Motivation to compose

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by its_jon, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    If you compose music.

    Where do you draw inspiration ?

    Do you draw feeling from the heart and soul or are you event driven ?

    Do you mainly compose to fulfil a need, or just for the fun of it ?

    Self taught or influenced by tuition ?

    Lastly, do you write exclusively for brass or a broader range of instrumentation ?
  2. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    I draw all my compositional inspiration from the circuitous discussions on tMP! I’m currently working on “The Dolly of Bolsover”.

    Ahem - a spark of an idea can come from anywhere. For example, my last piece was borne out of an old memory that popped into my head for no apparent reason. I recalled in my mind a conductor I had seen many times over the years, a calm, precise, understated gentlemen conductor, who had been successful with a few different bands. On this one occasion, at an entertainments contest, he started Goff Richards’ "Stage Centre" with a minimalist 4 beats for nothing…. then conducted the first section like a whirling dervish on speed. The visual effect made the performance memorable, and with open adjudication, even the adjudicator saw and enjoyed the transformation! The one before that was borne out of a request on Facebook for ideas as I had exhausted my lifetime supply of ideas and so was truly working from scratch for the first time. In the end, I did not use any of the ideas suggested.

    I prefer to work for my own reasons, but a time bound project is usually more productive in terms of time available versus compo block.

    I mainly compose as an outlet for various frustrations. My first test piece was borne out of annoyance that a fourth section test piece was another repeat. Some pieces are for the fun of it, like “SopC”. Soprano players, look it up if you dare…

    Educated rather than self taught in the rudiments, but no formal compo training. I know when using consecutive fifths is good for the piece, and will not shy away from doing it, even if I will never show the resultant score to my music teachers.

    I rarely dabble beyond brass bands at present, but have a strategy in place should any of my pieces become popular enough and a wind band version be needed. (And no, it is not using the "arrange" function on Sibelius!) Orchestral versions? Nah. Too lazy for that.

    Oh - and I rarely arrange. There are people way better at it than I am and chances are if I have thought a piece might be a good arrangement, 13 Ball is probably working on it already and will do it better... ("The Promise" or "Some Day Like This" any one?)
  3. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    “The Dolly of Bolsover” ...That will be something to look forward to.
    So many approaches you could take.

    Stage Centre .. simple, well crafted music performed well = great entertainment, I Love that number !

    I know what you mean about repeating lower section pieces.
    I have never been keen on arrangements of ancient folk songs parading as original works. We seem to get that a lot.

    What's a
    consecutive fifth ? I lack a lot of theory myself. :p

  4. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Just looked up consecutive fifth.....

    Looks like I may have used something like that as part of a euph/bass counter melody in harmony below a theme in a long suffering up coming work.

    Odd it should be frowned upon ?
  5. RossAB

    RossAB Member

    I find inspiration can come from anywhere. With arrangements I've often been flicking through a songbook and decided to try something specific out, or been listening to and I think might sound good for brass. My original stuff, I write stuff that I would enjoy listening to, and I've usually got an image or scene in my mind before I start writing. I prefer to write (and listen) to things that are very entertaining too.

    I tend to write based on my feelings or experiences, or where I am at a particular moment (physically or mentally), so I guess a bit of both really, in terms of it coming from the heart but being based on actual events!

    Again, a bit of both. I do find it fun to try out different things to see what works, but I can find myself starting to go a bit crazy if I haven't had the chance to write something in a while! I've always found music a good way of calming myself down from a young age. Previously that would have just been by listening to music, but as I got older, playing and composing started to become good outlets for that too.

    Taught to play, and taught a bit of theory as well, but a lot of what I've learnt has been by trying things out just to see whether they work or not. If they don't, scrap them and try something new! There are sometimes some obvious influences in some of the things I write though.

