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Helping Factors

1. Getting Started
2. Motivation / Dry Spells
3. Creative Principles
4. Helping Factors
5. Miscellaneous Concerns

FAQ Contents

Why is the study of music theory and history all that important?

More than just passing your courses, it is critical that you have an in-depth understanding of music theory and history. When you write, you write from what you know--from everything that you have experienced.

I'm writing my first string quartet. Will knowing the Beethoven quartets make any difference?

In order to be "original," some composers do not listen to any music other than their own. However, composing in a vacuum outside of a tradition is very difficult, and it would be better to take the opposite approach. First, you should make a study of t he origins and development of the medium for which you are composing. Then, get the scores and recordings and start listening and analyzing. Try to understand how your piece relates to the literature. This may take quite some time, but it well worth th e effort. Novelists often spend many weeks researching a subject before starting to write.

Many composers have looked to the past for ideas and inspiration. Bartok's "night music" may have been suggested by the second movement of Beethoven's Fourth Piano Concerto. The origins of Stravinsky's mixed meter can be found in the works of Mussorgsky . Even the works of Webern contain many references to the compositions of earlier tonal composers such as Beethoven and Brahms. There is much to learn from what has already been written.

What are some of the skills a composer must possess?

- James Fry
- April 17, 1996

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