Musical composition, or simply composition, can refer to an original piece or work of music , either vocal or instrumental, the structure of a musical piece, or to the process of creating or writing a new piece of music. People who create new compositions are called composers. Composers of primarily songs are usually called songwriters; with songs, the person who writes lyrics for a song is the lyricist. In many cultures, including Western classical music, the act of composing typically includes the creation of music notation, such as a sheet music "score," which is then performed by the composer or by other instrumental musicians or singers. In popular music and traditional music, songwriting may involve the creation of a basic outline of the song, called the lead sheet, which sets out the melody, lyrics and chord progression. In classical music, orchestration (choosing the instruments of a large music ensemble such as an orchestra which will play the different parts of music, such as the melody, accompaniment, countermelody, bassline and so on) is typically done by the composer, but in musical theatre and in pop music, songwriters may hire an arranger to do the orchestration. In some cases, a pop or traditional songwriter may not use written notation at all, and instead compose the song in their mind and then play, sing and/or record it from memory. In jazz and popular music, notable sound recordings by influential performers are given the weight that written or printed scores play in classical music.
Although a musical composition often uses musical notation and has a single author, this is not always the case. A work of music can have multiple composers, which often occurs in popular music when all of the members of a band collaborates to write a song, or in musical theatre, when one person writes the melodies, a second person writes the lyrics, and a third person orchestrates the songs. A piece of music can also be composed with words, images, or, since the 20th century, with computer programs that explain or notate how the singer or musician should create musical sounds. Examples range from 20th century avant-garde music that uses graphic notation, to text compositions such as Karlheinz Stockhausen's Aus den sieben Tagen, to computer programs that select sounds for musical pieces. Music that makes heavy use of randomness and chance is called aleatoric music, and is associated with contemporary composers active in the 20th century, such as John Cage, Morton Feldman, and Witold Lutosławski. A more commonly known example of chance-based music is the sound of wind chimes jingling in a breeze. The study of composition has traditionally been dominated by examination of methods and practice of Western classical music, but the definition of composition is broad enough to include the creation of popular music and traditional music songs and instrumental pieces, and to include spontaneously improvised works like those of free jazz performers and African percussionists such as Ewe drummers.
Although in the 2000s, composition is considered to consist of the manipulation of each aspect of music (harmony, melody, form, rhythm, and timbre), according to Jean-Benjamin de Laborde (1780, 2:12):
Composition consists in two things only. The first is the ordering and disposing of several sounds...in such a manner that their succession pleases the ear. This is what the Ancients called melody. The second is the rendering audible of two or more simultaneous sounds in such a manner that their combination is pleasant. This is what we call harmony, and it alone merits the name of composition.
Since the invention of sound recording, a classical piece or popular song may exist as a recording. If music is composed before being performed, music can be performed from memory (the norm for instrumental soloists in concerto performances and singers in opera shows and art song recitals), by reading written musical notation (the norm in large ensembles, such as orchestras, concert bands and choirs), or through a combination of both methods. For example, the principal cello player in an orchestra may read most of the accompaniment parts in a symphony, where she is playing tutti parts, but then memorize an exposed solo, in order to be able to watch the conductor. Compositions comprise a huge variety of musical elements, which vary widely from between genres and cultures. Popular music genres after about 1960 make extensive use of electric and electronic instruments, such as electric guitar and electric bass. Electric and electronic instruments are used in contemporary classical music compositions and concerts, albeit to a lesser degree than in popular music. Music from the Baroque music era (1600–1750), for example, used only acoustic and mechanical instruments such as strings, brass, woodwinds, timpani and keyboard instruments such as harpsichord and pipe organ. A 2000s-era pop band may use electric guitar played with electronic effects through a guitar amplifier, a digital synthesizer keyboard and electronic drums.
Piece is a "general, non-technical term [that began to be] applied mainly to instrumental compositions from the 17th century onwards....other than when they are taken individually 'piece' and its equivalents are rarely used of movements in sonatas or symphonies....composers have used all these terms [in their different languages] frequently in compound forms [e.g. Klavierstück]....In vocal music...the term is most frequently used for operatic ensembles..."
These techniques draw parallels from visual art's formal elements. Sometimes, the entire form of a piece is through-composed, meaning that each part is different, with no repetition of sections; other forms include strophic, rondo, verse-chorus, and others. Some pieces are composed around a set scale, where the compositional technique might be considered the usage of a particular scale. Others are composed during performance (see improvisation), where a variety of techniques are also sometimes used. Some are used from particular songs which are familiar.
