Welcome to the Music Theory website. To the left, you will find a link to recordings to help you with your aural training. The "Aural Training" for tracks for Units 1 & 2 are posted.

Guidelines & Parameters For Composing a Melody
(Taken from William Russo’s Composing Music and supplemented by Randy Schafer)

1. Sing as you compose. Playing the piano will, of course, help develop your ear, but your main aim should be to get the music in your ear and voice as well as in your mind and fingers. Learn to sing, tone by tone, what you compose while you are composing it.

2. Melodies should be started and ended on the first tone of the scale and in the same octave as the first tone.

3. Give titles to all exercises that are longer than six measures. A title will help you express a unified mood or idea, and it will also others to think of it as living music rather than merely as an exercise.

4. Unify your melody by occasionally repeating a measure, either consecutively or after intervening measures. Remember, a little repetition is good – a lot of repetition is not necessarily better.

5. Try not to use all of the tones all the time. Study expressive possibilities of each tone in relation to the other tones. Even though you have four tones to work with, you might consider omitting one tone in the first few measures.

6. Use 2nds and 3rds freely. Take care with skips and with augmented and diminished intervals. This rule is an expression of the capabilities of the human voice. Do not exceed a total range of a major 10th. Augmented intervals don’t usually make for great melody notes.

7. Write melodies for wind or stringed instruments. The piano tends to neutralize the melody. It merely strikes the string and the sound decays.

8. Always specify tempo, dynamics, and performance information (articulations, crescendos, etc.) Your goal is to mark the music so someone else can recreate your work of art they way you intended it.

9. Write mostly in 4/4 and ¾ meter using traditional note and rest lengths.

10. When composing initially, DO NOT alter the tempo with ritardandos, accelerandos, or fermati. These disrupt the rhythmic flow and are reserved for later in the composing process.

11. Restrict the number of different rhythmic patterns you are using as a compositional tool to 2 or 3. Compositions that rely on too many gimmicks are usually poorly crafted in form and content.

12. Always remember: LESS IS MORE, and SILENCE IS ALSO MUSIC.

13. Don’t try to go outside of these simple restrictions to show people you are more wildly creative than they are. The restrictions give your work focus, keep you out of compositional quicksand, and allow you to think only about what is inside you.