    Just for brass currently, but I would like to expand in future to larger works. I've written stuff for rock/punk band in the past too, although I haven't done that in a few years!
  6. mikelyons

    mikelyons Supporting Member

    Parallel movement, if handled properly, can be very effective - Debussy, Ravel, Vaughan Williams, to name but a few who used it. Don't write it off, just because a rule book says you shouldn't use it!
  7. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    If you're singing something akin to a Bach Chorale, Consecutive fifths/octaves stick out like a sore thumb. In music from this generation, I doubt anyone would bat an eyelid.
  8. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    "Rules exist so that people think before they break them"

    Having a parallel fifth creates a subtle but noticeable effect - writing them is no sin in the year 2012 (unless one is writing pastiche of a kind where they were not used), but one should always be aware that they will 'jump out' to the ear a little bit. In general, avoiding them is not a bad idea (hard to go wrong with them if you don't use them!); using them deliberately and consistently works fine (Jon - think of a sequence of power chords - or some of the work of Vaughan Williams), but dropping one in occasionally by accident may make your music sound like it has lumps in it. However, the larger the number of ensemble voices playing at that moment, the less it will be noticed - it is not worth worrying about in a full brass band section of a work, but definitely worth keeping an eye on when writing a section with a reduced scoring. Parallel octaves have a similar, stronger effect. Parallel 4ths less strong, to the extent that Bach wrote them quasi-regularly. Parallel major 3rds even less so, and so on up the harmonic series.
  9. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    I have been using consecutive fifths when I look at it... just didn't know I was using a documented technique with issues..
  10. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    I think I have consecutive fifths in this piece. ?????

    As far as motivation goes for myself,
    It has been for a variety of reasons all of which get a wee explanation online.

    The Undergrowth Suite (linked to above) above was also very different in motivation,
    I saw awsome sounding titles for compositions celebrating gods and stars, planets and other random items of hugeness.
    So decided to write about the little things at our feet, a sort of fantasy of the everyday.

    1) Parade of the little animals
    2) Flutter by the Fungi
    3) The Moonlit Mole
    4) The Fallen Bird
    5) Beneath the upturned stone
    6) Two Slugs
    7) Return of the little animals

    Mainly up to now I have been events driven.
    I do it for fun, and to help out the community.
  11. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Trust your ears. If it sounds appropriate, it is appropriate - it's all about context. There's no parallels in that that make me jump, although I can pick out various consecutive 5ths because I'm listening for them.

    Incidentally, Britten was also a great believer in so-called "occasional music" i.e. music written for a specific occasion:

    I personally find more and more as I get older that I need the motivation of a specific occasion to compose for.
  12. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    A bass trombone solo?
  13. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    Get to it, Mr Wilson. KCB Xmas concert - there's your occasion. If you're quick, we can do it for Remembrance on Sunday.
  14. its_jon

    its_jon Member

  15. Will the Sec

    Will the Sec Active Member

    Agreed. In a section when I am writing in a chorale style for only four imstruements I try to obey the "rules" set down in the rudiments. Anything else is fair game...
  16. its_jon

    its_jon Member

    Talking about rules, Some rules I set myself as I mainly scribble scores for junior bands is to try to keep within the stave.
    So I usually compromise some voicing and effect by spreading range between Eb / Bb instruments.

    Scoring for amateur players and kids who are training certainly presents its own challenges.
    As a amateur cornet player, I actually detest playing high notes, cornets don't do high very well. so I don't write them in.
    As a professional trumpet player, I have to hit the highs but there is a difference between 'commercial' and 'legit' playing styles.

    Its a pet hate of mine when I see a cornet player who thinks he is playing a trumpet.
    To me, The cornet section is choral, and should strive to be a sweet and unified section.

    I get spurred on whenever I get feedback that one of my scores or scores hosted on my site has been of use to a junior band.
    Its great to be able to offer your art vocationally. It gives you a lot of motivation to create more works.

    Especially pleasing is to try to achieve a musical effect with as simple a set of notes as possible.
    As your not scoring for an orchestra this can involve inventive solutions. but its great to see it come together to form something that defies the actual simplicity of the notation.

    Having said that, it would be liberating to write something without worrying about player ability, but only a handful of bands in the UK would benefit from your efforts.

    Lastly... great initiatives such as Acid Brass are brill !! but sadly not available (or playable by) to all bands
    Im motivated to create contemporary works that are playable and freely available to all bands.
    Im sure we do not see more of this sort of composition due to the commercial gamble involved in the publication of such works.
    Its a great feeling spend time on a experimentally diverse or indeed dissonant score without having to worry about a publisher accepting your time and effort, simply releasing it.

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