Oh those scoring techniques we learned the hard way! We’ve heard them since we decided to be composers. They captured us and beat up our brains by wondering how a composer could come up with something so utterly – utter!

They weighed anchor in our musical imaginations almost like It’s a Small World (the song that never dies, it just keeps resurfacing when you least expect it).

Oh those aggressive strings in the middle register. Or those tender strings in the high and very high register that make me long for Princess Leia and weep for Padme.

Woe is me! How do you learn this? And how do you learn it so well that no one knows you stole it from someone else? For composers, that, and not to be or not to be, is the question.

And so we listened to piece after piece. We bought scores upon scores and took them apart. Then one day, a mad thought overtook us. We cataloged what we’ve just learned.

Then, staring intently at these sheets of our efforts, we hear Peggy Lee singing in the background, “Is THAT all there is?”

Yes, that IS all there IS!

So now we ask, “Why didn’t someone tell me this before?”

And that universal answer which many of our parents gave to us when we asked, “why,” was, “Because!”

It was a non-answer then, and it’s a non-answer today. The best I can tell you is that there are certain practical compositional things taught to music students in the 19th century that ceased to be taught in the early 20th Century and have remained untaught well into the 21st Century.

Not knowing these beginning techniques is what makes learning composition so difficult. These techniques, called harmonic figuration, are the utmost of simplicity. With them you can learn to create both two and three part compositions in a snap.

Warning! Self-promotion alert! I cover the most basic of these in Scoring Stages 2 Lecture 11. You first see then in an academic example that always works perfectly. But then I spice it up by applying those techniques to a real song. And sometimes they work “real good.” While other times, they can make you look like a hack!

Ah the reality of working with real music instead of academic exercises!

But the good news is, you now have these techniques and you won’t have to search Grandma’s attic or 127 used bookstores to find them like I did!

Explore and Score Away!

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