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Modal Piano Sketch

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Kyle Judkins, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Trying to practice writing basic piano sketches, and just trying to write simple but effective modal material.

    I feel like dorian/lydian come easier than others to me, and the harmonic(sharped 3rd) variant of phrygian, so I started with the least worst to write with here, (then phrygian and locrian will come next). Nothing fancy, just something i chicken scratched out at work with the help of a ukelele and staff paper.

    it's 100% just entered in from step entry, and the chords are pretty basic, trying to adhere to mike's recent suggestion of submitting piano/2 handed piano sketches rather than mock ups to see if the music works without the thousands of dollars of sample libraries.


    It really is difficult to write simply, and when you're tied to a mode your options of harmonic deviation drop significantly(or atleast it's harder to keep your harmonies from taking you somewhere else) So it's perfect practice for someone like me(who used to ride all of my confidence on interesting harmony)
  2. not really happy with the part at 0:27, tried to switch it up - but im probably much better off keeping something similar to the section at 0:18 for those 2 bars.
  3. #3 Alexander Schiborr, Jul 9, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 9, 2019
    Its a bit salad fingers..:D
    Don´t know whats really modal here but I feel like you should also a bit work with accents and rhythmic focus more. As your left hand underpinning chords are very dull and creating a constant flow (and mush), I would say: Less is more. Keep that constant left hand pounding thing for a later section build up. Also think about your chord voicing in lower registers it might not the best idea to fill out everything but experiement with more open voicings (as hard as I can tell whats going on there anyways in your piece).

    The attempt for the b section is well meant but needs more refinement, its too short, too jumpy ( don´t jump so much up and down through the registers)..its confusing or it breakes the focus and mood...2 seconds you are up there, then you are down there and back up....think how the orchestration and voices would translate to it..it lacks for a melodic conclusion or direction pretty much. :)There is more..about the harmony also..but..probably thats intentional, but not much how I would do it these days. Try also more non diatonic subsitutions to spice up your harmony I would say though that is personal choice (coming from my jazz studies)
  4. Not much to add on top of what Alex said. Sounds melodically focused though, so good job there -- the sections are relatively clear, as are the melodic ideas. However, at 0:36 when you go back to A, the B5 to C5 isn't a very strong resolution, and as such doesn't feel quite as satisfying as it could. The most obvious remedy would be replacing the F# in the bass with F (and perhaps adding a D somewhere for more tension) to build a dim-tonic movement.

    I think the most important part of modal writing is allowing the modal choices to serve the piece, and not to enslave oneself to the mode harmonically or otherwise. It's not uncommon for a piece in a different mode to venture back into good ol' major or minor territory if it needs some sort of stronger resolution or the like, or to simply rely on using the defining "modal note" in the melody without being overly concerned about making the harmony sound "modal". Here's a good example of allowing modal or other scalar variations to serve the melody first.

    George Streicher likes this.
  5. left hand is just place holder because I needed to go to sleep, as far as the b to c, I originally thought I would go to f but it didn't feel right, if I flesh it out it's on the list of things to fix
  6. Right. But:
    This is what I was getting at. I'm not sure being tied to a mode is necessary. I think writing with a particular mode can be helpful if that's the kind of sound you're after, but I've found over time I improvise less and less specifically in a "mode" and just hunt for the sound I want, which usually involves dipping in and out of a mode.
  7. Depends on your aim, this isn't writing for the sake of making something - it's writing for the sake of exercise, which is the best time to force you to work on things you're not good at. Although sometimes I do like to write with limitations - this in particular is more like homework. Kind of like practicing 4 part chorale writing - I don't know anyone who still writes satb 4 part chorales, but the skill will be ready to use the next time you need to voice a chord progression. This was just some practice during my breaks at work last shift - with the intent of getting better at writing music and best scenario a usable scrap that I can revisit later if I'm looking for something. I guess I should have explained that better originally. This isn't me writing music, this is just an exercise to get me out of my comfort zone.
  8. #8 Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    While I think restrictive exercises are definitely valuable, as are constraints, I don't really understand the purpose of simply doing an exercise to get out of your comfort zone if you still aren't writing something musical at the end of the day (not to imply yours wasn't), or aren't aiming towards writing "music" with your exercise. It seems like a backwards way to approach writing and I don't think it's really relevant to the craft of composition.
    Again, that's not to say a writing exercise isn't valuable, it's that if your goal within the writing exercise isn't to make music, then it's probably irrelevant.

