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I just have a question.

It might be very difficult to answer. It might sound real stupid and pointless.

How can I develop my ideas when composing?

I have written couple works; they sound complete and all is swell.

But I would like to have one idea and that developing throughout the piece.

Most of my pieces are like, one idea going for 20 measures just go to another idea and new idea after that. It's too.... fast moving!

I tried to do like "look for chord in m.3 (let's say) and let's arpeggiate that

chord. Or trying to stretch out the melody and see all kinds of relationship.

But it doesn't work, maybe I suck. It begins to sound like a boring old pop song.

Any help please?


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are you speaking of development in general terms ? or in orchestral ? piano piece ? Vocal ?

when developing a theme, motif etc... don't be afraid of "destroy" it if you make changes to it... sometimes we fall into a groove or attached to some element like tonality, rhythm etc, because we don't feel free of making changes... we doubt....

Let's talk of Zarathustra (R.Strauss), the first theme is absolutely "easy" ... C G C ... nevertheless you can find it through all the 32 minutes, faster, slower, reverse, going up and down, being part of a larger phrase, starting the phrase, ending, in the middle, (orchestration acrobatics...that's why I asked if talking of orchestral works) having altern themes derivated of the previous development, ... many ways...

now, like angushay said... if you post some score, we can tell you more concrete ideas...

Counterpoint is also one of the most legendary methods of development, things have been said arround that if counterpoint is necessary ... well, I think depends of the kind of music you write, ... ir you're going to write a song... it doesn't sound very much "necessary"... if you're going to write a fuga.... Ja! ... it is mandatory.

for better "in a few words" advise could be.... write and write... you'll find the way, you'll see, also, study works that are similar to your intentions, check the score... how did "they" do it, .. you don't have necessarily do it the same way but could give you new ideas...

If you play piano.... play and play looking for usable materials, don't get impatient with yourself, that would close your mind.

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Thanks guys,

Thanks for the link, advises and your interests.

I believe, i will have to work extra hard.

I'm in 3rd year university study coming from no classical music back ground.

You would think that I get enough tutorials and lessons at the school...I do, but i do need extra help and even more extra self-study.

I'm getting a lot of criticisms from the profs. Therefore, I'm quite hesitant to show you my "work".

Although agreeing with the statement, "criticisms are really helpful", i think i received enough criticisms for a year! haha

Thx all

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There are many things you could do with material to develop it: extend melodic phrases, switch up the harmony, turn melody into harmony or vice versa, invert it, turn it into a fugue, transform it, have it be transformed into...the list is infinite and really there shouldn't be a list because going about "how" to develop your ideas is entirely a creative process. There is actually no list of things to do, just things that have been done.

But more important than developing a musical idea is developing an extra-musical idea :).

Nicola, what do you mean by developing an extra-musical idea?

You are right about saying there shouldn't be a list. I don't even deserve the list to be honest.

I lack the years of classical study. I think that's where my problem lies; lack of understanding of fundamentals and general study.


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Try making adaptations of music. If you want an adventurous John Williams-like track study John Williams, take the chord progressions (chords) of the song, and make a new melody to it.

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try to compose by a theme of your choice, listen to what you've composed, and think what would be appropriate development to the piece, should it be mellow now, dramatic, action, etc..

usually songs are more of question and answer like, but also there is no right and wrong, you just need to relate to what you feel when you hear the idea that you want to develop.

is it good enough to develop to something else? or maybe its just as good like this? whats the piece for? where should it lead. ask all these questions and afterwards let ideas flow, check out the try outs, and leave the best one in.

alot of trial and error, until you feel you are riding the wave.

thats how i know this anyway.

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