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Author Topic: Degree for composition  (Read 1491 times)
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davdud101
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« on: Jul 04, 2017, 08:08AM »

Hey, guys -
I'm probably going to be starting college within these next 6 months, but I want to have a rough idea of what I might be going into.
Seeing that I'm naturally quite musically inclined (though obviously not without a number of faults), I feel my best bet would be to sort of play to where my talent lies - arranging/composition.
However I'm curious for you guys in the industry - what kind of jobs are out there for composers in this day and age? Is it more worthwhile to focus on jazz theory or classical? Is there even any choice?
Lots of questions to ask and be answered  :cry:
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« Reply #1 on: Jul 04, 2017, 09:15AM »

Theory you can learn from a book, unless you need someone to correct your exercises for you, and there is an abundance of books explaining theory for every known musical practice.

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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #2 on: Jul 04, 2017, 09:51AM »

I feel like most of the people making a living writing music did not get a degree, at least not in composition.

Are you trying to become the next Ewazen, or write music that is popular? There aren't many Arvo Pärts or Kalevi Ahos. There are (comparatively) far more Imogen Heaps and Decemberists. And there's almost just two of those.

Lake Street Dive is a good example of some people who went to a conservatory, studied performance, and perform and write their own stuff.
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davdud101
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« Reply #3 on: Jul 04, 2017, 10:52AM »

But is there any merit in shooting for something lower than "stardom" - to just get hired AS an arranger for a group or publisher? What would a job like that require? And are there any job prospects for it, or are all the best guys already working and newbies won't find a way in?
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« Reply #4 on: Jul 04, 2017, 11:19AM »

Theory you can learn from a book, unless you need someone to correct your exercises for you, and there is an abundance of books explaining theory for every known musical practice.



There's a little more to composition than theory knowledge.
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« Reply #5 on: Jul 04, 2017, 12:37PM »

There's a little more to composition than theory knowledge.

Yup. Like being able to make up tunes in your head. 

Oh wait. That isn't in any books. Books can only analyze what other people made up in their heads.

^ what he said
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"My technique is as good as Initial D"
T-396A - Griego 1C
88HTCL - Griego 1C
36H - DE XT105, C+, D Alto Shank
3B/F Silversonic - Griego 1A ss
pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
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« Reply #6 on: Jul 04, 2017, 01:26PM »

The main employment hope for people who get a college degree in composition is to get a job teaching composition at a college to people who want to get a college degree in composition.

(I hope the pyramid scheme-like nature of that is apparent.)



There's a little more to composition than theory knowledge.

I guess I should have quoted the OP's entire post and struck out all but the portion I was addressing so no one would waste their time on an unnecessary rejoinder.

Hey, guys -
I'm probably going to be starting college within these next 6 months, but I want to have a rough idea of what I might be going into.
Seeing that I'm naturally quite musically inclined (though obviously not without a number of faults), I feel my best bet would be to sort of play to where my talent lies - arranging/composition.
However I'm curious for you guys in the industry - what kind of jobs are out there for composers in this day and age?
Is it more worthwhile to focus on jazz theory or classical? Is there even any choice?
Lots of questions to ask and be answered 


Theory (I'm including skills like orchestration in that) is most of what they teach at a school because it can be lectured, assigned and corrected.  They can't teach you much about getting worthwhile original ideas nor are they well-equipped to evaluate new ideas.

The opportunities to hear your music performed by live musicians will be very rare. The larger the forces you write for the more unlikely that it will be played. Accomplished players have better things to do and more famous composers to practice.

I'll say it again. Theory you can learn from a book. If you can't learn from a book than you'll have to take a class, but theory is about all the class can do for you.

If you're a person with musical ideas you want to get out (and making electronic instrument recordings isn't good enough) my suggestion is to attach yourself (as a player?) to an ensemble of the sort you want to write for and work up a relationship with them such that they might be interested in playing your stuff.

You will advance more by getting your music played and heard than by having one college PhD peer at your score.

A college degree in composition is nearly worthless for employment purposes.


There's a little more to composition than theory knowledge.

You won't get that "more" in college.
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Robert Holmén

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« Reply #7 on: Jul 04, 2017, 01:51PM »

Yup. Like how to make up tunes in your head.
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"My technique is as good as Initial D"
T-396A - Griego 1C
88HTCL - Griego 1C
36H - DE XT105, C+, D Alto Shank
3B/F Silversonic - Griego 1A ss
pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
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« Reply #8 on: Jul 04, 2017, 02:09PM »

Hell right. After all, Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, they all didn't need teachers, right? Oh. Wait. They did actually get taught?....erhm...



Art doesn't happen in a vacuum.
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Maximilien Brisson
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« Reply #9 on: Jul 04, 2017, 02:20PM »

On a more serious note : Of course you don't NEED a university degree to learn to compose, arrange, etc. You don't NEED a university degree to be a professional trombone player either. Doesn't mean that the stuff you learn, people you meet, skills you acquire in the process of getting your degree won't make you much more likely to succeed!

