Music Elements: The Ultimate Composers Handbook

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This is not your typical book on music composition. It's based on the idea that composers need some basic direction to uncover the necessary skills to compose music effectively. You won't find music theory exercises or score analysis in this book. Instead, you'll discover the elements that any composer must master to become a successful composer.

This book sets composers on the right track to becoming successful and competent. This is an essential book for anyone who hasn't had formal instruction in music composition and for those who are just starting out in the craft.

This text can save composers from countless hours of searching for the information a composer needs to develop the essential skills required of a composer. This text doesn't teach you those skills because there are plenty of options on the market to accomplish that goal. Composers will enjoy unprecedented access to insider information and concepts that are typically only learned when studying from established composers.

What You Need to Know That Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler Knew

While the styles of Bach, Mozart, Beethoven, and Mahler couldn't be more different from each other, each of these composers understood the elements of music composition in a deep and intuitive way.

These composers knew the fundamental principles and skills that were essential for a composer to write timeless compositions.

The techniques are every bit as relevant today as they were back in the 16th Century when the tritone was considered the "Devil in Music" and dissonances had to be sidestepped and coddled to avoid offense.

The elements of music composition are techniques that work in most styles of music, and they are the basis for a solid foundation in music composition.

The Elements of Music Composition

The study of music composition will last you the rest of your life. You're engaged in a discipline that has no upper limit. The more you study, the deeper and more involved will the answers your questions become.

Elements of Music Composition is designed to serve as your road map. It gives you the information you need to ask the right questions and apply your precious time to the most important concepts and skills a composer can hope to learn.

Albert Einstein is famously quoted as stating that once he knows the right question to ask, he could solve any problem in an hour. This text tell you the questions to ask, and gives you good advice on how to accomplish your goals as a composer.

The text introduces you to the core training areas, and it provides a philosophy that you need as a composer to make the most out of your time and learn to write inventive musical works.

The Concepts You Must Learn to Compose Effective Music

Elements of Music Composition consists of three extensive chapters that address the concepts every composer must know to compete in our modern musical climate.

Chapter One

Chapter One focuses on the very nature of music composition itself, and it introduces you to the concepts necessary for you to develop your ability to compose works like a master composer:

 • Organic Music: Discover the concept of organic music, and how this simple approach to composition can take your compositions to the next level.

 • Composition Technique: Learn how to develop a solid composition technique so when inspiration hits you have the skill to accurately and effortlessly notate your ideas.

 • A Cohesive Approach: Uncover the clues to integrating the various subsets of the study of music composition so you understand how the orchestration, motives, harmony, and instrument choice are intricately related.

Chapter Two

Chapter Two begins a discussion of the elements that greatly affect the success of your music.

 • Music Theory: Learn why music theory is important, and discover why it also doesn't matter as much as you think.

 • Writing Original Works: Uncover the key to writing truly original music, and why writing an original work is virtually impossible without the right training.

 • Music's Building Blocks: Discover what master composers have known for years: a musical composition consists of building blocks that can be used to develop your composition.

 • Harness Inspiration: Find out how to make inspiration work for you and stop waiting for the perfect melody to fall from the sky.

Chapter Three

Chapter Three is where you'll finally learn about the elements of music composition. These are the concepts that master composers have spent years of their lives mastering and perfecting:

 • Fundamentals of Music Composition: Discover the subjects that you must study to become an accomplished composer.

 • Philosophy of Composition: Learn how simple modes of thinking can turn an average piece into a phenomenal work of art.

 • Registral Space: Walk in the realm of registral space. Discover how this concept gives your music a finished and professional touch that the vast majority of composers fail to take advantage of.

How the Elements of Music Composition Will Help You

Elements of Music Composition won't turn you into a master composer overnight. There is no trick or technique that can turn you from an average whittler of melodies to a masterful designer of symphonies in a single day. Tricks and shortcuts only help bad composers compose music more quickly.

This text is designed to do one thing very well -- It provides a road map for your development as a composer.

The book gives you the information needed to plant a seed that will sprout and grow into a powerful, immovable oak tree and make you capable of notating anything you imagine.

Without a single complicated theory assignment or score analysis, you'll learn the core concepts that are necessary for any serious composer. The truth is that if you don't study music composition formally, you're at a disadvantage. Formal instruction introduces you to the principles and insider information that's essential to giving you a head-start on your competition.

Invest in your future, and begin to fill in the gaps in your technique by learning what you absolutely must know to compose timeless, beautiful and lasting music.

