Composition in Music Education

‘Baby Steps’ Composition: #5 (Final)

19th Nov 2019

I finally completed my composition! Transcribing the music from Soundtrap took longer than I thought, here is the complete work. I named my composition ‘Luminous’ as I thought of bright twinkling stars depicting Vincent van Gogh’s ‘Starry Night’

Audio link:

Score link:

From the last draft, I added a complete melodic line that highlights the modulations and climax. I just experimented with the notes on the piano roll listening to what sound nice and keeping it a little similar to the original melody.

I wanted to have the original ostinato continuing with the diminution of the ostinato but the two clarinets didn’t go well together so I introduced the Kalimba (Purple) to play the ostinato and it went well with the 2nd clarinet!

I also added a Lyleish (b.49) as another bassline and adjusted the effects a bit to produce a resonating electronic sound as the music seemed a little dry. I wrote down the most obvious ones on the score here is the fine-tuning. It’s a really cool sound!

Video link:

I also changed the individual volumes of the instruments and included some changes in dynamics. Then I polished some parts – changed or deleted sounds that clashed too much or sounded weird. And I’m Done!

‘Baby Steps’ Composition: Draft #4

10th Nov 2019

From the advice of James and my classmates, and changed and experimented in adding a melodic part to make the music more interesting. First I picked the ‘Mirror (light blue)’ of the motive and extended the idea so it sounded more like a melody than a ostinato.

Audio link:

I generally stayed within a C Major scale but had a slight change, with a brief c minor tone which spiced up the music a bit.

Mirror/Laura’s Rhodes part (b. 21-32)

Video link:

Expanding on the transposing idea, I continued modulating so the music leads to somewhere. Modulations C Major -> D major (b.41) -> F Major (b.56)

Also, having mostly pitched percussions for the instrumentals seemed uninteresting so I decided to have a violin (purple) for colour. The violin part was based off the bassline, just stepping a note up or down from the bassline.

Violin part (b. 33-48)

The diminution of the ostinato become sporadic in b.13 & 29 so that it doesn’t clash too much with the other voices. And also I added a mirrored part in between for a little change.

Video link:

I’m not sure yet on how I am going to increase the 2 minutes to 3 minutes. For now I just extended the drum and bass part to continue, so I have a rough idea of how long it should be.

‘Baby Steps’ Composition: Draft #3

5th Nov 2019

Today we had to present a 2 minute draft of our compositions. So far I had been just developing my motif, looping, and experimenting with instrumentation.

Extending on my motif, I had a bank of motivic developments: inversion, mirror, transposition, augmentation, diminution and combinations.

Clarinet(pink)=ostinato, Glock=motif – b.20=transposition, Clarinet(Blue)=ostinato diminution, Mirror=mirror, Kalimba San.=extended dimiution, Inversion=inversion, Electric=augmentation

Video link:

Listening to my composition, James and my classmates had the following comments and suggestions:

  • The music seemed to have developments but not really lead to anywhere i.e. climax
  • To build a structure and have changes in texture
  • To have a layer of the ostinato in double time under the orignial
  • Having a modulation was a good idea, but it died to quickly and didn’t develop
  • Didn’t really have a melody part and seemed to be more like background music

‘Baby Steps’ Composition: Draft #2

18th Oct 2019

Upon developing a more clear idea of my Digital content ‘Baby steps,’ I decided to scrap my first draft and use Soundtrap for my composition rather than using traditional notation.

Link to ‘Baby steps’ site:

So, my idea of ‘Baby steps’ was to write a Programme music, by choosing an artwork, then take steps to transfer visual to sound. In the model piece, there is a promenade, and pieces visualising paintings. I thought, rather than having separate sections and pieces, to make it into one. Therefore I changed the depiction of a promenade to an ostinato. Firstly, I followed my baby steps to create an ostinato based on the idea of movement. My chosen artwork was Vincent van Gogh’s “Starry Night (1889)” and I choose skipping as my movement. So based on this, I created a rhythm and added notes from the C Major Scale, which became my ostinato. Then I recorded it on Soundtrap choosing clarinet as my instrument as it seemed most suitable in portraying skipping motions.

