How do I get started with composing?

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
2 posts since 22 Mar, 2021

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:40 pm

Hi, I have been taking music lessons for quite a while now, 5 years, and I can play music very fluently. I recently got my midi keyboard, but I can't think of anything to compose. How do I get started with composing?

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29660 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 2:46 pm

Last edited by thecontrolcentre on Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

4 posts since 11 May, 2013 from Bethesda MD

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 7:14 pm

Improvise often. Stuff you like will glom together into a unit. Think of your improv as a cosmic gas cloud which develops clumps of matter; the clumps clump until there is enough matter and gravity to ignite a star. Make yourself improvise, i.e., just start playing, for one hour, every day, for one month. Record it. at the end of a month, try to improvise a 2-3 minute piece in A A B A song form. Keep doing that; lengthen the pieces.

If you still have trouble getting started with improvising, here are two ways to get started: (1) make or steal a chord progression or a melody and play a ton of variations (a good skill to develop in any event); and, (2) read a poem, lyric, something like that, and let your fingers play along. Also, remember: a piano is a percussion instrument; a piano (and most sounds you get out of an electronic keyboard) has tempered tuning; and, in the early part of the twenty-first century, there are no wrong notes and some very pleasant surprises.

Another way to improvise, particularly useful in (2) above, is use your frontal lobe as little as practicable. If you're not reading something, or talking to someone, just listen and let your ear guide you.

Once you get comfortable with using your ear much more than your frontal lobes, you will be well on your way to expressing yourself through composition. The only hard part then is getting it onto paper.

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12692 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:04 am

This question has no good answers. Reminds me of:


but it seems you're still stuck in the phase where you don't even know what animal to draw. Or don't even know whether to draw an animal or a landscape or a car or a building or whatever. :shrug:

Maybe start with five random notes. Weave them into a melody or motif. Then construct some chords around it. Then pick a genre for arrangement around it.
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4135 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Wed Apr 07, 2021 1:31 am

I can tell how the process works for me:

1. Start with a catchy motiff
2. Create matching chord progression
3. Create matching bassline
4. Create accents, legato notes based on already existing notes
5. Work backwards, simplifying things up to a single note until the full trance progression is ready

Steps #1 and #2 can be swapped.

No, if you say you can play something, steps 1 and 2 should be very easy for you likely you can easily switch to another variation or key on the fly.
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

9 posts since 11 Apr, 2021

Post Tue Apr 20, 2021 12:58 pm

Take your time. Imagine a picture that really touches you - and dig deep. Than just wait until the music starts. Try to write it down. One note with a soul is better than many notes without a sense.

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21318 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:08 pm

it boils down to why do you want to?
do that, whatever it is in the world that made you say you want to do this, start there and see how well you suss it.

the first things I did were idiotic, but I was a child. 13, I think. But as worthless as those efforts were I had kind of got what beginning/middle/end was. The first thing was I wanted to make a song from some words I wrote, and the thing I could play that would be a rhythm part was a simple delta blues thump.
Once I could play a little more guitar the situation improved a little. But I had the strongest sense not long after that I could become someone that writes real music, music I was imagining that didn't seem like memory. So I prepared myself, didn't have any ear, but worked on the tools that make someone able to write, enough to some day be not in my own way not knowing or confused. So aroond 10 years later I one day decided I had something my own to say. It's been downhill ever since

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1342 posts since 14 Apr, 2016 from Germany

Post Tue Apr 20, 2021 1:13 pm

Without inspiration no chance.
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2 posts since 30 Jan, 2021

Post Tue May 04, 2021 5:52 pm


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