Learn to Compose in Just 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed

Almost a decade ago people used to look at me funny when I said something like: Anybody can compose music. My if-I-can-do-it-you-can-do-it attitude often confused friends and family, and sometimes ruffled the feathers of composer acquaintances. But as someone who has been creating music as long as I can remember, I knew how easy it really was. Why does everybody think it’s so difficult?

To prove my point, I enlisted my musically illiterate boyfriend and our mutual friend, Catherine, to help compose a piece for two violins and four boomboxes. Over the course of an afternoon they made a lot of decisions for me, chose pitches, and completely determined the order of the musical material by gluing notated phrases to the page piece by piece. Now that I think about it, I feel bad not crediting them in the program as co-composers. Sorry guys. Nevertheless, thanks, the piece turned out beautifully.

Today I still contend that we all possess the necessary skill set to compose music. But with software like GarageBand, Soundtrack Pro, Reason, Fruity Loops, and an ocean of shareware music creation programs available on the net, my stance isn’t going to raise too many eyebrows these days. It’s amazing how attitudes and situations can change over the course of eight years—doing my best to hold back the Bush insult here, so feel free to insert your own. Anyway I, for one, am more than happy to welcome more hobbyist composers to the fray. Join the club. It certainly doesn’t hurt to have more and more people fostering a new relationship to music, the kind which can only be achieved by the act of composing.

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2 thoughts on “Learn to Compose in Just 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed

  1. jcw@webbermusic.com

    in response to Randy Nordschow’s Learn to Compose in Just 30 Minutes or Less, Guaranteed

    Much as I applaud the idea of getting everyone to compose I was initially startled to read that anyone could in just thirty minutes -guaranteed! On rereading the article I had to agree, but with the caveat that although one might learn to compose a piece of music in thirty minutes it will still take a lifetime of study and work to become a composer. After all, children at school regularly write stories but how many turn in to great writers? In similar vein I have been composing for over thirty years now but that does not make me a composer.

    This distinction is important. Not because I’ve spent many years studying and therefore so should everyone else, but because it is important to realise just how much more there is to music than can be achieved in one half-hour.

    Apropos the final comment "Of course anyone can compose. To hear it performed is a whole other thing." If "To hear it performed" means to hear with the inner ear (ie the mind) then this is undoubtedly true. If it is meant as put-down it is untrue, as attested by the lives of many a composers who died, unheard, in poverty.

    Dr. John Webber
    jcw@webbermusic.com
    http://www.webbermusic.com

    Reply

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