Music Is Merely 12 Notes

Probably the single most important mantra for any composer – at any level – is that music is merely 12 notes. If you look at the piano, there are only 12 notes between any octave. After those 12 notes, the octave simply repeats all over again. Why is it so important to keep reminding yourself […]

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Music Composition 7: Mixing Musical Styles

The basic vocabulary of music as we know it has been around for centuries, dating as far back as Medieval times. While we know ancient music existed, it hasn’t been well documented. Since the early days of documented music, our melodies and harmonies have evolved to the point where virtually any combination of notes is […]

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Are You a Music Snob?

I was just reading a humorous debate on a music forum regarding the topic of “art music” versus “entertainment music.” I say it was “humorous” because I’m always amused by the certainty that some people have in their opinions about what the function of music should be and how it should sound. Several of their […]

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Music Composition 6: Vocal Writing

A recent post asked about the basic approach to vocal composition. While this subject deserves more of a discussion than I can supply in this format, I can give you a few quick tips to get you started. One simple way to approach vocal writing is to think of the choir as one body of […]

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I’ve been getting some letters and posts requesting I discuss various topics. I appreciate all your enthusiasm. Please use this page to post your requests. I can’t guarantee when or if I will get to them, but this will at least give me an idea of what topics you are most interested in. Thanks!

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Music Composition 5: Odd Meters

In the broadest sense, a meter is simply a description of the rhythmic feel of the music. For example, a 4/4 meter at a moderate tempo might be described as having a “walking” feel. Likewise, a 6/8 meter might be described as having a “hopping” feel. When composing, our choice of meters is always a […]

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Do YOU Know What Film Composers Know?

For a composer, is learning how to create diverse musical moods and emotions a basic requirement of the art? I say the answer is “yes”. I felt it important enough that I devoted a large portion of my Secret Composer software to the exploration and analysis of creating musical moods and emotions. Some might ask […]

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Music Composition 4: Adding Musical Elements

We experience music in time. While we can perceive the complete scope of a painting in just moments, music slowly reveals itself one second at a time. This gives the composer complete control over how the audience experiences the composition. It also becomes a factor in the creation of the composition itself Knowing there is […]

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Handling Criticism

Most composers, whether just beginners or highly experienced, don’t like to have their music criticized. And why would they? Their music is a deep personal expression of who they are. But this is true of virtually everyone. No one likes to be criticized. There is a common saying: “opinions are like rear-­ends. Everybody has one”. […]

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Music Composition 3: Composing with Chord Progressions

As a composer, you might use many different methods to construct a musical composition. You could plunk out a few notes on your instrument and see what develops. You could also pick an exciting rhythmic pattern and see if it inspires a melody. You could even listen to some of your favorite music and try […]

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