How to Become a Better Composer | You'll Hear It S1E15

How to Become a Better Composer | You'll Hear It S1E15



I'm Peter Martin and I'm Adam Ennis welcome to the Yule pirate podcast today we're gonna talk about how you can become a better composer and if this works out well we're gonna talk about how we can become better composers as well we're always growing always learning right Adam that's right man I'm gonna be out of this jazz thing I'm gonna be professional composer I'll see you all later and well that's you bring up a good point because I think all jazz musicians kind of think about themselves and should think about themselves as composers because we do a lot of improvisation but I think it's an interesting thing to think about a lot of you guys are interested in in composing and Adam I know you've done a lot of great composing and arranging and I've done a little bit but it's fun as jazz musicians to think about how the improv that we always do informs our composition and maybe vice versa yeah I think jazz magicians have a huge advantage in composing because we compose all the time I totally understand how to do it and it's right it should be right at our fingertips as players absolutely okay so the first thing I think about always with this is from the great Ray Brown who's the bassist of course who needs no introduction but in case we got any ignorant folks out there go go google him but Ray Brown you know just just one of the greatest jazz bassist ever but I had a little bit of a chance to play with him and be around him and I'm so so grateful that I had that but I remember him talking about you know how you become a better composer and his thing was composed every day it wasn't like you know studied Duke Ellington scores which maybe we'll talk about that but it was just composed every day and it really got me thinking that you know you have to do it in order to develop in composition is such a personal thing that you're getting into an area like improvisation that there's only so far somebody else can tell you what to do because you have to have it personalized so yes there's things that you can learn and you can study and you can learn form and harmony and all these different things which are great but if you're not composing every day are you really a composer I don't even know yeah you should you should definitely include it in your regular routine as you would any other part of your practice and it doesn't have to be you know this I think people get caught up like well I have to compose this big thing and it's gonna take all this time just compose four bars every day exactly those four bars every day you're gonna have a bunch of tunes in about a month right and I mean if you want to write you know and I remember doing this it was like I wanted to write a blues because I thought that would be easy and I kept writing these tunes and they were so corny yeah but I kept I was just you know like I want to have my own tunes and finally I kind of stumbled upon something that that was okay but it was going through that process you got to get through a lot of crap before you get to the promised land well I don't know about you might have been different but my first I don't know a hundred and fifty improvised solos were terrible and it's the same thing with composing you have to write some bad stuff before you figure out how to write some good stuff that's right there's no getting around that and I think it's just the whole concept – of how do you know what's good and bad for yourself until you actually do it you almost have to do that you know it's like how do you learn what hot and cold is you're little and you go by your mom or your dad and and they're like don't touch the stove it's hot it but you don't know what hot means and then you touch it and then you're like oh that's what hot is definitely well and so another way to get better is our second point and that's to study scores so there's a there's an amazing wealth of knowledge available to you there's a great website it's a free nonprofit website called imslp imslp org and they have a ton of free scores you can check out it's an awesome organization Beethoven and Mozart and just every classical composer you can think of up until copyright stuff starts coming in which is 20th century but all of the great scores you can study and then you can go on YouTube or Spotify and and follow along with the music to this score and you are gonna see some things that you're not hearing and it's pretty cool because you know there's I just I just was orchestrating this this thing that involved Prokofiev score for Romeo and Juliet and there's this Rumble that was happening and I was like what the hell is he getting that sound it turns out he's putting like these dissonant triads in the low brass and it doesn't make any sense it creates this rumble in your life well now I know how to create this Rumble it's it's by that and I would have known that without looking up the score and seeing what Prokofiev was doing do it with jazz musicians too Duke Ellington scores are available online check out solonius monk's charts you know there's Art Blakey charts available to check out you know we're so lucky now with the Internet to have all these resources available to match instantly and you can there's no excuse not to see how these great composers and arrangers you know orchestrated things and compose things yeah and I mean you know some of the Giants you mentioned Duke Ellington monk but one you mentioned Art Blakey I think that's so important and maybe we're even thinking like Wayne Shorter oh yeah you know arrangements to look at those scores and listen to those along I mean there's such especially for that style of writing for three horses there's a wealth of great things sad Jones I mean the list goes on and on right um you know next I'm thinking just let's really make sure that if you're a jazz musician out there and you want to work on composing you know draw you have such an advantage we have such an advantage in that we're constantly composing as we improvise so start with that if you're sitting down to write and you're gonna commit to compose every day you know there shouldn't really be the stage of the tortured artist sitting at the typewriter a blank page and then going and having to drink a fifth of Jack Daniels because you can't even get one word out I mean you know every time you get on the stage you have to play something so maybe you just have to be forced into playing in real time and just say okay this is the form I'm going to choose I'm gonna I don't have any ideas today so I'm gonna write something over rhythm changes and just play for a course put together a simple improvisation record yourself and then transcribe it now you're composing you know and then you'll be able to take that and extend it from there but basically we're taking and applying our improvisational skills as jazz musicians to compositions that's right and you know for jazz composition you can transcribe tunes of great composers transcribe tunes by monk transcribed tunes by Coltrane transcribed tunes by Bill Evans and Wayne Shorter I mean transcribed tunes by people that you love but Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie these are amazing compositions and then once you transcribe the melody and the chord changes and and it's right and you can play it you can hear it you know that is start analyzing those transcriptions yes you know when you transcribe Herbie Hancock's dolphin dance and you can see how he moves this melody in these rhythmic devices around these amazing core changes and how he changed its keys it's a pretty great lesson in jazz composition yes so I'm thinking even the difference between stunning a score like a lot of you might say well you already said study the scores so I don't have to transcribe but if you transcribe the composition and you know generally this is a lot easier than transcribing a solo so that it's not going to take you as long it's not as arduous as the process but if you going through it phrase by phrase core by chord like what you develop with your ears is so great and also your understanding of the actual construction of the composition will be in such a deeper level than just looking at the scores when someone else has done the work for you I would just caution you to really heed that part of it even though it just seems easier everything is available to us now you don't to do this on every song I mean cuz you're gonna get stuck and bogged down by doing that but try to commit to at least you know every couple of weeks really getting a transcription project going because you really will be rewarded from that work yeah and you know what if you're feeling a little discouraged from transcribing you know you could tell yourself what you'll hear it I like it that's it for today's episode of the you'll hear at podcast for more information or to hear more of these podcasts go to open studio network comm slash podcast you

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