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 stuff, and I prefer to hear the music in my head than any other music recorded or live, and not just because I have the pleasure of "knowing what's going to happen next".

My question is simply, what are some techniques/tools and relevant literature (whether more how-to or more theoretical) on how to capture the vast scores happening in my head (given that like most thinking/dreaming activities, it comes too fast to write down in realtime)?


2 Answers 2


First of all, learning just basic music theory is a must. I don't know what your background is but if you're unable to read a piece of music it's likely you're going to have difficulty writing it. Learning how chords work is a must. Not only recognizing what they look like but if someone plays one on a piano or something you can recognize that its a major 7th.

You don't have to have perfect pitch or be able to recognize every chord anyone could throw at you but it'll help a lot when trying to sort through your thoughts. A good way to learn these things is through sight singing and recognizing intervals, etc. A teacher helps with this sort of thing.

Finally, you should probably learn how to play an instrument, piano is probably your best bet since you want to write music and I just think its easiest on a piano since you can play all the parts. It's not necessarily true that if you can't play it, you can't write it but it's almost certainly true that if you can play it, you'll likely be able to transcribe it as well, with a bit of music theory background of course.

  • 1
    I'd like to add another nice thing about playing piano for composing: you can literally see the relationships and intervals between notes. This will probably help you understand music theory more easily than other instruments, such as the clarinet.
    – tesselode
    Oct 9, 2012 at 22:42
  • @Tony, I'd only suggest that ear training for intervals and chords, etc., might be more productive for OP than sight singing. I know what you meant by that but I don't think the OP needs to learn to sing in order to compose (though it's never a bad skill to have!) Oct 10, 2012 at 10:28
  • @Kristina Lopez I don't think sight singing is necessarily a skill for just singers. It really does help your ear quite a bit and any music program in the world, regardless of what you're there for, will likely make you do this. I'm an awful singer but learning how to sing intervals has definitely helped my hearing a lot.
    – Tony
    Oct 10, 2012 at 20:45
  • @Tony- I totally agree with you and learning to sing (and hear) the intervals has been extremely useful to me, too, as a singer. I guess I was just thinking about how overwhelmed the OP might be with everything needed to be learned. Thx for feedback! Oct 10, 2012 at 20:50

I think this is the starting point for most song writers. The challenge for orchestral works is simply the number of parts, but if you get used to writing (or recording yourself singing if you can't write a score) each one you will get better at transcribing more than one part at a time.

Just keep running through it and comparing your output with what you hear in your head.

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