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Use of a keyboard when composing music


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Author Topic: Use of a keyboard when composing music  (Read 448 times)
guest2
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« on: June 28, 2009, 07:41:43 am »

A perennial question this: when writing music, is a piano - or any kind of keyboard - useful - and if so, at what stage of the compositional process?
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John Cummins
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« Reply #1 on: June 29, 2009, 04:23:44 pm »

I've a bunch of things in my head about the practices of the great composers, but don't have references ready.  In starting to look for them on the web, I came across this, 

http://www.bach-cantatas.com/Topics/Composing.htm

I'm trying to find a quote where he tells one of his sons to try out pieces on the keyboard in between working them out on paper...
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Tony Watson
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« Reply #2 on: June 29, 2009, 09:38:12 pm »

Prokofiev said that his Classical Symphony was (amongst other things) an exercise in not using a piano to compose.

Sullivan never used a piano to compose. (Well, hardly ever.)

But I don't see how the more harmonically adventurous composers of the twentieth centuries could have done otherwise.

I assume we're not talking about composing piano music but music for other instruments, especially an orchestra. I suppose the thing is the end result shouldn't sound like orchestrated piano music. Can anyone think of a piece for orchestra that sounds as such?
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IanP
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« Reply #3 on: June 29, 2009, 09:58:01 pm »

I suppose the thing is the end result shouldn't sound like orchestrated piano music. Can anyone think of a piece for orchestra that sounds as such?
I find it interesting that Ravel wrote numerous works that are literally 'orchestrated piano music' but yet they don't sound like that to me at all, even when knowing the originals. Works that would might simply bandy colours around rather arbitrarily, or simply sound unidiomatic, but Ravel is neither of these things - there's a real unique logic to his use of orchestral timbre which creates all types of correspondences. His traffic in the other direction (orchestra to piano) is less successful, I feel.

I don't think Berlioz composed at the piano.
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smittims
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« Reply #4 on: June 30, 2009, 08:37:41 am »

For years I avoided using  a keyboard to compose, because I was afraid that  it would curb my creativity into using keyboard mannerisms, such as restricting  a phrase to a hand-span, or accepting the harmonies I heard from the keyboard rather than striving for the ones in my mind.

About ten years ago I did start using  a keyboard and at first found it very satisfying, but now I'm thinking that ny earlier suspicions were right after all. Maybe it depends what you're writing, and should be assessed on a  case-by -case basis.

I don't think using a keyboard is a sign of lack of invention  (an oft-encountered layman's supposition). Stravinsky I believe  always used a piano, often going to some effort to obtain one  wherever he happend to be (hotel bar or remote rural cottage).
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increpatio
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« Reply #5 on: July 05, 2009, 11:20:35 pm »

I used to write music on piano/electric keyboard.  I have been without one lately, and mostly been using trackers, where the input method is rather spreadsheet-like:



This was initially quite a restriction as there is little one can do at the onset of a note; it simply plays with a given volume; all the nuances are gotten to by altering the sounds over time (or picking different samples  Roll Eyes ).  It's also quite rigidly quantized which means that midi input, even when you do have it, doesn't really work.

I purchased one of these recently as a bridge until I can once again afford a more substantial note-inputting device:



The range restriction (okay it has octave up/down buttons) gave rise to the thought that it might be amenable to inputting polyphonic material.  I haven't really figured out a way of using it that I'm comfortable with yet, though.

Using a keyboard as an input device is significantly different in feel (and, I would speculate, though I can't quite get straight in my head why) function) to using a piano to compose non-piano music, though.

Quote
I find it interesting that Ravel wrote numerous works that are literally 'orchestrated piano music' but yet they don't sound like that to me at all,
And a number of works the other way around, unless I'm mistaken?  I find, from what I know of his music, that I agree with you on this point, though.
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