Dear all,

The cognitive process that is required to start composing a piece has been always interested me. Reading from many sources I found that the composition process requires both parts of our brains, but sometimes, even for mature composers, this is not clear. I leave you a short article on the matter. Hope it might be useful. Criticism and new ideas are always welcome!

E-mail me when people leave their comments –

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

Join Composers' Forum


  • Hi Gisela,

    I found your article an intereing read and its reflections on the right-brain left-brain interconnections relating to writing music. The premise very much aligns with the approach to teaching composition that all of my formal composition teachers took toward composing. This approach was to go for a "heard" music--get a draft for your ideas down and then analyse what you've got to work on further. I think this relates to the unbiased and spontaneoud child side of the brain have the first turn and then letting the analytical adult side of the brain intercede to perhaps evolve, refine and even find inspiration in the right brain's spontaneity.

    Another perspective that a couple of my former compositions expressed was to not always compose with your instrument or keyboard. The technical and muscle memory habits you have can get in the way. I have always understood this to mean to free yourself of well-worn patterns and to be more spontaneous (right brain) in seeking new ideas and for using old ideas in new ways.

    Research into the music, brain and perception has certainly expanded in the past couple of decades with all the new technology and resources now. For my own sense as a composer, I agree with you that we definitiy need both hemispheres to compose music.



  •  Nice to meet you Gislea, 

    Going into the personality types can be a rabbit hole of sorts. I see it as a fun rabbit hole though. The Myers Briggs seems to be the most popular test at the moment at least to my knowledge. There is a claim that going to a trained tester and taking the paid version of the test is the best way to figure it out. I took several of the online tests out of curiosity. They all say similar things so I would guess they are pretty close. The main concern as I see it in taking a multiple choice test like this can lead some to answer the question for the person they want to be or as they see themselves when the reality might be different. In other words, it's difficult to be objective about ourselves sometimes. In addition if the test is given as an employment screen, the test can be manipulated if the taker knows what the employer wants. All of those negatives aside, the tests can usually pinpoint fairly closely for anyone who is being as objective as they can be when taking them. In my case I have tested INFJ on multiple tests. That type could easily change over to or swing toward INTJ all depending on how we perceive the questions. I had to take it numerous times because I wasn't convinced my type was only 1% of the population and more common among women. I really don't know what to make of it or how they arrived at how many people were a certain type in the overall population. It's a fun "thing" though looking into for me :)

  • Thank you, Tim and Michael, for your comments! I found them both inspiring and enriching! I will definitively search for the personality types (from Tim's comment) maybe that's the key...?

    as per the different "wiring", that experiences mould us the way we are, according to Michael.

    Very interesting comments!

  • I also have an interest in psychology and why we do what it is we do. This knowledge probably won't advance an individual's abilities one way or the other. Knowing what makes us tick is interesting to me though.

    You might also be interested in the personality types. In a study like this we can simplify, over simplify or break things down into very detailed study. We can't really generalize because none of us is "general". Maybe the best thing is to simply look at ourselves ans determine what our strengths are. In the most basic approach I would venture to say some people are very analytical and structure based These types need all of the facts. Never mind that many so called facts are not based on a sure thing. Still these people need a factual foundation of some kind as a framework for creative decisions or any other choices they make. Others are more aloof and only use structure to define what they are already doing. In other words they don't begin necessarily with a structure.

    I can only speak for myself. I usually begin with a musical idea based on a melody or a theme which is based on a feeling I want to convey. The feeling comes first. The next choice is to define what musical parameters my initial idea fell into. I mostly never change the parameters to make something fit. I stay within the parameters so longs as they work for me. If they don't, as in a key change, then I change the parameters.In every case the theory works for me. I don't work for it.

  • Hi Gav, 

    I guess "interesting" is more suitable, indeed! 

    I am interested from own experience to see how our minds work when we are composing, always has fascinated me...and still intrigues me

    Thank you for your comment!

  • I don't quite know if knowing how it works is helpful or not! Perhaps it's just interesting?


This reply was deleted.