Composing Diagnostic

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    Composing Music

    An introduction

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    Learning outcomes By the end of this session you will be able to:

    Have an overview of the unit

    Have an awareness of some of the tools andmethods of composition you will be using

    Learn about some of the projects you will be

    completing Produce your first idiomatic composition

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    Unit overview On completion of this unit a learner should:

    1 Be able to originate musical starting points

    2 Be able to extend, develop and manipulatemusical material

    3 Understand the role and importance of thestructural elements of composition

    4 Be able to compose according to specificbriefs

    5 Be able to present a portfolio ofcompositions in an appropriate format.

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    How do we do this?

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    Be able to originate musical

    starting points Originating ideas: extra-musical starting

    points, eg themes, texts, images, graphics;choosing resources and starting pointsappropriate to the desired effect orcomposition brief

    Musical starting points: pitch sets; harmonicsystems; motifs (rhythmic and melodic); chordprogressions and patterns; tone rows, riffs,hooks and loops; sound palettes, eg samples,synth sounds

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    Be able to extend, develop and

    manipulate musical material Extending and developing: repetition (exact

    and loose); variation; decoration; sequence;

    contrasts and juxtapositions Manipulating musical material: transposition;

    transformations (inversion, retrograde,retrograde inversion); cut and paste

    techniques; additive and subtractiveprocesses; diminution and augmentation(rhythmic and pitch); displacement

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    Working with and manipulating layers:process techniques, eg phasing, canon;

    instrumentation; textures, egpolyphonic/homophonic, contrapuntaltextures, etc; melody andaccompaniment; contrasts and

    juxtapositions

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    Understand the role andimportance of the structural

    elements of composition Forms and structures: formal block structures,

    eg binary, ternary, rondo, arch;

    developmental forms, eg theme andvariations, ground bass, sonata form; songstructures, eg 12 bar blues, verse-chorusconstructions, riff based songs; effective use

    of repetition and self-reference;circular/repetitive structures, eg those foundin some minimalism or dance music

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    Pace: maintaining momentum and interest;developing an analytical approach to listening

    to own work; balancing repetition with changeand development; contrasts andjuxtapositions; keeping within appropriatetime scales; editing and refining

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    Be able to compose

    according to specific briefs Types of composition brief: composing for

    specific instruments/voices and

    instrumental/vocal combinations;instrument/voice ranges and practicalconsiderations; composing for specificpurposes, eg concert performance,

    celebratory music, fanfare; media andcommercial composition briefs, eg jingles,title music, incidental music, film scores

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    Selecting appropriate resources according to

    the brief: selecting appropriate

    instrumentation; selecting appropriatestyle/genre; taking account of performance orproduction circumstances; idiomatic writingfor instruments/voices; idiomatic writing within

    selected styles and genres; technologicalconsideration, eg working to vision

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    Be able to present a portfolio of

    compositions in an appropriate format Developing a portfolio: contrasts; range of

    style/genre

    Appropriate presentation methods:conventions of particular styles, genres andsituations; CD and DVD; MIDI and audio files;scores; sleeve design and artwork

    Types of score: selecting most appropriateformat; full score; short score; lead sheet;chord chart; guitar tablature; graphic scores;prose scores; flexible scoring; relevantcomputer software

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    Todays task

    Today, you have just under an hour tocompose your first piece of music.

    I need you to do this so Gregg and I cansee your existing skills in composing toa given brief.

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    Fantasy film Compose music for the following scene from a fantasy film. It falls into five sections. You

    may wish to follow the suggested timings or to devise timings of your own.

    0 00 The adventurers enter a forest. As they walk deeper into the forest, they hear strangechanting sounds.

    0 40 Shafts of sunlight penetrate the overhead canopy but some areas are very dark. Theadventurers gradually sense that they are being watched.

    1 10 The chanting sounds continue. A sense of anticipation and excitement, rather thanfear, builds up.

    1 40 Many tall figures approach.

    2 05 The music now a combination of instrumental sounds and chanting reaches aclimax but the adventurers overwhelming feelings are of joy and security.

    2 50 End