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Forms of Composition

Discussion in 'Composing' started by ryan, Aug 12, 2010.

  1. ryan

    ryan New Member

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    Anyone know the way to compose pieces like Sonatas?

    I would like to compose but I know that there are some law to follow such as the number of bars, modulations... and I don't want to mess. :oops:
    I' m trying to compose something regular, a standard Sonata.

    Any help would be appreciated. :)

    Thanks in advance.
     
  2. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    Ryan -

    There are no "laws" for composition. A composer's music reflects his imagination, his influence, his personality, his musicianship, his emotional life, and, to a certain extent, the times in which he lived. But it does not reflect natural law, though some have made an attempt. You sound, however, as if you have a certain piece or pieces in mind. I suggest that you study that piece and make a formal model of it in the piece that you write. Model it phrase by phrase and notice what the composer is doing in terms of motives, harmony, modulation, etc. Try to determine why he is doing what he does. Then, write your piece based entirely on the model piece only with your own motives, phrases, harmony, and modulations. Certain famous composers were very good at this, Tchaikovsky in particular. (Check out his 4th symphony in relation to Beethoven's 5th,) If your material seems to want to do something else, that's great, let it! The ends justify the means in composition. Good luck!

    Glenn Stalcop
     
  3. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Studying Sonata form ? Listening to Sonatas by classical masters ?
    As for other pieces, replace 'Sonata' by the desired term.
    And after that, tryout/evaluate/discard at nauseum....

    I don't think there is a 'way' to compose pieces. You got to have good and/or original ideas
    and be schooled in music theory and history, both general and of the form in question.
     
  4. ryan

    ryan New Member

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    Okay,
    Thank you.

    Thanks for the for the replies. :)
     
  5. sarah

    sarah New Member

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    I don't know if this is the type of information you're looking for, but here is my take on sonata form that I hope will be helpful. Classical sonata form (used in the first movement of a sonta) generally entails an exposition, development, and recapitulation. Sometimes there is an introduction before the exposition, a little "get ready for the big stuff" type of thing. In the exposition the composer gives two themes, one generally in the tonic and the other in the dominant. He then develops those themes in the development section, where he creatively alters and intertwines the themes, explores a variety of keys, varies rhythms, and so forth. The recapitulation is a slightly different form of the exposition. Sometimes the sonata ends with a coda.
     
  6. ryan

    ryan New Member

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    Thank you so much Sarah, this is the information I was looking for.
    I had a PDF version of an acient theory book that analysed some of Bach (?) sonata, talking about the same of your says, and even precisely by counting the bars.

    But as techneut and glenn says its about the influence you have.

    Also I forgot to precise in my first message that the information I was looking for is Scholar Form of Composition, especialy about the Sonata form.
     
  7. glenn

    glenn New Member

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    Kurt Vonnegut was asked to give a lecture on writing once at a mid-western university. He walked out to a full house and asked, "How many of you want to be writers?" After most of the audience raised their hands, he said, "Why aren't you out there writing?" At which point, he left the stage.

    If you want to compose, you have to do it. You don't know what you have to know yet. If you want to pigeon-hole Sonata form, just look in Grove; you will get more than you want. However, composing, or improvising for that matter, is all about connecting with that part of your unconscious which creates stuff out of your experience. It is a lot like dreaming. If you practice, you can remember and write down your dreams. You don't control your creativity (or your dreams), but you do have to get used to allowing it to communicate with you. You write with your left brain, but you create with your right brain, and you must develop and cultivate those connections between the two. Any way you can stimulate that is worthwhile, and composers have developed tricks over the years. (Like mimicking other composers, which I suggested earlier.) But whatever works is good, and you won't know until you try. Good luck.
     
  8. pianoman342

    pianoman342 Member Piano Society Artist

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    It sounds like the question you are asking in asking "how do I compose pieces like sonatas?" is "how do I compose?"

    I agree with glenn in his Kurt Vonnegut vignette. The analogy he made is that writing composition is similar to music composition from the standpoint of you (the composer) starting with a blank page. And if brevity is the soul of wit, Kurt Vonnegut gave the greatest lecture of his life in saying that the best and fastest way to being a great writer is simply to practice writing, without further ado. I am in college now and if some of my teachers were more brief I would appreciate it :)

    Sara gives some good advice on form.

    Techneut talks about being schooled in music theory. So more on that topic:

    I am interested in composing and e-mailed the composition professor at my university asking him if I could take his course (this was when I was a sophomore). He wrote back and told me I needed theory classes first. :lol: The upshot of the e-mail was this- once you understand what a IV dominant and subdominant chord are, it is much simpler to approach what sequence of notes either melodic or melodic stacked to be harmonic can be justified to be heard in a piece of music over other note sequence options. So in short, you need an education in music theory before you approach composition, if you really serious about your interest in composition.

    One last thing, I was reading Classical Music for Dummies by David Pogue last summer. He writes about the traits of a good composer. One thing he said that sticks with me is this. All good composers have something meaningful to say. Hope this helps!

    Riley
     
  9. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    I would say that while music theory is important, the most important thing in composing is that you must have something to say; this comes before music theory and all the forms and chord progressions associated with it. Far too many classical composers like Auber, Meyerbeer and some French Conservatory professors in the 1800s have disregarded using an original musical voice in their compositions; and while these pieces may follow what theory dictates to the smallest point, they are forgotten even by those aware of their existence. A personal voice is more important than theory, and thus I think you should improvise on the piano yourself and perhaps be familiar with how notes sound like and stuff like that first. Using this knowledge, compose a few short pieces and perhaps only then go on to study theory.
     
  10. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Absolutely. There are examples (though maybe not all too many) of composers with little or no formal training who nonetheless created great music. They had something original, powerful, and compelling to say. Likewise you have composers who have little to say but do that so splendidly that it still is enjoyable. Unfortunately, so much of the stuff submitted here lacks any form of originality as well as any form of structure. That to me is a dead end.
     
  11. differencetone

    differencetone New Member

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    The days of the sonata are over. Modern music isn't so structured. If you aren't making contemporary music, you are not a relevant composer.
     
  12. Affinity

    Affinity New Member

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    That seems to me like a very stupid generalization of what modern music is about. Might as well say that if you are not using twelve-tone or quarter-tonal music, you are not a relevant composer. Just as there is plenty of good music left to be composed in C Major, there is plenty left to be composed in set forms, in whichever way you want.
     
  13. techneut

    techneut Active Member Piano Society Artist

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    Yes this does sound a bit of an elitist and myopic statement, in the style of the radical modernists of the last century. I though those days were over, and that we could once again appreciate traditional values and forms..... Praise be that people still write sonatas and symphonies instead of wanting to be modern and original just for the sake of it.
     
  14. Sharma

    Sharma New Member

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    There was a really interesting series of lectures on audio book by Robert Greenberg called 'Beethoven's Sonatas'. Greenberg is really engaging and also quite entertaining. It is especially interesting if your interested in form because in order for him to demonstrate how Beethoven is breaking the conventions of the time he has to explain what the conventions where. I really enjoyed this series. Is worth having a collection of Beethoven scores hand whilst your listening to it.
     
  15. Syntaxerror

    Syntaxerror New Member

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    Sounds like a Stockhausen quote or something...
     

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