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#1 2010-06-30 09:33:02

lowonthetotem
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From: Cape Coral, FL
Registered: 2008-04-05
Posts: 529
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Music Writing Exercises?

When I was in school I studied language and writing but not music.  During school, there were many times that I had to come up with something to write even when I did not feel so strongly about something.  Grades had to be gotten, and writing exercises helped me to justify my existence on more than one occasion.  Now that I have been playing shakuhachi for a few years, I think I'd enjoy writing down some original bushi.  I've had some difficulty getting started.  I wondered if there were music wiriting exercises similar to free writing, clustering, listing, and all those other writing exercises that could help me to get over the intimidation of working in this new medium a little.


"Turn like a wheel inside a wheel."

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#2 2010-06-30 16:49:22

Karmajampa
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From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
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Re: Music Writing Exercises?

Very interesting topic.
I would discriminate between 'exercises' and 'writing'. In that an exercise may lead to a complete piece, but has a different intent.

Having a deadline has a salutory effect on getting a piece completed. Perhaps give yourself one week to compose and complete a piece. then compose another piece during the following week.

Have a dynamic shape to an exercise, for example begin with calm, get aggressive then return to calm. Begin with calm, get aggressive. Begin aggressive moving to calm.

As in song writing, have a melodic 'Hook', do variations on this hook. Then compose a deviating 'bridge' that relates to the hook but stands alone as a statement.

Use a variation of time signatures, 3/4, 4/4, 6/4, and 5/4.

Have no time signature. Take an existing piece such as a Minio, that has timing, and play it without timing.

Take a simple tune and embellish it with 'atari', 'meri notes', 'scale runs', etc.

Take an existing piece and simplify it by removing any of the above.

Play a simple tune but begin on a different hole, or pitch, that is, on the same flute.

Combine two known melodies into one piece.

Take three or four descriptive adjectives and find one breath melodies for each, then combine them into a sequence.

Make some boundaries to keep your composition 'on track'. Then perhaps once the piece is established and complete, get 'loose' and jam with it.

Some thoughts.

Recording yourself is a tough composition master.

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#3 2010-07-01 11:30:50

Zakarius
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From: Taichung, TAIWAN
Registered: 2006-04-12
Posts: 361

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

Excellent question and responses. I salute you both.

Out of curiosity, how many of us are aspiring 'composers'?

Zak


塵も積もれば山となる -- "Chiri mo tsumoreba yama to naru." -- Piled-up specks of dust become a mountain.

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#4 2010-07-01 15:26:51

madoherty
Moderator
Registered: 2008-03-15
Posts: 359

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

lowonthetotem wrote:

When I was in school I studied language and writing but not music.  During school, there were many times that I had to come up with something to write even when I did not feel so strongly about something.  Grades had to be gotten, and writing exercises helped me to justify my existence on more than one occasion.  Now that I have been playing shakuhachi for a few years, I think I'd enjoy writing down some original bushi.  I've had some difficulty getting started.  I wondered if there were music wiriting exercises similar to free writing, clustering, listing, and all those other writing exercises that could help me to get over the intimidation of working in this new medium a little.

Strategies, not exercises:

Don't compose where you practice.
Go into the wilderness (often).
Join a band, or some other ensemble, playing unrelated music- clears out the cobwebs.
Observe when you are the most creative and "free-thinking" - this time is (surprisingly) in the morning for me, before my critical thought has woken up.
Be with the sound, let it effect you, listen... don't judge

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#5 2010-07-01 17:07:10

radi0gnome
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From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

It really pretty easy to write not so catchy ones. Most songs consist of phrases with some kind of relationship that makes up musical rhymes. For instance, make your first phrase by playing three notes, then go up in pitch to add a fourth note. That's your first phrase. Now play the same three notes again but make the fourth note go up instead of down. You now have two phrases that rhyme. It's a good start for a song.

Now you have many options. You could continue the song by making two phrase pairings. You can even use 2 two-phrase pairings to make a bigger phrase. There, each of the two-phrase pairings are a subphrase. You can make the bigger phrase rhyme with a subsequent bigger phrase by changing the last subphrase. This is the format used for a lot of western music.

Japanese folk songs often have similar phrasing structures. Moon Over Castle is a perfect example and is a good one to analyze to make sense of what I'm talking about. Study other songs too. After understanding what structures work and how, it should be pretty easy to write songs.

Coming up with a hit like "Moon Over Castle" though, that's a challenge.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#6 2010-07-01 17:26:39

Moran from Planet X
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From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1519
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Re: Music Writing Exercises?

radi0gnome wrote:

. Coming up with a hit like "Moon Over Castle" though, that's a challenge.

Was "Moon Over Castle" a native Japanese tune or was it composed outside of Japan (or by a non-Japanese)?


NOTE: Perry Yung may know the answer. Or at least, AN answer. smile

Last edited by Chris Moran (2010-07-01 20:19:23)


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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#7 2010-07-01 17:46:47

Karmajampa
Member
From: Aotearoa (NZ)
Registered: 2006-02-12
Posts: 574
Website

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

Zakarius wrote:

Excellent question and responses. I salute you both.

Out of curiosity, how many of us are aspiring 'composers'?

Zak

Not really, I used to aspire, after several years of writing I have accepted I am more of an aspiring 'Improviser'.
A major impediment for me is knowing when the piece is finished !

Now I enjoy improvising, alone, with other Shakuhachi, with percussion, with viola (very yum).

Kel.


Kia Kaha !

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#8 2010-07-01 18:13:17

radi0gnome
Member
From: Kingston NY
Registered: 2006-12-29
Posts: 1030
Website

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

Chris Moran wrote:

radi0gnome wrote:

. Coming up with a hit like "Moon Over Castle" though, that's a challenge.

Was "Moon Over Castle" a native Japanese tune or was it composed outside of Japan (or by a non-Japanese)?

I don't know. I thought it was Japanese, but that was just an assumption. It's such a good example of what I was talking about, you're right, maybe it's not Japanese. Most of the other folk songs have more complex structures. Some seem to throw unrelated phrases in there and stuff.


"Now birds record new harmonie, And trees do whistle melodies;
Now everything that nature breeds, Doth clad itself in pleasant weeds."
~ Thomas Watson - England's Helicon ca 1580

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#9 2010-07-02 09:29:26

Rick Riekert
Member
Registered: 2008-03-13
Posts: 97

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

"Kōjō no Tsuki", "The Moon over the Ruined Castle", was written in 1901 by Japanese composer and pianist Rentarō Taki. The lyrics were written by one Bansui Doi and were inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.


Mastery does not lay in the mastery of technique, but in penetrating the heart of the music. However, he who has not mastered the technique will not penetrate the heart of the music.
~ Hisamatsu Fy

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#10 2010-07-02 11:18:33

Moran from Planet X
Member
From: Here to There
Registered: 2005-10-11
Posts: 1519
Website

Re: Music Writing Exercises?

Rick Riekert wrote:

"Kōjō no Tsuki", "The Moon over the Ruined Castle", was written in 1901 by Japanese composer and pianist Rentarō Taki. The lyrics were written by one Bansui Doi and were inspired by the ruins of Aoba Castle and Aizuwakamatsu Castle.

Ah, great! So what I thought was  foreign was instead native but modern. Thank you Rick!


"I have come here to chew bubblegum and kick ass...and I am all out of bubblegum." Rowdy Piper, They Live!

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