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Music Composition for Dummies

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Basics and Rhythm 
Chapter 1: Thinking Like a Composer 
Limitations as Freedom...................................................................................9
Composing as an Extension of Listening.....................................................10
Rules as Inspiration .......................................................................................11
You as Your Own Teacher .............................................................................12
Know what your options are...............................................................12
Know the rules......................................................................................12
Pick up more instruments ...................................................................12
Understand when to put something aside ........................................13
Get something from nothing ...............................................................13
Trust your own taste............................................................................13

Chapter 2: Tools of the Trade 
The Ability to Compose with Pencil and Paper .........................................15
Performance Skills .........................................................................................16
Composition Software ...................................................................................17
Finale .....................................................................................................18
Sibelius...................................................................................................18
Pro Tools................................................................................................18
Logic Pro................................................................................................19
Cubase ...................................................................................................19
A Pair of Moderately Well-Trained Ears ......................................................20
Knowledge of Music Theory ........................................................................20
Space, Time, and Ideas ..................................................................................21
A Pack Rat Mentality......................................................................................21

Chapter 3: Musical Scrapbooks: Writing on Paper and Screen 
Writing It Down ..............................................................................................23
Using Software................................................................................................24
Computer versus Paper and Pencil .............................................................25
File Management ............................................................................................26
Chapter 4: Rhythm and Mood . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .29
Sculpting Time into Music ............................................................................30
The Feel of Different Rhythms......................................................................30
Speed Bumps and Rhythmic Phrases..........................................................33
Mixing It Up: Back Phrasing, Front Phrasing, and Syncopation...............35
Back phrasing .......................................................................................35
Front phrasing ......................................................................................36
Syncopation ..........................................................................................37
Finding Your Own Rhythmic Phrases..........................................................38
Exercises .........................................................................................................38

Part II: Melody and Development 
Chapter 5: Finding Melodies Where You Least Expect Them 
What Is a Musical Framework?.....................................................................43
Finding Melody in Language .........................................................................44
Let’s Eat(,) Grandma! .....................................................................................46
Finding Melody in the World Around You...................................................47
Helping Your Muse Help You ........................................................................49
Finding Melody in Your Instrument .............................................................51
Using scales in composition ...............................................................51
Using music theory in composition...................................................52
Exercises .........................................................................................................53

Chapter 6: Scales and Modes, Moods and Melodies 
Major and Minor Modes and the Circle of Fifths .......................................56
Getting Moody ................................................................................................59
Moods à la Modes ..........................................................................................60
Ionian (major scale) .............................................................................60
Dorian ....................................................................................................61
Phrygian ................................................................................................61
Lydian ....................................................................................................62
Mixolydian.............................................................................................62
Aeolian (natural minor).......................................................................63
Locrian...................................................................................................63
The Pentatonic Scale .....................................................................................64
Harmonic and Melodic Minor.......................................................................65
Exercises .........................................................................................................66

Chapter 7: Building Melodies Using Motifs and Phrases 
The Long and Short of Musical Themes: Motifs and Phrases ..................70
Building a Melodic Phrase ............................................................................72
Spicing It Up by Varying the Phrase ............................................................74
Rhythmic displacement.......................................................................75
Truncation.............................................................................................75
Expansion ..............................................................................................76
Exercises .........................................................................................................76

Chapter 8: Developing Your Melodies 
Structural Tones.............................................................................................79
Step-wise and Skip-wise Motion ...................................................................80
Passing Tones .................................................................................................81
Neighboring Tones and Appoggiatura.........................................................82
Other Melodic Techniques............................................................................84
Escape tones .........................................................................................84
Suspension ...........................................................................................84
Retardation............................................................................................85
Anticipation...........................................................................................85
Pedal point ............................................................................................85
Exercises .........................................................................................................86

Part III: Harmony and Structure
Chapter 9: Harmonizing with Melodies 
Harmonizing Using Consonance and Dissonance......................................91
Tritone: The devil’s interval................................................................93
Conflict and resolution ........................................................................94
Harmonizing Using the Circle of Fifths........................................................96
Harmonizing Using Pivot Notes....................................................................99
Exercises .......................................................................................................100

Chapter 10: Composing with Chords 
Chords and Their Moods ............................................................................102
Major....................................................................................................103
Minor....................................................................................................103
Major seventh .....................................................................................104
Minor seventh.....................................................................................104
Dominant seventh ..............................................................................105
Major sixth ..........................................................................................105
Minor sixth ..........................................................................................106
Suspended fourth...............................................................................106
Ninth.....................................................................................................107
Minor ninth .........................................................................................107

