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Found 9 results

  1. I've seen a lot of works in the forum that share a common thread: lack of musical development. Developing your musical ideas is one of the top cornerstones of music composition. Certainly, we all could just state one idea after another -each totally unrelated but interconnected within a harmonic framework and structure. However nice we make the work sound... how similar the ideas are... it's not truly going to really go anywhere -and very little (if anything) will be remembered by the listener. So, this post will look at a few techniques that can help you get the most out of your musical ideas. Before we begin, here are some basic terms that you should know: Motif A motif (or motivic unit) is a short segment of your melody -or it can be the melody itself (reference the famous fate motif from Beethoven's 5th... or the opening notes of Mozart's 40th). I've also heard motivic units called other things: kernals, seeds, pitch sets, etc. These are the building blocks of your work... Yes, that's right... that melody you spent hours crafting... isn't the actual building block. The motivic material that it comprises of are. Thus, these are things that -as composers- you should pay close attention to. Period A period is your basic, microlevel musical structure. No matter your aesthetic, a period is the full sentence of your melody. A period can be broken apart into usually two distinct parts: antecedent and consequent (also referred to as question and answer). Often... both parts of the period contain the same motivic material -with different endings. You see this type of microlevel structure throughout most of the common practice period -and composers today also rely on this stuff to some degree. Phrase A phrase is the fuller musical statement -a complete musical thought. In the Common Practice Period -as well as some works from today- phrases conclude with a cadence. So, to make sense of this... A motif or motivic unit should be built into a period which is then expanded into a phrase. Those who write contrapuntal textures (i.e. fugues) know good and well the value of structuring material in a way that allows greater flexibility in ideas. Motivic units are the key here to making your ideas blossom. Development So, when you are setting to developing your ideas... there are some basic foundational techniques you can utilize: 1. Sequence: Sequences can be utilized to expand thematic material. Generally, you move within whatever harmonic framework you have setup. Think of the fate theme from Beethoven's Fifth, for instance, the sequences are quite memorable and draw the motif further. These can move up or down within whatever harmonic framework you desire. This is a great tool for building tension as well. 2. Diminution/Augmentation: Diminution is the shortening of note values while Augmentation is the lengthening of note values. So for instance, if a particular motif is in 8th notes... you can shorten the value to 16th or lengthen the value to whole notes. This is a great tool to use in delaying or drawing out your material. 3. Displacement: Displacement can apply to rhythm or note -hence why I group it together. Rhythmic displacement occurs when the metrical stress is placed on a different note than the original musical statement. Often you'll see this in more modern musical styles -Stravinsky was a big fan of this method! Note displacement, on the other hand, is a little bit different (though similar). This is where you play with the overall contour of the motif. So... for instance... if your theme is stepwise in nature (ABC)… then you displace the steps via octave displacement making one of the steps leap up to the next note an octave higher OR down to the next note an octave lower. This type displacement is something seen in works spanning from the Baroque on up to the modern day. 4. Alteration: Alteration is when you add or remove something from your material. So... for instance... if your motif contains the notes E C# A D (random notes), then you can alter that motif by changing the note itself EC#AD --> EC#G#D. The alteration can unfold throughout the work -though, this may not help the listener grasp onto your motif. Beethoven, as an example, altered the 'Fate Motif' within the entirety of the first movement -and- also altered it to connect each movement cohesively (yes, the motif appears in all 4 movements). 5. Inversion: Motivic units -and the larger phrases that come out of them- can also be inverted. This can change the overall contour of the motif AND present a different experience for the listener. 6. Retrograde: Retrograde is the same as backwards. Stating the motif backwards maintains a similar contour -but it can change or alter the anticipations of the material. 7. Dismantlement: Breaking up your motivic material is a powerful technique that can result in mixed results -depending on your overall structure. Many works feature the dismantling of motivic material from the classical period all the way up to modern day. Think of this as the ultimate development of your material -and one that can have a lasting effect on those listening to your music. So, I hope this little review of development techniques helps. If anyone has any other techniques not covered -or wants to expand on one that is covered- feel free to reply!
