Author Topic: composing, a state of mind  (Read 5765 times)

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greg

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composing, a state of mind
« on: August 19, 2007, 02:04:51 PM »
anyone else do this?
every day, or maybe a few days of the week, just go on the piano or guitar and improvise for about 20 minutes straight, making up anything you can think of. You come up with the best ideas you've ever thought of but end up not recording anything, and probably don't write any of it down either. It's lost forever.

Then you go to compose and try to think of stuff, and you totally can't think of anything. There's like a block much of the time when there's a piece of sheet music you have to write on to record your musical ideas. Your mind tries to think, and that's the problem, you think "i want this type of sound", and all you can come up with are 3rd-rate ideas of whatever style you feel like copying

i just improvised on guitar for 20 minutes (a few minutes ago i finished), and thought of some of the most amazing stuff I've ever thought of, and never dreamed that i could've thought of it. But I really wasn't thinking, just playing. I was in a state of mind, like usual when I have success improvising, where i'm not really thinking about playing, just having a vague thought in my mind and sort of in a trance. It usually lasts 20 minutes because that's when i run out of steam and i can't stop before, it would feel totally wrong.

johnQpublic

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2007, 03:05:56 PM »
A lot (but not all) of what you said is true for me.

Improv stimulates me but rarely can I recall what seemed like terrific ideas during the session.

However, if I'm composing on a fairly regular basis it seems like I do very little improv.

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2007, 05:01:58 AM »
composing is a strange thing, isn't it? sorta like improvising in super-slow motion, and you can go back and change stuff lol

Offline BachQ

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2007, 06:36:28 AM »
It's lost forever.

Why don't you record it?

Offline Mahlered

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2007, 07:05:04 AM »
The kinds of situations where I find myself doing improv (namely, for English country dance) generally don't involve my usual style of composition - they're usually far more I-IV-V-I tonal and I have to hold back or the violinist (who isn't very good) will snark at me for trying to usurp her self-declared position as the leader of the ensemble. This may be influencing my composition in ways I don't realize, but I know I haven't intentionally transplanted something I've done for one of those dances into a piece of mine.

When I'm at the beginning of working on a piece, while I'm still coming up with the thematic material I'm going to develop, I'll sit down and very deliberately piece together themes in my head until I come up with something I like. I have random inspirational flashes of fully-developed themes sometimes, but that's just as likely to happen when I'm lying in bed trying to sleep (for example) as when I'm sitting at an instrument. I also tend to come up with a concept for a piece before I figure out all the themes to flesh it out - this may be because I'm hear and play so much music at school that things get stuck in my head and it's resultantly harder to produce a theme out of thin air without a larger concept to back it up.

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2007, 08:16:52 AM »
Why don't you record it?
i really should.....
but when i get good ideas, the whole process couldn't possibly be more spontaneous...
i just walk around the house and see the piano or guitar and just make up stuff and go "whoa, now that is fresh". But it doesn't happen all the time, so it's impossible to predict.

i think from now on i'll keep my mp3 player somewhere easy to find so i can record easily, and just store a bunch of ideas so when i actually do some composing again i can (hopefully) find something in there.


Kullervo

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2007, 08:24:32 AM »
Witnesses present at Franck's organ improvisations said that they were easily as masterful as his published pieces. Even Liszt went so far as to invoke the name of Bach to describe his playing. If only he had someone in the corner of the room recording those improve sessions!

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2007, 08:30:07 AM »
Witnesses present at Franck's organ improvisations said that they were easily as masterful as his published pieces. Even Liszt went so far as to invoke the name of Bach to describe his playing. If only he had someone in the corner of the room recording those improve sessions!
such a shame  :'(

one thing i do have to mention, though, is improvisation can only go so far....
what i mean is, certain things can't be improvised, such as complex fugues, right on the spot. Making up an 8-bar theme and then remembering how to repeat the whole thing right then and there is not exactly possible, unless you're a genius, i guess

The Mad Hatter

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2007, 02:29:45 PM »
I really, really don't like composing at the piano. I find it just costs me what I'm trying to write down, in favour of simpler things which I'm capable of playing.