Technique Builder: Build the Perfect Composing Practice Routine

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Technique Builder: Build Your Perfect Composers Practice Routine

This option is ideal for composers who are trying to build their technique and ability to compose music more effectively. Just as musicians practice scales, arpeggios, and repertoire to improve their skill, composers can also create a daily practice routine to improve their technique and abilities.

While this offering is not a course, it does provide students with a set of three graded composition techniques per month that they can practice in their daily composition routine to improve their ability to create music. The techniques are graded at three levels: beginning, intermediate, and advanced.

Composers start with the beginning technique. When the beginning technique is mastered, it's then possible to move on to the intermediate and advanced technique. Composers receive a new set of exercises each month.

Inspiration doesn't always come when you want it to come. By spending a few minutes a day improving your technique, you'll be better able to quickly notate and express your ideas when inspiration hits.

Over the course of a year, the course goes over 12 techniques that you can integrate into your practice routine. When you are too busy to compose music, these techniques can help you maintain your abilities and keep your composition skills sharp.

Composers who don't regularly compose music may find it more difficult to create after a long period of rest. By practicing these exercises, you'll become a more effective composer, maintain and improve your current abilities.

Self-Study Music Composition Courses: Craft of Music Composition

Self-study music composition courses let you study music composition on your own without the help of an instructor. These courses are designed by a professional composer who holds a Masters in Music Composition. Studying from a professionally-trained composer gives you access to inside information and expert tips that are very difficult to get without traditional study.

There are currently two courses available:

    • Level 1 - Craft of Music Composition: This course takes composers from the beginning to end of creating an entire music composition. This is a useful course for composers who are experiencing writers block since it restricts most of your choices, which makes it easier to concentrate on creating an effective piece.

    • Level 2 - Craft of Music Composition: While all composers can benefit from this course, it's intended to be used by advanced composers. The course gives composers the skills and information necessary to create music more effectively and effortlessly.

Level 2: Craft of Music Composition

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Develop Your Ability to Compose With Our Most Intensive Composition Course

The second level of the highly popular Craft of Music Composition is now available for pre-order. When you pre-order the course, you'll be able to save substantially on the total cost. The course will be available on August 27th, 2016. Pre-order before August 26th to receive the discount.

Taking the Next Steps

This course goes in-depth into the various techniques that composers can use to refine their craft, improve their skill, and develop their ability to compose effective works. While music composition does require a certain degree of talent, anybody can learn to compose if they apply themselves and study in the right way.

Music theory is a tool that is useful for helping you to analyze and study music. This is an important skill that any composer should develop. It's also mostly useless when it comes to composing original music.

For a composer, music theory has three main purposes:

    1) To stand on the shoulders of the musical geniuses that came before you.

    2) To know whether another composer already worked out a more effective way to communicate your ideas.

    3) To break new ground and create compositions that are truly original and unique.

Level 2: Craft of Music Composition Overview

The second level of Craft of Music Composition is designed to teach you how to be original in your thinking. You'll learn some of the best tips and techniques that Kevin Ure has developed over the course of his teaching and composing career. He's compiled the best and most effective advice he's received over the years into a comprehensive text that aims to answer some of music composition's most pressing issues.

Unit 1: Creating a Composition Schedule

This unit delves into the process of creating an exercise routine that you can follow on a daily basis to improve your composition technique. The goal is to create a set of exercises that you complete every day that serves to keep your skills sharp.

Unit 2: Chords and Progressions Simplified

Chord progressions are made overly complicated by traditional tonal harmony. This unit gives you tips and techniques for creating chord progressions that are theoretically sound and avoid much of the dogma associated with "classical-style" rules for progressions. This section also delves into the difference between progressions and successions and why you might choose one over the other.

Unit 3: Analyzing a Musical Score

All composers should have the ability to look at a musical score in order to learn from it. This unit gives you tips and techniques to help you get more from your score study to further enhance your craft.

Unit 4: Techniques for Developing Your Inner Ear

Developing the inner ear is essential for a composer. Relying on an external device to listen to your compositions is not as fluid or creative as being able to hear your composition in your mind before committing it to paper.

Unit 5: Visualizing a Composition

Expanding on the previous unit, this section discusses some techniques that can be used to get into a "composing state." This state is essential for concentrating on and editing your compositions in the most creative manner possible.

Unit 6: The Motivic Impulse

Motives drive a piece. This unit goes into some of the ways you can develop your motives.

Unit 7: Improving Your Melodies

There are several advanced techniques you can use to improve your melodies. This unit helps you analyze your melodies and improve them using sound principles.

