Author Topic: Creative Moods  (Read 3371 times)

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greg

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Creative Moods
« on: April 10, 2008, 09:47:02 AM »
I think I might've just figured out HOW to compose. And I want to ask if anyone else can relate.

They don't teach you in the books why you might sit down at the piano and some days no ideas come at all and other days you're just full of ideas. I think the explanation for these days is pretty simple- if you feel like composing, you'll get the best ideas; if you want to compose, but just don't feel like it at the moment, you won't do so good. There has to be some sort of hunger.

Just a few minutes ago, I just went on the piano and played for about 20 minutes straight- and it was just incredible. A huge burst of inspiration, every idea was amazing, eventually after ~20 min. it wears off...... And then it's actually easy to lead into the last section of whatever work you're currently writing and then continue from there- the difference being the level of creativity is really high. In fact, I just tried it and got a few good notes down on op.13, except I just got so tired of being on the piano and then i had to turn on the computer just to write it down that i just figured, whatever. Sounded the like best I ever wrote in that section, though. Next time I'll have to continue from the middle (playing around the 10' mark or so). Then ideas will just come super quick, all over the place.

This is in contrast to what I do normally, which is go to the computer when I (if I'm honest) don't even feel like composing, and then try something out and just erase it because it sucks. Again and again. So it ends up being a waste of time and just frustrating. Now I have to accept that my creativity works best all at once, like a HUGE burst of creativity, that is bottled up for a few days and becomes more and more powerful the less I write.

So anyways, I'll just have to try it this way........

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #1 on: April 10, 2008, 11:34:31 AM »
I also have a question for anyone who has orchestrated before- I'm just curious, when your fingers are at the keyboard, how do you orchestrate at the same time? Do you step back a minute and think of the orchestration and try to work something out at the keyboard...... or do you start at the keyboard, then work out the orchestration? Or somehow do it at the same time?

lukeottevanger

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #2 on: April 10, 2008, 11:44:23 AM »
Re post # 1

Well, it's certainly a way - and not a bad one. I don't think there's a single 'right' way, though. As you know, I've composed in a vaguely similar way - controlled improvisation, in a fixed length of time, for my Improvisations and some other similar pieces - and the strange thing was that it worked very well for the period of a few months when I was writing them, but then it dropped off and hasn't worked the same way since. It was as if that there was something quite profound in me that needed to be let out in that way, so that I could move forwards in a more healthy way. And that more healthy way, which worked [is working] best for me in the long run, as I've said on my thread, is a mix of the spontaneous and the pre-composed. And I mix in varying proportions depending on what type of work I am writing - the Canticle Sonata represents one extreme and some of my piano miniatures the other. But it's been more important than I can say to develop a technical method of working that suits me down to the core, in a genuinely philosophical and even spiritual sense - and it took a long time and a lot of soul-searching to sift blindly around in the process. But you know that - you've read my thread! I'd suggest that what you've done today may be the beginning of a process, and that the next thing is to learn how to harness this spontaneity and combine it with more considered compositional techniques.

But one thing is 100% right, Greg - from now on, promise me you'll compose at the piano, not the computer!  $:)

Re post #2 Depends on the piece. Sometimes, especially with more colouristic pieces, I've composed directly into full score. With smaller, tighter, more linear/motivic pieces I generally compose straight into a short score, because I essentially already know what I want, orchestrally, and playing through it at the piano is 'just' (!) part of the process of refining and balancing it. IOW, the piece is conceived orchestrally, not as a piano piece to be orchestrated.

