Newest release “Reflections” 2014

As soon as the album completes ‘transit’ with Songcastmusic it will be available through Amazon, iTunes, and Spotify.

A brief description of the featured tracks which may be heard currently at http://www.songcastmusic.com/profiles/SuffolkSkies

Reflections_KurtHartle_Coverart_2014

Solemn Places was written with the beautiful architecture and depth of image present in the cover-art photo provided by my sister-in-law. I felt the shot captured something deeply peaceful and grounding. Hence, I was moved to write something to convey that sense of comfort, place, and security.

Savannah’s Song evolved very quickly into something of a sparkle and jump in its character. It is one of those works which I can only explain by saying that, “it turned out to be more than I had originally set out to achieve.”

Farewell to the Sleeping Giant revisits a short work I’d written during my dressage apprenticeship back in 1990. I have arranged it some 24 years later as a keyboard trio (two pianos, and celeste). I included a bit of rhythmic extenuation to lead the ear to a cheerful final refrain for this newer version. The Sleeping Giant is, itself, an anthropomorphic geological feature in the high desert town of Twin Oaks, California. The rocky human facial profile stood in full view of my little adobe house during my years in training. It reminds me of natural beauty and youthful vigour under the aegis of a fine German dressage mentor.

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Enhanced Voice Leading Through Chord Inversion

The way one note follows a previous note can build or resolve tension. And, how skillfully you craft the sequence of notes can make the difference between a piece which flows like water or a piece which stops and starts uncontrollably. Voice leading is the art of using one note in the melody and or the harmony to get to the next. I mention both melody and harmony because voice leading should be a consideration in both aspects of your musical works.

Think about a traditional I – IV – V – I pattern in the overall form   The notes of the bass-line comprise the root tone for each chord. Although the sounds for this common chord sequence function well they don’t allow for much crafting nor creativity. Total reliance on root tones for harmonic support leaves a piece rather dry and un-inventive.

Take the same chord sequence and perform a first inversion on the second chord. I – IV 6/3 – V – I  and the base note now lends variety. In terms of the chordal mass (the entire or bulk sound) not much has changed. But, options for texture and expression begin to open up. I have performed this same operation to establish a pleasing and clear attern within my recent piece ‘Sunset Celebration’ . The use of chord inversion enhanced the overall expression. 

extract_chord_inversionFollowing an inverted supporting tone, the next bass note could go up or down, could include passing tones, could introduce a new rhythmic element, possibly initiate counterpoint, etc. The possibilities are many once you try changing that support tone. And, by inserting distance across the interval you’ve added tension and excitement to a mundane chord sequence! The extract above shows how I used inversion to create a sequential ‘fall’ in the bass-line and then used an interval to create positive tension.

Crafting careful note choices in the bass and middle voices within the arrangement can help the flow of your musical works. It makes the difference between listener apathy and listener engagement. A flowing style is largely governed by used of root tones and or selective use of a particular chord’s inverted form. If you are working through a passage that was bland, you may want to experiment with inversions. The options for notes that follow open up. In doing so you may uncover hidden qualities that evoke a stronger response in the listener. A lot of power of expression can be found by taking some time to find opportunities to replace a root tone with a first or second inversion. Good luck in the development of your own works. May they flow like water to cut through rock over time!

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Fernando Sor, Breathing New Life into Old Works

As you can tell, from previous article titles, I often have to cope with putting musical works on hold. One strategy I’ve come up with is to take on a playful adaptation of a prior work (my own or that of a favourite composer). In this way I can modify sounds, textures, and moods whilst using an existing piece. It’s a way to keep the brain agile, especially concerning arranging and orchestration. A bit like adding oil to an engine, it keeps ideas lubricated. I know I’ll be able to rev the creative engine later, concerning my own works, when time pressures ease.

