Composition Assignments for 9.29.2017

Composition Assignments for 9.29.2017

We discussed Friday the philosophical attachments we have to major and minor keys. Rather than automatically thinking of major music as “happy” and minor music as “sad,” perhaps it is more helpful to discuss tonalities in terms of color. some colors will be more present in compositions than others, setting the overall mood. The word for the balance of light and dark in art is “chiaroscuro,” and can be used in music, too.

Some music researchers have conducted studies that seem to suggest that our sense of what is pleasing or beautiful is trained, and not innate in us when we are born. It’s fascinating research. You can read a short article from the Boston Globe about the study here: Musical Taste Study

We discussed a general timeline of music history. You can divide musical periods roughly into eras such as those in this image (remembering there is some wiggle room for exact dates):Inline image 1

Your assignment this week is to choose any of the four versions of your melody (major or any of the 3 forms of minor) and compose either harmony or a countermelody to go with it. You can arrange it for any instrument or pair of instruments. If you need a colleague to perform it with you, please make sure you give them enough time to be prepared to perform it well. And please remember that the music history class will be joining us to discuss the Medieval period, and so we will need to be very efficient in our performances. Be ready to perform quickly and decisively.

And for your listening enjoyment, my moment of musical happy this week: Bobby McFerrin and the Power of the Pentatonic Scale (a.k.a., How to Get an Audience to Sing Without Really Trying)


Heather R. Nelson, PhD

Singing Voice Specialist

Voice Teacher