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#1951297 - 08/30/12 01:22 AM The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1353
Loc: Southern California
I was talking to a friend about my songwriting hobby. The friend talked about how much they would like to travel. I said that as I get older I don't like to travel as much, that I get more satisfaction from writing a good new song or instrumental, than I might get from seeing another old cathedral, or visiting another museum. I do enjoy those things, but there is something about the creative act.

I tend to take a balanced approach to most things. Perhaps for someone that has never traveled much, some travel would be a very good thing. It is interesting, because as I write that, I think about how many songs I have written, and it is a lot. While I have done a few big trips, there are plenty of places I have not been.

There is something deeply satisfying about writing a new piece of music. I acknowledge that some pieces are better than others.

How about you? I would like to hear what other composers and songwriters think on the subject. Where would you rate the satisfaction meter, if there is even such a thing in your mind? Would you rather take another trip, or write another good piece of music? There are other equivalents out there. Some musicians seem to like to continually buy new toys (instruments, speakers, recording devices etc). Then there are other toys (cars, boats, bicycles, clothes, shoes, purses).
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#1951312 - 08/30/12 02:36 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Nikolas Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 6491
Loc: UK
I love the creativity in me. I'm a creator and I'm in a constant need to create something. If it isn't music then it can be texts, or computer games, or graphics, or promotional material, or scores of others... but something. It's my fix!

I just love creating something that I can be proud of (which is a bit selfish, but who cares... :P).

Apart from bicycling I don't have any other hobbies (and yes I don't consider going to the movie theatre a hobby... for crying out loud, or listening to music...). I like walking and the outdoors... But still there I have to be creative somehow, or antagonistic in a sense...

#1951416 - 08/30/12 09:01 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Steve Chandler Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 3217
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
For me the creative process is long and drawn out. I enjoy it but it's arduous. There's writing the piece, then recording it then learning to play it. There are moments of satisfaction along the way, but I wouldn't compare the experience to traveling. I haven't done so much traveling that I'm jaded about the experience, I like seeing new (to me) mountains, seashores, cities, museums and churches.

I write because I have something I want to express. Each piece exhibits an idea or concept. Bringing that idea to fruition is enjoyable, but wrestling with the details of each musical moment is the part I struggle with. Every composer is different and I hope you get lots of varied responses.

#1951436 - 08/30/12 09:42 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Tim Adrianson Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/10
Posts: 1574
My general reaction is that I do not compose or arrange for my own enjoyment -- there needs to be some specific reason "out there" to put the effort into a new composition. Back in the late '80s - early '90s, I did go through a "phase" of writing arrangements, but they were always for a particular person, or a church anthem, or a musical event. About a year ago, I listened to some of the pre-concert comments of composer Paul Schoenfield -- who was having his Three Rhapsodies for Piano Quintet premiered by the Pro Arte Quartet, here in Madison WI. When asked whether he ever composed independent of commissions, he flatly said: "No, I do not...and, it's not because I'm in any way greedy; I just find it very difficult to compose works to my satisfaction, and I simply want to be remunerated for the really quite difficult effort that good composition requires..."
I guess that sums up my reaction as well. Far easier, really, to serve as executor of other's efforts.

#1951758 - 08/30/12 10:08 PM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Ted Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 1575
Loc: Auckland, New Zealand
There is indeed tremendous joy and satisfaction in knowing you have captured perfectly some moment, some visionary experience, some mental state, some epiphany, in lasting artistic form. I still enjoy other aspects of life though, not travel in my case particularly, but I have plenty of other interests.

The only change as I have aged, is that the act of writing music out seems less necessary. These days a recorded improvisation seems to me to have as much lasting value as something written on paper. The underlying imperative to create and the consequent deep mental reward, however, are precisely the same. Unlike the previous poster, and probably many others, I create solely for myself, and never for an external reason or on demand.

