The Occam’s Razor Of Composition

Murphy’s Law Occam’s Razor states that the simplest and most obvious answer is usually the correct one.

When I write music, there are many times (like 5 minutes ago) when I’ll search for a specific note or chord for an hour or two.

Then after intense deliberation, analyzing, or replaying it on piano I’ll conclude that the chord I was looking for the whole time was right in front of me. Not only that, I’ll find that the song didn’t call for a complex C#minorb9add13 chord, all it needed was a simple C#minor triad.

The extra “embellishments” that academic creators add to their medium (be it film or music or a painting) can be very useful sometimes, but a lot of the times I feel that it detracts from the overall context of their compositions if it’s not needed or used too often.

Murphy’s Law Occam’s Razor won again tonight. I’m trying hard not to fall into the trap of complexity for complexity’s sake, or ignoring the simple answer to a composition’s obstacle. Murphy’s Law Occam’s Razor is making sure I follow the melody, not my academic ability or ego.

In fact, I find it 10x easier to write complex music than it is to write simple music. Anyone can write complex music in minutes with no direction, but how many people can write a song like “Row Your Boat” to where the infectious melody will get passed on for centuries?

There’s nothing in the world more difficult than writing a memorable melody.

Update: it’s 1:30am and I’m incredibly tired as I continue to work on music. I’m showing signs of it too because I wrote Murphy’s Law instead of Occam’s Razor for this blog post (thanks to everyone who corrected me in the comments). In a weird meta kind-of-way, I guess that was Murphy’s Law in effect. And with that, good night!

  1. oesteria reblogged this from fororchestra
  2. wordsmythologic said: You misspelled “Occam’s” (or “Ockham’s”, if you want to get into it). It doesn’t have a “u” in it.
  3. sylvr3 reblogged this from fororchestra
  4. jahloveangel said: I think you mean Occam’s Razor. That is the idea that the simplest solution is typically the best one. Murphy’s Law is the idea that anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. I certainly hope composing isn’t like Murphy’s Law for you! ;)
  5. mydreamworldcometolife reblogged this from fororchestra
  6. w-for-wumbo said: I’ve had similar moments when composing as well, it’s so frustrating >__>….
  7. 1980sskeletonman said: Walt, Murphy’s Law is that whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. You seem to have the somewhat oversimplified version of Occam’s Razor in mind.
  8. titerezi reblogged this from fororchestra
  9. fororchestra posted this
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