Tommaso Zillio
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Which Instruments Are Best To Compose Music On?

Are you someone who would like to start writing music, but are not quite sure which instrument you should learn to write on? If you desire to become a great songwriter more than you do an instrumentalist, is it possible to have one without the other?

Are you someone who would like to start writing music, but are not quite sure which instrument you should learn to write on? If you desire to become a great songwriter more than you do an instrumentalist, is it possible to have one without the other? I've heard many questions asked surrounding this subject. Is it possible to be a songwriter without first learning to play an instrument? Must you be an expert at that instrument to write great music? Which instruments write better tunes? Enough with the questions, lets get to some answers.

Do Songwriters Need To Know An Instrument?

Answers to this will vary depending on who you ask. Though is it possible to be a successful composer without playing an instrument? Well let's see what history says…

  • Looking to the Baroque/Classical/Romantic period of the early 1700-1800's you would be hard-pressed to find a successful composer that didn't also have virtuoso playing skills. Just think where Beethoven, Bach, or Mozart might be without their instrument?
  • You can find some exceptions, such as French composer Berlioz who was known for never actually learning how to play the piano (though he could play other instruments, such as the guitar)
  • There are many modern musicians out there who are definitely not virtuoso players of an instrument. Though you will find that they likely have a passable understanding of how to play at least one instrument (I will tell you an exception to this one in my following video)

With this, it appears safe to say that you should indeed know how to play at least one instrument to compose music.

How Well Must You Play Your Instrument?

The previous points I made might have you believe that you can get by as a mediocre player. Though the truth is, that might not cut it. Imagine how far Hendrix or Paganini would have gotten if they were only okay at their instruments?

How well you should be able to play your instrument all depends on the kind of music you are hoping to create. If you are looking to wow people with your instrumental compositions, you are going to need to get very good at playing. If you aspire to head down a similar career path as The Beatles, then just getting by on your instrument is enough to do it.

The Best Instruments For Songwriting?

Learning the basics of any instrument is going to do you some good in the long run. Though if songwriting is your game, what instrumental tool is going to help you best achieve your goals? By learning only these three particular instruments, you will gain a comprehensive understanding of how music works (and these is a good chance you already are familiar with one or two)

Which three instruments am I talking about? Learn about them in my following video and watch how quickly you can unlock your newfound songwriting abilities.

So did you already know some of these instruments? If not, it doesn't take too much time to grasp the basic understanding. With just a little practice, you will be surprised how much your composing will improve.

Don't forget to have fun, and also that NO you do not have to be a virtuoso to be a songwriter!

@pauljones   3 years ago
Another interesting case of a composer who didn't know how to play the instruments they wrote for is Joaquín Rodrigo; he wrote the most emblematic piece for classical guitar, El Concierto De Aranjuez, without knowing how to play guitar (he was a pianist). Shows you that it's all about understanding the language of music and the instrument. I agree with your choice of instruments for composing. Being able to sing the melody is crucial, since it means that you understand it and are able to reproduce it. Guitar, as you said, is great for sketching songs, and the piano is great for arranging. I personally like composing with a guitar; once I have something I like, I record a bass that sounds interesting against the guitar part. Then add extra parts or arrangements with keyboard. But sometimes I start with a bass part, or a keyboard or drum part, it really depends where I got the idea first. As you say, a lot of this really depends on the genre of music you're writing for, but knowing how to build chords and melodies on piano and guitar is really helpful. Great video!
@nidzan   2 years ago
Very nicely written and explained in detail. I agree with your statement, it all depends on the music that you want to play. More complicated instrumental parts require the composer to be a master of their instrument yet generally in popular music that is not required. As a singer I find myself always focusing more on the lyrics and vocal harmonies than on the instrumental aspect but then again my main instrument is my voice. When it comes to picking an instrument best suited for composing I would say that the piano wins hands down. It is called the mother of all instruments for a reason however it is not easy to master then again, no instrument is.
@makko   2 years ago
I know that piano is the best to compose music. because you have everything under your fingers. and the notes. you don't need too transpose the notes or to understand which note you're playing as on the guitar. I've been struggling a lot with my voice. I have a terrible voice because of smoking and when it comes to sing along with someone else is awful. I've though been teached about a technique where all the notes are A B C D E F G even if youre not in scale of A or not in scale of C and there was a gesture added to all the different note. So you don't really need to think about the tuning a particular note but you have to think about the proportion between two or more notes. it's called solmization. Could you do a video bout that?