Composition Exercise

Art of Composing

Jon Brantingham’s website Art of Composing is great source of information on composing. He offers a brief introduction to how to compose, and you can sign up for a “free beginner’s composing course.” He also directs you to “free composing software”, free sound fonts, and there are several videos to illustrate his points. He also offers paid subscription courses to his “Art of Composing Academy”. He also has a content-rich podcast and blog, plus a vlog on YouTube. Check it out!

Composition Exercise #1: Motion!

Motion involves change in position, such as in...

Pick an instrument, any instrument. You might start with an instrument that either 1) you play or 2) somebody you know plays – so that you can get feedback on what you come up in this exercise as well as new ideas to solve the problem.

It’s not a problem, really. Just an effect: creating the feeling of motion. Motion, in general, means fast notes. Every instrument has things that it can do easily, i.e. move between notes quickly. Your task, should you decide to accept it is to create some brief motion passages for your instrument of choice. This may mean a bit of research (try it out yourself, have a friend try it, check orchestration books, look through scores). When you find one (shouldn’t be too hard), don’t stop looking. Look for more. If you discover, for example, that you can get a feeling of motion simply by having a violin play 16th notes on one string, that’s a good start. Keep going. What if, then, the player puts down a finger and thus a new pitch for every group of 4? 2 fingers in alternation? Ditto, moving up and down the fingerboard? What about moving the bow between sul ponticello and sul taste? (color effects) Different registers? Add glisses? Add another player on another string? Add lower strings? Ditto, on mostly open strings? Ditto, playing triplets against the duple 16th note feel?

You see how quickly you can, with a little imagination, generate all kinds of ways to create the sense of motion.

Go and go on your chosen instrument. Go for quantity! Come back tomorrow and come up with even more! Ask players, let them inspire you to more, more.

OK. That’s one instrument. Start again with another one.

Continue until you have notes on all instruments that you know about and/or have any access to.

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