How to Survive Becoming a Composer

So you took piano or instrument lessons, maybe some music theory or solfege and decided you wanted to start composing. And promptly found yourself mired in the weeds. Your melodies sound horrible, or trite. You have trouble transitioning from where you are to something new and interesting. And endings. Oh my gosh, endings are the hardest thing to come up with, at least something good. You keep coming up with one unfinished snippet after another, but you’re too afraid or too stubborn to try and get help.

That was me starting in 1981, for an entire decade as a self-taught composer. With everything I’ve learned since then, I’m hoping to come up with enough practical tips to help those in a similar position, and maybe help people to shorten their learning curve.


Helpful Resources

Here is a list of blog posts I’ve written, and other information, relevant to trying to become a music composer. Hopefully there is enough to get you started, moving, and/or unblocked. I’ve tried to list practical tips that should help anyone, whether you are a beginning composer or more advanced. You can either go through these posts or, if you’re brave, dive into the section below on backing tracks and see if you can compose a voice on top of what is there.

About Peisinoe (Haunted Dreams)
My Experiences with Music Composition
Go Ahead, Jump the Gun
A Gift Can Be Just As Much a Curse
Creatively Blocked
Creating a Playlist - The Bigger Picture
How to Become a Scale Bender


Backing Tracks

Duets and backing tracks are a great way for new composers to get a start in composing by adding to existing tracks of music. These are Garageband files you can download and play with, and you’ll see they have looping enabled so when you hit the play button it will simply repeat over and over, so you have a chance to build your own music on top and can record it in a new track when you’re ready. Some have endings, some do not. Some have a right hand only, or a left hand only.


Incomplete Tracks

These are unfinished compositions that likely will not be finished, or will require a significant rewrite to finish. Feel free to play with them and see if you can continue in the style, improve them, or come up with an ending.