• Register
  • Help
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 19

Topic: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

Share/Bookmark
  1. #1

    How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    One main question I have in film composing (as a beginner) is how to change a simple theme into many minutes of music? Let's say there's a scene where someone's walking outside in the moonlight and I already have a melodical theme for this guy. The scene has to reflect this guy's deepest feelings and trouble choosing the path to go in his life.

    This is purely fictive assignment, but.. how do I start? How do I create music that is purely for background? Where could I learn about these techniques how to change a 10 second theme into a many-minute-piece?

    I know know something about orchestration, but I'm missing the tools for creating this kind of piece. I can write a song with A, prechorus and B but I don't know how to start on a piece that has none of these.

    Please, give me something to start with. How do you do accomplish this?

  2. #2

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    Hi Karaviska,

    It sounds like you're talking about the art of expansion. Taking a simple theme and creating much music out of it. I personally like to start with a very simple idea (no more than five notes) write it out, and then try "manipulations" For example, try to invert it (reverse the direction of the intervals) for the next five notes, or play it with the last pitch higher, or the last two pitches. Or invert that last two picthes. Or play the first three in a higher key and then invert the last two relative to the first three.......er, get it?

    I generally let my ear guide me. Once I've turned five notes into a melody, I can then think about changes in orchestration, key, rhythm tempo etc. Let your ear guide you, but not too much as it can be decieved. Be constantly thinking about each step.

    There is also the concept of form. You mentioned one type of form: A bridge B. I would suggest you start thinking in ways other than these static ones. What connects A and B? Why does the B of this piece have to be the B of this piece? Is it because there are simular leit motifs? Is B an inversion of A? Is B just A in a different rhythmic pattern? And if B is completely different, then how are you going to connect them? What do you mean when you say bridge? How is B different? Sure it is a different idea maybe but is it in a different key? does it use different instrumentation? And don't forget the all important transitional material. Also what about ABA? or ABCA? or ABACABA (the "rondo" form)? I should say that there are no right or wrong answers to these questions, and the search for the answers you like best will last your lifetime!

    If you're a star wars fan (and even if you're not imho) you should see the seen in Empire Strikes Back when Yoda lifts the ship out of the mud after Luke fails to do so. Williams gives each charecter a theme in these movies, so listen specifically to the music as you watch. You will hear Luke's major key theme trickle of into a minor as he fails. You will hear Yoda's theme (brilliantly constructed from four notes) and you will even hear, if I remember correctly, a couple of leit motif's common to the score in general. This sort of active listening is vital for any composer, no less so a film composer.

    And listen to Beethoven, he was the master.

    Anyway I hope that helps. The question you ask is, to me, the heart of composition. There is no "trick." We're all still learning how.

    Matt
    P.S. Not to be plugy, but I have a solo violin piece that was composed from the first two measures if you're interested in hearing it.

    http://www.sibeliusmusic.com/mp3/1/0/5/105503.mp3

  3. #3

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    "Where could I learn about these techniques how to change a 10 second theme into a many-minute-piece?"

    Listen to movie soundtracks?

    Seriously, pick a section of a movie you like and listen carefully.
    Listen to all the instruments, not just the dominant melody-like parts.

    Ask yourself (every second or so), "what's he (the composer) doing right now?".

    Is what he's doing brand new, or does it relate in some way to something that
    happened earlier? How exactly does it relate?

    Keep this up for the entire section. Better yet, keep it up for the rest of your
    life. :-)
    "An artist is someone who produces things that people don't need to have, but that he - for some reason - thinks it would be a good idea to give them."

    - Andy Warhol

  4. #4

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    Also, if you can get hold of a copy of a movie soundtrack score, this is a great way to analyze the soundtrack and learn about orchestration and expansion. Either sit down to watch a portion of the movie, or pick a track from the OST CD, and watch the score as you listen.
    Best of luck,
    David Guinness

    Dell P4 2.66GHz, 2GB RAM, Windows XP Pro SP2, Finale 2007c, GPO and JABB with KP2
    HP AMD 2.3Ghz Dual, 3GB RAM, Vista Home Premium, Finale 2008, GPO, JABB, Gofriller Solo Cello with KP2

  5. #5

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    Quote Originally Posted by karvasika
    Where could I learn about these techniques how to change a 10 second theme into a many-minute-piece?
    Good heavens. The funny answer is: listen to John Cage's music and stretch the rests until ...... it fills up one hour.

    Next, follow the replies you've already got. If that doesn't help, too theoretical or so, look at pictures of cathedrals, castles (e.g. in France, Loire area). Then you see a window or door. Go form that door/window passing the ornaments to the other one. Maybe the next window/door is just the same, but there are [most of the time] some minor differences.

    Take that first window as the theme, insert some blank measures, and repeat the window-theme again with a little variation. Now fill in those blank measures, imagining how you would go along the walls, with all ornaments there. Etc.......

    Make changes in the tonal mood, e.g. from major to minor on certain chords, go back to major again, raise the pitch a bit (just a second diatonic)..... all sorts of tools are there to make it a success. Play with the loudness of the sound. The same theme played fierce can be repeated with some minor changes very softly (e.g. the loud part is in major and the softer part is in minor).

    Change the instrumentation.... that's make the ornaments look different, give it a distinct color (and I mean really color! in that castle example, as if the sun shines different and you have to take just THAT picture!).

    It is not easy, I know, sometimes one lacks of inspiration or just the right mood. Play with it, go to bed with it, whistle it and suddenly it is there. Stravinsky replied on a question how he got the inspiration everytime, by saying: "I just wait till it comes".

    Success,

    Raymond

  6. #6

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    I happened to learn about that by studying Bach. Seriously.
    All your strings belong to me!
    www.strings-on-demand.com

  7. #7

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    ... and follow Hannes-F's advice!!! Listen, listen and read scores the same time. Try to analyze these and then you end with a score with a lot of notes (text-notes), saying "hey, this is the theme and there he reverses the theme, there he picks out some notes from that theme to introduce another one"...........

    Raymond - addendum of the previous reply

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Salisbury, UK
    Posts
    312

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    It should also be noted that spinning out an idea which doesn't have the legs for it is always a bad idea. When composers are paid by the yard, the temptations are great. Even the greatest have succumbed. You can go out and make a cup of tea during some of Beethoven's extended final cadences without missing anything of essential musical importance. Better short and sweet than long and dreary. That said, a self-contained tune is often not a good starting point for an extended piece of music. By the sound of your question, you should really be looking for a basic course in composition, one which looks at the role of motif, and how successful composers have built and developed on them, often in very simple ways such as inversion, transposition and modulation. You might start with this, written for this forum and posted by Poolman. http://homepage.ntlworld.com/terence...ucture%200.htm

  9. #9

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    You could follow this link and learn how a simple melody by John Cage is stretched to last for 600 odd years

    (Sorry, I know this is not particularly helpful, but quite interesting and I couldn't resist.... )
    Kind Regards

    Louis Dekker
    My Music Site

    Pour être grand, il faut avoir été petit.

  10. #10

    Re: How to change a simple melody to 1 hour of music?

    Quote Originally Posted by dermod
    It should also be noted that spinning out an idea which doesn't have the legs for it is always a bad idea.
    But, maybe the legs are there. Only you and I don't see them.




    Raymond

Go Back to forum

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •