Composers create original music -- symphonies, operas, sonatas or popular
songs. They transcribe ideas into musical notation using harmony, rhythm,
melody and tonal structure.
Many songwriters now compose and edit music using computers. Some link
a keyboard to a computer that compiles digital information into musical notation,
or they may program the composition in musical notation and have the computer
play back the piece.
There are those who say that composing can't be taught, that the combination
of skills, talent and inspiration required to create music is highly individual.
It appears that genetics plays a strong part in musical ability -- musical
people often come from musical families. There are many contradictions to
this, however, and some authorities cite musical environment as being highly
Music composers may work in a variety of jobs. "Be exposed to all areas
of the business," suggests John Albani, a composer. "It's a very difficult
area to get into. You need an awful lot of patience. Adapt to change and leave
doors open; you never know where they may lead."
There is the typical composer that first comes to mind, one who creates
music that will be presented in a concert setting or on a CD or cassette.
The composer may work alone or as part of a symphony company. They may collaborate
with other musicians, vocalists, songwriters, or lyricists.
Composers work with every musical genre and every musical instrument. You
know that song that is being played over and over and over on your local radio
station? A composer probably contributed at some stage of its creation.
Composers can also work in business, advertising, public relations or other
fields. That music you hear before the news, the jingles on television commercials,
and the tune that starts playing when you enter a corporate website were all
created by music composers. Companies can either retain a composer as part
of their permanent staff or contract out.
The entertainment industry is a huge employer of composers. Movie scores
and television theme songs are just a few examples of a composer leaving their
For those interested in composing for films, composer Tony Randall has
some advice. "Try to imagine how the movie would be with different music,"
"Not all good composers are good film composers, just as the person who
writes a hit heavy metal tune may not be able to write a good country tune.
Marrying music and images is very different than writing music without images
As each and every piano teacher has said at least once, "practice, practice,
and more practice."
"Write, try to hear the piece performed, learn from the experience," advises
music professor Dana Wilson. "And write again keeping in mind what you just
learned. Toward that end, write for yourself or a friend to perform the work.
"Composition is a craft that requires constant watering and pruning and
fertilizing and even transplanting -- sometimes even in miserable weather.
But it is a wonderful way to experience life."