PB #03/22 - Music Composition & Creativity
Learning To Compose Music
I’ve began learning formal music composition.
When I was in primary school, composition sounded boooring. The way ideas, on the topic, were presented was dry. In high school, I skipped selecting music as a subject.
Maybe there was nothing to goad my curiosity then, or I was giving in to my babyish impulses on the topic, but over the years I’ve come to appreciate the intricate architecture of Western Art Music.
First time I heard Fur Elise I was charmed. Still am. It was a dream. Still is.
The piece has this freedom, a flowing fantasy of aching tenderness with a mini-tantrum at the middle that’s short enough not to mess a happily-ever-after adventure. It’s lightness, the ecstasy surrounding it; it’s daring simplicity, and jolts of courage lured me. I so badly desired to play whatever it is that made such passionate sound. Fur Elise was my baptism into the world of Classical Music and the piano.
While lapping up piano pieces, I chanced upon the islands of instrumental music: concertos, symphonies, then string quartets which opened my ears to a sonic ocean stretching past a disappearing horizon. I had discovered a new world.
Swimming on the surface of this ocean was fun. Learning proper hand placement on a keyboard, memorizing a melody, while working to sync both hands provide stimulating mental exercises. Then came the training that is a frustration for amateur music-makers: reading written music. Trying to get how a combination of sticks, dots, and counting is meant to represent sound and emotions can be confusing.
At first glance, music notation for the beginning student feels like reading Phoenician. For me, it was a blurry haze of shapes and lines: the cause of the mildest headaches and teary eyes. I remember often creating tales, for my then teacher, just to divert attention and run the lesson time. But he was smart and compassionate enough to engage my stories while nudging me ever so gently towards understanding.
Right about when my hands and eyes were beginning to catch on, I risked looking down the ocean floor. And there it was, the rationale behind lines, big dots, counting and the representation of human emotion. Music theory addressed many concerns. Like observing sea life, it was illuminating, and wildly exciting. Learning how to read music became a little less tormenting.
But it quickly turned stale. Useful as it is, a set of rules about what-goes-where-how wasn’t going to cut it for me, it was not the fantasy I had signed up for.
I felt like I was missing out on something more important. While music theory gave me the rules of organization, it left me in suspense as to how the subtle movements of emotional undercurrents flowed to make up the surface displays of expression: the calmness, the storms or the volcanic fireworks of rage and passion.
To Continue Next Week
In creativity the less we have to begin with the more we can produce.
I’ve always understood creativity as resourcefulness.
The truly creative don’t always rely on being resource-rich. It seems to me that the more frugal the raw material, the higher the potential for reworking into a final product.
But in an age of information abundance it’s easy to freeze from the overwhelm of constant consumption of blogs, books, podcasts and vlogs. The content assault we are exposed to can make us nonreactive, which slows our traverse across the knowledge landscape. The cumulative thoughts of hundreds of perspectives can fog personal opinion.
Like too much food without exercise, our minds get stuffed and lack clarity.
While it may not be wise to eliminate exposure to ideas, we can learn how to repackage our best learnings which frees much needed mental-band width for the reception of more.
Start by writing the top 3 ideas that resonated with you, and why. This works best at the end of your day: it helps me sleep better. Do it for 5 minutes preferably right before sleep, you can set a timer if you wish.
There’s a good feeling that comes with seeing your thoughts on a page. Best case scenario: you get to discover your opinion on certain topics.
Hope this helps.
»Books & Reading
I’ve always found words intriguing.
That you can pick the mind of someone thousands of miles away from you is nothing short of a magician’s trick.
It’s the beauty of the written word: the ability to dive into the recesses of multiple minds and discover their thoughts on life’s questions,
Books, blogs, articles, modern plays, and movies would not be without a primitive invention: the alphabet.
From shapes that were used to describe sounds to the current words that are used to convey meaning, words have evolved from more literal representations of ideas.
Here’s a visualization that charts the journey of the alphabet.
»Photo of The Week
From a walk in the woods
Till Next Week