April 14, 2017
In Episode 13 of the Art of Composing Podcast, I talk to William Caplin, author of two of my favorite books on form and music theory in general. This is a great interview where we go into all sorts of What is in this episode: * What is form? * How did great composers like Beethoven actually think about form? * How can you apply it to your own compositions? Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! About William Caplin William Caplin is the James McGill Professor of Music Theory at the Schulich School of Music at McGill University in Montreal, Canada. He is author of two of my favorite books, Classical Form: A Theory of Formal Functions for the Instrumental Music of Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven, which won the Wallace Berry Award from the Society for Music Theory, and the more recently published, Analyzing Classical Form: An Approach For the Classroom. Dr. Caplin studied Music Composition at the University of Southern California and then followed on with Graduate Studies at the University of Chicago working with Leonard Meyer and others, as well as further studies at the Berlin Technical University where he studied with Carl Dahlhaus. Dr. Caplin served as President of the Society for Music Theory from November 2005 to November 2007 and continues to serve on the editorial boards of Eighteenth-Century Music, Indiana Theory Review, Rivista di Analisi e Teoria Musicale, and Eastman Studies in Music. Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: William Caplin's Books *These are affiliate links to Amazon.
April 7, 2017
In Episode 12 of the Art of Composing Podcast, I talk to Samuel Adler, author of one of the most popular books on orchestration, The Study of Orchestration. There is an issue with my itunes feed right now. I am working with apple to get it fixed, but it will probably be a day or two before it's corrected. What is in this episode: * The most beneficial activities for composers learning orchestration. * Samuel Adler’s thoughts on getting published when you’re young. * Golden nuggets from some of the greatest teachers and composers of the twentieth century. * Why you should copy great composers like Bach and Hindemith. * Why the composition teacher is like a midwife. Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Tips from Samuel Adler * Composers should play an instrument. * Learn to sing. * Start as early as possible. This includes the study of harmony, counterpoint, and analysis, as well as your instrument. * Get a teacher as early as possible - this subject is too complicated and too complex to learn completely on your own. * Get familiar with the main corpus of music that has been created, as far back as medieval times. * Listen to and read a much music as possible. * Get into an ensemble. * Play chamber music on the side. * Keep writing and keep learning. What are characteristics of good Orchestration? Transparency Let the orchestra choirs sound so that it doesn't all sound like a big mish-mosh. Great Orchestrators Igor Stravinsky Claude Debussy Maurice Ravel Henri Dutilleux The American's knew how to orchestrate better than anybody. Copland Piston Session William Shuman Ned Rorem Samuel Barber Thoughts on Walter Piston He wasn't the best teacher because he taught by sarcasm. Thoughts on Hindemith You had to write a new piece for every single lesson. He would then rewrite it. You ended up writing what he would like. I wrote like a little Paul Hindemith for a very long time. Thoughts on Copland He was the best teacher because he would point out there was something wrong with your piece, but he wouldn't tell you exactly what. He would show you - identify some kind of weakness, or mistake, or wrong chord, or something like that. And instead of, like Hindemith putting the right chord, he would say, "Go home and do it." And you learned more by worrying. He said "Somethings wrong," so something must be wrong, and you tried very hard to correct it. And this was a terrific way of teaching. On teaching in General The composition teacher is like a midwife. He can't have the baby but he can help along. Always try to live into the music or style that the student is writing. Samuel Adler's Thoughts on Technology I can tell, by looking at a score, whether that composer has composed with the computer. You have delete on the computer and you have repeat on the computer, and much of the minimal music is not as good as Philip Glass, or any of the great composers of minimal music. Samuel Adler's Process of Composing He starts with sketching. He always completes his short score before orchestrating. Orchestration is treated as a 2nd composition. Why he wrote The Study of Orchestration He wrote the book by default, because the books they were using didn't actually talk about orchestration - just instrumen...
