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This 24 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] > >  
  Re: Overture to the Snow Goose  Sid Barnhoorn at 14:41 on 19 March 2007

I use the pencil&paper method plus working out stuff on my guitar and working directly on the computer although I'm doing alot of pencil&paper work when I'm traveling or when I'm taking a nice long walk in the dunes/beach here.

I have to say all these methods work for me but I mostly work on my computer and use my guitar at times.

I'm currently working on a new filmproject, a sci-fi flick. Very subtle in the beginning but as we get to the end of the film and we get the clue at the end the music takes over. I'm working out my theme's, motifs and ostinati use at the moment. I'm basically plotted out the structure of the piece and how it should progress but still it's an interesting process to work on. Also for this project Im gonna try some technique-mixing and see how that works in terms of my sound and in conjunction with the movie so it gets its own fresh sound. Which is always a tough job! ;-)

I've put some new work on my site btw in the Featured Cues section, all from filmprojects though, but if interested, check it out! :-)


Siddhartha Barnhoorn
sid barnhoorn

  scott  KateM at 09:48 on 20 March 2007

Scott, I totally agree with what you say there about computers - it annoys me how much of a snobbery there is about composing on the computer - I used to hear it about composing at the piano if you can believe that - you were only a proper composer if you could do it all in your head without needing to go to the piano! Now you are not a proper composer if you try things out on the computer - I guess narrow minds will always be with us.

That said, there are frustrations when you come up against the limits of the software and its also important to step back from it and think away from the computer. I just read Avner Dorman's interview on CT and he said he switches it around, sometimes at the computer, sometimes at the piano, sometimes on paper - that's a good model I think.

  Sibelius  James McFadyen at 10:48 on 20 March 2007

Don't get me wrong, I'm not against computers for music making.

I myself am also a Dance Music Producer and know only too well how great technology can be.

I know many famous composers use Sibelius to compose music. But that's people who started on pencil and paper and know the technique really well indeed.

But, a lot of todays younger composers rarely write dots on paper now and it is a shame that we are losing this art, because believe me it is an art and every composer should start out this way, then perhaps in 5 or 10 years can migrate to the computer if said composer finds it "easier". I have been composing for 12 years now and I still swear by using pencil and paper and then putting it on the computer.

Each to their own and all, but for the pencil and paper method will always be my compositional medium.

P.S: Kate, there is a certain amount of irony when you speak of the narrow minded.

  l  KateM at 11:03 on 20 March 2007

I agree with you about starting out on paper, but I don't understand what you mean in your p.s.
Also out of interest which 'famous composers' do you know of who do use sibelius?

  Re: software-friend or foe.  Hugh Boyle at 14:55 on 20 March 2007

Check out for 'famous' people who use it, a few of whom are composers. For me, John Rutter and Steve Reich are the most obvious. I guess one could debate whether or not using the software impacts on their final creative outcome however it is ominous that Mr Rutter states that it "Does just about everything except think up the music for me". This could be interpreted as indicating that he does most of his composing at the computer but I wouldn't imagine a supposed musical 'clever-person' like him would start out away from the piano, or whatever. Who knows.
I generally start at the piano and write down a few ideas on paper and then develop them at the computer. However, I must stress that I do the developing, not the computer. I always think things out and make the software do what I want. Although there is no physical piece of paper to represent the working out it does not mean that the process didn't take place.

  Re: Overture to the Snow Goose  jujomonk at 22:46 on 22 March 2007

I am rather new to composing. I've only been composing for a year and a half now, which includes learning musical theory as well. At 21, I think I have a long way to go before becoming comfortable with my writing style.

This said, I use composition programs on the computer almost exclusively. I pretty much only write with pen and paper, or fool around on the piano, when I want to quickly access a melody or harmonic structure. I basically have been building my sound instincts and abilities slowly over time from nothing. I have very little instrumental instruction, except a year of violin, which actually first taught me how to read sheet music. I pretty much feel right now that I am incapable of producing full quality music within my head alone.

Is this a bad thing? Of course, but it does not determine the quality of music I can currently make. I now have something up my sleeve: the ability to produce music from pure creativity, and not to be limited by my lack of an inherent musical mind. I have a musical mind in a sense, but only as a listener of classical music. If you think about it, famous composers always have tricks up their sleeves to succeed. I feel Mozart cheated because he was born into a musical family, and was able to learn music coming out of the womb. I am 21, with no musical training except my own, and I am going to use whatever "tricks" I can to succeed.

There is no way you can consider writing your music out on the computer as some form of degrading or lesser art. Art is art. The end result is what matters. How you get there has no influence on the work in hand. Much like using a typewriter to write a book, or using a pen and paper. The ending is not truly influenced by the machine. I am sure that when the typewriter was developed, it was considered some sort of antigod to the art of writing. A quicker way that somehow would produce shortcomings in the work itself. Now, that idea would seem ludicrous, as typing has become the primary style of communicating the written word.

