Music Composition 101: Fundamentals, Principals, and Myths | Jason Allen | Skillshare

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Music Composition 101: Fundamentals, Principals, and Myths

teacher avatar Jason Allen, PhD, Ableton Certified Trainer

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Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

33 Lessons (2h 28m)
    • 1. Introduction & Welcome

    • 2. About Me

    • 3. Let's talk frankly about music composition

    • 4. Music Theory

    • 5. Music Notation

    • 6. Music Software and Technology

    • 7. Music Software Example

    • 8. Music History

    • 9. "I Can't Hear Music From a Score"

    • 10. "I Can't Write Down What I Hear"

    • 11. "What if I Run Out of Ideas?"

    • 12. Writer's Block

    • 13. Some Excerpts from My Other Classes

    • 14. What Comes First?

    • 15. F#!

    • 16. Program Music and Metaphore

    • 17. Character Sketches

    • 18. Free Writing

    • 19. Canon

    • 20. Good Composers Borrow...

    • 21. What is Form?

    • 22. Different Forms

    • 23. Start With a Plan

    • 24. Graphic Representations

    • 25. General Thoughts

    • 26. Getting Gigs

    • 27. Build A Portfolio

    • 28. Find Film Makers

    • 29. Don't Be Afraid of Free

    • 30. More You Can Do...

    • 31. What Next?

    • 32. Thanks and bye! (For now!)

    • 33. SkillshareFinalLectureV2

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About This Class

Welcome to Music Composition 101: Fundamentals, Principals, and Myths. The complete guide to getting started in music composition.

This is a class designed for the average person who is ready to take their music career (or music interest) and develop it into something more. Whether you are an active musician or an aspiring musician, this class is perfect for you.

When most people think of a composer, they imagine someone sitting in a dusty attic with a grand piano, big white wig, and the year is 1800. That might have been accurate back then, but the modern composer is just like you and me. In fact, I am one. 

In this course, I'll show you the techniques I use for writing music in a variety of styles and situations. I've worked with major American orchestras, film studios, and video game designers, so I've got more than a little experience. I'm also a Ph.D. in music composition and a university professor (of music composition). 

Recently I was named as a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator of the Year award because of my in-person university classes. Now I'm taking those classes to Skillshare in an online format in order to reach more students and give them the joy of Music Theory.

This course starts with common misconceptions about the art of writing music. I'll give you the first one right now: You don't have to be a genius. Music Composition is a skill that can be learned, with practice.

Some of the topics we will cover in this class are: 

  • My background, and listen to some of my music

  • What you need to know

  • Myths of the composer

  • Tools of the trade: Software

  • Tools of the trade: Pencils and fine paper

  • How do you start?

  • The process

  • Program music and metaphors

  • Character sketches

  • Writing through canon

  • Form

  • Starting with a plan

  • Graphic form representations

  • Film Music and Tension Cues

  • Composing for Films and Games

  • Any much, much, more! 

The course is a roadmap to launching your career as a composer!

All the tools you need to prepare, organize and start your career are included in this course and the entire course is based on real-life experiences - not just academic theory.

Please click the "Take This Course" button so you can launch your music career today.


Praise for Courses by Jason Allen:

⇢  "It seems like every little detail is being covered in an extremely simple fashion. The learning process becomes relaxed and allows complex concepts to get absorbed easily. My only regret is not taking this course earlier." - M. Shah

⇢  "Great for everyone without any knowledge so far. I bought all three parts... It's the best investment in leveling up my skills so far.." - Z. Palce

⇢  "Excellent explanations! No more or less than what is needed." - A. Tóth

⇢  "VERY COOL. I've waited for years to see a good video course, now I don't have to wait anymore. Thank You!" - Jeffrey Koury

  "I am learning LOTS! And I really like having the worksheets!" - A. Deichsel

⇢  "The basics explained very clearly - loads of really useful tips!" - J. Pook

⇢  "Jason is really quick and great with questions, always a great resource for an online class!" M. Smith


Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Jason Allen

PhD, Ableton Certified Trainer


J. Anthony Allen has worn the hats of composer, producer, songwriter, engineer, sound designer, DJ, remix artist, multi-media artist, performer, inventor, and entrepreneur. Allen is a versatile creator whose diverse project experience ranges from works written for the Minnesota Orchestra to pieces developed for film, TV, and radio. An innovator in the field of electronic performance, Allen performs on a set of “glove” controllers, which he has designed, built, and programmed by himself. When he’s not working as a solo artist, Allen is a serial collaborator. His primary collaborative vehicle is the group Ballet Mech, for which Allen is one of three producers.

In 2014, Allen was a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation’s Music Educator of the Year.