March 14, 2016
Episode 11 of the Art of Composing Podcast. We interview Robert Gjerdingen, author of the book "Music in the Galant Style". We talk about Partimenti, the tool used to train the greatest composers from Mozart to Debussy and Stravinsky, as well as his new research into how music fits really well into constructionist linguistic theory. What is in this episode: * What Partimenti are and why you should care. * How composers like Mozart would have actually learned to composed. * How composition is very similar to speaking a language. Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: Joint Improvisation by Alma Deutscher and Tobias Cramm Four Improvisations for Piano by Arensky, Rachmaninov, Glazunov & Taneyev Robert Gjerdingen's Book Music in the Galant Style *This is an affiliate link to amazon Schema Theory as a Construction Grammar Robert Gjerdingen’s Website Monuments of Partimenti Robert Gjerdingen’s Free Course On Playing Partimenti 1000 Harmonic Exercises by Anton Arensky
January 21, 2016
Episode 10 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, you'll get a good grasp of what harmony is and why harmony works the way it does. If you've ever wanted to know how to create a chord progression from scratch, this is the episode for you. What is in this episode: * The basis for our harmony - the overtone series * How functional chord progressions work * How to add chromatic harmony to your chord progressions Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: Here are the charts mentioned in the episode. If you're interested more in using these charts, you can check out my article on diatonic harmony. Major Minor
March 4, 2015
Episode 9 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, you'll learn some valuable questions to ask yourself before orchestrating anything, and then my technique to efficiently learn the art of orchestration. What is in this episode: * Why you shouldn't orchestrate... yet. * Valuable questions to find out if you are ready for orchestrating your own music. * My technique for orchestrating your own pieces quickly, efficiently, and without getting overwhelmed. Listen to the Final Orchestration of Sketchy Business From the Podcast Download the Score and Sketch Sheet Here is an example of a descriptive sketch. Notice, just the melody, the chords, and a description of what I want to do. That is followed with actually sketching ideas. Here is Section 1. Section 2. Section 3. I then turn it into a full score, which you can hear and see below. Sketchy Business - Score and parts Sketchy Business - Sketch Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * The Study of Orchestration (Third Edition) * Sibelius * Noteperformer Transcript Welcome Hey everyone, we're back with another art of composing podcast. In this episode, we are going to learn about orchestration. What is it, and why you should or shouldn't be doing it. We are also going to go over, my technique for orchestrating small, practice pieces that sharpen your orchestration skills. Featured Content Orchestration, the technique of composing for orchestra is something that everyone needs to eventually learn. But when you are just starting off, I liken it to treasure hunting on the beach. You walk around with a metal detector, (aka your ear), looking for a chest of buried gold from 200 years ago. Turns out, all you find are the occasional bottle cap, maybe a quarter, and a lot of wasted time. So my first question to you is - why are you orchestrating? Just like many of you, I attempted to orchestrate pieces of music when I was younger. And I still have those files on my computer. Guess what, they're pretty terrible. I mean, maybe I shouldn't be so hard on myself, I was 15 at the time, and I just wanted to copy what I heard from my favorite composers. There is nothing wrong with that desire. But just realize, your first attempts to orchestrate anything, unless you happen to have a perfect memory, and an absolutely phenomenal ability to transcribe, well they're going to be bad. I am just going to say it. Beginning composers generally shouldn't orchestrate. At least not in the way they think they should. Now there are many reasons for this, and we will talk about them in just a little while, but I think the main reason is, because there is just a lot of stuff you need to know, to orchestrate well. Certain things seem easier, especially with music notation software like Sibelius, but in reality,
November 11, 2014
Episode 8 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, find out why you need to learn about musical form, and what exactly makes musical form so powerful. We also analyze the 1st Movement to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 1. What is in this episode: * Learn about the different levels of musical form, and how they work together to create a feeling of temporality. * We go over each section of the 1st movement to Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 1, talking about the techniques that are being used in each section. * Learn how the Lord of the Rings is a great analogy for remembering Sonata Form. Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * The Lord of the Rings: The Motion Picture Trilogy Add any other supporting show notes. Transcript Welcome Welcome to another episode of the art of composing podcast. Art of Composing is dedicated to unraveling the mysteries of musical composition, and then teaching them in ways that allow you to become the composer you want to be. In this episode, we are going to learn all about musical form and how you can learn to compose by watching The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Before we get into that, let's talk about learning composition for a second. If you are like most people that want to start learning composition, you probably don't have a good idea about what you need to do, to actually get that done. Learning composition is a tricky thing, because there are a lot of skills required in order to create even just a simple piece from scratch. Well, the Art of Composing Academy is exactly what