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Stuck with your composition? Looking for inspiration?

What is a melody?

A melody is also known as the tune. You should aim to create sections of melody for your string quartet composition with each section being approximately 16 bars ( two 8 bar phrases). You then have the option to create a variation of your section of melody consisting of a further 16 bars or you may start on a new section.

Composing your initial idea.

Some people find they can create a successful 2 bar/ 4 bar idea by improvising on the piano or guitar. Other students find this challenging and prefer to use drink rhythms to create their initial rhythm and then add notes to it later. To do this successfully you will need to use a template of four empty bars and set a time signature, probably 4/4 time (4 beats in a bar). Finally, fill each bar with four beats choosing from the drink rhythms below.

Step 1

Using a time signature – for example 4/4 (4 beats in a bar) fill each bar with drink rhythms and ensure that you have the correct amount of beats in each bar.

Step 2

Add notes to your melody. Beware of your key signature! Ensure you know the main notes that you need to use for example, if composing in the key of C Major your main notes will be C E G. Ensure your first melodic phrase on a C and end on a C.
Remember: Successful melodies generally do not have large leaps between the notes and move step by step.

Step 3

Once you have composed 4 bars of your melody, extend it to 8 to make a full musical phrase. Remember, the next four bars need to be very similar to the first.

Step 4

Extend your melody further by creating another 8 bars – this will make a 16 bar A section and will be the first full section of your piece! To help you extend your piece you may find that using the following musical devices will help extend your piece further:Sequence                   Imitation                     Call and Response                Scalic runs              Tremolo                    Trills

 Step 5

Map out how many sections you would like your composition to have. For your composition to be successful, it will need to have at least an     A B A (Ternary form) structure and include a modulation into the relative minor.
To gain full marks, you will need to ensure you piece has the following:
A B A C A structure,
A successful modulation into the relative minor
A contrapuntal texture in at least one section
Successfully showing that you can handle antiphonal phrasing ( call and response), sequences  and syncopation.
Writing correctly for the instruments you are using i.e. can a real violin play the part you have written.

Treble Clef Stave


Bass Clef Stave


Alto Clef Stave


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