... See full profile

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1. Introduction & Welcome: Good way . Start ready Music, Theo. Nly skill. You need his imagination. You don't need to know. Music theory, music history, music notation any of that. Just start writing. Just use what you need. Just use what you know. The I recently found some music I had written way back before. I even knew anything about music. But I had some ideas for some melody and ice as a little kid, OK, another misconception I hear is that, um you know, people say they can't write down what they hear. Um, so somebody plays a melody and you can't write it down. Um, that, Like, what I was just saying before. That's a skill that needs to be practiced, and you can learn how to do it. It's kind of the same is what we were just talking about in the previous video, but backwards. Right. So, uh, the last one we were talking about looking at music and hearing it. Now we're talking about hearing music and writing it down. I wasn't very good at that when I started doing this either. Now, I'm pretty good at it, but, uh, not perfect. I screw it. I'm just pasting this all over the place. Let's start this one over. So just just keep on. Go and, um, put one there, One there, one there, and then we'll start this 1/1 more time. Okay? Now, I just pasted that melody all over the place and I generated about everyone. Welcome, Teoh. This class is what we're gonna do in this class. My goal is to de mystify the process of writing music, as I say in the class. You know, most people think of writing music as you know, this genius person hiding out in an attic with a grand piano and a big white wig and writing music. They're basically picturing Beethoven. And, you know, Beethoven was good composer, but that's not how it works in the modern world. Sometimes you just need a way to come up with some good ideas. Need to understand some of the fundamentals of how music works on. Then you just gotta hit the ground running and try it. You're gonna fail a little bit. You're gonna write some stuff that doesn't sound great on you're gonna learn from that. So that's what this class is about. It's about coming up with ideas getting started and demystifying the process of writing music. I'm going to tell you a lot of stories about what I do. I'm gonna tell you about what some of my friends do, what some of my teachers have done. And then we're gonna talk a lot about theory to I've got a big chunk in this class about music theory to get us started. It's not a comprehensive music theory class, but there's enough in here to get us off the ground. If you don't have much theory background primarily, though, we're gonna be talking about ideas and process for writing music and getting started reading music. So I hope you decide to join us. My name is Jay. You're gonna learn a lot about me in the first Couple videos. I'll give you my background, show you some of my music on talk about some of the orchestra's I've worked with and films I've done and things like that. Please jump in, Let's get started right away. It's gonna be a really good time, and I'll see you inside the first lecture. Adios 2. About Me: everyone. My name is J. Anthony Allen. Welcome to this class. Thought we'd start with a little bit about me. So we're here in my home studio. You'll see a lot of technology and all these really bright things behind me. Thes air, just computer screens on. I'm gonna talk a little bit about this technology in this class, but primarily what we're gonna be talking about in this class is the kind of de mystification of the composer. Um, when I'm writing, I'm usually sitting here. I'm usually working on pencil and paper, and I eventually put that into the computer. But, uh, we'll talk a little bit more about process and how I do things. It's different how everybody does things in their own way. That's totally fine. So a little bit about my background. I grew up. I grew up in Michigan. I got into composition early. I was a guitar player and I learned how to do jazz and then eventually got mawr into notated music. I went to college. I majored in actually and guitar performance and then grad school for composition and then more grad school for composition, eventually earning my PhD in music composition. Um, I've had a number of university jobs, but more importantly, I have written a bunch of stuff. Eso I'll run you through real quick. Some of the interesting things I've done. I've done things with major orchestras, have done things with video games, have done things with movies. Um, I've done things with commercials. I've been a producer with other artists. I've done a lot of different and very things I have enjoyed all the things that I do, I guess eso instead of me just talking more and more more about the various things I've done. Here is a little bit of highlights and some of the things that I've done just to name a few . If you want to know more, you can check out my website J. Anthony allen dot com, and then I'll walk you through some of the other things that I've done. But in the meantime, uh, here's here's some highlights just to get you to know a little bit more about me before we get any farther. - Yeah , yeah way . Ah, yeah, 3. Let's talk frankly about music composition : Okay, so let's talk about music composition for a minute before we get into the kind of main sections of this class, which is gonna be the kind of what you need to know to get into composition. Ah, couple of misconceptions. And then we're gonna go through a whole bunch of kind of where to start. Things might go all for you is to at the end of this class B, actually writing some music. I have a whole bunch of classes around, um, on this platform and others on how to write music and going into a lot of detail about that , and you should check out those classes because they get into a lot more of the kind of technical things. But what I wanted to do in this class is really just kind of walk us through. What are some of the the things that you should know before you get started? What are some of the things that are maybe scaring you? Maybe that's a weird word. But I've hear from a lot of students that want to write music, um, and want to get into competent composition. But they're there. They're a little scared Teoh touch their tone to the water. So there's a lot of misconceptions about this. A lot of people think that we are composers are you know, these super geniuses, you know? And as much as I love for that to be true, um, it's not. It's a skill. Like other skills, it does require some talent, but it can be learned, and it doesn't need to be a big, scary thing. You can do this just because you want to have fun with it. You know, it's not that you have to worry about every piece you write being. It's big orchestra thing or this big thing for a big movie. You can write music just for fun just because you want to. And I think in the music composition world we lose sight of that a lot. So I want to just be sure that's in your head like this could be fun. This doesn't need to be this big, serious, scary thing. Um, have fun with it, play around, um, and also keep in mind that as you start to learn how to write music, you will get better at it. The more you do it, the better you get at it. It's not that, um, music composition is just a skill that some people have and are geniuses and some people don't. You know, when I started, I wasn't very good at it. Um, but the more I did it, the better I got at it. And then I started winning some wards and doing some, uh, impressive things, I guess. But right away, nobody's good at it right away. Even. You know, Beethoven's early pieces weren't right away. Great. Maybe that's a bad example, because they probably were kind of great, but he's one of those super geniuses. Um, don't think of yourself like that. Uh, you are a human, and practice makes perfect. So don't worry that the first things you you will write or you have written already don't sound amazing. Uh, my goal with this class and the other classes I have here is to help you get better at it. But it's not gonna happen right away. It takes practice. So take these classes, learn how to do it, and you know we'll get good at it together. So with that said, let's move on, and let's get into some of the, um, some of the details and let's talk about what you need to know in order to be a successful composer. 4. Music Theory: Okay. What skills do we need to know in order to start writing music? First of all, I would say in order to start ready music, the only skill you need his imagination, you don't need to know. Music theory, music, history, music notation any of that. Just start writing. Just use what you need. Just use what you know the I recently found What's the music I had written way back before I even knew anything about music. But I had some ideas for some melody and I as a little kid, like, invented this weird notation that I didn't know, You know, it's not standard notation, and I can't figure it out for the life of me. Now, I don't know how to read it, What I was trying to write down, but somehow I was correlating notes on a keyboard to these shapes or something. But I was writing, you know, I was I was trying to teach myself how to do it. So you don't really need to know anything. Just relax. Start writing music. No. If you want to write music really well, that's kind of what we're talking about here. Do you need to know music theory? Yeah, kinda. Um, music theory is a huge topic. There's tons and tons of things you could know. Music theory. You could get a PhD in music theory, and a lot of people have, Um So do you need to know music theory up to the PhD level? No. Um, do you need to know a bit of music theory? Yeah, it definitely helps. I studied music theory in college. I didn't really know much before that. Although, as a guitarist, you know, you kind of learn a handful of stuff just by, um, playing, especially if you're playing jazz. But it's all things you can learn. I have at the moment 12 music theory classes here, up on this website that you could jump into ticket started on music theory. The way I teach music theory is always from the perspective of the composer. So these will help you. Ah, lot if you're really interested in getting into music composition, Um, when it comes to music theory, I mean, you definitely need to know how to make chords. That's the most probably most important thing. How to make cords and how to find all the cords in a key. How to use those cords, what chords want to go, where something we call tension and release and then also how to write a good melody. Now writing a good melody isn't something that's really naturally taught in music theory. Music theory is really about the cords, but, um, there is some. It is probably the best place to learn how to write a good melody, because there's a lot of that tension and release found in a melody. However, we'll talk a lot about writing a good melody and my composition courses and this one included later on. So there's a lot to know in music theory. But I wouldn't get stressed out about knowing every single thing that there is to know. Music theory. Don't just go buy a music theory textbook and try to read it from beginning to end and understand all of it. That's gonna be a waste of your time. Uh, learn how to take advantage of the ideas that you already have, and that would be things like finding a harmony for a melody that you've already figured out. Maybe you're at a piano and you've plonked out of melody right. You've found a melody on the keyboard and you're thinking, How can I come up with cords that will fit with this melody? That's where music theory will help you out. Another big spot that music theory helps you out in is to think. Okay, I have this section of music. What comes next with that music theory can really eliminate some possibilities that just won't work for you. So you can think. OK, I know I'm in c Major, and I've done this kind of a thing. Where else can I go with it? Uh, if you don't know any music theory, then you could literally go anywhere. But if you know music theory than you can say, Well, the best places for me to go easily will be something like G major. Maybe f major, maybe a minor. Those air, the really obvious places to go. Um, those are the things you can do quickly and easily, so it helps you in that respect also. So if you don't know any music theory, I would jump into some music theory classes. Um, I'm partial to mind. I'm not trying to sell you other classes when you're in one of mine. But I have some really highly rated classes here in music theory. They've done really well on people. Seem to be quite happy with them. So I would encourage you to check those out. Ah, and get started on music theory again. Don't stress out about knowing everything there is to know about music theory. Just be sure you understand. Harmony, melody, core progressions, keys, things like that. That's all kind of freshman music theory. That kind of the first level, which I think in my classes, is upto course number five or six. I can't remember which one. Um, so no some music theory, but don't worry about knowing everything in music theory. 5. Music Notation: Okay. What about music notation? How you know Tate Music. Do you need to know this? Yeah, you dio, but it a little bit depends on the style of music. Your writing. If you're not writing music that is traditionally notated, then no, you don't need to master music notation. If you're writing electronic music, beat based music, rock music, pop music, things like that, then being a master of music notation won't really do you much good. But if you're trying to write orchestral music, classical music, film, music, even music for games, then then you really do need to understand music notation. And the main reason is because the hardest thing to do in music composition is to accurately convey your idea to another person. That's what we have to do because as composers, um, we create music. But we always have a person in the middle, and that's the performer. Okay, So if I write a piece of music for orchestra, what I have to do is I have to find a way to write instructions, really elaborate instructions for about 100 people to do the things that I need them to do to make the sounds I want and those instructions our best done with music notation. I want to say Play this note at this time in this rhythm, I need to say that a whole bunch of different ways. So I really do need to know how to write things down as best as possible so that the person reading that music will understand exactly what I want them to do and when I want them to do it. That's the hardest part about It's one of the hardest part about writing music is the conveyor idea to somebody else Now that being said, there are some technologies where we don't need that in between person. We don't need that performer. Sometimes if we're just putting all our music right into a computer and and having it, play it back, um, you might not need traditional notation ever, if that's what you're doing. Um, but just keep in mind that, uh, knowing notation will help you with some of the computer rendering stuff, depending on what program we're using. Understanding how notation works will help with that. Also think about you know, when you write that big film score and you're using, you're using a computer to make a big orchestral sound. And what if the film comes back and says We can hire a real orchestra to do it? Don't you want to take that opportunity? I think you do, because having a really orchestra player music is one of the most profound experiences you can have as a composer, Um, and I want you to have that. So you really need to know how to write down music for that orchestra. If that is ever something you can you aspire to do, it's a music notation is important for you to know how to do. Let's talk a little bit more about software and technology. 