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  1. #1
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    Default Composing General Chat!

    Well, since more people voted to have this topic, I decided to start one. So yeah, here's the topic. Everyone can contribute. I'll start with mine. I would assume a basic knowledge on music theory, so if you are unclear, please ask..


    Cadences
    I really don't want to say this as an insult, but I have noticed that in some compositions posted in this forum, cadences were hardly used, and if they were, at the incorrect places. Hence, my first tutorial on cadences. (I would assume that you already know how to identify chords from Roman Numerals, since in most of the compositions, you guys seem to understand chords)

    Very much like speech and conversations, there are punctuation marks in music. These punctuations are called cadences and they are used at the end of each phrase, which analogically speaking is much like a sentence. There are generally four types of cadences, Perfect, Plagal, Half(also known as Imperfect) and Deceptive(also known as Interrupted).

    Perfect Cadence (V - I)



    A perfect cadence is a V - I progression. It is known as an "Authentic Cadence" to Americans, and there are two types - the Perfect Authentic Cadence (PAC) and the Imperfect Authentic Cadence, IAC (IAC).

    For a PAC, both of these chords must be in root position, and the melody must end in the tonic pitch (in this case it is C). An IAC is any other V - I progression. Generally speaking, a PAC is used to end the piece, while an IAC is for smaller phrases/melodies. This cadence will leave a "complete" feeling to the listener, hence a "perfect" cadence. It can be compared to a full-stop (.).

    Half Cadence (I-V, ii-V, IV-V, vi-V)

    A half cadence is any cadence that ends with a V chord. It can be preceded by I, IV, ii, or vi. It leaves an "incomplete" feeling to the listener, hence a "half" cadence. It can be compared to a comma (,). It cannot be used to end a melody, therefore there must be another phrase after the half cadence. In other words, music must go on after this cadence.

    Plagal Cadence (IV - I)
    A IV-I progression, also a "full-stop" cadence. It can be heard at the end of church hymns and final movements of full-scale works.

    Deceptive Cadence (V-vi)
    A deceptive cadence tricks the listener into thinking that a perfect cadence is about to happen, but instead a vi chord is played. It is not a conclusive cadence, and is often used to extend the length of a phrase.


    So that concludes the first tutorial on what cadences are. I'm sorry if it was a bit confusing and badly-written(it's 1am as I write this). If there is anything to add or correct, please do so.

    The use of cadences in practice will be covered in my next tutorial about phrasing. Until then, it helps to analyse pieces to identify cadences. It is also essential that you play them on the piano or any other instrument so you will know how they sound like (especially what I mean about a "complete" and "incomplete" cadence).

    Keep 'em coming.

  2. #2
    Plod of Mass Domination Member Plod's Avatar
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    Well, this tutorial's not written by me, but I found it at an RPG development site. It was supposed to help people compose music for their RPG's. Some people here might find it useful. It goes from basic scales and chords, to intermediate stuff like gypsy scales, blues scales, sus2 and sus4 chords, etc etc.

    I've attached the file to this post because the site with the tutorial isn't working for me. I hope you can open *.doc files.

  3. #3
    ☺☻♀╬♥♣ Member VoodooDoll's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plod View Post
    Well, this tutorial's not written by me, but I found it at an RPG development site. It was supposed to help people compose music for their RPG's. Some people here might find it useful. It goes from basic scales and chords, to intermediate stuff like gypsy scales, blues scales, sus2 and sus4 chords, etc etc.

    I've attached the file to this post because the site with the tutorial isn't working for me. I hope you can open *.doc files.
    Nice bike. you cant even see it.

  4. #4
    Plod of Mass Domination Member Plod's Avatar
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    OK, people. If your computer says that the tutorial I posted has a virus or something, I don't know what is wrong with your computer. It is only a MS Wordpad file. Sorry to all the Mac and *nix users.

  5. #5
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    Cadences Part II and phrasing

    Not much this time around, just giving an example of the use of cadences in musical context.

    Now, the image is big, so please click here:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...bat/mozart.gif

    This is the opening 8 bars of Mozart's Sonata in A major K.331. You will notice the Roman Numerals that I have inserted in the picture. In bar 4 you will see a half cadence, a ii-(Ic)-V progression. If you listen to this piece (midi file included), you will notice that this cadence will leave an "incomplete" feeling to the listener.. In bar 8, the melody is ended satisfactorily with a perfect cadence (Ib - V7 - I).

