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what great self-taught composers do you know?
Old 20th April 2010
  #91
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
Mozart and Beethoven were great because they transcended their formal education. Robert Johnson and Muddy Waters were great because they transcended their lack of one.
Well said. For me, great art is all about transcendence.

-Kirk
Old 10th January 2011
  #92
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Music theory study hlped me

I'm a self-taught muscian (guitarist) and study of theory and composition rules helped me.

After playing guitar for ten years I got tired of just modifying licks I borrowed from others, and started to want to understand the rules of composition being pulled from. Miles stirred a lot of that interest (I heard Miles Davis' compositions form a whole course at Berklee School of Music).

I grew up listening to all styles of music, and I still like the classical styles of those like Hayden, Bach, Mozart, Debussy, etc. But try to write compositions in those cornerned styles, or like Miles, without first understanding the rules (guidelines).

Another thing knowing the rules helps with, is by covering a lot of musical options in a shorter time that would take a lifetime to discover solo. Studying the rules helps you discover a lot quicker what sounds you prefer that will eventually define your own musical personality others will recognize as 'you'.
Old 10th January 2011
  #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirkhawley View Post
Rimsky-Korsakov was self-trained. What's better movie music than Scheherazade?

-Kirk
most seem to forget that once was given a job at the conservatory, he was so aware of his limitations that he studied profusely constantly 1 day ahead of the class. I don't know russian but there is a quote there basically admitting he knew absolutely nothing and giving a nice hard reality check. He studied perhaps alone but one does not always need a teacher when you have access to the printed sheet and some elbow grease. I think the fact that he later made a book on harmony and orchestration shows that he valued education.

History of the 5 Russians will show that they got together , studied scores they could get and did a form of organized learning. Theory has only ever been a system of presentation and they found there way despite Tchaikovsky's rather sad view of all of them except Rimsky. He is quite clear on his view stating that until Rimsky acquired some formal knowledge, was just a really talented composer with no real technical skill but he saw the change once he started teaching at the conservatory He is rather the exception in classical music for his time and now.

The silly thing about claiming to be self taught is that we all are. Only ourselves can put things we hear , find it interesting, and then remember it in our little brain. Nobody is so disconnected from previous masters to claim that they achieved anything remotely close self taught with no references to great works to learn from.
Old 10th January 2011
  #94
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After reading more than enough of the thread, it's pretty obvious that, for the most part, everyone is defending their own background.

It seems that both backgrounds - trained or sans-training - can produce "successful" composers. I've heard ****-awful compositions from people in both camps, people who couldn't create something interesting if held to the fire, and I've also heard mind-bogglingly amazing pieces from either style.

What seems consistent is that those who live by the rules (trained composers) can't break their minds free of them when dictating that, in order to achieve, we must all be trained. It's the kind of rigid, unimaginative, predictable thinking that likely makes their compositions boring and lifeless. They, of course, will call them "correct and proper." That's not a direct line to a successful, respected piece.
Old 10th January 2011
  #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
What seems consistent is that those who live by the rules (trained composers) can't break their minds free of them
You didn't read ENOUGH then.....
Old 10th January 2011
  #96
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yeah that's defo not true. Some of the most creative out there composers were/are trained. That so called "free energy" when you have no music theory is actually an inhibition - you are cutting yourself from myriad chordic combinations precisely because hit and miss won't cut it.

Now - sure - there are a lot of trained "live by the rules" types, but there untrained alter-egos are the boring got no types. Trained or un-trained - imagination and personality are what makes a great composer. Training gives you an expanded palette of experience in a shortcut. A strict conservative personality type will stop you stepping outside of the boundaries - not knowledge.
Old 10th January 2011
  #97
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drBill View Post
You didn't read ENOUGH then.....
You didn't quote enough - I'd said:

"What seems consistent is that those who live by the rules (trained composers) can't break their minds free of them when dictating that, in order to achieve, we must all be trained."

I wasn't saying that trained composers were incapable of free thought within their compositions, I was saying that their opinion of what makes a great composer is governed by a rule which happens to be false. And that's only a tendency - not all believe this.
Old 11th January 2011
  #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
I wasn't saying that trained composers were incapable of free thought within their compositions, I was saying that their opinion of what makes a great composer is governed by a rule which happens to be false. And that's only a tendency - not all believe this.
I'm not aware of any successful or trained composers posting in this thread. There are some engineers here, some people who play an instrument, and that's about it. I'm not sure where you're getting any information about what trained composers believe, but I don't think it's from this discussion.
Old 11th January 2011
  #99
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
I'm not aware of any successful or trained composers posting in this thread.
No one posting in this thread writes music? Has formal training of any kind?
Old 11th January 2011
  #100
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
No one posting in this thread writes music? Has formal training of any kind?
That's a pretty trivial definition. Let's see how it works in context:

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
What seems consistent is that those who write music or have had formal training of any kind can't break their minds free of them when dictating that, in order to achieve, we must all be trained.

