Musical composition  

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This page Musical composition is part of the music series.Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".
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This page Musical composition is part of the music series.
Illustration: Sheet music to "Buffalo Gals" (c. 1840), a traditional song.
Maxim: "writing about music is like dancing about architecture".

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Musical composition, music 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 musicians. 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 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 members of a band collaborate 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.

Composer

A composer (Latin com+ponere, literally "one who puts together") is a person who creates music, either by musical notation or oral tradition, for interpretation and performance, or through direct manipulation of sonic material through electronic media. The level of distinction between composers and other musicians varies, which affects issues such as copyright and the deference given to individual interpretations of a particular piece of music. In the development of European music, the function of composing music initially did not have much greater importance than that of performing it.

The preservation of individual compositions did not receive enormous attention and musicians generally had no qualms about modifying compositions for performance. Over time, however, the written notation of the composer came to be treated as strict instructions from which performers should not deviate without good practical or artistic reason. Performers do, however, play the music and interpret it in a way that is all their own. In fact, in the concerto form, the soloist would often compose and perform a cadenza as a way to express their individual interpretation of the piece.

In as much as the role of the composer in western art music has seen continued solidification, in alternative idioms (i.e. jazz, experimental music) it has in some ways become increasingly complex or vague. For instance, in certain contexts - the line between composer and performer, sound designer, arranger, producer, and other roles - can be quite blurred.

The term "composer" is often used to refer to composers of instrumental music, such as those found in classical, jazz or other forms of art and traditional music. In popular and folk music, the composer is usually called a songwriter, since the music generally takes the form of a song. Since the mid-20th century, the term has expanded to accommodate creators of electroacoustic music, in which composers directly create sonic material in any of the various electronic media. This is distinct from instrumental composition, where the work is represented by a musical score to be interpreted by performers.

Famous composers have tended to cluster in certain cities throughout history. Based on over 12,000 prominent composers listed in Grove Music Online and using word count measurement techniques the most important cities for classical music can be quantitatively identified.

Paris has been the main hub for classical music of all times. It was ranked fifth in the 15th and 16th centuries but first in the 17th to 20th centuries inclusive. London was the second most meaningful city: eight in the 15th century, seventh in the 16th, fifth in the 17th, second in the 18th and 19th centuries, and fourth in the 20th century. Rome topped the rankings in the 15th century, dropped to second in the 16th and 17th centuries, eight in the 18th century, ninth in the 19th century but back at sixth in the 20th century. Berlin appears in the top ten ranking only in the 18th century, and was ranked third most important city in both the 19th and 20th centuries. New York entered the rankings in the 19th century (at fifth place) and stood at second rank in the 20th century.

The patterns are very similar for a sample of 522 top composers.


See also




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Musical composition" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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