How to Use Chord Changes to Learn the Art of Musical Composition

Edward Weiss

Visitors: 279

When I first started getting interested in composing it dumbfounded me. So many questions. The number one question I had was how did they do it? How do you create something and build a complete piece of music?

Intrigued, I searched every book on the subject of music composition I could find. Living in San Diego as I do, the libraries aren't the best. I found books on harmony, theory, and composition. But they all were over my head AND they all gave examples that seemed antiquated and dull. Eventually though, if you persist, you'll always find at least one or two books that will be helpful and I did. I found this one book that had chord changes mapped out in 8-bar sections. Now here was something I could understand!

No note reading was required here. All I needed to do was play a few chords on the piano and be able to keep time - both of which I could do. After playing the chord changes for a while, I started to feel what musical form was. It no longer was an academic exercise. Not at all. You see, when I played through the chord changes in 4/4 time, I actually felt the form! That is, after the 8-bars was played, I knew that I could either repeat them again, or play new material (another new 8-bar phrase. ) And that's all there is really to musical composition. Composition is the art of repetition and contrast.

Now, just saying this won't teach you anything. That's why when I read this in a book, I understood it, but didn't really know how to do it. By following simple chord changes, the body actually takes in the rhythm and you start to feel what an 8-bar phrase is. By doing this, you intuitively begin to understand what form is all about.

For instance, in the lesson piece Fall Sunrise, we have something called an ABA form. We have 4-bars repeated twice for the first section (A), then an 8-bar phrase repeated twice for the (B) section. When we use the art of repetition and contrast we get the common ABA form used so much in musical composition.

Edward Weiss is a pianist/composer and webmaster of Quiescence Music's online piano lessons . He has been helping students learn how to play piano in the New Age style for over 14 years and works with students in private, in groups, and now over the internet. Stop by now at for a FREE piano lesson!


Article Source:

Rate this Article: 
At What Age Should A Child Learn A Musical Instrument?
Rated 4 / 5
based on 5 votes

Related Articles:

One Piano Chord - The V7 Chord is the Flower Child of Music, Free, Colorful and .

by: Alana LaGrange (September 07, 2006) 
(Arts and Entertainment)

Guitar Chord Formulas Simple Recipes For Building Any Chord

by: John Mackinnon (June 17, 2008) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

Open Position Chord Piano - Beyond The Chord-Based Approach

by: Alex Nguyen (April 17, 2007) 
(Arts and Entertainment)

10 Top Reasons You Should Learn to Play 'Chord' Piano

by: Duane Shinn (October 13, 2005) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

Learn Acoustic Guitar - Movable Chord Shapes Explained

by: Dave Long (September 05, 2008) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

Learn To Play The Piano Better By Learning To Arrange Chords & Chord ..

by: Duane Shinn (July 02, 2005) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

Learn a Musical Instrument, Prepare for a Career

by: Duane Shinn (September 08, 2006) 
(Arts and Entertainment)

So You Want to be President? Learn to Play a Musical Instrument!

by: Duane Shinn (June 30, 2005) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

Can You Really Learn To Play a Musical Instrument From an Online Course?

by: Duane Shinn (July 30, 2005) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)

At What Age Should A Child Learn A Musical Instrument?

by: Victor Epand (April 10, 2008) 
(Arts and Entertainment/Music)