How to Compose Your Own Music Compositions

Writing music requires some talent and understanding of basic theoretical principles.

Learning to write your own music is a challenging but rewarding experience. Beginning composers can learn to write music in a variety of ways ranging from free advice to paid professional instruction. There are talented composers are willing to help newcomers learn the ropes and start composing original music, but they can be hard to find. Still, even advanced composers can benefit from a second opinion. No matter whether you have never written a note of music in your life or are an experienced composer, writing original music requires a thoughtful and careful approach to composing.

The College Path

Study music theory by attending a college or university, or find a teacher through a local music store. It is also possible to study theory online. By studying music theory, composers can learn quickly about music that has already been created. To write something original, you have to first know what already exists. Music theory is one of the quickest ways to develop this understanding. Courses exist to teach you the basics of music so that you can learn to read and write notes, scales, chords and key signatures. Most students should start with 18th-century theory and progress through the modern period.

Score Analysis

Reading musical scores and listening to music to apply the knowledge obtained from your music theory courses. A score is the composer's handwritten manuscript of their musical composition. Listen to music from all the major time periods. and seek out music from the classical, romantic, and modern periods. Pay attention to what makes each of these time periods unique. While listening to the music, begin to think about ways in which you can improve or interpret the music in a new way. Even if your plan is to write rock, jazz, or country music, a background in classical music will help your writing because classical chord structure is the basis for all music.

Study Privately 

Find a private composition instructor or study composition online. Look for an instructor that has a background in the type of music you want to write. It doesn't make much sense to go to a classical composer if you want to write rock music. Check whether they have a degree in music composition or extensive experience composing to determine whether they are qualified to teach composition. Your spending your hard-earned money, so you have a right to find an instructor that fits your needs.

Counterpoint Study

Study counterpoint from the 16th and 18th centuries and modern periods with your private instructor. The basis for music theory and the construction of chords lies within the discipline of counterpoint. Take a course online or from a local community college. Counterpoint teaches the basics of how musical lines are constructed. This will teach a composer not only about common chord progressions but also how to make progressions that will be new and refreshing.

Review online resources that deal with advanced composition techniques. Modern techniques that can be loosely applied to all music include 12-tone, aleatoric music, and other less commonly used compositional devices that will help to make your music special. Composers that write original music have a strong background in theory and know the techniques that are available in music so that they can avoid replicating music of the past.

Additional Reading

USC School of Music

"Composing Music" William Russo, 1988 (Affiliate Link)


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