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Lesson 45: Techniques for Composition/ Improvisation

Some Techniques Worth Exploring

  • The tone row technique
  • Using a motif and motivic development
  • Using the notes of a chord/ several chords as tone material

More Methods/ Techniques for Composition

Check out lesson 122, where I list a number of methods/ techniques for composition.

The Tone Row Technique

I used this ( quasi-) tone row for my Bb blues Pets ( you can find the entire lead sheet on my sheet music page):

Using a Motif as Tone Material

Mike Stern based his rhythm changes tune Suspone ( you can find the entire lead sheet on my sheet music page) on a polychord: A major triad over Bb major triad. A four-note motif/ pattern was used as the source material, in the bridge it is sequenced: transposed up a major third, a major sixth, a major second, a perfect fourth, a perfect fifth and finally a minor third ( slightly varied):

Using the Notes of a Chord/ Several Chords as Tone Material

This example is an idea used by Miles Davis around the Bitches Brew period. Take two or in this case three chords: C, E and Ab, arrange the notes in a sequence and you may get a very interesting scale:

Now, let's do the same thing with the polychord from Mike Stern's Suspone. What do we get - ( I added one note: a g and) this is actually the sixth mode of the D harmonic minor scale!

2005 Tomas Karlsson. All rights reserved.