you are looking for. If you are a beginner or even an experienced composer, looking to brush up on the fundamentals, check out Music Composition 101. The course takes you from never having written anything on your own, to creating solid classical pieces. You can check it out at Featured Content Musical form has always been an interesting subject to me. On the surface, form seems like it is a road map, that you as a composer can follow to create pieces that sound a specific way. And this is true, on the surface. But as you start to peel away these surface elements, you'll find that studying form is much deeper. And that is what we are going to talk about in this episode. I like to always start things off with a definition, and this is my personal definition, which I've created over studying form for the last few years: Musical Form is an emergent feature of music that happens over time when you combine the separate elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, tempo and texture. Let's take a minute to break down this definition, and pull out some important points. That way I know we are on solid ground as I start to explain the different kinds of musical form. First, Musical Form is an emergent feature of music that happens over time. Part of the mystery of musical form, is why it creates certain feelings in people. In particular feelings of time or temporality. If you think about a piece of music that is done well, there is usually some point in the music where you identify a beginning. A feeling that the music is just starting and that there is more to come.
October 1, 2014
Episode 7 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, we look at creativity - what it is, how to find it, and how to explore your creative boundaries. What is in this episode: * What is creativity? * The two kinds of artist and what it means for your creative endeavors. * A six step process of creativity. Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Musical Creativity: Strategies and Tools in Composition and Improvisation (Computational Music Science) Identify Your Artistic Type * Do you plan your compositions before hand, or do you just start writing or playing on your instrument? Do you make sketches? * When do you make your most important compositional decisions? * Do you have clear compositional goals when you sit down to compose? * Do you have a clear idea of what the finished composition will be like? * When do you stop composing, or decide a work is complete? 6 Step Process of Creativity * Exhibiting the open question. * Identifying the semiotic context. * Finding the questions critical sign or concept in the semiotic context. * Identifying the concepts walls. * Opening the walls and displaying its new perspective. * Evaluating the extended walls. Creativity requires that you dig deep into your own mind and answer these kinds of questions. Deep reflection is the only way to truly grow. Transcript coming soon!
May 10, 2014
Episode 6 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, we look at what it takes to find a mentor and how to get the most out of the experience. What is in this episode: * Finding the ideal mentor. * Four strategies for receiving the ideal mentorship. * Cultivating your social intelligence. Support the Podcast! Click Here to go to Jon's Patreon page, and support the podcast! Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Mastery by Robert Greene Episode 6 Take Aways * Anyone wishing to master a field must go through years of deliberate practice. This practice can be maximized by having a wise mentor guiding the process. * Finding a mentor can be a little difficult though, so you need to make sure you are actively seeking one, and not just hoping for it to happen. * Make sure you bring something to the table as well. Most people are happy to pass on their knowledge and expertise, but realize that they are more than likely busier than you, and so you can help simplify their lives by bringing your unique skill sets to the relationship. Once you have found a mentor, utilize these four strategies for the ideal mentorship: * Choose the mentor according to your needs and inclinations. Have a clear understanding of where you want to go, and find a mentor who can help you get there. * Gaze deep into the mentor’s mirror. Be willing to accept your mentor's criticism and difficult tasks. They will help you grow. * Transfigure their ideas. Don't just passively accept everything your mentor tells you. Make their ideas your own by wrestling with them, changing them, rephrasing them, and even discarding the ones you don't agree with. This usually happens later in the relationship. * Create a back-and-forth dynamic. Finally, realize that you too have a contribution to make to your mentor, and they can learn from you. In the end, both of you are people, and you have the opportunity to build a life-long friendship with like minded individuals that is mutually beneficial. Don't take that lightly. Transcript Welcome back to another episode of the art of composing podcast. As I said in the introduction, this podcast is all about learning to compose music. Well what does that mean exactly? Well I want you to understand not just the technical side of composing, which we will talk about in future episodes, but I also want you to understand the emotional side as well. What kind of emotions are you going to be feeling along the way? What are the big mistakes that you can make on the pathway to composing? How do you master the subject? You see, the pathway to mastery is fraught with danger. Many people never succeed in mastering anything in their life accept causing trouble for themselves and others. How do you avoid this fate? In this episode, we'll look at two more factors in mastering music composition. These are - finding a mentor and learning social intelligence. This episode will be the final in the series on mastery. As most people who listen to this show will more than likely be in the apprenticeship phase, I don't yet want to focus on what to do when you reach the creative/active pha...
