The materials in this section should help pupils to develop the following required aspects of composition. Teachers are advised to present the activities in the following order:
To develop a sense of pulse; to compose and play percussion music in time.
To develop a sense of pitch and compose simple five-finger pieces for keyboards (or other pitched instruments) which use simple rhythms.
To learn about and use basic harmony (triads).
To learn to compose and play tunes which fit with pupils’ own harmony (triads).
To learn to compose and play bass parts which will fit with the tune and harmony pupils have created.
To learn to compose a descant or countermelody to fit with the music pupils have created.
To learn to compose and play fill-ins at the ends of phrases in the music.
To look at and apply a variety of accompaniment styles to the triads pupils have used in their compositions.
Using the instruments available, or a computer program, to develop an understanding of which instruments play which parts in the music and arrange the music accordingly.
To learn about the minor key; which chords are available and how to use them in composing.
To learn how to compose a ‘parallel’ harmonic line which runs alongside the tune pupils have already created.
To develop the use of harmony by using more advanced chords based on added sevenths, added sixths, etc and to compose tunes, bass parts, descants, etc using the new chords.
A composition should eventually consist of three or four parts:
When pupils have finished these four basic elements, they can then go through the whole process again numerous times, composing lots of tunes, bass parts, etc. Eventually complete works can be created using two or three sections – with or without descants, with or without fill-ins, using a variety of accompaniment styles, etc. The possibilities are endless; and this is just using one style of composition.
When pupils have mastered these basics, they can learn an alternative style of composition, called harmonic style. It is recommended that this is left until later in the composition course. Although it is in the ‘Basics’ section, it is a different way of working with quite different guidelines.