1. Why do you want to compose?
This may seem like a funny place to start this series on how to compose – isn’t this question a bit flowery? Surely it would be better to dive straight into some techniques so we can get started right away. Do I really need to know why I am composing?
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?
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 composing on TV/film clips or adverts to develop this skill. Alternatively, if you love performing you may want to compose solo piano pieces 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?
What makes me want to compose?
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 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 to YouTube (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 recognize 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 sell my music 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 them 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” over the next few articles, but thinking about the “why” is a great starting point as it will give real focus to your composing.