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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Film and Media/Music Theory

Composition Method Step 2

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Download music composition software. If you want to compose on your computer, you can use software to drag and drop notes, make quick changes and revisions, providing you with easy access and quick saves. Composing on the computer is increasingly popular among contemporary composers, saving you time... read more
Download music composition software. If you want to compose on your computer, you can use software to drag and drop notes, make quick changes and revisions, providing you with easy access and quick saves. Composing on the computer is increasingly popular among contemporary composers, saving you time and effort in writing music.
  • MuseScore is a popular software, easy-to-use and compatible with either freestyle composition or MIDI inputs. You can record directly onto the staves or work by building your piece up note-by-note. Most composition software also features MIDI playback, so you can hear what you've just written in digital version.
  • GarageBand also comes standard on most new Macs, and can be used to write sheet music by selecting a "Songwriting" project. You can record live sounds or input an instrument directly to transcribe into musical notation, then click on the Scissor icon in the bottom left corner to check out the notes.
  • Noteflight is a good online site to use if you don't want to spend a lot of money on software as your first ten scores are free when you make an account.
  • Download the software and start a new project to start saving your work. If you input a MIDI keyboard into the computer with a USB cable, you'll be able to play your melody directly onto the keyboard and the software will chart your music on the staff. It's as easy as it gets. You can even layer parts, assigning them to different instruments, to get started on that symphony.
 

 

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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Composition Method Step 3 & 4

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Sign up for a free online composition resource: Online communities of composers and sheet-music readers also exist to compose and congregate over their music. Much like using composition software, you can compose your tune right online and save your work, then make it public and get feedback from other... read more

Sign up for a free online composition resource: Online communities of composers and sheet-music readers also exist to compose and congregate over their music. Much like using composition software, you can compose your tune right online and save your work, then make it public and get feedback from other composers, or leave it private and access your composition from anywhere.

  • Noteflight is one such free community, and an excellent resource both for learning to read music, writing music, exploring other peoples' compositions, and posting your compositions.

Select an instrument or a group of instruments for which to compose: Want to chart out some horn lines for an R&B song, or write up a string part to back your ballad? It's most common to work on one phrase or instrument at a time, then worrying about harmony and counterpoint later when you've got the first part knocked out. Common charting projects might include:

  • Horn section parts for trumpet (in Bb), saxophone (in Eb), and trombone (in Bb).
  • String quartet for two violins, viola, and cello.
  • Piano charts for accompaniment.
  • Vocal sheets.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Write The Clef On The Staff

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

A page of sheet music is made up of notes and rests printed on five parallel lines and the spaces in between them, which is called the staff. The lines and spaces are counted from the bottom to the top, meaning the higher-pitched notes will be higher up on the staff. The staff can be in either bass or... read more

A page of sheet music is made up of notes and rests printed on five parallel lines and the spaces in between them, which is called the staff. The lines and spaces are counted from the bottom to the top, meaning the higher-pitched notes will be higher up on the staff. The staff can be in either bass or treble clef, which will be marked at the left-most point on each line of the staff. The clef marker will tell you which line corresponds to which set of notes:

  • In the treble clef, also known as "G clef," you'll notice a sign a bit like the ampersand (&), printed on the left side of each staff. This is the most common clef for sheet music. Guitar, trumpet, saxophone and most higher-register instruments will be printed on treble clef. The notes, starting on the bottom line and going to the top line, are E, G, B, D, and F. The notes in the spaces between the lines, starting with the space between the first and second, are F, A, C, and E.
  • In the bass clef you'll notice a sign that looks a bit like a curved number "7" to the left of each line of the staff. The bass clef is used for instruments in the lower register, like trombone, bass guitar, and tuba. Starting with the bottom, or first line, the notes ascend G, B, D, F, and A. In the spaces are A, C, E, and G, from the bottom to the top.
  • The tenor clef is used for choral works. It looks like the treble clef but with a little number 8 under it. It reads just like the treble clef but sounds an octave lower.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Write The Time Signature

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

The time signatures reforest to the number of notes and beats in each measure on the staff. On the staff, measures will be separated by periodic vertical lines, separating the staff into little chunks of notes. Just to the right of the clef will be two numbers, one over the other, like a fraction. The... read more

The time signatures reforest to the number of notes and beats in each measure on the staff. On the staff, measures will be separated by periodic vertical lines, separating the staff into little chunks of notes. Just to the right of the clef will be two numbers, one over the other, like a fraction. The top number represents the number of beats in each measure on the staff, while the bottom number represents the value of each beat in the measure.

  • In western music, the most common time signature is 4/4 time, which means there are four beats in each measure, and one quarter-note is worth one beat. You may also see a capitol C in place of 4/4. They are the same thing, the "C" is for "common time." 6/8 time, another often used time signature, means that there are 6 beats in each measure and the 8th note gets the beat.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Set The Key Signature.

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

More information to be included at the left of each line of the staff includes any sharps (#) or flats (b) that will designate the key signature you'll follow throughout the music. A sharp takes a note up half a step, while a flat lowers it half a step. The symbols can appear incidentally throughout... read more

More information to be included at the left of each line of the staff includes any sharps (#) or flats (b) that will designate the key signature you'll follow throughout the music. A sharp takes a note up half a step, while a flat lowers it half a step. The symbols can appear incidentally throughout the piece for occasional uses, or can appear at the beginning of the piece to follow through the remainder of the song.

