Author Topic: No__72___Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters  (Read 483 times)

Peter Anderson

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No__72___Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« on: August 14, 2016, 09:18:06 PM »
Don't say that you could never compose your own pieces of music, but please read on, as I intend to show you how simple the basic steps are.   Everyone of you will benefit from working through the following posts.   Since the 2016 Rio Olympics are currently in progress, you never know you may even be a Gold Medal winner if you persevere.

Answer this question.     What do the following have in common?

Home on the Range
Edelweiss
Love Changes Everything
Goosey, Goosey Gander

The answer may not readily be obvious, but they could all be played in the key of C.

In other words, they could all be played with nothing but the  White Notes and accompanied by White Note Chords.     This is a little trick, that even most musicians don't realise.

If you recall in the posting about finding the key that a piece of music is written in;

Click this link to view it in a separate window:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=2275.0

I stated that if you hum or play the Key note all through a piece it will not jar at all.

In a similar way it is true that White Note Chords will never clash with White Note melody notes.   They will at least, sound acceptable.   The simple reason is that if you stick to White Notes only, then you are fitting in with chords  in the key of C major.

This trick actually works, as you would expect for any key, as long as the Black And White Notes in both the Chords and Melody correspond exactly with the key signature of the key .
   
But to keep this first exercise very simple, and, therefore, much easier to follow and facilitate, we will stick to the White Notes and explore the key of C major, and attempt to compose our own tunes.

You might think that you have never composed a tune in your life, but I beg to differ with you.    You may well have never played an original tune on your AR, but you have probably sung something unique, that has never been heard before.    I believe that we can all have a go.   I am definitely not guaranteeing success, or your starting a career as a brand new modern composer.    But I will guarantee that if you follow these postings carefully and have a bash at the exercises, you will find the result, yes maybe a little challenging, but also very rewarding.

I am pretty sure that you will find it fun and you will probably surprise yourself with how easy it is to produce something at least harmonious, if not as tuneful as you might wish.

In the next Reply, I show you how to make a start.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2016, 12:01:13 PM »
Let us prove that all the White Notes will not clash with any White Note Chords.

Click this link to open an example score in a separate window:

Score 1

If you wish you can print this out, to play the chords on your AR.   If you have an IPad, or similar device, just use that.

This score simply has the scale of C running up and down, with a variety of White Note chords in the accompaniment.    So play it through a few times and witness that every note is acceptable.

I hope you are assured that the premise we stated in the initial posting is true, namely, that if you are fitting your melody notes in with the same key chords then all the notes will be acceptable with any of that key signature's  chords.

Now simply play a series of White Note Chords in any order with your left hand on the lower keyboard, while playing any White Notes in any order with your right hand on the Upper Keyboard.
Notice that you can generate some sort of tune very easily, almost without thinking about it.

If you look at the very last Reply (bottom of page 2) on this posting, you will find a video of Peter Hayward demonstrating this.


Of course, if you 'utilise' the principles of the Circle of Fifths, as I have explained elsewhere, you will build in some musical logic and the whole thing will 'sound' nicer.

Next time I will show you how to compose your first piece, (unless you are a seasoned professional, in which case you will already know what to do - and you can tell us how to do it!).

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #2 on: August 27, 2016, 12:36:44 PM »
You will need to open this pdf in a new window:

Score 2

This is a simple 4 bar pattern, in 4/4 time,  repeated and with a final bar.

You may want to set your AR up with a bold solo on Lead, on your Upper Keyboard, with a gentle 8 beat rhythm and a suitable orchestral backing, on your Lower Keyboard.

First of all just play through the entire chord sequence, with your left hand, keeping in time with the rhythm.

Now do that again, but this time let your right hand play a selection of White notes.   Just meander over the white notes, being assured that everyone of them will fit.

With a bit of luck and a following wind, you may stumble across either a completely beautiful melody, or maybe capture a snippet or two that really is nice.

It might be an idea to either have a tape recorder running, or better still, since you have an M.D.R. on your AR, pop in a disk and record every one of your efforts.

It would be a shame to generate something that is precious and  lovely, but forget what it was.

Experiment with this small example, and in the next posting we will have a crack at a longer piece.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #3 on: September 02, 2016, 10:11:12 AM »
In the last Reply, I hope you got the initial idea.

Now let us try a longer sequence, so first of all click this link to open up the Score we will use for our next experiment in a new window:

Score 3

For a little variety this consists of 16 bars, but in 3/4 time, so set up your AR in a similar way to the last time, but choose a 3/4 rhythm, if you want that feature running.

