The Fundamentals of Becoming a Great Composer

E. R. Lucis

To those walking the path of a composer

As you improve your skills as a composer, you will have a wider variety of techniques under your belt, and will be able to create longer pieces. The ability to express one's own inner melodies using a wider palette of sounds is truly a blessing for composers.

However, if all your focus is left on the act of composition and your understanding of music is not continually growing, your music may seem sophisticated but will lack in its ability to move the hearts of men.

This book is written so that it may aid those who are making the world more beautiful through their work as composers, and explains the three skills that make up Erinn's music which are musical knowledge, instrument playing, and composition skills, and how they are each related to each other.

I hope that this book will help the readers have a more balanced understanding of music and gain a deeper appreciation for the world of music.

Music Composition Skill

The composition skill involves the ability to compose music. This skill enables one to take music and put it into a music score so that others can read the music and perform the song. It is considered a very useful and convenient skill that takes songs passed down through oral tradition and sets it into a universal format that can be read and preserved, transcending the limitations of distance and time. The skill's attractiveness has become so commonly known in Erinn, to the extent that people idealize it as the final step in the development of a composer. We now even see people who have dedicated themselves fully to composition.

However, as people began to improve in their skills, it lost its original meaning and became more of a transcription-based skill, offering better-looking scores with more elaborate and varied elements, as well as longer music. This isn't necessarily wrong, but is that all there is? While we are busy collecting different songs being passed around and transcribing those songs into a score, haven't we forgotten something that is far more important?

That's right. Music is an expressive medium. And while we have been focusing our energies on a mere side issue, we have lost the proper understanding of music and have begun to mistake the combination of form and technique as music. So, then, what can we do to correct such a trend?

Instrument Playing

I suggest that all musicians, including composers, return to instrument playing to make restitutions in this area.

Playing an instrument is certainly very important for both bards and instrumentalists. Understanding various instrumental characteristics, studying the techniques and falling in love with the beauty of such performance practices is a great foundation for composers.

It is no wonder then, that a piece of music that was written by someone else who's never had the experience of writing their own music, or studied the various sounds of instruments, and knows only to rely on musical theory to write scores after scores in utter indolence, should have no trace of beauty in it.

One cannot experience the joy of musical composition by merely training one's compositional skills. In fact, some reach such accomplishments through excellence in performance. The joy of the perfect performance, as well as instrumentally expressing one's score in sound, then to share that with others and to see the faces of the audience who are simply overjoyed by the music which they have just heard, is indeed the joy and reward of being a composer.

Cultivating your Musical Knowledge

Musical knowledge refers to knowing how music comes together, as well as all the knowledge inherent in understanding music and sound. Musical knowledge also refers to the body of knowledge including areas in which preceding composers had struggled with, and their solutions to those musical predicaments.

This is why musical knowledge is met with such welcome by composers who are often left at a deadend when it comes to composing music. Musical knowledge adds appeal to the music by composers, and offers a context in which to consider the direction in which music should go. It also offers a direction of one's own career as a composer.

If composition and instrumental performance are areas in which a musician challenges oneself to express him/herself using sound, then musical knowledge is the guide to help see a composer through the process of reaching one's objectives as a composer.

Music's Magical Effects

Those who are able to perceive the truth in these three areas are able to think about music and this world in terms of their contituent parts and can, as a result, see unintended magical effects. This is what is known as magical music.

Music's magical effects are said to have been discovered by Anne, a musician from Druid. They say that people who have reached Rank 9 in Musical Knowledge will start to record melodies with magical effects on the scores. A composer who has learned the point of intersection between music and magical effects is given a wider variety of effects as his or her composition skills increase. Those with higher instrumental skills will have a greater ability to unleash the magical effects of the score.

Musical scholars who have studied Anne have categorized Anne's magical music in three main areas.

*Stat Increases
Instrumentalists and their party get stat increases through music. Increases in strength, defense, luck, protection, dexterity, and intelligence, etc. have been reported.

Recovers instrumentalists and their party's life, stamina, or mana through music.

Improves an archer's bowmanship through music. Instigates a battle using music's beats and reduces the length of time in battle. Tame a wild animal or monster with music. Using music, grant supernatural powers to own party.

The scholarship on the magical use of music cannot be pursued to a great extent, mostly due to the heavy resistance from doctrinarian musicians who consider the use of magic in music as sinful. However, as long as recreating joy and happiness serves as the basic tenet and goal of writing music, there is no reason to prohibit the magical effects of music or label it as sinful.

So, the real question is whether truly accomplished musicians think of magical music as positive or negative. I will leave that judgment up to whomever is reading this book.

Final Word of Caution

Creating music that stirs the soul will require compositional techniques, too. But composers should also study and practice instrumental playing which helps the composer to have a deeper understanding of instruments, plus an in-depth study of melodic meaning and ways to stir the soul with music. Also, they should study the kinds of things that affected preceding generations of composers.

Composers who are able to find their own significance in the journey of becoming a composer through such processes will be blessed by God in their ability to infuse their scores with magical power. Whether or not to use the power is entirely up to the composer.

However, you must keep this in mind. If you are studying music for the magical powers, you are sure to be disappointed. If that is the case, you might as well just learn to do magic instead, as studying music will have no significance to you. I am more heavily inclined neither toward magical music nor formal music, but in any case, I cannot be supportive of the position of using music for strategic purposes. For those pursuing a musical journey, that is a road that they must not even consider.

Everything begins with the passion and drive to create a great piece of music. I hope you will remember that great composers do not limit themselves to the pursuit of writing technically perfect music, but work simultaneously on developing their performance as well as musical knowledge to achieve that end.

If you are at a loss in your journey to becoming a composer, and you have put aside your studies to gain additional musical knowledge for the pursuit of technical writing, then it is not too late.

I recommend that you put in as much energy and passion into learning musical knowledge and into performing your instrument as much as actual writing. The road is not easy, and indeed, looks challenging, but that is the road that will, in the end, take you to musical greatness.