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Topic: Where to begin???

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  1. #1

    Where to begin???

    Hi all!

    I was wondering...There seems to be SO many aspects of composition (basic music theory, eat training, counterpoint, harmony, instrumentation, orchestration...) where does someone start? You study the basics first, but then after that where do you go?

    I'm just starting out and am a little confused by all of this information, so it would be helpful to know where to begin. I've I have two semesters of theory and ear training done at my college and have several books, but I really don't know where to start, so any help would be greatly appreciated!!!

    Thanks!

    Rob

  2. #2

    Re: Where to begin???

    Hi


    One of the reasons why this on-line course is so great, especially the exercises is because they're encouraging you to experiment. Create your own melody, to see how instruments blend together and their balance, basically what works and what doesn't.

    Having the knowledge definitely makes composing easier but not all those that posses it, are good composers. There are many great composers out there who don't know much about music theory but you'd never know it and that's because they're passionate about composing, have a great vision about what they want their music to be but, more importantly their minds are unplugged from a set of written rules.

    My suggestion to you is simply to compose and experiment as much as you can treating music theory / orchestration materials only as mere guides somewhere to turn to when you get stuck in your writing and to solve certain problems, otherwise they will dampen your creativity. The greatest music comes from the heart not a book.


    Good Luck!


    Tom G.

  3. #3

    Re: Where to begin???

    Thanks for the suggestions, but I already know this to some degree. I've been composing music for a very, VERY short time and I'm ready to start improving my craft. I'm just looking for suggestions on were to begin my studies.

    I'm going to school for music, but their music program is more centered around pop/rock music and recording. This is fine for students interested in those areas. I am in the composing major at the school, but the only required classes is theory 1-4, the various instrument methods classes, and applied composition lessons (which, once again, is centered around singer/songwriter/jazz/rock stuff). This is leaving out a TON of information and I'm finding that I am needing to learn the other parts of composing on my own. (orchestration, counterpoint, harmony.)

    I would like to leave my current school to find a better music department, but alas I cannot afford it.

    Rob

  4. #4

    Re: Where to begin???

    Well, Rob, I think that a school more suited to your needs is not necessarily a more expensive one. I go to a state school not far away from where I live. It's got a rather small music department, and aside from our award-winning trumpet studio (as if our trumpet players needed bigger heads), we're not very well known, but, in my experience, it's been a wonderful school for me to go to. The composition program when I entered was practically non-existant, but upon seeing my talent, the faculty was more than willing to accomodate to my needs, and -- wouldn't you know it? -- the composition program has been growing, because my interest ended up sparking interest in others.

    Well, basically what I'm saying is that this is happening in a small, relatively inexpensive school. You don't need to go to Juilliard to get quality music education. Don't give up your search for an inexpensive school more suited to your needs than where you're currently studying. You may just be surprised by what you find.

    And as for where to start, I think this forum right here is a great place! I know I've learned a great deal in the time that I've been visiting.
    Aeterna
    The Ravenclaw Musician
    my_blog, my_t-shirt_shop

  5. #5

    Re: Where to begin???

    Hi Rob,
    I'm not familiar with the US education system, but I'm guessing that colleges probably offer the kind of courses that they think will get enrolments, and in a lot of cases that probably means pop/rock/jazz orientated courses. I don't know if you've spoken to the staff about your position, but if not it may be worth trying. I'm sure they wouldn't like to hear that a student was considering moving to a different school because the course isn't covering the ground they are interested in. You never know, you might even find a frustated tutor who's itching for a chance to teach the stuff you're after.

    Teachers in my experience (from both sides of the fence!) are generally a good lot, and if you approach them politely they'll usually be willing to help out or advise you, or if they can't to put you in touch with someone who can. They should at least have suggestions for further study for students who want to go beyond the standard syllabus.

    Whatever you do, good luck with it!
    Ben

  6. #6

    Re: Where to begin???

    So what school are you currently attending? Ben and Rob?

    I wish I entered a music degree program such as composition and theory. I love music and it makes me forget bad things, but i had to just kind of secure my future. I ended up going to Full Sail(www.fullsail.com) for Recording Arts. Do you know of any good music programs in Florida?

  7. #7

    Re: Where to begin???

    I currently go to greenville college in illinois.

