Most music is imagined first and then written down as a composition in a SCORE. The music might be vocal or instrumental, for a single singer or a big orchestra, and might last for a few minutes or a few hours. A hit single on the charts, a movie soundtrack, and a Mozart symphony are all compositions.
Table 37. KEY COMPOSERS
|1685–1750||Johann Sebastian Bach|
|1685–1759||George Frideric Handel|
|1770–1827||Ludwig van Beethoven|
Sometimes composers are inspired by an existing melody or just a few notes that they have heard. Sometimes composers express the mood or emotions they are feeling at that time. People, plays, poems, novels, paintings, and landscapes can all give composers ideas for music. In sacred music, inspiration is believed to come from God.
Compositions are lyric (with words) or instrumental (without words). A song usually consists of several verses and a repeated chorus. An instrumental may have more than one movement (section). A concerto, for an orchestra and one or more soloists, usually has three movements. A symphony, a large-scale orchestral composition, has four or five movements.
Some composers write the music first, inspiring their lyricist (songwriter) to then write the words. Other composers rely on words to give them the inspiration to write music. Words and music can also be written together by a single composer or a team of musicians.
Some music, such as jazz, is largely improvised (made up on the spot). The musicians start with an agreed upon written melody but then individually or collectively use it as a basis to create new, unwritten music. Improvisation has always been part of folk and blues, where lyrics and melodies are often improvised.
Computers have made composition faster. Composers can use software to notate a score instead of writing by hand. They can also record melodies using electronic instruments and build up a piece gradually.
A score is the written document of a composition. It shows the tempo (speed), rhythm, key, and instruments. Scores used to be written out by hand, but most are now produced on computer.
A full score is the complete composition for every musician, while the parts of a score are just those notes an individual musician or singer has to perform. The conductor uses a comprehensive copy of the entire composition, but each musician or singer only requires the part that shows their role.