    You will also notice that the phrases are 4 bars each. This will make the melody more balanced and well-structured. 4-bar phrasing is called "regular phrasing" and you should employ regular phrasing if you are a beginner. When composing, you should start planning your piece by determining where your cadences will go, and it is important that you take into consideration the length of your phrases.

    Of course there are "irregular phrases" which can be used, but for now just stick to regular phrasing and you won't go wrong.

    Now, as an exercise, go to Sheet Music Archive and try to analyze cadences in as many Mozart or Haydn pieces as you are able to. Also notice the length of the phrases.

    The next tutorial will be on 8-bar melody writing.

    Feedback would be nice too; I want to know if this is useful to anybody. :S

  6. #6
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    Well, I've been busy lately, so I'll post a new tutorial next week. Until then, others can also contribute...

  7. #7
    Decomposed Member Al's Avatar
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    Good work Moebius!

    Hmm, maybe this topic can be pinned?

    ~~

    Anyways, I've realized that there aren't many tutorials on "actual composing". What I mean is that sure, there's theory, which is important. But to make the theory work into a song is a different story (damn, so hard to explain what I mean, haha). Moebius started off the first step with the phrasing, so thanks to him for that.

    Some of you have heard me talk about music being like a story. You have the intro to set up the mood. Then you build up the characters and the situation. Eventually you get to the climax. Then you finish it off. The problem with some songs is that people forget to take their time to tell the story. They try to rush all their ideas in at once. But the audience needs time to digest the material. As to the actual practice of basing music on a story, that's even harder for me or anyone else here to teach.

    Another problem I've found in songs is that the material is so random. There should be form, some sort of direction. There has to be a purpose to what you're writing. Don't be, "hmm, this sounds good, and this sounds good, so they should be placed side by side". No, instead, the two have to connect and flow. One way to do this is with motives. Look up Beethoven's 5th symphony (1st movement), Tifa's Theme (FFVII), or even my nonameyet piece. The motives help tie everything together so nothing sounds out of place.

    The best songs are emotional. Feel them through the music, and they will guide you as to how the music should go. A pause here, a ritardando here, but no, let's crescendo and make it exciting! I don't know, something like that.

    That's all I can think of at the moment. I might write some more later.

  8. #8
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    Good points, Alphonse.

    I agree with everything, especially the part about motives... which happens to be exactly what I'm about to introduce in 8-bar melody writing.. Okay here goes:

    8-bar melody writing

    There is, of course, more than one way to write a melody, and this is merely an example, but it is important that you get the concept right. Writing an 8-bar melody is very simple and can be achieved in only a couple of steps.

    First of all you should have to plan your composition. By now you should have an idea about the general mood of your piece. You would of course need to decide on a key. We will take G major. Since there are 8 bars in the melody, you would want to use regular phrasing, as I had discussed in my previous 'tutorial'. That means there will be two phrases which are 4 bars in length each. The first one should end with a half cadence. Actually it can end with any cadence, but for the current purposes we will use the half cadence to end the first phrase. The second phrase (the 'answering phrase&#39 should end in a perfect cadence.


    |* I* * * * * * ** |* * * * * * * * ** |* * * * * * * ** |V (half cadence)** |
    |* * * * * * * * * |* * * * * * * * ** |* * * * * * * |V - I (perfect cadence)|
    There. Not too hard, right? Now you shall have to decide on a time signature and write a motive. Here's an example:



    Well, it's a crappy example (and sorry for the cut off lines too). But good enough. Your motive should be:
    1) short and sweet
    2) easy to remember
    3) suits the mood (your time signature should fit this criterion as well)
    4) simple

    It does NOT need to be complex. For example, in Beethoven's 5th Symphony Mov.1, a very simple motive with two notes (the first note being played three times, that is) was used. It's strong, easy to remember, and suits the mood. It's that easy. Use common sense to guide you. If you're planning on a slow, melancholic piece, common sense tells you to use longer note-values (although that is not always the case). If it's a joyful piece, perhaps a more lively motive would be good. These are of course only examples, and I trust that you have enough intelligence to write a motive. There can be more than one motives in one phrase or melody, but for now we would use only one.