6. Music Software and Technology: okay, back to some of the technology stuff that you're seeing behind me here. Do you need to know a lot about music technology? Not necessarily. Um, just like music theory. Music technology is a huge, huge thing, and it's always, uh, changing. There's always new technology. Every single day you confined new things that you should be using, or you could feel guilty about not using, cause they're the latest greatest things. And it's easy to get wrapped up in that, and getting wrapped up in that can just stop you in your tracks. You can say, Oh, I have to learn this other new thing today instead of writing. Ah, you have to be really careful not to do that. You do. I need to know a bit of technology depending on what your interests are, just like theory. So if you're interested in film scoring, you might want to know how to use Apple logic. You might want to know how to use pro tools. Maybe, uh, you might want to know how to use able to live. That could be useful. But if you're not into film scoring, do you need to know those programs? If you want to make realistic sounding, Ah, renderings. That would be like fake versions like fake orchestras. Then those programs can be useful. But if you don't want to know how to do that, you don't need to. Ah, music notation Editor is probably the most important program for you. That would be a program like Finale or Sibelius or the newest one on the block is called Noriko. Or if you don't use any of those, there's a free one called Muse. Score. M u S E S c o R e. It's a great program. It's free. Ah, and it's becoming quite impressive. I have a lot of students that are using that exclusively for their work, and I've been really impressed by what they've been able to do with it. So check out Muse. Score. Mu score dot org's, I think is the website for it. Um, a lot of people are using that. Ah, and what those programs do is they let you input music notation, and it's like a text editor like Microsoft Word. But for a notation, um, and then you can print it out and give that to the performers, right? So that could be, ah, better than your hand written manuscript, right? It could be really good looking. Ah, professional quality scores that they can read rather than reading your own notation. If that's what you want to do, they can also output midi. And then you can import that into some other program, like logic or pro tools or whatever you want. And then you can cue up a synthetic orchestra so you don't need to know every crazy plug in in the world. I would say the smart money would be on a music notation program of some sort. Muse score is a great place to start. Doesn't cost you anything. The next thing I would do is invest in some audio program like able to live apple logic. Um, maybe Q base if you're in a P C world. Ah, logic is only for Apple, but a Bolton and Q Besar for either one, um, are for Mac or PC, so any of those would be great. Um, so that's why would you definitely get a notation program then? If you have some money, get a audio editing program like one of those that can ah make better versions of your your music with synthetic orchestra players. I have some classes here that explain how to use you. Score. Um, I also have a bunch of classes on how to use able to live and a few on how to use logic so that can teach you how to use those programs. Check those out there. Quite fun. Um, but I guess the main thing is, ah, try not to get too bogged down in the technology. You don't need every crazy plug in. Just get some basic stuff and you'll learn what you need as you go. Eventually you'll say like, Oh, I really wish I could do this thing and I need this piece of technology to do it. But until you hit that wall, don't blow your money on buying all kinds of crazy stuff. You don't need three gigantic monitors and a bunch of keyboards and a mixer and ah, whatever else I have over here, I can't see behind me right now. Um, on Apogee quartet on a trillion hard drives, you don't need all that until you need it, right? So just wait, grow naturally and buy what you need when you need it. You'll know when you're missing out on something. You'll have some idea. You'll say, Gosh, I wish I could do this thing. Then you'll find the technology to help you do it most of the time. All you really need is creativity. So, uh, try not to get bogged down on technology too much. 7. Music Software Example: Here's an example of what I was talking about with technology. This is a track by a student of mine who is a singer songwriter, and he put strings into ah, recording he made. And what I'm trying to help him do here is make those strings sound a lot better. So I'll just play you the opening, uh, strings from his track, and then I'll show you what I did with it. So here is his song that he sent me, but, uh okay, so I wanted to make those sound a little more realistic. They sound like fake strings. So I put them into able to live, which is what I'm working on here. And I loaded up some much better samples. So what this means is that I'm using technology that will sound a lot better than the inexpensive sounds that he was using that he had access to. So I have access to some fancy. You're sounding stuff. So here's what I came up with for that intro I have, uh okay, So mind sound a little grittier? A little gnarly, er, but much more real. Um, they really sound good when you blend them all together. So here they are, all together. I have. Okay. So, um, why do you care about this? You don't. Ah, The only reason I'm showing you this is because I wanted to demonstrate what technology can do for you. Um, if you want to get into it. But don't worry about buying these these fancy or expensive samples for now. Right? Use the cheap samples until you're like, Wow, I really need better samples. Then you can look into how to do that and make better samples. Ah, spend your money wisely. I guess that's all I'm saying. 8. Music History: What about music history? This is always a really interesting one because a lot of people don't think about music history when they're thinking about things that they need to know to be a composer. And I would say that a lot of the time, um, music history is maybe something you don't need. But there are cases where knowing your way around music history can be really important. Uh, here's an example. Let's say you get a job, too. Uh, right. The score for a movie and that movie takes place in Ah, you know, 16 hundreds England, right? You might want to know your way around counterpoint and things that are happening at that time musical things that are common for that period, right? You might need to know how to write for a loot, that they're even using instruments called loots or liars. Eso, knowing a little bit about the history, can help you decide what instruments you're going to use, how you're going to use them. And what were some of the common things that people were doing in that music at the time? Ah, another example would be what if you're working on a video game. But if you're working on a video game and it's some time traveler and they're jumping from the year 3000 on Mars, maybe music history is not gonna help you whole bunch there. But then they jump back and there, you know, fighting dragons. Ah, and you want the music to sound like it's going back there. Then they jump forward and they're in, you know, 19 twenties big band Jazz era. You need to know the instruments and how to write in that style. So knowing music history actually can be really valuable. Um, when it comes to working in film and video games and even just when you're writing on your own, if you want to give the impression of a certain era certain period of time with your music , knowing your way around music history can actually be quite valuable. So consider that it isn't on the top of my list in terms of things you should study In order to be a composer, however, it is good to know it is valuable. I do have ah ah, few music history classes here. You could check out. I'd encourage you to check those out. They were really fun to make. So, um, you know, taking first been See what I think. Okay, So consider music history. 9. "I Can't Hear Music From a Score": Okay, So in this next section, I want to talk about some of the common misconceptions of the composer. Ah, and the biggest one that I hear is people saying that, you know, they can't, uh, hear music in their head. Um, meaning, like, you know, they can't look at a piece of music and just hear how it sounds. You can't look at a full piece of orchestra music and just, you know, here, this beautiful symphony in your head when you're looking at the sheet music, Um, so let's talk about that a little bit. First of all, uh, nobody can do that when they first start. Uh, that takes a lot of practice, and it's a skill that the more you right in, the more you look at scores, you'll develop that skill. To some extent, you might never be able to look at a score. And here the whole, you know, big orchestra score, and here the whole thing. Um, that's OK. I can't do that very well either. But I can look at an orchestra score and no more or less what it's gonna sound like I might not be seeing and hearing every note but I've practiced that and work on it a lot toe where I can get a really good idea of what an orchestra score sounds like. But it's not perfect. Um, and that's okay. So when we think about, you know, hearing music in your head by looking at the sheet music, it's, um it sounds like this crazy, ethereal thing, but it's really just a skill that needs to be practiced If you want to learn how to do that , Um, there are lots of ways to practice. And if you look at some ah aural skills and sight singing courses, that's usually the way that we start to learn how to do that. That's where we look at a single line of music and try to sing it, Um, given a reference pitch or something like that, that's usually the first step, and then you make things more and more complicated from there after you practice that. But if you're not very good at that, don't worry about it. Um, that skill, when it comes to the composer, is something of, ah, something of a parlor trick. You don't need that every day unless you're writing huge orchestra scores every day. Um, if you don't have any technology and if you want to write big orchestra scores than yeah, you should probably know how to do that. But there's a lot of people that don't right that kind of music and or do right that kind of music and use, you know, one of the notation programs to play it back for them so they can hear it, and that's totally okay. So don't let that idea of, you know I can't look at the score and hear it in my head. Don't let that dissuade you from going into it or at least trying, because that, like everything else, is a skill that you can practice and you can learn how to do it with some practice. But that particular skill takes a lot of practice 10. "I Can't Write Down What I Hear": Okay. Another misconception. I I hear is that, um you know, people say they can't write down what they hear. Um, so somebody plays a melody, and you can't write it down. Um, that, Like, what I was just saying before, That's a skill that needs to be practiced, and you can learn how to do it. It's kind of the same is what we were just talking about in the previous video, but backwards. Right. So, uh, in the last one, we were talking about looking at music and hearing it. Now we're talking about hearing music and writing it down. I wasn't very good at that when I started doing this either. Now, I'm pretty good at it, but, uh, not perfect. I screw it up sometimes. And it's not something I need to do every day. Anyway, The hardest thing is to have an idea. Let's say you have an idea for a melody, and you have to then write it down. So you're thinking of a melody. You're hearing it in your head, and you can learn to do that to Let's just practice that. Do this for me. Think about Mary. Had a little lamb right. You know how that melody goes. So just think about that melody for just a second. Take a second. Think about that melody. Okay, cool. So that place that you were hearing it in your head, that's what we're talking about. That's where we hear music in our head. You know how to hear. Mary had a little lamb. So now Ah, try to hear Mary had a little lamb slower or faster or in a minor key. You get good at playing with these things, and as you do, you'll start to learn how Teoh identify them in ways that you can write them down. You might do it by sitting at a piano, sitting at a guitar, sitting out whatever instrument you have sitting at the midi keyboards, sitting at some software, whatever it takes. Whatever you want to use to learn how to write those things down. That's okay. But you have that music in your head. You know how to put music in your head because you can hear Mary had a little lamb. If you sit and think about it. So you just have to get good at kind of crafting that space in your brain where Mary had a little lamb is able to be right now it's It gets a little metaphysical, I know, but, um, it's a skill. We practice it. The more you write, the easier it gets. Every single piece you write that will become easier to do. 11. "What if I Run Out of Ideas?": but this one is a really interesting one to me cause it's one that I never really thought of. But I had ah group of students that brought this up to me not that long ago, and it really made me scratch my head. It was really fascinating. The question is, what if I run out of ideas and I've never really considered that? Um, you will never run out of ideas? I think as long as you are a living, breathing person, um, new things will come along to inspire you. But apparently this is something that my students are thinking about. So I thought, I mean, he would include it, since you are now one of my students to, um, your brain does not have a set number of ideas that need to be put to good use, and then that part of your brain dries up. That's not how it works. Um, if you're worried about running out of ideas, then do something. Go to the beach and watch the sunrise climb a tree, fall in love, fall out of love. There's a 1,000,000 things you can do that will inspire you every day, and you'll always have new ideas based on those things. Now you might be thinking, Okay, I could watch the sunrise. But how does that really affect how I'm writing music? It does, actually. And we're gonna talk in just a minute here about how to kind of translate some of those experiences into musical experiences. We have to do it in a little bit of an abstract way, right? We can do it with something called program music. We can do it with metaphor. We can do it with character sketches. There's lots of different techniques. We have to translate something like a sunset into a piece of music. It's tricky and it's abstract. But there are ways to do it, and composers have been doing it for centuries. So, uh, you don't have to reinvent the wheel in order to come up with a way to do it. And even if sunsets are your thing, don't worry about it. Um, there's always a way to come up with a new idea based on something else. I've