Composing Music: A New Approach Plastic Comb – Feb 15 1988
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From the Back Cover
Aimed at those who have some knowledge of music but no formal training in composition, this concise introduction to composing music starts right in with a composition exercise using four notes, then proceeds through a series of increasingly complex and challenging problems, gradually expanding the student's musical grammar.
About the Author
Stevenson is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of International History at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He has researched and published extensively on international relations in Europe during the period of the First World War.
David K. Stevenson, MD is Vice Dean, Senior Associate Dean, and Harold K. Faber Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine; and Director, Johnson Center for Pregnancy and Newborn Services, Lucile Packard Children's Hospital, Stanford, CA.
Philip Sunshine, MD, is Professor of Pediatrics Emeritus, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
Ronald Cohen, MD, is Clinical Professor of Pediatrics, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.
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.
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!
Most recent customer reviews
It's just what I was looking for! The exercises dive you straight into composing music right away without discussing music theory too deeply. Read morePublished on July 3 2011 by A.
The application of the tools presented in this book are up to the composer. Just as one does not teach sunsets to a painter, the author has not taught composers how to feel. Read morePublished on Jan. 14 2007 by Michael S. Rempel
I see that most people have high ratings for this book, but I cannot give it more than 2 stars for several reasons. Read morePublished on May 24 2004
Every keyboard player should buy this book. This book contains the most straightforward explanation of diatonic harmony in print. It can transform your keyboard playing.Published on April 5 2002 by Ron Guffnett
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