Sunday, August 31, 2008

Composition Issues (5)

[From a 9-part handout for my introductory composition class.]

5. How to Extend or Develop Musical Materials; Specific Suggestions (may be used in combination with one another)
Repeat…Vary…Extend…
•…with different dynamic•…selected motives (i.e., a, or b, or c, etc.)• …a + b +b' (or a+b+a', etc.)
•…in a different register•…truncate• … continue with similar intervals, i.e., la-do-ti-fa, la-do-ti-fa-mi-so, la-do-ti-fa-mi-so-di-re, etc.
•…with different orchestration•…invert, retrograde, retrograde inversion• … reorder same pitches, i.e., la-do-ti-fa, do-ti-la-fa, la-ti-fa-do, etc.
•…with different harmony•…insert/subtract rests• … combine previous two, i.e., la-do-ti-fa, la-ti-fa-mi, so-fi-la-si-ti-la-fa-mi, etc.
•…in a different mode•…reorder, interpolate (insert), substitute• … using similar or contrasting rhythms.
•…with different counterpoint•…make nonretrogradable• … make sequence
•…with different texture (i.e., pointillism, thicker, thinner, etc.)•…rhythm• …turn into a transition (how? Discuss…)
•…with different accompaniment figure•…shift rhythmic emphasis, rotate• …add dissimilar materials
•…in a different tempo•…augmentation or diminution of all or any portion• … gradually change character.
•…in a different meter•…mode• … create a dialogue
•…in a different key/transposition•…articulation• …reverse roles (melody/accompaniment)
•…with overlap•…selected intervals• …continue linear contour

6 comments:

Philip said...

I wish I had something more profound to say... but I don't. I just really appreciate these notes, and I'm taking a lot from them. I think it is valuable to hear tips like these from someone who's been "in the business" for a while. Thanks Dr. Ross!

Kim Codner said...

I love this chart!
I mean, we all know these things but sometimes we can forget about a way of manipulating and expanding our musical material!
I am a big fan of extensions onto musical material. I also love varying material that is already present. Its like you give someone an idea, repeat your thought so they THINK they're gonna hear the same thing, but then ... BAM!!! Something different, and the listener just doesn't know what to do but take it all in.
Also.
I think every attempt i've tried at retrograde, inversion, etc... have all sounded awful. I applaud anyone who comes up with an idea that can be manipulated in such a way to sound great!

James Bulgin said...

This is a very interesting chart. Even if many of the possibilities are straightforward, it's actually sort of amazing seeing the sheer number of different kinds of variations and extensions lined up together, especially considering each of these points has a huge amount of possible variations within them.

It might be a good idea, when one is feeling stuck, to actually look at a chart like this, and maybe stumble into an option you hadn't considered.

Tony Taylor said...

Interesting chart- I like all the arguments made above. It really is interesting to note that great music has been made on all ends of spectrum. To that end, what is now the expected was once the unexpected. The key truly is balance, as you said.

Julianne Meaney said...

This is such a helpful chart! It's so interesting because although we all know we need to extend our ideas, but I've never thought about the actual ways to do that in such a clear, succinct manner.

I'm actually in the midst of writing our piece for percussion right now and it's so interesting to think about how I might use some of these techniques with rhythmic writing rather than melodic. So many of them still apply, obviously, but others would have to be changed to suit percussion instruments instead of melodic. I'll definitely be using some of these tips in my next piece! Thanks Dr. Ross!

Vanessa Legge said...

Love this chart! I am currently struggling with expanding my ideas in my percussion piece. Although I cannot use the pitched suggestions you have given there is a lot here that can help me vary my basic idea rhythms and repeat and expand them! I will definitely be trying contrasting rhythms for some of my BIs as well as trying to move my main rhythms to different meters. This will allow me to keep my ideas but develop and expand them. I also forget how much articulation can change an idea. I have many rhythms with similar articulation so maybe by changing those I can expand my ideas in a smarter, more musical way. I have lots to work with here. Thanks!!