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Music Discuss specific tunes, the writing of tunes, other questions, concerns, etc. related specifically to the music or music books.

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Old 05-22-2020, 10:11 PM   #1
hooks
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Default Composition methodology

Like many pipers looking for new ways to avoid going stir crazy during lockdown I decided to try my hand at composing .A not too difficult 2/4 march might be the way to go I thought so I set about getting the melody in my head.

That was the "easy" part.Now to put the code into a bww file and that's it.While I am reasonably familiar with entering the codes there is no way I can convert a melody in my head directly to a bww file without having a hard copy of the finished tune to work from.

So the next step was to prepare a handwritten manuscript of the completed tune with timing , embellishments etc as we did when Adam was a lad.
Having done that I could finally complete the project and prepare the bww tune file.

While I am reasonably happy with the end result ,being a first attempt, I feel there might be a less cumbersome way of getting there. How do others do it ?

Any thoughts, suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Dave
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Old 05-23-2020, 01:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Composition methodology

Using different software might help? I use the PiobMaster software (I know, unpopular) and note the tune down on that as I go on that.
No code, just drag and drop notes and embellishments onto the page. Then when you have created your masterpiece, you can playback what you have written to make sure it sounds right.
It's the same method as yours but going from 1 to 4 without 2&3.
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Old 05-23-2020, 02:43 AM   #3
Zummerhaus
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Default Re: Composition methodology

I don't know - and wouldn't think there would be - any software that converts bagpipes or practice chanter recordings to sheet music.


For me I would compose the tune, find the beats and write it out. Maybe easier to try doing it in phrases - the kind of ABAC 2 bar phrases our tunes usually use.

Then write the first part in bww - copy it, alter the necessary sections for the second part, copy and alter again. I have used and would not use Piobmaster again. Slow, manual, unsupported - I'd rather use Lilypond, ABC or anything else that does bww.

EDIT: Know a guy who can write a compeition 2/4 out in 4 mins in bww, just keep at it.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:34 AM   #4
CalumII
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Default Re: Composition methodology

I tend to compose with practice chanter and piece of paper. I don't write the tune out in detail, just melody notes and only necessary gracenotes, or things like a ~ sign for an ornament. Like most people, the first order of business is to come up with a "hook", the unique idea that the tune is based around. Then I try to come up with a bunch of different phrases, starts, endings that fit, and get them all down on paper.



Then I try and make some sense out of the chaos. I find it's a good idea to spread this process over a few days.



As for writing out the tune in a final version, to do it easily you just have to know your music theory and know your software. I think BMW is extremely unpleasant for typesetting with, and there are other better options, but it's perfectly possible to get quick with it with practice.
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Old 05-23-2020, 11:37 AM   #5
Patrick McLaurin
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Default Re: Composition methodology

When the inspiration comes, or even when it's missing, I play with a recorder running. Too often I've played an awesome phrase and then lost it.

Once things start to settle I start typing in ABC notation via EasyABC. Couldn't be simpler.

Never turn the recorder off.
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Old 05-23-2020, 12:25 PM   #6
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Default Re: Composition methodology

Quote:
Originally Posted by CalumII View Post
Then I try and make some sense out of the chaos. I find it's a good idea to spread this process over a few days.
Absolutely, great tip.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Patrick McLaurin View Post

Never turn the recorder off.
YES! I do this, I play other instruments and some of my best compositions are from this very message. An idea, so fleeting that it is only there for a few minutes before its lost. Recording is the way to go!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Zummerhaus View Post
I have used and would not use Piobmaster again. Slow, manual, unsupported
Well, I'm an analogue person in a digital world and I get on OK with it. I like that there is no code to learn, just drag and drop. If I want a throw on D then just select from the list and click where I want it.

The windows 10 model is a helluva expensive though. (i don't have that, the piobmaster 2 works fine enough).
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Old 05-23-2020, 04:29 PM   #7
hooks
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Default Re: Composition methodology

Thanks for the replies folks. Some great tips there for me to try.

I think my worst mistake was to run before I could walk in composing a 4 part march before something a bit less challenging.My next tune will probably be a 2 part slow air.

Thanks again.
Dave
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Old 05-24-2020, 05:21 AM   #8
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Default Re: Composition methodology

I still use pencil and paper!

Not only that...I draw the lines with a ruler, when I run out of printed paper.

Or with no ruler, when I'm out someplace and have an idea.

That's notation methodology.

About composition methodology, oftentimes a tune fragment will just pop in my head. The hard part, which I find impossible sometimes, is to flesh out the fragment into an entire playable tune.

Good pipe tune composers, whether they're consciously aware of it or not, are composing from the same basic concepts of tonal centre, scale choice, chord progressions, call-and-response, the use of the "hook" and so on.

You can read through a hundred new compositions and nary a one will break any of the tried-and-true norms. Why? Because if they did, the tune "wouldn't sound right" to people.

Read through a pile of pipe tunes and look how many use this chord progression:

|| A | A | G | G |
| A | A | G | A ||
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Last edited by pancelticpiper; 05-24-2020 at 05:29 AM.
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Old 05-25-2020, 11:57 AM   #9
TwitchyFingers
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Default Re: Composition methodology

Quote:
Originally Posted by hooks View Post
Thanks for the replies folks. Some great tips there for me to try.

I think my worst mistake was to run before I could walk in composing a 4 part march before something a bit less challenging.My next tune will probably be a 2 part slow air.

Thanks again.
Dave
Celtic Pipes is great software with a decent playback feature. I find it pretty intuitive as far as click, drag, drop and it will correct your math if your timing is off.

As for composing the actual tune, try to write down the phrases that are appealing to you and bouncing about it your head. Doesn't matter if it's just an ending to a part or a hook that goes somewhere in the middle. Get the phrase down and build around it. Our notebooks are like sketchbooks for painters. Not all the sketches make it to the canvas.
If you need to, put the music away for awhile and play it in a few days/weeks/eons and see if something suggests itself to finish out the part. A good two part tune that you're really into is much better than a four part tune that you feel is forced. Take a look through a lot of the collections and you might notice a fair few that should have been just left as two parters.

So, let's say you get a two part tune you like. There's no law that says you can't add more parts long after the original was written if they suggest themselves to you.
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Old 05-25-2020, 10:48 PM   #10
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Default Re: Composition methodology

I see where you are coming from Twitchy particularly your comments about two and four part tunes.I had the feeling my tune could have ended after two parts but for the want of something better to do I kept going.
Now after playing it through a few times I feel the first two parts are probably enough and the last two parts could be deleted or even rewritten at some later stage.
I'm not quite sure of the best way to post a copy of the tune on here for comment but you would see what I mean if you saw it.
In the meantime I'm jotting down some phrases etc as they enter my head and even recording a few of them as has been suggested in preparation for my next "masterpiece".
Dave
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