    Take modal writing, for example. You can play around within a mode and use a modal chord progression, but if the end result isn't something you care to make musical or something that stands on its own, what's the point? It's sort of like wanting to do an exercise to get better at using descriptive language, so one writes a few paragraphs with lots of adverbs in them. If one ends up with something that's not a coherent or worthwhile piece of writing but has plenty of adverbs, did it actually serve to improve one's writing? There's nothing inherently wrong with an exercise like this, but divorcing it from the end goal divorces it from relevance. That's also not to say one has to refine a piece written as an exercise into a masterpiece -- it's about the intent more than anything. Pardon me if I've misunderstood, but your intent seems more centered around the act of doing an exercise.

    I think the analogy of 4 part chorale writing is perhaps confused. It doesn't really matter if SATB writing isn't in vogue anymore, as this is entirely subjective (there are prominent composers who still write this way, i.e. Eric Whitacre) -- you can still write a beautiful piece of music that's "music", stands on its own, and served as a fruitful writing experience without being an isolated exercise.
  9. not sure, from what I gather didn't JW write basically every day? mostly just sketches, but the man just kept writing

    I'm not a great composer or anything, but I feel like my writing was better when I was in high school and wrote everyday, even though I know more now
  10. #10 Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    I heard Mike say (I believe) 4 minutes a day. He's a machine.

    I totally agree. Mine is a lot more intuitive when I do it frequently. It's a frustrating skill to get back into if you've taken a break for whatever reason. My point here isn't to say don't write everyday, or that writing exercises aren't useful, but that the end goal of a writing exercise should still always be making the choices that best serve the music itself. You could end up with the exact same piece, call it a day and move on if the piece isn't doing anything for you. But when you say the goal is to do the writing exercise and not to write music, at the end of the day, that's when I question the usefulness.

    As a random aside: Jordan Peterson posted something about writing essays a while back, and said something to the effect of: "You're trying to produce something of worth, beauty and elegance. If you think that is ridiculous, then you are far too stupid at the moment to write properly". It's something I find myself reminded of when I sit down to write. I sure as hell don't succeed on any sort of frequent basis, but the aim is the takeaway.
  11. Ahh....but would you question a violinist or pianist practicing say scales and arpeggios ?

    I am sure you have heard the phrase "Luck favors those who are prepared".

    That's because we have never met.

    It's everywhere and as popular as ever, if you think of the principle of it. Woodwind, brass and strings are organized in SATB (except brass with the french horns) manner on the score. Mr. Whitacre does not, technically, write in SATB style like music theory 101 kids are forced to. (Bach did not even write in the way American Universities teach Bach chorales.) His choir pieces often extend into SSAATTBB or combination which allow for a freedom (or cheese and sappy-ness) that you won't find in Bach.

    Yes, write everyday. You'll see the rewards. Just be patient and realize it's sort of like going on a diet. It's not going to magically happen over night, and
    if you go too hard at the goal, a yo-yo effect (like burn-out) can happen.

    What does that mean ? How can this be brought into focus more ? I have my own ideas for my own work that I go thru to evaluate, but to poke you with a stick.... how would we know if it was musical ?

    Thats all well and good, and I like the "intent" of the message, but it can run the risk of putting the focus on the "product" over the "process".
    They can't all be zingers, and "masterpiece syndrome" can be a real crutch for people getting started, and seeing a work thru to completion

    The oxymorons in that are impressive. I feel an "intense apathy" reading the quote.
    If music exists to "produce something of worth, beauty and elegance" then how could Dream Theater be allowed to perform ? ;)

    Tough talking-Canadian / evangelical-academic belong on Youtube.

    Stravinsky famously opinionated that music was unable to express anything. His pieces are sublime.
  12. I faced literal years of burn out, and just had a hard time putting anything on paper in general. And masterpiece syndrome is actually something that essentially put the breaks on my creativity very early on, when you're gaining tons of momentum as a beginner and then you keep improving and suddenly everything that's not better than the last thing you wrote is a complete waste of musical ideas. If I was better at the whole piano thing I could probably be more productive I suppose - but in general fast note entry is something im really considering dumping time into. Thought about devoting weeks to planning and practicing a keybinding layout or something for reaper for note entry.