Don't forget, only play White Notes with your right hand, and remember they can be anywhere on the Upper Keyboard, but very wide spacing is not the best strategy, particularly if you do it a great deal.      Large steps in melodies are like loud percussion.     It can be very effective in moderation and if sensitively applied, but if you thump away all through the piece, it becomes rather overpowering and therefore becomes unpleasant.   The same can be said for putting too many giant leaps in your melody.

You may like to prepare a backing track of the chords (and rhythm), so that you can play this back in your AR, while you search for that 'inspired' white note melody.

Please feel free to send me any examples that you wish to share with the other members, demonstrating your prowess ....... and just  how easy this is to do.
You can either send in a manuscript or the .boo and .evt files from your disk, and I will facilitate the mechanics of sharing them on this board.

If you read on, I will share one that I have generated.     

This appears in later Replies, but it would be superb if we had some of your attempts.

Please submit your compositions to me, (ndrsnpj@yahoo.co.uk) either as a pdf or on a disk, so that we can share them on this board..

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #4 on: September 10, 2016, 06:51:03 PM »
Here is the example I promised you.     I think this will encourage you to try variations of your own.   It is a very simple 'melody', interwoven with those basic all white note chords.

Surprisingly it has a distinct 'feel' to it, that tends to be Celtic in character.     Try it with a Violin or a  Wind instrument and see what you think.
   
To open this pdf in a separate window, that you can view or print out, please click this link:

Score 4

Don't forget, it is never too late for you to submit your own personal efforts.   In fact, we want to encourage your sharing ideas with the rest of us.

The more the merrier.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #5 on: September 24, 2016, 07:58:26 PM »
Right, let's do that again, but this time change it 4/4.

This link opens the pdf in a separate window for you to view or print out:

Score 5

May I suggest that you play through with just the chords a few times and this in itself may suggest a melody to go along with them.

You may want to add that 8 beat rhythm, or one to suit yourself.

Either way have fun, and be prepared to share what you have come up with.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #6 on: October 01, 2016, 12:12:32 PM »
Here is an example.    It isn't bad, but could be improved with a little more form and balance, but we will explore that in future Replies.

Try playing this with Strings and Vocal Oohs and Aahs to brighten up the melody.   
Alternatively, work on your own inspiration, which is probably far better than mine, using the basic chord sequence. 

To open up the pdf in a separate window, so that you can either view or print it, please click this link:

Score 6

Please share your results or comments with the rest of us, even if it is just in a Reply on this board, to say what you think of all this so far.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #7 on: October 10, 2016, 09:53:12 AM »
To listen to Score 6 being played as an MP3, please click this link:

Score 6 (MP3)

We are grateful to Mac who has kindly provided this MP3 for us.   Thank you Mac!


You can also hear this played on your AR by downloading Just One Tune Disk 51.   If you click this link, you can open that page in a new window:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=2658.0


In subsequent posts, I will add to this piece, exploring a couple of alternatives to show how you can further improve the interest factor of your own compositions.  There is quite a bit to cover, but we will add to it gently, so you can clearly grasp what we are doing together.

Don't forget, let us know, on this board, how you are doing with your own efforts.


Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2016, 12:35:17 PM »
Initial compositions can just ramble on......and on......     

What a good composition needs is a memorable section, or a hook to hang the rest of the tune on.   Think of popular songs, and this is the bit that everybody remembers or sings.    It may be just a couple of bars, but those bars are the very heart of a successful song.

It is these phrases of your composition, that you can repeat, either at the same pitch or at a different pitch.    This is similar to good poetry, but you must retain both rhyme and rhythm.

So here is another great composers trick.

Click this link to open this pdf file:   

Score 7

This is simply a 2 bar melody phrase, where the notes are taken more or less, from the left hand chord, but split up to produce the right hand notes.    We obviously start the melody on the key note of the chord, which in this case is C.

Now those 2 bars are repeated  -  exactly  -  in the next pair of bars.    But we have 'transposed' them up to F.    But this time, we use the notes starting on F, together with the chord of F.

Think back to solving equations (which may be so long ago you can scarcely recall it) but the important principle was, whatever you do to one side, you must do to the other.   That is how these 2 bars are created, we use the same tune or phrase, but at a different pitch.

In the next Reply we take this a little farther.

Peter

P.S.
This Score is printed out in a different form, but this configuration is by no means rare.    To read more about it, see Peters Pearls # 73 Learn To Read Music, where this particular layout is referred to in the 5th Reply.

