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Making Outlines/Drafts for Compositions

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This is something I've been wondering for a while. In a lot of media (whether it's music, art, writing, etc), people always say you should allow yourself to make crap. When people say that, I usually think of making outlines or drafts. My question to you all is this: Do you make drafts of original compositions or remixes until you get what you want in the final product?

I start a lot of ideas but never finish them because I don't think they're good enough, but I'm trying to get over that. Does drafting help the process?

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Usually, drafts or outlines can help you gather all of your ideas in one place before you actually start to write, but there's really no 'correct' way to do a draft or outline. You could start with a chord progression, a melodic passage, or even a simple arpeggio that you really like, and then from there see how you would want to continue. You don't even have to have anything of worth produced; I've written at least one outline for a piece basically spelling out what I wanted to do within it, without writing a single passage of notes to accompany. Usually, unless you have a really crystal clear idea of what you want to do in your head, some type of draft or outline is a good thing to have, so you have some type of home base to return to in case you end up not liking where the piece is headed. That also helps you isolate what you liked and what you disliked, and then separate the two, helping you further improve yourself as a musician.

I will note that when people say you should allow yourself to make crap, that more or less means not to be worried that every single piece is your magnum opus. You don't have to write something you like all of the time, and by just writing every day, you'll further hone your technique and skills as a writer, which will help you figure out what you like and don't like, so that you'll be able to write music that you enjoy more often.

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I usually work from rough paper sketches because I find that I work more efficiently if I make big picture decisions before I start trying to do detail work in a sequencer. Usually, I try to have at least the complete form and some of the melodic content decided before I move to the computer.

My sketches tend to look something like this:


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heeh I wish I was good enough to write standard notation. I used to write my beats that way on paper tho, especially for creating polyrythmics with other instruments. Made a few tunes with those pieces of paper.

You say you don't finish your tunes. Well i started gathering everything I wrote and I could take a melody I'd have written 10 years ago and make something with it so don't worry, you never know when an idea will spark with an old draft.

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I make rough drafts and sketches all the time.

There are two reasons why I would create a sketch first:

1) I often times compose through exploration and improvisation, so I will record my improvisation sessions as I articulate ideas so that I can reference them later. Sometimes these sessions result in fairly formed concepts or ideas. If I really like a theme or motive, I will write it down on paper so that I can reference it without occupying screen real estate later on.

2) If the music demands some measure of precision or complexity with respect to blocking musical ideas or instrumentation, I will compose a fairly precise preliminary sketch on the piano roll to monitor my orchestration across registers.

Here are a couple of examples:

2008, Wonderland Adventures

Wonderfalls Piano Sketch

Wonderfalls Delivered Version

Here simply used the initial sketch to seed my ideas, and from there composed the rest of the work, only blocking out on paper sections of the composition.

[A] - - [C] - [A alt] - [b Alt] - [D] - loop

2012, Fix the Leaks

Phixing with Fysics Piano Sketch

Phixing with Fysics Final Version

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