It is certainly solipsistic but not, I think, selfish, as I give all my recordings and music away to anybody who wants them.
"It is inadvisable to decline a dinner invitation from a plump woman." - Fred Hollows

#1951772 - 08/30/12 10:31 PM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
ScottM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/11/05
Posts: 561
Creating a new piece of music and listening to it allows me to travel to a new place that never existed before. I like to travel, but I love creating new worlds.

#1954748 - 09/06/12 10:53 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
samasap Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/10/10
Posts: 622
Loc: UK
I absolutely love to song write and if I had more time then I would do it more. I have written an album of catchy pop and rock songs and when I go self employed next year I am hoping to develop this more. I find it very rewarding and can spend hours doing it.

I also love to travel and after reading your post believe sometimes that traveling and music work well along side each other because when you get to travel to new places you get inspiration which then makes you right catchy little songs!
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#1955304 - 09/07/12 09:04 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Atman904 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/21/12
Posts: 27
Lately, I have been writing little melodies and the JOY is very satisfying. To be able to play one's own pieces is SO GREAT, I have never studied music composition before, but after this, I am going to smile This is a lot of fun.

#1955393 - 09/07/12 11:53 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Nikolas Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/26/07
Posts: 6491
Loc: UK
Goshal: It's SO brilliant to see people enjoying themselves so much! After all (up to the point where you reach pro level) this is what composition is about! smile Glad to have you here! smile

#1957165 - 09/10/12 10:08 PM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Dara Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/18/09
Posts: 1100
Loc: west coast island, canada
Originally Posted By: Sand Tiger

How about you? Would you rather take another trip, or write another good piece of music?

Interesting that you should be comparing travel with writing music.

I just arrived back from my third camping trip over the past 6 weeks. I've been sleeping a good part of the past 6 weeks in a tent in very wild places on Vancouver Island and other smaller islands. The latest adventure took me up to the very Northwestern tip of Vancouver island to Cape Scott Park .... a very remote and wild area filled with spectacular beauty. I was in serious bear and wolf environment and crossed paths several times with both this past week. Just a few days ago I was witness to a pack of wolves chasing down a buck - only feet away from me on one of the many wild beaches in the area of Cape Scott.
Personally, I thrive on adventures in to wild environments... which is partly why I choose to live in this part of the world. I am very fortunate in my home environment to be surrounded by hundreds of acres of wild forest. There rarely are any human sounds here and most nights the sound of barred owls breaks the silence.

I have written several piano pieces and many more with an improvisational framework. I love the spontaneity of improvisation and all my piano playing and practice is based on improvisational exploration. I've never thought of it this way, but I suppose improvising is like a form of travel.

My favorite travel happens in the dream state... a world of unlimited adventure and possibility. And one gets to go there every day (night) !!

#1959456 - 09/16/12 02:19 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
MusicMinder Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/03/12
Posts: 5
I strongly recommend the following article re composing:


A composer and Harvard professor wonders whether his craft has been left behind by a world with no patience for Great Art.

I personally want to do a lot more composition. I compose as a sort of self uncovering of my musical accumulations and their connections to my moods. I'm interested in combining different instrument sonorities including everything electronic, sampled, and arpeggiated. Or I will just as well compose for acoustic instruments or combinations of both. My only "motive" is to see what comes out on the other side and leave it behind for posterity.

#1959867 - 09/16/12 08:00 PM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Sand Tiger Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/25/12
Posts: 1353
Loc: Southern California
Thank you all for the replies. I recently read two books that are some what related, "Written in My Soul" by Bill Flanagan, and "This is Your Brain on Music" by Daniel Levitan. The first is interviews with famous rock & roll songwriters, the second about why we like music, with some history of music.

The interviewer doesn't ask my question about satisfaction from the task. Flanagan does ask about songs becoming too personal, about their more famous songs, about their process, about their struggles. As one might imagine, successful songwriters have a wide range of approaches. Some feel a need to write and can't imagine not writing. Some write only when inspired and can't just churn something out to finish an album. Some find songwriting to be labor and not necessarily a labor of love.

