Monday, May 22, 2023

Thursday, May 11, 2023

Why We Need Your Help to Keep Making Music Videos

5:57:00 AM

Dear readers,

We are delighted to welcome you to our website, where you can find a wealth of information and resources on music theory, composition, and performance. Our mission is to educate, inspire, and entertain you with our engaging and informative videos.

However, producing high-quality videos requires a significant amount of time, effort, and resources. That is why we need your support to continue and expand our work. If you value our content and want to see more of it, we kindly ask you to consider supporting us on Patreon.

Patreon is a platform that allows you to pledge a monthly amount of your choice to support your favorite creators. In exchange, you will receive access to exclusive rewards and benefits, such as early access to new videos, behind-the-scenes updates, polls, Q&A sessions, and more.

By becoming a patron, you will not only help us cover the costs of production and equipment, but also enable us to create more and better content for you. You will also join a community of like-minded music enthusiasts who share your interests and values.

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We thank you for your attention and generosity. We look forward to seeing you in the next video!

Here is the preview of a new ear training course that we really need your help with! Please help make this 16-month course a reality:

Saturday, March 25, 2023

Counterpoint: A Fundamental Technique for Music Composition

10:14:00 AM

If you want to learn more about the history and theory of polyphonic music, consider writing your own cantus firmus composition. A cantus firmus is a pre-existing melody that forms the basis of a polyphonic composition. It is usually a plainchant excerpt or a popular song sung by one voice, often the tenor, while other voices weave around it with different rhythms and melodies. A cantus firmus can have symbolic or musical significance and can be used to create unity and coherence in a complex musical texture. Some examples of composers who used cantus firmus technique are Dufay, Josquin, Palestrina and Bach.

One of the most critical parts of counterpoint is learning to internalize the music you hear. You should first aim to audiate the cantus firmus. Once you can clearly hear the music in your mind's ear, you can begin to add the second line. In this way, you should continually develop your ability to hear additional voices as you progress. 

In this blog post, we will give you some tips and guidelines on how to write a cantus firmus composition in four steps:

1. Create a cantus firmus. Traditionally, a cantus firmus should follow basic melodic motion rules described in the video below. However, you can use any melody you like as long as it is simple, clear and singable. You can also use a fragment of a longer melody or modify it slightly to suit your needs. Some sources of cantus firmus melodies are Gregorian chants, folk songs, hymns, nursery rhymes or even pop songs. Ensure that your cantus firmus has a definite beginning and end and follows the rules of tonality and modality.

2. Write the first voice. The first voice is usually the highest voice in the texture, also called the discantus or superius. The first voice should create a harmonious counterpoint with the cantus firmus, following consonance, dissonance, motion, and cadence rules. You can use different intervals, such as thirds, sixths, octaves or fifths, to create harmony with the cantus firmus. You can also use different rhythms, such as syncopation, imitation or augmentation, to create variety and contrast with the cantus firmus. Generally, in the simplest counterpoint style, you should only use consonant intervals and avoid moving in direct motion into a perfect consonance. 

3. Write the second voice. The second voice is usually the lowest voice in the texture, and it is also called the bassus or contratenor. The second voice should support the harmony and structure of the composition, following the rules of chord progression and voice leading. You can use different chords, such as triads, seventh chords or inversions, to create harmony with the cantus firmus and the first voice. You can also use different melodic patterns, such as scales, arpeggios or leaps, to create movement and interest in the bass line.

4. Write the third voice (optional). The third voice is usually the middle voice in the texture, also called the altus or medius. The third voice should fill in the gaps and enrich the harmony of the composition, following the rules of balance and independence. You can use different techniques, such as parallel motion, contrary motion or oblique motion, to create harmony with the cantus firmus and the other voices. You can also use different embellishments, such as passing tones, neighbor tones or suspensions, to create tension and resolution in the melody.

To learn how to compose a counterpoint step-by-step, you should begin with our Counterpoint series. These videos take you through the voice-leading requirements and show you examples of how you can create your own counterpoint. Writing a cantus firmus composition is a great way to learn more about music history and theory and express yourself through music.

Friday, March 24, 2023

Similarities of Classical and Baroque Music

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Music has evolved through the centuries and undergone drastic changes. One of the most significant transitions was from the Baroque to the Classical period of music. In this paragraph, I will compare and contrast some of the main features of these two styles, such as ensembles, instrumentation, and counterpoint study.

The Baroque and Classical periods of music have many similarities. While the style of music changed drastically, certain key elements remained the same between the two styles. Composers in the Classical period sought to simplify music and create clearly audible musical lines. In contrast, composers from the Baroque period were interested in creating complex and highly ornamented musical lines. The Baroque period occurs from approximately 1600 to 1750, and the Classical period extends from 1750 to 1820.


Ensembles are groups of musicians that perform together. Both the Baroque and the Classical period had similar types of ensembles, such as operas, orchestras, string quartets, and soloists. However, the size and composition of the orchestra changed in the Classical period. It became larger and more diverse, with more brass instruments added to the mix.

The basic ensembles developed in the Baroque period also existed in the Classical period. There were still operas, orchestras, string quartets, and soloists. However, the orchestra was expanded in the classical period. While brass was not a major part of the orchestra in the Baroque period, they were added toward the end and became a common instrument in the Classical period.


Instrumentation refers to the choice and use of musical instruments. Both periods relied heavily on singers, string instruments, and woodwind instruments. However, some instruments such as the piano and the horn became more prominent or popular in the Classical period. The piano replaced the harpsichord as the main keyboard instrument, and the horn became a common solo instrument.