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #3 on: April 10, 2008, 12:02:33 PM »
Re post # 1

Well, it's certainly a way - and not a bad one. I don't think there's a single 'right' way, though. As you know, I've composed in a vaguely similar way - controlled improvisation, in a fixed length of time, for my Improvisations and some other similar pieces - and the strange thing was that it worked very well for the period of a few months when I was writing them, but then it dropped off and hasn't worked the same way since. It was as if that there was something quite profound in me that needed to be let out in that way, so that I could move forwards in a more healthy way. And that more healthy way, which worked [is working] best for me in the long run, as I've said on my thread, is a mix of the spontaneous and the pre-composed. And I mix in varying proportions depending on what type of work I am writing - the Canticle Sonata represents one extreme and some of my piano miniatures the other. But it's been more important than I can say to develop a technical method of working that suits me down to the core, in a genuinely philosophical and even spiritual sense - and it took a long time and a lot of soul-searching to sift blindly around in the process. But you know that - you've read my thread! I'd suggest that what you've done today may be the beginning of a process, and that the next thing is to learn how to harness this spontaneity and combine it with more considered compositional techniques.
Brilliant! That's interesting, how you go about composing.
It seems that the only time I was actually consistent was during summer break(s) a few years- my speed of writing was just unimaginable compared to nowadays.

But the improvising I've done today is really more like a pattern of behavior ever since I was probably 11. I would sit down and create imaginary instrumental rock albums with really long songs just straight through for maybe 30 minutes, even though I didn't even play any instruments. It was like some built-up creative force that had to be expelled somehow.

And certain things can trigger it, like going to my friend's house and playing guitar with him, we'd just start playing and i'd start playing all my improvisations and go straight through like in a trance, and he'd just stop and kept on telling me "you just keep on making up stuff all the time, don't you?"  ;D (because he'd always ask if that was from some song or if i just made it up)

But to see that you can relate is really cool, because I don't really hear stuff like this discussed too much.

Re post #2 Depends on the piece. Sometimes, especially with more colouristic pieces, I've composed directly into full score. With smaller, tighter, more linear/motivic pieces I generally compose straight into a short score, because I essentially already know what I want, orchestrally, and playing through it at the piano is 'just' (!) part of the process of refining and balancing it. IOW, the piece is conceived orchestrally, not as a piano piece to be orchestrated.
Cool....... i'll have to follow your example, since I can imagine that works the best.
Just sitting at the keyboard and getting the idea... the outline in your head, and then going to the piano to get "more specific" and then do the writing. Or something like that. Sounds good.  :)


But one thing is 100% right, Greg - from now on, promise me you'll compose at the piano, not the computer!  $:)
;D
It's just a matter of waiting months until I have enough money to spend for a) a laptop and b) Finale. Then I can just put the laptop on the keyboard and compose at the keyboard and write directly in Finale. My dilemma my whole composing life is that I've never been able to do this- it's either piano and blank sheet music (which I HATE!!!) or guitar and computer (which is an instrument that just doesn't have enough for anything big). Piano and computer is the only perfect combo out there for me......

lukeottevanger

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #4 on: April 10, 2008, 12:42:19 PM »
It's just a matter of waiting months until I have enough money to spend for a) a laptop and b) Finale. Then I can just put the laptop on the keyboard and compose at the keyboard and write directly in Finale.

[shudder]Ouch! 'Writing directly' into any kind of notation program is anathema to me, I must say. For me, notation programs are just that - programs for setting your music out, making it legible, neat and easy to reproduce. But not for composing, especially not for the initial stages of composing where, surely, one should be hewing and whittling away at the rough materials, physically touching the instrument and weighing up the sounds. That's why when you say

- it's either piano and blank sheet music (which I HATE!!!).....

I can't relate to it at all. Trust me, give me a piano and some blank ms paper (and a pencil!) and some guaranteed quiet hours and you'll make me as happy as can be! Blank paper is the best way to sketch and shape your material, to come up with a notation which suits you and not your notation program's presets (how do you think Ives could have composed the Concord Sonata if he'd has Sibelius telling him he couldn't do this that or the other perverse but necessary notation?; How could Ferneyhough ever had progressed with his complex use of irrational time signatures if he'd had Sibelius not even allowing him the option?). Used as a primary tool, Sibelius - or Finale - strips away all the soul and instrumentally-rotted reality of a composition, IMO. On Radio 3 today I listened to pianist Murray Maclachlan discussing the (awe-inspiring) piano music of Ronald Stevenson, whose 80th birthday celebrations are this weekend, and one thing that struck me was when he said that Stevenson is quite a rarity among contemporary composers for piano because he composes from 'within' the instrument, specifying fingerings and understanding precisely how the hand will deal with each not - the opposite, said Maclachlan of the large number of contemporary composers who rely on Sibelius.