actually written a whole book about creative techniques, techniques for coming up with ideas. The book isn't out yet. Um, I thinking I might get around to finishing at this summer. But just so you know, the main thesis of it is you will never run out of ideas, so don't worry about it. Um, okay, so let's just put that that myth to bed right away. Let's talk about one more thing, and then we'll move on to some actual musical things. Let's talk about this writer's block idea. 12. Writer's Block: Okay, let's talk about writer's block. So let's say you're working on a piece and you sit down to write it, and you just nothing comes to mind. You just have no good ideas. Um, everything sounds bad. You're just really not into it that day. Um, maybe you have writer's block. There are some people who believe who just say no like writers. Black doesn't exist. Um, I don't know if I believe that I think it does exist. Um, but I think it's no big deal. I think that if you sit down to work on something and just no good ideas air happening, right, a bad one read a bad idea. That's fine. What you might just need is a way to kick start the process. Um, when you become a professional composer, you will have times when you cannot have writer's block. There will be deadlines like, if you're working on a film, they might say, We need you to score this to our film, and you've got four days to do it. That's not unheard of in the film world. They happen really fast. So you're gonna work on it for four days as fast as you can. And if you have writer's block, you got it. Finds a way around it as quick as possible. And so some of that is right. Something bad, right? Something bad just to power through it. And then you'll get through it and then the the pump will be primed and you'll be going again. And, you know, we all have good days and bad days. You know, we have days where everything sounds dumb and you're just like every idea I have. Sounds corny. And if that happens, power through it and you'll be just fine. It's perfectly okay. Tohave have a slow day to have a good day to have a bad day. Um, I have days. Sometimes we have days where we go backwards. Like I wrote, you know, 30 bars one day, and the next day I erased 31 of them. You know, I wrote negative one bar that day. Um, but that's the process. It's art, you know. Um, so my best advice for you is if you have writer's block or you think you have writer's black power through it, right? Something bad. Get it out of the way and then hit the ground running and keep going with some good stuff. Cool. Okay, so, um, let's jump into the next section now. And let's talk about some actual music techniques to get started. 13. Some Excerpts from My Other Classes: everyone. Welcome to my university office. It's a little less glamorous than my home studio. Um, what I thought we do in next couple sections here is to look at some of the I'm going to use some excerpts from my other composition classes here. And the reason I want to do that is because I really want to just jump into, uh, talk about how we get started. Um, the first note in a piece is always the hardest one to right, Always for me anyway. And I think there's a lot of composers that would agree with that. So let's talk about just some ways to get off the ground to get moving. So this is an excerpt from another composition class I have here, and we're talking about some techniques I've used. Teoh just prime the pump and get moving. Okay, so some of these techniques are a little silly. Some of them are very good, but all of them work really well, actually. And I use them every day. All of these techniques. Okay, so we're gonna jump into these excerpts after that. We're gonna talk about form. Form is one of the biggest things that people when they're just getting started out. Don't think about. And it's really important to be thinking about form in the piece. It's a relatively simple thing that you can start off with that will help set you up to write a really good piece. Okay, Uh, and then after we go through, those two things will get back. Teoh Samore talking like this. And we're gonna talk about kind of the business of composing, getting gigs, how that works. Cool. So enjoy these excerpts from other classes, and then I'll be back to talk about the business of composing. 14. What Comes First?: what comes first. How do we start? Let me start by telling you a story really quick. One of my teachers, once I was writing an orchestra beats and I came to him and said, OK, I'm going to write this piece for a full orchestra. It's like 100 people on stage, tons of different musicians. I can literally do anything I want. I've got a big piece of blank paper in front of me and I have no idea how to start this thing. And his advice wise is brilliant advice, he said. Here's what you need to remember about the orchestra. If you give everybody in the orchestra the same pitch, you tell everybody to play middle C and you just say, OK, play everyone play middle C You know, the same volume, the same everything. It's going to sound beautiful. The orchestra has evolved in a way that it sounds beautiful all the time. So by default, that ensemble sounds awesome. So all you really have to do when you're writing for orchestra, do not screw that up. It's a bit like thinking about the I think Michael Angelo, I think it was. Did the statue of David. That right? Um, when he did it, people said, How did you How did you do that? How did you car of this statue of David? This beautiful thing, he said, Well, I took a huge chunk of stone and I just sliced away everything that wasn't the statue of David. You know, like it sounds so easy, but it's obviously not. But sometimes all you really need to do is get your head thinking differently. And then the doors start opening up for what needs to happen. So what I want to do in this section is talk about how to open some of those doors in your head. These air kind of creative thinking exercises ways of getting started. Um, and in many ways, ways of keeping going. So some of these ideas are ways to write a whole piece. Some of them are ways to just get, um, get the first couple notes on the page, and then hopefully everything starts to come together after that. So let's dive in. This is Ah, I'm gonna give you a list of a handful of mine, maybe more later. But for now, um, let's start with one that is one of my favorite ones. And students always scratch their head when I tell them this, but, um, this is how to get your first note on the page when you're writing music when you're writing a piece of music and you just don't know where to start. 15. F#!: Okay, Here's my first Ah, trick for how to get started. This one is so simple and stupid, but it works. Here's what you do. Um, you're gonna come to your teacher. Let's say that's me for now because you're in my class and you're gonna say I I I want to write this piece. I don't know where to start. Um, I could literally do anything. I could write any note in the world, and he was gonna be my answer for you. I'm going to say f sharp right enough sharp, and then see what comes next. That's it. Why do I say that? The reason his all you need is that first note and then the next one might be easier. And the next one might be easier and easier. So if I say f sharp Ah, it's it's as good as any note. It doesn't really matter because because if you know anything about music theory, the notes really don't matter until they have context. So f sharp, g A Doesn't matter. Um, you can always change the key later. A single no is just a single note. It needs notes around it to create harmony for it to feel something, So I like F sharp. Um, whenever I'm stuck on a piece, I always just throw enough sharp in there and then see if I can work my way into having it sound good. And that usually generates a pretty interesting and strange idea. So if you don't know where to start, just throw enough sharp on the page because it's as good as any other note. And at the end of the day, we're just writing a whole bunch of notes down. That's what writing music is, and you don't need to make it so so complicated, right? It can be simple, just just right enough sharp. And if you don't know what to do after that, right, another after and then wait for the next note to start to materialize, it's a dumb trick. Um, I came to that through a teacher of mine. Um, I was writing a string quartet, and I didn't know where to start, and one of my old teacher said, Well, the F sharp above the bass clef staff is the most beautiful note on a cello. He was jealous, so start there ties that. Okay, so I wrote that note. Um, and then things started to come into focus. Um, after slaving over that for a little while, So I just stuck with it. Um, I have a lot of pieces that starts with F sharp. It's kind of silly, but it works. It does the job. So if you're totally stuck and you don't know where to start, just thrown F sharp on the page and then start going from there. At least your first note is taking care of right? OK, moving on. Let's talk about in the next video a much more complicated one. Um, that's the only one that will be so dumb and silly. The next one is has to do with metaphor and creating a story. This is probably the most powerful thing that I have. My students do, um, and also a bit complicated. So next video, Let's talk about it 16. Program Music and Metaphore: okay up next, we're gonna talk about program, music and metaphor. So program music is a term that we use in music all the time. It became popular, I believe, on 18 hundreds, mid to late 18 hundreds, actually, Um and it's still used a lot today. Um, I use it all the time. What it means is that there is a program to the music and buy program. What I mean is a story. So what we're actually talking about here is instrumental music, music that has no words that is intended to tell a story, right? So So there are musical things we do throughout the piece that helped to tell the story. So in order to do that, we need to use a metaphor. So we do things like, let's say this story. Waas, Jack and Jill fell down the hill. OK, so if we wanted Teoh musically create that what we do is something like we'd make a melody that symbolized Jack. And then we make another melody that symbolized Jill. And then we might play with those two melodies a little bit to show that their friends or something like that and then we might do something to symbolise. They fell down the hill so the melodies might just start going Ah, down in like they might just do a big scale going down. They might do a chromatic thing going down. Um, depending on how nasty we want there their fault to be like that, they really get hurt, In which case we might add some percussion and just really make it sound like it was a tumbling fall. Um, either way, we can do a run of notes going down, and that went would symbolize like they're falling down the hill. So the question I always get asked with this is how can you do it so that the audience knows what you're talking about because you're you're gonna be working in such a metaphor, you know, like if the audience is just listening and they hear these two melodies and this run of notes going down, are they going to know that the two melodies symbolized two different people falling down to help? The answer is no, Probably not. Um, but that's okay. They don't need to know. It could be just for you or traditionally, how this works is you give the audience, the program. So the story written out and they read it before listening to the music. That's how it used to work. And you can do that, Um, or you can not do it and just use it as a device. I wrote a piece once where, um, I took two years that I lived. So I I lived in a certain city that will remain nameless for two years, exactly two years when I was in grad school, and, um, it was kind of a messed up time. So what I did once I left that city when I moved to another city is I kind of outlined everything that happened in those two years to me, like like break ups and getting mugged and kind of like significant emotional things of those two years. So I put it on a timeline of the two years, and then I sped up that timeline and got it down to 10 minutes. So now all those events happened over the course of 10 minutes rather than two years, and then I used that as a metaphor to creates the music. So in the music, everything was kind of calm for a while and then, you know, when the timeline hit that I got mugged. I made some big gesture. And then when the timeline hit, you know of some other big emotional thing. I made some other musical gesture. Some thing that happened, uh, and that's program music. So I want to give you a piece of program music to study. Um, in the next section, I'm going to give you the score, Um, and the program notes to a piece by Hector Berlioz's called Symphonie Fantastique. This is one of our most famous pieces of program music. What you're gonna have here is, so I'll give you the score. But don't worry about score. If you don't want to score or to look at the score, don't look at the score. It's fine. Um, the thing you really need to do is read the, um, program notes. There is, like a paragraph or two for each movement of the peace. I think there are five movements, maybe only for so I want you to read that and then listen. I can't include the audio file here, but I can include a link to it, so I'll also give you on the next page a link, Um, where you can listen to the audio recording. This is a piece where he wrote this story, and it's a twisted story. It's a really twisted story. Um, it's not for the faint of heart, so it's and it's maybe not even for kids. Um, but he wrote this story. It's like a one page story. It's not long, Um, and then he wrote music that was to depict that story. And you can hear throughout the music you can listen to the music and read the story and kind of follow along. You know, like that's the idea of doing this. So that's gonna be the next in the next little chunk here. I'm gonna give you those materials. So I want you to read that, um, program note and listen to the music and see if you can see how this idea of program music works, and then maybe think about a program as a way to start your own piece, because that's what we're talking about Here is process. So do you have an idea for something that could be a program? You know, it could be a simple as using musical metaphors to walk through your life or a story that you liked or something like Quote. All right. So have at it. And then, um, after that, we're gonna keep talking about a couple more, uh, creative ideas in terms of process for writing music. 