Category Archives: Composition Lessons

Reharmonizing and Arranging a Song for a Student: “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot”

Vander has been studying trumpet with me for a few years now, and due to his family’s busy schedule, had accumulated a lot makeup time.  To try and help him recover some of that lost time, I came up with the idea … Continue reading

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Composing and Recording Music for Film

In an earlier post, I talked about the challenge and fun of “Composing Music to Poetry“, but recently I had the chance to take that experience to an entirely new level, when I was asked to write and play some … Continue reading

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Dizzy Gillespie’s “Con Alma”…a New Reharmonization

When you say the name, “Dizzy Gillespie,” many people think of the iconic trumpet player with the puffy cheeks, his crazy looking trumpet with the upswept bell, and the comedic personality…playing flurries of notes at lightning speed, all while soaring … Continue reading

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Reharmonization and Arrangement: I Remember You

Only the first page is shown with the jpeg file below.  For the entire four page PDF of this reharmonization, click here: I Remember You  Keep reading below for commentary on the tune and arrangement. I’ve always liked the tune, “I … Continue reading

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Composing Music to Poetry

I’ve written music to lyrics before, but until recently never had composed music to poetry.  To me this seemed like it would be a challenge, for there was no overtly repetitive rhythm or sense of an all encompassing meter.  I’ve … Continue reading

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Avoiding the Dark Side of Success

The world constantly presents us with challenges.  Sometimes we find their solutions quite readily, or we may struggle with a problem for years.  And other times we might just give up, or even ignore the dilemma altogether.  Finding a successful … Continue reading

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The Ultimate Motivic Cells

Motivic cells are a great way of adding structure and continuity to a composition or improvised solo, and to help avoid some of the cliches that spring from arpeggio or scale based patterns (for more info, click on the links … Continue reading

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Collaborative Composing: Part Two

Could you imagine Mozart and Beethoven working on a composition together?  Would they compliment each other or kill each other?  Would the results be better, worse, or the same quality as their individual work?  While collaborating with someone during the … Continue reading

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Oleo: Not Just a Reharmonization

Sonny Rollins is one of my favorite musicians, and I’ve always loved playing his tune, Oleo…at least the melody.  It is based on rhythm changes, the 32-bar AABA form chord progression borrowed somewhat from the old tune “I’ve Got Rhythm,” … Continue reading

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Collaborative Composing

Every once in a while I get to to work on a piece with someone else.  Sometimes that person is a lyricist, a poet (coming soon), a choreographer, a student, or in my dark past, even an advertising copyrighter…but most … Continue reading

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