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Topic: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfect pi

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  1. #1

    composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfect pi

    ...pitch?

    I was wondering since i compose in my head (at a basic level) much of the time but still need to play my instrument or midi input to locate notes. To anyone who has that ability, would you say your workout is better than that of the computer composer or is it more efficient and productive to use vst instruments to compose?
    Be interesting to hear thoughts.

    Thanks

  2. #2

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    I wouldn't have a direct answer to your question. My 'pitch' can be all over the place at times. So I compose by picking out melodies and harmonies on the piano or keyboard first, often recording improvised playing into the DAW and seeing what comes of it.

    I have about 5 times the amount of unedited random playing than I have of finished pieces.
    Website:
    www.grahamplowman.com
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    My Channel
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    @GPComposer
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  3. #3
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    Regarding perfect pitch: Everyone that I have know that claimed to posses it very quickly proved to me that they did not have it. When you consider the variations in pitch standards that have existed, and still exist, the term is to me close to meaningless. There are quite a few people with an accurate sense of pitch within the standard to which they are accustomed. But consider the differences of a piano passage vs the same passage performed on a violin. A good sense of relative pitch is quite useful and achievable.

    I have written much music without a computer and much using the computer. Almost all of my music begins with pencil and paper. Using the computer, I can work faster and easier, and more legibly. The music is no better or worse with or without the computer. It is my opinion that if you can't composes without a computer, you probably can't compose with a computer. The computer can be a great help, for instance, in playback of a complex passage beyond your playing skills but it must be regarded as a tool. You control it. It must not control your music.

    I compose away from the piano, without pencil and paper. frequently when resting in my comfortable recliner pretending I don't ache. Some correction become obviously necessary when I write it out and try it on the piano.

    Bleifrei organ was composed without benefit of pencil and paper, hence the name, lead-free. But I think that is probably the only piece which I have composed in this way.

    Richard

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    If a person has good relative pitch, a far greater gift than perfect pitch, composition is quite easy given a basic knowledge of music theory. If basic theory is not there, then experience can take its place. Once a person discovers that four notes apart sound like the beginning of Here Comes the Bride, that individual can always re-create that sound. With similar examples, such as 6 notes apart sound like the NBC chimes, every interval can be produced. It’s a matter of focusing the mind on sound. After that, it becomes the mysterious world of creativity.

  5. #5

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    Hi there!

    I think in practical terms of everyday writing/scoring, today we have a viable new option to "pen and paper" - in shape of "tablet + notation software". (ipad with notion, for example).

    Its has mobility and intimacy of a music sheet - while it grants you the ultimate gift of playback when needed. Best thing since d'Arezzo

  6. #6

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    Quote Originally Posted by superquartet1 View Post
    ...I was wondering since i compose in my head (at a basic level) much of the time but still need to play my instrument or midi input to locate notes. To anyone who has that ability, would you say your workout is better than that of the computer composer or is it more efficient and productive to use vst instruments to compose?...
    I think the heart of your question is that you're wondering if anyone can justifiably say it's "better" if someone is able to follow the classic "Beethoven sitting under a tree writing symphonies" model, rather than sitting down at an instrument to compose.

    I think the more typical model has always been of a composer sitting at a piano, working things out and pausing every measure or so to jot things down on staff paper. The most analogous scenario now to that is someone sitting at a MIDI keyboard to compose, and the two things, playing and notating are available simultaneously if the composer wants. And that would describe most people using DAW software, and those using notation programs along with their keyboard.

    The approach of inserting notes by hand, exactly as one draws them on staff paper, is something rather different now, since the resulting notes can be instantly heard, and they're even played on digital equivalents of physical instruments.

    But it would be foolish for anyone to claim that any one approach is superior to another. No matter how it comes about, music is always a matter of organizing improvisation. Whether the music is completely put together in someone's head, or worked out on staff paper, or captured in DAW software, or worked out in a notation program - it doesn't matter, and the method has nothing to do with the quality of the results.

    I'll walk around for days at a time with bits of music in my head, I often hum them, and then eventually I use those things as the starting point for something when I go to the keyboard.

    And, responding to the whole thread, I'm glad it's been pointed out that "perfect pitch" is an ephemeral ability, possibly one that doesn't really exist. Relative pitch is what composers have and make use of.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    Beethoven may have composed sitting under a tree, but I compose all of my symphonies sitting in the little 'half moon house'.
    Jay

  8. #8

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    A sidelight on this is the matter of experience, that undeniable
    hammer that relentlessly shapes all the moments of our futures.

    Eons ago as a youngster I approached composition in the fairly
    typical manner of sitting at a piano and working through my
    thoughts at the keyboard.

    But with age and experience, I think perhaps most writers grow
    less and less dependent on external aids. Regardless of perfect
    pitch (no, I do not have it), one learns with time and practice
    what a given combination of notes, rhythms, etc., will sound like
    without the need of any physical aural contrivance.

    In my case, my favorite way to compose in the last decade or
    two is strectched out on a big rock in the woods behind my house,
    gazing up at the night sky... and I'll rarely write anything down at
    all until I've entirely finished a piece "in mind's ear". (Indeed, by
    now, for me, using a keyboard would have a whiff of cheating about
    it -- I wouldn't feel quite right about that... lol.)

    Seriously, though -- how you go about writing is completely
    immaterial.

    What you write, and the quality of it, is truly all that matters.

    Best,




    David
    -----
    David Sosnowski
    www.DavidSosnowski.com

  9. #9

    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    Quote Originally Posted by superquartet1 View Post
    I was wondering since i compose in my head (at a basic level) much of the time but still need to play my instrument or midi input to locate notes.
    It seems to me that, like others have said on this thread (in so many words), there are quite a few ways to successfully skin an uncomposed cat.

    Here are three arguments for the non "in-head-only" method:

    Maurice Ravel was horrified to discover that one of his students was composing away from the piano, wondering how the budding artist would be able to know what his compositions were going to sound like. And at one point, Aaron Copland was hesitant to compose at the piano but felt better about doing so after he discovered that Stravinsky sometimes worked that way.

  10. #10
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: composing pen & paper without a musical instrument..is it possibe without perfec

    >What you write, and the quality of it, is truly all that matters.<

    As usual, David has got it right.

    Surely your listeners won't be able to discover what tools you used.

    But David, I question one thing. Were you really ever a youngster?

    I am not sure that I was. In my early years my mother used to call me Little Old Man (in addition to sobriquets used to describe my bladder habits).

    Richard

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