The Why of Composing
By Isabella Keller
Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Handel are not the only composers. In fact, anyone can become one. There are many websites and softwares that allow people to compose music online, it could also be done the old fashioned way with pen and paper. Composing music is using notes and lyrics to write something that can be played back. Everything from Toxic by Britney Spears to The Pink Panther by Henry Mancini is composed. Those who don’t compose music should give it a try because it serves as a good opportunity to find new music to enjoy.
It’s surprisingly easy to start composing music. One way to start, is to take an existing song and change little parts of it. Try to transpose it into a low octave, add more instruments, or make it faster/crank up the tempo. After gaining familiarity with the platform, maybe start an original song, or continue adapting songs. It only takes a few minutes to click through the tabs and hover over the icons to figure out what they mean. If additional help is needed, there are tutorials everywhere online, and FAQ/Discord servers for any given platform. In online composing platforms, one just drags and drops notes and listens for any changes to be made. Composing music is easy to start, and help is always available.
Another reason to give composing a music a chance is because helps to find new music to listen to as well as find more artists that you like. There are many songs from every genre on these platforms. Many songs are originally created on the platform and adaptations of existing songs. On Musescore, one of many music composition platforms, there are 12,000 songs as of 2014.
While listening to the music there are many benefits. In a 2013 study it was shown that listening to music reduces pain: “sixty people diagnosed with fibromyalgia—a disease characterized by severe musculoskeletal pain—were randomly assigned to listen to music once a day over a four-week period. In comparison to a control group, the group that listened to music experienced significant pain reduction and fewer depressive symptoms.” It also increases positive emotions: “Kim Innes co-authored a 2016 study that found music-listening could boost mood and well-being and improve stress-related measures in older adults suffering from cognitive decline.”
Another benefit of composing music is becoming a part of a cool community. This goes hand in hand with the music you can discover on these platforms. A benefit of online composition is that it is easy to find other people who share your interests and allows you to collaborate with others on composition pieces. According to Cloe Matheson: “The great news is that collaborating with other artists can do wonders for your own creativity. If you’ve been struggling with writer’s block or need a great harmony from another instrument, an exhilarating conversation with another musically-oriented mind with a different point of view may set up a great jam session and get your best lyrics flowing again.” Collaborative composition helps you come up with new and creative music as well as letting you learn and teach your fellow composers.
Some people may think that you have to play an instrument to compose music. While playing the instrument would certainly improve your understanding of music, it’s not necessary. To understand how the instrument sounds alone and with other instruments, one can listen to other people play the instrument on YouTube, or use an online composition platform such as Musescore or Flat.io that will play the sheet music back.
Composing helps one find a larger set of songs from less famous composers; other benefits to composing are: it’s easy to start, it exposes one to a larger variety of music, listening to music is good for physical health, composers join an interesting community and one doesn’t have to play an instrument to compose music. To be the next Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, or Handel you should try composing music today.