The scale for the notes used, including the mode and tonic note, is important in tonal musical composition. Similarly, music of the Middle East employs compositions that are rigidly based on a specific mode (maqam) often within improvisational contexts, as does Indian classical music in both the Hindustani and the Carnatic system.
In the music tradition of India there are many forms of musical composition. To some degree this is on account of there being many musical styles prevalent in different regions of the country, such as Hindustani music, Carnatic music, Bengali music, and so forth. Another important influence in composition is its link with folk music, both indigenous and also from musical culture of Arabia, Persia, and Bengal.
In the Hindustani musical tradition, Drupad (originally in Sanskrit and later adaptations in Hindi and Braj Bhasha) is among one of the ancient compositions and had formed the base for other forms in this music tradition such as khyal, thumri and raga. In the Karnatak music tradition the compositions are in the form of Kriti, varanam and padam.
As technology has developed in the 20th and 21st century, new methods of music composition have come about. EEG headsets have also been used to create music by interpreting the brainwaves of musicians. This method has been used for Project Mindtunes, which involved collaborating disabled musicians with DJ Fresh, and also by artists Lisa Park and Masaki Batoh.
The task of adapting a composition for different musical ensembles is called arranging or orchestration, may be undertaken by the composer or separately by an arranger based on the composer's core composition. Based on such factors, composers, orchestrators and/or arrangers must decide upon the instrumentation of the original work. In the 2010s, the contemporary composer can virtually write for almost any combination of instruments, ranging from a string section, wind and brass sections used in standard orchestras to electronic instruments such as synthesizers. Some common group settings include music for full orchestra (consisting of strings, woodwinds, brass and percussion), concert band (which consists of larger sections and greater diversity of woodwind, brass, and percussion instruments than are usually found in the orchestra), or a chamber group (a small number of instruments, but at least two). The composer may also choose to write for only one instrument, in which case this is called a solo. Solos may be unaccompanied, as with works for solo piano or solo cello, or solos may be accompanied by another instrument or by an ensemble.
Composers are not limited to writing only for instruments, they may also decide to write for voice (including choral works, some symphonies (e.g., Beethoven's ninth symphony, operas, and musicals). Composers can also write for percussion instruments or electronic instruments. Alternatively, as is the case with musique concrète, the composer can work with many sounds often not associated with the creation of music, such as typewriters, sirens, and so forth. In Elizabeth Swados' Listening Out Loud, she explains how a composer must know the full capabilities of each instrument and how they must complement each other, not compete. She gives an example of how in an earlier composition of hers, she had the tuba playing with the piccolo. This would clearly drown the piccolo out. Each instrument chosen to be in a piece must have a reason for being there that adds to what the composer is trying to convey within the work.
Even when music is notated relatively precisely, as in Western classical music from the 1750s onwards, there are many decisions that a performer and/or conductor has to make, because notation does not specify all of the elements of musical performance. The process of deciding how to perform music that has been previously composed and notated is termed "interpretation." Different performers' or conductor's interpretations of the same work of music can vary widely, in terms of the tempos that are chosen and the playing or singing style or phrasing of the melodies. Composers and songwriters who present their own music in a concert are interpreting their songs, just as much as those who perform the music of others. The standard body of choices and techniques present at a given time and a given place is referred to as performance practice, whereas interpretation is generally used to mean the individual choices of a performer.
Copyright is a government-granted monopoly which, for a limited time, gives a composition's owner—such as a composer or a composer's employer, in the case of work for hire—a set of exclusive rights to the composition, such as the exclusive right to publish sheet music describing the composition and how it should be performed. Copyright requires anyone else wanting to use the composition in the same ways to obtain a license (permission) from the owner. In some jurisdictions, the composer can assign copyright, in part, to another party. Often, composers who aren't doing business as publishing companies themselves will temporarily assign their copyright interests to formal publishing companies, granting those companies a license to control both the publication and the further licensing of the composer's work. Contract law, not copyright law, governs these composer–publisher contracts, which ordinarily involve an agreement on how profits from the publisher's activities related to the work will be shared with the composer in the form of royalties.
The scope of copyright in general is defined by various international treaties and their implementations, which take the form of national statutes, and in common law jurisdictions, case law. These agreements and corresponding body of law distinguish between the rights applicable to sound recordings and the rights applicable to compositions. For example, Beethoven's 9th Symphony is in the public domain, but in most of the world, recordings of particular performances of that composition usually are not. For copyright purposes, song lyrics and other performed words are considered part of the composition, even though they may have different authors and copyright owners than the non-lyrical elements. Many jurisdictions allow for compulsory licensing of certain uses of compositions. For example, copyright law may allow a record company to pay a modest fee to a copyright collective to which the composer or publisher belongs, in exchange for the right to make and distribute CDs containing a cover band's performance of the composer or publisher's compositions. The license is "compulsory" because the copyright owner cannot refuse or set terms for the license. Copyright collectives also typically manage the licensing of public performances of compositions, whether by live musicians or by transmitting sound recordings over radio or the Internet.
