In past blogs, I talked about working with samples and how they can affect the ideas a composer comes up with. At the time, I mentioned that using notation programs can also affect our ideas. Here, I thought I’d quickly mention two tendencies I commonly see in orchestral scores by composers writing with notation programs.
In this blog, I will go through several notation issues with accidentals. This is not intended to be comprehensive and cover all potential issues. Rather, these are just issues that I have seen in more than one submitted homework. I’ll update this over time, adding in new things as I see them. (more…)
Occasionally, a student will ask me if it’s beneficial to study classical forms while studying to become a film score composer. My initial answer is a simple, “Yes.”
Of course, I am then queried for an example of impeccably executed sonata form in a major film score, which I am hard pressed to provide. That fact requires a longer explanation, which goes as follows… (more…)
I was recently listening to a lot of music composed with samples, and I found myself wondering if composers are being “led to” certain ideas because they’re easy to sequence and sound good on samples.
Imagine a composer who gets up an initial sample type (such as staccato strings) and starts playing. Changing articulations then requires some kind of action. Loading a new sample, hitting a key switch, etc. So there’s an incentive not to do so. The result is, when composing with samples, we tend to write the same articulation for unnaturally long periods of time.
While thinking about this, I started thinking about music I had written over the years using different workflows. For the purposes of discussion, let’s look at excerpts from two pieces. (more…)
The term “Concert Score” is one of the most misleading terms in music. In this blog, I’d simply like to propose that we forget that term and use “Score in C” instead.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate enough to hear a lot of different orchestral music written by a lot of different composers. These composers use many different tools for composing… Some write at a piano. Some write using sequencers and samples. Others sit at a desk and write with a pencil and a notepad. Others go for a walk in the woods while conceptualizing an idea.
What is interesting is how much the tools composers use can affect the musical ideas they come up with. This isn’t necessarily bad, as workflows themselves can be a source of inspiration. Working with samples, as one example, can be genuinely inspiring and lead to great musical ideas. The same is true with improvising at the piano or making a notated score.
However, I have noticed some tendencies created by each of these workflows that aren’t necessarily beneficial. In this blog, I thought I’d look specifically at one type of workflow—composing with sequencers/samples—and tendencies that are common when composing with these tools. In a future blog, I’ll look at the other common workflows and tendencies that they create. (more…)
Every so often, a piece of music comes along that changes musical tastes (or at least forecasts them) for years to come. Arguably, this was the case in 1824 with Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 and again in 1913 with Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring.
With one such piece coming along every 90 years or so, could the next revolutionary piece be right around the corner? Or could it already exist? While predicting future musical tastes is a dangerous game, in this blog I will point out an existing piece that I hope becomes a musical revolution for the 21st century…
I was recently asked for some tips for MIDI orchestrators. Thought I’d share the thoughts with everyone…
I’ve always found sets of six notes to be very interesting. By definition, there exists an alternate set of six notes comprised of the remaining pitches from our 12-note chromatic system. In many cases, these two sets can be used in conjunction with one another, alternating back and forth to create a logical harmonic movement.
One such example is the Petrushka chord and its “companion”, which I first blogged about here.
In this post, I will talk about another six-note set, its “companion set”, and use them in a musical example. (more…)
There’s no accounting for taste. Or is there?
I recently embarked on what is probably a fool’s errand. I thought I’d try to make a list of characteristics found in all the great orchestral music that I love. The tricky part is… I love a lot of orchestral music, from past classics like the Beethoven symphonies to recent compositions like the Rouse flute concerto. Across that spectrum there are drastic differences in style, harmony, and compositional technique. Yet, I thoroughly enjoy all of that music, so it would seem there has to be common characteristics that generate its appeal.