TMT24: How to Start the Core Composition

10 Min Tips To Teach Music Podcast: Episode #24

The Core Composition it a tough one. As I said in the podcast, where do you start. I always start the same way, with preparation. Here is a list of the things I do with my students from the beginning of the course, to prepare for this task. It is in 3 stages:

STAGE 1: This is prepared by me

  1. Select the last 25 years compositions we are going to study
  2. Identify the compositional devices that are specific to those works
  3. I use Matthew Hindson’s Composition Toolbox to help identify these devices in other works.
  4. I select the activities from this book or create my own, that help the students to identify and name these devices.
  5. I then look at the set work and ID the pieces of core material
  6. I then find the compositional devices being used in the work and the methods of manipulation of the core material
  7. I prepare a booklet of activities with the scores etc for the students

STAGE 2: This is what we do after we have investigated the set works.

  1. We look at past core compositions to see what is possible and offer some benchmarks
  2. We ID the core material
  3. We ID the compositional devices used
  4. We then fill out the “comparative study” – which is a fancy word for a table where the Core Material is on one side and the methods of manipulation is on the other
  5. We ID the structural makeup of the successful compositions

STAGE 3: Individual consult with the student regarding their ideas. We always look at the starting point. From discussion I ascertain which category they fall into and then we develop from there.

  • melodic focus
  • harmonic focus
  • structural focus
  • stylistic focus
  • instrumental combination focus

There is so much to this task that I feel another blog post is necessary. Perhaps several actually.


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