Theory I Compositions
 


 

For the creative spirit, limits are useful.

--Leon Fleisher

 

 

HOW TO WRITE A BAD MELODY

 
  1. Never use a rest

  2. Don't repeat anything

  3. Use a different rhythm in every measure.

  4. Avoid establishing tonality

  5. Use more skips than steps

  6. Let Finale place the notes on random pitches

  7. Let Finale make sense of the meter after the fact

  8. Put every chord in the accompaniment in root position

 

 

Composition Components:

 

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Exposition (the original material)

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Repetition (do it again)

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Variation (do it slightly differently)

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Contrast (something totally different)

 

Some practical tips for writing a melody:

 

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Think of a rhyme or a poem you already know.  Any nursery rhyme will do.  Say it out loud

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Use a rhythmic idea from that poem and use different notes to make a new melody.

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Don't be afraid of repetition.  Sing through a popular tune, a folk melody or a classical theme and you will find that ideas (melodic, rhythmic or both) repeat often.  Repetition and Contrast - Example:  "Yesterday"

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Think of a question/answer format as illustrated below:  the first line asks a question, the second answers, the third line asks the same question again, the fourth line answers in a way that gives the final answer.

 

This is also called an antecedent-consequent relationship

 

 

 

 

Composition Assignment #1

Compose a melody (a catchy tune).  The completed assignment should be notated in Finale.  (Your first draft will be notated on staff paper).  If you need an idea for a beginning, go to the link below to hear a melodic cell from a Mozart piece. 

Melodic cells from Mozart

Requirements:

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A key signature other than the key of C

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A clear tonal center with the key labeled under the key signature

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4 bar phrases (unless approved by me)

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At least 16 measures (can certainly be longer)

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At least 2 phrases written in an antecedent-consequent relationship.  Label these 2 phrases.

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At least one sequence.  Sequence should consist of more than 2 segments (the original statement and at least 2 more segments) and should be marked above your score as "Segment 1, Segment 2, Segment 3", etc.  Go to the Finale Page  and click on the "Add Text" under Miscellaneous for instructions on adding text in Finale.  Here is an example of a song with a sequence in the B section:  The Ash Grove

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Melody should be singable (keep it within a singable range; generally an octave or a 9th)

Guidelines:

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Be careful not to use too many skips (how many are too many?  depends!  that's why you should be careful)

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Don't forget about rests

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Use rhythmic patterns to unite your theme

 

To score your composition in Finale, follow the instructions on the Finale Tips

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Used "Engraved" font - do not use "Jazz" font

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Choose "Garritan" sounds, "Keyboard," "Steinway"

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You will then have 2 staves.  You will need the 2nd one for Composition #2.  To temporarily hide it (do this before turning it in as Composition#1),  follow instructions here.  The instructions to 'unhide' it are also there for later.

 

Finale formatting should include:

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A title ("Composition #1" is not an acceptable title)

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Your name as composer

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No extra measures at the end and no unnecessary staves

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Measures numbered (every measure)

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Phrases marked

Please remember to:

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Save the Finale file as “YourNameComposition1” (Please save exactly like this, not by the title you have given your piece - this is for my file organization to grade Composition #1 and #2 separately and to be able to find your file to listen in class)

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E-mail your completed Finale file as an attachment to vjohnson@tarleton.edu by 8:30am on the due date

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Turn in a printed copy of your score at the beginning of class on the due date

 

Criteria

Composition I Rubric

Performance Indicators

 

Missing

Failing

Below standard

Average

Good

Excellent

Finale formatting

Measures numbered

Antecedent/Consequents labeled

No extra measures or staves

Unnecessary text removed

Balanced lines

Nothing handwritten

No score to grade

Unacceptable formatting

Many errors in formatting

Several errors in formatting

Minimal errors in formatting

No errors in formatting

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

General instructions

Hard copy on time

Finale file on time

Both parts missing

One part missing

Both parts late

Digital copy late

Written copy late

Instructions followed

 

0 points

5 points

7 points

8 points

9 points

10 points

Composition requirements

key other than C

clear tonal center

antecedent/consequent phrases

Singable melody

Not too many skips

Rests

No score to grade

Unacceptable attention to requirements

Many requirement deviations

Several requirement deviations

Minimal requirement deviation

All requirements met

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

Composition elements

Repeated/developed melodic material

Uniting rhythmic patterns

No score to grade

No repetition or no development

Too many ideas

Potential with revision

Catchy tune with some revision

Well crafted melody

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total points

0

50

70

80

90

100

 

 

 

The purpose of Composition #1 is for you to demonstrate your knowledge. 