17. Character Sketches : okay on a similar idea. As the program note idea, you can use metaphor to also do, kind of like a character sketch. Um, the way I think about this is think about the last good book you read or the last good movie you saw and pick a character from that. Let's do it just for ah, easiness. Let's think of something that everyone knows Are a lot of people know, Let's say, uh, Star Wars Okay, let's say Star Wars, the original Star Wars Um, let's say Luke Skywalker. Okay, um, easy, Right. So we've got this character of Luke Skywalker. What would his music be like? And you could almost think of this like a film score. Think of it like, um, I want to write music. That is his theme music. And I want to go through with the music, a similar journey that he goes through. So what I'm gonna do is I'm going to start off the music. The first section of the piece is going to be, you know, maybe a little bit of innocent. I'm thinking of the very, very first Star Wars movie. Um, you know, maybe it's a little bit innocent has a naive sound to it. Something like that, Um And then as it goes throughout the piece, it's going to get more aggressive but still use the same themes that I introduce in the very beginning. Um, let's think of another one. Star Wars is actually a hard one, because it it literally has theme music already associated with it. You know, we think of the score to that movie is very iconic. Um, let's think of something. Maybe something classic like, um, well, how about here's one that's not classic, but it's one that I have actually done. Um, there's this book that I love. It's not a widely known book, but I love this book to death. It's one of my absolute favorite books, which is saying a lot, cause I read a lot of books. Um, it's called geek Love. If you've never read this book. Oh my gosh, you have to read this book. Ah, it's about ah, I won't give you the whole synopsis of the things kind of complicated, but it's, ah, about a circus family in, like, kind of old dust bowl era like 19 twenties ish. Um, and they have a what's regarded at that time as a freak show. And in the freak show, there's, um, a Siamese twin or there are Siamese twins. Not sure what the about plural of that is, but there are Siamese twins, and, uh, she has it's It's a woman with two torsos. So forearms, two heads and they play piano in the in the book as part of the show. So I wrote a piece about kind of just imagining what their music would sound like. And I wrote a piece for piano four hand that means two people sitting at one piano. Um, the idea was, you know, the person on the left would be would play a little bit more aggressive music than the one on the right because in the book, that's kind of how their characterized Ah, and they go through some kind of wild stuff. They're not even like the main character of this book. It's It's pretty crazy book. So I use the narrative of the book to kind of tell a musical story. You know, I I follow what happens to them throughout the story, and I kind of make musical analogies to that to kind of help guide what I'm going to write . Remember, these are just ways of generating ideas, that's all, Um, but I really like this character sketch idea. I tell this to students all the time, and I have students do it all the time. Everybody can think of a character. And the great thing about this character sketch idea is that it sets you up to write a suite of music. Um, right away. Because what you can do is if you write, let's say you write like a piano piece about a character from a story that you like. Um, then, ah, for your next piece, right, Another piano piece about a different character. And now you've got a two movement peace. Ah, and then, if you do 1/3 1 you've got a three movement piano piece, and that's great to have. Ah, that's a great thing to have in your portfolio is a three movement piano. Ah, piece so that you could call it a piano suite if you want. And if you're another kind of take on this is if you're really into creative writing and writing yourself, then write a story you know, write a story that has a character, if that's more comfortable to you, do that and then see if you can translate that into music, using metaphors and, um, some of the other things we've talked about in program music and things like that. So the characters catch idea can get you a lot of material pretty quick just by thinking about it. Okay, let's move on to another technique I have. The next one is a bit more literal, Um, so let's dive into that. 18. Free Writing: Okay, This next one is something that is probably the most scary thing for my students to dio. But I insist that everyone do it at least once. It's very valuable skill tohave if you get good at it. But that's not what this experiment is about. It's not about getting good at it right away. What it's about is generating ideas, Um, and finding a process that works for you when you're first getting started. I call this just free writing, and what I ask students to do is get some staff paper, get a pencil and go away. Go somewhere comfortable. Go sit in a park. Go sit in a coffee shop. Noisy, noisier. The better go somewhere where you have no business being writing music. The goal here is to get somewhere comfortable that is away from any instruments. You're going to rely purely on your imagination here so you can not bring any instruments just to pencil in a paper. I really let coffee shops for this. There are certain coffee shops that I have in Minneapolis here where I live that I do this all the time. There are ones that I find I am more productive at than others. It's kind of weird, but anywhere that you can sit for a good couple hours and work is great. Parks are good. I used to go to the beach and do it when I lived by, Ah, a significant body of water. Um, on a nice day, anything that can be great. I used to go to the airport and do this when I lived in a different a major city. Um, I would do this for, you know, like a good, like, 10 hour stretch. And I needed a place where I could be for 24 hours, like in the middle of night. Um, that was safe. And, ah, the airport was was kind of the safest place to be, So I would take the train out to the airport. I would sit at the baggage claim, and I would just write Ah, for all that long, uh, anyway, find somewhere comfortable to you that you can sit for a long period of time. I don't recommend bars. Bars are, um, less good. They tend to be, um, not filled with creative people. It's more people socialising and having fun, which is good but you want, like, ah, creative atmosphere. Um, also in bars. If you sit for a long period of time at a bar, it kind of being rude to the host, um, the person running the the waiter or the waitress or whatever. Um, because they're not gonna make a lot of money off you, so it's not great. Also, I find that looks like when I drink, I get, ah less focus. It's harder for me to focus, so it's not good. Um, stay away from bars for this. You go to go to bars when you're having fun with your friends. Don't go there alone just to write music. Although I've done it. Um ah. And it's had some interesting results, but, um OK, so we're gonna go to this place, we're gonna sit down and we're gonna write Just start writing. Um, don't think too hard. Just put start putting dots on the staff. Ah, imagine what you want to hear and then start writing it now. What you're going to say to yourself and what you're probably saying to yourself right now is I don't know how to do that. I don't know how to look at music and just hear it in my head. That's okay. You don't need to. Don't worry about it. Just follow your gut. Just start writing. See what happens. Um, write down how you think something goes, If you can imagine a sound, just start writing it down. Take a guess. Um, if you're right, then call. You wrote something cool. If you're not right, you probably wrote something interesting. Anyway, that's the joy of doing this. Um, you can. So here's what we're gonna do. We're gonna We're going to spend a couple hours doing that. Then you're gonna come back, uh, to your instrument or your computer or whatever you do. And you're going to put that music into a notation program like finale or Sibelius from you score. And then or you're gonna just sit at the piano and play it. That's what you do. Um, and you're gonna listen to what you wrote. It's not going to be what you expected that you wrote. It's not going to what you thought you were writing. Um, unless you're You're really good at hearing stuff in your head from music. And if you do this long enough, you will get good at it. By the way, Um, that's kind of a side effect of doing this. You just keep doing it. You'll start to have more and more confidence in what you're writing. But even if it doesn't sound anything like what you thought it was gonna sound like it will sound like something. And it might sound interesting. Probably a good half of it will be interesting stuff that you might not have otherwise came up with. So we're gonna take that music, and then we're gonna start playing with it and working on it and turning it into something that we really like using while we're at it. Instrument. So we're going to do this initial session of just, like, sitting away from our instrument, just free writing. Ah, and then we're gonna bring it back, and we're going to see what we got. Um, and then we're going to start crafting it and working with it as a piece. It's gonna be our our starting point for a peace. This is great for just your general musical abilities. The more you do this, the better you'll get at it. Um, the more you look forward to doing it. Um, and the more music you'll right? I mean, you write a lot of music while you're doing this, so I could not recommend doing this more. Ah, I just Please try it at least once. Just get some staff paper, go somewhere comfortable. Ideally, somewhere where there are other people around making music, doing interesting stuff and see what they and and see what you come up with. You'll shock yourself. Trust me. Use that music as a starting point for a piece of music. Okay, um, that being said, let's move on to another one. Another kind of process related thing, This one. Ah. Ah, much more liberal or ah, much more literal, but a way of generating a lot of ideas quite fast. So something I like to do a lot as an experiment to get me started offer you 19. Canon: Okay, so let's say we have a melody. I don't usually start with the melody, but let's just say we do. Let's say we found a melody that we like. Um, just gonna riff one really quick. Okay. Uh, pretty simple. Here is the melody I just came up with. Okay, Nothing amazing. But it'll work for this. So let's say you've got a melody. What I want to do is take this melody and see if I could just generate a whole bunch of ideas. Um, and a whole bunch of music just using it. So what I'm gonna dio as I'm going to do. Ah, canon with this A crazy amount of canon. Um, Now what Canon is you've done a cannon before. Ah, cannon Is this thing that you mean that you probably did when you were a kid? Maybe. Where the the easiest one is? Row, row, row your boat. So you did. So you had, like, four people and one person started singing row, row, row your boat and right on the word boat. Another person started at the beginning. So in row, row, row your boat row, row, row your boat and then 1/4 3rd and 1/4. So it all kind of happened in sequence, right? It's sometimes called around. Um, there's a slight difference between a cannon and around, but basically, for our purposes, we can think of them as the same thing. So I've got a whole bunch staffs here. I'm just gonna copy this. Oops. Go now. I'm just gonna put it there. And the two What I got just with the two. Okay, That was not brilliant to me. So instead of that, let's try it Lined up a little bit differently. Here. Get. So now I have it starting to beats later. Get rid of that and that. I just use those for spacers. Let's try that. Okay? It's kind of interesting. Let's add this one now and let's add another one there. So I'm just pasting this all over the place and let's start this one over, so just just keep on, go and, um, put one there, one there, one there, and then we'll start this 1/1 more time. Okay? Now, I just pasted that melody all over the place, and I generated a bunch of music by doing it right. I didn't transpose it. I didn't do anything. All I'm really doing here, and this is the important thing about this process, is I'm listening for what's in that melody. Once we get once it starts to get thick, like right here where there's four voices going. What I'm gonna here is a whole bunch of notes. But the sonority I'm going to hear the general sound that I'm hearing is going to tell me a lot about what's in that melody, right? This is kind of like a little bit metaphysical. It's a little bit hippie, but, um, I like doing it because it really lets you explore a melody and no, like what chords are gonna work well in it. What? What? It's gonna sound like what you confined in it, um, for harmonies all over the place. So it's a good experiment just to generate some stuff. So let's see what we got and then we'll see if we can pick anything out of it, - Okay ? There's actually some interesting stuff here, and in particularly these cords you hear a lot more times I can remember where those were. Okay, I put it much like all the down beats It's kind of weird, So check it out. Okay? I'm gonna keep all my down beats. So this cord and this cord and this cord this cord I just wanted down beats this cord, and I'm gonna leave the top line alone. You'll see why in a second. Okay. Okay. So I have nothing but down beats. Let's let's be consistent and finished this out with this. Okay, um, now I'm going to turn all of these notes, the whole notes. So take that and turn it into a whole note if it'll let me, which it will. Okay. - Okay . Now, how I got to hear is remember, I just layered that melody. Ah, 100 times or not hundreds, but, like, five times, um, throughout here. And I kind of liked the sound of the harmonies that it was making. So I got rid of all the other notes, and now I've made an accompaniment to this melody at the top. Um, let's see what we've got. However, I'm going to change these to a string sound so that they resonate a little bit longer, so let's do that. Okay, Let's see what we came up with. Now that I've changed those two strings. - Okay , Slightly interesting. Um, now, let's just keep going with this. Let's keep playing with it. Um, the thing that I hear that I need next is to connect some of these notes. So let's go here and let's just anything that has a big gap. I'm just gonna, um, put a note in between. So it's putting out there. Ah, here's a big gap. Let's put this note there. Here's another big gap. Let's put this note. Do something like that. That sounds okay. Here's a big is a smaller gap, but let's put something in between. Do that. I'm just eyeballing stuff, not thinking too hard. You that that's fine. That's fine. That's fine. Maybe this one needs something to stay in. Key is the only thing I'm really thinking about here. Those were fine. Maybe this one could go there, find that one could go there. It's put through that one there. It's put something here, but I want to much motion. That's good. And that's fine. And let's maybe put some notes at the end. Some sees, because we're in the key of C and that will sound nice. Okay, so I just had a little bit more emotion in there. Let's see how that goes. Okay? - Okay , um, not bad. Here's what I'm hearing, though. Check this out and this is totally okay. This is part of the exploring process that we're gonna dio when we listen to music and we're writing music. But we're listening to what we've written. Sometimes you discover a whole new things inside here. So here's I'm going to do I'm gonna take my original melody I'm gonna get rid of it Now I'm gonna take my tempo way down and I'm gonna hear this as a slow string ballad. What do we have now? Okay, not bad. Um, that's quite a nice little string Addazio I came up with out of that initial little happy melody. Um, and I got to that just by wearing it with cannon, you know, making a big, giant mess of a cannon out of it and then peeling away the layers and then finding what was in there, you know? And this was in it. This was in that piece in that little melody was this And that's how I found it was by using the cannon. So another idea