I'm wondering if rap/hip-hop music is composed of using a musical instrument like a piano and writing down notes on sheet music?

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    Is rock and pop music composed that way? i've composed lots of rock music and I've never done it by writing down sheet music. And that's not even because I don't know how. I'm currently working on a non-rock composition with a friend and we are doing it 100% with sheet music. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 12:19
  • Hi Todd Wilcox. Are you saying you don't use any musical instrument to help you compose music? For most of the people I've met and including myself, we have to hear the notes first before we can start to write something down to compose a chord or melody. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 14:30
  • It depends. Sometimes I write entirely with an instrument and recording ideas on my phone that I then bring to band practice and we all memorize it by ear and maybe later on record it. With the one project I'm collaborating on, we write directly into the notation software, only occasionally going to a piano to see what the different options for a specific section sound like. As Dr. Mayhem wrote, there are many ways to write, and all are valid. Commented Dec 26, 2017 at 14:36

1 Answer 1


Rap, as well as rock and pop, are composed in almost as many ways as there are people.

Some will compose in front of a piano and write sheet music, sure, but traditionally this was not the case. Rap came from the streets, with artists laying down backing from records they owned and rhyming or singing over the top. And there are still numerous artists who work this way, only with a huge amount of samples and digitised music as well as records.

There are a fair few big name artists, however, who approach this in a very academic way, with composition first on paper (or electronic equivalent) and layering in a DAW only after the original concept is fully developed.

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