Even though the first US copyright laws did not include musical compositions, they were added as part of the Copyright Act of 1831. According to the circular issued by United States Copy Right Office on Copy Right Registration of Musical Compositions and Sound Recordings, a musical composition is defined as "A musical composition consists of music, including any accompanying words, and is normally registered as a work of the performing arts. The author of a musical composition is generally the composer, and the lyricists if any. A musical composition may be in the form of a notated copy (for example sheet music) in the form of a...record (for example cassette tape, LP, or CD). Sending a musical composition in the form of a phonorecord does not necessarily mean that there is a claim to copy right in the sound recording."
In India The Copy Right Act, 1957 prevailed for original literary, dramatic, musical and artistic work until the Copyright (Amendment) Act, 1984 was introduced. Under the amended act, a new definition has been provided for musical work which states "musical works means a work consisting of music and included any graphi notation of such work but does not included any words or any action intended to be sung, spoken or performed with the music."
Algorithmic composition is the technique of using algorithms to create music.
Algorithms (or, at the very least, formal sets of rules) have been used to compose music for centuries; the procedures used to plot voice-leading in Western counterpoint, for example, can often be reduced to algorithmic determinacy. The term can be used to describe music-generating techniques that run without ongoing human intervention, for example through the introduction of chance procedures. However through live coding and other interactive interfaces, a fully human-centric approach to algorithmic composition is possible.Some algorithms or data that have no immediate musical relevance are used by composers as creative inspiration for their music. Algorithms such as fractals, L-systems, statistical models, and even arbitrary data (e.g. census figures, GIS coordinates, or magnetic field measurements) have been used as source materials.Bassline
A bassline (also known as a bass line or bass part) is the term used in many styles of music, such as jazz, blues, funk, dub and electronic, traditional music, or classical music for the low-pitched instrumental part or line played (in jazz and some forms of popular music) by a rhythm section instrument such as the electric bass, double bass, cello, tuba or keyboard (piano, Hammond organ, electric organ, or synthesizer). In unaccompanied solo performance, basslines may simply be played in the lower register of any instrument such as guitar or piano while melody and/or further accompaniment is provided in the middle or upper register. In solo music for piano and pipe organ, these instruments have an excellent lower register that can be used to play a deep bassline. On organs, the bass line is typically played using the pedal keyboard and massive 16' and 32' bass pipes.Ciutat de Tarragona International Award for Musical Composition
The Ciutat de Tarragona International Award for Musical Composition (formerly known as Tarragona International Musical Composition Prize or Ciutat de Tarragona International Composition Competition) is a composition competition taking place yearly in Tarragona (Catalonia, Spain), organized by the Tarragona City Council. It was founded in 1993, and was accepted into the World Federation of International Music Competitions in 1996.Duet
A duet is a musical composition for two performers in which the performers have equal importance to the piece, often a composition involving two singers or two pianists. It differs from a harmony, as the performers take turns performing a solo section rather than performing simultaneously. A piece performed by two pianists performing together on the same piano is a "piano duet" or "piano four hands". A piece for two pianists performing together on separate pianos is a "piano duo".
"Duet" is also used as a verb for the act of performing a musical duet, or colloquially as a noun to refer to the performers of a duet.
A musical ensemble with more than two solo instruments or voices is called trio, quartet, quintet, sextet, septet, octet, etc.Fantasia (music)
A fantasia (Italian: [fantaˈziːa]; also English: fantasy, fancy, fantazy, phantasy, German: Fantasie, Phantasie, French: fantaisie) is a musical composition with its roots in the art of improvisation. Because of this, the fantasia, like the impromptu, seldom follows the textbook rules of any strict musical form.Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition
The Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Composition (including its previous names) has been awarded since 1960. The award is presented to the composer of an original piece of music (not an adaptation), first released during the eligibility year. In theory, any style of music is eligible for this category, but winning compositions are usually in the jazz or film score genres.
