Inspiration & Practicality

Everyone once and a while, I’ll pop in an old CD I haven’t heard in a while. Perhaps an old favorite. I always wonder “Why did I ever stop listening to this?” It transports me, inspires me, changes my writing habits as a composer. Oh how I am so easily manipulated into the fantasy of the genre. The lure of playing heavy metal before a crowd, the self-sufficiency of being a singer-songwriter behind an acoustic guitar, the appeal of leading worship at church. “Maybe this one will allow me to pursue this full time.” “How about this one; it’ll surely bring in the income.”

I’ll go through a phase. Sometimes a week, and sometimes a couple of months. Either the inspiration will die first, or the once “practical” solution as a composer seems “impractical.” What comes off as myself being such a genre-diverse composer is really just me scratching & clawing to find something that works; not musically, but financially.

Let’s make good music cheap sounds an awful lot like the fast food industry, but hopefully the dream isn’t as bad for me.

Here’s to all you composers, songwriters, and aspiring bedroom musicians. Let’s find something that works.

Composer’s Logue | Transitions

Composing in the digital age has brought its share of problems for the active composer. The age of 4 bar loops sometimes boxes us in subliminally . We can go from one section of music to another without properly transitioning.

I found myself working on a composition with the working title ‘Polarity.’ Each section focuses around a group of notes from the clock face.

  • One section around the notes of a C9b7
  • Another around a G#9b7
  • And the remaining notes around a C7(no 5th)

It would be quite atonal if the C & G# chords didn’t share some notes; hence, the polarity. Getting back to the transitioning subject, between the first two sections, I wanted to create a 2 chord transition only lasting one to two measures. I came to the realization that I was severely missing out on some interesting development. Instead of selling myself short with this abrupt transition so early on in the composition, I am taking advantage of both the shared & differentiating notes between the C & G# sections to slowly meld between the two. In a way, it reminds me of the wormhole between 2 galaxies like in the film Interstellar.

This is the only place in the composition I’ll have a mediant relationship between chords, so why not take the most advantage of it. Later, going into the final section, I will essentially have a subdominant relationship…I guess we’ll see what happens when I get there.

Polarity

[ C9 – G#9 – C#7(no 5th) ]

Riff Development | Getting the Most out of Your Ideas

 

One of the greatest lessons I learned when I was a student of music composition was to make use of my ideas; or in this case – riffs. Before my training, I didn’t often maximize on my ideas and would write motifs, ideas, riffs, etc. and not take time to find their full potential as most young and inexperienced composers do. Below is an example of how I might begin to develop an idea.

(0:00 – 0:24) I present the idea as a simple gallop riff with some chromatic ties between the gallops and a chromatic 3-note run at the end of the phrases. I establish the initial idea by repeating it before I develop it by modulating up a whole step.

(0:24-0:35) In the modulated development, I change up the chromatic ties between the gallops; however, I leave the chromatic 3-note run intact. At the last phrase end, I introduce the next development before I continue into the next phrase by playing the 3-note run as double stops (power chords).

(0:35 – 0:58) As I return to the original key, I have developed it further by playing the whole section as open power chords. Also, you will notice that the percussion has become more aggressive; the crash and splash cymbals are in use with some more technical fills.

(0:59 – 1:10) When I modulate this section, I change octaves for some of the ties for a better flow on the instrument. At the end of this section, notice I extend my 3-note chromatic run by adding an additional 3 more notes and by extending the measure from 4/4 to 5/4 to emphasize my cadence before returning to the original single-note idea (1:11)

If I were to develop this idea further, I would begin to look at fragmentation. By taking some of the individual ties, or even the 3-note chromatic run, I could explore some excellent development to build upon my original ideas. When doing this on your own – make sure to save your best developmental ideas for last as to make an exciting climax! I’d love to hear what you all might do, as well!

Happy composing and happy riffing!!