AN INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC COMPOSITION

 

BASIC MUSIC THEORY

 

The study of music composition starts with a study in music theory.  This website is not set up to provide complete courses in music theory or musical education.  My objective in this section to provide a basic understanding of what music theory is, and a brief guide to the elements that make up musical works (the elements that composers, such as myself, use and work with in composing a musical piece or work).

 

Following the definition of music theory, I have listed elements that are found in musical works.  Each element will be briefly defined and described regarding its role in music.

 

WHAT IS MUSIC THEORY?

 

Music theory, in its general or most basic definition, is the study of how music works.  It breaks down the elements of music and also examines the language and notation of music.  Extending the definition, we can also say that music theory can include any statement, belief, or conception of or about music.  Patterns and structures in composers techniques are studied and compared within genres, styles and/or historical periods of music.

 

  1. Pitch & Frequency
  2. Tonality & Key
  3. Rhythm & Time, including Time Signatures
  4. Melody
  5. Harmony
  6. Scales & Modes
  7. Form & Structure
  8. Timbre & Texture
  9. Phrasing & Expression
  10. Allocation

 

MUSIC HISTORY

 

In this section, I have listed the main periods of music found in most (if not all) music history books and texts. For ease of clarity, I have these periods in bold font. Following the period names (I have also included a separate one for L.V. Beethoven) I have given a brief summary of the elements and general characteristics that are found in the musical compositions of that specific era. I have covered the basics for the section on 20TH century music, as they can both get not only quite in-depth, but use terms that are difficult to understand and grasp. Going beyond the basics for both the sections of theory and harmony will require many years of in-depth music study which non-musicians will not have.

 

Noted:

 

1.  In the section on J.S. Bach and The Well Tempered Clavier, I have introduced and given basic information on these works.  To go into detail on this collection of fugues is beyond the scope of this website and requires a full knowledge and harmony and counterpoint, including the application of writing fugal parts in a formal texture and the rules required therein.

 

2.  I have introduced a few major works to illustrate some of the concepts and their applications in the section on Twentieth Century works.    Again, to go into further detail of the elements and applications of these concepts requires a through knowledge of harmony and analysis, as well as the history of Twentieth Century writing, including the application of writing this style of music in a formal texture and the rules required therein.

 

3.  I, myself am working on a work which is for two pianos but includes no rhythms.  Each note is of the same rhythmic duration, a quarter note and multiple time signatures are used.  The piece will be performed by written instruction and phrasing.

 

 

 

INTRODUCTION TO MUSIC HISTORY

 

Part 1: Defining Music History

 

Part 2: Musical Instruments and Ensembles

 

Part 3: Ancient Prehistoric Music

 

MEDIEVAL & MIDDLE AGES

 

Introduction

 

Theory and Notation

 

Gregorian Chant

 

Notre Dame School and Organum

 

RENAISSANCE

 

Introduction

 

Church Mass

 

Opera: An Introduction

 

Orchestration and Instrumentation

 

BAROQUE

 

Introduction

 

Baroque Suite

 

Johann Sebastian Bach and The Well-Tempered Clavier

 

Baroque Opera: Changes

 

Baroque Mass: Changes

 

Orchestration and Instrumentation

 

CLASSICAL

 

Introduction Part 1: New Style

 

Introduction Part 2: History

 

Orchestration and Instrumentation

 

Classical Opera

 

The Sonata Cycle

 

Part 1: Introduction

 

Part 2: Standard Form

 

Part 3: Sonata-Allegro Form Chart

 

L. V. BEETHOVEN & THE BRIDGE TO ROMANTICISM

 

His Life

 

His Music: Part 1: An Overview

 

His Music: Part 2: Compositions Introduction

 

His Music: Part 3: Piano Sonata No. 8, Opus 13

 

His Music: Part 4: Symphony No. 5, Opus 67

 

ROMANTIC

 

Introduction

 

Orchestration and Instrumentation

 

Romantic Opera

 

Song Cycle and Lieder

 

Ballet

 

The Nutcracker

 

Orchestration and Instrumentation, Richard Wagner: Ring of the Nibelung

 

POST-ROMANTIC/IMPRESSIONISM

 

Introduction

 

Introduction 2: Definitions

 

Claude Debussy and Maurice Ravel

 

The Mighty Five

 

TWENTIETH CENTURY/POST-IMPRESSIONISM

 

Introduction Part 1: Reaction to Impressionism, Post-Impressionism

 

Introduction Part 2: Introduction to Musical Periods - Definitions

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (1) - Introduction

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (2) - John Cage

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (3) - Steve Reich

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (4) Introduction to Twelve-Tone Technique

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (5): Composers of Twelve-Tone Works

 

Twentieth Century: Extending the Definition of Music (6): Bela Bartok & Igor Stravinsky

 

Twentieth Century Orchestration & Instrumentation Part 1: General Introduction

 

Twentieth Century Orchestration & Instrumentation Part 2: Differences from Romantic

 

An Introduction to Music Technology

 

Opera