Not Composed, Composing

SketchingI seem to have painted myself into a corner with a piece of music I am writing. It is a lovely little melody with an introduction, verse, chorus, and ending already written. Nice as it is, it seems too repetitive doing two verses and a chorus over and over.

I did think I was being clever. From the introduction in A minor I insert a brief E7 chord to then proceed with the verse in A minor. At the end of the first verse I again use this E7 chord to flow right back into a repetition of the verse.

My cleverness continues on with a move to the chorus in F major. The way I arrive at F is to use that same E7 chord which most typically drives back to A minor and instead resolve that E7 chord using a deceptive cadence; so, instead of V going to i, I have V going to VI. It flows wonderfully. The chorus ends with an E7 chord which happily transitions back to the verse. This dominant V chord is like a fork in the road with two easy directions to take.

The height of cleverness comes in where I go to the third section. At the V7 (E7) chord instead of using it the most common way returning to the A minor, and instead of using it the second most common way going to F major as I did employing the deceptive cadence going to the chorus, for the third section I employ the V7 chord as a German Augmented 6th chord (same notes different spelling) and after functionally resolving that land in Ab minor.

This third section really establishes Ab minor, going back and forth between Ab minor and Eb major firmly rooting a repeated V-i relationship. The problem is how to get back to the main theme (verse)? The Eb major chord wonderfully moves to E7 as a refreshing modulation but the music refuses to go back to A minor because of how firmly Ab minor has been established.

So I’ve painted myself into a corner. My ear tells me to go to F fully diminished after the E7, which works smoothly because they have the notes G# and B in common. If I didn’t care about a slight disruption in “The Force” I could go from E7 to F major, having this F function in the same say as the German Augmented 6th chord which would go back to the A minor verse but it won’t quite work. It has to flow.

[Long pause, about an hour]

I don’t have to like it but instead of imposing my will I let the song write itself a bridge back to the verse. What I don’t like is that it very nicely lands on B minor instead of the A minor I wanted. Who am I to argue with a piece of music? It is going to do what it wants no matter what I have to say. Go with the flow.

It would be too much work to make a recording of what I’m talking about. I need to more properly score out this sketch and then let the computer play it so I can objectively listen to the sound flowing into and out of the third section. Tell you what, if you can decipher my writing and notes you can play it for yourself. This is a sketch, not a fancy performance so it is not all that difficult. I even wrote in all the accidentals rather than applying key signatures (yet).


9 thoughts on “Not Composed, Composing

  1. One of my long term goals is to learn a little about composing music. Thank for for that little bit of insight into the process.

    (did I just double post?)

    • It looked from my control panel like you posted twice but so far I’m only seeing this second one here on the page.

      I can talk you through the logic of how the chords interact and flow sometime if you like. First you need to be able to play a C major scale and be able to name the notes. If you can achieve that then I can give you a gigantic shove in the right direction so far as the theory and logic of putting a simple song together goes. From what I’ve seen most people who write songs just use “The Force” and do it intuitively. There is reason and there is your sensibility and taste. Ethan has books, maybe you should have him teach you a little — fun time with father and son.

  2. He’s only 4!

    I’d love to take you up on your offer sometime though. I will google that ‘major C scale’ thing you mentioned. 😀

      • That sounds like a great idea! So I need to play the C major scale, right handed and be able to name any note in it when played by itself?

  3. That would be helpful, yes. Let me lay it out for tomorrow’s blog, I’ll call it something like, “Music Theory – 0001, and it will fall under a specific category so they will all fall together. There are books, but I will explain it my way catering to your and other’s feedback if anyone joins in.

    Tomorrow. Lesson 1.

  4. You are a teacher. I think though most of this is over my head, I have seen where your heart is. You love to teach, whatever it is. I wish I had music as my talent. I know when I go to heaven, one of my first wishes will be to have a good voice! One of my best friends is a piano teacher. She was sewing fabric wallets for extra money… long ago when we were young moms. She had taken piano lessons for over 15 years by the time I met her.
    One day, when she was sewing a wallet for some measley little profit. I asked her if she had ever thought of teaching. I told her that her piano lessons were a gold mine of opportunity. I mean, she was a master pianist and as I watched her struggle to sew a few cloth wallets for a few bucks… I made her just think about it. Today, she is one of the top piano teachers in Southern California with a huge waiting list.
    I may not be able to play but I can inspire. lol.

    • I really need to spruce up my page about “Piano Lessons”. I recently got a new student through a web search and as I looked at that page in the tab at the top of my blog I thought to myself, ‘I wouldn’t have contacted me if I had looked at that.’ I must rewrite that to be more informative if nothing else. It sucks as is.

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