So, one of the things I’ve gotten to spend some more time with during my – err – sabbatical from gainful employment – is my piano.
For those who’ve been around here a while, you might recall that a couple of years ago, I was stressing about and then actually enjoying learning a little music theory in the last piano class I had before I started taking private lessons.
So, last year, after I’d settled in and developed a bit of rapport with my teacher, I’d described the things I’d liked and not-liked about the classes I had taken. One thing I’d said I’d appreciated (and that maybe it was my analytical-science side coming out) was the introduction to music theory that I’d had – how it helped shaped the way I heard and learned new pieces. She suggested that I start a series of workbooks on music theory for the piano.
I think this series is pretty good, and after a year or so I’m right in the middle of the set. I’ve really enjoyed learning the hows and whys of how a musical composition is put together. We’ve covered meter, scales, keys, intervals, chords, ornaments, motifs and have begun to analyze different compositions for melodic phrase structure. There are also sections for ear training and sight-reading. Altogether, I think they’ve really helped me be a better (and I use this word very generously) musician.
So, of course, reading and dissecting music naturally began to make me curious about how it gets created. Do you start from a motif and build? Do you start with a feeling and go? What are the “rules” that make something sound “good”? And so on…
And so, last month, I started another series: “The Craft of Music Composition”. This also has several levels and naturally I’m starting at the entry level, since I’ve never written music in my life. The first book has a sort of a lead-you-by-the-hand way that takes some of the intimidation out of the idea of putting notes to paper (or notes into Finale’ as the 21st century equivalent might be…) – while learning some of the common techniques used by composers.
I’ve never really considered myself a “creative” person. Insightful, maybe. Analytical, for sure. So composition is way out of my comfort zone – and maybe that’s good. I don’t know that there will be any critical successes coming from my brain, but it sure is fun to sit and plink-plunk-plink at the keys and decide what you think sounds good.
Wish me luck!