|Instruction manual - Pizzicato 3.6.2||EN760 - Revision of 2013/05/29|
Composing music (4)
Melodies and rhythms [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]
In this lesson, we provide you exercises to stimulate inspiration by creating melodies, rhythms and instrumentations. We will use the chords progressions made during the previous lesson. You can also use progressions from the Chords library - 3.piz document located in the Music folder (in DataEN).
A melody is a succession of notes played by an instrument. A melody is often made by musical sentences alternated with rests. We often speak of a voice, by analogy with the singing human voice. With each note of a melody, a rhythmic value is associated and specifies the duration of the note.
Just as for a chord, a melody will use the notes of a tonality at a given time. When several voices are played together and with different notes, they form a chord. The notes of a chord can indeed be played by different instruments.
- Open the Chords by tonality.piz document as well as the document containing the chords progressions made during the preceding lesson. Drag Score 1 to 5 as well as the whole note rhythm into your document and then close the Chords by tonality.piz document.
- Open the Score 1. Drag the Whole note rhythm in the first measure and do the same with one of your chords progressions based only on 3 notes chords. The chords appear in the measures.
- You may notice that the chords notes are very close. It is called a tight position of a chord. You can move the notes down or up by one or more octaves in order to get a large chord position. Drag for example the middle note of the first chord one octave higher and listen to the result. The chord keeps the same type but seems more open, has a wider sound spectrum.
- The Pizzicato original chords are all in a tight position. By creating chords progressions, the 3 or 4 chord notes are abruptly moved all together to go from one chord to the other. It is called a parallel movement of voices. This movement is limited to the view point of the sound effects. As each voice does the same movement, it quickly becomes monotonous and annoying. The exercise which follows will help you improve the chords progressions so as to create several independent melodies formed by the notes of the chords. For each chords progression of your document, do the steps which follow:
- Drag the chords folder into the Score 1, in measure 1. The chords appear in the measures.
- Organize the chords notes so as to form melodies. The only modification you can make is to move one or more notes by one or two octaves up or down (it corresponds to a vertically motion of the note by 7 positions on the staff). Use the following rules to improve the progressions and to create melodies:
- Create melodies with a maximum of consecutive notes, i.e. melodies which go up or down by one position on the staff. A melody will often be made of consecutive notes alternating with more significant jumps.
- Give an independence to the 3 or 4 melodies. For that, prevent all voices from moving in the same direction. Use contrary movements, i.e. a voice which goes up while the other goes down.
- When a note is common between two successive chords, try to keep it within the same melody (for example the second note of the two chords). You can also tie them.
- Try to specially take care of the upper and lower melodies, because they are particularly well noticed.
- When using the V-I cadences, preferably use the fundamental note (i.e. the note on which the chord is built) in the lower melody. It tends to reinforce the sound effect.
- Once you are satisfied with the result, you can create a new document and drag this score in it to save it. Then, start with another progression. Do that until you can do it easily, without having to search too long.
- The following exercise consists in creating a melody on a separate staff. Open Score 2. For several chords progressions, do the following operations:
- Drag a chord folder into the last staff, first measure. Drag also the whole note rhythm. The chords appear.
- Using half notes or whole notes, create a melody based on the chords notes. Place these notes in the upper staff. Take all the advices given above to create melodies. Take care to separate the pitches from the two melodies, so that they are quite distinct while listening. Be guided by the sound result and correct so that you like it.
- Same exercise, but this time using Score 3, which contains staves to create 2 simultaneous melodies. Take care to use different notes for the two melodies. You can use different rhythms (2 half noted for the first and a whole note for the other). Use only the chord notes. Once the 2 melodies are created, erase the bottom chords and listen to the result.
- Same exercise, but with Score 4, which contains staves to create 3 melodies. Take care to distribute the notes between the melodies. Take care to separate the pitches from the various melodies (a lower melody, a middle one and an upper one). Once the exercise is finished with a progression, erase the chords and listen to the result. As there are three different voices, you will be able to hear the chord effect, but this time, it is distributed on 3 different instruments.
- Same exercise, but with Score 5 which contains 4 staves for melodies. Use the 4 sounds chords progressions.
- It usually happens that a melody uses other notes than those of the current chord. These notes are called passing notes. They give more freedom to the melodies by going from one note of the chord to the other. These notes are used as a transition and are not heard a very long time (eighth notes or quarter notes in our exercises). Do the previous exercises again but by using some passing notes. Especially place them on the second and the fourth beat of the measure and use quarter notes or eighth notes as rhythmic values. You will notice that they enrich the melody.
