Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Writing Classical Music

12.0.Writing in different styles

90% of all music can be summed up into a genre of some sort. I will go through the basics of each gene describing types of rhythm, harmony you should use, playing methods maybe particular chords.
However I am not an expert on any of these genres and can only give you an introduction to it and I encourage you to extend your knowledge by listening to genre artists, reading on their styles and expanding your knowledge

Classical music is usually based off of a certain type of instrumentation. These are commonly an opera, a symphony, a string quartet, piano concerto and there are a lot of other types. However I am going to assume you are not writing for a classical piece as most people don’t have a ready available orchestra

String Quartet- Usually consists of 2 Violins, a Viola and a Cello
Piano Concerto- Is written for piano (or harpsichord) and Orchestra
Opera- Usually a singer with dramatic lyrics, usually with orchestral accompaniment

Symphony – A symphony orchestra is divided up into 4 parts of; strings, woodwind, brass and percussion. The strings usually consist of; violin, viola, cello, and bass. The woodwind usually consists of flute, oboe, clarinet, and bassoon with 2-4 of each depending on orchestra size. The brass consists of; trumpet, French horn, trombone, and tuba with 2-4 of each depending on orchestra size. Please note with the brass they usually use silvery alloy instead of actually brass. Finally the percussion usually consists of timpani, cymbals, xylophone and a gong. However there are usually extra instruments that add extra colour such as tambourine, triangle, maracas and other shakers, castanets, claves and various wood blocks, and various bells and scrapers.

Orchestra – an orchestra usually smaller than symphony’s and can have as little as six players and can have the same instruments as a symphony, the difference being an orchestra doesn’t have to include them and can be quite smaller in player count

If you are truly writing for a classical piece though, consider reading up on my harmony section. Try and change the piece throughout and use 5-1 cadences when changing keys. Rhythms is not such an important factor but for a beginner writing classical music, have an idea and then maybe change the key of that idea in different sections

Try and get some inspiration from other classical musicians such as Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Handel and Puccini. While we also have more modern musicians such as Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ives, Glass and Reich

I would not recommend you write a classical piece until you have some experience though and you know how to write pieces to a basic standard. However if you want chord choices then just go for major and minor chords, nothing too fancy, maybe throw in a suspended chord or 7th but most classical music has mostly functional chords.

Artists include; Haydn, Bach, Beethoven, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Vivaldi, Handel, Puccini, Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Schoenberg, Ives, Glass and Reich
Most classical artists don’t have singers in but if you’re writing for opera then it’s usually about a story, certain parts or the story and there is a lot of word painting with words such as “death” playing a diminished chord

For classical Bass playing I would suggest purchasing a double bass or a tuba instead of a bass guitar because it will sound more authentic to the classical tone. A lot of bass just play chords notes and then play 4-1 chords in notes of a chord however if you want to give the bass player something more interesting, it’s not unheard of for the bass line to be the melody (see toccata in D minor). If you do go with the 4-1 notes at the third play through play 4-1-2-3 as quavers. This is so common in classical bass I would recommend greatly especially first time writers 

Usually the bass parts usually play the chords notes but occasionally they can play the 3rd of the 5th of the chord which is known as an inverted chord

No comments:

Post a Comment