Learning about counterpoint and orchestration are a must if you want to be a skilled arranger. You don't need a degree, but school is a pretty good place to learn.

You can learn on your own out of trials and errors how to define your own musical language and how to avoid your works being diffuse. But having regular feedback from other, more experienced composers will help you develop your language faster.

School gives you opportunities to work with (and learn from) performers. Gives you access to masterclasses, orchestral rehearsals, lectures from high profile artists. All great ways to learn your craft outside of a classroom. Sure you can do that on your own, but will you? Attending a school encourages you to attend those events.

__


To answer your question about jobs...Are you ready to work hard to create your own job? There is no such thing as "employment", unless you get really lucky and get a job as an editor at a major publishing company or something like that (which you won't get anyway unless you already have proven you're good by doing high-level work as a free-lancer). It's all commissions, contracts, freelance and knowing people.
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Maximilien Brisson
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« Reply #10 on: Jul 04, 2017, 02:37PM »

My mark in orchestration was instrumental in my getting accepted into law school.
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« Reply #11 on: Jul 04, 2017, 02:56PM »

My mark in orchestration was instrumental in my getting accepted into law school.

A pun!
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"My technique is as good as Initial D"
T-396A - Griego 1C
88HTCL - Griego 1C
36H - DE XT105, C+, D Alto Shank
3B/F Silversonic - Griego 1A ss
pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
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« Reply #12 on: Jul 04, 2017, 03:12PM »

Pun but true.
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JohnL
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« Reply #13 on: Jul 04, 2017, 05:45PM »

Is it more worthwhile to focus on jazz theory or classical?
I would say that you need to be able to do both. Most modern "classical" music incorporates jazz elements.
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« Reply #14 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:24PM »

Hey, guys -
I'm probably going to be starting college within these next 6 months, but I want to have a rough idea of what I might be going into.
Seeing that I'm naturally quite musically inclined (though obviously not without a number of faults), I feel my best bet would be to sort of play to where my talent lies - arranging/composition.
However I'm curious for you guys in the industry - what kind of jobs are out there for composers in this day and age? Is it more worthwhile to focus on jazz theory or classical? Is there even any choice?
Lots of questions to ask and be answered  :cry:

The way to learn composition is to listen to music and transcribe and/or analyze scores.

The way to learn composition faster is guidance from someone who's much, much better at it than you are.

Aside from that, composition classes are largely useless. Taking composition classes from teachers who don't compose is like taking golf lessons from teachers who don't golf. Find someone whose writing you love and try to study with him or her, or just teach yourself.

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« Reply #15 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:47PM »

It goes without saying that if you study composition at a school, it should be a school where the composition teachers are active composers themselves.
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Maximilien Brisson
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« Reply #16 on: Jul 04, 2017, 06:50PM »

It's just that there are threads about the prospects of playing trombone professionally. Composing and making a living doing that is even more [insert sentiment here] than that.
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"My technique is as good as Initial D"
T-396A - Griego 1C
88HTCL - Griego 1C
36H - DE XT105, C+, D Alto Shank
3B/F Silversonic - Griego 1A ss
pBone (with Yellow bell for bright tone)
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« Reply #17 on: Jul 04, 2017, 07:09PM »

However I'm curious for you guys in the industry - what kind of jobs are out there for composers in this day and age? Is it more worthwhile to focus on jazz theory or classical?

There are jobs out there - the most visible are composers for film (movies, TV, AND commercials) and video games. Those composers have to be extremely versatile and have a deep knowledge of a lot of different styles, and to be able to figure out unfamiliar styles at the flip of a hat.

For those kinds of jobs, going to a university can be really valuable, assuming that it's a university with the resources and people to be able to throw a lot of variety at you very quickly.

The jobs of writing concert music - those are tougher to find. Even professors at universities don't get their work to be played that often - and re-plays after a premiere are really rare. Pretty much no matter the genre of whatever kind of concert it is.

For the film/game composition jobs, you need to study both jazz and classical and electronic and whatever else you can get your hands on.
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« Reply #18 on: Jul 05, 2017, 12:28AM »

It goes without saying that if you study composition at a school, it should be a school where the composition teachers are active composers themselves.

That was my point.

Taking Comp classes from some chalkdust-smudged clarinetist or string player, who's just reprising whatever he was taught in the Comp classes he was forced to take for his degree, is almost worse than nothing. At many schools, that's the norm.
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« Reply #19 on: Jul 21, 2017, 01:15PM »

Learn your compositional craft AND learn to sell yourself and your product.  Don't assume the world will beat a path to your door.  Keep writing. Write every day, even when the planets are aligned to your liking and you WANT to write.
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