Composing Music on the Guitar
Composing music on the guitar is something that every composer should become familiar
with. In particular, the guitar offers a new perspective on how notes relate and work
together compared to that of the piano; the instrument most composers work with.
Although the piano is without a doubt the most powerful instrument for music
composition, knowing how to compose music on the guitar is a valuable skill as well, and
those interested in becoming as knowledgeable about music as possible should study
guitar composition in addition to any other instruments.
The reason that most composers focus on the piano is clear; you can play ten or even
more notes at once, you can play multiple parts at once with relative ease, and you have a
very wide tonal range of multiple octaves. These facts make it easy to experiment with a
full arrangement of sounds, where on other instruments you may only be able to play one
melody line at a time.
Composers used the piano because it could give them a complete picture of their
compositions in a way that no other instrument could. The guitar cannot get quite as
much into the realms of playability, but it does offer a few advantages that piano
composers are unable to access.
One of the most significant of these is the fact that you can move chord shapes around
with great ease on the guitar. A major chord for example can be slid up and down the
fretboard without needing to take white notes and black notes into account. On a piano,
you can certainly move major chords around, but you have to adjust them for the white
and black key differences.
This lack of effort required for moving chord shapes around on the guitar can allow you
to use more of those types of chord motions in your compositions. They are a technique
not used often by piano players because of the instrumental differences and the general
music tradition, which doesn’t often move the same types of chords around a lot.
In addition to these chordal motion differences, the guitar allows you to use alternate
techniques such as string bends, legato playing, sliding, and strumming; all of which the
piano cannot duplicate. These techniques can help you shape compositions that will
greatly differ from the usual piano pieces, and with most other composers using the
piano, this can help set you apart.
The guitar simply offers you a different look at the arrangement of musical notes, and this
can help you tap into new kinds of melody and harmony. In theory, the more instruments
you are familiar with, the more varied your compositions can be, and the more adept you
will be at writing for other instruments, so it is a good idea to start learning them. With
this in mind, the guitar, and its ability to play both chords and melody, is probably the
first place to start.