Music and Composition

On copyright

October 27, 2012

At some point when circumstances allow, I will include MIDI files of my music to illustrate what is possible with my method which I described in my last offering.  In the meantime, a discussion of the current state of the idea of copyright is pertinent.  Do you believe that an originator of intellectual property is entitled to protection under the law from plagiarists or, as much of the internet community seems to believe, that music should be freely circulated and judged by the majority?
That is a nice, utopian idea but does not protect the originator from fraud and cheapens the output on the market, in my estimation.  Under the old regime, copyright allowed a composer to have music published and guaranteed payment of royalties without the danger of others claiming authorship.  Where is that surety under the alternative, anarchic situation?

Personally, I am afraid to submit my work to such a tribunal.  It seems to be prepared to judge everything by the current state of popular music which, to someone who has lived through many different styles and times when both classic and modern music were given equal respect, is lacking in both depth and subtlety.

A rationale for the new approach tends to invoke democracy but, in reality, it is a form of the tyranny of the majority which will, in time, deter creative people from attempting more than the mediocre which the lowest common denominator of taste demands.  The returns for the effort required for great works will not be available and the energy will be better spent in more remunerable industry.  After all, one has to eat.

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My system of musical composition

October 11, 2012

I have a philosophy on musical composition which may be novel, heretical even, to the music establishment.  I believe that the formal learning of structure and organisation of sounds in music, such as memorisation of all the chords and keys, can be bypassed in music writing and that emphasis on complete chords inhibits real creativity and results in ponderous compositions, in many cases.

You need three things only, in my estimation, to produce viable works quickly and efficiently under my system, even if you do not have advanced training in musical theory.

They are:

1.  Some ability in conceptualising melodies, harmonies and countermelodies;

2.  Some experience of playing a musical instrument (I play Cornet, Trumpet and French Horn);

3.  A keyboard or a music writing program on your computer (I use the free program, MuseScore).

In this system, the first step is to compose a melody which can, of course, conform to one of a great many formats of time signature and metre.  The main thing is that it sounds balanced and complete and does not sound too much like a melody you have already heard.  This may be done with any instrument and a pencil although, if it is not a keyboard in concert pitch, you will be confined to the particular pitch of the instrument.  Alternatively, and more flexibly, you can use a music writing program.

MuseScore.com allows free download of their program with no future obligation.  It is easy to use but has some propensity to lose coordination of the screen image.  In that case, no work is lost or corrupted.  You merely need to save the file and close and reload the program.  Other more sophisticated programs may be purchased online.  With these programs, the notes are written directly to the page and sounded at the same time.  Replay is available at any time with note indication.  All instruments are shown as a score and sounded simultaneously.  Scores can be printed in a professional manner.

Step Two is to create a harmonising countermelody below the melody.  This may be for a different instrument, depending on the concept you have in mind, in which case the music writing program is most useful.  If you have been accustomed to hearing and distinguishing the parts of musical compositions while playing in an ensemble or listening, you will be able to imagine suitable tones to accompany the melody.

In Steps Three and Four, two more countermelodies are created below the first.  If you are proficient in holding the theme in your mind, all these threads will fit together.  You will be surprised that the whole piece harmonises with only a few instances of discord, which can be easily corrected.  Where a discord is resolved by the following chord, it may not need to be altered.

This system works for me by obviating the need to know and write in the appropriate whole chords.  It results in more polyphony and therefore interest in the music than a mere chordal arrangement.

As you may have inferred, I am not trained in composition and much formal theory but I have written music in the classical tradition which I have submitted to international competitions (we’ll see how they turn out).  I am interested in freeing you from the tyranny of thinking that you cannot write the music that you feel.

If you want to experiment with this method, please comment or ask for any clarifications needed.  I will not, however, accept any adverse judgements made on the basis of disbelief.

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