The Grammy is awarded to the composer(s) of the music, not to the performing artist, except if the artist is also the composer. There have been several minor changes to the name of the award:
In 1958 it was awarded as Best Musical Composition First Recorded and Released in 1958 (over 5 minutes duration)
In 1960 it was awarded as Best Musical Composition First Recorded and Released in 1959 (more than 5 minutes duration)
In 1962 it was awarded as Best Instrumental Theme or Instrumental Version of Song
From 1963 to 1964 and from 1967 to 1970 it was awarded as Best Instrumental Theme
In 1965 it was awarded as Best Instrumental Composition (other than jazz)
From 1971 to the present it has been awarded as Best Instrumental CompositionYears reflect the year in which the Grammy Awards were presented, for works released in the previous year.Indeterminacy (music)
Indeterminacy is a composing approach in which some aspects of a musical work are left open to chance or to the interpreter's free choice. John Cage, a pioneer of indeterminacy, defined it as "the ability of a piece to be performed in substantially different ways".
The earliest significant use of music indeterminacy features is found in many of the compositions of American composer Charles Ives in the early 20th century. Henry Cowell adopted Ives’s ideas during the 1930s, in works allowing players to arrange the fragments of music in a number of different possible sequences. Beginning in the early 1950s, the term came to refer to the (mostly American) movement which grew up around Cage. This group included the other members of the New York School. In Europe, following the introduction of the expression "aleatory music" by Meyer-Eppler, the French composer Pierre Boulez was largely responsible for popularizing the term.Kriti
Kriti is also a spelling of Crete, GreeceKriti (Sanskrit: कृति, krti) is a format of musical composition typical to Carnatic music. Kritis form the mental backbone of any typical Carnatic music concert and is the longer format of Carnatic song. "Kriti" also means Creation.Lilacs (Walker)
Lilacs for voice and orchestra (or Lilacs) is a musical composition by George T. Walker, Jr. (1922–2018) that was awarded the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for Music. The work, scored for soprano soloist and orchestra, was the unanimous choice of the Pulitzer prize jury. Walker was the first African-American composer to be awarded the prize.Walker set the 1865 poem, "When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom'd", by poet Walt Whitman. Whitman wrote the poem as an elegy to President Abraham Lincoln after his death on 15 April 1865. The composition was premiered by the Boston Symphony Orchestra on February 1, 1996. "The unanimous choice of the Music Jury, this passionate, and very American, musical composition...has a beautiful and evocative lyrical quality using words of Walt Whitman."Lyrics
Lyrics are words that make up a song usually consisting of verses and choruses. The writer of lyrics is a lyricist. The words to an extended musical composition such as an opera are, however, usually known as a "libretto" and their writer, as a "librettist". The meaning of lyrics can either be explicit or implicit. Some lyrics are abstract, almost unintelligible, and, in such cases, their explication emphasizes form, articulation, meter, and symmetry of expression. Rappers can also create lyrics (often with a variation of rhyming words) that are meant to be spoken rhythmically rather than sung.Movement (music)
A movement is a self-contained part of a musical composition or musical form. While individual or selected movements from a composition are sometimes performed separately, a performance of the complete work requires all the movements to be performed in succession. A movement is a section, "a major structural unit perceived as the result of the coincidence of relatively large numbers of structural phenomena".
A unit of a larger work that may stand by itself as a complete composition. Such divisions are usually self-contained. Most often the sequence of movements is arranged fast-slow-fast or in some other order that provides contrast.Opus number
In musical composition, the opus number is the "work number" that is assigned to a composition, or to a set of compositions, to indicate the chronological order of the composer's production. Opus numbers are used to distinguish among compositions with similar titles; the word is abbreviated as "Op." for a single work, or "Opp." when referring to more than one work.
To indicate the specific place of a given work within a music catalogue, the opus number is paired with a cardinal number; for example, Beethoven's Piano Sonata No. 14 in C-sharp minor (1801) (nicknamed Moonlight Sonata) is "Opus 27, No. 2", whose work-number identifies it as a companion piece to "Opus 27, No. 1" (Piano Sonata No. 13 in E-flat major, 1800–01), paired in same opus number, with both being subtitled Sonata quasi una Fantasia, the only two of the kind in all of Beethoven's 32 piano sonatas. Furthermore, the Piano Sonata, Op. 27 N° 2, in C-sharp minor is also catalogued as "Sonata No. 14", because it is the fourteenth sonata composed by Ludwig van Beethoven.