Diminished ..........................................................................................108
Augmented ..........................................................................................108
Minor 7, flat 5 / half-diminished........................................................109
Putting Chords Together.............................................................................110
Rhythmic Movement ..................................................................................112
Chord Progressions .....................................................................................113
“Rules” for major chord progressions .............................................113
“Rules” for minor chord progressions.............................................113
Coming Home with Cadences.....................................................................114
Authentic cadences ...........................................................................115
Plagal cadences .................................................................................115
Deceptive or interrupted cadences ................................................116
Half-cadences......................................................................................116
Fitting Chords and Melodies Together......................................................117
Extracting harmony from melody ....................................................117
Using chord changes..........................................................................119
Exercises .......................................................................................................122

Chapter 11: Composing from the Void 
Composing Using the Movement Around You..........................................126
Introducing Effort Shapes ...........................................................................127
Weight: heavy versus light ................................................................128
Time: Sustained and staccato...........................................................128
Flow: Bound and free-flowing............................................................129
Space: Direct and indirect .................................................................129
Composing Using Effort Shapes ................................................................130
Dab .......................................................................................................130
Flick ......................................................................................................131
Glide .....................................................................................................131
Press.....................................................................................................131
Float......................................................................................................132
Punch ...................................................................................................132
Slash.....................................................................................................132
Wring....................................................................................................132
Shaping story and mood by combining effort shapes...................133
Exercises .......................................................................................................135

Chapter 12: Beginnings, Middles, and Endings 
A Word About Form .....................................................................................138
Beginnings.....................................................................................................138
The power of titling............................................................................139
Starting a piece ...................................................................................139
Chord progressions............................................................................140
Middles..........................................................................................................140
Endings..........................................................................................................141
Exercises .......................................................................................................142

Chapter 13: Musical Forms 
Combining Parts into Forms.......................................................................145
One-part form: A.................................................................................146
Binary form: AB ..................................................................................146
Song form: ABA...................................................................................147
Arch form: ABCBA ..............................................................................147
Classical Forms ............................................................................................148
The sonata ..........................................................................................148
The rondo ...........................................................................................149
Concerto..............................................................................................150
Symphony............................................................................................150
Fugue....................................................................................................150
Divertimento .......................................................................................150
Minimalism..........................................................................................151
Through-composed............................................................................151
Popular Forms .............................................................................................151
The blues ............................................................................................151
32-bar blues and country .................................................................153
Rock .....................................................................................................153
Jazz.................................................................................................................154
Atonal Music.................................................................................................155
Atonality and form .............................................................................155
Atonality and instrument realities ...................................................156
Atonal Music and You ........................................................................157
Listening for atonality .......................................................................158
Exercises .......................................................................................................159

Part IV: Orchestration and Arrangement 
Chapter 14: Composing for the Standard Orchestra 
Concert Pitch and Transposition...............................................................163
Pitch Ranges of Transposing Instruments................................................165
Alto flute ..............................................................................................166
B flat trumpet......................................................................................166
B flat clarinet.......................................................................................168
B flat bass clarinet..............................................................................169
E flat clarinet.......................................................................................170
English horn/cor anglais....................................................................170
Flugelhorn ...........................................................................................171
French horn.........................................................................................172
Piccolo trumpet ..................................................................................174
Non-Transposing Instruments....................................................................175
Concert flute .......................................................................................175
Bass flute .............................................................................................176
Bassoon ...............................................................................................176
Double bass/contrabass....................................................................176

Oboe.....................................................................................................177
Orchestral harp ..................................................................................178
Tenor slide trombone ........................................................................178
Viola .....................................................................................................179
Violin ....................................................................................................179
Cello .....................................................................................................180
Where they all are on the piano .......................................................180
Getting the Sounds You Want .....................................................................181
Stringed instruments .........................................................................182
Brass and woodwind instruments ...................................................185

Chapter 15: Composing for the Nonstandard Orchestra 
The Bass........................................................................................................188
Upright bass........................................................................................188
Electric bass guitar ............................................................................189
Acoustic bass......................................................................................189
The Guitar .....................................................................................................190
Acoustic guitar....................................................................................191
Electric guitar .....................................................................................191
Twelve-string guitar ...........................................................................192
Steel guitar ..........................................................................................192
Free Reed Instruments ................................................................................193
The harmonica....................................................................................193
The accordion.....................................................................................194
The concertina....................................................................................194

Chapter 16: Composing for Multiple Voices 
Story Lines and Instrumentation ..............................................................197
Writing Multiple Harmony Lines ...............................................................198
Independent Voices......................................................................................200
Counterpoint.................................................................................................202
The Five Elements of a Musical Tone ........................................................203
Pitch .....................................................................................................204
Duration...............................................................................................204
Intensity...............................................................................................204
Timbre..................................................................................................204
Sonance................................................................................................205
Some Do’s and Don’ts .................................................................................205
Don’t write more than three independent melodies at one time....205
Don’t cross melody lines over each other ......................................206
Do be deliberate in the use of octaves and unisons .....................206
Do consider tessitura.........................................................................206
Exercises .......................................................................................................206