I have chosen to put the development of my own pieces down ‘briefly.’ In the mean time, to keep my mind engaged, I am working out a pianoguitar duet based on a short piece for solo guitar by Fernando Sor. I have little time these days for practice, let alone performance. But, I have many fond memories of past performances. Among the common cannon are the 60 Short Works for classical guitar. Good music has a timeless quality. The character and depth of expression make these studies an ideal focus for a bit of compositional effort. Here are my reflections on the process:

I look to preserve the characteristic phrases that make the piece a strong performance work for classical guitar. But, I also trade-off the solo line to the piano to extend the register above or below the relative guitar range. In places I have applied minimal piano – meaning no chordal or particular harmonic depth – to act as a surrogate guitar. The piano is a remarkably versatile instrument. And, in the case of this project, I am asking it to ‘become a guitar.’ (Yes, I was tempted to create a duet for two guitars…but thought that the piano could provide greater range in the lower and upper register [octaves]).

Both the guitar and the piano are string instruments, struck or plucked, with the ability to be percussive or lyrical within their physical parameters. I envisage performance in a hall which provides some resonant reverb as I compose. That way the interplay crafted between the instruments is neither too sonorous for one, nor too percussive for the other. My efforts should provide a blend of both percussive and lyrical qualities at the appropriate time. Even so, I want to favour the guitar in the overall expression. Young pianists enjoy a much larger performance development repertoire than young guitarists.

I take some creative license in shaping the piece. However, I don’t want to re-write a perfectly good composition. I’ve had to consider the transition(s) between major key passages and its minor form. As a solo work the shift is instantaneous. But to softly integrate the piano lead-in to the guitar I have ‘stretched’ the entry into the key change to minor and its return modulation to the major key. I have restructured the form. As a guitar solo, the piece stands with several repeated sections. I have removed two such repeats, and only covered the minor modulation once (because I elongated the entry into minor and crafted a very expressive minor-mode form with a short cadenza). As a guitar solo, the work relies upon the guitarist to re-interpret each section. But, I have discovered that the piano and guitar pull each other forward so effectively that I didn’t need the original repeats other than to restate the lovely theme to a finale.

Keeping the young player in mind, I plan to keep it simple – within the easy to moderate level of difficulty for both pianist and guitarist. The plan is to do a few such treatments to favourite works by Sor and publish the scores for young performers. I believe such a project might benefit young players who are looking to expand their range or repertoire and possible development within an ensemble. I know which piece is to be the next…if only I can locate it amongst the other volumes on the shelf!

As a coping strategy for dealing with external interruptions to my original compositions this kind of project is helpful. I am more at peace with permitting current delays to the development of current works. And, in coming up with this as an idea I now have a project to publish that I wouldn’t have otherwise thought of before! The exercise is breathing new life into old and familiar works. Great fun, indeed.

Intent Behind the Music; Selecting Works to Publish

For so many listeners music is cathartic. Depending on the style and mood, a piece may speak to a person as if it communicates their own story, sense, or desire. Instrumental works function in this way, without words, to express and convey meaning. Part of that meaning depends on the listener’s own imagination. I sometimes field-test a work by sharing it with someone, never telling the title, and allowing the person to respond in their own way. I know I’ve created a ‘winner’ if the piece inspired visualisation or the sense of being transported. I hope you find the sounds, rhythms, and melodies I’ve published in “Suffolk Skies” and “Noun” pleasant, entertaining, and relaxing. Beyond having a listen to my own musical efforts I have written a few tips for the reader. It can be a challenge to decide which works to publish, and which to abandon. Here’s how I build intent behind the music and how I decide what to publish:

Have a look through the archive of articles relating to music composition and development. The archive can be found in the left side panel. Or alternately, I have provided an easy link to articles by myself and others (below) as related articles.