  • If, for instance, you see a sharp in the first space in the treble clef, you'll know that each note that appears in that space will need to be played one half-step higher. Likewise, with flats.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Learn The Different Kinds Of Notes You'll Use

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

On the staff will be printed many different types of notes and rests. The style of note refers to the length of the note, and the placement of the note on the staff refers to the pitch of the note. Notes are made of heads, which are either dots or circles, and stems, which trail off from the head of... read more

On the staff will be printed many different types of notes and rests. The style of note refers to the length of the note, and the placement of the note on the staff refers to the pitch of the note. Notes are made of heads, which are either dots or circles, and stems, which trail off from the head of the note, either up or down on the staff, depending on the placement of the note.

  • Whole notes look like ovals, and are held out for 4 quarter notes.
  • Half notes look like whole notes, but with a straight stem. They're held for half the length of a whole note. In 4/4 time, there would be 2 half-notes per measure.
  • Quarter notes have solid black heads and straight stems. In 4/4 time, there are 4 quarter notes in a measure.
  • Eighth notes look like quarter notes with little flags on the end of the stem. In most cases, eighth notes will be grouped together for each beat, with bars connecting the notes to signify the beat and make the music easier to read.
  • Rests follow similar rules. Each whole rest looks like a black bar on the middle line of the staff, while quarter-note rests look a bit like a letter "K" in italics, building stems and flags as they break down into further divisions per beat.
  • A dotted note or rest means that you add half of the value of the note. For example, a dotted half note would be 3 beats and a dotted quarter would be 1 1/2.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Spend Time Learning From Other Scores

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Western musical notation is a fairly complex symbolic language that you need to understand to read first if you hope to write it. Just as you couldn't hope to write a novel without understanding to read words and sentences, you can't write sheet music if you can't read notes and rests. Before you try... read more

Western musical notation is a fairly complex symbolic language that you need to understand to read first if you hope to write it. Just as you couldn't hope to write a novel without understanding to read words and sentences, you can't write sheet music if you can't read notes and rests. Before you try to write down sheet music, develop a working knowledge of:

  • Different notes and rests.

  • The lines and spaces on the sheet.

  • Rhythm markers.

  • Dynamic markers.

  • Key signatures.

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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Choose Your Composition Instrument

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Some composers compose with their pencil and paper, some compose with a guitar or a piano, and some compose with a french horn in hand. There's no right way to start writing sheet music, but it's helpful to be able to play yourself to practice out little phrases you're working on and hear how they sound. Plunking... read more

Some composers compose with their pencil and paper, some compose with a guitar or a piano, and some compose with a french horn in hand. There's no right way to start writing sheet music, but it's helpful to be able to play yourself to practice out little phrases you're working on and hear how they sound.

  • Plunking out some notes on the piano is especially useful for composers to know, since the piano is the most visual instrument all the notes are right there, laid out before you.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard Film and Media/Music Theory

Start With The Melody

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Most composition begins with the melody, or the lead musical phrase that will follow and develop throughout the composition. This is the "hummable" part of any song. Whether you're writing out solo charts for a single instrument or starting your first symphony, the melody is the place you'll start when... read more

Most composition begins with the melody, or the lead musical phrase that will follow and develop throughout the composition. This is the "hummable" part of any song. Whether you're writing out solo charts for a single instrument or starting your first symphony, the melody is the place you'll start when you're writing sheet music. Standard melodies normally last 4 or 8 measures. This is because they are the most mathematical and pleasing to the ear, as they are somewhat easy to predict how they will end.

  • As you start composing, embrace happy accidents when they occur. No pieces arrive fully formed and perfect. If you're looking for a new place to go with a melody, jam around on the piano or whatever composing instrument you favor and follow the muse where she leads you.
  • If you're feeling especially experimental, explore the world of aleatoric composition. Pioneered by composition luminaries like John Cage, aleatoric compositions introduce an element of chance into the writing process, rolling dice to determine the next note on a 12-tone scale, or consulting the iChing to generate notes. These compositions will sound dissonant, in most cases, and is not always the best way to start or end a melody. It can however give your piece a unique feel that makes it stand out.
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Lesson Posted on 12/09/2017 Music/Instrumental Music/Piano Film and Media/Music Theory Music/Instrumental Music/Keyboard

Write In Phrases, Then Chain Your Phrases Together To Make The Music Speak

keerthana lakshmi

I have 7+ years of experience in teaching Piano, Keyboard, Guitar & Western Music Theory Classes for...

Once you start with the melody, how do you move the music forward? Where should it go? How does a group of notes become a composition? While there's no easy answer to cracking the Mozart code, it's good to start with small fragments called phrases and gradually build them up into full musical statements.... read more

Once you start with the melody, how do you move the music forward? Where should it go? How does a group of notes become a composition? While there's no easy answer to cracking the Mozart code, it's good to start with small fragments called phrases and gradually build them up into full musical statements. No piece arrives fully formed.

  • Try grouping phrases together in terms of the emotions they evoke. Guitar composer John Fahey, a self-taught instrumentalist and composer, wrote by combining small fragments by "emotion." Even if they didn't necessarily come from the same key or sound like they belonged together, if different phrases felt whimsical, or forlorn, or wistful, he would combine them together to form a song.
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