Saturday, June 29, 2019

Composition Tips from Jordan Roper

Following are a few of my favorite composing tips for beginners given at a UVMTA workshop that I attended by composer Jordan Roper.
Memorable Melodies begin with an interesting kernel or motif that often repeats throughout the song or is manipulated in different ways intermixed with new material.
For example
Beethoven's Fifth  (melodic motif) "- - - __"
Star Wars - rhythmic motif  "short short short -Long"

3 Simple Steps to creating a Memorable Melodic Motif
1- Stepwise motion (run)
2 - Occasional leaps (m3 or bigger)
3 - Repeated Notes (least important)

Bradley Sowashes "Scaling the Chords" method is a greater starting point to help students experiment with creating motifs within a scale.

Often beginning composers tend to use too much repetition wearing out their audience with the same theme.  Look to other good compositions and compare the amount of repetition in their pieces for a rule of thumb.

Feedback on student compositions:
  • For a piece mainly centered around middle C: Increase the range higher than an octave.
  • For a repeated bass accompaniment: Invert the bass accompaniment interval for more variety. Analogy "apple pie tastes good but it can be even better when you throw in a bite of ice cream (change) every once and a while."
  • For a song containing only Primary chords: Add more chord flavors, sub out majors with minors.
  • For a song in ABA form: Change the 2nd A a little so it is ABA'

Explore Chord Functions:
I= Home
ii iv V or vii - "Get to " chords that lead to another chord
IV or ii - possible endings but never end on V or vi

Use a Thesaurus to help with naming pieces.

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