Both time periods heavily used singers, string, and woodwind instruments. Brass instruments mainly occurred in solos in the Baroque period and later became part of the orchestra in the Classical period. The most commonly used instruments between both periods are the flute, oboe, bassoon, violin, viola, cello, bass, and piano. These instruments formed the basis for a composer’s study of instrumentation.

Counterpoint Study

Counterpoint first developed in the 16th century. The study of counterpoint was essential to composers of the Baroque and Classical periods. By studying counterpoint, composers learned how to combine multiple independent lines. This technique commonly occurred in Baroque music. It also appears at the end of Mozart's "The Marriage of Figaro." While composers of the Classical period were intent on simplifying the music to add clarity to the melodies, it was still an important subject of study.

Counterpoint study is the art of combining multiple independent melodies. It was a crucial skill for composers in both periods, as it helped them create complex and expressive musical textures. However, while Baroque music was characterized by intricate and ornate counterpoint, Classical music aimed for simpler and clearer melodies. Counterpoint was still used in Classical music, but more sparingly and subtly.


The concept of binary form was first introduced in the Baroque period. As composers developed music throughout the period, this form developed into sonatas, concertos, and symphonies. All of these forms continued to be used in the Classical period. The sonata was especially relevant to Classical structure. During this time period, the sonata was developed to include an exposition, development, and recapitulation.

Composing a Melodic Skeleton that Unifies Harmony and Melody - Online Music Composition Lessons

10:14:00 AM

One of the challenges of composing music is to create a coherent and expressive melodic line that fits well with the underlying harmonic structure. A melodic skeleton is a simplified melody that outlines the main notes and intervals defining the harmonic progression. It can help composers to create melodies that are consistent, logical and memorable.

A melodic skeleton can be derived from the chord tones, the notes that belong to each chord in the harmony. 

For example, if the harmony is C major, G major, A minor and F major, the chord tones are C, E and G for C major; G, B and D for G major; A, C and E for A minor; and F, A and C for F major. These notes form the basic framework of the melody and can be used as starting or ending points for each phrase.

However, a melodic skeleton can also include non-chord tones, which are notes that do not belong to the current chord but add variety and interest to the melody. Non-chord tones can be classified into different types according to their function and relation to the chord tones. Some common types of non-chord tones are:

- Passing tone: a note that moves by step between two chord tones. For example, in C major, D is a passing tone between C and E.

- Neighbor tone: a note that moves by step away from and back to a chord tone. For example, in C major, D is a neighbor tone to C.

- Suspension: a note that is held over from the previous chord and then resolves down by step to a chord tone. For example, in C major, G is a suspension over F major that resolves to F.

- Anticipation: a note that moves by step to a chord tone before the chord changes. For example, in C major, E is an anticipation of F major.

- Appoggiatura (Incomplete Neighbor): a note that leaps to a non-chord tone and then resolves by step to a chord tone. For example, in C major, B is an appoggiatura to G major that resolves to G. The opposite of this is called an escape tone since the chord tone is approached by step and left by leap. Many theorists now group these two kinds of non-chord tones into an embellishment known as an incomplete neighbor. 

By using non-chord tones strategically, composers can create more exciting and expressive melodies that contrast with or embellish the harmonic structure. However, non-chord tones should be used sparingly and not randomly, as they can create confusion or dissonance if not resolved properly. Don't simply include a non-chord tone for the sake of dissonance.

A melodic skeleton can be written as a series of notes on a staff or as a series of numbers indicating the scale degrees of each note. For example, in C major, the scale degrees are 1 for C, 2 for D, 3 for E, etc. A melodic skeleton can also be sung or played on an instrument to test its effectiveness and musicality.

A melodic skeleton is not a final product but a tool for composing music. It can be modified, expanded, or refined to create a more complete and satisfying melody. A melodic skeleton can also be used to create variations or develop motifs throughout a musical work.

Creating a melodic skeleton is one of the techniques that composers can use to unify the harmony and melody in a musical work. It can help composers to create melodies that are coherent, logical and memorable. For more information, watch this tutorial on how to create a melodic skeleton. 

Monday, March 20, 2023

How to Compose an Original Piece with Harmony: Advice from Kevin Ure

9:40:00 AM

If you are interested in composing your own music, you might wonder how to create a coherent and pleasing harmony piece. Harmony combines different pitches that sound simultaneously, creating a sense of depth and richness in music. Harmony can also convey emotions, moods, and styles, depending on how you use it.

One of the best ways to learn how to compose with harmony is to get advice from an expert. Kevin Ure is a composer and music theorist who teaches music theory and ear training courses at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He is also the instructor of The Composers Studio at, where he offers online lessons and resources for aspiring composers. He has composed several works for various ensembles and solo instruments, such as Soliloquy, The Beast of Gevaudan, and The Garden Tower.

In this blog post, we will share some tips from Kevin Ure on how to compose an original piece with harmony. These tips are based on his YouTube videos, where he explains various aspects of music composition in an accessible and engaging way.

Tip 1: Start with a melodic skeleton

A melodic skeleton is a simple outline of your melody that shows its basic shape and direction. It can be composed of single notes or chords representing your piece's main harmonic points. A melodic skeleton can help you establish your piece's structure, form, and tonality before adding more details.

To create a melodic skeleton, you can use one of these methods:

- Use a scale or mode as a basis for your melody. For example, you can use the major or minor scales to create melodies with a clear tonal center.

- Use intervals as building blocks for your melody. For example, you can use perfect fifths or minor thirds to create melodies that have a strong harmonic implication.

- Use motifs as units for your melody. A motif is a short musical idea that can be repeated or varied throughout your piece. For example, you can use rhythmic or melodic motifs to create coherent and contrast melodies.

