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AND DIFFERENT GENRES OF MUSIC
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Writing Classical Score
Stuff on a Serious Staff
skeptical persons rant, not to be taken personally: “So you
want to compose a classical score. How are you going to put food
on the table? How are you going to even afford a table? You’ve
got the brains of a table, did you know that?”
serious music takes guts and courage. It is hard to earn a living
doing this type of writing exclusively. However, the beauty of the
musical profession is that you can do a number of field related
jobs simultaneously. So let’s talk about writing serious music.
Don’t worry! You won’t starve!
are many different types of scores that can be created by a classically
trained composer. Full symphony orchestra, string orchestra, duos,
duets, trios, quartets, quintets… the standard list is extensive.
Another thing to consider is that there is nothing stopping a composer
from creating his/her own unique combination of instruments
for a particular piece.
Regarding the latter point, the only downside
to creating odd instrumental combinations is that this type of scoring
may not be practical for repeat performances. A piece of music that
is written for three alto saxophones,
and a xylophone
might not get a second performance nearly as
quickly as a string quartet
scoring of the same work.
classical music often demands the use of a full orchestra, a composer
should become familiar with all of the ranges
of the instruments, as well as the strengths and weaknesses
of a particular instrument. For example, a flute
player would probably not appreciate a loud, energetic passage close
to middle C, played alongside a loud trombone
counter-melody. Flutes have more power in their upper registers
and composers with this type of insight tend to score their compositions
for string writing (violins,
etc.), it is important to have knowledge of their ranges of double
and triple stops. String players, unlike woodwind and brass players,
have the ability to play more than one note simultaneously. Any
decent orchestration book will not only supply instrumental ranges,
but will give a listing of all the double and triple stops available
for all of the family members of the string orchestra.
a word of caution to all composers who are writing for diverse instruments.
Be wary of the source when accepting advice from a performer. I
have found that the more professional a musician is, the more likely
they are to say, “just write anything and I’ll play
it.” They may even offer supplemental editing suggestions
in order to enhance your written part.
insecure musician that says, “You can’t write this for
a bassoon… the instrument can’t play those low notes
that fast…” is often expressing his or her
technical deficiency. Sure, all instruments have their strengths
and weaknesses, in terms of optimum range, agility… However,
if you feel uncomfortable with what a performer is telling you,
seek advice from someone else before changing your score.
here for Ready, Set, Compose!, the ultimate resource
book for keyboard improvisers, composers and pianists.
here for our exciting new piece of the month!