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DanielB
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May 31, 2012 - 8:58 am
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Back when I was in college, for composition class as well as recording class, the prof required us to have a "Source list".  If we were working on an arrangement or recording of a known song, it had to include versions of the song other people (professionals) had done.  If we were working on an original piece, then he wanted us to have pieces that were similar in terms of theory, playing style, genre, or at least "inspirational".  After the source list was approved, then we had to dig up recordings and some sort of a portable player so we could carry them around with us.  He would check in class occasionally to see if we had them on our person.

The idea was to "immerse" in the music by listening to it every day (preferably more than once a day) to develop an ear for the nuances and to learn the pieces of music thoroughly "by heart", because he felt it was helpful when working up an arrangement or learning how to record. 

I have such a list for violin these days, which has pieces I'm currently working on, or ones I want to be able to play eventually.  It's pretty easy to do as a youtube playlist with our lovely modern technology, and I also carry at last some of them around on an mp3 player. I listen it through a few times a day.  Usually not all at once, but a few songs at a time.  Sometimes if I am reading or I am chatting online, I run that playlist as background music.

So dose anyone else do anything similar?

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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NoirVelours
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May 31, 2012 - 11:18 am
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But by listening to your sources all the time don't you think your own composition would end up as a blend copy of them? I know all music written is influenced by what already exist but unless it's your goal to lets say write a bluegrass stylle tune, would it be more interesting to be the least influenced possible and clear your mind to come up with something a bit different?

"It can sing like a bird, it can cry like a human being, it can be very angry, it can be all that humans are" Maxim Vengerov

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DanielB
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May 31, 2012 - 12:25 pm
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Good points, NV. 

With a song that is traditional that I am learning (for example) I am usually more interested in coming up with an interpretation that feels true for me to the original than I am with it being too different. 

With writing a new original piece, I would use a wider variety of sources to avoid being influenced too much by just one of them.  But to use your example, if I were trying to write a bluegrass tune, I would pretty much have to be listening to a lot of bluegrass anyway.  I would spend a lot of time listening to the music and absorbing the culture any way I could.  Which wouldn't be too hard in my case, since I did grow up hearing bluegrass often because my parents and other relatives were fond of it.  But if I tried to just write a bluegrass tune "cold" from maybe knowing a little about the technical theory and etc but not listening to and enjoying the music, it would be too much like trying to do it as an outsider, and I would worry it wouldn't sound much like bluegrass when I was done.

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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