Unit 8: Rhythm and Drive

Rhythm is the driving force behind most compositions. It's also the area that many composers struggle with. This unit will help composers to develop their ability to compose rhythms that complement the melody and harmony in a piece.

Unit 9: How Melodies Dictate Harmony

Melody implies harmony in a composition. Learn how to select the harmonies that best match your melody, and develop a better understanding of how to select an appropriate harmony.

Unit 10: Pace Yourself

Pacing and phrasing are crucial to a composition. This unit reveals tips and techniques used by master composers to organize, edit, and evaluate the pacing of a composition.

Unit 11: Understanding Musical Forms 

Musical form is the container in which you pour your musical ideas. It allows a composer to create a memorable work, and it gives the audience the organization necessary to understand your composition.

Unit 12: Solving Advanced Composition Issues

This unit deals with advanced composition issues that confront all composers. Tips for dealing with writer's block, correcting a difficult passage in a composition and using sound principles to encourage your brain to work on problems while you sleep.

Unit 13: The Importance of Musical Variety

This unit discusses some advanced principles that involve making your composition more appealing and effective. There is a fine line between too much and too little variety, and this unit helps you walk that line.

Unit 14: Orchestration and Registral Space

A poorly orchestrated and voiced composition can make an otherwise brilliant work fall flat. This unit discusses the essentials that you must know to avoid creating a composition that doesn't have proper resonance and clarity.

Unit 15: Developing a Compositional Style

All composers should continually strive to develop their own compositional style. It doesn't matter what kind of music you're interested in, you can create your own personal signature so that the listener knows they are listening to your work. This unit gets into the reasons why certain composers have a particular sound. Essentially, why does Mozart sound like Mozart, and Beethoven like Beethoven?

Unit 16: Creating a Professional Score

This unit includes the best tips I've learned from professional composers on how to format your score to win a composition, get published and get taken seriously by other musicians. It's also imperative that students follow these guidelines when applying to universities.

Course Delivery

As with the Level 1 course, this course will be delivered in installments. When it's ready, you'll receive the first two lessons immediately. You'll then continue to receive additional updates at the rate of two per month until the course is completed.

Level 1: Craft of Music Composition

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The Truth About Your Ability to Learn How to Compose Music 

Anybody can learn to compose music, but to be an effective composer you need to develop the right skills and you need to practice.  Talent and drive is important, but it's not enough to bring out your full potential as a composer.

While it's true that some composers have created music without knowing how to read music, these composers are exceedingly rare. The truth is, if you're going to be an effective composer, you must learn to read music. In the realm of classical music, there are no composers who have succeeded without learning to notate music.

Before You Begin This Course

This course is for the composer who wants a traditional training program that allows them to move at their own pace.

This is the Second Edition of our highly popular Level 1: Craft of Music Composition course.

The course is released on a regular schedule with two lessons delivered by the end of each month. Depending on when you sign up, you'll get more than one lesson immediately delivered to you.

You'll get any updates to the course that are available for the entire time that you're signed up for the course. Sign up is for a year, so you can download all of the files as they become available.

Expectations of Students Taking the Music Composition Level 1 Course 

This course expects that you can already compose music. If this is not the case, take some time to learn about the musical staff and the notes of the treble and the bass clef.

Before starting this course, you should be comfortable with the following procedures:

1) Build and recognize basic triads and seventh chords
2) Recognize and identify key signatures. Instant recognition is not required, but it certainly helps.
3) Read and write music notation
4) Clap notated rhythms

Essentially, students should understand the basics of music notation, including key signatures, time signatures, note recognition in bass and treble clefs, and common score indicators before taking this course.

This course is not a music theory course. It's designed to take composers from the beginning stages of composing a piece through to the very last edits. Each lesson will focus on a different element of a composition. If you follow the lessons, you'll have a completed work by the end of the course. You'll also learn about the mechanics of composing music along the way.

Level 1: Craft of Music Composition Overview 2nd Edition

When you purchase the course, you're actually buying a subscription to receive the course as it's available. As this course is in its second incarnation, the bulk of the material is already written. 
  • Unit 1: Rhythm  (Release Date: July 2016)
  • Unit 2: Pitch (Release Date: July 2016)
  • Unit 3: Non-chord Tones (Release Date: August 2016)
  • Unit 4: Motives (Release Date: August 2016)
  • Unit 5: Melody (Release Date: September 2016)
  • Unit 6: Form — Part I — Exposition (Release Date: September 2016)
  • Unit 7: Form — Part II — Development (Release Date: October 2016)
  • Unit 8: Form — Part III — Recapitulation Release Date: October 2016)
  • Unit 9: Form — Part IV — Transitions (Release Date: November 2016)
  • Unit 10: Harmony I (Release Date: November 2016)
  • Unit 11: Harmony II (Release Date: December 2016)
  • Unit 12: Counterpoint (Release Date: December 2016)
  • Unit 13: Score Elements (Release Date: January 2016)
  • Unit 14: Editing (Release Date: January 2016)
  • Unit 15: Rewrite (Release Date: February 2016)
  • Unit 16: Final Edits (Release Date: February 2016)

