Tip #3 – Adding Some “Boom” to Your Accompaniment

While it is certainly okay to get by with block chord voicings of harmony for an accompaniment (in fact, in some cases – that’s all that is needed for texture), there are many ways to make it more active and exciting. One of them is by breaking apart chords with a “boom-chick” style.

Take a chord progression for example:

Using the “boom-chick” style found commonly in guitar playing with the “boom” of the low bass note on the stronger beats and the “chick” of the higher chordal tones on the weaker beat, we get something like this:

This can be taken even further by rolling the chords as well as delay the individual voices of the “chick.” Also, if you want a more upward motion to your accompaniment, repeat the “chick” chord voice again, but drop the lowest note to get rid of – what you can call the “excess weight” of the chord.


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Tip #2 – Getting to a Musical Destination with a Sequence

To remind for those who know, and to inform those that don’t, a sequence is a musical pattern or figure that is restated at a different pitch level while keeping the basic shape/contour/intervals of the original pattern.

Sequences tend to occur in classical music most often, especially in the melodic b-section of a phrase or period, but that should never limit a composer as to how to use a sequence! Exploring different uses of a sequential pattern of transposition in a figure can flourish a theme as well as bring a composition to an excitingly new harmonic destination.

When transposing a figure pattern up or down for a sequence, a composer will have to decide if things will remain exact or if there will be some modifications to the deviants – and this in turn will decide on where the composition will travel. First possibility is the keep the entire sequences diatonic to the key that the composition is in.

Another possibility is to make some changes by throwing in some accidentals to keep the exact intervallic patterns in each consecutive sequence. It might be wise to aim to not alter the tonal center, but there are no rules as to not doing so. So feel free to experiment!

Finally, sequence is not exclusively for melody. It can be used in harmony as well! A progression of the Circle Of Fifths in a key is a fundamental example of sequential use. Still, experimenting outside of the diatonic by using chromatic notes can allow the composer to reach different harmonic possibilities. So be creative and explore!


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Tip #1 – Using Repetition in a Unique Way

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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