Sometimes a work takes many hours or days to develop. Other times a work may ‘write itself’ quickly, needing minimal editing or restructuring. Some of the production process can be mundane. But, it is truly rewarding to produce a piece that flows and tells a story, or sets a scene. The listener may imagine their own story. Or, if one is writing a music score to accompany video or a movie, the listener’s experience as watcher is maximised. Most film score composers say that they feel it was a productive day if two or three minutes of (complete) score was achieved. For the composer of ‘smaller’ works having no such production deadline is a luxury. I maintain that self-imposed deadlines can breathe life and energy into works. It is a rule I often apply to my own works. On one hand, I am careful not to rush the piece at hand. On the other hand, enforcing an imposition such as a time scale compels me to push the piece ahead. I may use this ‘tool’ to complete a section at a time, or an entire work. I believe self-imposed deadlines also prepare a composer for those times when a commission really does come.

I genuinely enjoy partaking in the creative process whereby works pass through my hands and result in new, challenging sounds. My ultimate litmus-test for any work is whether or not it begs to be heard again. Not every piece I write makes it to publication…only the ones that call me back to be heard anew. I believe, that after I’ve crafted a piece, it should speak to me across a resting period. Given a break, if the work rings out in memory it probably has sufficient potency as a musical work to resonate and relate to an audience. If I myself find a piece forgettable, it isn’t worthy of publication/recording. The challenge here is not to be too in love with one’s own creative  efforts. This helps to avoid selecting every piece ‘hoping’ there will be an audience for them. The truth is, an artists overall work is diminished by offering weak selections. If your weakest piece of music is still strong, your overall efficacy will show.

Music takes on new life, and new purpose for each listener independent of the composer’s intent. Some tracks are strong and bold while others were designed to soothe. I have to muster the fortitude to withstand an unexpected response. If the metaphor I’d built into a particular work was too obscure I may consider re-working it. I want most of my content to be accessible. I will say, though, at other times I simply acknowledge the response and hold firm. It may be a surprise to get a negative reaction from some listeners. Occasionally controversy is a sign of success or,  that you’ve tapped a nerve. If you feel a negative reaction was unjust you must kindly (and with great understanding and humility) accept the person’s review. Taking a bad review with a grain of salt can either strengthen your convictions about a work, or cause you to consider aspects that you hadn’t previously anticipated. We must always be ready to edit a work. We must also realise when a piece functions differently than we’d imagined it would. In either case, if you conclude that the piece stands on its own, whether it garners ready acceptance or provokes strong reactions, it may possess sufficient quality to ‘send to the printers.’

I hope my tips have provided some insights for you in your work. And, I hope you’ve enjoyed the variety and flow throughout both of my albums. Thanks for having a read and a listen!

How to Anticipate Audience Response; Writing Works That Reach Out to the Public

The energy built into a particular work comes from its spontaneity, form, development, and the artist‘s primal love for the act of creation. The composer/writer/sculptor/painter brings personal panache, style, experience and fundamental sense of experimentation to bear.  The average observer isn’t conscious of the elements you used to produce your work. Most observers, however, are able to recognise whether or not your work ‘speaks.’ It is because of that the composer must apprehend his or her own rationale behind the art. It is perfectly alright to create works of singular brilliance, that potentially no one else can relate to. However, if you have an audience in mind, you must be able to provide familiar links while including your challenging content.

The goal remains; how does one  create new material that easily relates to the general public? One way to easily accomplish this is to write in a current popular form and style. Similarity to contemporary, successful works can provide an inroad. The listener already enjoys a particular style. If the new artist can emulate or incorporate something of that style the audience may readily receive new works. The caveat to this is the risk one takes in sounding too much like other works. If the singer-songwriter writes pieces using the same sort of chord changes, vocals, and rhythms as other songs that have attained some success there is a slim chance that the work will bear some successful traits. But, some originality can be lost. The pop artist engaging this method would have to rely on tapping into a trend or groove that has been cut for them. How well the new artist can enter a pre-existing groove remains problematic. Tapping into a popular style may prove a good entry point. However, at some point, there has to be a leap forward toward innovation. The artist who is rooted in a familiar form and style has ‘relatability.’ New works must also try not to seem too fully engaged in merely imitating the work of others. Identify the specific elements that you use differently. Without over-using them see how well those elements may integrate into another (popular or familiar) style. Cross-over and blending your unique sound(s) can make your music reach out farther.