Why don't we go for a little substance here instead, while we're at it?

I think I can say categorically that there is nobody in this thread who could correctly be classified as a "successful composer".
Old 11th January 2011
  #101
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(you keep changing your post in the midst of my response)

Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
That's a pretty trivial definition. Why don't we go for a little substance here instead, while we're at it?

I think I can say categorically that there is nobody in this thread who could correctly be classified as a "successful composer".
We'd have to define "successful" to determine whether or not that's true, though I'm not sure what the point of it would be.

The bigger question remains the same as it always has: do you need formal training to be a successful composer? The answer has been proven to be, "no."
Old 11th January 2011
  #102
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I am a trained composer and I won't say whether i'm good or not as that is sort of tacky. Successful ? Well for my age, I think i'm doing quite well. I cannot really think of any colleague that followed the rules you talk about because they are not really rules, i'm assuming you are referring to tonality. I have yet to come across a rule. There are conventions, things that tend to work for certain aesthetics but that is about it. There are certain technical decisions that are less open to debate but that is more orchestration which I still think is part of composing. But then again, they are never set in stone except for actual technical limitations that are not really a matter of artistic decision but rather knowing how every instrument works and that requires alot of time and practice. And Sibelius isn't really a substitute for having your work actually played by real people conducted by a real person. Training tends to give you that opportunity.

I think there is a big difference between those that train for a few years doing chorals ad nauseum and those that really study music perhaps using theory as an aid but then again there are many "theories". I think every composer is self taught in that it takes more years than you could possibly do in school to get really good at it.

But I think what makes someone good or not has little to do with theory or being formally trained. SOme people are good and the training makes them better, some people suck and the training makes them ok. Some people are brilliant and the training would of made them incredible, some people are ok and training would of made them that much better.

But if I had to make a generalization, I would say certain types of music require a certain skillset that seems to only come about from those that have spent years and years of formal study. Draw your own conclusion. For me, school was just a means to not work while I studied music and had access to some pretty great musicians and practical experience. I still feel self taught.
Old 11th January 2011
  #103
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kafka View Post
I think I can say categorically that there is nobody in this thread who could correctly be classified as a "successful composer".
um. Good - dunno. Successful - Well I bought my house out of writing. Sure I spend more time producing ...... but I've written or co-written a fair few soundtracks!! I suppose it depends on definition of success though...... put a number on it and I'll be able to give you a more pertinent answer !! heheh ....
Old 11th January 2011
  #104
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
um. Good - dunno. Successful - Me. Sure I spend more time producing ...... but I've written or co-written a fair few soundtracks!! I suppose it depends on definition of success though...... put a number on it ....
I agree - the definition of "success" is open for debate - but in terms of income and the successes of the projects with which I've been involved, and the clientele, I could be counted as successful, and without formal training. So we appear to have three posts in a row from this camp.
Old 11th January 2011
  #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
I agree - the definition of "success" is open for debate - but in terms of income and the successes of the projects with which I've been involved, and the clientele, I could be counted as successful, and without formal training. So we appear to have three posts in a row from this camp.
OK. Well, that's good. Three posts in a row from trained, successful composers, who have posted in this thread. I can go with that.

Would you say that the following is true of these people people - specifically, narcoman, BadOrange - and, um, you said there was a third - I don't see the third:

Quote:
Originally Posted by elambo View Post
What seems consistent is that those who live by the rules (trained composers) [ed: specifically, narcoman, BadOrange] can't break their minds free of them when dictating that, in order to achieve, we must all be trained. It's the kind of rigid, unimaginative, predictable thinking that likely makes their compositions boring and lifeless. They, of course, will call them "correct and proper." That's not a direct line to a successful, respected piece.
Are you familiar with their work?

I think you can understand what I'm getting at. I don't think there are many examples of people who meet the qualifications who actually have the opinions you're ascribing to them. Actually, I see an unwarranted, vitriolic attack on these people, and nothing that indicates anyone holding the opinions you describe, or any knowledge of their compositions at all.
Old 11th January 2011
  #106
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it is kinda weird discussing aesthetics and success. Alot of the greats had to teach while writing many of their masterpieces. Pop is successful but is it really that good ? I think Zimmer is absolutely incompetent in many areas but he is rather successful. I don't see the link or importance.

Will theory and formal training make you successful. Now if that is the question, then the answer is much simpler.
Old 11th January 2011
  #107
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well I don't think he was saying that !!

I think he was saying that if you're one of those types then you're own inhibitions will stifle your work - not "being trained" or otherwise.
Old 11th January 2011
  #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BadOrange View Post
Will theory and formal training make you successful.
Not by any means, and it offers nothing even remotely similar to a guarantee that your work would be interesting, or competent, or respected, or earn you a living. However, it does increase your odds, and it can help orient, hone and cultivate a mind that already has potential in these areas.