Tip 2: Add harmonic layers

Once you have a melodic skeleton, you can add more harmonic layers to enrich your piece. Harmonic layers are additional voices or parts that accompany your main melody. They can be composed of chords, counterpoint lines (independent melodies), or textures (background sounds).

To add harmonic layers, you can use one of these methods:

- Use chord progressions as frameworks for your harmony. A chord progression is a sequence of chords that creates movement and tension-resolution in your piece. For example, you can use common chord progressions such as I-V-vi-IV (C-G-Am-F) or ii-V-I (Dm-G-C) to create harmonies that support your melody.

- Use counterpoint techniques as tools for creating harmony through melody. Counterpoint is the art of combining two or more melodies that are independent but harmonious with each other. For example, you can use species counterpoint (a method of learning counterpoint by following strict rules) or free counterpoint (a method of composing counterpoint by using your own creativity) to create harmonies that enhance your melody.

- Use textures as elements for creating harmony through sound quality. Texture is the way multiple sounds are combined in music, creating different effects such as density (how many sounds), timbre (what kind of sounds), dynamics (how loud or soft), and articulation (how smooth or detached). For example, you can use homophonic texture (one melody with chordal accompaniment), polyphonic texture (multiple independent melodies), or monophonic texture (one single melody) to create harmonies that vary your piece.

Tip 3: Add expressive details

After you have a melodic skeleton and harmonic layers, you can add more expressive details to make your piece more interesting and unique. Expressive details are elements that affect the mood, emotion, and character of your piece. They can be composed of dynamics (loudness), articulation (how notes are played), timbre (sound quality), or ornamentation (decorative notes).

To add expressive details, you can use one of these methods:

  • Use dynamics to create contrast and emphasis in your piece. Dynamics are symbols that indicate how loud or soft to play a note or a section. For example, you can use forte (f) to indicate loudness or piano (p) to indicate softness. You can also use crescendo (<) to indicate gradually increasing loudness or diminuendo (>) to indicate gradually decreasing loudness.

  • Use articulation to create variety and expression in your piece. Articulation is the way you play a note, such as smoothly or sharply. For example, you can use legato (a curved line) to indicate smooth and connected notes or staccato (a dot) to indicate short and detached notes. You can also use accents (^) to indicate strong emphasis or tenuto (-) to indicate sustained notes.

  • Use timbre to create color and texture in your piece. Timbre is the quality of sound that distinguishes different instruments or voices. For example, you can use different instruments such as piano, guitar, violin, or flute to create different timbres. You can also use different techniques such as plucking, bowing, blowing, or singing to create different timbres.

  • Use ornamentation to create embellishment and flair in your piece. Ornamentation is the addition of extra notes that decorate the main melody. For example, you can use trills (rapid alternation between two adjacent notes), turns (quick movement around a central note), mordents (quick single alternation with a lower or higher note), or grace notes (quick extra notes before the main note).

By following these tips, you can compose music that has melody, harmony, and expression.

Reviewed by Kevin Ure on March 20, 2023

Saturday, March 18, 2023

Orchestration for String Quartet: Tips and Tricks

3:16:00 PM

If you are a composer or an arranger who wants to write music for string quartet, you might be wondering how to make the most of this versatile and expressive ensemble. A string quartet consists of two violins, a viola, and a cello, and it can produce a wide range of sounds, textures and moods. But how do you orchestrate effectively for these four instruments? Here are some tips and tricks to help you create engaging and beautiful music for string quartet.

1. Know your instruments. Each string instrument has its own characteristics, such as range, timbre, dynamics and articulation. You should be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of each instrument and the players' preferences. For example, string players generally prefer keys with sharps rather than flats, as they are easier to play on their instruments. You should also know how to write idiomatic parts that suit the natural tendencies of each instrument, such as using open strings, harmonics or double stops.

2. Use different textures. One of the advantages of writing for string quartet is that you can create various textures by combining or contrasting the four instruments differently. You can use monophonic texture (one melody), polyphonic texture (multiple independent melodies), chordal texture (harmonized blocks) or homophonic texture (melody with accompaniment). You can also vary the density, rhythm and register of each texture to create contrast and interest.

3. Explore bowing techniques. Another way to add variety and expression to your music is to use different bowing techniques that affect the sound quality and articulation of the strings. Some common bowing techniques are legato (smooth and connected), staccato (short and detached), spiccato (bouncing off the string), pizzicato (plucking with fingers), col legno (striking with wood), sul ponticello (near the bridge) or sul tasto (over the fingerboard). You can also use slurs, accents or dynamics to shape your phrases.

4. Listen to examples. One of the best ways to learn how to orchestrate for string quartet is to listen to examples from different composers and genres. You can find inspiration from classical masters such as Haydn, Mozart or Beethoven; romantic composers such as Schubert, Mendelssohn or Brahms; modern composers such as Bartok, Shostakovich or Britten; or even pop artists such as The Beatles, Radiohead or Coldplay. Pay attention to how they use the instruments individually and collectively, how they create contrast and balance between parts, how they develop their musical ideas and how they achieve their desired effects.

5. Experiment and have fun! Finally, feel free to experiment with different ideas and techniques when writing for string quartet. There is no one right way to orchestrate for this ensemble; you can be creative and expressive according to your own musical vision and style. The most important thing is to have fun with it!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about orchestration for string quartet. If you want more tips on composing music for strings or other instruments check out our book, The Elements of Music Composition.

Reviewed by Kevin Ure on 3/18/2023

Choosing a Music Notation Program

1:07:00 PM

Music notation is the process of writing down musical symbols and instructions that represent how a piece of music should be played or sung. Music notation software, also known as scorewriters, are computer programs that help you create, edit and print sheet music. They can also play back your music with realistic sounds and export your scores to various formats.