To open up that particular Reply, in a separate window, click this link:

http://www.ar-group.org/smforum/index.php?topic=2647.msg9479#msg9479

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #9 on: October 18, 2016, 05:57:03 PM »
Now click this link to open another pdf:   

Score 8

Here we have taken that last 4 bar example based of the C and F chords and repeating it yet again, but this time in the key of G.   Note the chord and melody starting note is G for this extra phrase.

The final 2 bars are based on the first 2, and I recognise that the whole section needs a final bar to complete it, but from a basic chord of C major we have generated an 8/9 bar musical composition.   
If you combine Scores 7 and 8, then you have a total of 16/17bars of easy tuneful composition.

That wasn't difficult was it?    If you try playing it, I think that you will agree, it doesn't sound bad.

I wonder how many hits it would get, if we installed a Facebook type of Like button?

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #10 on: October 24, 2016, 12:41:15 PM »
This simple idea of splitting chords into its individual notes can produce some good melodic  sounds, and some of them can even be very catchy.

Click this link to open this pdf:   

Score 9

This is either a stand alone section, or can be added to follow Score 8.

Try playing this one, or the pair (Score 8 + 9) over on your AR.

So we have produced a neat little tune from the basic chord notes and surely you agree, that even this was very easy to achieve.     It is not rocket science, or anything like approaching it.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2016, 12:44:14 PM »
Click this link to open up a new pdf:   

Score 10

Here we add a little extra to give a better flow to the tune and add some interest.
This score demonstrates how to take a simple melody line based on splitting a chord and adding extra interest  by inserting a few Passing Notes.       Passing Notes simply join up those chord based notes.

The first four bars melody is repeated in the second four bars, but has added passing notes, which are the second quavers in bars 5 - 7.   
These notes are not taken from the chord but are used to link the notes that are taken from that chord.

This, too, is a very simple addition, but adds considerably more interest and the variety introduced generates a pleasing flow to our melody.

Try playing this over (if you have an IPad, you can simply view it from there as you place it on the AR music stand).   

You will be amazed how a pleasant melody can be produced, just by playing over the notes from that bar's chord, and how logically you can insert Passing Notes to improve that melody even more.

A development from this, is that if you can't just sit at your AR and play without the music, you can actually play something which is easy and attractive.   

There is the added bonus of, when being asked, "What is that called?", you reply, "That is my own composition!"

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #12 on: November 07, 2016, 05:13:57 PM »
This is where we can become even bolder and adventurous and take things another step farther.

Click on this link to open another pdf: 

Score 11

Even though, up to now, we have kept things to using just white notes, those passing notes we introduced in the last Reply, do not necessarily have to be white!

This score introduces some passing notes that are actually black.
They link the original notes chromatically.

Try playing this one through and you will see, it all sounds OK and in fact adds even more interest to the composition.

Peter

Peter Anderson

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #13 on: November 16, 2016, 03:16:59 PM »
And now we take things a further step forward, that may seem odd, but works remarkably well.

First, click on this link to open this pdf:   

Score 12

In this example we dip down a semitone from one of our main chord based notes G, and create a melody by introducing an F# (=Gb) note as part of the melody.

This explains why, although a melody line can appear to be quite divorced from the left hand chords, it is often based very strongly around those chord notes, but with the addition of passing notes as part of the melody line.   Remember, these passing notes can even be black as well as white.

Peter

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Re: No_72__Let's Try Composing - Basic Steps For Starters
« Reply #14 on: November 21, 2016, 11:49:40 AM »
Now so far, we have only used White Notes in our composition, except for a few black passing notes, of course.

We have achieved this because we are now confident that White Note Chords, will never clash with a White Note Melody.

If you examine many, many popular songs, you will not be surprised to discover that this simple principle has been used to generate them.

However, it would prove to be a boring musical world, if we didn't try changing key, now and again.    Many well-known songs and especially hymn tunes also include this aspect.

A good example of a hymn tune that does this is the old favourite, Praise my soul, the King of heaven.        It does not change it's Key Signature, but the notes and harmony mean that you certainly change key.      Check it out, by looking at the notes selected for the melody and the chords used with them (i.e. the notes played in the harmony).
In the next Reply you will find a link to hear this piece being played.

Now, click on this link to open this pdf:   

Score 13

This is basically the Score 8, but with some slight variation, written just as a melody with chord symbols.

Pay careful attention to what occurs after the repeat.   Though it starts in C, the D7 takes us into the key of G.    The key of G has one sharp, so the melody now contains F#'s.

Notice that the Key Signature does not change, but we are clearly playing in the key of G Major, just look at the chords we are using.

In the next Reply we continue this composition, demonstrating another aspect of changing key.

Peter