    I think JBP would agree that writing in your journal when you're in that frame of mind is okay. And I meant to say that in general, voice leading practice for the sake of voice leading practice makes voice leading when you need it effortless. And since my current job situation is just stresstopia, I literally just need a way to distract myself momentarily to help reset on breaks. Noodling on the ukulele isn't difficult enough to distract me, but working out a melody and imagining the arrangement in my head/or playing the chords humming the melody seems to be distracting enough. It'll get better over time, but it's still a decent long term management strategy.
  13. Just to offer friendly advice; of course ignore and discard anything that does not work for you.
    (* also I am feeling old and cranky today. I've been teaching music lessons for over 25 years, and sometimes I just 'feel" like I have a laser guided radar
    to things like a shark to blood. *** Please note I said "I feel" not that this is an objective truth)

    (again please just ignore where it's off base and that the gesture is casual and hopefully helpful)

    My honest feedback:

    • First it just sounds like you need some "You" time. Lower your expectations........ a lot.

    • My advice would be to have only 1 measurement for now with your practice: (It's hard to find the right descriptive word, but something around one of these) "You feel better than when you began", "A little calmer mind", "The practice session created positive energy". Maybe the last one is the most accurate. There is only positive or negative energy. Embrace "play" and be kind to yourself.

    • Create a way to keep the world from robbing you 100% of this time. A friend/ partner can be great for this, and help find a regular rhythm for showing up to work on your composing. This point is a total guess as I don't have any idea what your life is like. But let me offer an analogy from my own life: I recall you were a bodybuilder, perhaps even a competitive one at some point (?) Maybe not competitive, but I recall you were into it. Obviously a common complaint amongst most adults with full time stressful jobs is they don't have time to hit the gym. At this level you can say it is indeed mostly accurate they just need to get there. In fact if the goal was to run just 5 minutes on the treadmill, and they showed up it would be better than a person who wanted to hit the gym for 2 hours, and then rationalized they did not have the energy to go. The memory of their peak performance now prevents them from showing up. The other unexpected thing is the person who only aimed to run for 5 minutes, will often surpass that mark because after 5 minutes they are getting into the groove of working out and it took what ever effort it took to get to the gym. Basically.....fuck it, I am here let's keep going.
    I had in my teen years a real negative self image as I was a fat ass. My folks both worked and so they were happy to just bring home McDonalds for dinner or Pizza Hut etc. They were also fat (as in at least 75 lbs over the medical standard of where they should be)

    Say what you will about American culture and cuisine, but holy shit a Burger, Fries and Ice Cream/Milkshake rocks my world so fucking hard. As do Dorritos. What an explosion of cheesy goodness in my mouth. Mountain Dew - the nectar of the gods my friend.

    This created a classic "Vicious circle" for me. After a binge of say eating a whole bag of dorritos I would just feel fat. I was like 260 and 5'9. It was fat, not muscle. At this point a more drill sergeant aspect of my personality would take over, and just mentally abuse myself. I guess I was trying to help myself, or perhaps a misguided memory of football coaches.... I don't know. But I would just stand in front of the mirror and talk about what a fat fuck loser I am, and go right for my fear at the time "no one will ever love me". Being a virgin and fundamentally seeing myself as ugly....... I don't think I said two words to a single girl in all of highschool. Of course I secretly had crushes, but was to scared to utter them. All this to say........ it did me no fucking good. None.

    It was real for me, but the thing that made the difference is not mysterious, or in anyway could it include a short cut. It was difficult, but got easier and a few years later a joy. There were three important changes I made to my life, and by the end of high school I was now 5"10 (1 inch I grew !) and 175 lbs.

    The first was I simply planned and stuck to it. I made clear time I would hit the gym. I wrote out what exercises I was going to do. Importantly too, after the first month I realized I had to take on my diet and began planning how many calories, what I would eat, when I would eat. I switch to the 5 small meals etc.

    The basic point is: The shift from 100% emotional and the default pattern I had (my folks are ok with being big, and that was just what I grew up with)
    towards one that was more "scientific" + the follow up actions changed everything. It just became "ok today I am going to eat 2,000 calories this much protein, this much fat. I am going to do this much exercise, these are actions I will take and the order to do them in. Later I got more sophisticated with creatine, diet pills like hydroxycut, and all the wild shit you could at the time buy at Hi-health GNC.)

    I just enjoyed exercising, would "need" to workout, and best of all..... I was in really, really good fucking shape.

    Obviously there is a lot of "projecting" on my part, and over sharing personal information...... but when I read you write "better" .... it makes worried.