Programmed Music Composition Course Syllabus

The syllabus for this course covers a total of 16 lessons. The goal is to take the composer through the creation of an entire music composition from beginning to end. This is not as easy as it seems since the course is specifically designed to be of use to the beginning and advanced composer. Along the way, you'll develop your technique and improve your skill.

This schedule covers all of the fundamentals of music composition while keeping composers actively engaged in the process of composing. Each unit should ideally last about 30 days, but the composer can extend the time or shorten the duration to suit their specific needs.

Level 1: Music Composition Curriculum

Each unit may take several days or weeks to complete. The length of time depends largely on the students current ability. Beginning students may need several weeks per unit while advanced students may only require one lesson per unit. In addition to the course, each unit provides an ear training exercise that the student is expected to work on daily.

After composers have completed the course, they will have a strong understanding of the fundamentals of music composition. Students that graduate from this course are now ready to undergo advanced music composition lessons and begin working on their own original compositions while developing their unique voice and style.

Unit 1: Composing Rhythmic Elements

Composers are expected to improvise, memorize, perform, and commit to paper individual rhythms that have a recognizable and logical form. Student's are expected to pay careful attention to their rhythms, and free themselves from notation programs during this process.

While more difficult in the beginning stages, getting away from a notation program encourages the development of the composer's mind and intellect. Music notation programs can drastically decrease the time it takes to compose music, but composers must also have the ability to work without the aid of computer playback.

Unit 2: Composing Pitch Elements

This unit focuses solely on the pitch elements that will be used in the composition. Composers are asked to select several pitches that will be used in the final composition. The western musical scale uses 7 pitches for each scale. While this unit is a form of set theory, it's based on the same basic restrictions used in classical musical scales.

Composers should be able to compose a satisfying piece using any series of pitches. Bach once said that with only four notes, he could create a satisfying piece. The goal is not to create a masterpiece, but to challenge the composer to think about music in a creative and challenging way.

Unit 3: Composing Non-Chord Tones

Composers learn how to effectively use non-chord tones in this unit. As the student's composition is beginning to take form, embellishments in the form of non-chord tones are introduced into the structure.
In traditional tonal harmony, a non-chord tone may be a passing tone, escape tone, appoggiatura, suspension, retardation, anticipation, neighboring tone, or changing tones. However, in real-life composition, these categorizations seldom actually matter. This unit teaches composers how to apply these concepts in a creative manner.

Unit 4: Composing Motives

After successful creation of the rhythm, pitch, and introduction of non-chord tones, the composer begins work on creating motives for use in the composition. A motive acts as the motor that drives a piece forward.
Composers throughout history have used motives to drive a composition forward, link passages together, and create logic and form in a composition. Motives are one of the most important aspects of a musical composition, and students must learn to effectively edit and manipulate motives to write effective works.

Unit 5: Composing the Melody

The next unit deals with the creation of melody in a composition. Composers learn how to create a balanced melody with an antecedent and consequent phrase. The unit also deals with the most complicated aspect of periods, and how antecedent and consequent phrases are used to build an entire composition. The motives created in the previous units are developed into full-fledged melodies.

Unit 6: Musical Form -- Creating the Exposition

Composers begin to shape their composition in this unit. The exposition is the introductory portion of a classical form. In Classical music, the exposition functions as the initial entrance of the main thematic material. That material can extend throughout an entire movement, section or musical composition.
In this case, the composer introduces the exposition by using the elements they have already created in previous units. Composers begin to build their composition and watch as it takes form and grows.

Unit 7: Musical Form -- Building the Development Section

The exposition provides an introduction to the main thematic material, and in the Classical and Romantic periods it also typically existed within one key center. The development goes through several key centers, breaks the melody up into fragments, reorganizes it, presents ideas in more than one key and takes you away from the home key, or in this case, the motivic material of the exposition. The development is a crucial par of the composition and acts as the middle section in the piece the composer is creating.

Unit 8: Musical Form -- Composing the Recapitulation

In a Classical era piece, the recapitulation typically repeated the exposition in a very similar fashion. The main difference is that the exposition would appear in the tonic throughout the entire recapitulation. Think of the Classical period exposition as getting away from what you knew, and venturing out to experience new ideas and situations. Because of this, it was allowed to go to the dominant as part of that journey or thought of another way, a move away from its home.