Given composers' inconsistent assignment of opus numbers, especially during the Baroque era (1600–1750) and the Classical era (1750–1827), musicologists have developed other catalogue-number systems; among them the Bach-Werke-Verzeichnis (BWV-number), and the Köchel-Verzeichnis (K- and KV -numbers) with which are organised the works of Johann Sebastian Bach and Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, respectively.Paul Hindemith
Paul Hindemith (; 16 November 1895 – 28 December 1963) was a prolific German composer, violist, violinist, teacher and conductor. In the 1920s, he became a major advocate of the Neue Sachlichkeit (new objectivity) style of music. Notable compositions include his song cycle Das Marienleben (1923), Der Schwanendreher for viola and orchestra (1935), and opera Mathis der Maler (1938). Hindemith's most popular work, both on record and in the concert hall, is likely the Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber, written in 1943.Premiere
A premiere or première is the debut (first public presentation) of a play, film, dance, or musical composition.A work will often have many premières: a world première (the first time it is shown anywhere in the world) and its first presentation in each country. When a work originates in a country that speaks a different language from that in which it is receiving its national or international première, it is possible to have two premières for the same work in the same country—for example, the play The Maids by the French dramatist Jean Genet received its British première (which also happened to be its world première) in 1952, in a production given in the French language. Four years later, it was staged again, this time in English, which was its English-language première in Britain.Prix de Rome
The Prix de Rome (pronounced [pʁi də ʁɔm]) or Grand Prix de Rome was a French scholarship for arts students, initially for painters and sculptors, that was established in 1663 during the reign of Louis XIV of France. Winners were awarded a bursary that allowed them to stay in Rome for three to five years at the expense of the state. The prize was extended to architecture in 1720, music in 1803, and engraving in 1804. The prestigious award was abolished in 1968 by André Malraux, the Minister of Culture.Songwriter
A songwriter is a professional that writes lyrics or composes musical compositions for songs. A songwriter can also be called a composer, although the latter term tends to be used mainly for individuals from the classical music genre and film scoring, but is also associated with writing and composing the original musical composition or musical bed. A songwriter that writes the lyrics/words are referred to as lyricist. The pressure from the music industry to produce popular hits means that songwriting is often an activity for which the tasks are distributed between a number of people. For example, a songwriter who excels at writing lyrics might be paired with a songwriter with the task of creating original melodies. Pop songs may be written by group members from the band or by staff writers – songwriters directly employed by music publishers. Some songwriters serve as their own music publishers, while others have outside publishers.The old-style apprenticeship approach to learning how to write songs is being supplemented by university degrees and college diplomas and "rock schools". Knowledge of modern music technology (sequencers, synthesizers, computer sound editing), songwriting elements and business skills are now often necessary requirements for a songwriter. Several music colleges offer songwriting diplomas and degrees with music business modules. Since songwriting and publishing royalties can be substantial sources of income, particularly if a song becomes a hit record; legally, in the US, songs written after 1934 may be copied only by the authors. The legal power to grant these permissions may be bought, sold or transferred. This is governed by international copyright law.Songwriters can be employed to write either the lyrics or the music directly for or alongside a performing artist, or they present songs to A&R, publishers, agents and managers for consideration. Song pitching can be done on a songwriter's behalf by their publisher or independently using tip sheets like RowFax, the MusicRow publication and SongQuarters. Skills associated with song-writing include entrepreneurism and creativity.Standard (music)
In music, a standard is a musical composition of established popularity, considered part of the "standard repertoire" of one or several genres. Even though the standard repertoire of a given genre consists of a dynamic and partly subjective set of songs, these can be identified by having been performed or recorded by a variety of musical acts, often with different arrangements. In addition, standards are extensively quoted by other works and commonly serve as the basis for musical improvisation. Standards may "cross over" from one genre's repertoire to another's; for example, many jazz standards have entered the pop repertoire, and many blues standards have entered the rock repertoire.
Standards exist in the classical, popular and folk music traditions of all cultures. In the context of Western classical music, the standard repertoire constitutes most of what is considered the "teaching canon", i.e. the compositions that students learn in their academic training. The standard repertoire varies according to the different eras, movements and scenes within a genre, meaning that the extent to which a given composition is considered a standard or "repertoire piece" may vary greatly. However, some repertoires (e.g. concert piano) have become particularly static, giving rise to a divide between "standard-repertoire performers" and contemporary music advocates.Tristia (Berlioz)
Tristia, Op. 18 is a musical work consisting of three short pieces for chorus and orchestra by the French composer Hector Berlioz. Apart from its title, it has nothing to do with the collection of Latin poems by Ovid (the word tristia in Latin means 'sad things'). The individual works were composed at different times and published together in 1852. Berlioz associated them in his mind with Shakespeare's Hamlet, one of his favourite plays. They were never performed during the composer's lifetime.Violin sonata
A violin sonata is a musical composition for violin accompanied by a keyboard instrument and in earlier periods with a bass instrument doubling the keyboard bass line. The violin sonata developed from a simple baroque form with no fixed format to a standardised and complex classical form. Since the romantic age some composers have pushed the boundaries of both the classical format as well as the use of the instruments.
Musical composition and composers
|History of music and|
|Education and study|
|By sovereign state|