But how do you choose the best notation program for music? There are many factors to consider, such as:

- Your budget: Some notation programs are free or low-cost, while others require a subscription or a one-time purchase. You should compare the features and benefits of each option and decide what suits your needs and wallet.

- Your skill level: Some notation programs are designed for beginners or students who want to learn the basics of music theory and notation. Others are more advanced and offer professional tools for composers, arrangers and engravers. You should choose a program that matches your current level of knowledge and experience, but also allows you to grow and improve.

- Your platform: Some notation programs are available for Windows, Mac or Linux computers, while others are web-based or compatible with mobile devices such as iPads. You should choose a program that works well with your preferred device and operating system.

- Your style: Some notation programs are more suitable for certain genres or types of music than others. For example, some programs have special features for classical music, jazz, pop, rock or film scoring. You should choose a program that supports your musical style and preferences.

To help you make an informed decision, here are some of the most popular notation programs for music in 2023:


MuseScore is one of the most widely used free and open-source notation programs for music. It has a user-friendly interface that lets you enter notes with a mouse, keyboard or MIDI device. It also has a large library of sounds and instruments that you can use to play back your scores.

MuseScore supports many features such as lyrics, chords symbols, dynamics, articulations, slurs, ties, tuplets, repeats, voltas, codas, segno, dal segno, al fine, al coda, key signatures, time signatures, clefs, transposition, grace notes, ornaments, arpeggios, glissandi, tremolos, and more.

You can also import and export files in various formats such as MusicXML (a standard format for exchanging musical data between different applications), MIDI (a protocol for communicating musical information between electronic devices), PDF (a format for printing documents), MP3 (a format for compressing audio files) and WAV (a format for storing uncompressed audio files).

MuseScore is available for Windows, Mac and Linux computers as well as iPad. You can also access MuseScore online through its web app.

MuseScore is ideal for beginners who want to learn music notation or hobbyists who want to create simple scores without spending any money.


Sibelius is one of the most powerful and professional notation programs for music. It was created by Avid Technology who also developed Pro Tools (a popular digital audio workstation). Sibelius has a reputation for being one of the "heavy hitters"in music notation software.

Sibelius has an intuitive interface that lets you enter notes with a mouse keyboard or MIDI device. It also has an extensive library of sounds and instruments that you can use to play back your scores.

Sibelius supports many features such as lyrics chords symbols dynamics articulations slurs ties tuplets repeats voltas codas segno dal segno al fine al coda key signatures time signatures clefs transposition grace notes ornaments arpeggios glissandi tremolos and more.

You can also import and export files in various formats such as MusicXML MIDI PDF MP3 WAV and more. Sibelius is available for Windows and Mac computers as well as iPad. You can also access Sibelius online through its cloud service.

Sibelius is ideal for advanced users who want to create complex scores with high-quality results. 


Finale Music Notation is a software that allows users to create, edit, and share musical scores with a high level of control and flexibility. Finale is developed by MakeMusic and has been available for Microsoft Windows and macOS since 1988. Finale supports a wide range of musical notation features, such as point-and-click note entry, dynamics, articulations, expressions, templates, unlimited staves, parts extraction, and MusicXML import/export . Finale also offers playback capabilities with realistic sounds and accompaniment options. Finale is used by professional composers, arrangers, engravers, educators, and students worldwide.

When it comes to notation programs, Finale is my personal pick. I have used it since 1996, and it has always provided a good mix of utility and flexibility. 

Friday, March 17, 2023

Using Connecting Tones to Create New Chord Progressions

5:18:00 PM
I'm going to share with you a simple but effective technique to spice up your chord progressions: using connecting tones.

What are connecting tones?

Connecting tones are notes that link two chords together by creating a smooth transition between them. They can be either chord tones (the root, 3rd or 5th of a chord) or non-chord tones (any other note that is not part of the chord).

Why use connecting tones?

Connecting tones can make your chord progressions sound more interesting, melodic and coherent. They can also help you avoid awkward jumps or gaps between chords and create a sense of direction and movement in your harmony.

How to use connecting tones?

There are many ways to use connecting tones, but one of the most common and easy methods is to follow these steps:

1. Choose a chord progression that you want to work on. It can be any progression that you like or are familiar with, such as a I-IV-V-I or a ii-V-I.
2. Identify the highest note of each chord in your progression. This will be your melody note for each chord.
3. Find a way to connect each melody note with the next one by using either a stepwise motion (moving up or down by one scale degree) or a chromatic motion (moving up or down by one semitone).
4. Adjust the other notes of each chord accordingly to maintain the quality and function of each chord.

Let's see an example:

Let's say we use connecting tones on this basic chord progression in C major: C-F-G-C.

The highest note of each chord is:

C: G
F: C
G: D
C: G

To connect these notes smoothly, we can use stepwise motion like this:

C: G
F: A
G: B
C: C

Notice how we changed the highest note of F from C to A, and the highest note of G from D to B. This creates a nice ascending line from G to C.

Now we have to adjust the other notes of each chord accordingly:

C: C E G
F: F A C
G: G B D
C: C E G

We have created new chords by using connecting tones:

Cmaj7: C E G B
Fmaj7/A: F A C E
G7/B: G B D F

These chords are more colorful and expressive than the original ones and still preserve their function and quality.

You can also use chromatic motion instead of stepwise motion, like this:

C: G
F: Ab
G: A
C: Bb

This creates a different kind of ascending line from G to Bb.

