composition

Art of Composing

Jon Brantingham’s website Art of Composing is great source of information on composing. He offers a brief introduction to how to compose, and you can sign up for a “free beginner’s composing course.” He also directs you to “free composing software”, free sound fonts, and there are several videos to illustrate his points. He also offers paid subscription courses to his “Art of Composing Academy”. He also has a content-rich podcast and blog, plus a vlog on YouTube. Check it out!

Link: Ultimate Guide to Songwriting and Music Composition

I want to thank Lorrie Dyson for a link to a web page that boasts of being the “Ultimate Guide to Songwriting and Music Composition“. The page is a collection of what appear (I haven’t check them all out) to be very useful links to websites with information for songwriters, guitar, keyboard, percussion, music composition and songwriting apps, blogs, and podcasts.

Bear McCreary – Hurdy Gurdy & Black Sails Music

How to Write a Melody (video)

Article: Teaching Young Composers How to Earn a Living

Brandon Nelson has an intriguing blog aimed at composers that we all should subscribe to. The article I would like to direct you to is his recently (5-18-14) published  “Filling the Gap: Teaching Young Composers How to Earn a Living.” This article should be downloaded into the brain of every freshman composition major on the first day of school. It’s a brief article, but loaded with common sense. He succinctly touches on Commissions (Networking. Networking. Networking.), Self-Publishing, Commercial Publishing, Contests (check out The Composer’s Site), Recording Sales, Grants, and Scoring for Film/TV/Stage (not much in this category – he admits to having no experience here).

A lot of great information and advice in a small space. Read it today!

Eccentric Dances for Solo Tuba by Jeffrey Agrell. Soloist: Andrew Dolgon

Write Like Mozart and other MOOC offerings

A MOOC is a Massive Open Online Course – a gigantic development in (free) distance education. MOOC courses are often oriented toward science and not so much toward music, but there are interesting offerings out there, even some of interest to composers.

Coursera offers many free college-level music courses, including Write Like Mozart: An Introduction to Classical Music Composition, Songwriting, and The Language of Hollywood: Storytelling, Sound, and Color.

Not free, but with a lot of (how-to) courses is Udemy, with offerings such as Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, Learn How to Record and Mix Music, Mixing Music with Logic Pro, Learn How to Remix.

 

 

 

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Aaron Gervais, Composer

I just (re)discovered a terrific composer site – that of Aaron Gervais. It is a wonderful collection of all sorts of stuff, much of it self-promoting (that’s what sites like this are for), but Gervais is also an intelligent and thoughtful writer and he gives us a number of useful short articles on various subjects.

Samples:

Working for Free: Helpful or Harmful?

Working Weekends Makes You a Worse Composer

A Machiavellian Guide to Becoming a Composer

Why Composers Should Drop Out of University (and What They Should Be Learning) – Parts 1 & 2

(“Education begins where academia ends. You make connections with people, you find a community, you decide what really matters, you find time to do what you love, you find a way to earn a living. You might do some of this while in school, but little or none of it is taught at school. So why don’t more composers just skip straight to the career and not bother with degrees?”)

Gospel Time by Jeffrey Agrell (video)

I like to think of the notated versions of my compositions as beginnings, not ends. I am always happy when performers inject their own visions and imaginations into my music. Composers don’t know everything. If we make performers partners, we will have a lot more varied and interesting performances. Why should a composition be frozen forever in one single version (recordings tend to make us think that there is only one valid version of a piece). The performance below of my Gospel Time for trombone quartet is good evidence of great imagination. There is no singing in my version – it was delightful to see that they dared to transform the first section into a sort of wordless sung hymn. There were more liberties in the middle – with a spontaneous oom pan section – what fun! They also had fun with the ending – more singing; plus a late coda encore. Good for them. I really enjoyed their performance, and clearly, so did the audience

Composition Tip #26: Conduct!

Learn to conduct. At some point you will be called upon to conduct your music. Be ready for that day. For composers, conducting is like playing piano – a very useful skill to have to support what you do as a composer.

A conductor silhouette

You can also hasten the day by writing for groups that might be glad to perform your music and have you conduct it: Bands. Orchestra. Choirs. Brass choirs. Horn choirs.

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