Often, the songwriter’s best avenue for innovation is a thoughtful treatment of the lyrics, story, and choice of subject matter. For the composer (with no vocals/language to rely on) tapping into previously known forms and styles may provide a sound link between innovative sounds, new melodies, or unique chordal shifts and the audience. If there is sufficient commonality between old works and the composer’s new work there will be a great chance of inspiring an audience to consider and accept the new work.  Without a sense of discovery, restatement of prior works will not engage the average listener. All of science and society has built upon previous discoveries. Old knowledge is adapted into modern usage and application. It is (without any copyright infringement or direct imitation) natural to utilise a past platform and adapt that to one’s own mode of expression. This process can only go wrong if the imitation comes too close to plagiarism. What we do by interweaving known sounds and forms with innovative one’s is to accommodate the listener. I do this to a certain degree in my own works. I integrate the pop-song form into a classically styled work. My work titled ‘East Anglian Rhapsody’ does this, quite evidently. This process makes the attempt to hear new works feel ‘safe.’ It does not mean that a composer has to adapt innovative sounds and orchestrations on a grand scale. Such commonalities may be established in quaint and, or, overt ways. Points of reference can lay in the simplicity of a melody, the over-all structure of the piece, familiar chord progressions, and or familiar instrument pairings in the arrangement.

Some artists seek to work within a particular style and paradigm…while others refuse to be constrained by any such rule-system. Concepts (as I would name them) of dedication, invocation, reflection, mirroring, variegation, removalin-fill, overlay, selective removal, mimicry, and or divergence may be present in any measure throughout the process. The artist may choose singular and individualistic ratios of any one of the concepts I’ve presented. I intentionally do not define these for the reader. I believe that, in examining the possibilities each of these  concepts may hold for you personally and intellectually, you must define them (thus utilise or refute them) for yourself.

The list above represents metaphorical branches on a tree.  They are yours to grow, shape, trim, or cut away. By working out personal definitions of these or any other elements you might have conceived yourself, you are beginning to better understand some of the functional links at play between you and an audience. This exercise is an effective way to gain conscious recognition of parts and functions within your art work. Understand those and you gain control of the subsequent form(s). It is analogous to taking time identifying component parts of a tree, roots, trunk, branches, growth nodes, leaves, flower buds, etc. You don’t have to know all of the parts of the tree (biologically) to climb it. But, knowledge of the many components of a tree is required if you seek to prune it in a healthy manner.

My tree-surgeon’s metaphor may not work for some. I use it to imagine that my own eccentric taste might not be shared by others. People generally prefer symmetry, the golden ratio, and structured sounds they can relate to. If my pieces were solely constructed to please myself, they might not relate to anyone beyond myself. It is in being able to integrate my artistic efforts with those around me that lends a quality of  ‘relatability’ to the work. If I work to shape a phrase of music that challenges the tonality, I try to deliver it in a palatable manner. Otherwise, my wild imagination might guide me toward a musical passage I thought was fun yet others might find distastefully styled. Granted, some artists don’t worry about being possessed of a highly idiosyncratic style. Past examples are Wagner and Brahms. They were steadfast in their individual creative style or taste for invention. And, generally quite some time later, in the wake of much controversy, they had finally forged an audience with a common taste. But, most of us don’t want to wait until after death to know whether or not our works gained acceptance.

