Do you need to play piano by ear to compose music?

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  • Me2
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    Using just the keyboard, you might be able to "compose" simple formula-based music, but music of any sophistication would be impossible if you could not play by ear.  If you were to sing a melody while playing accompanying chords, however, you would in a sense be "playing" your voice by ear (not necessarily knowing which notes you were singing).

    A composer writing without an instrument — that is, just putting notes on the page — is playing by ear as well, but the sounds in this case are internalized, as Mordent and Todd point out.  One doesn't need to be "really good", although thorough ear-training is certainly needed.

  • Todd
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    Short answer is sort of, To compose you need to hear the music in your head. What that means is that it doesn't require a piano, though that is a good medium for thought and ideas. You get percussion and music at the same time. A good ear is a great thing. But, studying Tonic and Atonic theory is not a bad thing. I'm pretty sure the best composers spend a lot of time listening to other music.

  • 3 months ago

    Not at all. Berlioz apparently was rubbish at the piano, and primarily composed using the guitar. Other composers have been said to be 'poor pianists' (Ravel, Wagner, Sibelius), but this is the world of professional classical music, so they were probably pretty damn good - just not as good as people practising 40 hours a day.

    Irving Berlin, one of the most successful musicians of the early-mid 20th century, could barely read music (certainly at the start of his career) and could play the piano pretty well - but only in F# major. That didn't stop him writing White Christmas or God Bless America. The Beatles were also musically illiterate (again they may have learned a bit more later on) and, although they sometimes wrote songs at the piano, also wrote from other instruments.

    Most really good composers can simply HEAR the music in their head - they don't need to hear it on an instrument. How would Beethoven have written anything in later life otherwise? Of course, to get to that stage you need to be familiar with how music works - so you'll need to have a pretty in-depth understanding of the way the music sounds, even if not the theory behind the way it works.

    • Me2
      Lv 7
      3 months agoReport

      Berlioz said in a memoir that not having the usual piano techniques drilled in freed him of their conventions (the "seduction of commonplaces") — to "compose in silence" allowed greater creativity. 

  • 3 months ago

    You will need to notate your music at some point, if you want it played by others, especially trained professionals. There are many software programs, at various levels of components and price, that will assist you. But you will often audiate - hear things in your head that you wish to use in your composition - but again, better write those down before they evaporate! Audition also means the ability see see printed music, and without actually playing it n any instrument, HEAR it in your head. Think of the X and O patterns a football coach draws - he and the players see PEOPLE at those positions. Many people will write down something simple and linear, and say they *composed*; The true art of composition is learning how to develop your materials - both expanding and pruning, so that you get the best possible outcome.The more music theory you know, up to a point ( you really do not need to super arcane stuff) the better off you will be.

    //

    Yeah, we all know the stories about the old composers with limited skills. Their talent far outweighed their shortcomings in technique. But if you intend to have others play your music, or ever get anything published - learn to read music and get decent piano skills. Not concert level - just functional. Are there people TODAY who are short on legitimate writing skills? Sure - but then have technology/software and other people who know how to run it, who will take care of that. And for public consumption of POPULAR - great looks and an outrageous personality beats musical talent every day, it seems.

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  • 3 months ago

    You can make up tunes, but how would you write them down? You need to play SOMETHING.

    The keyboard is sort of like a musical typewriter. If you want to show someone how a tune goes, it's better to tap it out on the piano, one note at a time, than to hum it. But you could play it on a ukulele or a contra-bassoon or a harmonica just as well, it's just that most people use a keyboard. It's every musician's second instrument.

    Jackie Gleason (if you're old enough to remember him) 'composed' most of the music on his TV program in the 50s/60s. He was entirely musically illiterate. He'd come up with the tune and then tap it out for his musical director (bandleader Sammy Spear) who would write it down, arrange it for the orchestra, etc. Gleason even conducted his music at concerts, but all he was doing was waving a stick to keep time. There were whole albums of music 'written' by him. But lots of movie stars and big media personalities have done that.

    • Me2
      Lv 7
      3 months agoReport

      "He'd come up with the tune and then tap it out for his musical director (bandleader Sammy Spear)"  Actually, he'd sing it to one of Spear's assistants or another musician, who would transcribe it and work out a rudimentary chord chart.  Music directors are busy people...  

  • Pearl
    Lv 7
    3 months ago

    i dont think so

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