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Learning To Compose Music – The Basics

learn compose music
learn compose music

Is it possible to learn how to compose film music? And is there a kind of roadmap for that? Here you will learn in a few steps the basics of composing and how to write your own soulful soundtrack.

Music is storytelling

The important things first. Music is primarily about emotions. You can master notes so perfectly, but if you put no feeling in your pieces, you will never reach the heart of your listeners. The art in the film composition lies in telling a story. Music is first and foremost communication with a universal language. Feelings such as joy, sadness and hope are expressed through sounds and chords.

The film composer as artist and psychologist

Film composers have to interpret film scenes and sound “sad” or “happy” depending on the statement. They have the task to understand how the human psyche works and how it can be influenced by sounds.

Film Music Learning to Compose – what are the basics?

Now the question arises, can one learn to compose? As with the selection of musical instruments and the setting of the tempo, there are basic rules that can also be applied when composing a melody. In the following sections I show you the most elementary means for an emotional composition:

What is a harmony?

In music theory, harmony is the fitting of chords. A chord is the sounding of different sounds. The chord consists of at least three notes. Basic chords are assigned to the major and minor chords. A harmony is therefore the foundation for a melody and at the same time the supporting framework for the entire composition.

Compose Music
Compose Music

What is a melody?

As a definition for a melody there are different approaches. A melody can be a lot, for example:

a single tone to which a certain property is assigned

a motif consisting of a few tones that recur again and again

a long tone sequence

a pure baseline that shapes the piece

or even an inner voice – like a whisper or a conversation

Basically, a melody is a sequence of tones that you can whistle or hum. A melody is what can be easily memorized and kept in mind. This implies that a melody never leaves the realm of the human voice – that is, never composed too high or too low.

A melody also contains sections that give the singer a break – nothing mechanical, unless it is an electronic piece. Besides, a melody tells a self-contained story. This means that a melody consists of an introduction, a main part and an ending.

*The only form of music is the melody. Without melody the music is unthinkable.

“Richard Wagner”

Which chord stands for which emotion?

When learning to compose it is very important to know that chords can convey different emotions. Joy, sorrow and confidence, all this can represent a single chord. Nevertheless, every person listens to music subjectively. Based on life experiences and personal feelings, a “sad chord” may sound cheerful to one and pessimistic to another.

Whether a chord sounds happy or sad also depends on its playing style. A quick succession of chords can be impulsive and dynamic. Slowly played chords stand for melancholy, calm or sadness.

film composer
film composer

How do you compose a melody?

That’s probably the hardest part. How do you manage to compose an emotional melody? Honestly, there is no secret recipe for it. Try to make your melody “dance over harmony” and give her the opportunity to tell a story.

Defining the tempo of the melody

* If you want to compose a sad melody, use few and often elongated tones.

* If you want to compose a happy melody, use short and fast note sequences and jump a lot in the pitches. So you give the melody a certain dynamism and lightness.

Try and tinker

Is there a secret formula in composing? I have to answer you honestly, no, unfortunately not. Basically, composing is like screwing on a car. You make and try ideas.

Orient yourself to known ones

Another possibility would be to use the example of well-known melodies to orient themselves, to take their first notes and just continue to compose until you have created something unique.

Conclusion: learn to compose score music

To internalize the following points to learn composing:

1-Tell a story

2-Harmony is the basis for your composition

3-The melody is the human in the compostion

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