Secrets To Better Composing & Improvising

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2 Secrets To Better Composing & Improvising By David Hicken Copyright 2017 by Enchanting Music All rights reserved. No part of this document may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, by any means (electronic, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of the author, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. For permission requests, write to If you find this content to be valuable and want to share it, please direct people to purchase a copy from davidhicken.com. A lot of hard work, time, and expertise went into creating this resource. Your support is greatly appreciated!!1

3 Introduction About Me 5 About This Book 6 Yes, You Can Compose! 6 A Few Words About Terminology 9 Now Is A Great Time To Compose Music 10 Composing Is Good For You 11 Setting Yourself Up As A Composer Make A Commitment 12 Create Your Workspace 12 Your Instruments And Tools 13 The Three Essentials 15 Time 15 Patience 15 Discipline 16 Work With A Clear Mind 16 Begin With The End In Mind 16 Support 17 Four Core Areas Of Study Develop Your Piano Skills 18 Study Scales 19 Learn Music Notation 19 Master Your Software 21 Summary 24 Additional Studies Music Theory 25 Scales 25 Harmony 26 Counterpoint 27 Orchestration 27 Form 28 Listen To Great Music 29 Read And Follow Scores 30 Read Composer Biographies 31 Summary 31 The Ingredients Of Good Music Elements Of A Composition 32 Melody 32 Accompaniment 34!2

4 Bass 36 Harmony 36 Rhythm 37 Form 38 Pulse And Tempo 38 Time Signature (Meter) 39 Dynamics 40 Timbre 40 Summary 41 Getting Started The History Of Improvisation 42 What Is Improvisation? 42 Taking The First Step 43 Composing vs. Editing 44 Inspiration 45 Consonance And Dissonance 46 Intervals 47 Horizontal vs. Vertical 49 Summary 49 Conforming Your Music Tonality 50 Choose A Key 53 Harmony 55 Summary 58 Packaging Your Music Melody 59 Meter 61 Tempo 62 Rhythm 62 Form 63 Contrasting Elements Movement vs. Stationary 65 Up vs. Down 65 Melody vs. Accompaniment 66 Loud vs. Soft 66 High vs. Low 67 Dark vs. Light 68 Sound vs. Silence 68 Smooth vs. Detached 69!3

5 Fast vs. Slow 69 Long vs. Short 70 Full vs. Thin 70 Major vs. Minor 70 Summary 71 The Composing Process Melody & Chords 71 Movement 72 What To Play With A Chord 73 Placement Of Notes Within A Chord 74 Changing Chords 75 Developing Ideas 76 Structuring Ideas 78 An Introduction 79 Repeating A Melody 79 Thirds, Sixths, Octaves & Tenths 80 Modulation 80 Damper Pedal 81 Avoid Comparisons 82 Titles 83 Length 83 Summary 83 General Tips Enjoy The Journey 84 Trust Your Ears 84 Perform Your Music For People 85 Backup Your Work 85 Dealing With Writers Block 86 Protecting Your Work 87 Summary 88 Putting Things Into Practice Mastering Triads And Their Inversions 89 Mastering Triads Of The Scale 95 Chord Symbols 96 Triads Of The Minor Scale 96 Mastering Quadrads 110 The Cycle Of Fifths 115 Cycle Of Fifths Using Quadrads 125 Conclusion 129!4

6 Introduction About Me My music training began with piano lessons at the age of three with my mother who was a successful piano teacher. It wasn t easy at first, but because I was expected to practice every day, I soon became advanced for my age. In England, it was common for music students to prepare for examinations twice per year, which I did from the age of seven onwards. These examinations consisted of scales and arpeggios, sight reading, ear training as well as three pieces of music of contrasting styles and periods. Additional theory examinations consisted of everything regarding music notation. I took exams in piano, clarinet and organ and soon became very serious about my studies, knowing that I wanted to become a musician. While still in my teens, I took teaching diplomas which involved intense study of harmony, counterpoint and orchestration, but despite all of this training, I had no desire to become a composer because my ambitions lay in becoming a classical organist. However, when I discovered synthesizers at the age of eighteen, I composed my first piece of music and I was absolutely hooked. Within just a few months of my first composition, I sent some tracks to record companies in London and signed my first record contract when I was nineteen. My journey as a composer has changed a lot since those first few compositions, and I ve learned much along the way. I am very happy to share what I have learned with you throughout this book.!5

7 About This Book Countless people throughout the world would love to be able to write a piece of music, but simply don t know where to begin. I decided to write this book to help remove some of the mystery about the wonderful art of composing and improvising. People who have no prior knowledge of music will find it useful, as well as those who already have some musical ability. However, I must be brutally honest with you upfront. Composition cannot be taught, it must be learned. Just as you can t learn to paint a beautiful painting by reading a book, this book alone will not transform you into a great composer. It will however, point you in the right direction. You should consider this a guidebook which will help you to understand what you need to learn as a composer and where to find that information. Music is a vast subject, and there are certain elements that a composer must be very familiar with in order to get his or her ideas down. You will learn all about them here. Books on harmony, counterpoint, orchestration, form and analysis can be very dull. I know because I ve read so many of them. So throughout this book, I will direct you towards topics that you absolutely should know and help you to avoid wasting time studying subjects which will be of no value to you. Yes, you will need to study as well as practice, but this book will help you to do it effectively and in the shortest time possible. Hopefully you will also have some fun along the way. Yes, You Can Compose! Almost anyone can learn a foreign language if they really put their mind to it. Admittedly, languages are easier for some people than others, but just!6

8 about anyone can learn if they are taught properly, and if they practice regularly. This is also true of composing music, because almost anyone can do it if they are shown how, but, just as in mastering a language, consistent and regular practice is the key to success. The problem is that so many people just don t believe that they could ever write music. They hold false assumptions such as if I don t hear melodies in my head, how can I compose? or I need a music degree and lots of teachers in order to compose. Of course, these statements simply aren t true. Great composers of the past such as Bach, Mozart and Beethoven didn t have degrees in music, nor did they have many teachers. However, they immersed themselves in the mysteries of music, studied far more than any college course would ever require, and ultimately became masters of their art. Although there are cases of composers who heard melodies in their heads and then wrote them down (Mozart), this is the exception to the rule. Great pieces of music are worked on diligently for long periods of time until the result is satisfying. Beethoven took years to complete some of his symphonies. Composing music is a matter of combining pitches, rhythms and sounds, usually around a steady beat. In order to do this successfully, there are a number of rules, which if applied, will generally yield satisfactory results. You can learn to apply these rules yourself, and it s not as difficult as you might think. Many dreams have been thwarted because people assumed that they could never compose music, however almost as damaging is the belief that they could never compose something great. Having high!7

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