you listen to an instrument the better the idea you get of how to write for it.

6) I've literally lost count of the hours I've put into composing (that is, before COVID-19 and parental duties kinda nuked my habit). It has helped me improve, I guess... but what really helped me improve is to post music on this forum and let others blast it with their critique. Don your flame suit, and give others the permission to "destroy" your work. Grow a thick skin, and learn to accept critique (probably the hardest thing to do when it's aimed at a piece you wrote from your heart, but trust me, it will help you improve like you never have before). Participating in competitions / challenges also helps a lot (freedom to write whatever you want is good, but sometimes too much freedom becomes a cloak for you hide your weaknesses; being forced to write what you don't necessarily like to write with a deadline that you did not pick yourself forces you to face your weaknesses and improve those areas, which is a good thing).

7) I have a folder (actually, many folders) of ideas that occurred to me. I date them, and keep a sort of running commentary of notes as new things occur to me.  Once in a while, I'd browse through these files to see if anything piques my interest at the moment.  Or if I'm trying to write something, then remember I had jotted some notes on a similar idea that might fit in, I look it up.  Over time, some of these files will grow and become more substantial, and the best of them will eventually become full-grown pieces.  Most of them never make it past the first 1 or 2 sketches, though.  Other times, inspiration strikes and I can write almost a full piece or a substantial primary subject in a short time, and finish it up into a piece within a short time.  I never know how a piece will turn out until I've written it out; I've tried composing for specific occasions (e.g. for competitions), but it rarely turns out well except for a few rare exceptions.  So yeah, my interest is primarily in "pure" music, music for its own sake, rather than music for a specific occasion or purpose/message. 

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