stuck with a beautiful melody

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Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby faith » Mon Jul 21, 2014 1:04 am

I am not sure what I do is CG. In fact by definition I think it safe to say it is not CG. sometime in the last 15 years I gravitated to composing my own instrumental music. In fact, last year I actually decided to take the plunge and record a CD of my original work. It is done on a steel string guitar, so again it is by definition not CG -- just similar in style. (Samples can be heard on CD Baby --David Rock/Speechless).

I continue to compose new songs, some of which are quite good, others...not so much.

About a year ago I wrote what I consider a fabulous melody in the key of E major. I am absolutely stuck for completing the harmony/accompaniment. Stuck as in here I am...

What to do when I can't get past the very simple, but beautiful melody? I have tried transposing it to other keys in hopes that something would fit better -- to no avail.

Thanks for any help or guidance.

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Oliver Newman
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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby Oliver Newman » Mon Jul 21, 2014 4:39 pm

Work out the harmonies away from the guitar, and then adapt/transpose as necessary.

Max Karios

Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby Max Karios » Mon Jul 21, 2014 5:55 pm

Stick to the three main functions. They cover the whole scale. If you use inversions and pedal points (bass note fixed while the harmonies above it change) efficiently, you can get a long way with the main functions alone.

Oliver's tip is a good one. It is pointless to transpose a melody to another key if you have no idea why you are doing it. The rules are the same for all the keys.


Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby faith » Sun Jul 27, 2014 12:48 am

Thanks for ideas. I don't play other instruments. Pedal points? I think that is why I tried other key signatures. I said it was in E maj but I think I misspoke. I found the essence of this melody in C#min.

I took another approach and said, "For this song, simple is truer". I believe the stripped down version complete although it begs more.

For now, what is, is.



Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby delayedMusician » Thu Aug 28, 2014 7:54 pm

In my same experience, I found out that it's much easier to come up with a nice theme than to write a full piece. Don't worry about fitting into a style , or whether or not it sounds like CG, there's nothing wrong with David Rock or whatever. I might prefer Santiago De Murcia, but it doesn't matter, YOU make the music YOU like.

As for your question, you asked a hard question. Getting stuck might be for any number of reasons. I don't know your playing or the level of your knowledge. Here's some things that might cause your problem, and it might be a combination of them:

not knowing much about form

not knowing much about theory

not knowing how to harmonize a melody

not knowing much about arrangement

not understanding why the balance unity vs. variety is vital

not understanding how to achieve either balance or variety

not having a decent performing technique. This is probably one of the most crippling limitations for composition.
Interestingly, I hear people who say that to be a composer you don't need to be a good player, or to know how to play in the instruments you want to write for,
but I completely disagree.

Composition, arrangement etc are the most difficult things to do. It's where everything you know (and don't know) comes together. The composer is as complete a musician as possible. Best you can do is taking it as a long term project and keep learning. If that might comfort you, even master musicians such as Beethoven could take years to finish a piece. Their compositions started to have weight only when they weren't children or kids anymore.


Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby faith » Fri Aug 29, 2014 12:47 am

I like all of these comments. Delayed musician -- K. I'm pretty good on much of your point, but am not classically trained. I have composed some (many) complete songs. I'm alright with that...I do not know what balance unity vs. variety is...?

When my compositions come together they generally write themselves...This one, not so much. If I were smart enough to know how to attach a mp3 I would, but -- not so much. I do have it in written form as a musescore file...I suppose I could attach that if there were any interest.

If you have any interest, you can hear samples of my compositions on CDBaby. This one is just tough for me, and it should be right under my fingers.


Max Karios

Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby Max Karios » Fri Aug 29, 2014 5:24 pm

When you write a post, there is a section Options / Upload attachment underneath the textbox. Click on "Upload attachment" and select the file from your harddisk. mp3 should work here in the composers' section. I don't know Musescore, but I'm quite sure it would allow for exporting to PDF.

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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby Sandaun » Tue Nov 24, 2015 7:11 am

Exporting to PDF is standard with Musescore. It's one of the primary reasons I've worked at learning Musescore.
"I have supposed that he who buys a Method means to learn it." - Ferdinand Sor, Method for Guitar


Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby KKeegan303 » Sat Dec 19, 2015 6:21 pm

Try and find chords spelled out in the melody. Try adding a bassline only, and make it simple. If you don't have any background in theory, I would suggest researching harmonic functions. Some of my favorite tools to add flavor to a piece are based around modal borrowing, secondary dominants, and enharmonic equivalents. For example, d#,a,c spelled out =d# half diminished seven and eb,a,c spelled out = a diminished. Same notes, different resolution or harmonic function.

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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby R.V.S. » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:41 am

Sometimes less is more. If anything that you add feels like it's taking something away, then maybe the composition is complete. Maybe all that needs to be fine tuned is the performance itself.

There are also a number of things you can do if you want to add variety to the piece without changing the "color" of the piece: Switch from single notes to octaves, or jump up or down by an octave, or play it with tremolo, or change the tempo, etc.

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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby CathyCate » Thu Jul 14, 2016 12:58 pm

Record your beautiful melody. Play it to yourself over and over again and try your hand at singing along. In other words become your own partner.
Unison /harmony/ whatever...
Keep us posted on your progress, and congratulations on your beautiful melody!

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Stephen Kenyon
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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby Stephen Kenyon » Thu Jul 14, 2016 1:03 pm

CathyCate wrote:Record your beautiful melody....

I think you'll find the OP is no longer a forum member.
Simon Ambridge Series 40 (2005)
Trevor Semple Series 88 (1992)
Louis Panormo (1838)
Alexander Batov Baroque Guitar (2013)

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Re: stuck with a beautiful melody

Postby CathyCate » Fri Jul 15, 2016 10:41 am

Oops! My bad.Pushing 70. Sometimes I forget what year it is. :oops:

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