Universal method to compose music (1)

Is it possible to learn to compose music or is it only a gift you possess or do not possess ?

This question is probably worrying more than one musician or beginner. Music must seem strange or mysterious to those who only know music by listening and appreciating it. How to line up notes, rhythms and chords to create such a harmonious set of sound ? Then you say to yourself you will never get there. STOP ! Such an attitude is just the same as asking yourself why you can not write Japanese poetry if you never learned Japanese. It is a matter of steps : to go up the ladder, you start on the first rung, not on the tenth (which would also seem impossible to reach).

ARPEGE has always answered this question in a categorical way : Yes you can learn to compose music, no matter how not talented your are. Now the practical difficulty is to design a method that will work for everybody and that would be flexible enough to:

  • embrass all musical styles (from classic to hard rock, indian music to acousmatic music,…) and all inspiration forms,
  • be accessible to any person, even without musical background

I believe such a method is possible and must be formed by a well ordered series of steps, mastered one after the other. Even if the tools of Pizzicato today are still limited compared to a “universal and ideal method”, I think that such a method, to be effective, shoud at least contain the following elements:

  1. A regular listening to various musical styles
  2. A good understanding of what sound is and how its fundamental properties influence the musical auditing impression
  3. A good understanding of the written musical language in its most common form : the music score
  4. The learning and practicing of a musical instrument, progressively in relation to the score (reading and writing of scores for the instrument)
  5. The practical study of one or more music software and also the music keyboard (if it is not your main instrument)
  6. The progressive practice of music composition, on the grounds you learned in the above steps, first based on simple and structured methods
  7. A practical study of the various music composition theories (harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, serial music,…)
  8. The listening and practical analysis of application examples of those musical theories or any other creative method
  9. A progressive development of one’s own musical universe, of one’s own composition method build on the basic understanding one has acquired from music
  10. The musical creation work itself : your career as a composer, including learning how to disseminate your music and make your compositions known.

Sans titre2

I don’t mean that to compose you necessarily need to learn or master all these points. Not at all. But someone who would study a practical, complete and progressive method based on all 10 points above could not help but really publish his own CDs, no matter how not talented he was before beginning. The purpose of ARPEGE is to create such a method, the Pizzicato software being the tool to reach it.

You can assume that if you really want to compose something personal and that would be well received and really have success, you will need to put the expected effort on it. The easy way does not exist. You need to work on it and persevere. Stable successes are based upon work and a full understanding of the subject, like in any other areas.

It all depends on the goal you have. Is it to entertain yourself, to impress friends, to really understand music, live it and create it, to expresse yourself through it and in full knowledge, to publish your own CDs, to become a professional composer ? Each goal is possible and valid. Just be honest to yourself : what is your goal ? Then apply the necessary method to reach it.

The point is, if you know nothing about music and you really want to become a composer and successfully publish your CDs, do not expect to reach that with a “magic wand”. An important work is waiting for you. But the path and the results will be of high value to you : you will understand music and will be able to express yourself with it.

The “Professional” or “hobbyist” aspect does not necessarily enter into consideration, because even a hobby can be practiced with the greatest care. The real question is “How much do I want to understand music and create my own music ?”. By using an easy and/or automatic composition software, you will enjoy it, you will be able to learn music and make some nice personal compositions. Such softwares may bring you a lot of things. But don’t expect the result of it to become number one in the charts or to be selected as the music of a success film.

You may also envision things by steps. Your goal may increase with your knowledge. If in the beginning you only want to better understand music and entertain yourself, do just that. If you get more involved in it, increase your goal and study music further.

Our long term project is to give you the possibility to reach those goals, with tools contained in Pizzicato (present and future releases), with more progressive, personal and specific music courses.

Next, we will look further into the 10 above points, while also orienting you to already existing resources in Pizzicato and on the Internet. Until then, take the time to define your own musical goals…:-)

Dominique Vandenneucker

Designer of Pizzicato.

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