Beginner Composer

Hello, everyone! Hope all is well. I recently developed an interest in learning orchestration and composition..I want to take the self study route and is looking for detailed step by step instruction on where to begin. I know step one is learn at least some basic music theory( I'm currently taking a course on Music Theory via Thinkspace Education) but any videos, courses, books, advice, roadmap plans etc would be greatly appreciated!


  • Take as many of the Thinkspace classes as you can afford. They are all pretty useful, depending on background if it's more technical than theory or vice versa.

    I would also watch as many of the Spitfire videos as you can, I learn a little something in almost every one even if they are fairly product specific. I would also watch the following YouTube channels, Matt Ciappa, Learning Music Skills, Composing Academy, Dan Keen and Anne Kathrin Dern. I'm sure there plenty of others but I find this group to all be very well done and again, learn at least a little something every time they post a new video.

  • I would recommend you also check out Rick Beato’s YouTube channel. He as a lot of theory videos. Has 2.3 million subscribers. I’ve learned a lot from is videos

  • I'm anything but a pro but since you've just decided what I decided 10 months ago I can fill you in on the things I've found most helpful.

    I wouldn't say music theory is the first thing you need to learn. I'd say the first thing you need to do is to just... start writing/playing!

    • Christian Henson's YouTube videos (his own channel) helped me a LOT with motivation and made me believe I could actually do it. He talks a lot about the process and the videos are super informative (and funny).
    • Paul Thomson's YouTube videos is equally helpful. He often goes in depth, talking about voicing different instruments/sections.

    These 2 resources combined helped me immensely when starting out. They teach you how to work the sliders (expression/dynamics) while playing to make the samples sound more like they do when they're being played by an individual.

    • This book: (The study of orchestration)!!! It's quite pricey but I do recommend getting it. It goes through every single instrument in an orchestra (and then some). It teaches all the instruments different ranges, differences within that range on each instrument and which instruments sound well (or not) together. Be sure to get the latest edition (the 4th). It comes with audio files for every example in the book (and there's hundreds and hundreds of them), so if you're not big on reading sheet music you can listen to it while looking at the notation and still be able to get what the book is trying to tell you. It's really a great resource.
    • For music theory I also recommend Rick Beato (like Russel did above this post). He's got several videos where he goes through basic stuff (up to more challenging theory).
    • Play, play, play! The more you play the more you learn.
    • Talk to someone who knows more than you. I have a friend who's writing trailer music (professionally) and he's very gracious when it comes to answering all my annoying questions.

    Good luck, and welcome to the family :)

  • I would say the most important thing I found is to listen.

    Listening to music of all styles is very important and when I say 'listen' I mean really listen to what composers do,how they create.

    It is the most easiest way to learn how to compose.

    I spent hours and hours when iI was younger listening to all sorts of music with headphones. I could hear thing really clearly that way and I could analyse what the composer was doing.

    I hope this helps too

  • I really approve what everyone says!

    Listen, but listen wisely ; for example, listen many pieces of the same Composer, to find what he/she does quite often, To see which instruments he mixes...

    For that, I recommend Mattia Chiappa YouTube channel, he has many very good tips, very significant..

    And also, like we read above, they are many books about orchestrations : Berlioz, Koechlin, Belkin, etc, etc. They will give you a huge amount of '' rules '', but also of tips.. And it's quite useful to own one or two, '' just in case ''.

    The most important thing too, in my opinion, is to trust each other, not to be afraid to grope, make mistakes, try, start over ... that's how we move forward and learn!

  • If you want a pdf version of an older version of "The Study of Orchestration" by Adler (for free) feel free to message me or give me an @

    It's one of the best resources for learning about the orchestra and how to write for it if you can read music and know some theory.

  • I too am fairly new to composing music but have 30 years of orchestral experience playing a double bass. I found a good understanding of harmony is very important. I have also found that composing on a score program like Dorico with the aid of a piano is the quickest way to do it. Then I, export the file as midi and paste it into Cubase pro 11 and play with the orchestration. The score writer in Cubase is the easiest way of editing.

    I have a good selection of sounds including Spitfire BBC Core, Albion and Abbey Road.. The latter is good for having a group of instruments on one track whilst BBC Core uses single instruments. I find progress comes in steps. I will write a piece that I am happy with but often have to await further inspiration. I use an Apple Imac with a big screen and loads of ram.

    I enjoy it all and just do it for fun but am pleased with some of my results. The techie stuff takes a little while to learn.

    best wishes

    Paul Chamberx