Levitan gets a bit technical for my taste. He does share some interesting bits. The divide between performer and listener is a relatively modern construct. Music becomes part of our lives at a young age. By age 4 or 5 children that are exposed to music learn the scale, chords and musical structures popular in their culture.
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#1969357 - 10/06/12 06:47 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
PianoManChuck Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/05/12
Posts: 230
Loc: Los Angeles, California
I love to write/create music too! I have no idea where it comes from or how I do it... I just sit down at the piano and whatever happens to flow out of me is the result! I'm hearing it for the first time as I play it, and its like taking a trip to an unknown place in my mind. I write all of my music this way. Its a trip I cannot explain, nor can I share (or even explain) the creative process... I can only share the result.

#1978383 - 10/25/12 07:36 AM Re: The satisfaction of writing a new piece of music [Re: Sand Tiger]
Pitch Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/13/10
Posts: 26
Loc: The Netherlands
This topics timing is perfect to tell my latest experiences and how my way to express myself is becoming a life altering event.

I started with keyboardlessons when I was 12. I had those up to my 17th year of age. Than I needed to choose between a drivers license or music lessons. At that age, choice was made in a blink of an eye.

I always kept playing multiple times a week up to my 28th year of life. Not going into detail, but then I came to know that my unexplainable troubles in life were due to something that had a name: ADD (ADHD without physical hyperactivity). Around that time I heard a beautifull song in a movie that I just hád to be able to play. I learned it very fast and didn’t need the sheetmusic anymore. I just understood the song, can’t explain it differently.

Based on the logic behind that song I started to just sit down behind the piano and started to create random melodies expressing the way I felt at that time. I talked to myself via the keys. That combination and the way my brain works resulted in a state of serenity and enabled me to handle emotions without my mind and thoughts were roaming free in chaos. It gave me a structure to cope with things.

Those melodies and emotions I had, about 20 minutes of material sparked the idea to combine them in a story of me. I puzzled and put pieces together chronologically and my first piece was born after a few months. Since than I have created 6 pieces for myself on moments I needed to structure my mind. Playing my own songs remind me of what lesson I learned during that period.

After a while I shared my music with friends and the responses I got were overwhelming. Apparently I was able to bring across my emotions via my music.
One thing led to another and started playing my music for public more often.

Last week was the ultimate one. A writer of a book about discovering talents and nurturing them and the result it can bring in persons asked me to complement his workshops as an example of what finding a talent can mean. I never thought of this as a talent myself, but a talent is only a talent if someone else identiefies it as such.
I played my songs and talked to the audience how I came to the songs and what they mean for me.
Afterwards people congratulated me and had tears in there eyes. They felt it in their bones and I even inspired them to keep searching for themselves and never give up.
I was flabbergasted by that and had a surreal sensation in my body.

I never intended to make music for others. I compose to cope with life, to understand myself, to express myself, because it is a way for me to be me.
How wonderfull is it that with that I can reach and touch others and even inspire people…

My music isn’t technically good. I think it’s best described as sort of minimalistic. It’s just 4 chords that repeat over and over in that order. But the result I get with it after assigning a meaning to every note, every volume, every tempochange and keeping the lesson I learned in mind and my emotional state when creating it , during playing, enables me to get a maximum result with the minimum of theoretical knowledge.
My second composition originated mostly out of the desire to learn a specific technique. I started improvising with that technique, with an emotion in mind. Result was a new song and the ability to utilize the desired technique.

Every part of composing is something I love. Only putting it to sheet is something I cannot do. I never forget how to play them, so there is no need. The pieces also are not static, they change over time, because I keep on learning and sometimes new meaning is added to certain parts…

So that’s it for me. The satisfaction I have while creating is great, but I learned that performing the pieces, and reaching other people gave me even a greater satisfaction.
I found a purpose with it…Sounds melodramatic and perhaps arrogant, but that is how I actually feel it at this moment in time….

For me composing is the travel. I can go anywhere I want, but it is not something I can plan, like travelling. Going places, experience things do contribute to the journey of composing imho…That’s it for now, now I will continue to compose my life….:)


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