Composing for beginners

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dmu3tem
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Composing for beginners

Post by dmu3tem » Sat Apr 25, 2009 11:42 am

I recently had a suggestion sent to me that the SSG composers group might hold some sessions to give help to composers who regard themselves as beginners. At first I thought that I might wait till our next meeting in Sheffield (May 30th) and raise the matter then. However, it occurred to me that other people might have some thoughts too; so I have put the suggestion up here.

My initial reactions (by no means set in stone) are these:

(1) I am inclined to add separate meetings for this purpose (if we go ahead) on to what we already do.

(2) Moving in the opposite direction, I am anxious to avoid any suggestion of a 'sheep and goats' situation between 'beginners' (always a relative term) and the more experienced. This may be an argument for not holding separate meetings. I always think we can learn more from anyone - regardless of their experience - even if we have been composing for a long time.

(3) Whom do we get to do this? I doubt whether there is much money to hire someone from outside. Another approach would be to have for each session one or more different people from within the SSG and/or its composers group.

(4) What sort of things should be shown? Note that we do not have to stick to one format. We could try different styles/approaches at different meetings. e.g. Focus on writing music for a particular liturgical genre (say Responsorial Psalms) e.g. Focus on a particular compositional technique (say conventional block harmony, or heterophony, or just writing a single melodic line, or on word setting, or on instrumentation.

(5) Further to this one might produce some information sheets e.g. Giving ranges and capabilities of particular instruments and voices e.g. lists of useful booklets or websites.

Anyway, if anyone has any ideas or might be interested, please add your ideas here or contact me direct by personal message on this forum (on request I can also supply you with my new e.mail address by this means).

Thomas (Muir)
T.E.Muir

docmattc
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by docmattc » Sat Apr 25, 2009 1:14 pm

On the same topic, note Christopher Walker's workshop at Summer School:


So You Want to Write Music! A workshop for composers, experienced and aspiring.

We will explore the principles for writing accessible music for the assembly, including ways of setting the text effectively. Assignments will be given on selected texts, and the results performed and discussed. Manuscript paper will be provided and also a handout on basic dos and don’ts for writing music. Come prepared to be creative!


Book this week to get your early booking discount!

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TimSharrock
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by TimSharrock » Sat Apr 25, 2009 9:46 pm

Interesting...

One possible audience would be youngsters - my youngest son is planning to study GCSE music next year, and that includes some composition. This will be taught at school, but additional advice on how to connect school-based composition with liturgical composing would be most welcome.

(With our Children's Music Group we do use an Easter peace that Theo wrote, and a Kyrie that my middle son, Benedict wrote, but in both cases we "cheated" - the boys wrote the melody, but our pianist added the rest of the arrangement.)

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Nick Baty
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Apr 27, 2009 8:42 pm

TimSharrock wrote:additional advice on how to connect school-based composition with liturgical composing would be most welcome.

Your son would find all the relevant bits in the bishops' Guide for Composers which can be found halfway down this page: http://www.liturgyoffice.org.uk/Resourc ... index.html It explains a lot of basics, eg thematic unity of eucharistic acclamations

TimSharrock wrote:we "cheated" – the boys wrote the melody, but our pianist added the rest of the arrangement.)

That's not cheating. The boys provided the bread and butter and your pianist simply added the optional jam.

I for one would welcome this idea. It's seems a long time since Grade V Theory and A level. And I really like Thomas's idea of working on particular genres or techniques, word setting etc.

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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Dot » Sun Jul 12, 2009 9:50 pm

This topic was raised yesterday at the CG meeting. I won't attempt to summarise others' views but I will use yesterday's experience to reflect my own.

A wide range of experience is already catered for. There were seven present yesterday. One does not have anything written down but words - works by ear - and got a full half hour slot and much appreciation. Another likes to talk :lol: and spent most of the half hour telling us anecdotes and the rest teaching us harmonies that had not been written down. A newcomer to the group presented pieces that needed fundamental work on rhythm notation, and received that help plus appreciation. The other four of us did things in the conventional way (by presenting scores) and used the combined musical abilities of the group to present them. Whatever the standard of our work, we each received a half hour slot. I think the session worked for everyone and we should leave things as they are.

In my time as ssgcgs I organised a composing workshop and two days with composers of national repute. It's hard organising meetings to ensure a good turn-out. If they became more specialised it would become even harder. It's good to have some variety to the format of meetings, but they still work on the existing format. Hats off to Thomas for his kind and inclusive leadership. I wish more of you could hear what a remarkable composer he is.

One thing that might help is to have further advance notice of the events on the home page. I think the Leicester meeting was advertised only a week before the event. Perhaps, Thomas, you should ask for a poll !!!!!!

Dot

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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by NorthernTenor » Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:01 pm

Dot,

I was at the previous group meeting in Sheffield, and would like to second your comments on Thomas Muir's excellent and skilfull leadership.

