#1
Hey guys, I've got a couple of things I was hoping you could give me advice/information about.

Pretty soon I'm going to have to write a solo piece (one for flute, and likely another for sax). Thus far, every single thing I've composed has been for multiple instruments, or an instrument that can play multiple notes at one time. With a solo piece, the most important bit would be the melody (or lack thereof at times) I think. Do you have any advice about establishing a tonal center (for a single note instrument), shifting that center, and if there are any good ways to create a nice melody/theme (other than just do it, hear it in your head, etc.)?
I know how to establish a tonic and modulate well enough, but I'm interested to know if there are any certain things that work really well for a solo instrument. Just any sort of advice before plunging in head first is all I'm looking for really.

Another thing that I was wondering about are some 20th century ideas for music composition. My professor showed us two excerpts from Salome by Strauss and it was really interesting. I haven't been able to get a copy of the score to analyze parts of it yet but I hope to. I know that he used tritones quite a bit in it but it didn't sound bad at all. In the Dance of 7 Veils, he uses a scale made of the first four notes of two major scales a tritone apart (E F# G# A Bb C D Eb) and it gets a really nice exotic feel to it.
That stuff is cool, but are there any other (useful, nice, interesting?) 20th century composition techniques that are worth taking a look at? Pieces perhaps?

PS: I do plan on asking my professor about this stuff later on too, I'm just hoping to get some things to study now. Always want to learn as much as possible.

Anyways, thanks for any help that you can give~
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Aug 31, 2011,
#2
I would imagine that in order to give the impression of a harmony without one actually being there you would do pretty much the same thing that you would do for an improvised solo.

I'm talking about chord tones being stressed, target notes etc...obviously you probably want some kind of recognisable chord progression to establish tonal center (cadences etc).

Btw what is a "20th century composition technique"? I have absolutely no idea what you mean by that! I mean, what, did people suddenly go "oh, it's now 1900 instead of 1899...so we're never going to compose using the same techniques again"...

Surely music is music? If you want to compose something using the major scale, tritones, or the phrygian dominant scale...it's all music...I don't understand where the "20th Century" even comes into it.

Anyway, if you want to listen to someone who composed decent solo pieces (and yes, they use tritones ) I suggest J. S. Bach.
#3
Quote by chainsawguitar

Btw what is a "20th century composition technique"? I have absolutely no idea what you mean by that! I mean, what, did people suddenly go "oh, it's now 1900 instead of 1899...so we're never going to compose using the same techniques again"...

Surely music is music? If you want to compose something using the major scale, tritones, or the phrygian dominant scale...it's all music...I don't understand where the "20th Century" even comes into it.


eh, to be blunt, yeah they did. 20th century or extended techniques are amazingly different from common practice. wow tritones, really, how is satan himself not spawning on the spot.

i'm disenchanted.

ts, i would recommend looking into some schenkerian (sp?) analysis, it's really good for that, it looks at how voice leading works and comes in very very handy when trying to use a solo line to create harmony etc, but won't be applicable to any atonal stuff if you incorporate that into your extended techniques.
#4
Quote by gavk
ts, i would recommend looking into some schenkerian (sp?) analysis, it's really good for that, it looks at how voice leading works and comes in very very handy when trying to use a solo line to create harmony etc, but won't be applicable to any atonal stuff if you incorporate that into your extended techniques.

On the bolded:

I don't know how this slipped my mind, but spend some time learning what tone-rows are and how to construct them as well as the different ways to change an atonal melody (inversion, retrograde, retrograde inversion). Atonal music is awesome and leaves a lot of room for experimentation with form and variation.
#5
Look at some 20th century playing techniques on the flute, Multiphonics, Microtones, changing the embouchure, key clicking, slap tonguing and blowing across the mouthpiece.

For the actual notes, Modes of limited transposition, additive rhythms, Non retro-gradable rhythms, tone clusters...
Last edited by griffRG7321 at Sep 1, 2011,
#6
Quote by gavk
eh, to be blunt, yeah they did. 20th century or extended techniques are amazingly different from common practice. wow tritones, really, how is satan himself not spawning on the spot.


Well, tritones were in the original question:

Quote by FacetOfChaos

I know that he used tritones quite a bit in it but it didn't sound bad at all


And I was just saying that using the expression "20th Century Compositional Techniques" is just a bit strange as it kinda suggests that you're coming from the perspective of someone from the early 20th Century...or even earlier...

Oh and no they didn't certain techniques were greatly expanded and developed in the early 20th century, but nobody just went "ok we're in the future now so lets do things differently". That never happens.
#7
Thanks guys, I'll check all of these things out. I know my questions were slightly vague so sorry about that.

I've actually used some of those tone row changing methods (inversion, retrograde etc) in these two composition challenges my professor gave me. Still one more to go but I haven't received it yet. I'll post them at the bottom for anyone who is interested in a random challenge.

mmmm yes, rhythm. I often forget to give this as much focus as it really deserves. These answers are all helpful in some way.

Yes, by '20th century techniques' I'm referring to musical ideas that really came out and started to appear far more often, had more focus, or flourished in and around the 20th century. It just adds a frame of reference. If I just asked about compositional techniques, then you guys would have no idea what I really wanted to know :3

have to use some of these ideas (will likely mess around with the tone rows, instrument-specific things such as key clicks and so on, on one of the pieces I write. What is a mode of limited transportation? I'm familiar with the other terms but not that one.


The two challenges I have received so far:
1. Create five melodies with a different feel. You may only use these intervals (m2, tritone, m7). Avoid tonality. I had to pick a random woodwind instrument and ended up with flute, so they all had to be written for that instrument.

2. Harmonize this melody: 4th line D, up to E, down to Bb, down to A, down to G, up to E, up to G, up to F, down to whole note D.
They are all quarter notes and must be harmonized in block chords.
Create five harmonizations that follow the following rules:
Melody must be top voice, not all harmonizations should be tonal, bass and soprano must have different relationships (oblique, contrary, etc.)
Smooth voice leading when possible.
Some options for harmonizing - extended tertian, quartal/quintal, clusters, polychords.

That leap of a sixth from G to E can really throw a wrench in things sometimes.
Quote by DiminishedFifth
Who's going to stop you? The music police?
Last edited by FacetOfChaos at Sep 1, 2011,
#8
Quote by chainsawguitar
Oh and no they didn't certain techniques were greatly expanded and developed in the early 20th century, but nobody just went "ok we're in the future now so lets do things differently". That never happens.


Wrong. It was effectively this mindset that came up with 12-tone serialism. I can't believe you have difficulty comprehending what is meant by 20th century compositional techniques! You're just derailing the thread.
#9
Quote by griffRG7321
Look at some 20th century playing techniques on the flute, Multiphonics, Microtones, changing the embouchure, key clicking, slap tonguing and blowing across the mouthpiece.

For the actual notes, Modes of limited transposition, additive rhythms, Non retro-gradable rhythms, tone clusters...


Are tone clusters possible on a monophonic instrument as specified in the OP?
#10
Quote by Jehannum
Are tone clusters possible on a monophonic instrument as specified in the OP?


On Flute and a few other monophonic instruments, yes, look up Multiphonics.
#11
Quote by Jehannum
Wrong. It was effectively this mindset that came up with 12-tone serialism. I can't believe you have difficulty comprehending what is meant by 20th century compositional techniques! You're just derailing the thread.


It's the expression I take issue with, not quite specific enough really. Sorry if I was derailing the thread, that wasn't my intention.