I think this whole thread could be aimed at arrangers in addition to (or instead of) composers. Arrangers rely heavily upon theory and guidelines, which is not to say that there's no room for creativity, or that you can't teach yourself, but there are more rules which don't like being broken when arranging a written piece. Composers pull more often from the abstract for their notes.
Old 11th January 2011
  #109
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
well I don't think he was saying that !!

I think he was saying that if you're one of those types then you're own inhibitions will stifle your work - not "being trained" or otherwise.
Much closer, yes.
Old 11th January 2011
  #110
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Its the same as mathematics and physics. Mathematics is just the language we use to express phenomona in physics.

Formal training for a player in a session is essential, no matter what style of music or the number of musiceans.

Formal training for a composer is not essential but it helps, it gives them the tools of convention to be able to work quickly. The same way that I can use complex number therum to solve superpositioning problems in circuits, you could probably build the same circuit by trial and error but I could do it faster with my formal mathematics training.

Of cause if your asking someone to adlib, say a guitar solo then that is very different, you are hiring a player for his chops and hire him because his style fits the song. Try having an orchestra in a session for a song, playing the song to them and asking them to play what fits best!

There are some exceptions to everything though, i was in on a session for a pop/rock album. The arranger, who is also a composer (very different dob) was a guy called Bill Connor. Bill had allready pre written the music for the sections and did some changes on the fly by the request of the producer. I asked bill what his first instrument was expecting the answer to be piano or oboe, he said guitar. I asked him if he has had any formal training, he replied no! I was very suprised that the guy can write symphonies with no formal training. He said that he gets an idea for a theme, then he can hear what the other instruments and sections will do behind the theme, all in his head! The key is being able, he said, to remember what you composed in your head so that you can write it all down. He said that he had to learn the language of music but its trial and error of composing something that all fits together.

There is nowhere that says you cant make chocolate spread, cheese and mayonase sandwich but in reality it wouldnt taste very nice! Unless your pregnant of cause!

Greg
Old 11th January 2011
  #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassjam View Post
Formal training for a player in a session is essential, no matter what style of music or the number of musiceans.
There are three or four guitar players we favor for sessions. All are monster players. Only one took lessons, the others are self-taught, so I'd say it's pretty far from essential. Obviously, a self-taught violinist would have a tougher time rising to the top of the concert circuit, but a jazz violinist might find it easier. So it really does depend on the musician and type of music. Blanket statements are confusing this topic.
Old 4th April 2013
  #112
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Quote:
Originally Posted by narcoman View Post
yeah that's defo not true. Some of the most creative out there composers were/are trained. That so called "free energy" when you have no music theory is actually an inhibition - you are cutting yourself from myriad chordic combinations precisely because hit and miss won't cut it.

Now - sure - there are a lot of trained "live by the rules" types, but there untrained alter-egos are the boring got no types. Trained or un-trained - imagination and personality are what makes a great composer. Training gives you an expanded palette of experience in a shortcut. A strict conservative personality type will stop you stepping outside of the boundaries - not knowledge.
May I give my opinion?

I am a 24yr. old composer, self-taught due to economic circumstances. I have studied traditional harmony and counterpoint from various textbooks.

I do take offense at your presumption that self-taught is synonymous with musical illiteracy!

Have I mastered orchestration on a large scale? No. But I will tell you this: when a string quartet at my local community college played one of my quartets, the first question I got asked was, "where did you go to school?"

I don't mean to sound boastful; rather, my aim is to suggest that autodidacts can -- and do -- educate themselves.
Old 4th April 2013
  #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aristotle View Post
May I give my opinion?

I am a 24yr. old composer, self-taught due to economic circumstances. I have studied traditional harmony and counterpoint from various textbooks.

I do take offense at your presumption that self-taught is synonymous with musical illiteracy!

Have I mastered orchestration on a large scale? No. But I will tell you this: when a string quartet at my local community college played one of my quartets, the first question I got asked was, "where did you go to school?"

I don't mean to sound boastful; rather, my aim is to suggest that autodidacts can -- and do -- educate themselves.
I think you are taking offence where non-is-given... (oversensitive perhaps?)

You are clearly musically literate and understand the why's and wherefores of your idiom, and so you are 'trained' to some degree.
Old 4th April 2013
  #114
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Zappa comes to mind when I think about self taught composers.
Old 3rd September 2019
  #115
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rumleymusic View Post
Lets not forget that these composers, like Danny Elfman, Hans Zimmer, and the other self taught composers surround themselves with highly educated orchestrators and composers that do most of the "filling in" of the score. There is the classic story of Elfman who was overheard in an airport bathroom stall early in his career tape recording himself on a tune, and giving instructions to his score writers to add "that Elfman sound"
Can you elaborate on that? Just curious.
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