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Topic: Writing for Strings

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  1. #1

    Writing for Strings

    Hey,

    Is anyone here currently taking the Alexander University Writing for Strings course?

    I have never taken any formal music classes and am very eager to begin learning - after looking around at a few online options, as I don't have the time to attend classes - I decided to get my degree from Alexander U.

    I purchased the Applied Professional Harmony 101 & 102 books and received them a couple days ago - I'm currantly on page 135.

    I don't want to write film music or pop/rock - but I wanted to eventually write a symphony. Mozart is my favorite composer of all time, so I am most likely to emulate his work at first, while finding my own voice.

    I was just wondering if the Writing For Strings course should be my next step, or if anyone has any experience with it? The mentoring program sounds very very interesting - as does the opportunity to have the students' works performed live.

    Thanks in advance for any info/insite.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  2. #2
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    Re: Writing for Strings

    I'm about to order it. So I'm interested in what others have to say about this course, too.

    And Alan, maybe we can work it through together somehow. I'm unlikely to start in earnest for a little while, but we should keep in touch...

    - Stefan

  3. #3
    Senior Member
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    Re: Writing for Strings

    I'm very interested in what people who have taken this class have to say about it !!

  4. #4

    Re: Writing for Strings

    Quote Originally Posted by sbkp
    I'm about to order it. So I'm interested in what others have to say about this course, too.

    And Alan, maybe we can work it through together somehow. I'm unlikely to start in earnest for a little while, but we should keep in touch...

    - Stefan
    Stephan,

    Yeah man that sounds like a good idea. Maybe even a very small dedicated group to keep each other focused and motivated. I have a free server we could use as an FTP location for sharing our work, and maybe a small private forum for chatting.

    Everyone could take it at their own pace, and we could even have little friendly competitions and the like. I dunno - just throwing out some suggestions.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  5. #5
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    Re: Writing for Strings

    Sounds great. Just having the opportunity to bounce things off someone going through the same concepts would be incredibly valuable, I think. I also have server space if need be.

    Competitions, eh? What do you win? The right to go on to the next chapter?

    Like I said, I'm hoping to order the course soon. And I might just dip my toes in at the beginning. But we have a baby coming in a couple of weeks, so I think it'll be at least a few weeks after that before I can really dive in.

    Since it's self-directed, everyone will naturally go at their own pace, as you said. One thing to watch for, though, is that whoever happens to be ahead doesn't feel like they're being taken advantage of (or taken for granted). Like if A is ahead of B, then we don't want A feeling like, "Man, I always answer B's questions, but I'm not getting much out of this."

    Of course, we can learn a lot by teaching, so A's suspicion in that case probably isn't true.

    Just some thoughts...

    - Stefan

  6. #6

    Re: Writing for Strings

    Completely agree - I actually already got a PM from another member that would be interested so... I guess I'll check into it seriously over the next couple of days and see what I can put together for us as far as a private discussion forum and the FTP log-in etc. Again everyone at their own pace.

    Sounds like it could be a great motivator for all involved. Most successes had their "schools" (mindsets) of people working together.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

  7. #7

    Re: Writing for Strings

    I learned string writing through a variety of sources: I studied orchestration for two semesters at the university, I read a couple of books on string writing, and I talked to a lot of string players about proper technique. (I was known at one time for writing double stops from Hell!) I also discussed orchestration (with lots of talk on strings) with composition instructors. I must also state that we covered MIDI orchestration too.

    I would suggest buying full orchestral scores. That would one excellent way to learn good orchestration techniques in general. The John Williams material is very useful for study. Many 19th century composers would also be useful for study.

    If such a program for helping others orchestate is established, I would be happy to help! Let me know how things are progressing.

  8. #8

    Re: Writing for Strings

    As the text writer, here are a few thoughts.

    First, I recommended APH 101 and 102 because this covers enough harmony to write the majority of pop tunes.

    Second, each text is designed to be equal to a semester's worth of work, and so, should take an average of 3-4 months to complete. These titles are specifically written as a songwriter's approach to harmony and so have you building chord progressions in each mode. As these chord progressions are built, the idea is to orchestrate them with strings, brass and winds, so that you learn early, various orchestral combinations and how they sound.

    Third, if you go to the home page, www.alexuniv.com, you'll see a screen shot from the Thesaurus of Orchestral Devices I'm about to post. Because of my dad's death in August, I had to cross the country three times, and this put me a bit behind. However, this will up shortly and has been expanded to include Jupiter The Bringer of Jollity from The Planets by Holst. Combined, these two scores cover a large number of orchestral devices used by strings. There is simply nothing like it, from ANYONE!

    Fourth, the lessons also include basic coverage of VSL, GPO, QLSO and SISS. Although we're handling Kirk's library, I felt it necessary to briefly touch on each of the libraries available and how to approach them when doing MIDI mock-ups.

    Whether starting with APH or WFS, the whole idea is to gain writing experience by learning to blend recording and mixing with harmony, orchestration and arranging.

    For those who'd like to join Alan and form a group, I'd be glad to moderate and "tutor" online those who participate.
    Peter L. Alexander
    www.professionalorchestration.com
    www.alexanderpublishing.com
    Learn it right the first time.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: Writing for Strings

    Hey everybody,

    I was going to jump in and suggest augmenting the course with a tutor, and Peter beat me to it. You will go faster in any course work when you can also engage a mentor of some kind to help you focus your efforts.

  10. #10

    Talking Re: Writing for Strings

    Peter,

    I was just picking up the phone to call you and make you aware of the thread plus my intentions with the group - the fact that you are willing to help is great and welcomed very much so - I will keep you posted as I get this moving and set up.

    Thanks everyone else for your thoughts. Esperlad and I worked together on two of my pieces what seems like years ago. Your help would also be welcomed.
    Alan Lastufka | www.BelaDMedia.com
    Producer/Artistic Design | Content Producer

    20 Things

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