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How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase #1179124
04/12/09 02:58 PM
04/12/09 02:58 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,393
Beautiful San Diego, CA
eweiss Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member
eweiss  Offline OP
2000 Post Club Member

Joined: Feb 2009
Posts: 2,393
Beautiful San Diego, CA
I'm always telling my students to work within an 8-bar framework. Why 8-bars? Because it's a nice, neat time space to work in. And, more importantly, it doesn't overwhelm beginning students who feel they must come up with 100 bars at their first attempt.

The beauty of working within this framework is that it teaches you about phrases. Music has been compared to writing in the sense that it's made up of small phrases (like sentences) bigger sections.. periods of music (like paragraphs) and finally, complete movements (chapters).



Composers always think in sections because they know this is how music is constructed. - at least 99% of the music in the western world.

When you master the 8-bar phrase, you learn how to complete a section of music. And you learn that the art of composition has everything to do with repetition and contrast.

There's only so many times you can repeat an 8-bar phrase before it gets stagnant. Here is where we introduce new material - a contrasting section. Perhaps another 8-bars or so.

Another thing I have my students do is learn how to create a complete ABA form.

This musical form is the most common one used and it's also quite easy to create. Once the first 8-bar phrase is complete (the A section) it's time for some contrast. Maybe 4-bars… perhaps 8 or more will do the trick here. Finally, the first A section is repeated (with some variation) and that's that - a small ABA form is finished.

It's a good idea to master these small sections of music before delving into 400 bar compositions.


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Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: eweiss] #1179406
04/13/09 04:34 AM
04/13/09 04:34 AM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 71
Sweden
Andre van Haren Offline
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Sweden
Very nice topic and very important to know this basic skill. It helped me in the past to understand music. A good thing to add would be the 2 different structures that are so typical in the classical music: Schönberg's definitions of Satz and Periode.

Satz: a musical sentence that is build in 3 parts; for example the beginning of Mozart's "Eine Kleine Nachtmusic".

Periode: a musical sentence that is build in 2 parts. For example Beethoven's piano sonata opus 2 nr. 1, movement 2.

There is more to say about the constructions of these 2 definitions but it's something to think about.

The example you are playing, would be defined as a Satz structure. Being aware of this you could choose then the change it into a Periode structure just to hear how that would sound.

André

Last edited by Andre van Haren; 04/13/09 04:41 AM.
Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: Andre van Haren] #1179410
04/13/09 05:07 AM
04/13/09 05:07 AM
Joined: Sep 2005
Posts: 26
The Netherlands
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RowyVH Offline
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A nice idea, but I guess your students don't care much for the bar form. The bar form - two "Stollen" or "Aufgesang" followed by a "Abgesang" - is very common in classical oriented music.

Since it's a three part "satz", like Andre mentioned, you could get into trouble in an 8-bar phrase.

You might consider a 12 bar or a 6 bar phrase, unless you're used to standard chord progressions and you can't get them to fit in.


http://www.rowy.net/ - Download more than 2.000 free music scores.
Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: RowyVH] #1179425
04/13/09 05:52 AM
04/13/09 05:52 AM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 71
Sweden
Andre van Haren Offline
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Andre van Haren  Offline
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Sweden
I believe that the 8 bar structure is only the beginning of understanding music and should not be stuck with for too long. It's good to feel how a phrase works yes, but always writing in 4 +4 or 8 + 8 can be limiting your fantasy. Schönberg gives many examples of the 8 bar structure that is being used by for example Schubert but shows then how Schubert expands on it by inserting or adding bars.

Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: Andre van Haren] #1179455
04/13/09 07:24 AM
04/13/09 07:24 AM
Joined: Oct 2008
Posts: 296
Munich, Germany
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Tar Offline
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Munich, Germany
Not to add that some of the loveliest melodies ever written are justifiably in irregular time, including the second movement to Rachmaninoff's 2nd Piano Concerto and a lot of Poulenc. Musical surprise goes down very well with beauty smile


Tar Viturawong
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verbis defectis musica incipit
Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: Andre van Haren] #1179457
04/13/09 07:28 AM
04/13/09 07:28 AM
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RowyVH Offline
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To be quite honest, I think you should not suggest musicians that want to write music to use a certain pattern. Teach them harmony, counterpoint and whatever seems appropriate.

However, if you are fasinated by numbers, have a look at the work by Bach, like Das Wohltemperiertes Klavier, and start counting the measures of several phrases. Two of my colleagues wrote a book about it. If I'm not mistaken, they even discovered his year of death in one of his compositions crazy

Btw. I counted the measures in some of my works and I finally found one that has my date of death in it. I'm going to get very old, honestly!


http://www.rowy.net/ - Download more than 2.000 free music scores.
Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: RowyVH] #1179638
04/13/09 01:50 PM
04/13/09 01:50 PM
Joined: Jul 2007
Posts: 71
Sweden
Andre van Haren Offline
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Sweden
This has nothing to do with number writing. It has everything to do with being conscious what you are doing and have a grip on structures.

Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: Andre van Haren] #1179694
04/13/09 03:27 PM
04/13/09 03:27 PM
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RowyVH Offline
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"It has everything to do with being conscious what you are doing and have a grip on structures."

Yes. Sure. Okay. So?

In my opinion you do not suggest a student that he should write 8 bar phrases, of 9 bar, or 666. Students should study music theory, not tricks.

My teaching days are somewhat over, but when I was still pestering poor students I asked them to write at least one composition without the use of bars.


http://www.rowy.net/ - Download more than 2.000 free music scores.
Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: RowyVH] #1179759
04/13/09 05:29 PM
04/13/09 05:29 PM
Joined: Jan 2008
Posts: 78
Near Dallas Texas
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sudoplatov Offline
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One suggestion I have been given is to write something in a rhythm (like 5/4), not just to get a feel for the rhythm (which can be taken as either 3+2 or 2+3 beats) but to get a feeling for the melodic differences between a 5 beat measure and a more common 2 or 3 or 4 beat measure.

One may also experiment with taking a 4-bar (or 8-bar) phrase and extend it by the usual methods, add a measure, insert a measure, repeat a measure, prefix a measure, etc. One can then try to write a 5-bar phrase that's not constructed from a 4-bar phrase.

Re: How To Compose an 8-Bar Phrase [Re: sudoplatov] #1179995
04/14/09 03:12 AM
04/14/09 03:12 AM
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Posts: 26
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RowyVH Offline
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There seem to be different methods of teaching composition. I guess it has something to do with the kind of music one wants to write and one's background. I have mostly been working with students that were interested in "serious" music, or what you might call "contemporary" music, or "new classical music".

Most of them already studied harmony and some of them counterpoint. They were not interested in phrases. We analysed their compositions and works by other composers, like Chopin and Webern.

Perhaps 8-bar phrases are useful if you don't know much about harmony and you want to learn how to write New Age, or Easy Listening, or some other popular music - my apologies for my English. I probably don't use the right names.

I watched the video and I got the idea that it's mainly about writing a melody and an accompaniment of chords. One should however - just my humble opinion - compose the harmony as well.

Not that I write polyphonic music, but I studied counterpoint, instrumental and vocal, so to me harmony never is just an accompaniment of (broken) chords.

My compliments to the man who made the video though. He wants to help musicians with his knowledge. One should always respect that.


http://www.rowy.net/ - Download more than 2.000 free music scores.

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