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#1152026 - 01/30/06 05:38 PM transitions
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Does anyone else have trouble making clean transitions between different sections/themes?

I just had this great idea today for a transition to the middle section of my new piece, but it's only one measure, and it seems like there really should be something more to it. But I'm not sure how to do that... are there techniques that you guys have for making a good transition?

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#1152027 - 01/30/06 08:18 PM Re: transitions
pianojerome Offline
9000 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/01/05
Posts: 9868
Originally posted by pianojerome:
I just had this great idea today for a transition to the middle section of my new piece, but it's only one measure, and it seems like there really should be something more to it. [/b]
It's amazing how changing one single note can make the entire passage sound so much better!

#1152028 - 01/30/06 08:22 PM Re: transitions
Prophetic Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/02/04
Posts: 98
I do. I've experienced this issue within one part of the piece though. I had this falling bass in quarters notes that was three notes down to a falling note, the one you'd expect. But I could go down another octave so I enlarged the downward falling arpeggio which made the entire passage sound so much better, as you said.
What does get me hung up is the transitions, but I like to let it sit and think of the shapes I see when I play it... because as Tori Amos opened my eyes to this idea, you're writing for a higher power (in my opinion, not everybody believes this of course) so if you translate it wrong your muse will just be upset with you. I just let it set and I know when I have it. Sometimes these two things I think won't go together are meant for each other. Expirementation goes a long way for me at times.

#1152029 - 01/30/06 09:17 PM Re: transitions
signa Offline
8000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/04
Posts: 8483
Loc: Ohio, USA
always. it's hard to find some good 'bridge' passages between sections. when i play Beethoven's Tempest 3rd movement, i was amazed how great such bridges are in it, especially those modulation passages which even by themselves sound amazing.

#1152030 - 01/30/06 11:09 PM Re: transitions
Sostenuto1016 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/01/06
Posts: 29
Loc: Pineville
I never really have trouble with were I want to go. Beethoven makes it look extremely easy though. In the moonlight sonata around the middlish part (I think) there are those inversions that are so wild and exotic. It sounds like the storm is coming or something. Then it does a long inversion way up and then way down to convert into some triplets. (with me so far?) And it is just like the storm is raging!....

..then..... it becomes so serene and traquill. Oh just B-E-A-U-tifal. \:\)

-The T
"Surely I have written better things"
-Beethoven speaking about the moonlight sonata

#1152031 - 01/31/06 07:57 AM Re: transitions
Derulux Offline
5000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/06/05
Posts: 5446
Loc: Philadelphia
you're writing for a higher power (in my opinion, not everybody believes this of course) so if you translate it wrong your muse will just be upset with you.[/b]
Of course, traditionally, the idea of a muse is one such that they "tell" you what to write by speaking through you. In otherwords, you don't translate anything...they do the talking through you. ;\)

Ah, and nice "Bruce Almighty" Sostenuto. \:D
Every day we are afforded a new chance. The problem with life is not that you run out of chances. In the end, what you run out of are days.

#1152032 - 01/31/06 05:44 PM Re: transitions
Steve Chandler Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/18/05
Posts: 3206
Loc: Urbandale, Iowa
Transitions are an issue that come at various stages of learning the craft of composition. Beginners may start with a melodic idea and harmonize it. More advanced composers may start with something idiomatic, harmonic, rhythmic or textural for a particular instrument. Other composers feel each piece requires a reason for being that goes beyond melody, harmony, rhythm or texture. At some point we all feel the need to piece together larger pieces that combine and/or contrast these ideas over time. Initially the idea may be to move seamlessly from one to another. Perhaps later a composer might discover the wonder of DRAMATIC EFFECT!!!!!? / ? / ?

By that I mean the value of sudden changes in texture, harmony, rhythm or melody. Simply put, in creating a piece of music it's all up for grabs. You are the God of this little universe and the only one who needs to be pleased with the results of your experiments is the creator him/herself (i.e. you, not any real deity).

So in an effort to offer some wisdom let's look at these possibilities regarding transitions:

The smooth transition; for a transition to be smooth or seamless it can't be obvious where a phrase or section ends. This would imply continuation of key identifying features of a given section (be it rhythm, harmony, melody or texture). Since the intent is to go to something different then gradually working toward that something different is the key to keeping the transition smooth.

Sudden transitions; perhaps the best example of this is after a cadence. Often a composer will work tension to a pretty high level and use the dramatic effect of relative quiet to signal the transition. However, it can be just as effective to lull the listener and use a SFORZANDO to wake them up! Stange modulations can be quite effective in gaining the listeners ear after you've lulled them with 32 bars of tonic and dominant. The key point to keep in mind is you've done something for long enough and a dramatic change will get the listener's attention.

Like anything these techniques can be overdone and the most important lesson for the budding composer is realizing that some of what you write is crap. Of course the people who need to hear this the most will be the one's who pay the least attention to it. So if you've paid attention to this paragraph it probably doesn't really apply to you.

My last point will be the most important, concern about transitions indicates a curiosity about efficacy in overall structure of music. It is also important to hear your music after you've written it. This is the real world test of whether your musical structure works. Many proudly acknowledge the ability to compose away from sonic reference (usually a keyboard), but do they listen to their finished product? Do they play it when they're done to verify that it is worthy of their impramatir. For me this is the funnest (yes I know, grammer moment) moment in musical creation, playing through my newest creation usually makes me feel like a proud papa. But if it doesn't, that's OK too, note what's not right and fix it or start over. I did a lot of that just writing this post (can you tell?).


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