The art and craft of creating new music.

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What does an arranger do?

When you see the "arranged by" attribution on a score, what did the arranger (typically) do?
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Does technicality detract from feeling?

Sorry in advance if you're not a metal fan--I don't mean to limit the scope of this question. Feeling has its place in a lot of different music. For a concrete example for this question, I am ...
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Composing/Arranging for a String Quartet

I've been taking arranging and composing classes at the college I'm attending and I have recently been tasked with writing a piece for a string quartet. I would like to know in general, what should ...
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Why in the study of counterpoint by johan fux are minor sixths allowed but not augmented fifth?

If augmented fifths and minor sixths are enharmonically equivalent why does johan fux in his book study of counterpoint allow minor sixths but not augmented fifths if they sound the same? How does one ...
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How would one create music based on the principles of Cubism?

How would one create music based on the principles of Cubism? (e.g., 20th century painters: Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Juan Gris, Fernand Léger) The basic definition of Cubism calls for the use ...
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Resources for “popular” counterpoint?

Basic "About Me:" I was a music and actuarial science double major, dropped the music major, and am now working as an actuarial educator full-time. I'd like to get back to composing. The biggest ...
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Does following “musical forms” suppress “creativity”?

I'm not a professional musician (actually, I'm a computer programmer), but I'm playing Guitar and Recorder, and I also sometimes write some themes coming to my mind. Thus, let's assume that I'm a ...
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What instrument can an old guy learn if the main goal is to write music

At this old age I began, two years ago learning to write music. I write it using Sibelius and let the computer play it for me. I have been strongly recommended to learn to play an instrument. I have ...
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If A minor doesn't have any accidentals, is it still minor?

As part of a music course, we have to compose a 3 minute long piece based on a river's journey. Having finished the composition, we now have to write a set of sleeve notes - basically an analysis and ...
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tips for writing the drum notes to a song in a band

I play the drums in a band, and the song has already been written and everything that the vocalist, guitarist and bassist will play. The drums were left out and I have to write them to fit the song. ...
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How do I use slash chords in music composition?

After studying pop music composition for a while I noticed that many composers use slash chords in their music. How do I use those in my own composition? When is it more preferable to use slash chords ...
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Why am I always sticking to minor keys?

When I'm improvising on my keyboard, or trying to compose a melody, I always find myself playing in a minor key -- and never a major one. (For keyboard it's usually G minor or D minor, but that I ...
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How do I write lyrics? [closed]

When I try to 'compose' a song, I can come up with chords and a melody for the voice, but I can never come up with any lyrics. Usually all the lyrics I come up with sound totally random, don't make ...
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What should I do about composing 'soft' accents for piano?

When composing for the piano, I often find myself writing a lot of sudden soft notes. I need an accent mark that suddenly softens notes. From my knowledge (and searching the web), I can not find any ...
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Is there some trick for counterpoint beyond 2 voices?

I really suck at chord harmony, so whenever I compose, I tend to use counterpoint a lot. Counterpoint is somewhat easy when you just have two voices. Because I just compose for fun, I generally do ...
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Registering with a Performing Rights Organization

Out of curiosity, I've recently taken a look at the websites of ASCAP and BMI, two big PROs. As a musician, if I wanted to hypothetically register with such an organization: Should I register as a ...
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463 views

How do you compose tuplets against straight notes?

I would like to know how to compose tuplets of odd numbers against even numbers on the piano (ie. 3 against 2). How would you go around composing something like this? I have been composing for some ...
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What's so off about the intro to Prokofiev's Dance of the Knights?

Now this question is by no means an attack on any conductor or orchestra, nor Prokofiev himself, but why does it seem that it's hard for everyone to get right into time with one another with this ...
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(Post)-minimalist compositional techniques

I was wondering if anyone out there knew of any techniques associated with the minimalist tradition. I've been really interested in the philosophical notion of minimalism over the last few months or ...
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In 12-tone music, how frequently do composers allow themselves to alternate between adjacent notes of the tone row?

In Vi Hart's video on twelve-tone nursery rhymes, she says that one of the rules of twelve-tone composition is that you're allowed to alternate between adjacent notes in the tone row as much as you ...
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How to start making musique concrète?

This is probably one of the more obscure music styles, and some of you may not even consider it as a style of music. Music or not music, it is a form of art that I am interested in making. I am a ...
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Skills for writing your own songs

What are some good starting points to begin writing songs for someone who possesses limited theory knowledge and playing experience (beginner)? What are the essentials skills and knowledge for ...
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Tips for using complex time signatures in a “catchy” pop song?

I'm looking to write some music in the vein of a band I discovered recently called Icarus The Owl, who use some pretty wacky time signatures (anything from 21/16 into weirder territories) but always ...
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The concept behind relaxing music?

I am interested to start ...
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Changing key in a song convincingly

Update 3 I have started to break down this broad question to specific, smaller questions. 1) Classical music example for seamless transition from one section to other with changing keys Say, I ...
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What is “Sonata-Allegro form” and what other similar forms should I be aware of?

