What is an Idée Fixe? Idée fixe (French for “fixed idea”) is a term used by Berlioz in his Symphonic Fantastique and other pieces to describe a recurring theme …
Leitmotif Definition A leitmotif is a short recurring musical phrase or theme that represents a person, thing or idea throughout a piece of music. A leitmotif typically takes the …
Writing a Melody “What are you going to send me out of the room humming?” This is the most common question I ask my students when teaching them how …
Ground Bass is a composition technique built upon a short theme played in the bass which constantly repeats with changing harmonies. The bass theme does not change, but the …
Imitation in music describes a composing device where a melody is played/sung and then repeated in a different voice. It is a device that is used in a wide …
Augmentation and diminution are two musical techniques used by composers to develop/vary a melody. They are great tools for you to be able to understand and use as a …
What are Sequences in Music? A sequence is where a passage of music is repeated at a higher or lower level of pitch. The repeat can be an exact …
In the last article we looked at why you are composing for the piano. Now it’s time to start looking at how to start writing music for the piano …
How To Compose Music
Lots of lessons and tips on composing music to help you in your musical journey. Practical tasks and case studies to you learn how to compose music.
Why do you want to compose music?
This may seem like a funny place to start when thinking about how to compose music – isn’t this question a bit vague? Surely it would be better to dive straight into some composition techniques so we can get started right away. Do I really need to know why I am composing music?
Well, you’re right in that you don’t need to know why you are composing, but it does help if you have some idea of the answers to the following questions:
- What inspires you to want to compose?
Do you love performing or are you happy for others to perform your compositions?
Do you want to record your compositions or are you content simply writing music irrespective of whether anyone will ever hear it?
Where do you want to go with your composing?
Is this a hobby or a career ambition?
Your answers to the above questions will help give some direction to your compositional journey. For example, if you find the idea of writing music for moving images really inspiring then you may want to consider focusing your attention on how to compose music for TV/film clips or adverts to develop this skill. Alternatively, if you love performing you may want to start composing music for your instrument which you could perform at local events and venues.
Maybe you love music technology and want to record your work or maybe you just want to write whatever comes into your head?
There are no “right” answers to these questions – each of us is unique and that is what makes the process of music composition so magical. Every piece of music you write will be unique and original.
What makes me want to compose music?
The best way for me to talk about this is to simply tell you my answers to these questions and hopefully that will act as a starting point for you to think through your answers.
Lots of different things inspire me to compose – events, life experiences and my thoughts/beliefs about life are all stimuli for my desire to create music at the piano.
I do enjoy performing on the piano, but I love recording my music. I find great satisfaction in the process of composing a piece of music, refining it, recording it and then producing the finished track. Following on from this, I love to share my pieces with other people – I don’t know whether this is the performer in me or whether it is something to do with the joy of sharing creativity with others – probably a bit of both!
What I do know is that I love to hear people’s comments about my pieces when I upload them (particularly when they say nice things about them!!). I love it when people enjoy my music enough to purchase a download or a CD – this is a real thrill.
So, what impact do my answers to these questions have on my composing? Well, I recognise that my inspiration may come from lots of different sources and so carry around a recording device with me to jot down ideas at any moment.
The satisfaction that I know I get out of recording my music gives me the determination to put in the hard work to develop ideas into completed pieces of music.
For me, seeking to record and share the music I compose pushes me to a new level of creativity – it consistently raises the bar on what I want to achieve. If people are going to part with their hard earned money to buy my music then I want to make sure that I am giving them music that is I am really pleased with – I want to give them something that is going to make them feel like great value for money.
Take the time to think it through
So, my advice….. take the time to think through these questions. I’m going to give you loads of “how to compose music” tips and techniques in this section of the website, but thinking about the “why” is a great starting point as it will give you real focus as you look to develop your composing.