I was thinking the other day (I do that sometimes) how much easier it would have been to be a composer in the early days. For example:
- Gregorian chant? You hold that low drone for a while, and then we’ll move up and down this scale I invented. Ohhh, I got an idea! Let’s sing in this cavernous church.
- Traveling troubadours? I can use these same three chords. No one has heard them in every country song written yet.
- I bet no one said to Bach: “Hey, J.S., I love that tune, but doesn’t it kind of sound like In-A-Gadda- Da-Vida?”
We could have had more or less than 12 tones in western music, but nooo, someone decided to use that division. For you Ancient Alien fans, I think there was a show all about the number twelve. Just sayin’.
Do the math. There are many combintaions you can get with just twelve notes, but ultimately, you are going to write something that will get you sued. Bach then (ha!) everything was new. Oh, I’m sure there was the occasional fugue fight, or arguments on who’s motet that really was, or who was the real father of the symphony (psst–Haydn), but what you wrote was more than likely going to be brand new.
There are times when I am composing that I have to change certain notes because even though they fit and sound exactly how I wanted it to, it reminds me of something else that I’ve heard. You would think that it would happen more often than it does, but I’m sure glad it doesn’t.
The next few Mondays will give some insight into one composer’s process (mine, but you knew that): what I’ve learned, forgotten, ignored, and dismissed. So, you guessed it, sometimes I just wing it.
Tune in next Monday!
Leon Stevens is a multi-genre author, composer, guitarist, songwriter, and an artist, with a Bachelor of Music and Education. He published his first book of poetry, Lines by Leon: Poems, Prose, and Pictures in January 2020, followed by a book of original classical guitar compositions, Journeys, and a short story collection of science fiction/post-apocalyptic tales called The Knot at the End of the Rope and Other Short Stories. His newest publications are the novella trilogy, The View from Here, which is a continuation of one of his short stories, and a new collection of poetry titled, A Wonder of Words.
5 thoughts on “Music Monday: Composing something original”
I love all types of music. For a long time, I had wanted to learn how to play the acoustic guitar. Of course, I decided not to bother at my age but I did find this guy’s YouTube channel. I think he’s fun to watch and find him interested – https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCi-zKpTgJWHlEveVlxRLnGQ
Looking forward to your Music Monday posts.
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Never too late. Music is very therapeutic.
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I never really thought about how challenging it would be to compose something new. It has so much people creating music that it is bound to have similar tunes. You composers are amazing. I have always wanted to learn to play the piano and violin, still on my bucket list. For now I am just enjoying listening to music.