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Contemporary Classical Composer Sabrina Pena Young Official Music Site, Filmmaker, Speaker, Writer: Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2

Contemporary Classical Composer Sabrina Pena Young Official Music Site, Filmmaker, Speaker, Writer: Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2: Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2 After the incredibly positive feedback that I had from Music Secrets: How to Write an Ope...



Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 2


After the incredibly positive feedback that I had from Music Secrets: How to Write an Opera, Part 1I thought I would talk a little bit about the composition angle of writing, at least how I do it in regards to vocal music. Here's a quick primer for anyone learning some of the basics of writing vocal music for opera, musicals, classical music, etc. 

1. The Sketch
I have had several great teachers in my life - Dr. Clare Shore, Hilton Jones, Dr. Kristine Burns,Paul Reller, Dr. Frederick Kaufman, Dr. Orlando Garcia, Chuck Owen, etc. My composition prof (and USF SYCOM guru) Paul Reller helped me develop the composition technique that I have had for years. 


When I have the time to go through the entire composition process (because sometimes I have to skip a step or two for deadlines), I will start out with pencil, paper, and a piano (or keyboard, in my case). This may not fit your music style, but this is how I start it. For an opera, I may already have the song playing in my head. For Libertaria, for example, the song "Metal Ink" essentially ended up just like I heard it in my head. I sketch the melody down or the motif. I'm a percussionist, so I often think in terms of mood, rhythm, and timbre, and less in harmonic structure. I improvise off of this melody or motif, inverting it, making slight changes, making it darker or more mysterious, making it lighter sounding or cheerier, depending on the overall emotions needed for the song.... 

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