Key Stage 3

Composing at Home 8

Stage 5 – Combining your Rhythmic & Melodic Ostinati

By now you should have created some Rhythmic & Melodic Ostinati. We are now going to bring these ideas together and start to create our minimalist piece. This piece is going to represent the starting point of a Minimalist composition. 

A composition Brief tells us exactly what our composition needs to contain. Here is the Brief for our Minimalist composition. Your Piece must:

  • Include at least 1 Rhythmic Ostinato
  • Contain 2 Melodic Ostinati
  • Be no more than 60 seconds long
  • Use both Tuned & Un-Tuned Percussion

Now watch this video to learn how to combine Rhythmic & Melodic Ostinati:

In this video I use 3 layers, one Rhythmic & two Melodic. For the melody I use just 4 notes – CDE & G. As you can see from the video, one of my melodies rises and the other falls. This means that they are both different. Once you have tried the steps in the video you can start to extend your work:

  • You could try varying your beat so that it changes halfway through.
  • One option is to have a moment of silence in the middle of your piece before bringing everything back in again. This varies the dynamics. 
  • You might like to try adding some more Rhythmic layers to create a piece of music similar to the Samba piece we looked at in a previous stage.
  • Bandlab can record your voice or your own instrument. So you might like to try adding a real-life recording of you playing over the top of the minimalist piece that you have already created.

The more you can listen to music as you compose the more you will learn. If you are stuck for ideas then you could listen to another Minimalist piece on the BBC Ten Pieces Website:

Composing at Home

Composing at Home is lots of fun and can be done with or without technology. You could easily build up a minimalist style piece using instruments. But it is great to be able to record & create ideas using technology.

This process has started to develop your knowledge of Minimalism and also composition. We have been using Bandlab to create Rhythmic & Melodic Ostinati, which we have then combined to create a short piece of music. We have learnt some key terms and listened to some music. 

Now that you have started to look at Minimalism you might like to do some more listening and some more composition. There is no need to stop here and you can use Bandlab to create a more complete piece of music should you wish. There really is no end to this and you can be as creative as you like. 

Whenever you do compose, make sure that you use your ears to assess your work as you go. If something doesn’t sound good then try to work out why and make changes. Be prepared to experiment and if necessary delete ideas. When you create a piece of music it is yours. Feel free to change and adapt the piece as you go. Composing at Home is entirely possible and lots of fun.

For more ideas on how to engage with music at home please see my Corona Virus Blogs which bring together a number of ideas.

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One comment

  1. That was really informative, for both me as a teacher, & my students. Thank you for opening up Bandlab to us!

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