The integration of popular style into one’s works can feel, to the purist, like a ‘sell-out’ to one’s artistic integrity. However, compromise is the hallmark of a robust human being. Like a tree which can bend in the wind, such an integration of invention and discovery combined with familiar form can weather the storm. Writing music that almost sounds as if the listener has already heard it beckons memory of something pleasant. That approach can build a foundation from which the audience participates in the discovery. The boundary between ‘story teller’ and ‘story listener’ becomes blurred. An audience which is drawn in by something familiar willingly partakes of the story teller’s art. Such is the nature of  providing an audience with sufficient points of reference.

The integration of some aspects of prior, known works may take several forms of expression…familiar instrument combinations in the orchestration…a vaguely familiar melody with one’s own touch or embellishment…the introduction of a familiar format before departing into one’s own discovery, or any manner of reach into prior musical expression. My goal is not to write the music for you, merely to inspire deeper thought and engagement of the ideas which govern your own work. As I said before, compromise is a hallmark trait of human being. The ability to smoothly and artistically integrate previous work-forms into one’s own inevitable style gives the audience a welcome mat on which to step. Knowledge, whether great or little, of one’s own drive and function behind the music adds conviction to the composer’s efforts. I encourage the reader to become (if you aren’t already) intellectually curious. Find keywords that trigger and guide your work. From there you’ll inject enough authenticity and enthusiasm to encourage a healthy, willing audience for your works.

 

How to get on iTunes for the new Artist

( June, 2013) My debut album “Suffolk Skies” and its follow-up “Noun; person,place, object, mood” are both finally ‘live’ on iTunes. [and updating; my third album “Reflections” 2014 went up nearly instantaneously…perhaps now as a known contributor] I chose to utilise Songcastmusic.com to agent my work. I found it too daunting to become an independent content provider with iTunes as a private individual. The remedy; Songcastmusic.com offers a great service. And, even if you’ve never uploaded a single or full album before, it’s  user-friendly. Their tutorials and even the process itself make it self explanatory. All you have to do is have your music files and art ready. The membership fee isn’t too costly, though they have other services which one may purchase (to extend their revenue, and perhaps justifiably so as one may purchase online radio-time and other means of promotion).

One of the initial delays for me in uploading was cover-art. I hadn’t even given it a thought as I finalised editing the tracks for their final recording. So, I went in after creating the account only to find I couldn’t complete the process without the graphics to accompany the music. For anyone considering uploading their works, by all means, get your cover art done and ready to upload at the same time as you send in your music tracks.  It can be anything you want it to be; a poignant photo, a sculpture, a unique graphic design, simple text on a colour background. As long as it’s saved as a jpg and is square with minimum (but not much more than) 1500 pixels by 1500 pixels.  Sadly, there is no consideration of back-cover-art so it’s all up front (if you’ll pardon the double-entendre). You can easily edit, enhance, ‘draw,’ or generally add a textbox for titles etc. using microsoft Paint.

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

Everything I’d created, in terms of musical data, was in .wav format. Songcast will only upload mp3 files. So, my next learning curve was to learn that I could burn a demo-CD of my final recordings, then rip my own CD to automatically convert my works into mp3. Such is the relative ease in using media-player. The mp3 format looses a little of the depth of sound quality but is compressed into a much smaller data file. Speaking of files…I recommend you create a new file to put your newly formatted mp3 versions into. Sometimes your computer may look in ‘different’ places if you have multiple copies of a particular track. Or, I have sometimes had trouble with media-player splitting my tracks across different library locations. Be prepared to search through all music files to relocate transient tracks (often arbitrarily named unknown artist, or by series of numbers).

Your final recording should reflect the name of the piece without extra bits of information or misspellings. Thus, I  advise re-naming your track if you had extra information concerning different/previous versions of that same work. There is no editing done at the point of delivery (at iTunes itself) so you must consider making all corrections before it is sent. By the time your work is ‘in transit’ it’s too late. Perform a careful and scrupulous proof-read before uploading.

