Thinking Out Loud – Working to Get Back to Where You Started

I wanted to share this story in continuation with the idea of “if you didn’t do it on purpose, does that mean it has less of the value?”

Now, this subject is: “if you didn’t have the education for it, does it mean it has less value?”

Anyways, where I was just out of high school and applying for colleges, I was beginning to composing some original pieces. I had two years of theory training, so I understood the basics. However, there was still a lot for me to learn and understand when it came to writing music.

During one of the college auditions, I got to sit down with a professor of composition and show him the stuff I have been writing. While impressed by the fact that I had a portfolio to show – he wasn’t too keen on how I started the first chord on measure 1 with in first inversion. He felt like this tarnished the piece and made the harmony weak… therefore making my compositional skills like inadequate.

Years later, I can now say that I am more educated than where I was back then in high school. However, it now seems that if I was to put my first chord in first inversion, people would look at that as a stroke of experimental genius.

What gives?!?

Do I really need an education, a degree, or some approval to justify my composition? Why was my portfolio any less “art” than what it is now? And why should it be for anyone else?

Simply, do we as a society judge and evaluate a person’s compositional skills based on their background? That if you weren’t trained, it’s luck; but if you had education, it is genius?

Just thinking out loud.

How To Beat Writer’s Block – Tip #4

Here is another tip of finding inspiration and beating writer’s block – and it comes from a source of distraction, too!:


In this modern world, social media has taken over. While it can be argued that society has benefited from this advance in instant communication through technology, one could also propose a counterstance saying that social media has led to distraction, unfulfillment, anxiety, and more. But let’s safe that topic for outside of music.


Today, I will be discussing an opportunity for using social media as an inspiration that can be done as you are endlessly scrolling.
Start by taking a random tweet, Facebook status updates, or Instagram caption and find one of two things:

  1. A topic
  2. A small phrase

Concerning the first one – simply write a song that is about or tangent to the focus of the post. Nothing complex about that; and maybe too, the perspective of the person who wrote it could be the vision of the character in the song – or at least the mood of the piece in general. With the latter choice, pick s small phrase that stand out to you and make a repetitive motif out of it. The motif can be a symbolic representation of it, or it can be a directly related to the spoken rhythm & pitch contour of the phrase.
Experiment with both and see what you create.

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Tip #36 – Two Different Kinds of Grounds

In music, a ground is a recurring motif found in the lowest voice possible. Here are two variations of grounds that you can use:

1- Ground motif, where the bass motif is repeated and varied with each reiteration to fit a harmonic or melodic structure.

2- Basso Ostinato, where the bass motif is repeated, but the voices above feature variation with each repeat.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Tip #35 – Incorporating Double Canons into Works

Before explaining how to build a double canon into a work of music, one needs to know the definition of one.

Simply, it is when two canons (including their own pair of leader and follower) are played at the same time.

Similarly, when there are three different unique canons playing at the same time, it is called a triple canon; and so on, and so on.

Try building one canon. Once that is done, find out what best compliments the two running melodic lines. Next, get creative with the second canon while keeping in mind how each part sound to one another.

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Tip #34 – Finding Creative Counterpoint in Reflection Treatment

Take a look at the example below:

Here we see two melody lines that look different, but are actually very similar. Notice how the rhythm is similar, as well as the size of the intervals in the melody. Plus, there is a retainment of certain degree of pitches. This is called a mirrored reflection treatment in counterpoint.

To write something like this, pick a “point of reflection;” here, middle C was chosen because it happens to be in the middle of the grand staff. Now, any note above the “point of reflection” music be copied down, containing the same interval quality. Vice versa: any note below must be reflected above.

Be sure to be mindful of harmony, as using this process tends to bring out some dissonant intervals.

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Tip #33 – Using Skills to Build a Mensuration Canon

Take a look at the example below and try to find commonalities between each melodic line:

You might have noticed that these melodic lines are augmentations or diminutions of each other in some form. Also, they all start at the same time. This is called a mensuration canon.

To build one, experiment with different rhythmic ratios and intervallic transposition between each voice of the canon. Typically, the voices start on either the tonic or dominant, but that is now always the case.

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Tip #32 – Melody and Counterpoint Help with Diminution

Similar to augmentation where the rhythmic value ratios of a melodic line are uniformly multiplied, they can also be reduced.

This would be the process of diminution. So by reducing every value in half; a whole-note becomes a half-note (duh), a dotted half-note becomes a dotted quarter-note, an eighth-note becomes a sixteenth-note, etc.

Take a look at the example below:

Here you can see a lot of example of diminution. The first half of the second measure is a diminution of the entire first measure. Same goes for the first half of mm. 4 being an octave transposition and diminution of the full mm. 3.


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