- Do the four preceding exercises again by using different rhythms. Use rhythmic cells among:
- 4 quarter notes,
- 1 half note + 2 quarter notes,
- 1 dotted half note + 1 quarter note,
- 1 half note + 1 quarter note + 2 eighth notes,
- 3 quarter notes + 2 eighth notes,
- 2 quarter notes + 4 eighth notes.
You can use passing notes. You can also imagine other rhythms and use them.
- Until now, we used one chord per measure. Remember that we had associated a whole note duration with the chords. Take one of the progressions and modify its options to associate it with one half note. Create then a rhythmic cell with a half note repeated ad infinitum and drag it into Score 5, on the last staff (first measure). The chords appear in half notes. By holding down the SHIFT key, double-click on the progression. You get the dialog box allowing to specify for each chord the duration in multiples of half notes. Modify some progressions in this manner. Use shorter durations for degrees II, III, VI and VII and longer durations for degrees I, V and IV. Then, you can do the preceding exercises again.
Each element added to the exercise will give you more freedom of expression. One can imagine lots of exercises to develop the composition technique. The chords, the melodies, the rhythms or sonorities all can be used as a starting point for musical inspiration. There are often one or two elements which form the beginning of a musical idea. By singing some notes and you find that they sound very well. You encode this small melody and try to find which rhythm could reinforce it, which chords could support it and which instruments could make it more expressive. Step by step, you work out the score, you structure it, you repeat several times the main theme with different instruments families and various accompaniments, you introduce secondary themes which are related to the main theme, etc. This is called the development of a musical idea. Most traditional repertory works are based on such developments of a starting idea.
Generating melodies using libraries [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]
When you have a chord progression, you can find rhythms and melodies elements in the Melodies library.piz and Rhythms library 44.piz documents . Here are the steps to help you exploit them to compose musical scores and accompaniments:
- Determine a set of instruments to express yourself. It can be one or two instruments or even a whole symphonic orchestra. Start nevertheless with a small number of instruments. Create the score starting from the orchestra or light music templates and add the necessary measures.
- Drag a chord progression into staff 1, measure 1. In the libraries options, specify that the chords progression is in the first staff.
- For one instrument at a time, select rhythmic cells and drag them into the instrument measures. Add the melodies element. Generate the score if it is not automatic and listen to the sound result. Correct and modify the library elements in order to orient the style.
- Take care to keep a good coherence between the instruments. All rules expressed in this lesson stay valid. You orient the musical libraries to get coherence.
- Modify the options of the Pizzicato library elements. Create new elements. Try out many different possibilities and you will end up to discover very rich and pleasant structures. You will be able to find ideas of melodies and rhythms. Then, use what you learned in this lesson and the preceding one to develop the interesting elements.
Instrumentation and effects [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]
The choice of the instruments very much affects the sound result of a score. With the instruments view, you have a very easy tool to try sonorities. You can play a passage and test various sounds of instruments to locate the one which sounds best.
Also exploit an equilibrium of sound volumes. The instruments view provides a configuration where you can separately regulate volumes, balances (right/left position), reverberation as well as other effects. Use them to enrich the instrumentation.
Also use the nuances symbols (F, FF, p, MF, cresc., decresc ) to create intensity contrasts. Modify sometimes the tempo according to what you want to express. Use the various tools palette.
General rules of composition [Professional] [Composition Light] [Composition Pro]
Here are a series of practical tips that you can use to compose.
- Above all, your music must communicate something. That can be an emotion, an impression, an atmosphere, a hope, love, an idea, an object It does not matter what it is, but it is you who communicates with your public, thanks to your music. Art is communication. If you do not have anything to communicate to your listener, then the composition will remain a simple theoretical exercise without any purpose. It is your communication which must remain the master and the composition techniques must be the servant. To do the opposite is to put the plough before the oxen. When your desire to communicate inspires a sound effect which transmits it to your satisfaction, use it, it does not matter how many rules this effect breaks. To this end, we advise you to practice the following exercise regularly:
- Find or invent something to communicate. That can be almost anything. Take the most banal or most original ideas and write on paper in some sentences what you want to express. That can be "today is all right and the small birds are singing" or "my cat has just made a very elegant jump. I would like to express this jump in a musical form" or "holidays on the beach, I will remember and express it in music". You can also take emotions and express them through a musical score. Take for example: apathy, sorrow, fear, anger, trouble, interest, enthusiasm, joy, serenity. You can also take two emotions (negative and positive) and compose a score which expresses a progressive transition between the two. There is an infinity of things which you can communicate with music. Also think about the public or the people to whom you would like to communicate this message. If you want to communicate something to young children, adults or teenagers, the implemented means of expression will be very different. So that your message goes through, you will need to take into account the reality of your public's way of life.