Despite claims that it may only take a couple of weeks, in my experience it takes a full month for first-time provider’s  works to complete transit for iTunes. It may take longer for Spotify, Amazon mp3, and Emusic. I’ll let you know when it’s up on those sites. In the meantime I’m delighted to have my albums up on iTunes via Songcastmusic.com. It’s given this independent artist a chance to offer his works to the public. So, many thanks to songcast for the service.

I will also let the reader know of the general ‘transit time’ for getting a result with Amazon CD’s on Demand. Many potential listeners would prefer to have a physical copy. Given that, when professional quality CD’s are available on Amazon I will be happy to have covered that base, too.

It all takes time and a bit of effort to make it happen. As I would advise myself, I advise patience with the process. I hope my shared experience helps anyone who is looking to also follow the path to ‘getting your music out there.’ If you’ve enjoyed this blog, please take a moment to follow the link to my music page and have a listen. Share the link, if you’ve enjoyed my musical works, with anyone you feel would also like my style. Together we can launch these new works. And, you’ll find the same gets returned as you try and or learn to make your own art stand out and be heard!

It took a lot of courage to launch each of the albums. I sat on a body of musical work for a while, not knowing what to do with it nor how to promote it. Life and work and various responsibilities often overtook my ability to apply myself to it with consistent effort.

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In terms of concrete sales, I wish there was more ready-made interest for the modern classical and light jazz instrumental style. However, part of my personal goal in composing original works was to find a method of sharing the works. People from all over the world are now finding my music, and in this way I can share the ideas with the public at large. In the meantime I’m grateful to all those who’ve taken time to listen.

 

From this PrintScreen view you can see what my songcast page looks like

Related article: http://www.pandodaily.com/2013/08/05/who-killed-the-music-industry-an-interactive-explainer/#royalties2  

Teasing out a Melodic Line; Melodic Development; Music Composition

A phrase originally presented as a motif may b...

A phrase originally presented as a motif may become a figure which accompanies another melody, as in the second movement of Claude Debussy’s String Quartet (1893) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You,ve written the notation for the initial musical idea. Now, it appears as a small bit of music on a rather large piece of blank paper. First thing is don’t panic. There is no such thing as writer’s block…only a pause (however long or short) before the next instinct takes the piece forward.

If the seed idea has enough gravitas it will eventually draw you back even if ‘life get’s in the way.’ I’ve had seed-ideas for works wait as much as a year or two before I felt I could re-engage the sounds to draw the piece out. In such instances, I have had substantial time to reflect on the basic function of the piece. I will have considered it with fresh ears and being distanced from the work, can find aspects I want to cut and parts to retain or take further. Don’t pressure yourself into believing you must instantly produce every wonderous effect in a single sitting. Even if you are possessed of that kind of brilliance and mental agility, your best works deserve some reflection and considered editing over a period of time. Ideas will come to you in time. This is the beginning to find how to improve your music.

What I’ve outlined above is a well established process for writers. Written works also often benefit by the author standing well away from his/her own work and taking a look with a (potentially) impartial view. For most of us a particular work doesn’t leap into the mind, in its complete and final form, and write itself fully developed work from the first draft. Elements of the editing and production process can add efficacy to your composition development.  The elements I apply to the process may be listed as;

