Saturday, March 21, 2009

Composing Opera

I've wanted to compose an opera for a while now, but I don't quite know how to go about doing it. I have a few melodies sketched out, and I know the general the story, but I'm not sure if this is the best process for opera writing.  If anyone's written an opera or operatic music, could you offer a few suggestions as to the writing process?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Modern Classical: Is it more about Innovation or Inspiration?

   When considering the majority of 'classical' pieces written over the past few decades, the atonal themes, complex polyrhythms, and the tendency to 'experiment' with new sounds becomes extremely apparent.  I don't mean to slam the contemporary Classical sound, but at the point when the majority of music becomes more about innovation on the composer's behalf then about providing the common man with a vessel to discover aspects about the human spirit, it's hard not to ask the question: Is this direction for Classical music really the road we want to continue down?  
    Perhaps the reason that the general public has lost touch with classical music is that in the composers' efforts to be interesting, they have created a product which produces too great a strain on the listener's mind more than it produces satisfaction in their hearts.
   And the modern composer, seeing that they cannot gain the interest of the general public, only strives harder to create more contrived pieces that smack of over-complexity.  From where we now stand, there appears little to do but wait (and hope) that classical music will one day experience a rejuvenation of melody, simplicity, and modesty.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Fantastic book for all you non-believers!


Lawrence Kramer's "Why Classical Music Still Matters" is an extremely rewarding read (and short too!)  No matter which side of the "classical music" line you stand in, this book will enlighten and inspire.  
   Kramer takes the reader on an exciting tour through some of the greatest pieces (ranging from Bach's cello sonatas to Chopin's nocturnes) while explaining their relationships with pop culture. 

Well done Lawrence!

Computers vs. Good Old Manuscript Paper?

 Welcome to the COMPOSER'S STAFF, a blog for all types of classical composers!  Hopefully you'll find this site very useful.  
  Now, to start of off with our first discussion, a matter which is the subject of much controversy in the world of contemporary composition: the use of Computers vs Manuscript paper.  

  Personally, I find computer programs like Finale and Sibelius to be fantastic for editing, organizing, and printing the final scores, but I can't write freely unless I'm sat down at a piano with a pad of manuscript paper and a pencil.  Something about writing the score from scratch using a computer seems restrictive to me.  Those programs seem to lend themselves to very vertical and machine-like music.  As beautiful as organization can be, a great deal of classical music derives its beauty from chaos.  It seems hard to believe that a piece as entropy-filled as Stravinsky's Rite of Spring could have been written on a computer program.  Even at the other end of the classical spectrum, the third movement of Beethoven's Symphony No. 3 (which sounds like the score from a cowboy film) could not possibly have been composed solely on a computer program, regardless of the extraordinary playback which the programs provide.  I say manuscript paper wins over computer programs and will always be the easiest and most organic medium for composition.