Chapter 17: Composing Commercial Music and Songs 
Composing for Film......................................................................................209
Working with time code.....................................................................211
Working with proxy movies ..............................................................212

Composing for Video Games ......................................................................213
Composing for TV and Radio......................................................................213
Composing for the Orchestra.....................................................................215
Composing for Yourself...............................................................................216
Composing Teams .......................................................................................217
Helpful Organizations and Web Sites.........................................................218
Film Connection..................................................................................219
American Composer’s Forum ...........................................................219
American Composer’s Forum, Los Angeles Chapter .....................219
Film Music Network ...........................................................................219
Working with Agents....................................................................................220
Songwriting ...................................................................................................220
Deciding on lyrics and tempo...........................................................221
Building rhythm..................................................................................222
Choosing your form ...........................................................................224
In the beginning ..................................................................................225
Making your song moody..................................................................226
The hook..............................................................................................226
Making a Great Demo...................................................................................228
Keep it short .......................................................................................228
Only include the best stuff ................................................................229
Organize it ...........................................................................................229
Have more ready to go.......................................................................229
Identify yourself..................................................................................230
Invest in quality ..................................................................................230
Copyright it .........................................................................................230

Chapter 18: Composing Electronic Music 
Software and Hardware for Composition..................................................231
Sequencers and digital audio workstations....................................232
Music notation software: scorewriters............................................232
Repetition and the computer............................................................233
Sound libraries....................................................................................234
Composing on Computers ..........................................................................235
Thinking in sections...........................................................................235
Linear composition ............................................................................235
Loop composing .................................................................................236
Computer as recorder: musical scrapbooking ...............................238
The bad news......................................................................................238
Saving and backing up .......................................................................239
Chapter 19: Composing for Other Musicians . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .241
Composing with Lead Sheets......................................................................241
Composing with Guitar Tablature..............................................................243
The Score ......................................................................................................246
Writing for Ensembles .................................................................................248
Working with Foreign Scores and Ensembles...........................................248

Chapter 20: Ten Composers You Should Know About 
Claudio Monteverdi, 1567–1643 .................................................................255
Charles Ives, 1874–1954...............................................................................256
Béla Bartók, 1881–1945................................................................................257
Igor Stravinsky, 1882–1971 ..........................................................................258
Aaron Copland, 1900–1990..........................................................................259
Raymond Scott, 1909–1994 .........................................................................260
Leonard Bernstein, 1918–1990....................................................................261
Arvo Pärt, 1935–present..............................................................................262
Steve Reich, 1936–present ..........................................................................263
Eric Whitacre, 1970–present.......................................................................263

Chapter 21: Nine Career Opportunities for Composers
School Bands and Choirs ............................................................................265
Incidental Television Music ........................................................................266
Musical Theater ...........................................................................................267
Concert Composition and Performances..................................................268
Producer/Arranger.......................................................................................269
Industrial Music and Advertising...............................................................270
Business conventions ........................................................................270
Music libraries ...................................................................................270
Film Scoring ..................................................................................................271
Video Game Scoring.....................................................................................271
Songwriting ...................................................................................................271

Chapter 22: Ten Recommended Books for Composers 
Songwriter’s Market.....................................................................................273
The Shaping of Musical Elements, Vol. II...................................................274
The Norton Scores, Vols. 1 and 2, 10th Edition........................................274
How to Grow as a Musician.........................................................................275
Analysis of Tonal Music: A Schenkerian Approach .................................275
The Virgin Directory of World Music.........................................................276
The Rough Guide to Classical Music, 4th Edition....................................276
American Mavericks ....................................................................................277
RE/Search #14 & #15: Incredibly Strange Music, Vols. I and II ...............277
Chapter 23: Ten Periods of Music History to Explore . . . . . . . . . . . .279
Classical Music .............................................................................................279
Medieval period: the monophonic phase (590–1200) ...................280
Pre-classical period (1700–1770)......................................................281
Early 20th century (1910–1950)........................................................282
Minimalism (1950-present) ...............................................................282

Jazz.................................................................................................................283
Early jazz (roughly 1890–1930).........................................................283
Avant garde (1960s) ...........................................................................284
Rock ...............................................................................................................284
Krautrock.............................................................................................284
Math rock (1990s)...............................................................................285
Post-rock (1980s–present).................................................................285
Right Now......................................................................................................286

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