    Next, we shall ignore the notes temporarily, and focus only on the rhythmic part of the motive. The motive I had written consists of one dotted crochet, followed by a quaver and then a minim. Using this information, the rhythm of the first phrase can be written. The picture for my example is big, so please click on the link:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v131/bet...hraserhythm.gif

    Please excuse me as I forgot to insert the key signature. It is actually in G major. Anyway, you will see that there is a slight variation on the third bar. Since the 'motion' in the motive stops at the first and second bars, I made the rhythm more flowing in the third bar for more variety. It is to make the melody more interesting.

    Now, with the same concepts, you can either come up with a loosely related (or totally unrelated) answering phrase by writing another motive, OR you can follow the exact rhythm. Or you can do a bit of both. It's up to you. Since I'm too lazy right now, I'll just copy the rhythm of the first phrase exactly. So there -- you have the rhythm of the two phrases planned out.

    The next step is to decide on the chord progression. I would assume that you know about the functions of chords -- as in, which chords are more suitable to go after which chords, etc.. It is important that you think of the cadence as the "aim" or "target" of each phrase. The chord progression will ultimately build up to the cadence. Here's a planned out chord progression I have:

    Phrase 1
    |G major: I* * * ** | V7b* * * ** | vi* * * ** | V (half cadence)* * * |

    Phrase 2
    |I* * * * * ** | V7b* * * * * * | vi* * * IV* | V - I (perfect cadence) |
    There. It isn't too complex. V7b refers to the dominant seventh in first inversion. Chord changes fall on the strong beats (although my little "diagram" isn't clear). For a 4/4 rhythm, the strong beats are on the first and third beats. So if you are writing in 4/4, keep that in mind.

    Now that you have your rhythmic material and your chord progression planned out, it's time to put the notes in accordingly. These are phrases 1 and 2 respectively:

    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...at/phrase1.gif
    http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v1...at/phrase2.gif

    Combined, they make a 8-bar melody. A midi file is attached with this post. It isn't a good melody written by a genius, I admit, and it's even a little embarrassing for me. But at least you get a general idea of melody writing. I composed that in less than 5 minutes. Once you know the steps, you can also do it.

  9. #9
    Moderately moderating Member Noir7's Avatar
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    While you guys concentrate on theory, I'll take my time and write a little something about composing.

  10. #10
    Deliciously existential Member Elite666's Avatar
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    This may be a little off topic but I feel like sharing. I once attended a composition clinic hosted by the guy who does the Megaman Cartoon music and a whole slew of things in Europe. He actually did a live composition of a song right there.

    He decided to do a Jazz piece since he had his trio there and the whole thing was being hosted by a local Jazz club. So he started out by choosing the style and chord structure. He decided on a ballad and a modal chord structure so he basically just chose three chords and gave them each eight bars. He wanted an empty sad feel to it so he chose, I don't remember the exact chords, a couple of minor nines and dorian chords. Then he just got the bass player and piano player to go with it for a chorus and he came in on the second chorus playing flute so he could write the music without transposing. Basically they just ran through it a few times, tweaking it here and there and then examined it. They felt it was too normal so they added a bar of 9/8 and tried it again. After ten more minutes of reworking, they had a complete piece and it sounded really good.

    It just seemed this was a novel way of doing compositions and would work to get the core idea for just about any style. I've tried doing this a couple of times and once I get back to my normal computer I can post it. I hope that has given a couple o people ideas on how to do their next song.

  11. #11
    Decomposed Member Al's Avatar
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    Hey, that's pretty interesting, and that gives me an idea. How about the next time we compose a piece, we actually write down our thoughts about what went into that piece? When I wrote my sonata, I had a sort of diary, but it was more of a progress report than a tutorial. So what do you say guys? Next time you compose, provide the score with your notes (er, pun not intended). That way we get to look into the mind of a composer and see why you did what you did.

  12. #12
    Deliciously existential Member Elite666's Avatar
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    Hmm... sounds good, that's a great idea.

  13. #13
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    Well, this site might be useful for analysis of Bach fugues:

    http://jan.ucc.nau.edu/~tas3/wtc.html

    Not my fault if you get a headache, though. Because it sure gave me one.

  14. #14
    Ichigos Sand Bag Member HopelessComposer's Avatar
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    Well...first post! I'm just posting to say thank you to all the people putting tutorials and things into this thread...I'm starting my first music theory class this year, and the tutorials here are very helpful...so thanks alot!

    And I for one, think this should be stickied :sweatdrop:

    EDIT:FLCL is the best show ever btw

  15. #15
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    Glad to hear you found them useful

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