- With your subject and your public well in mind, seek an element which expresses this message. It can be a rhythmic cell, one or more chords, a melody, an instrument sound, To find it, no mathematical formula exists. You can stimulate your inspiration by thinking about the subject and by testing various rhythms, sonorities, melodies, chords or all combinations of these elements.
- Be free especially do not destroy your ideas before even expressing them. A reasoning of the kind "Perhaps this rhythm will express this very well and , oh no, nobody will understand it anyway and they will believe that I am hopeless in music and bla, bla, bla" will only make you stop composition.
- It is probably the most current barrier for a person who begins in art. The fear of being ridiculous, of looking clumsy or not "talented" prevents many people from starting out in art. Do not hesitate to express yourself, even in a clumsy way at the beginning. It is normal and you should not be expected to create an extraordinary work after the first hours of composition (though it could arrive, you are perhaps more talented than you think ). With practice and perseverance, you will manage to express what you want. Nobody never published the first composition exercises of Mozart, Bach or Ravel. They also made their beginnings (and they did not have a computer ).
- As soon as you have one or more elements expressing your message, use them and develop them. If the element is a rhythm, find which melody could reinforce the effect of this rhythm, while keeping the expression of your message. Seek the chords which could support it well. Test and listen to various sonorities of instruments. Build in this manner your score. At the beginning, do not make it too long (8 to 16 measures). Gradually, you will be able to increase the length, because a long development of an idea requires practice and a good control of the composition techniques. Develop the starting idea by keeping in mind your message and your public, which will increase the coherence of the all.
- Constantly keep the interest of your listener awake, by the addition of new ideas, developments and changes. You can transpose a melody, a chords progression. It is a change, but which remains coherent with the original melody. You can slow down or accelerate the same rhythm, create a dialog between instruments of different sonorities, create melodies or rhythms repetitions, extend, move or narrow the range of instruments, use percussions, synchronize or oppose melodies The total number of effects is really enormous and you need to let you go and test.
- Make a coherent work. It is what makes your music organized. You need to establish links between most elements. These links can be for example :
- a chords progression which harmonizes the melodies,
- similar, opposed or inverted rhythms,
- similar, opposed or inverted melodies,
- chords, rhythms or melodies repetitions,
- a synchronization or an opposition of various rhythms,
- sound effects (percussions, synthesizers sounds ),
- rhythms, melodies and sonorities which answer each others,
- contrasts of intensity, rhythms, melodies or chords.
These links establish a coherence and obtain the agreement of your listener, because he can in some way predict it and it helps him to understand your music and to receive your message. By understanding your music and receiving your message, the listener will be able to like and appreciate your music according to his tastes.
- Create contrasts in the sound effects. A very strong passage is better highlighted if it is surrounded by very soft passages. A fast passage contrasts better if it is preceded by a slow passage. A melody appears better if it is followed or preceded by a rest. You can still find many other examples of this kind. By creating contrasts, you maintain the interest of the listener and you can highlight elements in this manner. Take care that these contrasts have however a common link for the coherence of the score.
- Balance the sound spectrum. If most of the instruments exploit the extent of the same octave, it is probable that the sound result will be rather muddled and the listener will not be able to distinguish the instruments. If you want to emphasize an instrument, take care that the other instruments do not play in the same range at the same time. Also contrast the sound spectrum of your instruments by creating answers between the instruments families and the different ranges.
- At the beginning, voluntarily limit the number of elements in your compositions. Gradually, when you control some elements, add others. It is the idea behind this composition course exercises: start with little raw material, learn how to handle it and then increase the possibilities and be accustomed to them, etc.
- By using the rhythms and melodies libraries, take care to personalize and sort out these elements so that they transmit your message. Do not expect the computer to do it for you. Composing is not simply to throw notes, rhythms and chords in a score. You need to organize these elements in a coherent set which transmits your message, and only you can do that. Good road and have fun!
PS: Send us your compositions sometimes. We will be very happy to listen to what you composed with Pizzicato!