Wednesday, September 06, 2006

How to Create a Theme and Variations for Piano!

There are many ways to compose a piece of music. ABA forms, sonata allegro form, and so on. But the humble theme and variations has been around for centuries. While not used nearly as much as it was during the classical period, it still can be used to create artistic and attractive contemporary piano pieces. Let's get started!

First, we need a theme! Eight bars are the perfect size to contain your theme. I work within this framework all the time and it has proven to be a workhorse when it comes to capturing musical ideas. Now, we can either begin with chords or melody. For theme and variations, I like to start with the melody (as do most composers.) This is because it's a lot easier to create variations for a simple melody than it is to create different textures for chord changes.

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