• How to play guitar chords
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    How I compose 3 – Chords

    “A chord in music is any harmonic set of three or more notes that is heard as if sounding simultaneously.” (Wikipedia, accessed August 7, 2013) To me, chords form the shell of a piece of music – the walls and roof of a house, so to speak. For me, this is the most difficult part of composing and always has been. Possibly because I’m a percussionist and therefore spent a lot of time focusing on rhythmic patterns and combinations rather than harmonic. Harmony? “Harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches (tones, notes), or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of…

  • British American Conductor Composer Maestro Stephen P Brown how to compose classical music
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    How I compose: Step 1

    I am now working on the 6th piece in my composition quest. This is not the first time I’ve composed music but in the past I have approached pieces from a variety of angles: systematically using someone else’s process, systematically using someone else’s process that I adapted slightly, systematically using a process I developed myself (which begs the real question: is there anything brand new, or is everything an adaptation of what we’ve already experienced?) and there were even pieces that I approached system- and process-free; meaning, I just sat and wrote something. However, in order to accomplish my current task it makes sense to stick with a systematic approach,…

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    Do you ‘wing it’?

    Setting up a plan of action really does seem to work, wouldn’t you agree? As the Psalm Setting Quest was formulating, for fun I figured out a way to determine in which order I would use the psalms to compose music to. A few columns, sorts and ranking formulas were added to a spreadsheet and “voil√†!” an evenly mixed distribution of each psalm type. There’s actually one psalm type (Prophetic) that has just one psalm in it and I know this ranking system works when that psalm (#50) appears right in the middle of the list, as the 75th piece of music I will write. An added benefit of using…

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    Unexpected advice and a possible way forward

    What an incredible week. My last blog post “Keeping up appearances” attracted the most views I’ve ever had, as well as the most comments. Thank you! It is clear that many of you believe a small group of advisers or friends with whom you can share disappointments is a good thing, but even better is a mentor or two. I must admit to constantly referring back to the same handful of people on many matters, but unfortunately I have yet to come across a mentoring candidate in my industry who is on the same playing field/ experienced in what I’m trying to do/ ignoring staid industry norms. Not even the…

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    Fire the musicians!

    Yet another terrific #OrchChat last week! Thank you to all who participated in the lively discussion. For one hour several people from around the world gradually joined in as schedules permitted, and there was much intense and passionate discussion among the group. Based on feedback, we kept the format to three topics and as usual, they bled into and over each other. It was actually fun (no, really) keeping up. The topics we explored were: Free Flashmobs. Although a great marketing tool, when orchestras perform for free do they devalue what they do? Liven it up! How do we overcome performer’s lethargism due to the repetitive nature of the job?…