Repetition is one of the cornerstones to making a melody, theme, or in general – the piece of music itself, memorable to listeners. However, many composers abstain away from repeating the same material over-and-over again in their composition, as it is believed to be a sign of lacking in creativity or originality. Regardless of your opinion towards this matter, repeating a figure will not only help in becoming recognizable to the audience, but will also aid in developing a motif or theme. From Wagner’s epic themes to pop music ear-candy, repetition is a great technique that when used creatively can yield great results.
Two major aspects of a theme are the pitches and the rhythm. So let’s experiment with these two factors. An easy way to repeat is by simply rewriting the same phrase within a measure (with subtle variation) over again. Keep the pitches and rhythm roughly the same.
Still, the figure does not ever need to be constrained to the bar line. Having the figure be in a length longer/shorter in beats than the time signature can have surprising results!
Now, take out one of the variables. Keep the rhythm the same, but change the pitches. This will help in smoothly going from different harmonies to another.
And the opposite: keeping the same pitches, but changing the melody. This tends to not be as instantly recognizable to the ear, but the creativity in thematic development is very much still present.
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