We have to adjust the other notes again:

C: C E G
Fm/Ab : Ab C Eb 
G/A : A D F#
Bb/C : Bb D F 

We have created another set of new chords by using connecting tones:

C6/9 : C E A D 
Fm/Ab : Ab C Eb 
D7/A : A D F# 
Bb/C : Bb D F 

These chords are more adventurous and surprising than the original ones, and they still preserve their function and quality.

Using connecting tones is a great way to create new chord progressions from existing ones. You can experiment with different types of motion (stepwise or chromatic), different directions (ascending or descending), different registers (high or low) and different combinations of chords.

The possibilities are endless!

I hope you enjoyed this blog post and learned something new today. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to leave them below.

Happy music-making!

Thursday, March 16, 2023

How to Compose Music: A Beginner's Guide

9:32:00 PM
Have you ever wanted to create your own music? Do you have a passion for melodies, harmonies and rhythms? If so, you might be interested in learning how to compose music.

Composing music is the art of arranging sounds in time to create a musical piece. It can be done for various purposes, such as personal expression, entertainment, education or cultural preservation. 

Composing music can also be a rewarding and fun activity that stimulates your creativity and imagination.
But how do you start composing music? What do you need to know and do? In this blog post, I will share tips and steps to help you compose your first musical piece.

What You Need to Compose Music

Before you start composing music, you need some basic tools and skills. Here are some of them:

- Musical instrument: You don't need to be an expert at playing an instrument, but having one can help you experiment with different sounds and ideas. You can use any instrument you like or can access, such as a piano, guitar, keyboard or even your voice.

- Recording device: You also need a way to record your musical ideas so that you can listen back and refine them later. You can use any device that can capture sounds, such as a smartphone, computer or audio recorder.

- Notation software: A notation software program allows you to write down your music using symbols and signs. This can help you organize your musical structure and communicate your ideas to others. Many free or affordable notation software are available online, such as MuseScore, Noteflight or

- Basic knowledge of music theory: Music theory studies how music works and why it sounds the way it does. Music theory covers topics such as scales, chords, keys, intervals and rhythms. Having a basic knowledge of music theory can help you understand the elements of music and create more coherent and interesting compositions.

How to Compose Music: A Step-by-Step Process

Now that you have the tools and skills ready let's get into the process of composing music. Here are some steps that you can follow:

1. Choose a genre and style: The first step is to decide what kind of music you want to compose. Do you want to write a classical piece or a pop song? Do you want to make it upbeat or mellow? Do you want to use acoustic instruments or electronic sounds? Choosing a genre and style can help you narrow down your options and set the mood for your composition.

2. Choose a theme or topic: The next step is to choose a theme or topic for your composition. Anything that inspires you or relates to your purpose for composing music can serve as a topic. For example, if you want to express your feelings about something that happened in your life, you can choose a theme that reflects that emotion. If you want to entertain your audience with a catchy tune, you can choose a fun and relatable topic.

3. Brainstorm musical ideas: The third step is brainstorming musical ideas based on your genre, style and theme. You can use your instrument or recording device to play around with different melodies (the main tune), harmonies (the supporting chords) and rhythms (the pattern of beats). You don't have to worry about making it perfect at this stage; just try out different things until something catches your ear.

4. Develop a structure: The fourth step is to develop a structure for your composition based on your musical ideas. A structure is a way that you organize the different parts of your composition into sections (such as intro, verse, chorus, bridge, and outro). A common structure for pop songs is ABABCB (where A is verse, B is chorus, C is bridge). A common structure for classical pieces is sonata form (where there are three main sections: exposition, development, recapitulation). 

You don't have to follow these structures exactly; they are just examples that you can modify according to your preference and creativity.

5. Refine and polish: The final step is to refine and polish your composition by making adjustments and improvements to your melody, harmony, rhythm, structure, dynamics (the volume level), timbre (the tone quality), and other aspects of sound.

You can use your notation software to write down your composition in detail and make changes easily. You can also use your recording device to listen back to your composition and evaluate its effect.
Music composition is a creative and rewarding activity that can enrich your life and the lives of others. By studying music composition, you can learn how to express yourself through sound, create original and beautiful melodies, harmonies and rhythms, and develop your own musical style and voice. You can also explore different genres, cultures and traditions of music, and discover new ways of combining musical elements and influences. Studying music composition can also improve your critical thinking, problem-solving and communication skills, as well as your musical literacy and appreciation. Whether you want to pursue a career in music or just enjoy it as a hobby, studying music composition can open up a world of possibilities for you!

Wednesday, March 15, 2023

How to Memorize Your Lines for a Play in 5 Easy Steps

12:27:00 PM

Memorizing your lines for a play can be a daunting task. You may feel overwhelmed by the amount of text you have to remember and the pressure of performing in front of an audience. But don’t worry, there are some simple and effective ways to help you master your lines in no time. In this article, we will show you how to use repetition, association, visualization, emotion and practice to memorize your lines for a play with ease and confidence.

Step 1: Rehearsal

The first step to memorizing your lines is to rehearse them as much as possible. Pay attention to the other parts in the play and learn about the context in which your character exists. Don’t just listen for the cues that signal your entrance. When there is a dress rehearsal, stay the entire time and watch the play. This will help you understand the flow and structure of the story and how your lines fit into it.

Step 2: Context

The second step to memorizing your lines is to understand their meaning and purpose. Listen carefully to the lines that come immediately before and after your own lines. Try to grasp the logic and emotion behind them. Why does your character say what he or she says? How does he or she feel about it? How does it affect the other characters? Knowing these answers will help you remember your lines better and deliver them more naturally.

