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'Composer' or 'Tunesmith' are the terms used to describe an individual who writes music. A composer can also be an arranger, lyricist, producer, music director and songwriter although it usually applies to one who is musically qualified and composes original music.

Type and style of music is irrelevant but the word composer has been associated with classical and orchestral music for centuries, which is why there is often some confusion as to the type of music that a composer creates.

The reality is that many composers may never write an orchestration for a full orchestra, even when qualified to do so. The type of music that a composer creates is purely a matter of personal choice and can encompass all forms of music.

Some composers specialise in classics whilst others may opt to compose modern music for film, television or other media. There are composers who also arrange music for all purposes and others who extend their services into production and musical direction.

Writing music nowadays can be achieved by anyone using a computer loaded with a suitable software program. Whilst this can be a boon to the newcomer and professional alike, it takes expertise to achieve a natural sounding score and cannot compete with the quality of sound and production achieved with real musicians.

Anyone who writes for a number of instruments needs to have a deep understanding of the instruments they are creating music for, which is why a composer is also a musician, sometimes capable of playing several instruments to professional standards.

Songwriters and composers share some similarities, both may write music and words to create a compositition for the listeners pleasure, but most composers (although not all) obtain music qualifications and concentrate on the musical aspect rather than word creation. They are also capable of producing long intricate scores based on a theme, whereas a songwriter may have no written qualifications and mainly concentrates on short tracks.

There is a tremendous amount of crossover with major artists and songwriters composing scores for films. In some cases the songwriter collaborates with a composer who is capable of relating the idea musically for orchestral instruments that the songwriter may not have considered. Producers and music directors of major television, film and recording studios also employ composers for a wide variety of projects, including arrangement, orchestration, music beds and song composition.

When creating a piece of music, the composer writes the notes onto a piece of sheet music paper. Each instrument has it's own musical part. The combination of parts for several instruments are known as an 'Orchestration' or 'Score'. Unlike most songbooks, whose music is often presented in a shortened or easy to read format, a score shows each note, key and instructions for the musicians to read on sight.

Even the music creation process has changed over the years, with many composers using technology like computers and notation programs to write their music compositions or to alleviate the tedium of writing scores by hand.

Throughout history there have been talented individuals who have a natural flair for music and its creation, this does not always mean they are comfortable or as creative when writing words or lyrics, therefore some composers collaborate with others who specialise in the art, usually referred to as lyricists, wordsmiths or lyrics writers. One of the most successful collaborative combinations was Elton John (composer, singer, pianist) and Bernie Taupin (lyricist), who had several hit pop songs. Other great songwriting teams include Rodgers & Hart, Gilbert & Sullivan, Lerner & Lowe, Lennon & McCartney and Bert Bacharach with Hal David!

Composers want to have their compostitions heard and will often advertise for singers and musicians to record or perform their music. There are also many deceased composers whose works are repeatedly used by a variety of orchestras and performers worldwide. Without the efforts of composers, songwriters and lyricists the singer who is not also a creative writer would have nothing to sing!

Finding Composers
We have provided a few listings to individual arrangers, composers & orchestration companies, plus composers listings sites, composing organisations and other sites of interest to composers and arrangers, but there are several options you can also try below.

Ask your singing teacher for their recommendations.
Read or place classified ads in trade newspapers and magazines.
Look in the Yellow Pages or other Business Directory.
Visit local music shops and check out their noticeboard.
Browse musicians wanted/available.
Search on the internet by inputting the keyword 'composer' in any search engine.

Ensemble Research
Part of the York University site provides resources and links to simple ideas for music making including a document by Lesley Schatzberger on how to go about composing a piece of music using traditional and electronic instruments whilst Andy Hunts 'Creating the Ensemble Band' guides you through the process of writing a piece and organising the band with hints and tips for anyone wanting to use music technology in a live performance and general notes on writing a piece of music.