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Musical Doodles

I’d like to invite you to enjoy the process of writing music once again.

Composing music is often viewed either as complicated, with far too many rules, or something that a computer programme does for you. But quite often, it’s the best way to learn and truly understand so much about music!

The act of composition can be as broad and deep as the imagination will allow and the beauty is that there is no right or wrong, really – that’s why there are so many different pieces, tunes, styles and forms of music out there!

My concept of musical doodling started with the idea of breaking away, even for a moment, from the rigid structures of musical study that we often find ourselves following for the purposes of examinations. How might that light a spark and encourage our musical imaginations? Over the course of the pandemic, I noticed that many of us turned to sketch books and doodle journals. Doodling provides an outlet for creative thought – when we doodle, our minds sit somewhere in between daydreaming and awareness, which can be a wonderfully imaginative place for composing music. We’re not overthinking the process of creating.

Composing music is an entirely natural form of human expression. For example, we whistle and sing spontaneously and don’t worry about technique when we do these things. Notation is often seen as the hurdle, not the actual invention. It’s that invention that I want to encourage you to embrace. And by doodling music on paper, you may find that those little ideas can be starting points for you to create something bigger.

So, how does Musical Doodles work?

Musical Doodles is for anyone who would like to try creating music and is particularly ideal for those who would like to have a go at writing music down. The aim is for you to enjoy and engage with doodling music on paper.

It is your book, so I’ve written it to work for any instrument or voice! I’ve kept everything in C major, but if you want or need to, you can pick a key or clef that’s more appropriate for you. My ‘Building Blocks’ section gives you information about the basic elements of writing music, but if you really don’t know how it works then seek some more advice first.

Do experiment with what you write – try playing or singing to get an idea of what you want and how it sounds. Eventually you may even be able to hear the music in your head before you play or sing it – and I do hope it’ll all be performed.

With inspiration from the wonderful illustrations by Bill Jones – what do you think a cactus sounds like, or a granny on a trampoline?! – I hope you’ll enjoy doodling music as much as I have!

There are no rules here. Musical Doodles is simply about getting started writing pieces to suit your instrument or voice and your imagination. Have fun!

About Paul Harris

Paul Harris has established an international reputation as one of the UK’s leading educationalists. As composer and writer, he has over six hundred publications to his name, and is in great demand as a workshop leader and adjudicator around the world. After studies at the Royal Academy of Music and the University of London, Paul Harris has now established an international reputation as one of the UK’s leading educationalists. He now has over six hundred publications to his name dealing with a vast array of subjects within the sphere of music education.

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