  • Initial Production; a short musical line which conveys sentiment, creative flow should be relatively unimpeded at this stage…let your imagination fly 
  • Annotation; (in short hand or as detailed as you please) making written notes concerning the meaning you want to convey, emotional direction of the piece, texture, performance notes, the beginnings of form over the distance of the work, tempo and style, instrumentation directions, etc…
  • Personal Distancemoving toward neutrality, ability to consider or anticipate criticism and address it. After the initial burst of creative flow add a bit of hard discipline. Having a Critical Eye, or in this case -Ear, means being able to identify what is right about your current project, and what is wrong or not functioning up to potential. A composer who is too much in love with his or her own work risks alienating others if there is no consideration for the audience. If you write challenging work try not to antagonise the listener by excluding harmony/melody/rhythm that the average listener can relate to; conversely, if your work is too soft and gentle try to inject a bit of challenge to add interest. 
  • Re-engagement; If you aren’t easily able to achieve personal distance, re-engagement entails putting yourself into the plot again. Renew the original vigour you showed in creating the first bit of melody…where does it go next? Do a little fact-finding on chord progressions. Is the melody a call and response? Or does the short musical line stand on its own. If you interact with your notes you are engaging your critical faculties yet remaining in close contact with the ideas.
  • Finishing Development; Give yourself a break from the sounds you’ve written/recorded. Go back another day to play it back to yourself. Sometimes analysis takes care of itself. You may have had an event (or slept on it overnight) which provided a solution to any problem area in that particular composition.
  • Post Production; Similar to the finishing stage, you may need to consider mixing or re-mixing. How strong should the midi-values be? Is the sound quality good? Am I at risk of over-working the piece and loosing its simplicity? What kind of feedback have I received? How strongly/weakly do people react or respond to the work? How the piece reflects in the ears of a listener is key to knowing when to release your work for public consumption. Time to let the project stand, as is. 

After applying these elements, you may call the work finished when you are (relatively) satisfied with the outcome. The ‘perfectionist’ as well as the more ‘undisciplined’ composer will benefit from this kind of interdisciplinary approach.The perfectionist has a hard time knowing when to allow the work to stand, as it is. And the undisciplined artist will have improved the work by applying something of a systematic approach. Works that are nicely organised improve the delivery of the given melody.

Often, the smallest idea is the catalyst for a bigger work. From that small catalyst the composer may tease out the melodic line to explore different modes of expression. Just as a single word does not yet form a sentence, it remains the foundation of sense. Word choice and register govern the delivery of content and meaning. Suffice to say the process a writer goes through should be just as systematic and clear for the composer of music.

Part of the process of editing and developing your piece, includes the purpose or intent behind the work. In reality, you may set out to create music to express a particular mood. But, the work may take on a life of its own in the ears of an audience. I can only say that sometimes you may set out to write a jolly tune only to hear feedback about how melancholy it sounds to a listener. In such instances I can highly recommend a thick, yet understanding, skin. You must be robust enough to withstand unexpected feedback or an utterly different response than expected. In any event, you must answer your own question honestly…ask yourself, ‘Why am I creating this piece?’ If you have a clear vision at the onset, your intent will be more accessible to the listener. Understanding what you want to accomplish with your musical idea is key to its development and efficacy.

Mood-2

Mood-2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

If you are to avoid making the melody obtuse, hidden, or overlooked you must ‘play’ with the idea. This may take place in a variety of ways. Ask yourself several questions to begin knowing where to start with teasing out the melodic line.

Is the melody obvious/identifiable? Is the melody long enough? Should it include changes of mood, texture?Should the overall work segue into another/other song(s)? How much repetition of the theme is needed? If I change song or mood should I return to the theme, or remind the listener of it throughout? Should I change the original expression of the theme to use variation? How does my theme sound in its relative Major or Minor? Do I want to use homogenous sounds, or changing rhythm? Is my song to be articulated, or legato? Do I mostly travel up for lifting sounds in this piece or down for drops? Does the musical idea feel complete, full enough? Does my work tell a story?

These are only a few useful questions you may ask yourself as you consider what next to do with the simple melody. An examination of your purpose behind the work, application of the writer’s editing process, and knowledge of how you might include or exclude other modes of expression will help you to formulate an overall structure to enrich the (small) melodic line you began with.

I recommend creating a sheet, listing relevant criteria, to serve as a creative driver template. You can use the elements I’ve shared to start, or make one independently from my suggestions. Either way, you’ll find you can make your own check-list of helpful prompts so that you can guide yourself through the development of your musical works! Novelists create characters, with often rich and complex back-stories. Why should your composition be any different?