    Good/Bad never even enter in my mind when I listen to music, other than at that most basic short hand way of communication. Yes, I say "oh shit ..... that sucks" for some pieces I click on, but it really has been trained out of my mind. Mostly it's 100% observing and trying to notice what is in the music.

    Yes, you need to have critical evaluation skills for your own work but know that the above quote has no insight. It's howling at the moon. We all do it, it's normal, but just like me standing in front of the mirror and insulting myself simply won't help me lose weight. It's useless.

    • It sounds like YOU get divided and conquered by your practice. I already feel like I am serving 3-4 masters just from that one post when I imagine myself in your place. Get a real clear idea of what you want to improve on, or where you what you want to be working on in a few year.
    I know you are really into samples, and that brings you joy. That's cool. We are in a "Meta" time. Everyone has their attention on many things.

    This can be a real mistake IMO.

    How we went from


    Is so confounding to me. I don't have a story here. Just a big WTF.

    Not a criticism of you, the larger point I want to make is I have the opinion people have their attention way too divided, too much shit bombards us and creates a "white noise" of thought. Army's of one marching confidently in no particular direction.

    To poke a stick more at this...... what the fuck could Jordan Peterson, or Reaper, or a keybinding layout have anything to do a mode, and composing music with them.

    I may as well just tell you about the ass-crack hair I have growing now. My plan is to connect the hair from my neck to my back hair all the way to my ass, across the choad and to my pubs, and back up my chest like a super-mullet-body-hair highway. It's just as relevant and useful to Dorian.

    Really you are going to miss so much doing this. Slow the fuck down. Just be as "present" as you can. It might even be useful to design a series of questions to ask yourself before you touch the piano. I would also say the answers outloud for yourself to hear For example:

    Do I feel tired or energetic ?
    What sounds do I hear around me (maybe a airplane is flying over your house, or TV in another room)
    Is the chair I am sitting in comfortable ?
    What taste do I have in my mouth.
    Is the area around my piano clean or messy?

    (I would advise just have questions to observe body sensations and the area around you. Just to clear and focus yourself. Then, if you feel, you
    can close your eyes and ask a few music specific questions"

    Can I see the mode I am about to compose in my minds eye ?
    Where are the half steps in this mode ?
    Where is the tritone in this mode ?
    Where are the perfect 5ths ?


    Make sure to Sing...... Sing the fucking modes. Play a drone and sing everything you play.

    If you would really like me to I can design a sample mode exercise or example to use. Also it's really wise to have a few exemplary musical models to study from, and play with. This is about you making your music in your own time. You can loosen the "rules" as you wish. Again, just observe what holds your interest.

    If you decide keybinding layout switching in Reaper is what most interests you right now, then go do that.

    OK..... gotta run. I wish you the best, and as I mentioned anything I said that is off the mark just disregard.
    You know you best, and - in all honesty - have no interest in debating what other people should do. That is 100% your call.
    (That's not directed at you, more a meta lament about the internet)

    Be well


  14. ahh the reaper keybinding is just so that there is a quicker connection between brain to midi.

    writing on paper is easy, but it doesn't get into the DAW that way, and notation programs feel almost slower than the daw... I used to actually he pretty quick at inputting things into guitar pro back in the day, which is hilarious given the fact that I had finale before I had guitar pro, but it just ended up being easier.

    the quicker I can actualize my ideas the more sophisticated they are allowed to become... I feel discouraged from writing what I want sometimes because its simply much more work getting it into a daw, so I think on a subconscious level it just causes me to slowly water what I'm doing down to the point that it's easier to program.

    think. what is easier - straight 8th notes, or a dotted rhythm? in real life both are extremely basic - bit programming a dotted rhythm just ends up slowing the entire process down.

    I feel like if I really planned out exactly how I expect note entry to function, I could get it to be almost as easy as paper. Sounds silly, but the more convoluted entering ideas into midi gets, the quicker my mind wanders and I end up simply doing something more satisfying. I have approximately 1 and a half hours to spare on days I work, so this has been a serious damper on my creativity.

    and it's totally okay to meta rant, but for the sake of clarity, I was specifically responding to the Peterson quote.

    I like the little projects I give myself because I feel like it helps give me direction. funny you mentioned singing, I tried singing, playing guitar, and melodica into the audio to midi thing in cubase... it's not the WORST way to do things but it's not stellar.
  15. #15 Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    I'm not sure if I stepped on toes in this post, or if my meaning wasn't taken correctly, but anyway:

    It depends. I've heard more than a few high-level players advise against doing this in a rote manner. I don't think a performer trying to pin down a mechanical skill is categorically the same thing as a creative, though.