Your Composition #1 should say:

  1. I can write a hummable tune that includes an appropriate amount of repetition and contrast.

  2. I understand what antecedent and consequent phrases and sequences are and can incorporate them into a melody.

  3. I know how to use Finale to make my score look publishable.

 

 

 

 

Composition Assignment #2

 

Begin with the melody you write for Composition #1.  It should already be revised after that assignment was critiqued by the class. To 'unhide' the second staff in Finale, follow the instructions here.

Include in your composition:

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A clear large-scale form, marked in the appropriate spots above your score by letter (AB, ABA, etc.)  You should already have a form, just label it.

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An accompaniment which follows a standard progression (See diagram below)  The accompaniment pattern should remain constant throughout the piece with the possible exception of cadential material.  A change in pattern may be appropriate with the introduction of contrasting material, but must be approved.

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Label your accompaniment with a lead sheet analysis using chord symbols above the melody line.  Do not use the Chord Tool (CM7 on the toolbar) or the chords will sound on playback

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Label your accompaniment with a harmonic analysis using Roman numerals and including inversions.  Place the Roman numerals directly under the chords to which they apply.  See the Finale page for instructions on adding Roman numeral analysis.  There should be no word extensions (red lines) visible.

Finale notation should include:

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A title ("Composition #2" is not an acceptable title)

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Your name as composer

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Tempo indication

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Dynamic markings

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 Cadences marked

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Large-scale form marked

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Lead sheet analysis (above)

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Roman numeral analysis (below)

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Proper formatting (no extra measures at the end and balanced on the page)

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Measures numbered (every measure)

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ABSOLUTELY NOTHING HANDWRITTEN

Please remember to:

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Save the Finale file as “YourNameComposition2”

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E-mail your completed Finale file as an attachment to vjohnson@tarleton.edu by 8:30am on the due date.  The subject line of the email should also read "YourNameComposition2"

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Turn in a printed copy of your score at the beginning of class on the due date

 

      
 

Criteria

 

Composition II Rubric

Performance Indicators

 

Missing

Failing

Below standard

Average

Good

Excellent

Finale formatting

Measures numbered

Tempo and dynamics

Composer, instrumentation, title

No extra measures or staves

No extensions on Roman numeral analysis

Unnecessary text removed

Labels properly placed (above/below)

Balanced lines

No score to grade

Unacceptable formatting

Many errors in formatting

Several errors in formatting

Minimal errors in formatting

No errors in formatting

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

General instructions

Hard copy on time

Finale file on time

Both parts missing

One part missing

Both parts late

Digital copy late

Written copy late

Instructions followed

 

0 points

5 points

7 points

8 points

9 points

10 points

Analysis requirements

 Sequence w/ 3 segments identified

 Large scale form identified    Antecedent/consequent marked

 Roman  numeral analysis

 Lead sheet symbols

No score to grade

Unacceptable attention to requirements

Many requirement deviations

Several requirement deviations

Minimal requirement deviations

All requirements met

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

Composition elements

Clear tonal center

Revised melody

Inversions included in harmony

Typical harmonic progression

Consistent accompaniment pattern

No score to grade

Unacceptable level of  composition

Many errors in composition

Several errors in compositionMinimal errors in composition

All composition elements present

 

0 points

15 points

21 points

24 points

27 points

30 points

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total points

0

50

70

80

90

100

 


 

 

The purpose of Composition #2 is for you to demonstrate your knowledge. 

Your Composition #2 should say:

  1. I know what a traditional harmonic progression is and I know how to apply it to harmonize my melody.

  2. I can write an accompaniment for my melody that uses a single pattern.

  3. I know how to use Finale to make my score look publishable.

 

 

 

 

Composition Assignment #3

 

Compose a piece that contains harmony.  Feel free to stretch your creative wings with regard to instrumentation and style.  The rubric will be pass/fail.  If you pass, I will replacd one homework grade. 

Composition requirements:

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At least 16-24 measures long

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Must contain harmony (no solos without accompaniment)

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Correctly formatted in Finale

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Seriously revised (not just thrown together)

This is a great opportunity to compose without restrictions.  There will be no critiquing on these compositions.  We will just listen to them straight through in one class period.

Criteria

Composition 3 Rubric

Performance Indicators

 

Fail

Pass

Finale formatting

Measures numbered

No extra measures or staves

Unnecessary text removed

Lines balanced

Unacceptable formatting

Acceptable formatting

 

0 points

? points

General instructions

Finale file on time

Instructions not followed

Instructions followed

 

0 points

?  points

Composition requirements

At least 16 measures long

Contains harmony

Seriously revised

Requirements not met

Requirements met

 

0 points

? points

 

 

 

 

 

 

Total points

0

80-100

 

 

 

 

 

The purpose of Composition #3 is for you to demonstrate your creativity. 

Your Composition #3 should say:

  1. This is what I think sounds cool.

 

 


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