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Hardcover Composing Music: A New Approach Book

ISBN: 0131647563

ISBN13: 9780131647565

Composing Music: A New Approach

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Book Overview

Aimed at those who have some knowledge of music but not formal training in composition, this concise introduction to composing starts right in with a brief composition exercise, then proceeds step by step through a series of increasingly complex and challenging problems, gradually expanding the student's musical grammar."This is a wonderful book for anyone who is developing improvising skills or who would like a fun way to explore music."-Jim Stockford,...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

An excellent self-teaching method for aspiring composers

I picked this book up a few years ago, and am still getting a lot out of the exercises. The processes used are very refreshing, from a music student's perspective. The approach is from the view of more contemporary music, and the text leaves out the stuffy, "unnecessary" theory. If you want to study theory, get a theory book. This book is designed to teach the individual who has little experience outside of very basic music fundamentals. From the first page you'll be writing "mini-compositions". The book works through the following concepts (chapter by chapter): 1. The Cell, the Row, and Some Scales 2. Harmony (I) 3. Transformation 4. The Small Theme and the Large Theme 5. More Scales and teh 12-tone Row 6 Isomelody and Isorhythm, Combined 7. Ostinato 8. Accompaniment Procedures 9. Harmony (II) 10. Counterpoint 11. Organum 12. Imitation: A Useful Game 13. Words and Music 14. Picture Music 15. Popular Music as a Source 16. Minimalism Although you certainly don't need to have advanced theory knowledge to make use of this book, once you do gain those skills, the book will prove that much more helpful.

Clear, logical, complete.

The book's author is clearly influenced by minimalism not only in his approach to music, but also to writing and music instruction. His clearly modal approach to both melody and harmony is presented in superbly logical and fluff-free sequence of explanations and exercises. Some of advanced chapters on topics such as mating lyrics with music or writing picture music are brilliant as well.


This is one of the best "How to" books I have ever read on any subject.It works on several levels. Even though it takes a "beginners" approach to introducing many topics, it doesn't shy away from "real" music. For example, even the first simple exercise contains something different - 5/4 time. A beginner will simultaneously learn the basics of chord progressions and melody writing, stripped down to the bare essentials, while delving into modern techniques like 12-tone rows and picture music.The key to the book is the concept of restricting the musical palette by some simple rules, to prevent the budding composer being overwhelmed by the possibilities. Right from the first page, you are working on real composition examples.Even though the book is not particularly aimed at computer music or sequencing, electronic music enthusiasts should find it useful. A lot of the minimalist techniques are ideal for sequencing. Plus, if your musical background is pretty basic, and you are looking to broaden it with a mix of traditional and contemporary techniques, this book should take you a long way.By its very nature, a book like this can only touch on some areas. So you will probably want to supplement it with some other material if, for example, you want a bit more detail on counterpoint. Still, it manages to cover a huge amount of ground, with the most detail where it counts most - developing and harmonising melodies, and a very good section on writing music to lyrics (ie songwriting).One last point - a lot of theory and composition books miss the mark with contemporary musicians because they approach the subject from the purely "classical" angle of cadence and resolution. This book is soundly classical in its approach to harmonisation and melodic development, but uses the comfortable pop/jazz approach to chord progressions, so it shouldn't lose any reader.Highly recommended!

Start Here

Russo's book is the best place to begin if you're seriously interested in composing music. His methodology is straightforward, and his rules sensible. The exercises bear fruit both as a learning experience and a stimulus for original compositions. Russo assumes you understand some rudimentary musical theory, and I suppose most people picking up this book will have that knowledge. Where I found this book most useful is in writing long themes, which had always daunted me. Russo's method is transportable, and when inspiration is stymied, I find what I've learned from this book can tide me over. One reviewer makes the point that this book doesn't tie all the exercises together into longer pieces, which is true, but that's a flaw that can be remidied by reading scores, and looking at structural examples of other composers. I wish I'd found this book years ago.

Wonderful approach

I found this book a wonderful text. I was afraid that it was going to start to simply, and it did. BUT, it was still a wonderful excercise. As are all. The author imposes some restrictions, which forces you yo use more creative resources. everything is covered from chord progressions to picture music, but all in detail. I would rercommend this book to many people.
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