I recently returned from a two-week holiday in Provence, staying in a villa in the Côtes du Rhône wine region. It was fabulous but it was also instrument free – no guitars, no keyboards, nothing.
As I’m not really one for laying by the pool, I brought along my iPad because I wanted to spend the odd spare hour working on new compositions. My goal was to compose directly into a music notation app, in this case Dorico, to see whether I could achieve anything useful without first working it out on an instrument. Because I’m not fluent at scoring, this was hard.
Of course, modern notation apps do incorporate sample players so that you can get a good idea what your composition will sound like as you go – a facility not available to Mozart! I’m afraid I’m not up to simply imagining what a piece will sound like, particularly harmony. I’m pretty sure it’s not it’s possible for humans to ‘think’ of more than one note simultaneously.
For a first attempt, I chose to limit myself to a single instrument, in this case the piano. I didn’t start out with the idea of composing with a fairly conventional classical feel but that’s how the two pieces that I completed turned out.
Have a listen.
I’m quite pleased that I was able to turn out something reasonable by applying my imagination to a notation app and I would do it again. Sure, I would prefer to work with an instrument because it is so much easier to play with ideas but it’s nice to know that I can do it the hard way if I’m pushed.