If you have truly chosen composition as the artistic focal point in your life then congratulations, for you are now on the righteous path to resounding immortality. Whether you actually get there will be up to you though. Regardless, it will be a long and arduous journey, for musical creation is a most demanding and time-consuming activity. But of course, it is also one of the most rewarding in its outcome. It doesn’t matter if your writing is aimed at songs, solo pieces, chamber music, film scores or complete symphonic works; the process of composition is still the same in essence. While it is an art form that requires a good deal of skill and talent, the truth is composition can be as simple or as complex as the author wishes. It all depends on the purposes of the composer, but don’t forget even a highly capable musician will only do so much as his inspiration allows him. Likewise, a composer of great passion but limited skill will accomplish little of relevance. Whatever the case, the primary goal of the composer remains the same, which is to guide his creative energy into bringing forth the materialization of his thoughts and ideas as Music. Creativity then, is at the core of the artistic process, not just in Music but on any art form. To be creative means to have the ability to see possibilities where there are none, and this holds true especially for the composer of Music.
¿What makes a composer good? - one might ask. ¿What is considered a good composition? ¿How does one measure the quality of a musical work? These and many more questions of the kind are useless to ask, futile to answer and hopeless to ponder over. It is best to set aside the doubts and traps that arise from questioning the intrinsic value of art, remember that’s what critics are for. Just to put things in perspective consider the following: No other person, before or after you will be able to write the Music that you haven’t written (one of the few distinctions between Music and Mathematics). The fact that you write it should be more than enough merit on its own. The public will figure out what to make of your work but don’t be discouraged if it’s not well received. Your job is to make Music exist, nothing else.
If you are an aspiring composer and are serious about dedicating yourself to it then there are a few issues for you to take into consideration. ¿Do you need to study for it? Yes. In fact it is mandatory that you do. ¿Do you need to go to music school? No. Let me explain. First, if you have the chance to attend any kind of formal music lessons, by all means do it. An education in music theory and execution provides a very solid foundation for your compositional ambitions and should not be taken lightly. Furthermore, knowledge of the forms and techniques of composition will broaden your musical language and offer a vast resource for ideas. What I mean is that you can also achieve this knowledge by your own means. This of course will depend on your disposition and ability to take it all in without the help and guidance of an experienced musician. Still, it is strongly recommended that you don’t dismiss formal training just because you don’t think you need it. It offers the opportunity to get in touch with other musicians, composers and teachers that can help on your musical development, but most importantly it’s a chance to expose your work to the public and be noticed by other artists.
I should point out something here and this is a very personal opinion: musical composition isn’t really something you learn (in the scholastic sense) but something you figure out for yourself. Whatever training you may receive, it will purely give you the tools to carry out your art, but it won’t help you grasp the essence of composition in any tangible way. I’ve found the best way to do this is by example. Turn to the masters. There is nothing that inspires a composer more than Music itself. Listen closely to them as they all have something to share; merely what each of them was able to figure out about composition. Write, create, listen to other composers but above all find your own voice, make Music for yourself. Take pride in what you invent, not on what you sound like. The moment you start repeating yourself, stop. Don’t wait around for anyone’s approval and remember: it doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to be.