The recapitulation in the Classical period was all about coming back home. This meant that the recapitulation almost always started in the tonic and stayed there. Since the composer is not concerned with Classical period ideals, some liberty is allowed and the recapitulation section of the unit takes a liberal approach.

Unit 9: Connecting the Piece Through Transitions

At this point in the course, the composer begins to connect the exposition, development, and recapitulation using transitions. Techniques and methods for connecting these three sections are provided within the unit. As with all units in this program, this unit contains an initial explanation of the concept of transitions, and then the composer works with the instructor to incorporate the transitions within the musical composition.

Unit 10: Adding Harmony to the Composition

At this point, the student has a completed work, but it's only a single melodic line. The student is now asked to add harmony to the composition. Advice on how to create chords, some quick tips for easily creating refreshing and unique chord progressions, and an introduction to the concept of counterpoint are explored. Composers may require several interim lessons to complete this unit.

Unit 11: Advanced Treatment of Musical Harmony

In this unit, composers learn about some advanced methods of incorporating harmony into a composition. The composer is led through analyzing their own work to determine the crucial elements required to effectively create a harmonic backdrop. A discussion of the difference between a chord progression and succession is provided, and composers are expected to enhance and improve the chordal structure established in the previous unit.

Unit 12: An Introduction to Musical Counterpoint

This unit doesn't teach the composer about sixteenth or eighteenth-century counterpoint. The unit instead focuses on a modern interpretation of counterpoint, with the goal of introducing multiple independent melodic lines that work together along with the harmony already established. Composers add a third line to the composition with the help of the instructor. Principles of counterpoint are explained, but ultimately, the composer is expected to use creative license in the application of concepts.

Unit 13: Introduction to Notation and Score Elements

The composer is now expected to go through the composition and add performance indicators, score elements, and begin preparing the score for publication. This exercise allows composers to learn about standard notation procedures, and to begin thinking about how the performer will interpret the composition.
Composers must tread the line between adding too much information, and not adding enough so that the performer will have a good chance of effectively performing the composition.

Unit 14: Editing the Music Composition

At this point, the composer has a completed musical work. However, it's not yet ready for publication. Composers must go through the process of editing and manipulate the work before completing the composition. Some students find that it's helpful to take a break from the composition at this point.

Unit 15: Rewriting the Music Composition

This is quite possibly the most difficult part of the entire process. The composer is now asked to rewrite the entire composition, using the existing composition as a guide. This fulfills two goals:

  • Rewriting the composition ensures that the composer is aware of every note placed in the composition.
  • Rewriting allows a composer to take a fresh look at the composition, fix any problem sections, and ensure that the work has a logical flow.

Most composers find this aspect of the course to be the most time-consuming and intensive aspect of the course. However, by completing the rewrite, composers are left with a fully-polished and effective musical composition.

Unit 16: Completing the Final Edits on the Composition

Now it's time to review the composition one more time, and fix any remaining issues. The composer is expected to fine-tune the composition. Composers are encouraged to submit the work to an acceptable composition contest. 

New Music Composition Series Released on Amazon.com

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Experienced composers are able to look at a motive, melody, or theme and instantly know how a composition will unfold. Much like an expert gardener understands what type of plant a particular seed will produce, composers can envision an entire musical work simply by looking at a melody. 

Thematic Materials - Motives, Themes, Melodies, and Form

Determining musical form based on the motive and melody

This lesson introduces you to the basic elements of a motive and the different ways motives are employed by composers to create melodies. The course details how a composer can determine the overall length and structure of the piece through a careful analysis of small thematic elements. This is a crucial skill beginning composers may lack, but it can be developed with the right knowledge and practice. 

The Music Composition Series

Proceed deliberately through professional-level music composition lessons

The Music Composition Lesson Series is devised to equip composers with an exhaustive sequence examining the keystones of music composition. The series addresses the following seven cornerstones of music composition: 

  • Theme

  • Form

  • Harmony

  • Counterpoint

  • Instrumentation

  • Orchestration

  • Coherence and Comprehensibility

An expository introductory lesson is also available for you to evaluate the teaching methodology of the course and determine if the series will suit your needs. 

Instead of compiling all of the lessons into a single book, this course lets composers pick and choose the concepts they wish to study. The recommended course of action is to start with the first lesson and proceed in a progressive fashion through the course, thereby ensuring you're not missing any crucial concepts. 
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