Musical Elements: Building a Strong Music Composition Technique

If you're interested in learning about the future of music, make sure to check out the latest blog post over at, The Future of Music Is Up in the Air.

Developing a better understanding of the concepts and elements of music through education can greatly improve one's musical appreciation. Just as you can come to better enjoy fine cuisine, art, dance, and theater by cultivating a foundation of knowledge and familiarity on the subjects, music is a vastly more rewarding experience when you know how to listen actively. By becoming aware of the five fundamental disciplines within a musical composition, it is possible to open your ears to a piece of music and hear the beauty within that might have otherwise gone unnoticed.

Music Theory

Music theory teaches musicians how to read and write music.

Music theory encompasses melodic elements such as major and minor scales, chords, chord progressions and non-tonal scales. With music theory, students begin to learn about the different types of meters, time signatures, and basic rhythmic patterns. As students become more advanced, music theory begins to address concepts such as serialism, atonality, chromaticism, minimalism and advanced concepts of music such as aleatoric music. Music theory helps composers write and theorists analyze music. Musicians that attend universities and colleges learn music theory, as it is the basis for advanced study in music.


Learning about individual instruments is an important element of music.

Instrumentation is an important element of study for a composer. Composers will spend several years listening to individual instruments, learning to recognize timbres and the limitations and abilities of each instrument. In the orchestra, there are several groups of instrument types classified as woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion and keyboards.

Composers must know how each instrument works if they are going to write effective music. This is crucial information as a composer lacking this basic knowledge will not be able to write works that are performable. The range of the instruments, their strengths, and weaknesses, as well as special techniques are all issues addressed in the study of instrumentation.


The orchestra sound familiar to many is created through the careful combination of instruments.

The concept of orchestration is one that a composer or musician could spend an entire lifetime studying without fully absorbing everything there is to know. Orchestration addresses how the combination of specific instruments in the orchestra come together to create a unique, overall sound. Composers and musicians learn ways to combine sound and to develop a conceptualization of orchestral sound. In orchestration, examples from past literature are studied and scrutinized in order to learn about effective ways to combine sounds.


Creating parts that work together and create independent melodies is essential to music.

Counterpoint is a concept that entails creating multiple independent lines. In counterpoint, composers learn about dissonant and consonant intervals and how these work in a composition. The methods of employing multiple independent melodic lines are crucial to the development of a contrapuntal style.

Counterpoint instruction is broken up into five smaller elements, beginning with melodic lines that are equal in tempo and duration, and moving toward a more complex form of counterpoint that allows the composer to create several independent lines with differing rhythms. These elements of music progressively add additional rules until the student is writing multiple independent lines that could function on their own, but also work as part of the greater musical whole in order to create harmony.


Analyzing the overall shape of a piece is an important concept in music.

In music, the structure of a piece is called form. Just as a literary composition can be broken up into sections, paragraphs, sentences and words, music has a similar architecture. Sections in a literary composition correspond to sections within a musical composition. Paragraphs in literature correspond to musical periods. Sentences in literature correspond to musical phrases, and words may be likened to musical motives that are put together to form melodies. A class in which musical form is studied will discuss each of these elements in detail.


Popular posts from this blog

List of Musical Techniques and Their Meanings

How to Switch From Mono to Stereo in GarageBand

Musical Instruments That Make Animal Sounds