Step 3: Chunking

The third step to memorizing your lines is to break them into small segments. Instead of trying to memorize one long sentence at a time, memorize it by dividing it into two or three parts. If the sentences are short, just memorize one sentence at a time. Build each sentence and segment onto the next one by completely memorizing one part before moving on to the next. Repeat each part until you can say it without looking at the script.

Step 4: Audio and Visual

The fourth step to memorizing your lines is to use audio and visual aids. Stand before a mirror and watch your lips as you read the lines aloud. You will find that in a performance, if you can recall what your lips looked like when reading a line, you can often recall the words as well. This technique works exceptionally well for some people. Another option is to record yourself reading your lines with an audio device or an app on your phone. Then listen back to it several times and try to repeat along with it.

Step 5: Practice

The fifth and final step to memorizing your lines is to practice them with others. Find someone who can read the other parts in the play with you or join a study group with other actors from the same play. Practicing with others will help you get used to saying your lines out loud, responding to cues, adjusting your tone and volume, expressing emotions and gestures, and dealing with distractions or mistakes.

By following these five steps, you can improve your memory skills and enhance your performance on stage. Remember to rehearse often, understand context, chunk information, use audiovisual aids, and practice with others. With these tips, you will be ready to shine in any play you choose.

Sunday, January 15, 2023

The Art of Composing: The Importance of Music Theory

6:56:00 PM
When teaching music theory, I'm often asked about the role of music theory in music composition. Students want to know if a composer sits down and uses music theory to compose a musical work. While it's certainly possible to construct a practical work using the guidelines from music theory, master composers tend to compose more intuitively. 

Quoting Arnold Schoenberg from his Theory of Harmony text: 
"To hell with all these theories, if they always serve only to block the evolution of art and if their positive achievement consists in nothing more than helping those who will compose badly anyway to learn it quickly."

Schoenberg's music is often performed poorly and misunderstood and is seen as overly formulaic. The procedure of 12-tone is not something Schoenberg invented; he discovered it through his own process of composing and analyzing his works. His texts on the process of composition are not intended to teach composers how to compose but instead offer models on the process of composition. Teaching would require showing a student how to compose music, but the composing process differs for each student. Composing should come naturally to a composer, and while a composition can be enhanced with theories, the resulting piece will come across as inauthentic. Models are intended to demonstrate the logic that other composers have used to compose music, but composition should not be limited to the techniques of past composers.

It may seem that I am against music theory, but it has a place in the composing process. Music theory can teach composers about the music that already exists. It also offers a common language to think about and discuss the abstract art of composing music. There are at least two ways to learn about what already exists in the world:

  • Composers can listen to music and study the scores of past composers to learn the craft of music composition. 
  • Composers can study music theory to get an efficient overview of the most common techniques used in music composition.
Composers should use both methods to develop their skills as a composer. By studying the theory and listening to music, it's possible to dive deep into what makes a composer unique. The theory allows a composer to quickly recognize the same ideas, making it easier to discover the unique aspects of a composer's work. I believe composers should write an initial composition through improvisation, intuition, and experimentation. Once the piece has formed and taken shape, the composer can analyze the music to discover what makes the piece work and find ways to create an original composition. 

Music theory teaches the logic of music and helps composers develop their own process for editing a musical work. Understanding music theory also makes it possible to determine if your work is derivative or original. For my own compositions, I believe that all of the elements of music composition should work together to create larger aspects of a musical work. Still, there are many ways to compose music. It's up to the composer to find a style that speaks to them and then work to refine and polish that style. One way to learn about your own music is to study the theories and music of other composers.

Written by Kevin Ure

Thursday, January 12, 2023

What Are Acoustic Guitars Used For?

6:49:00 AM

The acoustic guitar has six strings that each play a different series of pitches and have a unique timbre. Acoustic guitars serve several purposes and are used in various contexts, including classical, country, popular, jazz, and blues music. An acoustic guitar is an instrument that does not require external power to create sound. These instruments have a built-in chamber that serves to amplify and distribute the sound without the use of an amplifier. The acoustic guitar is capable of playing any style or genre of music. However, there are some styles in which the acoustic guitar is featured prominently.

Folk Music

Folk music uses acoustic guitars extensively. The music generally consists of flowing melodies that lie naturally in most vocal ranges. This music is typically easy for most people to sing and uses basic chords to back up the melody lines. Folk music uses a technique called finger-picking in which the guitarist quickly picks at the strings with a single finger. This technique creates a twangy sound as the strings bounce against the fretboard. 


Country music can be broken down loosely into both old and new country. Both styles of music make extensive use of the acoustic guitar. When you think of a country music star or see a picture, they are almost always sitting with their acoustic guitar. The guitar in country music often strums chords vigorously to support the lead singer and vocal lines. As with most performance music, country music also heavily uses the guitar as a visual prop. 


While the term classical can refer to a period of composers between 1750 and about 1830, there is also classical music with a lowercase "c." Classical music, in this context, is any music from the Renaissance to the modern period. In classical music, the guitar is featured prominently because of its ability to play in a fashion similar to the piano. Chords and melodies can be played simultaneously making the guitar an excellent solo or ensemble instrument for classical music. Agustín Barrios, Mauro Giuliani, and Sergei Orekhov are all composers who have written for classical acoustic guitar.


Mariachi music involves the use of upbeat rhythms and fast-moving melodies. Mariachi groups typically include small traveling groups of four to 12 people. The guitar plays a central role in mariachi music and often plays the lead and guides the ensemble. The ability to play chords makes it an ideal candidate to back up brass and string instruments in the ensemble. The guitar is well-suited to play mariachi music as it carries easily and provides texture and rhythm to the ensemble.

