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Composing Music: A New Approach [Plastic Comb]

Russo
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
RRP: 21.00
Price: 14.70 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Book Description

1 Feb 1988
Aimed at those who have some knowledge of music but not formal training in composition, this concise introduction to composing starts right in with a brief composition exercise, then proceeds step by step through a series of increasingly complex and challenging problems, gradually expanding the student's musical grammar. "This is a wonderful book for anyone who is developing improvising skills or who would like a fun way to explore music."--Jim Stockford, Co-Evolution Quarterly

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Composing Music: A New Approach + The Study of Counterpoint + Fundamentals of Musical Composition
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Product details

  • Plastic Comb: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; Reprinted edition edition (1 Feb 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226732169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226732169
  • Product Dimensions: 28 x 22.7 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 60,896 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
103 of 103 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Really enjoying this 9 Jan 2003
Format:Plastic Comb
I am relatively musically untrained. I got to grade 5 on piano and have done occasional basic composition as a hobby (some pop, some "classical", some "modern classical") by ear and fingers over the years on the piano. I really wanted to get back into composing so I bought this book.
I have been using it and I'm already learning a lot. And I don't just mean from a theory point of view. It's also training my ear, and teaching me to work with sheet music, and sing from sheet music, something I've never tried to do much before.
The author's method of limiting the notes, keys and rhythms that you can use works really well to make me focus on the principle being taught. Also having empty staves under the exercises in the book helps to motivate.
This is very much a "hands on" book. To use it as part of a hobby, you'll need to put aside time every couple of days or so for working on it. I worked on it for an hour or two almost every day for 2 weeks and found it very rewarding.
Although I'm no expert, it doesn't seem to have a bias towards any particular style. I have a tendency to write stuff with a lot of "out of key" chords which modulates alot. This book seems to be suitable for learning in that vein, but also in the more traditional vein. I am looking forward to getting to the section on minimalism as well - I'm a fan of Phillip Glass!
I wouldn't say this was totally a beginners book. I would recommend having some theory knowledge first, but grade 5 seems to be easily sufficient for this book.
Anyway, overall if you want to stimulate creativity in pure music then this is a great way to get going.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Plastic Comb
This is a good tutorial on composition. It deals mainly with small forms (4-16 bars), but larger forms are also treated (up to a few tens of bars).
The text contains many useful exercises. They are fun to work out, too! You'll find yourself writing music without noticing.
Orchestration is not treated in depth, but there are a few elements as well.
The text is utterly unconventional and may be of no use for a traditional curriculum, but is very well thought and I would recommend it especially to people with little theoretical background. I think it can also be useful to people who already write music because of its nonstandard approach: food for thought.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, it's really working 12 Feb 2010
By John Ferngrove TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Plastic Comb|Verified Purchase
Opportunities for formal musical education passed me by for various reasons in my schooldays. Despite that I've heard music in my head since I was a kid, and the itch to compose has just got stronger as the years have passed. A few years back I got a digital music set up which has gone someway towards satisfying that itch, but I've not been able to avoid feeling a bit of a fraud, because I know that real composers do it with pencil and paper. From time to time I've made efforts to study harmony and to train my inner ear. However, with no real structure to my efforts, I've just ended up with a big heap of scruffy manuscript paper, a vague sense of defeat, and a barely perceptible rate of progress.

I bought this book a year or so ago, briefly fiddled with the opening exercises, and then let it get lost in the scruffy heap. However, a recent email from an Amazon customer regarding one of my reviews enquired as to whether I knew any books that might help in learning composition. That got me thinking and I suddenly remembered this book, which I dug from the heap for another go. And now, after about a fortnight of daily, sustained effort, I can report that it's really working. Things I have been trying to do for years are starting to happen with a growing sense of fluency.

I think the key to this book's success is that it trains your inner ear while it's teaching you to write, and it starts from such a simple place, the C major scale. It builds on this in such gradual increments that development takes place with you scarcely realising it is happening. There is an emphasis on simplicity and on constraints to be used, on the notes, chords, rhythms and time values, and there is a constant focus on expressing what you want to say whilst submitting to those constraints.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a good way to learn about music composition 12 Jun 2009
Format:Plastic Comb
Apart from it being very American (I'm British - the jargon is different!) this is an inovative and great way to start to learn about music composition (or to brush up and develop knowledge and skill already gained). Better than a stuffy text book in whch you just read about writing music, this offers, right from the start, practical exercises that help you through - you feel you are composing right from the first page! These practical exercises help you understand what the text is saying - right from the start. Great for us amateur composers but even better for young people at school studying music etc.
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