Third prize winner in Ages 15-18 division
Winning composition: The Day We Met
How old were you when you started composing?
I was 11 years old when I started composing.
What do you love most about composing music?
I love the freedom that I have when composing a piece of music! There may be certain criteria and certain rules that I have to follow, but it's my piece and there are no wrong answers.
What was your process/approach to composing your piece for YWCC?
First, I brainstormed and wrote down certain ideas that I had for the composition, such as the mood, the melody alternating from one part to another, the rolled chords (inspired by Joe Hisaishi's works) in the beginning, etc. I also listened to piano trios and did some research on how a piano trio is typically written and garnered some ideas from what I found.
Then, I would spend time at my computer and would tinker around at the piano, trying to figure out the melody first while notating it. Sometimes, I would hum an idea in the voice recorder app on my phone when an idea came to me. Once I had the melody fully written, I decided the times a certain part would have the melody and when the other parts would be accompanying the melody. After divvying up the melody to my liking, I created accompaniment based on what I thought sounded good in the software I was using.
I wrote this piece for a very good friend of mine, so she was my main inspiration for this piece. We became friends during remote learning, and I thought that was special, so I made this to capture that feeling of an unlikely, but strong friendship.
What is your favorite instrument to compose for and why?
My favorite instrument to compose for is the piano because it's such a versatile and resonant instrument. It's also easy for me to compose for piano because I've been playing piano for over ten years, so I know how to write for it. I know what it can and can't do, and I know how to make it stand out in my compositions.
What is your advice to someone who is interested in composing a piece but does not know where to start?
The very first step is to consume music. In order to create something, you must consume it! Try finding a new genre if you're feeling uninspired, or stick to what you like, then make observations on what the artist does in their music. Research what elements make their style unique, and draw inspiration from that.
The next step would be to sign up for a music notation software (flat.io, musecore, noteflight, etc) if you know a little music theory and if you feel comfortable with reading and writing scores. Spend some time tinkering around on the instrument you play or try humming a simple theme. Notate it in your software and try expanding on it by adding more instrument parts and coming up with new sections. Or, come up with a chord progression and build on top of that. When I first started, I liked coming up with chord progressions and then improvising a melody on top of it.
For people who don't know much about music theory, purchase or download a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). There are some great and simple ones out there like Logic Pro, Garageband, Soundtrap, Bandlab, Presonus Studio One, and many more. What you can do in here is use a variety of loops to aid you with the composing process. You can also create your own elements by using the piano roll to create chords and enter notes. Go based off of what sounds good to you and create from there. In a DAW, you can also learn mixing & mastering techniques to make your compositions sound professional.