SOUND PATTERNS

A Structural Examination of Tonality, Vocabulary, Texture,
Sonorities, and Time Organization in Western Art Music

by PHILLIP MAGNUSON

COMPOSITION BASICS

An Approach to Beginning Musical Composition

(co-created with Steven Winteregg)

CHOOSING A TEXT
CHOOSING A MUSICAL VOCABULARY
COMBINING TEXT AND PITCH
MAKING AN ACCOMPANIMENT
ADDING OTHER PARTS
FINISHING TOUCHES
MAKING THE FINAL MANUSCRIPT
GETTING IT PERFORMED
OBSERVATIONS ABOUT COMPOSING MUSIC
FINAL THOUGHTS

INTRODUCTION

So...you want to be a composer?

Bach was...
Beethoven was...
Brahms was...

Musical composition is one of those rare disciplines that you don't really have to study to do. Having solid music skills are enough; skills like being able to play an instrument or to sing, being able to read music well, and being able to notate music. But it is only by TRYING to compose...and listening to what you've done...that can truly make you a composer.

Be yourself...no one else will

Composition is not a study of what other composers have done...that is called music theory. Composition is about IMAGINATION and COMMUNICATION. There is no right (and no wrong) in composition. How successful you are will be based on those things which you want to communicate, and how well you are able to communicate them.

As a composer, you need to find a personal voice. Simply imitating a composer you like, or a style you like, really belongs to theory/historical studies. You want to be a first-rate YOU, and not a second-rate anyone else.

Only you can do it

This electronic text is not intended to be a "how-to" presentation. Its purpose is to show you one way you might approach a specific composition project. By no means can it address all compositional issues, nor would it be any good if it did.

The goal is to get you thinking and (more importantly) DOING. Through a series of suggestions and illustrations, you will be guided into some of the techniques you might use to create a piece of music.


Copyright 2008-2009 by Phillip Magnuson.

Content on this website is licensed under a Creative Commons License.