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#2307241 - 07/26/14 03:18 AM Advice for learning composition and arrangement
ttttcrngyblflpp Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 05/15/14
Posts: 13
I am pretty much a complete beginner to composing and arranging, and would like some advice from the experienced here. As far as my backgrounds go, I know a reasonable amount of theory (for the Australians here, I've done AMEB's Grade 5 theory exam), but not nearly enough to accomplish my goal that is most simply stated as `I want to compose music like Chopin's etudes'. I like that Chopin etudes are short, fun to play as well as fun to listen to, which is sort of my dream combination I guess.

As to arranging: I play a lot of transcriptions of anime music (another word for J-Pop I guess) by this guy on YouTube. Here's an example for those interested (http://youtu.be/D5kyjnlDNZs?list=UUyW-leqPXUunrXXxFjpZ7VA). I've tried my hands on transcribing/arranging things myself, and I feel like anything that I write myself sounds awkward and/or bad.

So I'm looking for advice on how I should go about achieving my objectives. I'm not too confident in analyzing Chopin's compositions as I fear I might get things wrong, but there also don't seem to be many resources out there that go into the heavy amount of detail that I think I require. Are there any good books/websites/other resources on teaching composition? I feel like learning about harmony and counterpoint is probably more useful than melody writing since arrangement doesn't require such a skill, am I correct on this? Should I consider taking theory/composition lessons? I've had piano lessons since forever so I know what they are all about, but how do one-on-one composition lessons even work?

Edited by ttttcrngyblflpp (07/26/14 04:14 AM)

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#2307394 - 07/26/14 03:01 PM Re: Advice for learning composition and arrangement [Re: ttttcrngyblflpp]
SunnyFriday Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/24/14
Posts: 51
Originally Posted By: ttttcrngyblflpp
Should I consider taking theory/composition lessons?


And as an experienced listener I think the importance of melody cannot be overstated.

I have three classical-based composition books:
1) Counterpoint, and How To Use It In Your Music (John Collins)
2) Music Composition I (Jonathon E. Peters)
3) Modulation (Max Reger)

The counterpoint book is very good in my opinion. I have just started the Peters. Both books have lots of exercises and assignments. The Reger book is an interesting reference. The disadvantage to the book approach, is of course, a lack of feed back. For this reason I urge you to enroll in a formal composition study course, or at least find a teacher willing to tutor you.

#2308092 - 07/28/14 10:40 AM Re: Advice for learning composition and arrangement [Re: ttttcrngyblflpp]
Steve Chandler Online   content
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 3205
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
In addition to what SunnyFriday posted I'd add that the mission of any composer is to be able to create music in your head and dictate it onto paper. For that purpose ear training is crucial. I know nothing of AMEB Grade 5, so let me ask does that include any solfegge or rhythm exercises? Can you identify intervals? Do you know about secondary dominants, Neopolitan sixths as well as augmented and diminished chords?

I'm not trying to scare you, because you don't need to know all that to get started. As a composer I almost always have something going in my head. If you do too then write some of it down. That's the nuts and bolts of composing. A composition lesson means you've written something and you're asking somebody who presumably knows about composing for their opinion. I wrote a choral piece and I took a lesson from someone who's a published composer and we went through it bar by bar and I got a number of useful suggestions and comments. This is weak because XYZ, or a dominant seventh chord sounds kinda boring here, can you come up with something better?

There's the old adage, "How do you get to Carnegie Hall?, practice man, practice!" Writing music is practicing the art of composition. Teachers can teach tools, techniques and ideas, but you teach yourself composition.

#2308379 - 07/29/14 04:36 AM Re: Advice for learning composition and arrangement [Re: ttttcrngyblflpp]
doubtlessbay Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/26/14
Posts: 3
Get some notation software and work on it for half an hour each day. Incorporate new concepts based on ideas you get from lessons and listening to other music. Take your work to a teacher if you find one and see what they think.

Have a look online for free tools and resources, as well. I recently found www.audiotool.com, which can create some interesting sounds. If you have an Apple or Android device there are lots of interesting music apps as well.

Theory will help you no end and is vitally important, but it is not the same as composition.


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