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Motif and Modulation Practice

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Dillon DeRosa, May 21, 2018.

  1. Hi,

    I thought it be fun to share my process and practice ultimately applying what Mike has been teaching. I sat down and took a simple motif I came up with in perhaps a minute and tried to just keep stretching/modulating it into an actual piece of music. The whole idea is meant to be simple and to practice craft. This is just the piano sketch and I'll be writing this into an orchestra piece practicing orchestration/arranging.

    The ending is a little abrupt, might come up with something more triumphant or something when orchestrating. But the idea is there to let me know to end.

    Let me know what you guys think. Please forgive me on performance as this is a sketch so I performed it raw.
  2. So what was your process for practice ?

    What did you do and how did you do it ? Would you do anything different next time ?
  3. Hi Doug,

    I'm fortunate enough to have a small upright piano in my room. I can't express how clearer and easier things come to me when I get away from my DAW to play on the piano and write chicken scratch. Before I forget what I play I'll try to record it with my phone of me playing, but usually just speed write a lead sheet with chords. I grew up learning from lead sheets so I rarely write down anything but chords and a lead sheet.

    My practice is not strict, the only goal is not even to write but to play. I usually just play songs or randomness on the piano until something sounds interesting. For example, I'm working on a broadway song and I was having trouble figuring out a bridge to connect my modulation. So I spent days playing broadway music and disney music until my brain clicked and I figured it out. Sometimes this happens quicker but sometimes its literally days I'll come back to a piece. So the whole idea is exactly how Mike has been teaching, is I just cram a bunch of data into my head until my brain spits out something that sounds good to me. You got to input to output.

    For this piece after I was done playing piano. I thought I should really practice my modulation and repetition. So my two rules was just that. I created something simple that I can mess with easily. The first 4 notes, then it repeats with slight variation, then I repeat the 2 bars up in the scale which is a sort of modulation. I then gave it a B part since it needed contrast. I also am very conscious of motion so I knew my melody was going up and up, so my B had to come down and down. Once I completed the "Song", it was just craft afterwards. The craft and rest of the piece honestly the 100% truth is that I can't explain my choices. This is because I'm just playing the piano. So to explain you'd have to just listen/play music that I play for years lol. Just know that my idea was to repeat (usually in pairs of 2 or 4), and modulate. I could answer maybe specific chord choices to the best of my ability, but why I went there is because it sounded like it did in my head lol.

    To answer your last question would I do anything different? I'd probably post this faster on the forum. I wrote this a couple weeks ago and haven't looked at it until I went back to the sheet music. I did mention the intro and outro will vary because I just took note to start/end, something orchestral will inspire me. I tend to write the core at the piano and orchestrate better at the computer. I have strong ideas of orchestration from piano but my ear isn't that good yet to orchestrate everything from piano. I'm going to try to adapt Mike's orchestrating method though. I agree his way is much faster of getting your ideas out.

    My apologies for rambling. Hope that kind of answered your question.

    You'll notice in the picture that I'll write lines below my idea with an "OR". These are my variations. I learned this my trial and error and found out John Williams does something very similar to this. Sometimes I don't come up with the clearest of an idea, or the simplest most memorable I guess. So I create variations and decide which is the best one. It could be one variation or it could ten, it varies.

    I also write in pen because I hate pencil, always have.
    Aaron Venture likes this.
  4. Cool. Sounds like you have a good routine going.

    Post the piece when you orchestrate it. I almost always change the music once I begin orchestrating.

    Having a 3rd layer, or countermelody will really come in handy for your piece then. (vs. 2 hand piano playing)

    All the best
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  5. I've listened to this a few times. I like it. I think you should try doing an orchestration.
  6. Thank you Paul, I'm flattered you listened to it more than once.

    Yes, I plan on doing orchestral version of this. I've been busy with other projects at the moment but my plan is to adapt to Mike's speed orchestration (on paper with the color sharpies and stuff lol).

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