Monday, February 22, 2016

How to compose

photo from Wikipedia

"In order to compose, all you need to do is remember a tune that nobody else has thought of."
- Robert Schumann

I like this line.  Well, if I didn't I wouldn't have put it up, right?

It's hard to compose taiko songs that are very different from other taiko songs.  Not convinced?  Think of how many groups there are, how many groups you've heard, and how many songs are similar.

  • How many songs have a similar ji?  Dongo, horsebeat, straight beat - those three ji pop up in a large amount of songs.
  • How many songs feature 3-5 naname drums facing forward in a line?
  • How many songs feature all betta drums with people facing forward the entire time, shime in the back row?
That covers a lot of taiko compositions.  On top of that, the more taiko you listen to, the more you start thinking in patterns similar to what you're hearing.  So if you're in a group and don't listen to a lot of taiko outside of that group, there's a good chance that your new song will fit really well into a future performance, because it looks/sounds somewhat similar!

This expands out to what other music you listen to and arts you watch.  Think about it.  If you only ever listen to one genre of music, your brain has a smaller repertoire to work from.  You open up to new genres, and you get exposed to ideas that weren't there before.

So back to the quote.  Composition is a tricky thing if you're looking for inspiration, but sometimes it can help to look for what's not there.  What hasn't been tried?  What arrangement of drums haven't you seen before?  What stance would be different?  What type of movement have you never seen in a taiko piece?

Granted, some of the ideas you'll come up with won't work for a song, but that's ok.  The point is to stretch your imagination and creative muscles in thinking outside your expectations and comfort zones.  It's not to say you can't have an awesome song that has similarities to other pieces, but instead to look outside rather than inside for inspiration.

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