Best practices for getting things done

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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Max Karios

Best practices for getting things done

Post by Max Karios » Sun Jul 27, 2014 9:15 am

Here are some approaches that can prevent you from getting stuck or allow you to get unstuck in the middle of writing a piece. What works for you probably depends on what you're most struggeling with. These work for me:

- Plan the form first. If finishing a piece is a constant struggle, lay out a detailed plan of the piece before writing the first note or even thinking about the subject. Write down the length of the subject, details about its development, and key changes, all with bar numbers. Steal these things relentlessly from the big wigs until you can pull it off yourself.

- Be clear about what constitues your own style. Use these features sparingly but with consistency.

- Consider writing the piece in the form of a lead sheet first, i.e. only the main melody plus chord symbols. This helps if you tend to get stuck in minor details and lose your way.

- If in doubt, err on the side of too much repetition or too little variation of a motive or subject. It is easier to break symmetries later than to fit them in where they are lacking.

- If you need a break, first finish the part you are working on, if necessary by just drafting the missing bars. It can be difficult to get into an unfinished part again, but it is easy to add more details to a draft.

- In the process of writing, strictly avoid all judgement of what you are doing. The creative process is powered by your subconscious mind, and while it is at work, your power of judgement, being a faculty of your conscious mind, is extremely poor. You can judge your work only after you haven't touched it for at least one day.

- When the piece is finished, describe in three bullet points what you did well and in three more what you would like to do differently next time. Write these points down at the bottom of the score.


If you have your own approaches, post them here. By writing things down you may learn more than anyone who will read it.

delayedMusician

Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by delayedMusician » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:31 pm

excellent advice, thank you.

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David Vernon
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Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by David Vernon » Wed Oct 21, 2015 7:47 pm

I have found it useful to get as much done in the first session when the creative spark strikes. Wether it is a melody, a harmonic sequence or maybe even
just a bass line I hear in my head; I try to get it down on paper or mp3. I try to get it as fully developed as possible before quitting. If I wait until later to try and recreate that magic, it has usually dissipated.

drew p

Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by drew p » Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:02 am

one I feel you left off--just start putting notes on a page. Most of the time, after some tweaking, you can find something that works.

Stephen Lee

Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by Stephen Lee » Thu Nov 05, 2015 3:10 pm

Good advices

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David Gutowski
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Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by David Gutowski » Tue Feb 20, 2018 6:44 am

Thanks for the good pointers on composing. I'm new to the art and looking for all the information I can get. And it is a form of art because of the originality factor. Classical guitar allows you to be creative, in an impressionistic sense, as long as it's relatively musical sounding and melodic.
Thanks again for the information.
David
3 hard things for humans: dentist visit, public speaking, offering forgiveness.

Muse: chg pitch measure rhym feel tempo improvise melody harmonize arpeggios stucco your legato & practice

Carrillo Concert
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Victoria Ferrell
Amateur luthier
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Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by Victoria Ferrell » Fri Mar 09, 2018 11:17 pm

I just want to share that I truly appreciate and value this guidance. I think these are some terrific little steps for getting unstuck. Thank you.

Victoria
I don't want to play like other guitarists; I want to give voice to the song of my own soul.

Gruupi
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Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by Gruupi » Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:58 am

I approach composing completely differently. It comes from improvising, and if something sounds good, I will develop it. I don't write anything down, if it is good, it will stick in my head. I can be out walking and thinking of ideas once the initial spark is there. Most of the development will be further improvising, sometimes in one session I can get a lot of ideas, sometimes it will take weeks or months. A part may sit around for years, and I may find a use for it in something new.

I say all that but am currently not really focused on composing and haven't finished anything in quite a while :)

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David Gutowski
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Re: Best practices for getting things done

Post by David Gutowski » Sat Mar 10, 2018 6:07 am

Gruupi wrote:
Sat Mar 10, 2018 12:58 am
I approach composing completely differently. It comes from improvising, and if something sounds good, I will develop it. I don't write anything down, if it is good, it will stick in my head. I can be out walking and thinking of ideas once the initial spark is there. Most of the development will be further improvising, sometimes in one session I can get a lot of ideas, sometimes it will take weeks or months. A part may sit around for years, and I may find a use for it in something new.

I say all that but am currently not really focused on composing and haven't finished anything in quite a while :)
You should get back to it...a masterpiece might be right around the corner.
I completely agree about the method of improvising. That is the subject of my article I submitted to Classical Guitar magazine. I'm looking forward to seeing it in print. It's my first and probably why there're taking so long to print it. Wish me luck.
3 hard things for humans: dentist visit, public speaking, offering forgiveness.

Muse: chg pitch measure rhym feel tempo improvise melody harmonize arpeggios stucco your legato & practice

Carrillo Concert
Yulong Chamber '17
Bozo 123

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