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I'm approaching computer music, with its opensource tools. I'm studying puredata and csound to understand music synthesis and how sounds can be generated by a computer. I'm ok and I like it, learning about different types of synthesis and how a sound can be generated.

But what I miss (I have a computer science background and never studied music) is how to make a composition itself. What are the steps to get into the knowledge for make a composition? I know the tool but I don't know how to express myself with them: I know how to make a sound with frequency modulation, or with granular synthesis, or just simple additive synthesis.. and then? How to make the structure for a piece? How to choose arrange some notes?

I hope it is clear, thank in advance.

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closed as too broad by jjmusicnotes, Shevliaskovic, Dom, kurto, Jason W Jan 20 '14 at 13:55

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

Welcome to the Site! I voted to close / hold this question because it is much, much too broad to ask. Every composer has a different take, and making sounds meaningful is something that we study and practice our entire lives; thus impossible to put forth into a neatly-worded response. Learning to express oneself takes repeated attempts as it is after all a manifestation of how we understand and perceive ourselves. That said, it is imperative to learn language conventions, so if you really are interested, you music learn music theory, style, and aesthetics. – jjmusicnotes Jan 19 '14 at 22:19
hi! I was thinking to close this question, in fact it is a little too much, you're right! – nkint Jan 19 '14 at 23:03
As a starting point, teach yourself music theory. As a computer scientist, it shouldn't be too hard for you, and then you'll know the basics. – Kevin Jan 20 '14 at 17:26

The steps to gain the knowledge to compose are similar to the steps one takes in other artistic endeavors: Learn from those who came before you.

The more songs and chord progressions you have learnt and analysed the more knowledge and experience you have to draw from when writing your own songs. In the same way a writer will read and analyse literature to understand what good literature is and how it is made.

Music theory can help with this but isn't necessary, you don't need to know what a V7 I cadence is to effectively use one in your composition, nearly every person in the western world has heard the sound of that cadence since birth. In the same way a writer needn't know what a metaphor is to use one effectively, they will have seen their use in nearly every book they've read.

You don't need to know the theoretical explanation of why something sounds good and something doesn't, your ears tell you. Any non musician can hear that B C# E over an A major chord sounds infinitely more pleasing than Bb Eb F over the same chord. You need to develop your ear and instrument skills to allow you to play what you want to hear, learn the theoretical explanation if you wish but it is ultimately your ear that makes the decisions and get the results.

To become great at something you must learn from the greats who came before you. In other words, learn and analyse as much music from as many sources as possible.

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I disagree with the premise of this answer as it promotes ignorance and illiteracy. It is also wildly narrow and will probably only cause discussion. Lastly, whether or not something sounds "pleasing" is entirely subjective and contextual. I could write a piece where Bbsus4 | A is by far the most pleasing sound. – jjmusicnotes Jan 20 '14 at 5:06
Yes, 'pleasing' is entirely subjective and is mostly cultural, most eastern music sounds unpleasing to western ears which have heard functional harmony played in 12TET their whole lives. In the same way a Bbsus4 A cadence will likely sound more pleasing to a jazz or blues musician who has heard the bII7 I (Bbsus4 A is only one note different) cadence countless times as a result of the tritone sub. of V7 I than to a classical player. My overall point is that a strong command of the sounds themselves is more important than the theoretical explanation of why or why not the sounds are pleasing. – Fergus Jan 21 '14 at 0:10
your point is understood but your logic is false: one cannot hope to attain a strong command of sounds without understanding the ways in which those sounds may interact. Only M.C. Escher gets to use one hand. – jjmusicnotes Jan 21 '14 at 2:23

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