Look for something surprising that works…

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

When writing music you don’t always want to do what either you or the listener expects to hear next.

Your composition may be carefully worked out according to a plan, but you never want it to sound predictable.

At a certain point in the composition you should introduce something new, something unexpected…an approach from a different angle…that is refreshing in and of itself and still works for that musical situation.

The Irish saying, “A change is as good as a rest”, applies here: a surprise idea can bring your composition to life by what it doesn’t say…or says in a new way.

Try a pause…a change of texture…a change of rhythmic accent…different dynamics…a chord substitution…

Trump what’s expected. It can make all the difference.

Listen to how the new idea works in the passage.

Play the entire composition through using the new idea.

Does it serve the composition?

Does it make you smile?

Then you’ve found the right idea.

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2 Responses to Look for something surprising that works…

  1. El McMeen says:

    Excellent advice, Preston. I think that it becomes intuitive at some point in our playing experience, so that we subconsciously vary rhythm/speed/notes when our musical memory during our performance tells us that the rendition needs a change. I certainly perceive that in your great music!

    Best,

    El

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