This has been a productive year for my tutorial and article writing over at Tuts+. I wrote 11 new tuts on compositions, orchestration, film scoring and music theory. I’ll be taking a break from writing for the site for a while, but it’s been a fun year and I love receiving feedback from composers and musicians who are able to put my ideas to use!
Here are all the 2014 articles:
How To Write An Effective Knockoff… Legally
Being asked to copy another song is just an everyday part of the gig. Here are some tips for both tapping in to the original’s essence while still keeping the music inherently your own.
Film Score Harmony: Chords by Thirds
How to use non-diatonic chords for a cinematic harmonic vocabulary and create any mood you desire.
Enhance Your Music with a Subtlety Layer
Adding a layer of subtle elements can bring your music to a new level, just like the right garnish and spice can turn a main dish into a gourmet entree.
How to Write Theme & Variations
In this tutorial we’ll show you how to apply simple variation techniques to a simple ABA theme to create a wide range of moods and styles.
Arranging for Strings: Part 2
In this tutorial, we’ll cover how to turn a simple four part harmonization into a complex string arrangement.
How to Modulate to Remote Keys
In this tutorial, we are going to learn a few different techniques for modulating to distant keys. The two techniques we’ll discuss in the tut are using advanced harmonic techniques and using bridge keys. Warning: There’s some deep theory in this one. Not for the faint of heart!
An Introduction to Form in Instrumental Music
Musical form is the structure and logic of a piece of music. Under the heading of form you can consider balance, symmetry, proportion, pacing, and other topics related to the overall presentation of your piece.
How to Arrange 4-Part Harmony for Strings
In this tutorial we’re going to look at six different ways to adapt four-part harmony to a string orchestra. Four-part harmony is a traditional way of harmonizing a melody for four “voices” (either literal human voices, or instruments). Many introductory harmony courses teach four-part writing because it is a straightforward method for learning chord voicing, good part motion, and proper treatment of dissonances.
How and Why to Modulate to New Keys
In music, modulation is the process of changing from one key to another. If a piece of music starts out in the key of F major but then changes, either immediately or gradually, to they key of Bb major, we would say it modulates from F major to Bb major. A piece is considered to be in a “key” if the root of the key is the tonic, also called “home” or the “gravitational center”.
How to Give Life to Instrumental Parts
“If it’s not moving, it’s dead” is a line that applies as much to life as it does to music. Yet all too often composers write background or accompaniment parts that are lifeless and dull. They might have a beautiful melodic line, but then stick a big chord made up of whole notes behind it and call it a day. The result is music that is lifeless, boring, and feels like slogging through mud.
Contemporary Techniques for Ending Your Song
In How to Write Effective Introductions, we learned about the importance of giving your song a powerful beginning. We also examined various techniques for writing one. In this tutorial I’ll discuss one specific trend in contemporary songwriting for ending a song: ambiguity.