Anyway - do what works for you, but try to learn to love pen and paper!

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #5 on: April 11, 2008, 12:20:48 PM »
I can't relate to it at all. Trust me, give me a piano and some blank ms paper (and a pencil!) and some guaranteed quiet hours and you'll make me as happy as can be! Blank paper is the best way to sketch and shape your material, to come up with a notation which suits you and not your notation program's presets (how do you think Ives could have composed the Concord Sonata if he'd has Sibelius telling him he couldn't do this that or the other perverse but necessary notation?; How could Ferneyhough ever had progressed with his complex use of irrational time signatures if he'd had Sibelius not even allowing him the option?). Used as a primary tool, Sibelius - or Finale - strips away all the soul and instrumentally-rotted reality of a composition, IMO. On Radio 3 today I listened to pianist Murray Maclachlan discussing the (awe-inspiring) piano music of Ronald Stevenson, whose 80th birthday celebrations are this weekend, and one thing that struck me was when he said that Stevenson is quite a rarity among contemporary composers for piano because he composes from 'within' the instrument, specifying fingerings and understanding precisely how the hand will deal with each not - the opposite, said Maclachlan of the large number of contemporary composers who rely on Sibelius.
The different notation systems are exactly what I was discouraged to use since they can be hard to read. Nowadays, everyone uses Finale or Sibelius and sending in music for competitions- it's an unspoken rule, but it's basically necessary to use one of these programs. Writing on paper and then writing into the computer, ugggggh, i think you're crazy, Luke.  ;D

As for the Concord Sonata, I don't see much that I can't imagine Finale not being able to do easily (although Ferneyhough is a different story).

Anyway - do what works for you, but try to learn to love pen and paper!
[shudder] Ouch!
We'll see what works.  8)

lukeottevanger

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #6 on: April 11, 2008, 12:37:30 PM »
The different notation systems are exactly what I was discouraged to use since they can be hard to read. Nowadays, everyone uses Finale or Sibelius and sending in music for competitions- it's an unspoken rule, but it's basically necessary to use one of these programs. Writing on paper and then writing into the computer, ugggggh, i think you're crazy, Luke.  ;D

I've got no problem with the programs - as you've seen, I use them myself. But only after I've allowed the music to come out unfiltered by the relative difficulty of notation. That way I know that the music is what I meant, not simplified and normalised for the sake of my PC. Which is what I meant by this:

As for the Concord Sonata, I don't see much that I can't imagine Finale not being able to do easily

'Intuitive' notation like the attached, Greg. Tedious ol' typesetting programs tend not to be too happy with this - 'does not compute, does not compute!' There are ways round it, of course - but my point is, those ways are long-winded, and if Ives had been scoring directly into a PC, in the heat of the moment he probably wouldn't have taken them. Thus depriving himself and us of what is a very expressive notation, correctness be damned!

If you take a look over at the 'mystery scores' thread, btw, you'll see that whether or not music competitions like their scores in Sib or Finale, a good number of scores, even today, are printed in hand written versions. Especially the more complicated ones.
« Last Edit: April 11, 2008, 12:39:11 PM by lukeottevanger »

lukeottevanger

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #7 on: April 11, 2008, 12:47:40 PM »
An example from my music - I'd never have written it like this if I hadn't been writing on to paper first. It took me hours to get it into Sibelius (and it still doesn't look that great) but it is what I meant, and not a cleaned-up version.

