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Why is Debussy’s Clair de lune the most downloaded piece?

A challenge for both the intermediate pianist and the professional, Debussy’s Clair de lune seems to contain specific qualities which both instrumentalists and listeners find attractive. The piece, which is a part of the composer’s Suite Bergamasque, is the most downloaded piano score in Piano Street’s sheet music library. Why? Read more >>

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Author Topic: Can't ever write a good theme.  (Read 1212 times)
mrnhrtkmp210999
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« on: September 05, 2015, 08:30:15 PM »

Hey everyone.

Now that I've pretty much reached a stage of piano playing in which my teacher herself said "You don't need a teacher anymore."  Huh, I would like to focus myself on composing music for a while. However, I do not have a really advanced knowledge of harmony and at the same time don't know where to gain it. I now the basics about function of chords. Relation between tonic and dominant, etc. But not really advanced.

Also, I always experience this moment that when I begin to compose something, I just can't come up with a theme which I can really work out very well. Can anyone provide any help for these two problems?

Thanks,
Marijn

PS: I'm also having trouble composing some kind of short coda after a variation in minor in a variation work of mine. Can anyone help me out? They're in the attachments.

* Variaties op een thema van Mozart.pdf (252.93 KB - downloaded 19 times.)
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ybanana
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« Reply #1 on: November 13, 2015, 03:25:38 AM »

For finding out harmony, and modulations, the circle of fifths is always a great way to find harmonic changes of modulations.

Writing a good theme..... no. It's making a good theme. It is practically impossible to start composing a good theme without actually hearing it first. Most of the themes in my compositions come from what I hummed when walking in the street, or plainly studying.  (Yes. I hum things I never heard before) Noodling on the piano also helps generate themes.
 
You can tell what is a good theme just by hearing it, a human instinct. When I hear a good theme from humming or noodling, I write it down ASAP, on paper usually. Try to build off there.

And for the variations, that Db in the second ending of the minor variation, is already well suited for a change. You said you wanted to write a 'short coda', but I think that you can add a few more variations after this minor key one. (But it's your composition. You can continue how you want) From there, what depends is what you want to do next.

If diving into a coda, I would write the coda first, then see how you can transition from where you left off to the coda.

If wanting to write a few more variations, I would either:
1. Disregard the second ending, and jump to the next one. This creates a surprising and returning  tone.
2:Make a transition from where you left off, resolving back to the major key (A good way is to change the Db into a d natural in the next measure, then go the V-I [dominant-tonic] into F major)

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xdjuicebox
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« Reply #2 on: January 05, 2016, 09:57:53 PM »

I would actually say to stay away from learning too much theory at first, since you might become a stickler in terms of rules, and you won't have any individuality. Write a bunch of "wrong" stuff first, before you learn compositional devices and theory. I feel like you should use theory to "enrich" your compositions, not to create them.

Anyway, composing can be super frustrating because you don't control when it happens, it kind of just happens. I recommend listening to a ton of music until you kind of just have music running in your head all of the time. Then you'll eventually start to hear your own stuff going. Then just write down what you like.
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boxjuice
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« Reply #3 on: January 22, 2016, 03:42:17 PM »

The best/only way to get good at something is to practice it. Everybody's themes suck at first, have you heard Mozart's early work? What i did to get better was i composed a short 20-30 second piece with a theme+accomp every day. Even if what you write is garbage, you'll still get better from having written it. After 2 months youll a full manuscript book and you'll be 60 pieces better at writing themes

1 last thing: if you try to compose and you cant think of anything good, just write whatever garbage you can think of because, again, even if it sucks youll improve from having written it
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themeandvariation
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« Reply #4 on: January 22, 2016, 04:58:30 PM »

Mrnhrt, i wonder if you are still checking in w/ this thread..
I would actually say to stay away from learning too much theory at first, since you might become a stickler in terms of rules, and you won't have any individuality. Write a bunch of "wrong" stuff first, before you learn compositional devices and theory. I feel like you should use theory to "enrich" your compositions, not to create them.

Anyway, composing can be super frustrating because you don't control when it happens, it kind of just happens. I recommend listening to a ton of music until you kind of just have music running in your head all of the time. Then you'll eventually start to hear your own stuff going. Then just write down what you like.
This is good advice.
I looked at your piece.. your sense of balancing the two voices is good.. The theme however is in the same register for the 1st two variations.. Have you considered putting it in the base, perhaps at least by the 2nd variation, as the ear can feel the 'registrational' redundancy.
(I notice that you play Bach… This is very good for noticing how he balances voices..)
I would consider writing more variations before bringing in the coda.. There are many possibilities with the material you have already written.. You could do a jig, or a saraband, or something like a fugue, or an aria… and harmonically, you (while keeping basically the harmonic shape) could add subtle modulations… (chords in between, as it were)

As far as the theme question, i would add, one can call upon pieces that have moved you and gave you a certain feeling.. notice the melodic shape -- and its rhythmical  (breathing) sense..
A certain feeling to the harmonic  progression… And then try writing one in a similar way.. Sometimes, this will just get the motor started, and may unexpectedly take you 'somewhere'..
Also, sometimes when needs to come at this sideways.. (sitting at the piano and waiting can sometimes feel like a spotlight).. One can also try   singing and humming …  all day long… that way 'that world is never far away'  .. and you might find yourself running to the piano in a fit of urgency!  Grin
T&V
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