How Do You Compose?
It’s like asking a poet, “How do you write a poetry?” or asking a painter, “How do you paint?”, or asking a sculptor, “How do you sculpt?”
Like we all know, everybody has a vocabulary, words available with them, but not everyone can write a poetry! Same way, you might give colours to someone, but not everyone can paint! With a heap of mud and clay, not everyone will be able to make a master piece of art work outta it!
Being able to compose at a very young age, i have come across this question , end number of times by even very learned people who have been pursuing music professionally and successfully but have not been able to compose though. Finally at the last instant , when again i was asked the same question, It just inspired me to write about it.
Creativity is usually inspired or driven by emotions. When we talk of the “How” of music or compositions, I can easily categorize them in to two. The third one, am going to tell you later!
First One, where a composition is born merely coz its driven by money, that we call commercial work. Money is the drive. Where one is paid to compose, with a preset theme, mood, situation and sometimes even lyrics. Here a composer’s emotions are not kept in to account, but a composer has a limited freedom to go and express his creativity. A composer might be going through happiness, but is asked to write a sad melodramatic piece of music. So there is no correlation between his emotions and the work he is asked to produce. Mostly all commercial work happen this way. There is a scheduled time frame too, where in he has to complete his work and produce. There is no vacation, once work is taken it has to be completed no matter what. This kind of composing can be frustrating at times for true composers. There is not much of satisfaction derived from such work, neither enough of creative freedom given. This kind of work is actually “work” created to sell and make money, keeping in mind the audience’s likes and their choices. Replicas of work are made to earn more, once the formula works.
Which is why in India, shows like Mtv Unplugged have become a favorite platform for accomplished music composers and directors. These people have expressed their views, on how it has become so vital for them to have a creative freedom and the satisfaction they gain out of it, which they don’t derive usually by doing commercial work.
The second situation, where a composition is born out of emotions. Like i said earlier, it is usually a manifestation of some emotional turmoils, sometimes an expression of pent up emotions, sometimes an inspiration from a story, an episode or an experience, or sometimes inspired by nature.
And now the third one, which i find really amusing to write, where composing is done by the “so-called” inspiration. Where a tune or a piece of music is being picked up from someone else’s creation and is used in to clubbing other loops and samples to create a self proclaimed composition. I won’t like to mention names, but these kind of people are in the industry who merrily pick up tunes from famous, or old international hit music records, sometimes folk tunes, sometimes even local and regional ones and fuse those scores in to their own remakes, putting up hits, and then making headlines on the front page, when being discovered of their so-called sin. Finally fighting over copyright issues and then paying dues to the original composer settling down by stuffing money to them or by finally rewarding the name to the original composer.
So, by now am sure, it is clear to all, when it comes to “How do you compose?”
All true writers, poets, painters, art creators, can relate to what i said. There is no such one line answer to it, though i tried simplifying it. Coz, composing is a quality. Creating is a quality. Apart from learning the fundamentals and the science of music, composing is more about art and creativity. A very good composer needs both, the knowledge and the applied art aspect of the fundamentals learnt. Only those who possess a trait of a creative person, can go and create something. I can just say, usually these people are imaginative, dreamers, thinkers, sensitive, emotional, human, simplistic, minimalist and are touched deeply by very small things in life. Just the fact that core is the same in all, but what medium they pick up to express, makes them one!- Scores or notes for a Composer , Words for a Writer or a Poet and Colors for a Painter and so on.
But then “How do you Compose? ” 🙂 Ha Ha!