Category: Composition

Modal Listening Practice

Modal Listening Practice

MODAL LISTENING PRACTICE: The picture above demonstrates an interesting grouping of the modes.  We can progress from one mode to another in the order shown above by lowering one note of the scale:  Lydian progresses to Ionian by lowering the fourth note.  Ionian progresses to Mixolydian by lowering the seventh note.  Mixolydian progresses to Dorian […]

Melody Writing for Students

Melody Writing for Students

  I usually teach my students that music contains the following elements: melody harmony rhythm timbre dynamics structure Sure this list can be discussed, but I’ve found it working. My simple definition of melody is “a bunch of single tones in a meaningful order”. Again, “meaningful order” is a subject of debate, but I usually […]

Harmonic Planing and Constant Structure Chords

Harmonic Planing and Constant Structure Chords

Harmonic Planing, also known as Harmonic Parallelism, can be a very valuable tool in the 21st-century composer’s toolbox!   The picture above is tongue in cheek, with its airplane and parallel lines, but it can also get us in the mood for a different way of looking at harmonic progressions. All of you composers out there […]

Musical Words as a thematic tool

Musical Words as a thematic tool

Open the toolbox of a 21st-century composer and you might find a myriad of styles, methods, and musical systems.  We’ve inherited the best of the past while developing exciting new trends.  These days composers have the freedom to use old or new, borrowed or blue, sweetly consonant or blatantly dissonant.  The sky’s the limit for […]

Composition Competitions – Answers to Quiz

Composition Competitions – Answers to Quiz

Here are the answers to the little tongue-in-cheek quiz found in the article Compositions Competitions – Humor and Perspective.  Composer:  Maurice Ravel (Monsieur R) – FrenchPiece:  BoleroComments:  Although Ravel himself was not extremely fond of Bolero, calling it ” a crescendo without music”, it has caught the public fancy and is now one of the […]

Composition Competitions – Humor and Perspective

Composition Competitions – Humor and Perspective

Composition Competitions are rough.  There’s no doubt about it.  You’re putting your masterpiece out there, hoping that the judges can actually hear it and understand what you were trying to accomplish.  Sometimes they do understand your piece, and very often, for any number of reasons, they don’t.  Don’t despair.  Many other composers in history have […]

Notation Checklist: Professional Quality Music Scores

Notation Checklist: Professional Quality Music Scores

Notation Checklist: Professional Quality Music Scores The above picture is tongue in cheek – how NOT to write a legible score!!! Just when you think your new piece is finished, that’s the time when editing begins!   This checklist will help you ensure a professional quality score.  The more you incorporate these items into your pieces […]

Crumb: A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979

Crumb: A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979

Mysterious and other-worldly, George Crumb’s A Little Suite for Christmas, A.D. 1979 is one of those wonderful contemporary works that appeals to student composers, performers and audiences alike. Composed in early 1980 for pianist Lambert Orkis, the Little Suite was inspired by early 14th-century Nativity frescoes painted by Giotto in the Arena (also Scrovegni) Chapel […]

The clarinet – a star of many musical genres

The clarinet – a star of many musical genres

The clarinet – a star of many musical genres Let’s take a look at an instrument that is at once hot, cool, sleek, sassy, sophisticated.   It’s a master of classical music, and a star of jazz.  It’s at home with swing, the blues, or the symphony orchestra.   It has three distinct registers, each of which […]

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