Blog Posts Composition & Orchestration Teaching Materials

Some Things Composers Think About

Style: Relationship between any given piece and a musical genre

Technique: Difficulty of a composition • Amount of time it may take (or is allotted) to prepare for its performance

Harmony: Use of traditional vs. non-traditional harmonies • Use of tense/harsh/brash/complex harmonies vs. serene/pretty/simple harmonies • Stylistic connotations of harmonic types • Types of harmonic progression • Rate/naturalness/shock of harmonic change

Rhythm: Tempo • Musical spirit/character • Consistency/changing of spirit/character

Melody: Memorable vs. less-distinctive vs. absent melody • Melody’s integration with other musical layers • Melodic relationships from one passage to the next

Texture: Foreground vs. Background • Tone Colors • Counterpoint • Use/absence of purely rhythmic layers • Instrument combinations

Drama: Flow vs. pause • Continuity vs. surprise • Articulation and degrees of punctuation • Rates of change • Stability vs. instability • Balance • Overall duration


  • Beginning: How to begin • How the beginning leads into transition/continuation
  • Continuation: Contrast from one section to the next • Suspense
  • Climax: How climactic should it be? • Should the climax sustain, or should it depart quickly from it strongest point? • Should there be a dénouement?
  • Ending: How/if the ending relates to the other sections • How affirmative or ambiguous is the ending • What the final gesture should be