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #8 on: April 11, 2008, 01:04:40 PM »
I've got no problem with the programs - as you've seen, I use them myself. But only after I've allowed the music to come out unfiltered by the relative difficulty of notation. That way I know that the music is what I meant, not simplified and normalised for the sake of my PC. Which is what I meant by this:

'Intuitive' notation like the attached, Greg. Tedious ol' typesetting programs tend not to be too happy with this - 'does not compute, does not compute!' There are ways round it, of course - but my point is, those ways are long-winded, and if Ives had been scoring directly into a PC, in the heat of the moment he probably wouldn't have taken them. Thus depriving himself and us of what is a very expressive notation, correctness be damned!
I think I checked that section from the Concord Sonata and didn't actually "see" it- or at least think "Well, Finale would have a hard time printing that one". My bad.


Quote
If you take a look over at the 'mystery scores' thread, btw, you'll see that whether or not music competitions like their scores in Sib or Finale, a good number of scores, even today, are printed in hand written versions. Especially the more complicated ones.
yeah, some of those left me puzzled...... so they are the published forms? Wow.......



An example from my music - I'd never have written it like this if I hadn't been writing on to paper first. It took me hours to get it into Sibelius (and it still doesn't look that great) but it is what I meant, and not a cleaned-up version.
That does look a bit hard for writing directly into the computer. So the moral of the story is to simply keep my notebook paper alongside my computer and use it whenever I need to. Sounds like a good plan- thanks for the suggestion!

Haffner

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #9 on: April 11, 2008, 01:26:10 PM »
Well, I'm no composer, but I sympathise with both posters.

I am half-and-half composition wise. I might be fooling around with my cello, viola, violin, guitar, or keyboard and come up with something I like. Then I'll work it out on computer on Finale.

I'd love to be able to notate music properly (I read okay, especially when I have an instrument to work scores out on as I read). It would make those "inspired on the bus" moments alot easier to deal with.

Finale, for me at least, is great mostly for the "perspiration" after the "inspiration".

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #10 on: April 11, 2008, 01:48:11 PM »
I'd love to be able to notate music properly
it's not that hard, really, you can figure it out......


(although i tend to write "improperly", not using key signatures when i could be, since i have a distaste for them).

greg

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #11 on: April 11, 2008, 02:58:22 PM »
I just thought up an explanation for "creative moods". Maybe it's simply that I have all of my brain ready at the time, and it's not trying to do something else- like sleep or solve a problem, or it's just not tired of music at the moment.

Composing involves two things- being emotionally read for it and technically ready for it (as a whole, psychologically ready). The emotional side is what (almost everyone) shares, the technical side something that is obviously learned. Seperates the wannabes from the real guys. The more technical stuff you know, the better, obviously, but you just have to use your brain power when writing.

I'd say that people who enjoy music but don't compose understand it basically in a more abstract, emotional way, but the definition of technical is that you're putting your thoughts down on paper, in a more concrete form that can exist in real life.

Anyways, ignore this post, i didn't explain it good (just thought of it know and felt compelled to post), sorry.

johnQpublic

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #12 on: April 16, 2008, 06:11:56 AM »
Two issues:

(1) Nowadays I use all three methods in this order: (a) paper (b) computer (c) piano unless the piano is part of my instrumentation then it's (a) paper (b) piano (c) computer.

(2) I find improvising at the keyboard very stimulating and sometimes terrific ideas flow out, but rarely do they turn into actual pieces. Actual pieces usually developed slowly and sometimes even painstakingly from thought and reflection.

The Emperor

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Re: Creative Moods
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2008, 02:31:52 PM »
For me motifs, melodies, chord progressions, etc  i come up with at the piano.
A lot of times i develop some of the parts on the computer, other times it pretty much done on the piano, depends on inspiration.

Improvising at the piano is great for ideas, especially when you don't think about composing at all...out of nowhere the lightbulb lightens my head and i'm forced to make a piece out of it lol.