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Composing Music: A New Approach Plastic Comb – Feb 15 1988

4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Plastic Comb: 240 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; 1 edition (Feb. 15 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226732169
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226732169
  • Product Dimensions: 21.6 x 1.5 x 27.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 680 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #148,445 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Plastic Comb
This is one of the best "How to" books I have ever read on any subject.
It works on several levels. Even though it takes a "beginners" approach to introducing many topics, it doesn't shy away from "real" music. For example, even the first simple exercise contains something different - 5/4 time. A beginner will simultaneously learn the basics of chord progressions and melody writing, stripped down to the bare essentials, while delving into modern techniques like 12-tone rows and picture music.
The key to the book is the concept of restricting the musical palette by some simple rules, to prevent the budding composer being overwhelmed by the possibilities. Right from the first page, you are working on real composition examples.
Even though the book is not particularly aimed at computer music or sequencing, electronic music enthusiasts should find it useful. A lot of the minimalist techniques are ideal for sequencing. Plus, if your musical background is pretty basic, and you are looking to broaden it with a mix of traditional and contemporary techniques, this book should take you a long way.
By its very nature, a book like this can only touch on some areas. So you will probably want to supplement it with some other material if, for example, you want a bit more detail on counterpoint. Still, it manages to cover a huge amount of ground, with the most detail where it counts most - developing and harmonising melodies, and a very good section on writing music to lyrics (ie songwriting).
One last point - a lot of theory and composition books miss the mark with contemporary musicians because they approach the subject from the purely "classical" angle of cadence and resolution. This book is soundly classical in its approach to harmonisation and melodic development, but uses the comfortable pop/jazz approach to chord progressions, so it shouldn't lose any reader.
Highly recommended!
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Format: Plastic Comb
Russo's book is the best place to begin if you're seriously interested in composing music. His methodology is straightforward, and his rules sensible. The exercises bear fruit both as a learning experience and a stimulus for original compositions. Russo assumes you understand some rudimentary musical theory, and I suppose most people picking up this book will have that knowledge. Where I found this book most useful is in writing long themes, which had always daunted me. Russo's method is transportable, and when inspiration is stymied, I find what I've learned from this book can tide me over.
One reviewer makes the point that this book doesn't tie all the exercises together into longer pieces, which is true, but that's a flaw that can be remidied by reading scores, and looking at structural examples of other composers.
I wish I'd found this book years ago.
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By A Customer on Jan. 13 2004
Format: Plastic Comb
The book's author is clearly influenced by minimalism not only in his approach to music, but also to writing and music instruction. His clearly modal approach to both melody and harmony is presented in superbly logical and fluff-free sequence of explanations and exercises. Some of advanced chapters on topics such as mating lyrics with music or writing picture music are brilliant as well.
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Format: Plastic Comb
I'm a musician and songwriter with a degree and many years' experience. But when I took on a project to create an opera with a playwright friend I found that my theory was rusty -- and I was also venturing into types of composition I'd never done before. I wanted a good solid book that would help me review my long-ago theory classes and layout a framework that would help me structure my composition.
The book's been a very pleasant surprise. It's quite intermediate in level. If you're not comfortable with a lot of theory basics, it would be a hard place to start. Similarly, experienced composers looking for inspiration for new directions probably won't find it here (or not enough to make it worthwhile). However, especially for composers with some experience, the book is an valuable way to brush up on theory, begin to apply that theory to examples and exercises and try some new approaches to writing.
If that's the type of book you're looking for, I heartily recommend this title.
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Format: Plastic Comb
"Imagine that you have been captured by the Lorac, a warlike tribe ruled by Edrevol, who will spare you life only if you please him with the music you write for the Imperial Flute..."
If you've ever wanted to take a note for a walk, Russo's guide will tease, challenge, and entice you to commit it to paper. The especial strength of this book is that you get a few rules at a time with each exercise: some only hint at why you should do some things to create a musically interesting composition; others state flat-out why some effects work. Learn by doing!
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Format: Plastic Comb
This book is full of small exercises for getting the beginnner to start composing. Covers most of the techniques a composer will want to know without giving you a headache. However, the scope of the book doesn't cover where and how to use some of the techniques. Though not methodical toward composing mature pieces, overall the book is highly educational for those with a background of half a year of college piano or theory class. I would recommend it to anyone.
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