February 16, 2014
Episode 5 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, I cover the next stage of your pathway to mastery, the apprenticeship. Find out about why an apprenticeship is so important, the different phases of an apprenticeship, and how to take the most advantage of your composer apprenticeship. What is in this episode: * What is an apprenticeship, and how long will it take? * The three phases of an apprenticeship. * The 8 Strategies for getting the most out of your apprenticeship. Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Mastery by Robert Greene Episode 5 Take Aways * The goal of an apprenticeship is not money, a good position, a title, or a diploma, but rather the transformation of your mind and character. * There are three phases or three modes to the ideal apprenticeship. * They are Deep observation or the passive mode, where you observe and absorb as much as possible about the world you are trying to master. * Skills acquisition or the practice mode, where you break down all of the necessary skills in your field and practice them until they become tacit knowledge. * And Experimentation or the active mode, in which you take that knowledge and you create your own work so that it can be judged by the public and yourself. You are trying to fill the gaps in your own knowledge so you can become better than you are now. The 8 Strategies For the Ideal Apprenticeship are: * Value learning over money. * Keep Expanding Your Horizons * Revert to a Feeling on Inferiority * Trust the process * Move towards resistance and pain * Apprentice yourself in failure * Combine the "How" and the "What" * Advance Through Trial and Error Transcript Welcome back to the Art of Composing Podcast. I am excited to have you listening today. Today's episode is going to be about Mastery. What it is, how we can attain it, and why we would want to attain it. But I am not going to just talk about Mastery as an obscure theory. Instead, I thought this would be a good opportunity to a little bit talk about my history, how I started composing, how I got to where I am, and how I see my journey unfolding. I don't consider myself a master of music composition, but I am working towards it. And I hope part of the reason my website, resonates with people is because I am approaching the subject of teaching music composition from the standpoint of having to teach myself. So without further ado, let's get on with the featured content. Featured Content Mastery is a subject not often touched on or talked about in modern society. If you think about it, most things in life are really designed to prevent you from mastering a subject. The biggest culprit for this, I believe, is not TV, although TV doesn't help. No I believe its school. School is designed, from the beginning, to be a place of conformity and regurgitation. You are forced through your most creative, and curious part of your life to listen to teachers talk about subjects you just don't care about. And then after the day is done, you have to go home and study those same subjects, and do your homework. This all leads to a lack of motivation on the part of children to care much about school. For me personally, this lead to a habit of procrastinating. You see, procrastination really has nothing to do with you being lazy. I was and I still am, a hard worker. The thing is, I just never wanted to work on what I had to work on. Homework, diaramas, reports, papers, whatever.