Ostinato Video link :

“Starry Night” – Vincent van Gogh

The first piece from Mussorgsky’s “Pictures” is “Gnome” and the jumpy and strained intervals portrays a menacing picture of a gnome.

I took the next step to write my melody using intervals with emotive connotations that links to my chosen artwork. But I realised later that it became like an ostinato (Hahaha… It sounded nice though!). Thinking of bright shining stars, I chose 4 notes with bright and neutral sounding intervals and added a rhythm to it.

M6 = bright, M2 = neutral, m3 = sad

After recording my motif in, I added a drum part because I wanted my music to have a relaxing, chill beat (I’ve been into lofi hip hop recently haha).

Audio link:

‘Baby steps’ Composition: Draft #1

8th Oct 2019

For my “baby steps” I decided the model to be a suite, “Pictures at an Exhibition (1874)” by Modest Mussorgsky which centres around Programme music – music that ‘tells a story’ or depicts an image. The suite consists of ten pieces which portrays ten paintings by Mussorgsky’s late friend Victor Hartmann and “Promenades” meaning a stroll or unhurried walk, illustrates walking around to view these paintings.

The suite begins on with a Promenade which develops using developmental ideas of repetition, mirror, inversion and transposition.

With these ideas, I created a motif, and experimented with it using a variation of the developments.

We had a one-on-one composition tutorial with Alex Chilvers and show him a draft of our composition. I didn’t really have a clear idea on my baby steps so what I had wasn’t much, just some ideas mashed together.

Listening to where my idea came from, Alex advised me that I don’t always have to have a harmony part that follows the melody and suggested that I try layering it without being afraid of having clashing sounds, as thats how you find new sounds.

Audio link and score (analysed ver.):

Reflection of Mixed Bag arrangement

I chose the song ‘Apologize’ by OneRepublic to create my ‘Mixed Bag’ arrangement based on the Orff approach. I decided on this song because it is well known and has parts that are quite repetitive.

I structured my arrangement parts as Melody 1 & 2 , Harmony 1, 2 & 3, Piano with Guitar and Ukulele , Bass, Percussion 1 & 2, and Drumset. Besides the Melody 2, Piano and Percussion 2 which I added, all the parts are based on the original song.

The introduction of the original song begins with violin, viola playing an ostinato and the cello for the bassline. Later the piano takes over the ostinato and accompaniment, adding a new ostinato when the chorus starts. The percussion section which enters during the introduction and is consistent during the song, includes the drumkit, claps and occasional vibraslap. Then of course, the vocal melody. I used an online score as a resource (referenced on the score arrangement) which had the melody and piano accompaniment. I first used that to transpose from the original key – Eb Major to C Major as it would be easy to learn and easily applied to xylophones. Then I organised my parts to melody, the ostinato as harmony, bass and transcribed the percussion part. I changed the piano accompaniment as simple chords along with guitar and ukulele fretboard diagrams. Then instead of the vibraslap I composed a Percussion 2 part with a developing ostinato.

Linking to the Orff approach, the rhythm of all the parts can be taught by body percussion, then be transferred to pitched and unpitched instruments. The advantage Orff arrangements is that the ostinati are straightforward and can be learnt by wrote learning (Taylor, 2012). This would allow teachers to teach the music to students who can’t read music or have difficultly in reading music and focus on the performance of the music.

I didn’t write a separate part for Orff instruments but if I were to teach it to a class of only Orff instruments, I would have soprano xylophone/ glockenspiels play the Melody 1 & 2, alto xylophone/ glockenspiels play the Harmony 1, 2 & 3, and the Bass (bordun line) played with the bass xylophone/glockenspiel, all which can be taught by rote learning. Then the Percussion 1 learnt by clapping then transferred to clave, Percussion 2 learnt by other body percussion then played on a guiro or a cabasa, and the Drumset part would be taught with stomps and claps, then it can played on bongos or other paired percussions. Like this, my arrangement can be adapted to an Orff classroom.