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Any other non-Piano Folks?

Discussion in 'Tips, Tricks & Talk' started by Paul T McGraw, Jun 20, 2018.

  1. I do not play piano or any other keyboard instrument. I used to play various instruments and I sang. Now at 65 no more instrument practice and my singing pushes the boundaries of the definition of the word. But still, I enjoy composing. Any other non-Paino folks out there writing music?
  2. Hey Paul, I'm another non-piano person...sort of. I started with trumpet and guitar, but when I started to compose I 'bit the bullet' and had a term of piano lessons. Primarily it was just to get an idea of how I should be moving me fingers and hands. I'm still no piano player, but I try to sketch things out on the piano and I'm improving...slowly. Are you doing everything with the mouse? How's that working out for you?
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  3. I'm not a piano player either. I wish I was however. If I could find the time, I would definitely up my skill level as I believe it would improve/speed up my compositional process for certain works. If I remember correctly, you were a music major. Did you have to take some basic introductory classes for piano? I did and wish I kept it up.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  4. I was a music major, and I did have to take keyboard as part of my degree, but I did not keep it up. I wish I had continued to develop keyboard skills,

    I have learned all of the keyboard commands for entering notes, and usually enter notes using the keyboard instead of the mouse. It would be a lot faster if I could just perform the lines on keyboard. My big limitation is that since I cannot improvise at the keyboard, I have to hear what I want to compose in my head before I can enter it into the computer. A very slow way to work, at least for me. I wish I could sit at a keyboard and just try things out like I see keyboard players doing.
  5. Why not start now? You'd take a temporary hit in your speed, but I suspect it would come back relatively quickly.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  6. Hi Paul

    My first composition mentor does not play piano, and he is a virtuoso. I think you would really like his music too

    He is a master at composition. Clicks with a mouse into cubase. Still uses the piano roll first, before notating

    Berlioz did not play. Wagner famously described writing at the piano vs, pencil and paper as
    " Sitting at the piano you say how did it go? Writing away from the instrument you say this is how it must go"

    Prokofiev (spelling ?) also preferred composing away from the piano, and we know he could play.

    Lastly, in my experience Trombone players, for whatever reason, often become wonderful arrangers/orchestrators.
    Maybe they have time to study the full score ?

    I love hacking at the piano however, and personally piano has been so wonderful for my composing. But, focus on your strengths. Your brass playing gives you a advantage too

    Wishing you the best
  7. #7 Mauro Pantin, Jun 21, 2018
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2018
    Guitar player here. I am also a music major and had to take piano lessons there, too. I find them sufficient to accomplish most tasks.

    I do work out a melody and harmony together with the voice leading and stuff, it just takes a bit more time because it is not my main instrument. But the reality of it, at least for me, is that most instruments are monophonic, so I just play one line at a time and do several passes. This also helps arrangements, I think, because when you play one line at a time you find a lot of opportunities to improve the voice leading and counterpoint.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  8. Not a pianist either! After getting a degree in guitar performance and I realized I wanted to be a composer so a couple of years ago I bought a keyboard and got to work on both piano and composition. I'm still very slow if compared to a real pianist but this is where technology comes to help. I sketch everything on piano in my daw with very slow tempi and then speed them up to have some auditory feedback. Even though I still have a long way to go and will probably never be as good as the real players, you'd be surprised how quickly you can actually learn if you really want to.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  9. I'm not a piano player either. I took lessons as a kid (age 8-16) but totally hated playing Chopin and Bach, etc. (now if I had learned jazz....might still be playing). I studied music in college (minor, not major) and play several instruments fairly well. But at the core, I'm a guitar player. I know theory and I can use a keyboard to play in many parts, but I have no piano chops. However, I find a way to compose and get it done.

    I'd love to have the piano chops many of you guys do but I had to make a choice and I just love playing the guitar :)
  10. This thread makes me feel a little better about not being able to play piano either :). I enter everything with a mouse.
    I do have a small Steinberg CMC PD controller next to my keyboard with a 4 x 4 grid of velocity sensitive pads that I sometimes use to experiment with rythms or harmonies, but I couldn't play/record anything on it. I'm considering to get one of those super small and cheap micro keyboards to better be able to try out chords. I had a cheap 49 key keyboard in the past, but with my current desk setup there is no way to fit it on there, and it was always very mechanically loud and hard to play anyway, so I'm not missing it.

    Have any of you guitarists tried using midi pickups or audio to midi plugins with an electric guitar?
  11. #11 Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 4, 2018
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2018
    What? He clicks into Cubase and doesn't play? Holy cow. Trying to understand how he writes what he does. But more importantly, how that can be fun. I used to do that and while it worked, it didn't feel like a musical experience and diminished my interest somewhat. Felt more like programming than making music.

    That said -- what's your (and his take) on having a two-handed playable piece, for instance, before orchestrating it? Obviously not the case with some composers, but I assume he's more than competent enough and understands the instruments well enough to know what the "core" of his pieces are. Perhaps this is more a rule for the new composer running into predictable composition errors.

    I'm a guitar player primarily, but I don't find it an intuitive instrument to compose on for orchestra, considering how it tends to be used. Piano is just laid out so incredibly logically and simply, and I've found it exponentially easier to naturally "see" inversions, chord shapes, etc.

    And for guitar players out there: No reason you can't play two instruments. You don't have to be a virtuoso at both. I just like piano now, and I find it welcoming if I'm getting tired or frustrated with guitar. Having both hands be able to make different (but obviously related) music at the same time is pretty nice sometimes.
  12. Martin, I'm a guitar player and have been using MIDI Guitar 2 VST/AU from Jam Origin to write parts and melodies. To my surprise it works well although if I could play the piano I'm sure things would be much easier. I've tried various keyboards in the hope that they would inspire me to learn. Currently I have a Nektar LX-25 but have mostly abandoned it in favour of the guitar (again). I've also tried various audio to MIDI 'things' and found them wanting. It's early days with the Midi Guitar 2 but so far, after some experimenting it's proving a positive experience for my composing. It's never going to match a keyboard as that's almost the perfect digital interface for midi and a DAW, but the MIDI Guitar 2 is (so far) a big help IMO. Latency 2.9MS, 128 samples @44100HZ.
    John Eldridge likes this.

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