HomeUncategorizedCompose Yourself: 50 Shades of Dorian

Compose Yourself: 50 Shades of Dorian

One of the greatest inhibitors to starting a new composition can be the silence; the crushing quiet before you hit that first chord on the guitar, or before that opening note you strike on the piano.  Silence is the musical equivalent of the blank page, and for some, it can be very intimidating.
Composer Richard Mainwaring’s advice is “produce something, anything….and quickly”!  But is there a sure-fire way of inventing something half-decent, and rapidly?  Try this, Richard’s Dorian Mode winner!
BUT before you start, there are three rules you have to follow –
Use only white notes

  • Start all ideas on a D
  • Avoid the note B – never use it!

  Bass Line
Using Billie Jean as a model, compose a riff of 8 notes.  You MUST start on D, and remember, no Bs!  You can repeat notes.
Here’s an example:
D  E  G  A  G  A  C  D
 Now loop that over and over.
Choose 4 chords to go over the top of your bass line.  Remember, you MUST start on D.  For simplicity, each chord lasts as long as a bass riff.
Here’s an example:
D / / /    C / / /    G / / /   A / / / 
 Lay these chords over the bass riff.
Melodic Hook
Take your own name, and give it a funky rhythm.  As my name has 5 syllables in total, I’ve chosen 5 musical notes for my melodic hook.
D          A       G        C      D
Rich-ard  Main-war-ing
 Layer all of these parts on top of each other, and you’ll have something.  It probably won’t be perfect, and you’ll want to play around with a few of the chords, perhaps putting a couple into each bar.  Or perhaps you’ll take a few of the bass notes out of your riff in order to give the part a bit more syncopated interest.
Whatever your initial ideas sound like, they’re a starting point from which you can develop your piece into any style, speed, or instrumental texture.

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