    Indeed, but I think this comparison between performer and composer isn't really considering my intent. Do we have to be prepared to compose exclusively in a particular mode, as composers?

    Good point (I was hoping someone actually knowledgeable would chime in).

    I'll try to start over.

    Kyle mentioned he wants to get better at writing basic piano sketches, and writing effective modal material (point of question #1: why specifically "modal material"?). He mentions restricting himself specifically in order to focus more on the melody. Good so far.
    Afterwards, though, he mentions that the left hand is just a place holder, that he was writing for the sake of exercise, not writing "music".
    Is writing in this bottom-up, theory oriented manner not something Mike has routinely talked about, especially for those not sufficiently advanced (it's not like I'm questioning Bach's mathematical and theoretical restrictions when writing the Goldberg Variations, after all)? Should the left hand simply be a placeholder for a simple piano sketch if harmony and melody are inextricable, when the goal is to get better at piano sketches?
    I'm completely happy to be wrong here, but approaches like this are something I've seen Mike advise against on a very regular basis, unless I completely missed the point. This isn't an attack on Kyle's piece or personal process, and if this is a matter of "just getting writing", then please disregard my responses.

    True. I struggle with this all the time. But therein lies my caveat of "intention":
    Raising this question was a result of questioning the aim itself and its usefulness to the end goal.

    Where are the oxymorons, except perhaps through an uncharitable reading (barring Dream Theater)? I'm not sure if the reaction is because of poor context on my part, or if it's one of the common visceral reactions to him saying anything at all. Would the reaction be the same if the quote was uncredited, or credited to another random philosopher (which the idea behind the quote is, for the record)? Chris Hitchens was a hack when it came to approximating any depth in philosophical discussions about theism, but that doesn't mean he didn't have good things to say elsewhere, or that he wasn't a good writer. (I also assume the "evangelical" label is pejorative, as familiarity with his ideas reveals it's inaccurate.)

    Stravinsky also famously contradicted himself (if this is taken at its literal meaning) and seems to be heavily criticized in this regard. He also seems to have not intended that this be taken at face value. He was also not a philosopher. And didn't you post a video about Glenn Gould hating Stravinsky? There's always one ;).
  16. #16 Rohann van Rensburg, Jul 11, 2019
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2019
    Any writing is better than no writing. That quote was part of a directive about essay writing to stereotypically apathetic young university students who tend to view their work as meaningless, and in that regard I found it inspiring as I often catch myself thinking there's no point in refining something I've written, or that what I'm writing is valueless. I think struggling with writing anything at all is another story, especially if stress is a factor, and in hindsight I wouldn't have included that somewhat random bit. Anything that gets you writing (and makes you enjoy it) at all is better than not writing.

    My main point overall, to take your example, was that you can practice good voiceleading by integrating it in a more top-down, complex-task manner with other skills. I've found doing this has made my writing more frequent and more pleasurable, as it feels and functions more relevantly to my goal of being a better composer.

    @Doug Gibson 's last post was spot on too, fantastic advice about removing distractions and allowing discipline to guide you. Planning is the only thing that makes a day productive for me when writing is the aim.
  17. Well, that's actually a pretty good chunk of time. If you are able to practice music composition for 90 minutes a day - 6 days week - yeah.... I think real progress is possible, and some pretty cool ideas can be realized. I've been in this exact same spot. Off the top of my head I found the following helpful for me.

    • I found my most creative - idea generation - time was first thing in the morning after sleep. I'm not a morning person at all, but with a 1 year old (at the time) and day job + composing gigs, I would aim to wake up at 5 am - basically pee, brush my teeth and walk over to the piano. (I made a rule for myself during this time no checking email !! No internet full stop.)
    • The other most creative time for me was at night. NYC is noisy, and perhaps it was just the quiet, or a subconscious feeling there weren't other tasks to do at that time.
    • Segregating my workflow: I know this is not a method that is very popular. For me......it worked, and worked better than I thought it ever could haver hoped, and what I still use. I may try a variety of work-flows. Some examples: Garageband became my "DAW" for the morning. I used audio only. I just hit record and would improvise, later listening back "panning for gold". (at the time I had a phone, so just voice memo recording was another option) Another approach: Write the entire "melody" or main line (not everything I was writing was a "tune") for the whole piece. No bass notes, no chords, just getting the "Whole" of the work.
    • "Must fit in the palm of my hand": I used this so there would not be too many steps. Basically it meant no more than 5 stages of development for a composition.
    • Each stage of process was broken up and it's own self contained session.

