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Choice paralysis, guidelines, discipline

Discussion in 'Score Study Resources' started by Thomas van der Burg, May 22, 2020 at 4:15 PM.

  1. Hi,

    Since watching Mike's Masterclasses I've learned of the importance of transcribing and score studying, but for some reason I can never make myself do it. I've come to the conclusion that there are a couple of reasons for this:

    The biggest factor is choice paralysis. There are just so many options to choose from. Do i go for a classical master, or some filmscoring pioneers like John Williams. Do i transcribe, do i mockup, or just a score study? All at once?

    I know it all depends on what i want to learn but that is the thing, i want to learn all the things.

    So now i'm asking for help here. I think what will possibly work is just someone, right here and now tell me what to do. Just like in school you start doing shit because other people tell you to.

    In a perfect world i'd even wish for some curriculum. First transcribe this piece, than this piece, then mockup this piece, then study this score. I need some sort of planning, and maybe a guideline for what to do when doing a score study.

    I probably also need to split it up in smaller parts so I will start doing it easier. Transcribing a 4 minute star wars piece just sounds way to intimidating, hence never doing it.

    Hope someone can help me out :)

    Kind regards,
  2. Transcribe things that you'd like to steal.
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  3. hmm yeah, but that is still too much to choose from. If we're talking about reasoning for transcribing/score studying i'd say it's because i want to have more options to choose from when composing, more colors more "tricks", and less guess working.
  4. Look, if you give so little a shit about yourself that you'll use the lamest excuse on Earth to avoid improving, nothing I can say will help. "I can't start because there's too many possibilities"? Go pick one. Just pick one. It literally took you more time to type this post than it would have to transcribe an entire pop tune. There is no such thing as wasted time when it comes to transcribing. Just pick any musical device you like, any chord, any phrase, any orchestration, ANYTHING, and just go do it. For fuck's sake. And then post it.
  5. Q) How do you eat an Elephant?
    A) One bite at a time

    At the start put two things as most important. Once you are getting solid with those you can branch out.

    1. Transcribe (as Mike just posted, pick things you really like; that you wish you wrote)
    2. Have a score to check the accuracy of your work.

    What could help you get going, and also to keep from getting from getting distracted by your attraction to things, is have a partner.

    This way you each have a deadline; Say for example both of you are going to transcribe the first 30 seconds of this piece (see below)
    and you have 3 days to complete the task.

    Then check each other's work. Ideally, it would also be something you have the published score to, so you really know if you are correct.

    For example try just the solo Cello. If that is done, then add on the flute.

    If this is too hard, scale back. Let look at the score inform you on what is going on with the strings. You can't let yourself get disappointed and quit. That really is it.

    People hate it, but I have said many times here Bartoks Microkosmos is great for getting started. Book 1 is all step motion.

    But don't do it if you hate it. I am just trying to say don't be afraid of simple melodies.

    Others here have their own opinions; I would make sure you notate the music. Write it out. Additionally playing on the piano and doing some improvisations with the theme can be super useful.

  6. And then there is that. Mike does have a good point I must say. I must admit a similar thought crossed my mind. It often does on internet forums.
  7. We are what we do; not what we think; not what we believe; not what we post on social media. Discipline isn't something we have or don't have; we have it when we do it. A conspicuous amount of time, it proves better to let the action dictate the feeling, rather than vice-versa. Start acting like a disciplined person would. Pretend. Fake it to make it. Just do it. This is the way.
  8. Thanks for your wise words, i really understand your response.

    I guess it is more of a discipline issue than i thought, and in my endless struggle with discipline and productivity your last comment really hit home.

    Thanks doug for your tips, its always a good idea to do it together with someone but the "just do it" advice might work even better ;)

    Thanks again for taking the time to respond to me :)
  9. If you don't have the score and/or recording of Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, get it. It is episodic, so it covers lots of ground and doesn't stay in any one place for long. The tonal language is compatible with the symphonic tradition of film scoring. And the whole score is not in any way complex. Make sure you get the orchestrated version, which should have the original piano version at the bottom. If you don't already have the recording, the one with the Montreal Symphony/Charles Dutoit on the London label is the most well performed and transparent I've ever come across.

    1) First you need to get the larger view of the thing: listen to the recording as you read through the score. Do this a few times at least before moving on;

    2) Next, begin the more in-depth score study; start at the beginning and look at the piano part of the whole page first, and then ask yourself what the choices are and how you would orchestrate it. After that, look at what Ravel did, and examine why it is perfect;

    3) Transcribe the score in whatever format would work for you the best at any given point. If you've gone far enough in each episode that you've pretty much assimilated the primary lessons of it, move on to the next episode. This will keep you fresh as you go along, and you can always go back later and finish up if you want;

    4) Take time out as you go to use your favorite moments, textures, and orchestrated gestures as a scoring model. Change the notes and rhythms, shorten this, lengthen that, alter, vary, etc., but maintain the overall intent and effect—and then score it similarly. You can fine tune your choices to suit your alterations. Don't be slavish to the original, but keep close enough to it to ingrain it as a model you keep in your bag of tricks. (Modeling used to be taught more than it is nowadays, and was a common pedagogy that many great composers were taught.);

    5) Take your modeling exercises and see if you can work them into a mini composition that demonstrates what you think are the salient lessons of the whole piece. Maybe, 10 minutes long or whatever you want.

    You can do steps 2 through 5 sequentially, or more or less concurrently; it's up to you.

    I have some of my own transcriptions made of it that I can scan as an example if that would help, should you decide to do this.
    Gregory D. Moore likes this.
  10. This sounds like something suited for me! Thank you very much :)
    Paul Poole likes this.
  11. I think you just did a 180 and are going in the exact opposite direction I thought you were asking about.
    Two different techniques that share the same word are being discussed here. What I thought you meant was
    "Dictation". Listening to the recording and learning the music "By Ear". Only to use the score at the very end to check the accuracy of your work.

    I think you would best be served by finding a teacher and working with him/her towards your goals.

    What Paul writes is very solid advice, but it's another approach altogether. Yes, they both "cross-train" your mind. However one is like learning memorization techniques the other sight-reading. Both very useful, and essential. However lifting weights with your legs won't make your arms stronger without training your arms too.

    My advice would be to find someone who you wish to emulate, and see if you can learn from them and stay on track.

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