Music Theory Education


9 a. Part One - Composing for Instrument

9. Part One - Composing for Instrument

Grade 5. lesson 9a.part one -
composing for instrument



Composing for Instrument


  The question for this section of the exam will be similar to this:


  (a) Compose a complete melody for unaccompanied trumpet or violin, using the given opening.
  Indicate the tempo and other performance directions, including any that might be particularly required
  for the instrument chosen. The complete melody should be eight bars long.

  Instrument for which the melody is written .........................................

  [ The first two bars complete with clef, Key Signature, and Time Signature, will be given,
  plus plenty of manuscript space for your writing ].



  (b) Compose a complete melody to the following words for solo voice. Write each syllable under the
  note or notes to which it is to be sung. Also indicate the tempo and other performance directions
  as appropriate.

  [ two lines of words from a poem will be given here]


  [ plenty space for your answer will be given here ]



  Let's take a look at the first option ( writing for Instrument ).

  Did you notice in the example you were offered the choice of two instruments, the trumpet or violin,
  you also had to name the chosen one. There will always be a choice of two or three instruments, but
  they can be any of the instruments used in the orchestra.

  ( e.g. violin, cello, clarinet, bassoon, trumpet, horn, etc......... )

  You will not need a detailed knowledge of any of them, but you will need a little understanding, like
  knowing the lowest pitch each instrument can play, plus how much higher than Middle C can the instrument
  sound. It's just remembering the basic characteristics of the instrument you choose.

  Here's an example; say you choose the violin, do you know the sign which means (up bow) or the sign for
  ( down bow)? what does pizzicato mean? and would it be appropriate to use pizzicato in the style of the

  It's just simply basic information you need to remember when you are adding the performance directions.


  Because of the importance for you to know the 'Pitch range' of the instruments which you may be given,
  I have made a piano chart for the six most popular instruments which turn up on the exam papers. So take
  a look at these, make sure you learn and remember the lowest and highest notes each instrument can play.

 This is very important, don't miss this out!!! Remember this question on the exam paper is worth 15 points.


01 Pitch Range


02 Pitch Range


03 Pitch range



 When writing for instruments you do not have to decide which key or time signature to use, these will be
 selected for you, along with the opening bars. It is normal for the first two bars to be given, but do check the
 time signature and that the notes make two complete bars, ( if you find they do not, you will need to add
 notes to complete the bar).
 The two bars given cover the first phrase of the music, so you are left with writing six more bars,
  ( three phrases). Eight bar melodies are very common and the easiest to compose.

 The test is a challenge for your inventiveness and imagination. Try to hear in your mind what you have


 In the examination room you will not have an instrument to try your melody, but in your early attempts when
 practising you can play through your melody to test if it sounds like you think it will.

 My best advice is to start by planning the rhythm of the melody. If you need to revise on that take a look
 back at the work done on the four-bar rhythms in grade 2 and grade 3. The same principals apply to an
 eight bar rhythm.

 Let's work together through this given opening:

 01 first two bars

 Here we see the first two bars in 'compound duple time' 6/8

 Now look at the key signature, and the notes given. We see it can only be in either E flat major (three flats)
  or in the relative C minor.

 Looking at the notes, we have been given two clues here. Don't fall into thinking E flat major simply
  because E flat is the starting note. Look through all the notes with great care, we MUST get this answer

 Thinking about the notes of each scale; E flat major would use all the three flats, But, C minor melodic
 form ascending would make the A and B become naturals, just like the notes in bar two. Don't worry
 about the A flat in bar one, because the first note which follows it is lower. So we can see without a doubt
 all the notes in our opening bars are from the scale of C minor.

 The first two notes E flat;to C is an interval of a minor 3rd, I think this is the key of C minor! Do you agree?

   ( Due to all the diagrams being used for this lesson, I will now ask you to click on the next page,
 please Click Here 9aa.).

8 b. Cadential Progressions

9aa. Composing for Instrument



9 a. Part One - Composing for Instrument



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