to just generate a bunch of material to kind of get you started 20. Good Composers Borrow...: Okay. Want to wrap up this section of the class by giving you one more idea? Um, and for this one, we go to a quote from one of the most famous and ah influential composers of the 20th century and then Igor Stravinsky. Stravinsky very famously said good composers borrow great composers steel, So I think what he means by that is ah, lot of good composers listen to what other people are doing and then dissect it, analyze it, and use and and adapt it into their own style. So you might hear something you might, you know, use your music theory, figure out what the core progression is that you heard and then pick it apart and say, Oh, this is how I can use it. But what Stravinsky is actually saying is, you know, that's for good composers, but great composers who is pretty much straight up steal it. And here's how I interpret that, what you can do. I mean, you don't really want to just steal music. You don't just take a piece of music and slap your name on it and say, Here's something I wrote. Um, you don't do that, but what you can do is listen to a piece of music that you love and take a much from it, as you can listen for the form of it, we're gonna talk about form a lot in the next section. So we're gonna be talking about form. Um, but we're gonna listen for the form, and we're gonna try to adapt the form measure for measure. If we want. We can totally do that. We're gonna listen to the harmony. We're gonna be talking about theory very soon, and we're gonna get some, ah, information about how harmony works. Um, listen for the gestures, you know, Is there a big thing that happens at a certain point? Is there a quiet section? At a certain point, you can follow a score and mimic a lot of what a good piece does, and that might turn into a great piece of music. I know very successful composers that do this. I do this. I take pieces sometimes. And, you know, I might take one staff in a score and just like, put in ah, the melody line from a famous piece of music and then harmonize it and then delete that melody line and then keep going on my own thing and just use it as a way to kick start what I'm doing. That's OK. You can do that. Um, you don't have to admit it. You can keep it a secret, or you can admit it if you want. But everybody knows this Quote. Every composer in the world. No. Well, in the Western world knows that Stravinsky quote Good composers borrow great composers steel. So think about it. Keep it in mind. Um, especially to me, its most powerful. When we look at form because there's a lot of forms that, you know, I might listen to a great piece and say, Wow, that just flowed really well. So I'm gonna look at the form of it, and I'm gonna do exactly that form. You could do that. You can't copyright a form. That being said, let's move on And let's talk about form. Here we go 21. What is Form? : okay up next. I want to talk about form now. Form or a musical form is probably the most underrated aspect in my opinion of music theory and music composition. Um, so in this first video, let's talk about what form is, and then I'll give you some things to help you work with it. Okay, so first of all, I found this little video which we don't need to watch it. Um, it's just someone reading this paragraph, so I'm just going to read it to you. So here is the, ah, somewhat technical definition of musical form. After this, I'll distill this for you. Don't worry. The term musical form or musical architecture refers to the overall structure or plan of a piece of music, and it describes the layout of a composition as divided into sections. In the 10th edition of the Oxford Companion to Music, Percy Scholes defines musical form as a series of strategies designed to find a successful mean between the opposite extremes of unrelieved repetition and unrelieved alteration. According to Richard Middleton, musical form is the shape or the structure of the work. He describes it through the difference the distance moved from a repeat, the latter being the smallest difference. Differences, quantitative and qualitative. How far and of what type? Different in many cases formed depends on statement and restatement, unity and variety and contrast and connection. Okay, that was a lot of technical stuff. Let's slice that down to what that actually means. The best thing about the sole paragraph is this term right here. Musical architecture. It's the shape of the peace. Okay, so, um yes, these are all true, and they're all interesting to know the other three paragraphs here. But what it really boils down to is the shape and the contrast. That's kind of what these other two paragraphs were saying here. The contrast is what makes music interesting. Think about a pop song. Ah, in a pop song. We have the verse and we have the chorus, right, and we have some other stuff here and there to But primarily we have versus in courses. They tend to contrast each other a little bit. By contrast, I mean, if the chorus is big and loud, divers might be quieter right or less thick. It might be if it's a pop song where, like, people are yelling in the chorus they might not in the verse or even the opposite of that. So the verse and chorus are two main pieces of the song, and the form is how those are arranged over time. So the form of a pop song might be intro, verse, chorus ah, maybe another verse chorus and that a bridge and then a chorus that could be a typical pop song. There's a lot of different ways you can do pop songs, but those air typically the piece is kind of like a puzzle. Here's another way to look at it. Here's a piece of music. What this is doesn't matter. This is just a big piece of music. Ah, this is an orchestra piece. Um, here's what I want to show you, though, so we can look through this and we can just see a ton of notes, right? Like, Ah, a lot of notes. But if we zoom out, if we just zoom way out, we can actually see the form pretty clearly. Okay, so let's do it. Let's zoom way out. So even here we're looking at 123456789 pages. We still just see a bunch of notes. We don't see the form yet, but we go way out. Who's go this way? Honestly, the whole piece in one line. I don't know how well, this is gonna translate to your screen. Hopefully, clearly, we don't want to see the notes here. I don't care about the notes. Okay, here's the entire piece. Okay? This is the whole piece of music. Obviously, I can't read the notes, but I can see the form. Check this out. Here's a lot of notes. That's the A lot of notes were looking at before Here it gets thinner, right? Not as many notes, less dark stuff on the page, less ink on the page. Here it gets thicker again. This is probably related to this. I like I can almost see similar stuff happening there and then quiet again. This might be related to this, probably by the shape of it. It kind of looks like it is, but it's longer. So that's interesting, Then. We have thick stuff again here, probably related to this stuff and this stuff, and then we have something new here. I can't really tell what it is. It's somewhere in between this and this in terms of the density of it, like how many notes are happening? Uh, So what I can tell here is that there are probably three different sections of this piece. Ah, two of which are repeated. So let's call this section the A section we usually call form with letters. So this is the A section. This is a B section. All that means is that it's something different than a this we could call the a section again, and we need to listen to it and look at it a little more finally than we're looking at it here, um, to really know if this is a repeat of the A section or not, but let's call it the A section again. Here. We could call this the B section because it looks like the same thing again. So we have a B A B, and this is longer, so we might call us an altered be Something's different about it. It's based on the B section, but it's different, so we can call it an altered be or a fancy way to say that would be be prime as the way to say it's unaltered. Be here. It looks like we have in a section again similar to these. So it So we have a B A B prime a and then maybe something that we that looks totally different. If it's totally different than a and B, we would call it. See, we would call it a C section. Um, if we got in there and analyzed it and really look close at it, we might even call it an altered A where in the same way this was unaltered be This might be an A plus some stuff, so this could be an altered be earn altered am sorry, but it kind of looks to me like that's something new here, so we could call that see? So that means the form of this piece, as far as we can tell right now, is a B a b prime a see. So what good does that do us knowing the form and being able to see the form as composers does a lot of good because when you're writing something, first of all, audiences like to hear a clear form, they like this. So here we have in a section here we have the A section again. That's good. That's not laziness. That's good. What that means is they hear something here, they hear something different. And then here they go. Ah, yes, I've heard that before. That is a feeling. We like our audiences to have familiarity, something they know. They've heard this before. They can latch onto it. That gives a positive response from your audience members most of the time. So that's why form is important. Repeating things is okay, Um, so from the audience perspective, it's good. We want them to get music that they've heard before or an alteration of it. Ah, because it gives familiarity to the music and makes them more comfortable. That's why form matters and for another reason. We like form, because it kind of makes our life a little bit easier, right? Like we write this a section and then we write the B section, and then we write the C section right? That's like the only things we've really had to right here. And we've got a whole long piece by doing the A B. Let's do the A again. Let's do the B again. Um, let's do something new right? Like you had to write half assed much music as the actual length of the peace. So that can be handy. Um, that's not like the best reason to do it, obviously, because we don't We don't use form just cause we're lazy. Um, but it is a nice by product that you can write a little bit more music a little bit faster , so form matters, and there's a lot of different forms that exist already. There are some that are, like, kind of like templates. So this one, we would call a B a be primes. Sorry, A B A b prime a. See, um, some of those patterns have names, and we kind of keep them metaphorically in our back pocket. We pull them out and we say, Oh, I'm going to use that one now. I'm gonna use this one now, and we put that into the plan. When we're sitting down to write a piece, we say, OK, I'm going to use this form, use this key, this kind of stuff. That's part of what we plan on doing. So let's talk next about some of those, uh, forms that are like these standard forms that people use all the time. There are a couple that I find to be really useful just toe. Keep handy and think about think about using in your pieces. Let's talk about those next. 22. Different Forms: Okay, Now that we know roughly what form is in music, let's look at a couple of different forms. Um, so the three that I want to look at in this video are something called binary form, something called coronary form and something called Rondo. As you can see, there are a lot of different forms, and this is only a very, very, very short list. There are, like, probably hundreds of different ways you can organize in a section of B section A C section , A D section, and you section however many you want. Um, in fact, I'm gonna talk about one more. In addition to these three, Um, I'm gonna talk about 1/4 1 and I'm going to start with that 4th 1 right now. The 4th 1 is called through composed form. What, through composed form means is that you would have in a section followed by a B section followed by a C section followed by a D section followed by an E filed by an F, followed by a G etcetera, and it will go on forever. This is typically not how we like music toe work. Um, because of what I just said, Ah, in the previous video, we like our audiences toe have that recollection moment like, Oh, I've heard this before, but that's what we want toe happen. Usually you don't have to have that. You don't have to have that or not. Um, but we tend to like that toe happen so through composed form doesn't get used very often. Um, so especially when you're just starting out writing music, I would suggest you don't use through composed forms. Um, just going from one thing to the next thing to the next thing to the next thing. Don't do that. Um, there are ways to do it well and there are some composers that have done it very, very well. Um, but it's it's harder than you think. It's actually quite difficult. So let's look at some of the other ones. Binary form to things is what binary means. Ah, you have in a section and then to be section. And that's it, right. A be done. Um, So the B section is gonna have some kind of nice ending to it. And the A sections gonna have a nice ah intro to it. Maybe, but it's just a and B So a section of stuff, a section of different stuff. And that's the end. Quite simple. It's called binary form. Super simple. Okay, it's making a little more complicated. Urinary form now. Urinary form. Just based on that word, you might think that means it has three ah, different pieces, different parts of music. Ah, and it kind of only has two, but three different sections turn Every form is a B A. This is probably I don't know if I'd like put money on this, but I would say the most common kind of music ah, is turn Eri form. I guess it depends on the genre, but there is a lot of music written Internet reform a b A. It gives us that repeat of a so it makes it so that we have something familiar that we get at the end. So we hear some music. Ah, maybe you've got melodies and harmonies and things in here. Um, and then something different, something that contrasts the A section. And then after that different thing, we get it again. So this a section is going to contrast the b section that we just heard right? So there's a contrast there as well as their So that makes a be a quite rewarding right Feels good. We like the way in a B A piece feels Ah, the next one I want to show you is more complicated One. But it's one that I find to be really useful all the time. This is called Rondo Rondo. Just fancy word for it. What it means is we have in a section and we're gonna use this a section every other section is gonna be the A section We're gonna go a section and then something different be something that contrasts a right, and then we're gonna do a again And then we're gonna do some something that contrast a again but something different than before. So we're gonna contrast it again and then we're gonna do a again and this can keep on going a B a c a d a e a And it can go on forever A song As we start and end with a and we put in a in between something new It's basic. It's almost through composed where we have these b c d e f g h i j. It could go on forever. But we just put the familiar thing in between each one. Right? So it's like through composed. Except we have this familiar stuff. Keep coming back. Um, that's called Rondo. These are fun to write, actually, because it lets you come up with one really solid chunk of music and then you know something different