New Daily Compositions
To get back into the swing of composing, I constructed a series of daily compositions for me to do. These compositions are designed to help me expand on my knowledge of the basic elements of composing music. My hope is to do 5 compositions a week until I feel like I've covered much of the composition basics.
Each composition will consist of 1 hour of research followed by 2 hours of actual composing. The research period will be me learning and refreshing on as much as I can about the topic, getting the building blocks set up, allowing for a faster transition to creating music. The 2 hours after can contain me doing anything from me sitting at a piano to dropping pots on a floor, all in the name of inspiration.
Currently the series consists of composing around the building blocks of music. I will start out with Harmony, Rhythm, and Melody. After those three are done I will move on to Time Signature, and Tempo. Followed by those will be instrument groups (woodwinds, percussion, synthesizers, etc.) and music genres. Anything after these will be whatever area I want to explore next.
I started the research period with a simple listening and analysis of the E3 trailer for the game "Ori and the Blind Forest". While the music for the trailer has a relatively simple harmony and chord progression, it actually uses the harmony to create a cohesive melody.
The music for Ori is what provided the inspiration for "Harmony". I picked a key, D Dorian for those who are interested, and immediately began picking out the different directions I could go while keeping a common tone between chords. Examples of different progressions I came up with include i - v - VII - IV - i and i - IIImaj7 - VII - i.
I started composing in Cubase with a cello. I wanted the piece to build slowly, and used a round robin style of instrument introduction to help keep the music from being stagnant. About an hour and a half in, I had the full chord progression done and voiced in violins, cellos, and double basses. I could have ended there, since I had met the requirements I set at the beginning of the session, but I opted to try and add to what was essentially the base of a song and come up with something that while had the focus of harmony, had other elements in it too.
The following 30 minutes consisted of adding in percussion to give it some rhythmic drive and writing two simple 8-bar parts for a soprano duet. I tried keeping the percussion rhythms simple to not bring focus to rhythm, and kept the soprano harmonies to using longer notes when I could help myself. It proved a challenge to not write a more interesting part for the sopranos, since I had a well constructed harmony begging for a melody, as you can hear from the few quarter notes I kept in.
In my two hour window, I had forgotten to give the song some ebb and flow with volume through crescendos. Despite this though, I know that this isn't a complete piece, and it's not supposed to be. This is more of my answer to the question, "What is harmony?"