September 13, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 14: Humbled by Beethoven

Filed under: Comics,Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

This will be my last “Orchestra of One” post for awhile. It’s been fun, but I only have so much time available to me, and I want to put other things on (comic updates, for instance, have been pretty sparse lately). However, before I go on my hiatus, I’d like to share a story.

Last year, I attended a concert in which an orchestra was about to perform Beethoven’s Symphony #5. Now, I’d already been composing music commercially for a few years, and I was feeling pretty confident about my own skills as a composer, thinking that I was a pretty awesome composer, if I said so myself.

However, any pride in my own abilities was pretty much crushed as soon as the orchestra started, though. The entire symphony was absolutely beautiful, and I sat in my seat amazed by the skill in what I’d heard. “Beethoven was able to come up with something this beautiful? 200 years ago? Without computers? WHILE DEAF?!?”

Clearly, I still have a lot to learn.

You do too. Beethoven1, Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Bach… we will likely never get the point where we’re considered a master like they were. In some ways, that’s kinda depressing.

But on the other hand, we also have advantages that they could never have dreamed about. We have access to instruments that weren’t even invented when they were alive. Every major song created in the last 200 years can be instantly available to us to learn from. Musicians are paid more than they ever have been in history.2 And, most importantly, we have tools at our disposal capable of almost perfectly recreating the sound of an entire orchestra… by ourselves!

There has never been a better time to be a composer. I hope that the articles I’ve written so far have helped to inspire you, and I imagine I’ll be writing more in the future. If there’s a song you want to share, put it online3 and post about it in the comments! I’d love to hear what you’ve made.

Previous: Chapter 13: How to Get Noticed


  1. It’s difficult for me to think of Beethoven without thinking of Schroeder from the Peanuts comic strip. So, here he is.
  2. Yes, despite the high number of “starving artists” out there. It’s a frequently ignored fact that, throughout most of history, artists didn’t get paid (or if they did, it was in tangible things like room and board, not in money).
  3. Getting a song online is actually pretty easy. There’s a lot of free webhosting out there.

September 6, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 13: How to Get Noticed

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

Since starting this series, I’ve been asked many questions about composing from readers just like you, and the most frequent questions I’ve been asked have been things like “How do I get my music to be noticed by more people?” or “How can I get people to hire me to make music for them?” It’s natural… you’re an artist, which means that a.) you want more people to see the awesome work you do, and b.) you’d probably like to make some money doing it.

Now, honestly, I don’t know how to answer this question for you, specifically. The answer for every artist is different. But I do have some advice, and while it might be a bit boring to read, if you understand it, it should help you. (By the way, unlike my other chapters in this series, this advice can easily apply to all artists.)

There are two keys to long-term success in an art form: what you know and who knows you.
(click to read the rest of this post…)

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