A wide variety of acoustic and electric guitars are available on the market. You can even find books that provide you with an illustrated review

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

How to Find a Music Tutor or Instructor

6:55:00 PM

When it's time to look for a tutor, it's essential to take some time to do your research. Looking for a teacher will save time, money, and frustration during lessons. The teacher’s job is to guide students and advise them on how to improve their abilities. It is not always possible to be your best critic; even professional musicians still take lessons to get that valuable second opinion. It is essential to look for a teacher you can relate to, teaches to your learning style, and takse teaching seriously. You should also decide from the beginning if you want to take it online or in-person. With online lessons, you may be able to access more prominent instructors who aren't available locally. In-person lessons are essential for some students who need demonstrations and don't want to deal with technology. 

Research Options

Find a list of teachers that specializes in your specific instrument. Prospective students can look in grocery store community boards and local coffee shops and browse through online teacher resources. There are many high-quality resources that a student can use to find teachers. It also makes a lot of sense to consult your local university. Faculty are often interested in the community, and they can recommend instructors who might be available to help you. In some cases, you might even find an instructor willing to teach you outside their normal university obligations. 

Lesson Policies

Contact the teacher to get information on make-up lessons, payment, and general policies. This is not the time to go into specific detail about every policy but to talk with the teacher and get a general feel for their teaching style. A famous performer won't do you any good if they can't teach or give you the needed attention. This is also an excellent time to ask about general policies such as how often it will be required to purchase books, if the teacher provides the materials, or if you need to find them on your own. Many teachers will require payments upfront for a month, semester, bi-annually, or even annually. Make-up lesson policies will differ with each teacher, but most instructors will provide you with one make-up lesson per month. Remember that teachers are scheduling a time that another student could use, so it is essential to be understanding of these make-up policies.

Evaluate the Studio

Assess the level of the studios' current students. If you are looking for an advanced teacher and the studio only has children, there is a good chance that that studio is not a good fit. Teachers often cater to specific age groups. Teachers often require students to have a certain level of ability before a student can take lessons. Talk to the teacher about the ability of the students that they teach. If you have any concerns, discuss your experiences with the teacher and ask straightforwardly if you are a good fit for their studio. Most teachers are honest about these questions since their reputation relies on honesty in the community. This is also an excellent time to ask how many years they have been teaching, if they have a degree or certification, and if they are a member of any music organizations such as the Music Teachers National Association. If a studio only has a few students, this could indicate a new teacher or a teacher maintaining a robust performance or composition schedule. Don't rule out a studio based on the number of students. Fewer students may translate to more attention. 

Studio Perks

Ascertain whether there are any additional perks for the studio. Do they offer online courses? Online courses are a great but rare addition to a studio since they allow students access to resources when the teacher is not usually available. Online lessons record the format more quickly and are available for student review. While the recording of one on one lessons is also possible, generally, online lessons give the teacher more freedom to respond and take additional time on a lesson when necessary. Some studios also give free resources to students or publish their own materials. If you're just starting out and want to learn the basics of music, consider starting with a textbook to see how far you can go. 

Parental Involvement

If you are a parent, the instructor should have no problem with you sitting in on the lesson. If you are a parent and you have the time, you should ask about this option. Sitting in on a lesson with your student can give you insight into the music tutor's teaching style. You can also ask relevant questions and be more capable of helping your child at home. Remember that the lesson is not a group lesson, and you should refrain from asking any questions during the lesson. You can certainly clarify any assignments, but questions should be reserved for the end of the lesson. 

Online Performance, Music Theory, and Music Composition Lessons

Online lessons are most useful for music theory, composition, and non-performance-related studies. Performance-based tasks often require one on one interaction. Some students thrive in an online environment, but it's important to be realistic about your learning style. Music instructors and tutors often have more trouble correcting your posture or demonstrating a technique online. 

Virtuoso Guitar Techniques

6:25:00 PM

Guitar techniques make it easier to play quickly and efficiently. Virtuoso guitarists have complete control over their instruments. They know the right approach for each situation and can switch rapidly and seamlessly between several different techniques. To become a virtuoso, you must first master the traditional method of guitar playing, then learn to play the advanced techniques comfortably. Any serious guitarist must learn virtuoso techniques to play at a high level.

Alternate Picking

The typical guitarist will play the guitar using only downstrokes or upstrokes. This is perfectly normal and an acceptable way of playing. Virtuoso players also know how to quickly alternate the stroke, using a mixture of down- and upstrokes. This technique allows players to perform exceptionally quickly since they don’t have to wait for their arm to return to the original starting position. To perform this accurately, you should use the tip of the pick to increase your speed. Start slow and gradually begin to increase your speed. A good rule of thumb for increasing speed is to use a metronome and increase the speed by one tick per day. At the end of the week, drop down 4 ticks, and continue the process. In this way, you will continue to build speed and accuracy. Timing is important, so you should always use a metronome. 

String Skipping

String skipping produces a sound that utilizes the individual qualities of each string to play a melody over a wide interval range quickly. For instance, the lowest and thickest strings on the guitar have a darker quality, while the higher strings have a light and thin quality. By skipping between strings, the guitarist gains the characteristics of each string in a single melody and dramatically increases the distance between pitches. This technique creates large melodic leaps in the melody, since moving from one string to the next creates a significant change in pitch. Without the string-skipping technique, the guitarist would have to jump from one end of a string to the other. However, it's also important to be able to play a piece on one string as much as possible. Skipping between different strings may change the timbre, making the piece seem less coherent. Knowing when to artfully apply a string skipping technique is essential to mastering your instrument. 

