Books Which Help Improve Musical Composition

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Musical Composition By: Tutor no longer registered
Subject: Musical Composition
Last updated: 29/07/2012
Tags: 20th century music, a-level music, composing, confidence in your compositions

When composing music, many younger and less experienced student composers neglect the need for acquiring a solid knowledge of instruments and their capabilities. I believe that if a student has a strong knowledge of how instruments work they will be able to compose more interesting music which effectively exploits the idiomatic characteristics of the instruments they are writing for.

An essential text for all composition students is Alfred Blatter's 'Instrumentation and Orchestration'. This text gives detailed information on all orchestral instruments and voices and features a useful appendix of fingering charts proving an invaluable compositional aid.

Another way of quickly improving composition is to have a thorough knowledge of how contemporary music should be notated and presented to a professional standard. The best text for this subject is Elaine Gould's 'Behind Bars'. This recent text provides an up-to-date account of all contemporary musical notation conventions, proving an essential resource for researching the best ways to notate unusual as well as more traditional musical features.

I would recommend these two texts to all composition students as valuable and quick resources for improving composition. 


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