and then go back to the home run again, and then something different, and then the home run that something different and you can just kind of keep experimenting around. It's a fun ah, form, toe work in. So those are just some some of the many, many, many, many, many forms. Um, what I'm gonna ask you to do is when you start writing music, pick a form that you're going to use. I want you to know before you put the first note down what kind of form you're going to use , even if it's not one of these simple ones, even if it's a more complex one. We're gonna talk about that in the next video, So let's jump to it now. We're gonna talk about starting with a plan 23. Start With a Plan: Okay, So here's how I'm gonna start a piece. Now that I know about form, I'm gonna come up with just, like, a little list of things that I'm going to use in this piece. So the first thing I'm gonna do is talk about form. So I'm gonna say, What's my plan? You know, like what? For my going to use. And the reason I'm saying it's a plan is because it can change. Like if I'm writing something and I find something really cool like, Oh, I'm supposed to go back to the A section here, but, um, I can still do more. Maybe I'll change it. You know, like, let yourself change the form if you want to. But we're going to start with plan, knowing that plans can change. So ah, starting my piece, I'm gonna say the form of this piece is gonna be turn eri. Okay, so that's a B A. What else do I need to know for my plan? Um, let's describe the A section a little bit. Let's say a section is going to be, um, melodic with a, um major key Melody hoops and, um, simple harmonies. Meaning, um, try adds nothing bigger than a triad. We'll talk more about that in the next section. We're getting a theory, uhm, but I'm not going to use any kind of extended crazy harmonies. Could be pretty much straight up triads. Okay, so that's a good description. I'm just, you know, painting and real a broad strokes. Here. Let's talk about the B section. I won't know. I want something that contrasts. So the contrast to melody would be texture. So it's gonna be very texture oriented. Texture means, like you might not here a melody as the most primary thing. But instead, like a rhythm or like a groove. Or, um, it's not a good way to describe texture like in a texture you give, like the general feel of the piece. So it it feels like haunting. Or it feels like aggressive or passive or something like that. So I want something that contrasts my nice major key melody. So I'm gonna say texture oriented. Um, minor key Melody doesn't have to shift for a major to minor, but why not? Minor key melody? Um, and I'll keep this simple harmonies because you wanted to contrast, but you don't want it to be, like, totally left field, right? Like it's still the same piece. Um, it still has to be related and feel like it works together. So then the coronary form my third section is just my A section again, so I don't need to outline that differently. Okay, so one other thing to point out here, let's talk about this melody. So I've identified then the a section I'm going to do some kind of major key melody And in the b section I'm gonna do Ah, minor key Melody. Okay. What I want to do is I want those melodies toe work together. So I wanted to be a really similar melody. Um, even though I want these two contrast, I want the melody to have some. I want the melody of the B section to have some kind of relation to the melody of the A section so that it feels like cohesive. It feels like it's in the same piece. So if I do a major key melody, I might do the exact same melody in a minor key. So I've got a major key melody here. I might do a minor key melody. Um That's all the same notes, But I might use different harmonies, right? So the melodies will sound this same. Let's try, um, you jump over to muse score here. Let's just do it on one Staff will keep it nice and simple. Okay, so let's say in the a section, we'll stick to see Magic Major here, my melody Is this okay? There's my melody. Let's hear it. Okay. Nice simple melody. Now, let's add some harmony to that. So I'm gonna copy this. I'm gonna call. This is my a section, and then I'm gonna put my B section here. I'll leave normally. I wouldn't leave an empty measure right there, but just humor me for a minute. Here. Now, let's add ah, harmony to it. Actually, I am gonna have to add another staff here, so, you know, add these cliff removed. Okay. Okay. So I'm gonna put my harmony and the other staff, Okay, So remember, we're gonna talk about about harmony in a minute, so if you don't know harmony, that's okay. Um, it's gonna add simple two note chords here, Um, and then let's go. Okay. Pretty major sounding stuff. Let's hear it. Okay, so if you do know harmony harmonies I use here is this is our one chord Ah, this is our six chord are relative minor. So in a minor Ah, this is a part of a five chord. This is the other part of a five chord. So this is all five and then one. Okay, now let's re harmonize it differently. So in R B section to make this a little, we want something that contrast. So the first thing I would do with a different rhythm to the notes. So let's dio see something like this. Um, me. Okay, I'm just I'm just gonna make I'm going to start on the minor, So Oops. So this is all kind of just a six chord. Let's copy that. So I don't have to rewrite all those rhythms and just change the notes. Let's to this kind of moving to a four chord Here, it's it again. And here, let's go to, um good one e minor chord. That would be the three. Let's do that. And then let's day on that cord and then go back to our first chord. Okay, Can I have a very different thing? I have a different texture, right? This was just whole notes. So very thin because not a lot of notes happening here. I have something a bit thicker. Lots of notes happening. Um, the same melody. Now I'm just harmonizing it in a different way. Let's hear what happens. Okay, let's hear him back to back now. - Okay , So now I didn't even do the thing I said I was going to do, which is change this to a minor key. I left it exactly as is and just gave it a whole new harmony, right to give it a whole different feel. That contrast id the A section that works, too. So again, here's a good example of, ah, changing our plan. So let's take this and say Same melody as the a section. Let's just call it darker. It's not necessarily miners. It's darker. Okay, so that was my plan, right? So this is my plan. Start with plan. That's the whole point of this video start with plan. Um, you will thank yourself later. Next. Let's talk about a kind of even more thorough way to plan. Um, your pieces using a graphic representation is one. My favorite things to do 24. Graphic Representations: okay, I want to show you one more kind of, ah, thing that I do with form that follows under pre composition, which is a term I don't think I've talked about yet. By the way, um, pretty composition is what we do before we start writing. It's all the stuff we're talking about now. Um, so the things like coming up with a plan, that's all pre compositional stuff. Um, this next thing is an exercise that I like to do a lot. Um, myself and I have students do it too, but I do this for my own projects. Um, and that's to draw a graphic for the form. And this sounds silly. And I normally just do this on pencil and paper. And it's mostly just me scribbling because I can't draw to save my life. So I just scribble. I'm gonna try to do it here digitally. Um, and it'll probably look kind of the same. Ah, first thing I need is just kind of a timeline. So I say, Okay, here's my piece, and this is gonna tell me how long this piece is. So this is zero over here, and this over here is How long? Let's say this is gonna be a three minute piece. Pretty short. Okay, so that makes right about here. The one minute and 52nd mark. Let's keep track of that. Okay, So here's my piece from beginning to end. Now, I'm just gonna start scribbling some stuff. So I said I wanted to do a That's a by near your turn, everything before I think urinary. So what? I'm gonna do it and then move this up a little bit and this up a little bit because going to get messy. What I'm gonna do is I'm just gonna start scribbling thinking about the texture. Like, remember when we zoomed way out of that score and ah, we could see like there was a lot of notes in a section that not a lot of notes in another section. That's kind of like the texture. So for my a section, if this is turn ery first of all, my A section is gonna be right about this much. My B section is gonna be about this much, and my C section is gonna be about this much is not an exact science. So let's just cheat that in a little bit, and then we'll move that up and let's just be clean about it and do that film there. Okay, A section B section C section. Okay, so my a section is it's gonna have a little melodic thing. It's gonna be this nice little melody that's gonna kind of hover above things like that. That's cool. Harmonies are going to be long and simple. So this kind of, ah harmony thing and then, you know, it's going to be just like notes held. So I'm just gonna do that, that kind of thing, You know, this is really just a very general thing. This will be useful. Trust me. Might be section I'm gonna have a similar nice melody floating above it, but underneath I'm gonna have a lot more turbulence here. My harmony is going to be moving around a lot more. Okay, so it's gonna be a little more frigid or not frigid. A little more, um, motion in the harmony down there. So that's cool. And then my see section is going to be really similar to this. I could just copy and paste it, but I'm not going to you, so I'm gonna have this nice mala hoops like you're at the wrong tool. Gonna have this nice melody that does that kind of a thing. And these kinds of straight harmonies again. This time, maybe it's going to have a little nice little ending on it. So let's just do that kind of thing to show that it kind of comes together and ends nicely . Okay, this becomes useful now that I've done this. What I can do is while I'm writing, use this as a reference right again. Don't be afraid to change it. Do not be afraid to change it. But while I'm writing, I could say, OK, I'm at 1 50 I'm halfway through this piece. I should be about halfway through my b section. Um, and if I am, this is the kind of texture I should be making right. This is more useful when you're doing a much more complex harmony when you have lots of different stuff. But we can even dissect our timeline a little bit more. Let's say this should be about 50 seconds. Actually, 30 and oh, did anyone notice my goofy air? That should be about 1 30 This should be about one minute, and this should be about two minutes. Okay, so now you're writing once you're 30 seconds in, this is gonna help, you see? Okay, I should be halfway through my a section now. Right? So that means that it's time. If you're writing a melody and you're working on it, it might be time to start thinking about how you're going to wrap it up and lead it into this b section. Right. Um, so this gives you these kind of landmarks things you can see that will help you plan so that you don't have this abrupt transition from a to B. Right? Um, it's a map. Think of it like a map. It tells you where you're going, right? It gets you from from literally point a to point B. But in this section, in this sense, section a two section B Having these little graphical diagrams is really useful to me. I do it all the time. Um, for big orchestra pieces. I've sat there and just, like, scribbled and scribbled and scribbled just to make Ah, good map for how I'm gonna make my peace. So don't be afraid to do this. This is a great tool. I strongly recommend it. Okay, now that we've talked about forms sufficiently and the pre composition, let's dive in and talk about theory. You know, I have all these other theory classes. Um, so in this class, what I'm gonna focus on, I'm kind of assuming, you know, a little bit about theory. Not a lot. But what I'm gonna do in the next chunk is I'm gonna just talk primarily about harmony. Um, writing harmony and writing core progressions, chords and chord progressions is what we're gonna talk about. And then after that, we'll talk about writing melodies and some tricks to writing melodies. Okay, so let's dive into harmony next. 25. General Thoughts: Okay, welcome back to my university office. Um, let's talk about making some money from getting gigs. The first thing to remember is that if you're going into the field of writing music, you have to keep in mind. If there's a lot of people that want this job, there's a lot of people that want to do it. And there's a lot of people that have, ah, guitar and can write a song, and you need to separate yourself from those and make it so you are one of the people that rise to the top. Now the easiest way to do this is to create a really great portfolio of work. So we're gonna talk more about portfolios in just seconds. There is a certain amount of getting to know people, but I do have some techniques for finding the right people to get to know. It's not just a matter of who you know. It's how to get to know those people because there are ways to get to know those people, and that will help you. Um, so let's go into this next section, and in this section we're primarily going to be talking about how to get gigs in the film world because that's where I think a lot of people want to go film and video game world. So that's what I'm primarily going to be addressing. But, uh, if you're just interested in writing concert music as well, all the same things pretty much apply. So keep that in mind as we talk about how to get gigs. 26. Getting Gigs: okay for our last kind of big topic in this class. I want to talk about how to get gigs, Uh, in the film music world. Now, I sadly don't have a silver bullet here or a secret weapon. But there are a few things you ca ndu Ah, that will hopefully lead Teoh some jobs, no promises, and it takes a lot of work. Um, remember that the thing about film scoring is that above pretty much all of the other professions in modern music making film scoring is the one that most people want to get into. Um, so there are a lot of people looking for these jobs. So there's two main things you can do that will set you apart from everyone else looking for these jobs. And they are number one. Build a portfolio number to, uh, get that portfolio in front of the right people. So that's what I'm gonna talk about in this section. I've had gigs come to me from, ah, me soliciting work by sending out my portfolio to people. I've done OK with that. Um, I've gotten a couple of jobs that way, but I have also got a couple of jobs that people have come to me for. Um, which was surprising. But I got lucky. I'm I got really lucky a couple times where people heard some of my music and they tracked me down and said, We want you to be part of this project. Um and it worked out really well. You can't count on that happening, but if you put out good music and you work hard at it, hopefully people will find you. But let's talk about how to make that more efficient and get you in front of people. So first thing, build a portfolio. Let's go to a new video. Let's talk about how you can build a portfolio Ah, without having any jobs yet. 27. Build A Portfolio: one of the great dichotomies and getting work is that you're not going to get work unless you have experience doing that work. And you're not going to get experience