My composition writing process or workflow
I wanted to tell a bit about how I compose. Here are the steps of my composition process.
Instrumentation: Knowing the instrumentation is the first step. When I start a piece I normally don’t have to choose the instrumentation because that’s most of the time something that's already decided if I’m writing for a commission or in a collaboration with someone.
Inspiration/concept/idea: The next step I try to take is looking for inspiration, listening to music, reading inspiring texts or poems, watching inspiring videos or talking to a friend about my ideas. I want that step to lead me to a concept or an idea to work with.
Working with text: If I am writing a piece for voice which has text involved I choose the text before I go on. Often the concept and the inspiration phase leads me to a text I want to work with. Sometimes I do work with a text only for me as an inspiration even though it does not involve a singer.
Research: Normally I do a lot of research before I start writing a piece. It means I listen to pieces that have been written for the instrumentation (if that exists), I read scores, I read books on orchestration, I look online for things that have been written about writing for these instruments, I watch videos of instrumentalist talking about their instruments etc. If I know the performer which really often I do when composing a piece I workshop with them and let them tell me their favorite sounds, things they like and don’t like, things that are not possible etc.
Piano/sketching: So before I put anything into Sibelius I sit at the piano to try out ideas or I sing them. I sketch them on a staff paper and I also sometimes draw things or write out how I want to work with my ideas. In this phase I think about the form and sketch it out.
Sibelius: Finally I start putting things into Sibelius. From now on I often only work from there, sometimes I go back to the piano for more ideas or to try out things, but I also go on from where I am and try things out straight into Sibelius.
Editing/finalising: When I have finished the piece I listen back a couple of times and make changes as I need or want. Then it’s time to finalize the score, moving staves, changing fonts, putting titles, writing a short description etc. I do spend a lot of time finalizing the score so that it looks nice and is easy and accessible to read for the performers.
If you want to listen to some of my music, you can find it at my homepage: https://www.asbjorgjonsdottir.com/