I'm a terrible improviser as well.

Kullervo

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2007, 02:33:33 PM »
one thing i do have to mention, though, is improvisation can only go so far....
what i mean is, certain things can't be improvised, such as complex fugues, right on the spot. Making up an 8-bar theme and then remembering how to repeat the whole thing right then and there is not exactly possible, unless you're a genius, i guess

Listen to Franck's Fantasy in A. It has the feeling of being somewhat improvised, and may well have been!

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2007, 05:51:19 AM »
Listen to Franck's Fantasy in A. It has the feeling of being somewhat improvised, and may well have been!
but is it contrapuntal?.....
and it might NOT have been improvised either...

karlhenning

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2007, 05:54:09 AM »
Some composers do acquire an expertise for improvising counterpoint.  I cannot do it, but then, I cannot juggle four objects, either.  I suppose these are both skills which I could acquire with diligence, intent and intensive practice.

Haffner

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2007, 06:13:32 AM »
This "gotta improvise" thing happens to me alot. As lame as my music in general is, I end up with alot of ideas from improvising, which I'll patch together with others to make a general sketch of a future composition. Here's an example, as poor as it is:


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=530410

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2007, 06:32:13 AM »
This "gotta improvise" thing happens to me alot. As lame as my music in general is, I end up with alot of ideas from improvising, which I'll patch together with others to make a general sketch of a future composition. Here's an example, as poor as it is:


http://www.soundclick.com/bands/pagemusic.cfm?bandID=530410
that's something i should probably do, too.
but i'm confused- did you improvise with the drums at the same time or was this recorded one at a time- drums first, then guitar?

Haffner

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2007, 06:34:14 AM »
that's something i should probably do, too.
but i'm confused- did you improvise with the drums at the same time or was this recorded one at a time- drums first, then guitar?




I'll get an "acceptable" drum pattern ready for my morning playing session, then make time to improvise over it. Eventually, I will find other, older music that I can fit in with it. Michael Schenker is an example of a person whom used this technique to great effect.

Offline BachQ

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2007, 02:05:43 PM »
i really should.....
but when i get good ideas, the whole process couldn't possibly be more spontaneous...
i just walk around the house and see the piano or guitar and just make up stuff and go "whoa, now that is fresh". But it doesn't happen all the time, so it's impossible to predict.

Portable recording devices are cheap, and recording media (whether DVD, CD, MP3, flash drive) are even cheaper.  Worst case scenario is that over a year's time, you'd waste about $100 worth of unusable recording media.

Best case scenario is that you have people lining up to commission new works from you ........

Offline toledobass

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #16 on: August 22, 2007, 04:41:32 AM »
composing is a strange thing, isn't it? sorta like improvising in super-slow motion, and you can go back and change stuff lol

That's why you write down all of that 3rd rate stuff.  So you can evaluate and figure out what has potential.

Why don't you try writing down stuff for 10 minutes before you start improvising?  That way your mind is clear from not being drained from improvising and you'll have a whole lot of ideas that maybe you can work with.


Allan

Haffner

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #17 on: August 22, 2007, 04:42:33 AM »
Best case scenario is that you have people lining up to commission new works from you ........




Links, please  ;)!

karlhenning

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #18 on: August 22, 2007, 04:48:07 AM »
Great advice, Allan.

greg

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Re: composing, a state of mind
« Reply #19 on: August 22, 2007, 04:50:43 AM »
That's why you write down all of that 3rd rate stuff.  So you can evaluate and figure out what has potential.

Why don't you try writing down stuff for 10 minutes before you start improvising?  That way your mind is clear from not being drained from improvising and you'll have a whole lot of ideas that maybe you can work with.


Allan
hmmm  8)