    To flesh this out: Stage 1.) Coming up with the ideas: Piano only and either just old school recording my noodles as audio, or hand writing a sketch. Does not need a "form" yet. Like writing down ideas on sticky notes.

    (Break: I might stay at stage 1 for 2-3 days even)

    Stage 2. ) Experimentation phase: Let's say I have a few ideas I like. This is where I will deliberately use composition techniques to further the ideas. It could be so many things: reharmonization, modulation ....... but on the very large abstract level I thought of it as "Thesis + Antithesis for Synthesis" I might take a little of idea 4 and mix in idea 1. I might intentionally try and do the opposite - could be inversion, or close voiced harmony and spread as far as I can, Fast tempo - slow and on and on.

    Again have a break. Always begin each "stage" fresh.

    Stage 3 ) Now is where I would go into Sibelius and notate out the idea. Notation programs force you into making decisions. What begins the piece. Additionally the visual aspect and playback for refining the idea and adding in more and more details. How are these two measures articulated ? What is the dynamic level,

    ** I am going to call this 3B, as at this time I had a professional do all mixing/mastering so that was never a stage for me. Really this was stage 4 for me, but I know that having your own personal mixer is not an option for everyone.

    3B) Orchestration of the piece in Sibelius. The goal was to get it 100 % as I wanted and notated.

    4) Logic is my studio: I treated opening my DAW just like going into a by the hour studio. No experimentation ---- that was already done -- and 100 % of the attention is on the "production". Try out different libraries, midi tweak etc...etc. (* I have since cut this out of my life too)

    5) Mixing and completion: Self evident. Audio plug-ins, reverb what ever......

    The point --- and this just worked the best for me and have since travelled further down this path -- was each was it's own stage and learning to trust those uncomfortable moments when I had no idea if I could get from short hand/rough idea to what I knew I wanted the end to sound like

    You might find this interview of interest. The examples in the interview would be an ideal outcome of what I outlined above as stage 1 & 2.
    Obviously they notated and orchestrated recorded, mixed, but in an order.

    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  18. Great post again, Doug. Thanks as always.

    I'm with you on creative times. I find it difficult to be creative at 9am. The world feels too "busy". It's annoying but I have a hard time forcing it. I've been experimenting with this lately, but will try writing earlier to see if I'm in the same boat.

    Re: Shirley's video. Do you typically come up with rhythm later on? It sounds like the harmonic rhythm wasn't developed before the chords and melody were. It's something I ought to try.

    As an aside, do you set aside practice time for piano anymore? Having chops like hers certainly helps with the improv process. Also, do you typically stick to one project that you're working on until completion, or do you have multiple pieces going at the same time?
  19. well I assumed rhythm was less important in the drafting phase. in the example I posted - It gives me time to see it on paper, where I want accents to be, and where the empty pockets/room for counter phrasing is.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  20. Of course, and I am sure you know you have a longer reply from me marinating. I only poke and pick to hopefully offer something that makes your composing "better".

    Umm..... occasionally will I write just whole notes and those are "place-holders". Not sure I 100% understand the question as everything has rhythm.

    Most likely , for me personally, this would cover the answer

    Yes, I really enjoy taking say 1 or 2 measures and intentionally playing with durations to see what "affect" it create. I call this "highlighting". It's just like augmentation or diminution, but not in a block fashion.

    Yes. That's my happy place.

    Of course it does.

    Umm...... I can't help but divide my life. Maybe I should not. Meaning, in my mind I have "Personal Doug - composer" and then "Freelancer Doug".For the last almost 7-ish years, I think I have had multiple projects on my plate..... pretty much without stop. Not all of these are large projects. Might be transcribing for someone, or music preparation for publishing, to orchestration and so on. Some have short deadlines, others are very loose.
    I have just always thought of the work for clients in a different way.

    For pragmatic practical reasons I put working on clients projects ahead of mine, unless I am really up against it and we are entering crisis zone.
    I have had weeks or months even were I work like crazy, and then feel blue I have not worked on my own music. I have had many chats about this with friends and as much as I see the well-being of just thinking of it all as my music...... I just can't.

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