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Re: Is lilypond really suitable for composing?

From: Tom Cloyd
Subject: Re: Is lilypond really suitable for composing?
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2018 22:13:06 -0700

" If it isn’t hard, you can probably do better." - Love that. I'd say the same about writing, of which I do a lot. It's easier than it was, but still hard, if it's to be really good.

But...let's not tell Rossini that, OK? His work alone disputes the notion, even if he might not. I don't know of anyone who could write more quickly than he, although at times Mozart might have been his equal. Interesting question, and best answered by those who know far morer than I.



“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” ~ Neil Gaiman

Tom Cloyd, MS MA LMHC (WA) | address@hidden
Psychotherapist (psychological trauma, dissociative disorders)
Spokane, Washington, U.S.A: (435) 272-3332 | Google+ | Facebook ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 10:03 PM, Vaughan McAlley <address@hidden> wrote:
On 24 March 2018 at 11:25, Flaming Hakama by Elaine <address@hidden> wrote:

On Fri, Mar 23, 2018 at 4:24 PM, Tom Cloyd <address@hidden> wrote:
Hogwash? Well, not really. Your point about what is possible is fine. I don't disagree. But my point remains, and my error was in not making it clear enough. I'll try again.

It has to do with cognitive load and the concept of "limited attentional workspace", a key concept in cognitive psychology.

Re: cognitive load: I'll wager that many of us are not exactly fluent in Lilypond. I'm certainly not. Using it is fun,

I'm not sure I'd go that far!  It does amazing things, and that can be rewarding.

but definitely requires thought and effort. Notating my developing score by hand is VERY much less effortful. Thus it imposes much less of a cognitive load.

Re: limited attentional workspace: One of the best validated concepts in cognitive psychology is the idea that we can only keep a limited number of "things" in our consciousness at any one time. Our attentional workspace is seriously limited.

So here's the point, given those two ideas: If one is not fluent in Lilypond, then it imposes a non-trivial cognitive load on us, reducing the energy we have to do other effortful things, such as create the music in our mind without recourse to an instrument. Furthermore, the sheer number of elements to track in a developing Lilypond program places real demands on our attentional workspace.

Thus, I argue, NOT using Lilypond during the most creative part of composition give us much more cognitive reserve, of both sorts, for composing, including the part involving working without an instrument to "hear' the music on.

I hope I'm making more sense now!


Thanks for clarifying your point.

Yes, I agree.  If the tools you are using are not familiar and comfortable, then fiddling with tools will distract you from the important work of composing.

And I will readily admit that I much more enjoy writing on paper at a piano than any other way!

But once you are familiar enough with the tools, there are fewer reasons to avoid using them for composing.  Beyond that, you actually can gain some benefits by "auditioning" things more robustly when composing directly in notation software, in particular things  you can't play on piano.    And of course, you save a little time since you don't have to re-enter some of the material.


David Elaine Alt
415 . 341 .4954                                           "Confusion is highly underrated"
skype: flaming_hakama
Producer ~ Composer ~ Instrumentalist

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Lilypond, a piano, a good inner ear (which I’m lucky to have), or whatever the kids are using these days are all just tools. I’d be wrong to say a piece of mine is superior to The Rite of Spring because Stravinsky worked it all out on a piano and I use my inner ear. In this case, the destination is more important than the journey. But whatever you use, it’s important that you have as much mental capacity as possible available when composing, because composing is really hard. If it isn’t hard, you can probably do better.


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