December 28, 2013
Episode 4 of the Art of Composing Podcast. This episode is all about starting on the pathway to mastery. What is mastery? Well, it is the state that you achieve, where you have almost magical powers of control over your chosen field. How do you achieve master? You'll just have to listen and find out. I also talk about how I started composing, how I got off the path towards my life's task, and what it took to get back on the pathway. What is in this episode: * What is mastery, and how do you achieve it. * Jon - An Autobiography (kind of) * How to identify your life's task using the 5 strategies from Mastery by Robert Greene. Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Mastery by Robert Greene * War of Art by Steven Pressfield Episode 4 Take Aways Mastery is really about a state you can achieve, in which you have a power over reality that most people do not have. This power comes from fully absorbing all aspects of you life's task. * Your life's task is the thing that you feel deep down, that you are called to do. * To identify your life's task, you have five strategies: * Returning to your origins is basically connecting with your true passions. * Occupying the Perfect Niche is all about working your way towards a life that will support and nurture your life's task. * Avoiding the false path is all about not being steered in the wrong direction. * Letting Go of the Past is about looking at the direction you're life has been taking, and having the courage to say whether you've been on a false path, even if you've worked hard in a particular field. * Finding Your Way Back is about being willing to make a cut with the progress you've made in order to get back on your true path towards mastery. Transcript - AOC 004
December 24, 2013
Episode 3 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, I talk about what it takes to start composing immediately. What is in this episode: * The mindset you need to learn to compose music. * How to approach the act of learning to compose. * Why you need 20 hours to become good at composing, and 10,000 hours to become a master. * How to setup your studio for zero-friction composing. * A little more on why you need to learn your musical grammar and logic. * How you can take the free beginner's composing course at Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Art of Composing Podcast on Stitcher * Alex Heffes * * M-Audio Keystation * Musical Form Hub * A Geometry of Music * Sibelius * Musescore * Digital Performer * Reaper Episode 3 Take Aways * Becoming a composer first starts with calling yourself a composer. Fake it till you make it, thats what I always say. * You need to approach composing with a beginner's mind, this will give you the freedom to accept what you are learning and to grow as a composer. * Be prepared to put in at least 20 hours of deliberate practice to get comfortable with composing, and another 9,980 hours to become a master. Don't worry, even if you only do your 20 hours, you'll be a pretty decent composer. * Setup your studio so that it is comfortable for you, with all of the basics for composing at an arms reach. At a minimum, have your staff paper, a pencil, an eraser, and some kind of instrument to help orient you on pitch. * Learn the grammar of music, and learn it well. It will make your life so much easier. * If you are worried about how to start with the first note... then just start with C, that always seems to work out... but seriously, try to think of the shape of your melody, and mixing up scale lines and chord lines. * You can also take one of your favorite pieces, and then write a variation on it. Remember, you are practicing, so you can do whatever you want, as long as it helps you progress in your goal of becoming a composer. * Finally, learn some basic musical form, basic diatonic harmony, and go through my free beginner's course. It is available at The Diatonic Harmony Charts Major Harmony Minor Harmony Transcript - AOC 003
November 21, 2013
Episode 2 of the Art of Composing Podcast. In this episode, I talk about my music composition process. The goal here is not to have something complicated and strange, but to layout how I structure my composing sessions. What is in this episode: * What is the process of composing music? Hint - it's actually pretty obvious. * What I do to prepare myself mentally for composing. * Learn about zero-friction composing, and how it can benefit you. * Listen, as I compose an entire piece of music, live on the podcast. * See the complete piece below. Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Small Ternary Form * My Soundcloud * Bulletproof Coffee * Sibelius * Musescore * Digital Performer Below is the piece that I wrote for the episode. Podcast Prelude No. 1 Podcast Predule No 1 - Full Score Transcript - AOC 002
November 17, 2013
Well this is exciting. This is the very first episode of the Art of Composing Podcast. You want to know something funny? This is actually the 4th - 1st episode. That's right. I have recorded, and re-recorded a first episode 4 times, going all the way back to last year. Why? Well, mostly because I wasn't really confident in the previous episodes... but I am now. I think this is a good way to start the show and hopefully there are more to come. As of right now, expect an episode once a month, but I will try and put out more, especially at the beginning. I am currently pending approval in the iTunes store, so it will be a day or two before you can download there, but I just wanted to post it for everyone, so that when you are driving to work on monday, you have something to listen to. What is in this episode: * What is music composition? I give a clear definition that shouldn't overwhelm anyone. * The stages of learning to compose music. I break it down b-boy style from the 80s yo. * Who is Jon? Like the mystery of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged... who is Jon (Galt)? * Why I started the podcast, and what to expect in the future. Resources and Links Mentioned in this Episode: * Free Beginner's Composing Course * Composer Quest Podcast * The Trivium Transcript - AOC 001
      0:00:00 / 0:00:00