Tool #18: Make Music When You Write Music

Here’s a quick tip for when you’re in the process of composing, that helps no matter how your composing habit usually goes:

Make music when you write music.

What do I mean?  When you’re at your instrument and you’re composing, make music on that instrument.  When you’re at the computer plugging in notes, hum and sing to yourself.  When you’re generating ideas on pencil and paper at home, walk around singing like a maniac (and I’m only slightly kidding on this one)!

Why do I say this?  The ultimate goal of writing music is to make music.  When you have the goal, or object of your writing in mind, and can physically hear it, it brings you one step closer to the realization, makes you more connected with your piece, and makes for a better performance.

 Here are some examples that really help me:

  • Singing single chord tones one at a time to figure out voicing of a chord.
  • Playing the guitar exercises I’m writing on my guitar.
  • Singing the melody of a tune and seeing if it flows naturally.
  • For vocal music: speaking and singing text aloud, or mouthing it during playback or self-performance on an instrument.
  • Scat singing rhythms and articulating sounds for complex rhythmical passages.
  • Doing sticking patterns in slow motion for percussion writing.
  • Tapping objects/the desk at which I’m working to the unusual accents in a passage.
  • Humming during playback to override MIDI’s interpretation and “hear” it better for myself in my head.
  • Practicing breathing for wind parts while singing along.
  • Air-bowing for string parts while singing along.

The list goes on and on.

Try it–it’s very rewarding and helps out the process and result of composing.

Thanks for reading!


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