On Music Composition

My Bach class is finished now, and I have to say how much I enjoyed it. Yes, it made my Tuesdays insanely busy for five weeks in a row, but I got to learn about things I didn’t know a whole lot about previous to the course, and learning is something I really like.

In addition, it turns out that the lab part of the class was focused on composition. I’ll be honest: in the lead up to the class, I didn’t really pay any attention to what it was going to be about other than Bach. I like Bach. That’s all I really needed to know. The public lecture portion was going to be $150, but I could take the full 1 credit class for a $50 fee, since I get a tuition reduction as an employee of the university. $50 is less than $150, so . . .

I took the full class.

We would learn about different composition concepts: counterpoint, chords, and modulation being the three I focused the most on. For our homework, we had to take the concepts we were learning about through Bach and apply them in original compositions. I haven’t really done much in the way of music composition, so this was a really new thing for me, and I discovered I really enjoyed it. I looked forward to the assignments: trying different things out. Seeing what I liked. What clicked for me and what didn’t. I have no idea if they turned out well by anyone else’s standards, but the results were good for me. I was happy with them.

We used a platform called Flat to record them, so I thought I’d share them with you, now that the class is over.

  • Our first assignment was to take a simple melody and make a variation of it somehow. I did one for Winnie the Pooh.
  • From there, we focused on counterpoint: having two lines that are both melodies, which fit together. I ended up writing a basic canon.
  • Next, I wanted to figure out how to modulate from one key to another, so I came up with a new piece to do just that.
  • Finally, we were asked to dabble in chords. For that, I put down eight chords pretty much at random, and then worked to get a melody that would make those chords sound intentional.

Will I keep composing? No idea. It was a lot of fun, but I’m also very busy, so we’ll see if I make time for it. But the class itself was a blast, and I hear they’ll be teaching a new one on Jazz next semester. I’d say it’s very likely I take that one, if my schedule matches up . . .

Take it with me!


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