Alan Belkin

is creating Analysis for Composers, Applied Orchestration

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About Alan Belkin

I am a composer and a teacher with many years experience. I taught composition, harmony, orchestration and counterpoint for thirty years at the Université de Montréal. (I offer private lessons in these subjects via Skype.) Now I'm retired and I want these courses to be available to a larger audience, via YouTube:

Now that the Modern Harmony and the Applied Counterpoint courses are complete, I will be offering a new course: Analysis for Composers.

Why analysis for composers? Because many analysis courses these days, taught by theorists and musicologists, are not always that useful for a composer. The problem is not that analysis as currently taught is bad, but that it is often not asking the questions a composer needs answered. For example, it is one thing to know the historical characteristics of ternary form, but it is quite another to know when to use it.

Often the analyst is engaged in dividing up an existing work into sections, and in exploring how the harmony and motives work. But the composer can't divide up a work that has not yet been written. The composer's problem is to add to existing music, and that requires a different kind of thinking.

Another problem with much analysis is that is concentrates almost entirely on pitch and to a lesser extent, on rhythm. Pitch and rhythm are certainly very important, but they are not always the main factors behind the music's expressive effect. The composer has to think about all of these things when composing.

The purpose of the proposed course is to explore various pieces from the standard repertoire from the point of view of a composer. Why did the composer make the specific choices we see in the music? What were the alternative solutions? And finally, what makes great pieces as powerfully expressive as they are? As a composer, I want to know these things, since they help me with my own composition: over many years I have learned so much just studying the music I admire most. But this kind of knowledge can only come from asking these questions.

This is what this course will explore. So we will not spend much time discussing the "standard" musical forms, but we will discuss why the composer chooses to organize the material in a particular way for maximum expressive impact.

I plan on starting this new course before the end of January, 2019.

Thanks again for your interest and support!

Here are the links for the previous courses:
Modern Harmony:
Applied Counterpoint:

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