  2. I've recently been researching the harp and have learned things such as the pedaling system, register colors, and idiomatic playing. I've also been exposed to a technique called "pres de la table" which basically means to pluck the strings close to the soundboard. The effect is a darker, edgier sound. I was hoping if a knowledgeable composer or harpist could answer my questions: Is pres de la table an extended technique that should be used sparingly, or is it a color choice that is up to the composer? Also, are there any other "extended techniques" on the harp that I should know about?
  3. Hello all, I am putting the finishing touches on a work for solo cello which utilises several extended techniques and have been struggling to find a suitable Italian term for one. The passage in question requires that the bow be drawn over the strings with less than the usual pressure so that the sound is thin and glassy (mostly upper overtones are heard) rather than the normal full tone of the instrument. It is supposed to be in the usual part of the string and not close to the bridge so ponticello would not be the correct term. Flautando came to mind but I have always understood this to require playing over the fingerboard and producing a pure tone rather than the slightly scratchy effect I intend. Can anyone suggest anything? My best attempt to coin a term is graffiato but would prefer to use something more widely understood to mean an specific technique. Attached is a sample of what I am trying to describe.graffiato sample.wav
  4. Hello, I'm a beginning music composition student at Washington State University, and there's a question that has been increasingly interesting me: What defines a "good" piece? I've been fascinated with theory, partly because I'm interested in trying to determine this answer, but so far it has generally eluded me. Why, for example, are Bartok's string quartets valued over Schubert's? Or why is Rite of Spring preferred over Firebird? I'm currently trying to write a piece for clarinet, but I'm kind of stuck because I can't decide when something I write is "good" or not. Sometimes there are notions that some pieces narrowly miss greatness because they don't develop their ideas enough, but what determines if an idea has been adequately developed? What are the correct ways to "develop" an idea? When are you developing an idea, and when are you actually introducing a new idea? I feel like these are some basic elements of composition theory, but I don't have a very firm grasp of them. I'd love to hear any of your thoughts on the matter. Thanks!
  5. Is there some place online (not YouTube!) where I can listen to the various bowing techniques in strings. For example, for someone who does not play a string, it is hard to understand the difference in marcato from spiccato fom martellato.
  6. So, this is what I have trouble with, the one bar: And this is what it sounds like, and it sounds right: http://www.impetus-aesthetica.com/pianoquestion.mp3 My question is what is the proper way to notate this?
  7. The thread about going to school for composing got me thinking... what is everyone working on in regards to improving their composing? What do you think the most important things to learn are? I personally believe a solid background in the fundamentals: Understanding melody, harmony, form and voice leading are very important. As well as listening to a lot of music. Something that helped me greatly when I was a kid just learning to compose, was transcribing music. That is something that tends to be relegated to the Jazz world, but it has great benefits for classical composers as well. Its funny thinking back because the first thing I transcribed was a piece of music from the playstation 1 game, Jurassic Park: The Lost World. I was a weird kid I guess. Let me know what you think. Jon
  8. Hi guys, I'd like to share with you an interesting new music composition technique that I've been developing since 2009, called inversion synthesis. The core part of the process involves harmonic inversion (for melodies, chord sequences or both) and is a technique made famous by Rachmaninoff with his on a . This alone remains a huge untapped area of great source material, with the Rachmaninoff example being the only well known inversion.My technique expands on the basic inversion principle to allow inverted melodies from different source pieces to be combined together, even from different genres of music. It results in a very powerful method of creating new ideas. So far I've applied the technique successfully to creating modern piano music, but it should be suitable for composing music in any genre or style. I've written a full guide to the technique in four parts: The technique, part 1 (inversion) The technique, part 2 (synthesis) The technique, part 3 (retrograde inversion) The technique, part 4 (advanced inversion & composition) I welcome your comments and look forward to hearing your results using the technique! Also, to get some idea of how I've applied the technique, have a listen to the opening piece " " from my debut album released in 2009.Chris
  9. Hello, I'm new to this site and basically the whole composing scene so I may use incorrect terms, but bear with me. I would like to know how to create a glissando in Cubase LE 5. I play everything live as I barely know how to sequence notes with MIDI and my laptop can't really handle it. Anyway, if it is not possible to edit the audio that I played live, how do I do it with MIDI? Do I use a effect such as an ease in or something? Thank you in advance! :)
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