Music Composition: Anyone Can Do It! Developing Musical Skills in Non-Musicians Jenine Brown Oakland University June 8, 2012
Today’s Talk: Three Composition Projects 1.Project 1: Compose a song in Verse/Chorus form in GarageBand. 2.Project 2: Take a vocal track that someone else made and compose a drumbeat for it at advanced.aviary.com 3.Project 3: Build a song around a recording of you making music with the every-day objects around you at advanced.aviary.com
Project 1: Writing a song in verse/chorus form in GarageBand – GarageBand is a program that comes installed on every Mac. – Mixcraft is a similar, inexpensive program for PCs.
Project 1: Writing a song in verse/chorus form in GarageBand – What do students learn about during this project? Tempo: How fast/slow is their song? Songs usually have a formal design, and students learn to analyze their favorite pop tunes and imitate verse/chorus form. Students learn to combine drums, bass, and some melody instrument to create their desired mood. Dynamics: Which parts should be louder/softer?
Verse/Chorus Form Popular music often is in Verse/Chorus form. – Intro: Usually very short (no more than 15 seconds) – Verse 1: – Chorus: Higher notes, more exciting. – Verse 2: Same melody as Verse 1 but uses different words – Chorus: Exactly the same as the previous chorus – Outro: A short ending
Verse/Chorus Form Elton John’s “Your Song”: – Intro – Verse 1: “It’s a little bit funny…” – Chorus: “And you can tell everybody…” – Verse 2: “I sat on the roof…” – Chorus: “And you can tell everybody…” – Outro
Project 1: Writing a song in verse/chorus form in GarageBand I’m first going to share with you a song that one of my students composed. Then, I’ll compose a short piece in GarageBand for you so that you can understand the ease of the process.
Project 2: Writing a drumbeat to go with a vocal track 1. Students choose a vocal track from ccmixter.org 2. They then compose a drumbeat at http://advanced.aviary.com. http://advanced.aviary.com 3. Finally, students combine their drumbeat, vocal track, and other loops together in advanced.aviary.com make a more polished, professional song.
Project 3: We can make music with every-day objects 1. In advanced.aviary.com, students record themselves hitting objects that make a rhythmic, percussive noise. 2. They also record themselves playing an object that sounds like a musical note. 3. They then import other loops and create a larger song.
Conclusion When composing, students consider the following elements of music: – Tempo – Dynamics – How to combine different instruments – Formal design – Emotional implications – Recording and manipulating their own sounds – Repetition and contrast –…–… Most importantly, students feel empowered, creative, and more knowledgeable.
Websites/programs that aid in music composition: GarageBand (for Macs) Mixcraft (a GarageBand-like program for PCs) http://advanced.aviary.com www.ccmixter.org Other websites: – www.jamstudio.com www.jamstudio.com – www.noteflight.com www.noteflight.com
Thank you! Questions/comments? Jenine Brown firstname.lastname@example.org
Project 3: Using music notation applications to compose music Composing music at www.noteflight.comwww.noteflight.com Let’s study a piece of music that I have composed for a bass, piano, and vibraphone. I write my music in a software program called “Sibelius.” If time: We’ll look at an example of a piece of music that a student composed for piano.
Project 3: Using music notation applications to compose music There are many decisions that guide my creative process while composing: – What instruments am I composing for? Vibraphone (melody), piano (accompaniment), and bass (accompaniment). – What is the tempo (speed) of the music? 180 beats per minute, which is pretty fast. – What is the mood of the music? How do I achieve this musically? The mood is hesitant, relaxed, anxious. The melody is slow and relaxed. The piano part is fast an anxious. – Will I be using chords as an accompaniment to my melody? I’ll be using chords in the piano part. – What is the form of the music? In what you’re about to hear, you simply hear one very long melody and then it is repeated.
Project 2: Using the “loops” in GarageBand to write a song There are many decisions that guide my creative process while composing: – Do you want a regular beat in the music? Like most pop songs, my compositions have a consistent drumbeat that lasts throughout the composition. So, I usually find a drumbeat first. – What is the tempo (speed) of the music? 120 BPM means that there are two pulses (beats) per second, and therefore 120 beats per minute. That’s a nice, upbeat speed for a composition. – What is the form of the music? You may want to write a song in verse/chorus form. – When I am finding loops for the verse and chorus, I try to have an accompanimental instrument (like a bass) and a melodic instrument (like a flute, piano, violin, singer…). – In my opinion, the verse should be different from the chorus to create variety in my composition. – When I use loops, I use them in groups of 4 because that’s common in popular music. – Throughout, I’m thinking about the mood of my composition and how I express this musically.
Project 2: Writing a drumbeat Students take a vocal track from ccmixter.org and write a drumbeat to accompany it. Questions that guide our creative process when composing drumbeats: – Genre: What style is your drumbeat: Hip-hop, techno, rock, country… – Speed: How slow/fast do you want your drumbeat? This will determine the mood of the drumbeat. – When the drumbeat accompanies a vocal track, do you want it to occur during the verse, or the chorus, or both?
Today’s Talk: Four Composition Projects 1.Project 1: Compose a song in Verse/Chorus form GarageBand. 2.Project 2: Take a vocal track that someone else made and compose a drumbeat for it at advanced.aviary.com 3.Project 3: Build a song around a recording of you making music with the every-day objects around you at advanced.aviary.com 4.Project 4: Choose chords for a short 4-chord verse in JamStudio.com