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Music Composition is the art and science of Rhythm, Melody, and Harmony. It can be created by a sole composer or a group of composers (I call this team composition). Individual composers typically compose in a consistent instrumentation style that is very much recognizable as their own. As a result, they usually stay within comfortable and creative boundaries. Team composition will typically take a musical idea and dramatically alter it with the unique ideas of other composers. Team compositions usually vary much more in style ranges and rhythms. Whichever composition technique you choose (or which method chooses you) you must be willing to graciously accept what comes out and not harshy judge the outcome. Just because something is not 100% what you expected to hear does not mean it is not good composition. Most times, musical ideas require quite a bit of elaboration in order to develop the material into a final product. Just like a baseball batter does not hit a home run on the first at bat...
Having some basic gear will help you compose and collect your musical ideas. For starters, I recommend a hand-held digital recorder. I have used a TASCAM DR-1 model but that is not to say that you should go looking for one. Other TASCAM models are the DR-40 and DR-100. When I first got started, I used...
When I think of a musical idea or play a riff I like, I will record it into my recorder. On occasion, I will think of musical ideas when I'm driving or doing household chores. Sometimes, I have musical ideas while I'm listening to other music - especially when I turn music down low and elaborate on an idea that I think I heard. Often times, full band compositions are composed around a single little riff. By comparison, motorcycle builders, landscape architects, and interior designers commonly design an entire environment around a center piece or motif. Sometimes your musical ideas will...
The more input material you can bring into your mind, the more likely you are to create advanced output. New ideas can bounce around in your noggin' and later release themselves as a new concept and musical pattern. This is what our standardized educational systems are all about, right? Lots of educational material in, responsible and smart people as output. At least, that is the plan. Think for a moment about college professors (especially a Ph. D.). They are known for owning huge libraries of books and for having read more material than dozens of commoners. This ability to process and reprocess information along with new ideas and concepts is what drives them forward. Interestingly, you don't have to be a college professor in order to leverage this secret. In the realm of learning and cognitive sciences this ability to learn skills, apply skills, and later "think outside the box" with innovative concepts is referred to as higher-order thinking. We can all implement this method without limits. While all of us fall into a range of intelligence, all our minds still operate the same way. We listen/read, learn, understand the new material against our preexisting (or old) mind models, and later we reflect on the material or experience. It is after all this occurs that we start to think about how we can apply this knowledge in other areas (i.e. innovate). When you first encounter this type of "forward thinking" you will feel like you just unlocked the secrets of alchemy by creating something new from a collection of preexisting models. Fortunately for us, when it comes to creativity and art, those previous experiences become vital to our existence and our ability to create new things. Without those previous experiences, we would not be where we are today.
The goal of input is to stock pile as many musical ideas as possible (as input to your mind) and later these ideas will matures and become something of higher creativity. Music majors in college are required to not only take up a second instrument (if they haven't already) but they are also required to sing in the choir. The program is designed to surround the music students with as much music as possible and also music from different parts of the world, time period (era), genres, and even musical venues (practice rooms, small chamber halls, large performance theaters). Other examples for "HOT" (higher-order thinking) are custom motorcycle builders and culinary chefs which are great at merging new ideas with tried-and-true traditions to create works of art. Just watch the competition shows on TV and you will quickly gain an understanding of how creativity and innovation can appear right before your eyes. In the basic sense, if you only sit around and bang out G, C and D on your guitar or grind away with metal power chords (E, F, G) then that is probably the only thing that is going to come out of your mind and therefore, your hands. Another situation is "distortion players" which never switch their amp to the clean channel. If you never explore the realm of clean guitar signal then you are missing out on the natural tone of the instrument. Steve Morse and Al Di Meola are very good examples of a players who use a mix of clean and drive channels. Another example you might not immediately think of is Metallica. They have some very cool "clean guitar" signal moments - my personal Metallica favorites are on the Master of Puppets album. Also, check out YouTube videos of Metallica or Yngwie Malmsteen playing with an orchestral backup.
Ideas are also akin to planting a seed (thought) in your mind for let's say, purchasing a new phone or car. Suddenly, you start seeing your desired phone or car everywhere you go and you will think to yourself, "I have never noticed so many XYZ's before." Ideas work this way and we must strive to bring in new material and new ideas to push our boundaries so we...
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