I'm sure a poll on that proposition would be 100% in favour.
Ian Williams
Alium Music

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Nick Baty
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Nick Baty » Sun Jul 12, 2009 10:02 pm

I'm the person who suggested to Thomas that we had a beginners' workshop for those of us in the elementary stages who are just exploring the concept of composing.

And perhaps the CG meetings are not the place and I should gain some instruction elsewhere first.

It is true that Thomas runs the sessions superbly and is most encouraging to all.

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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Dot » Mon Jul 13, 2009 5:52 am

Nick Baty wrote:And perhaps the CG meetings are not the place and I should gain some instruction elsewhere first.

Nick: if you say that you haven't taken in my previous post. But it's good to hear that you've actually ventured out to a meeting. (Was it on the other side of the Pennines from Sheffield???)

We know you can write a tune, set words, harmonise, arrange for a plethora of instruments, use IT to a high level of competence, run a workshop, play the kazoo - shall I stop? YOU could come and instruct the group on your ways of approaching liturgical music.

I can't edit my post now, but perhaps I should have said that "a wide diversity of styles and approaches" is catered for rather than "a wide range of experience."

Dot

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Nick Baty
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Nick Baty » Mon Jul 13, 2009 6:58 am

Not at all Dot – it's the way I phrased it which was wrong.
What I meant was that learning the nuts and bolts is the first step which perhaps I should take elsewhere. And, I must admit, I am surrounded by composers at work so I'm sure I could take some basic instruction from them, or perhaps join the First Years' composing sessions.
Yes, I ventured out to a meeting on God's side of the Pennines and was gobsmacked by the amount of talent I witnessed. Some very good people indeed.
Kind of you to comment on my kazoo arrangements! :oops:

dmu3tem
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by dmu3tem » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:20 am

Dear all,

First, many thanks for your kind comments.

Second, I apologise for the short notice some people had for the Watermead meeting. In part it was due to the after effects of the theft of my old e.mail account. I got out my general e.mails and posts to my contacts about 3 weeks before but I am afraid there was a bit of a delay getting it up on the composers forum part of the website. The next meeting is provisionally booked for Oct 24th at Portsmouth Catholic Cathedral, courtesy of Paul Inwood. I will firm details up with him and send out confirming posts and e.mails in early september. After that there is a tentative plan to hold a meeting at St Cuthbert's church, Durham some time after Easter (The first time we have had a meeting in the North East for years!). I also hope to set up something else before that (probably February) - probably in the Thames Valley. After that I will look for meetings in the Midlands (mid-late summer or early autumn) and the North West or South West (sometime in November).

Third, apropos actual training for composers, one concrete suggestion did come up at the Watermead meeting; namely that any budding composer who wants advice or help could contact me and I would put them on to someone (if they were available) who lived locally in their area. This could also be used with Music GCSE students. Does anyone have any thoughts about the mechanics of this? For example I could draw up and periodically update a list of composers living in different parts of the country. It might also perhaps be sensible if I contacted the composer in question first after receiving the enquiry to see if they are willing to help. It might prove very annoying for some people if suddenly they received an e.mail/telephone call out of the blue from a total stranger asking for help.

Thomas (Muir)
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Nick Baty
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Nick Baty » Wed Jul 15, 2009 10:45 am

dmu3tem wrote:...any budding composer who wants advice or help could contact me and I would put them on to someone (if they were available) who lived locally in their area

I think this is an excellent idea. Although I suspect I know most of the people in my region I could turn to for help, that might not be the case for others.

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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Peter » Wed Jul 15, 2009 3:06 pm

Yes, Thomas' proposal is a good one but it should not discourage budding composers from attending meetings of the Composers' Group, where (as Dot pointed out) all styles and abilities* are welcomed and given equal status. It would also give them the opportunity to make contact with other composers who might be able to offer them advice or even tuition outside the meetings as well as finding them through Thomas' list.

* If Nick regards himself as a beginner, I don't know what I'm doing there at all!

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Nick Baty
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by Nick Baty » Wed Jul 15, 2009 4:03 pm

I am most definitely a beginner – and I have the endless books of scrawl to prove it! :D

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anne sheila
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Re: Composing for beginners

Post by anne sheila » Sat Jul 18, 2009 10:10 pm

I am a beginner - I have not composed anything before (not professionally, but I studied an Open University Music Course in the mid 1990s and composed two pieces of music - one in the style of Mozart and one in the style of JS Bach - I couldn't remember how to do this now) - I wanted to set the following to music :

starting with the Our Father then Hail Mary to eventually cover the Rosary,

then, Divine Mercy Novena

then Latin Mass

then various Psalms for Taize type meditation

oh, and something for Our Lady of Walsingham, because I wanted to do this for Canon Jimmy Collins and the New Dawn Conference.

Yes - I know - I have a lot on my list ... and I wanted to do one thing at a time of course.

I do not have any computer software, but I now have a piano (and writing paper and a pencil)!
I like to sing, and I would also be interested in joint composing. I live in the Liverpool Archdiocese but in Lancashire !!!!!!
anne sheila

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