Recommended books for wannabe composer

Discussion in 'The Rehearsal Room' started by brownrob, Jan 28, 2009.

  1. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Hi there, Im just wondering if any of you guys can recommend any books or internet resources that will help me start something Ive wanted to do for a long time... compose!

    Now I dont intend to be the next PLC or anything like that but would like to start making my own original stuff

  2. Chunky

    Chunky Active Member

    I believe that the following have written books:

    Ray Steadman Allen
    Dennis Wright
    Andy Duncan

    More on these books can be found this thread here

    Good luck
  3. boagy

    boagy Member

    Richard Strauss and Hector Berlioz wrote weighty tomes on composition and orchestration. Just go for it and see what the end result is?? You are composing after all, not doing a harmony exercise or counterpoint.

    Stands back waiting for the flack……… :dunno
  4. Bass Trumpet

    Bass Trumpet Active Member

    I'm being a bit vague here, but I think Gordon Jacob wrote a very good book on orchestration, but I can't remember the name of it!

    A composer friend of mine was advised by his tutor to go and listen to as many diverse musical sources as possible. Hense, a few years back I saw him in the Barbican foyer enjoying a group of Pygmies throat-singing, followed by Ligeti's Le Grand Macabre!
  5. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    Are you thinking about composing in general or brass bands specifically? Before I go on, I have never composed anything and don't do improvised solos in the big band, but have arranged a few things for various ensembles. I believe there are two necessary elements - a creative one that generates the tunes and chord sequences, and a theoretical one - the grammar and vocabulary element of music. Being fluent in the theory side of things (I'm not particularly) helps the creative element get onto the page (or PC). I found I learnt harmony best by trying to play keyboard from fake books - Hits for Buskers etc and getting the sound of chords and sequences in my head. I also have two of the books mentioned - Ray Steadman-Allen's and Denis Wright's. RS-A's is great at explaining how elements of a brass score make the various effects available. I'd also recommend looking at favourite scores, whether brass band, string quartet, orchestra, whatever and picking them to bits to work out how things work.
  6. rosolino

    rosolino Member

    I have a book by Gordon Jacob - How To Read A Score. It's published by Boosey & Hawkes (1944). Small A5 size 66 pages. Good chapter on orchestration.

    The preface states "... be useful to the general music student who does not specialise in composition and orchestration, but wishes to acquire a working knowledge of score-reading and kindred subjects"

  7. Ali.Syme

    Ali.Syme Member

    Try your hand at arranging! Get a piano arrangement of a piece and set the voices to different instruments. That'll help you in the long term when you want to decide what instrument to give your own melodies to.

    As a sop player you can understand your own limits and therefore the pieces highest limit but be careful with writing lower down - low notes are effective in some instruments but they can get tiring if they last too long!

    A danger with using software (this is just a tip for the future) is ending up without breaks - e.g. a few instruments never stopping play for more than a bar!

    Best of luck!
  8. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Hmmm so I thought I may add to this thread rather than make a new one, but I have written an original march and already 2 bands have expressed an interest in it (its 95% finished, I need to iron out the creases!) but what do I do to protect myself incase some people manage to get their hands on it and a photocopier!

    I read through the copyright stuff but it only seemed to be for people arranging. If I found a publishing company (who?) would they take a massive cut or what?

    Its all terribly confusing!!!
  9. Nigel Hall

    Nigel Hall Supporting Member

    You'll never quite manage to stop the photocopying brigade, because if people are determined to make copies and not buy the piece how can you stop them untill you actually catch them playing your piece, when you know you haven't sold it to them.

    Most publishing companies will offer you a 10-15% commission on every set sold, so you won't make your fortune but it may give you an opportunity to get your music out there.

    We will always look at scores sent to us, if you are interested.
  10. brownrob

    brownrob Member

    Really? I never knew it was that much! You learn something every day I guess! I was expecting something along the lines of Sibelius where they take 50%

    So if I published it on sibeliusmusic can you sell copies I produce myself as well and still remain legally bound?

    I should stick to playing! :D Thanks for the advice Nigel by the way :) I may look into this further when I have more stuff, if I get the urge to keep writing, though its likely not much good! :D
  11. Nigel Hall

    Nigel Hall Supporting Member

    Don't put yourself down, we all started somewhere!! And if I remember correctly when I first started writing the band I played with (you know who you are!!!) moaned about everything, so stick at it.

    I'm not sure about the Sibelius music thing, having never registered there myself, but I now publish a couple of pieces that were originally on there and I agreed with the composers that they should take the brass band pieces off the site but could keep on any other permutations (wind band etc).