There are lots of classical pieces called "Sonata", and they usually have 3 movements. But there are guitar Sonatas by Paganini that only have 2 movements! And I heard there's a crazy Tchaikovsky -- ...
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Most important musical concepts for writing songs on acoustic guitar

I want to be able to write catchy/"cool sounding" guitar parts for songs. I am currently studying music theory extensively. I am just wondering, are there any guitar-specific musical concepts that I ...
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What is the earliest known use or indication of “col legno”

col legno or col legno battuto meaning : strike (the string) with the wood (of the bow) is commonly found in 20th century chamber music. But I have heard it might have been used earlier (at least 18th ...
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Guidelines for piano composition/transcription

I'm a classical guitar student but I always loved the piano. Though I never owned one, most of my musical ideas come to me as harmonies on the keyboard so I often have to translate that into something ...
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What are the characteristics of Negro Spiritual vocal arrangements?

I've tried several times to write vocal arragnements that are in the style of Negro Spiritual music. Here's an example of the style I'm referring to. Typically, I use simple SATB style arrangements, ...
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Accidentals in First Species Counterpoint

On page 39 of Alfred Mann's The Study of Counterpoint there is a passage concerning justification of using accidentals in first species counterpoint. Here is the passage: Aloys: [...]but why did ...
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Is writing important for electronic composition?

I am an electronic producer, and I was wondering if electronic music producers even write down their music on scores? Is that important enough to do for this category of music genres? Or should I do ...
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Selling arrangements online

This summer, I want to earn money to buy sequencing software. I really enjoy arranging songs (as well as writing them) so I thought it would make sense for me to try to sell some online. Can I do that ...
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Influences of Mozart

Wikipedia article only mentions Hummel from Mozart's childhood but gives no further information. I will appreciate if someone could shed more light here, in particular which composers have had an ...
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Techniques for creating melodies

I've posted this question: Learning to create melodies I've got a few ideas of techniques towards creating melodies but wanted to ask if there are any specific methods to help get better. I've read: ...
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What purpose do accidentals serve in music?

I'm having trouble writing music containing accidentals. If the diatonic scale contains 7 related notes, what purpose do accidentals serve? If the accidental notes are not related to the overall ...
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How to keep practicing to compose music when you're too picky to listen to yourself playing

I'm a pianist, and I also compose songs in DAWs. My main spare time occupation is to improvise on the piano, and I've been doing it for several years now. Even before I learned any instruments (when ...
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How do you compose using the chromatic scale?

Writting a piece of music using the chromatic scale would be interesting, but I can't think of a way to start it? What kind of structure would a piece have? Is it all subjective and up to the composer ...
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Scales, modes, techniques for writing “Super Mario” style music

I'm looking for a push in the right direction as to how to go about writing Super Mario type video game themes. What scales/modes work best, time signatures, etc... Examples of where I'm trying to ...
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What chord is this and when is it the dominant?

For a song I've written I do a chromatic descending climb with the bass note in a Cm chord and end up with my fingers like this: First of all I'd like to know what chord this is, my guess is an A ...
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Some fear of composing?

I'm not sure if this problem is unique onto to those who start composing or even just me, but I seem to sometimes have a fear that if I tilt towards certain chord progressions while composing ...
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What's the best way to provide musicians a copy of a song to use to prepare for a recording session?

I have a few originals I am ready to professionally record and want to provide the musicians that will be recording with me an opportunity to listen to a "skeleton" of the song (most basic outline ...
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How many voices do violins usually play in modern orchestral music

I've been into arranging and composing for orchestral music for a few years now, however, my music is usually fully computer-rendered (ewql), so I don't have any practical limits of how many ...
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How can I create loopable bounces for video games?

I'm writing the music for a video game. Much of the music is going to be looped indefinitely. How can I arrange my music and bounce audio files that can be looped effectively? A naïve technique is to ...
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How does one compose fills and solos for the drumkit?

I keep hearing that rudiments are the building blocks of drumming. How do you create drum fills and solos out of rudiments? They say they're made from rudiments, are they ALL made from nothing but ...
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Natural vs tempered semi-tones

I am reading "Fundamentals of Musical Composition" by Arnold Schoenberg. Chapter XI, page 99, states: Chromaticism is difficult partly because the natural semi-tones differ in size from the ...
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Capturing music in my head

Here's a strange question, so I welcome improvements... Since I can remember, I've had grand orchestrated music pop into my head throughout the day-- sort of a musical dreaming. It's really good ...
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Uses for the Prometheus scale?

I was looking up info on scales today and found this page on scales: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_musical_scales_and_modes Scrolling through the page, I found a few interesting scales, but ...
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Composing a song in Cm with major chord substitutes

I am composing a song in Cm with a very basic chord progression of I-IV-I. So, normally, in Cm, that would be Cm7-Fm7-Cm7, but I am actually playing Cm7-F7-Cm7. First of all, why does this work? This ...
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What is this chord (spelled 2nd, 4th, 5th) and how is it used?

For the piano/composers: I compose music for the piano in my spare time, and one particular chord that has caught my attention (as one that I like a lot) is the D-F-G chord in C Major. I have seen ...