Sweep Picking

Sweep picking is similar to strumming on the guitar, but it allows the guitarists to play sections extremely quickly. The technique requires the guitarist to be able to use both hands equally well. Unlike strumming, with sweep picking, you want to make each note clearly heard. In a strumming technique, one hand will firmly hold down the strummed pitches, creating a blurred effect. With sweep picking, you still hold down the pitches, but you must immediately let go of each pitch when articulated. This establishes the independence of each pitch and allows all of the notes to sound clear. Again, it's critical to use a metronome for any new technique that requires agility. You will gain better control over your fingers by playing in time with a metronome. Slower is always better at first. 

Economy Picking

Economy picking uses a mixture of alternate and sweep picking to play even faster than with either technique by itself. With alternate picking, the hands move up and down regardless of the string. Economy picking uses a single string, which gradually changes timbre as you move along the string. One possibility for economy picking requires the guitarist to use the alternate picking technique as long as the music stays on one string. The moment they switch to another string, they switch to sweep picking, then continue with alternate picking.

While you can often learn to play guitar without an instructor, your instructor can help guide you and ensure you aren't making mistakes with your technique. Once you learn a technique incorrectly, it becomes more difficult to correct.


“Guitar Techniques”; Michael Mueller; 2008

Guitar Techniques

Picking a Song for an Audition

1:30:00 PM

Selecting the right song for an audition significantly affects your chances of getting a call-back. Whether you plan to audition for jazz, rock, blues, or opera, you must research appropriate music for the group. Personal preference may also play a role in the selection of music, but ultimately, you should play to the tastes and requirements of the group holding the audition. Some preparatory work and research make it possible to select an appropriate song.

The Ensemble

Learn about the ensemble holding the audition. Determine the style of music and what role you will perform. For example, a group that hires Broadway singers will likely want to hear music from Broadway and may be looking for a singer with range and versatility. If you audition for a choir, you should choose pieces demonstrating your ability to blend and serve as a soloist. If opera is the goal, you'll want to focus primarily on solo works. Listen to performances of the ensemble ahead of time so that you can determine the style they are looking for. 

Range and Capabilities

Assess your range and capabilities. The song you select is one of the few parts of an audition you have control over. Select a song that shows off your range and capabilities. Don’t choose a technical piece if you sing best with lyrical songs. If you have a high range, select a piece demonstrating that range. Knowing your strengths and weaknesses can help you select a work that makes sense for your current ability. An audition may include sight-singing and prepared pieces, so if you can choose your own song, this allows them to gauge your range and capabilities more effectively. 


Prepare a song you can sing from memory. Memorize the song well in advance to reduce the possibility of forgetting your words in the middle of the piece. If you have trouble memorizing songs, don’t pick an overly complicated song. If you have great difficulty with memorization, select a piece with repetitive phrases to minimize the memorization you must complete. Memory can be improved, and it would be beneficial to start memorizing every song you are working through. Even if there isn't enough time to help you with the next audition, memorizing a piece ensures you have thoroughly learned the work and will gradually increase your ability to remember more complex works. 

Music theory can help you memorize a work. By learning to identify the major sections, types of phrases, chord progressions, and other "pillars" of a composition, you can better keep track of where you are in the music. You don't need an extensive understanding of music theory, but you should be able to identify certain progressions by ear. Many times, the beginning of a phrase will stay the same and the second part of a phrase will change. Music theory can also help you interpret a work. 

Difficulty Level

Select a song that is difficult enough to show off your expertise and minimize any weaknesses but not so difficult that you are prone to making a mistake in the audition. Remember that the judges expect you to have this piece well rehearsed. Consider another song if you have a song that shows off your high range but exposes a weaker low range. In most cases, the difficulty level is less important than the quality of your voice and interpretation. Learn more about how composers write music and listen to other performances to start creating your own interpretation. 

When assessing the difficulty level, you should also determine the appropriate style for the piece. Don't simply add an articulation or play a repeated section differently for the sake of making a piece less repetitive. You must understand the style and time period of any piece you perform. Conduct research with every new song you sing, and you'll find that your ability to perform future works will improve. Every audition is a chance to test yourself; even a failed audition should be considered a success. The fact that you made it to the audition and learned from the experience offers invaluable training. 

Practicing the Song

When you practice your song, start slowly and aim to avoid making mistakes. If you make a mistake, slow down and perform it five times correctly without making a mistake. The brain doesn’t differentiate between a mistake and the intended outcome very well, so you should aim to perform the piece correctly every time no matter how slow you take the piece. Take some time to map out the phrases, and sing one phrase at a time until you sing perfectly. You should also record yourself to listen to your performance and make tweaks as needed. Avoid starting from the beginning every time you practice the piece. Breaking the song into different sections and phrases can allow you to dedicate time to each and learn the piece more thoroughly. 

Performance Anxiety

If you have anxiety, feeling confident that you can perform the piece will help you improve your ability. Some performers flex every muscle in their body and then release the tension to relieve stress. It's essential to find ways to deal with your anxiety, and you may find that meditation, exercise, or finding outlets outside of music can help improve your ability to perform. Remember that singing is simply a creative outlet, and your experiences in life can improve your ability to perform. For severe cases of anxiety beyond performance anxiety, you may need to work with a doctor to discover the best course of action. 

Making a mistake could make the judges lose confidence in your ability. However, if you keep singing and don’t get flustered by your error, it will show that you have competent performance skills. Look through several pieces before making a final decision. Don't apologize for any mistakes you make when you perform the audition. If you make a mistake, keep going and don't draw attention to your errors. A judge will be less forgiving if you need to start over than if you sang through the entire piece without stopping. Treat the audition like a performance, and take a brief moment to center yourself before you begin.