3 Simple Things That Will Take Your Compositions To The Next Level

Updated: Oct 4, 2020

By doing these things, you may be able to completely transform your music.



I think it was a Total Film magazine interview of John Williams where the Maestro recounted the story of a great composer who rejected several offers to teach music composition at a prestigious university. Some time later, he was offered a job teaching music theory, which he accepted. When asked why he would turn down the composition job and accept the theory position, he answered, "I can teach theory, but only God can teach composition."


I believe that some aspects of this are true. While God certainly endows different people with different gifts, I also believe that those gifts can be and should be developed.


There are lessons that can be learned from all kinds of people. These people may bring a wealth of experience and knowledge.


In the interest of offering a bit of guidance in the area of music composition, the following information may be helpful.


The Problem

Often times, I've noticed that composers will write a piece of music that is technically sound, but lacks resonance.


These are pieces that have been orchestrated properly and have been harmonized well, but they may be missing a certain cohesive quality.


Some of these pieces have interesting rhythmic aspects to them, but perhaps they are lacking a certain communicative layer.


If this is the case, you may be able to take your music to the next level with a relatively simple new approach.


Related: In Music If You're Not Doing This, You're Missing The Entire Point

The Solution

These may seem like overly simplistic ideas, but if you try them, I'm confident that your music can be improved dramatically:

  1. Patterns

  2. Repetition

  3. Simplification

Let's discuss each of these briefly...


Patterns

When I refer to patterns, I'm talking about notes, including note durations and pitches as they relate to each other and function in relationship with each other.


Antiphony would be just one of many examples of what I'm talking about. But there are so many other possibilities when it comes to creating patterns in music.


When creating content for a composition, one of the best ways to generate ideas is to think in terms of patterns, whether they are pitch related or rhythmic, patterns can become the glue that binds your ideas together.


Repetition

Have you ever heard a song on the radio and didn't care for it? But then you hear it over and over again, day after day and something interesting happens.


The song begans to grow on you. That's because the more you hear something, the more familiar it becomes and there is something about us that enjoys familiarity.


Similar things happen internally as well – within the music you compose.


Repetition of thematic material allows the listener to aurally conceptualize the message being presented by the composer and to become familiar with that message.


In fact, there is a certain natural preference for the sort of comfort that is established by this kind of repetition.


Simplification

When keeping listeners engaged to your music, simplicity is everything.


Music that is simple is inherently easy to follow and easy to relate to. Of course, when I say simple, I don't mean that the construction of the music has to be simple.


Simple music, however, is constructed in a way that is accessible to an audience. Communication is vital when composing music and if everything about the music is too complex for the listener to comprehend, then it is not communicating – at least not in a way that has meaning.


Coda

Just to wrap up, there are three basic and easy things that a composer can do to bring an added element of meaning and sentiment to their music. Give them a try and watch your music move to the next level!


What do you think? Will these simple steps take your music to another level or did I leave something out? Let me know in the comments below!


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