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How do you all come up with themes and motives?

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It's all about structure.

You'll want to learn about things like sentence and period form, it generally should fit within either 8 or 16 bars. The apex of the melody is also important: It should only have one highest or lowest point that is not repeated in the same phrase.

A very good starting point, and something of vital importance, is the rhythmic pattern of the melody. All successful themes are easy to identify in the absence of pitch. So just start by coming up with a rhythm that you like, and then put the pitch to it after.

To give you an idea of how strong this is: "Joy to The World" is literally just the major scale descending, one note at a time. The rhythm is what makes it into music.

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Hi @Beethoven is God,

I have absolutely no clue on how the themes and motives are bron, since they always come with me in sudden realization and inspriation, and then I will start analyzing it for development and ask my muse for more inspiration.

6 hours ago, Beethoven is God said:

How do I come up with good rhythms?

That's one of my weak aspect too. I only know that I have to keep the music as flowing as possible by creating a special temporal experience.


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This question can actually be rephrased as "How do you find inspiration to compose your piece" since developing themes and motives is a creative process. There isn't a general rule for coming up with these because it is pretty subjective.

Here's what I can share with you: it is important that the themes or motives be formed naturally in your mind, and don't dwell on them and force ideas to come. Good ideas don't come in this manner.

Creative ideas are often formed when you engage in certain activities, such as taking showers, exercising, and meditating. Your mind is relaxed when you perform these activities, and inspiration usually sparks this way. This is according to my experience.

Good ideas are sometimes formed when you dream, and this works for me most of the time. Practising lucid dreaming is key to acquiring ideas for your composition, and these ideas are usually better than the ones you come up with when you are awake.

Improvisation is another method. If you just can't come up with good themes or motives, go and pick up your instrument and start playing whatever comes to your mind. Try out different possibilities and hear which one sounds the best to your ear.

That is how I find inspiration for my compositions; however, other composers may have different ways of doing this. I hope this helps.

Carl Koh Wei Hao

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I think "theme writing" is probably one of the hardest elements of music composition. Tchaikovsky was a master of this. Chopin was incredible as well (just listen to any one of his Ballades). Want to go more modern? Just listen to John Williams. As Carl said, improvisation is definitely key. It's how I compose my own music. But coming up with something that can be whistled or hummed is the way to go for good thematic writing. Want to go more obscure? Listen to Bortkiewicz's Piano Concerto 1. I give you an obscure example because it proves to you that even unknown composers like this Ukrainian composer has what it takes to write themes that rival the greats.

And the trick is...all great themes can be sung, or whistled to. That piano concerto 1 has two main themes that you can hum to in the first movement. My homework for you is to pick them out. Listen very carefully to the first movement. And learn from Bortkiewicz's techniques.

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What type of music are you trying to write in? Depending on the style, certain stylistics can be seen as common elements in a style. For example, I love Baroque music and certain element to a Baroque theme could be seen being "stylistic" to the Baroque era. 

Or even if you're not trying to write in a particular style, what influences you musically?

Edited by Guardian25
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