Tool #17: Augmentation and Diminution


Here's another post on (one of) my obsessions: motivic development.  So far I've talked about octave displacement and additive processes in this motivic development vein, so I'd like to add another tool to the list of ways to develop motivically: Augmentation/Diminution. This is a pretty simple technique.  It assumes that there is melodic or harmonic …

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Tool # 16: Letters Into Music


Some composers have names that correspond with musical letters.  Take B-A-C-H (B is Bb in German, and H is B natural in German), C-A-G-E, or the infamous initials of Dmitri Shostakovich: D-S-C-H (D-Eb-C-B in German).  The idea that one can take letters from names, initials, words, or anything else that is verbally organized is a …

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Tool #15: Copying Only What You Want in Finale


Here's a quick Finale tip that is very useful for cleaning up scores: Have you ever wanted to copy just the markings (dynamics, articulations, expressions, etc.) in Finale and not the notes because you want to make all of the parts look the same in terms of markings?  There's an easy way to copy only …

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Tool #13: Metric (Tempo) Modulation


Update: click to get to this post for a metric modulation calculator! Second update: check here for the new, easier-to-use calculator! Alright, let's tackle a rather hands-on technical tool.  Metric modulation (or more accurately, tempo modulation) is the shifting of the beat from one rhythmic value to another.  For example, simple metric modulations might change …

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Tool #12: Structured Improvisation, Pt. I (John Zorn Cobra Feature)


I'd like to give an introduction to a topic that's near and dear to my heart in music: structured improvisation.  While I can't do it justice in just one post (hence the "Pt. 1" in the title), I love improvisation, so I would feel ashamed if I neglected it in this blog. Structured improvisation can …

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