    I actually shouldn't bash the program to bad. It's decent, for a small school. I actually am going to be talking to the staff. There is getting to be more and more of us composition majors and I think that they may be ready to start adding a few classes, such as orchestration and composition.

    As far as music schools in florida... I really don't know any. But I'm sure that most state schools have a decent department.

  8. #8

    Re: Where to begin???

    I've been self studying this stuff for a while now.. the biggest change I would make if I could go back is integrating ear training and sight singing and dictation earlier on in my course of study.. You pretty much need strong skills in those areas before tackling counterpoint, as counterpoint is less about mechanical details and more about learning to hear and think contrapuntally, through sight singing one line while playing another and switching etc.

    Even harmony to some extent requires those, but to a lesser degree.. you somewhat learn what the different chord progressions sound like by hearing them enough times and then you have an idea how your harmonization will sound, even if you can't sing the different lines at sight..

    Excellent book for sight singing is "Sight Singing: Pitch, Interval and Rhythm" by Samuel Adler.. Get that, go through it carefully and methodically (the suggested course of study is in the preface), and grab some Bach chorales for extra practice and sing the different voices seperately.. try to remember the others in your head while singing that one voice.. goes a long way towards building up the inner ear!!

  9. #9

    Re: Where to begin???

    Quote Originally Posted by Narator
    So what school are you currently attending? Ben and Rob?

    I wish I entered a music degree program such as composition and theory. I love music and it makes me forget bad things, but i had to just kind of secure my future. I ended up going to Full Sail(www.fullsail.com) for Recording Arts. Do you know of any good music programs in Florida?
    Hi Narator,
    I've been out of formal education for about 6 years now. Before that I also took the sensible route and got myself a maths degree, so my last formal music compostition or theory training was in high school about 10 years ago. I was lucky to go to a high school that taught music using the Kodaly method from Hungary, which is excellent for ear-training, sight-singing and dictation. I'd recommend it for anyone starting out with those things, if you can find classes.

    I'm from the UK, so not really able to provide advice on programs in Florida! Good luck finding something, though. In the meantime there's a wealth of self-study options which are all just as valid as a college course. In fact, my main regret about not going to music college is losing out on the contacts and support network, rather than the academic side. Not that I want to put anyone off studying at college, rather just saying that it's not the be all and end all.

    To get back to the original question of this thread, here's pretty much the order I learnt (I should say am learning) in:

    1. Ear Training
    2. Harmony and Counterpoint
    3. Instrumentation and Orchestration

    I guess it makes sense - ear training provides the tools to learn with, harmony and counterpoint inform you about what notes to write then instrumentation and orchestration teach you about setting those notes. Of course, once you start any of these subjects, you never stop learning about them, so the whole thing continues to build on itself.

    Cheers,
    Ben

  10. #10

    Re: Where to begin???

    Quote Originally Posted by benhillyard
    I was lucky to go to a high school that taught music using the Kodaly method from Hungary, which is excellent for ear-training, sight-singing and dictation. I'd recommend it for anyone starting out with those things, if you can find classes.
    Wow, that is lucky. Sad to say, high school music in America lacks a few things. In many schools (at least around where I live) you can be in band or choir or orchestra, and that's about it. Music theory? Ear-training? What's that?

    So college music majors are basically starting from scratch. I picked up some theory books on my own during high school, and by the time I started college, I found myself to be quite a bit ahead of everyone else in theory and ear-training. I guess that made up for my non-existant skill in performance!

    To get back to the original question of this thread, here's pretty much the order I learnt (I should say am learning) in:

    1. Ear Training
    2. Harmony and Counterpoint
    3. Instrumentation and Orchestration
    That makes perfect sense. At my school, however, we take two years each of theory and ear-training side-by-side. Ear-training is quite a bit behind theory as far as what concepts we're learning. At the end of two years of theory, we covered set theory as well as serialism, while in ear-training, we were still back at secondary dominants. This seems very backwards to me.

    I have yet to formally study orchestration. My school offers it every other year with the requirement that you must have completed sophomore theory and ear-training. So, here I am, having completed the requirements, and it's not offered until next year. ::sigh::

    Of course, I still love my school, it just gets frustrating sometimes.
    Aeterna
    The Ravenclaw Musician
    my_blog, my_t-shirt_shop

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