But like I previously stated, to exclusively use the computer to compose is not truly superior to handwriting your scores. I have some problems with it, such as the inability to control myself from overly listening to my own pieces, which can easily create a sort of creative block, in which my music creation stagnates for a while. But my ability to listen to my pieces allows me, as a new composer, the ability to hear sounds in which I may have a hard time imagining. But nonetheless, if you are creative and know what you want, you will achieve an end result that is exemplary of the art of music.

I will succeed. I will become a great composer, there is no doubt. If you look at how I originally learned to write music and you claim my title as false, I will show you my art, I will show you my passion and my abilities, and in one swift move my art alone will crush you beneath its heel.

  Re: Overture to the Snow Goose  scott_good at 00:40 on 23 March 2007

jojomonk, you are something else.

i would like to add a few points.

as kate mentioned (thank you), there are limitations to a softwares ability to realize ideas. i have spent many frustrating hours trying to figure out aleotoric , graphic, and extended techniques that would be easy with pen and paper (and playback is useless...). i think that one could be turned away from using these kinds of notations when composing at the computer, and this would be a mistake.

however, %80 + of my music does not use these techniques, so, the computer works well for my own "voice".

and, i have used each notational challenge as an opportunity to learn the software (finale in my case). after 8 years, and dozens of scores later, i feel well in control of the software's limitations - but i continue to try my hardest to never let it's quirks affect my artistic choices.

btw - i always start on paper - scribbles, lines, arrows, words, the occasional note, some set class ideas, chords, melodic fragments, orchestrations etc. in the beginning, i like to brainstorm really fast - possibly realize an entire work in the time it would take to play (i'm so geeky about this, that sometimes i put a metronome on and improv. on paper in time). but then to the computer. i will fine tune material at the piano, as it allows me to spend time on the phrasing qualities or chord balance better than the computer. my trombone isaround + i sing + a guitar tuned in 5ths to work out string fingerings + orchestration books + books about individual instruments + some percussion gear + bookmarks to instrument web pages + friends who play any instrument to ask questions.

however, the computer is great for working on form, timing, harmony, orchestration, rhythm, tempo etc.

basically i believe any and all tools are worth using to build the score. jojo is right when saying the final product is all that matters.

  Re: Overture to the Snow Goose  piargno at 20:42 on 31 March 2007

But there is a BIG difference between using the typewriter to write a book and using Finale/Sibelius/etc... to put in a score. It's actually FASTER to write out most scores by hand. I'm sure when the typewriter came out, it did not include an "automatic plot creator" or an "automatic character developer." And that's the difference.

  Re: Overture to the Snow Goose  jujomonk at 23:03 on 08 April 2007

If you know what you want to write into your score, the computer is much quicker (Unless you don't have the appropriate computer skills, of course). You do not have to worry about the size of your staves or the sheets of paper you use because the computer has easy systems of solving these problems for you. In terms of getting your music onto musical staves of appropriate size and neatness, the hand falls short of the computer in nearly every way. To easily jot down small musical motifs or phrases...well, that can be left to the hand, since the required time to get to your computer takes longer than to write them down.

This idea of automatic development escapes me. I am pretty sure that the computer can not tell you what should come next, even when using extremely advanced notational equipment.

The idea I used with the typewriter was that it gives the writer an abnormally quick writing speed. With a quicker method of capturing ideas comes the problems that always come with speed: the brain's inability to keep up with the speed resulting in creative stagnation more often than not; as well as the brain's ability to keep up with the speed out of necessity, but at a reduced state of cognition, or focused thought. Both can easily result in mistakes or ways out of problems with less than desireable affects.

My comparison with the typewriter was to show that computer notation can arrive at the same problems; Problems caused by the speed at which you can expel your ideas.

That is why most people complain about computer notation as the primary source of trading information. They believe that the people who use the computer will take the "easy" way out by being able to quickly write out their ideas, and thus taking less time to completely think them out. This, by the beliefs of the antagonists, results in an unoriginal and trite musical idea, resulting in a deprecation of the art. Tersely stated: the belief that the speed in which a work is completed is inverse to how poor that piece has turned out. The faster you go with minimal technical problems and limitations, the worse off as an artist you will be.

This, of course, is all biased speculation on the idea that greatness can only be achieved through the epitome of hard work. The less hard you have to work, the less great your work. But, of course, prodigies do not count. They may have started out life in an easy fashion, perfect hearing and all, but they worked really hard and that is what made them great (Sarcasm).

In my own sense of biased speculation, I believe that people who spit all over everyone else for having it "easy", are actually those of moderate mind who only wish they could be great.

This 24 message thread spans 2 pages:  < <   1  [2] > >