doing that work unless you can get work. So you're kind of in an infinite loop. So what you have to do is you have to make work for yourself, and that means building a portfolio of good stuff that you've done. Using some non traditional sources. You need to have films that you scored in your portfolio. If anyone's going to trust you to write the music for their film, so a couple things you can do. One of the most popular things to do for young composers is to score trailers for films, So all you have to do is search around for a trailer online, pull it into your sequencer, mute the audio and right to score yourself. You're gonna lose any dialogue and sound effects that are in it, but that's OK. This is, um, an interesting thing. So, technically, doing this is copyright infringement because you don't own that score or you don't own that film trailer. The movie studio does. So you're you know not supposed to do that, but because a lot of people get their start this way. I think it's kind of an unspoken thing that film studios kind of look the other way on that . So it's pretty common to do, you know. So go download Spider Man, the trailer for one of the Spider Man movies. A new one just came out from when I'm filming this and write your own soundtrack to that film to that film trailer. Don't score the whole film. Um, just the trailer and you might be able to get away with putting that back up online using your own score? Maybe not. If you can't, you've at least got a portfolio piece that you can show someone you can say you can put it on a DVD or on a private link on your website and say, Here is what my work sounds like when put to film, So film trailers are great ways to go. A lot of people do it. It's a great way to build a healthy portfolio of big budget Hollywood stuff, you know. Another thing you can do is those old and silent or just public domain movies like what we were doing in this class. Make some, find some of those and write the score to those movies. Isolate a couple scenes. Put that in your portfolio. Ah, third thing you can dio and probably the best thing you can possibly do for your portfolio is to track down friends of yours that are making films. You might have a friend who's really interested in making movies, and maybe they've wrangled up enough to make a very low budget little movie. That's fine. Right? To score for that film for them. Offer your services for free, um, and write the score to that I m so that you can use it in your portfolio. Now what does your portfolio actually look like? Um, like I said a minute ago, if you can put it on a DVD, that's one way to do it. Better is to put it online somewhere. Make a private link on your website so you don't even need to put it on YouTube or anything like that. Um, just make a website and make the URL like your website dot com slash um portfolio or something like that. You can put a password on it if you want to, you know, really need to, um so that you can send that link out to other people. And they can look at that page and be like, Hey, this person does some good work. You can make a simple website just using WordPress for whatever. Facebook doesn't really work for this. You need, like your own professional website. Lucky for you, I have another class, By the way, that teaches you how to make a website using WordPress specifically for artists. Um, search around for that. It's on this site. Tumbler. Um, it's called like Web design for artists or something like that. Um, walks through that it will teach you how to get this all set up so that you can have a portfolio on your website. Links are the best way to do it. Um, if you could just make a link that you consent to someone and say, Here's my portfolio. Check out my work and they can say they can sit at their desk and just watch and listen and say, This is good work. So to get those first couple things in your portfolio. Silent films, always good film trailers Even better, Um, and working on a really low budget project that some friend is making even best yet, Um, do those things. Find some things you can score. They're out there. Um, there are ways you can just build your portfolio, investigate those three things, and you'll have stuff to put in that portfolio that you will then put online that you can then send to people and say, This is what I do. I am good at it. Hire me. Do that. Um, okay. Thing number two. Getting yourself in front of filmmakers. Let's go to a new video and talk about that. 28. Find Film Makers: okay, You need to get yourself in front of some people that make movies. That's the next thing you need to dio. You've got a portfolio. Now it's time to get it in the hands of the right people. So where can you go? What can you do? Have a couple ideas for places you can hang out, and they all require them for you to be a little bit bold. But that's okay. You're gonna if you are an introvert or a shy person. Uh, this might be awkward. You're gonna have to go to some places, shake hands and meet people. But let me tell you a trick. Because I am an introvert and a very awkward person. Here's what I do. What I do is I go to these things and I pretend that I'm an actor and I have this character , and this character that I play when I go to these things is a highly motivated, very successful film composer who is dashingly charismatic. So that kind of helps me get out of my shell and just go and work a room even though I hate doing it, and it's really awkward for me, But you got to do it. So where can you go? First place to look is your state country or region? Probably almost certainly has a state sponsored film board mine. Is this one that we're looking at the Minnesota film and TV board? What they do. Their primary role is to get film productions to come to your state and spend their money in that state, because that leads to more tax dollars for your state. Um, that's their main role. So they want to get, ah, like the next big movie to come and happen in your state. Um, but they have other things that they do as well. That first role might not pertain directly to you, but mine and many others. They have a directory where you can list yourself as a composer so that when people are coming to the state to film stuff, they can say, like, here is a list of composers and you're on that list. Be sure you're on that list. Other things that they do is they might have industry meetups, meaning I a gathering, a dinner party. Maybe it's just coffee. Maybe it's just a informal get together off people in the film industry getting together at some place just to talk shop. They do that all the time. So what you want to do is go to those. They're primarily going to be filmmakers, directors, maybe some actors, Um, but mostly behind the scenes people. There's not gonna be composers at them. Composers don't go to these things. Mostly, Um, very rarely have I run into another composer at one of these things, but that is what makes it so powerful. You're going to be the only composer in the room. That's perfect. Last place you want to be is where there's a bunch of composers hanging out right there, all competition. So what you do is you go to one of these things and someone's first thought that you meet is going to be Wow, that's weird that a composer came to this, but their second thought is gonna be ham. I need a composer, so you bring a card that has the link to your portfolio on it, and you hand out those cards so people have your contact info and your portfolio, and then you just meet people. That's the best way you can get gigs So look up your local film board. Also. Look in the nonprofit sector. You might have other organizations in your town that focus on community building for filmmakers. Meaning, um a getting together of people in the film industry. Just as a nonprofit, for example, I have one in my city called I f P Minnesota to his independent film Baker Project. And I believe this is a chain, and I believe that there's tons of these all over, But this is a non profit that does exactly what I was just saying that we hope your local film board does. They have, um, meetings, meet ups, gatherings, and mine has classes in some grants and stuff like that. Also for ah filmmakers, you should join this organization. You should join this organization, get to know them, go to their events because this is where independent filmmakers those are the ones you want to meet, hang out and get to know each other. Get in that scene. People will know you people will know your name, they'll know your work. And hopefully the higher you for a gig. So have a card ready to hand out with your portfolio on it at these things 29. Don't Be Afraid of Free: Okay. The last thing that I want to tell you about this is under normal circumstances, I would tell musicians, particularly musicians just getting started, you know, Don't don't play for free, Don't work for free. You know you deserve to be paid, however, in this industry, because you need to build a portfolio because you need to get some credits. Um, people need to know who you are, I would say, and this is maybe controversial. Maybe some other educators would say not to do this, but I would say, Do not be afraid to take a gig, Um, for really cheap or free, meaning you're not going to get paid anything. Be sure you don't go in the whole meaning. Like if you have to hire musicians to record it, be sure the film pays for that. But if an opportunity comes your way and you don't have any real credits yet, then and and they say, you know, we're a small budget thing and we don't have any money to pay you, but we'd love to have you do it, consider it, you know, consider doing it because you need some of those credits, because if you don't do it, somebody else is going to do it. So if it's a good project, if it looks like it's gonna have some legs on it and what that means is that it's gonna go places maybe it's gonna get into, Ah, Film Festival. Maybe it's gonna be shown at a couple theatres. Who knows? Maybe it's gonna be just in online distributed thing, but you're going to get a lot of attention from it. Consider doing it for free, because what you need more than anything is credits and a portfolio, and a credit just means, ah, line that says, you know, original soundtrack by you. Um, you need to build those up if you're going to make some money doing it. So I would say, Don't be afraid to work for free for your first couple projects. Once you can command money when someone comes to you and you've got enough on your plate that you need to scale something back in order to take that gig, that's when you can say OK. Ah, I need this much money to do this gig. But when you get started, don't run away from free projects. Um, you need that portfolio 30. More You Can Do...: All right, we are nearing the end. I want to tell you one more thing before we go. And that is what else you conduce do to help your career in particular. Um, what else is coming in terms of my classes, you will notice throughout this class that there's a lot of music theory talk. If you haven't taken my music theory classes, I highly suggest you do that. They're gonna help you wildly. Also, I've got these composition classes that this ties in really well. Teoh, this is kind of Ah ah, third and fourth composition class. Ah, in my mind. So, uh, consider taking those. We talked about a lot of other techniques in the composition classes. If you haven't taken those, I'm still making more theory classes. So and more composition glasses. So there may be more. After this, there will almost certainly be, I should say. Also, we did talk a lot about the technical aspects of film composing, being the software, the hardware, the samples, all that stuff. Please check out some of my classes in that stuff. I have classes on sampling synthesizers and a whole bunch of classes on using able to live . Ah, that's the software I've been using in this class and knowing that will help you want hugely, um, as you build your film scoring career. So I highly encourage you to keep on learning. Learned some of the technical aspects of what's going on because it is important that you know that as well as the film composing side. So please look around for those other classes. Um, I think they will. They will help in your pursuit of being a film composer. 31. What Next?: Okay, So what comes next Now? Obviously, I've put together this class as just like an intro. Just a way to kind of get started and entice you to learn more. I really think that music composition is something that more people can do and shouldn't be afraid of trying. Uh, in the end, it's just about creativity having fun and making music. So I hope you've enjoyed this class until now. We're just about to wrap up, but I wanted you to know that there's a lot more you can do. There's a lot more to learn. Obviously eso just remember music theory, uh, get started on that, uh, other music composition courses, perhaps a music technology, perhaps of music history. That's the best things that you can do. Teoh get good at writing others. Then the main thing, which is just to start doing it. Just dive in and start writing right every day. Devote a couple hours every day to writing music, Play it back, listen to it, throw it away. If it's no good, keep working on it. If it is good, but every note you right, we'll get you closer to being satisfied with what you're writing. You might have you satisfied with it right away. But that's OK. You got to keep practicing and keep working on it. So when it comes to theory, technology, all of those things, those are skills you can learn. I would highly recommend sticking right here on this website and, uh, learning more. I have a bunch of classes on that stuff here, on you, to me, and I would love for you to take those classes. In fact, if you stick around for another two videos, um, I'll walk you through how to get into those classes for dirt cheap. So stick around for that. In the meantime, I have one more video I wanna go over and just Teoh Quick little rappa. 32. Thanks and bye! (For now!): Okay, now we've reached the end. Um, in this last little bit, I just wanted to say thanks for being a part of this class. Thanks for hanging out. I hope you learned something and, I hope, decide, Teoh, Uh, continue on with your goal of learning how to write music and who decided to take some more classes with me. I've been doing this online teaching thing for a little while now, and I really love doing it. So please chime in semi messages. Leave comments, leave questions. Most importantly, leave questions. I answer questions every single day for all of my classes. So, um, if you have a question on anything, you can either send it to me as a message or you can post it in the class. And in the next page that's gonna pop up. You'll see info about how to join the private Facebook group for, uh, students of mine. And you can go there and post questions there. You can even post pieces of music that you're working on for feedback from me and from other students. So it's really fun in there. Uh, that's it. Thanks. A bunch hope to see you soon. Bye bye. 33. SkillshareFinalLectureV2: Hey, everyone want to learn more about what I'm up to? You can sign up for my email list here, and if you do that, I'll let you know about when new courses are released and when I make additions or changes to courses you're already enrolled in. Also check out on this site. I post a lot of stuff there and I check into it every day. So please come hang out with me and one of those two places or both, and we'll see you there.