From beginners to the most advanced professionals in media, commercial and academia, this universal problem invites any number of composition techniques and solutions to raise the level of your compositions, bringing joy to you and your targeted listening audiences.
Solution I – Write shorter compositions
First, why this happens in the first place. Your excited! I’m composing and creating! How wonderful! I have so many ideas I don’t want the rules to get in the way of my creative juices! So, I will go on, and on, and on until ALL of my ideas are out there for the world to here and revere! All in ONE piece!
Well, the people that will buy into this (aside from you, of course) are your loyal and supportive friends and family. If that is the limit of the scope you wish to achieve, then save yourself the trouble of reading the remainder of this narrative. It will do nothing for you other than frustrate you further. However, if you wish to learn and expand your horizons, keep reading.
The Merits of Writing Shorter Compositions
I An Easy Solution. The first and most obvious way to handle the problem of too many ideas is to compose shorter compositions. You will run out of space and time, so all of these excess ideas will become material for other new and glorious compositions!
II Discipline and creative freedom. Think about the game of basketball. The court is shaped like a large rectangle. The players must work within the bounderies, or a foul is called. Imagine a basketball game without boundaries. Players could dribble the ball for several miles before coming back to shoot the ball. By the time they return, the audience would be gone. Do professional basketball players feel restricted from creatively developing coordinated strategies and plays to win? Not as all. Nor should you when claiming that rules are meant to be broken and not stand in the way of your creative freedom of expression. This is rubbish, and frankly a sign of immaturity.
III Space and breathing. Not you, silly, but your listeners. Writing music means having empathic feeling towards your listeners. They need space, and time to breath, to absorb the wonder and beauty of your incredible musical ideas. Like a fine wine, sip it, enjoy it, let it (and you) and your audience) breath, then move on to the next sip. Future articles will focus on what to do compositionally to create space and breath and to avoid jumping in with something new. There are solutions for breathing and creating space. Stay “tuned”…..
IV. Wonderful jewels. Go listen to the Chopin Preludes for piano. Short, very short. Each with a limited amount of musical material. Was Chopin lesser of a composer because of this? Hardly. In fact, the majority of his compositions were short pieces – few were lengthy. Not a single symphony!
V. Less is More. One of the great challenges in the creation of musical compositions is to do as much as you can with as little as you can. The ideas themselves are actually quite easy to come by. The goal is to do as much as you can with as little as you can. Composition techniques for manipulation and development of musical ideas and then applied in creative ways are really what this is all about, not the raw material.
VI. Long pieces are short pieces weaved together. It takes many years before composers are ready to write long works. In fact, in most instances it isn’t necessary. One of the great and increasing failings of media music (film scores) is the lack of attention to the integration of cues across time horizons towards the goal of creating a successful film score. Whether in sections for a suite, an album of songs, music cues for a film, the attention to detail for short cues and then their integration across time periods is what makes a score successful or an abject failure. In the world of media, few of the composers really understand this (and of course film directors), and the primary reason that media scores don’t hold together.
Well, that’s it for now. There are more issues that relate to this, but this is a good start.