Proportional Notation (Tool #59)


One trap that is easy to fall into as a composer is the rigidity of rhythm, meter, and barlines.  While these are good tools to use when constructing a piece, sometimes a true sense of line requires that you write music that is free from strict rhythm, meter, and barlines.  This allows your music to …

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Sixth and Twelfth Notes (Tool #41)


If you've studied contemporary music you probably have come across definitions of time that aren't based on 4 (eg. not breves, whole notes, half notes, quarters, eighths, etc.).  Some composers use other definitions of time that aren't tuplets but aren't regular notes (including tied or dotted notes). Two beat durations with which I'm currently experimenting …

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Tool #24: Asymmetric and Mixed Meters


Now I'd like to talk about two (really one in my use of them) of my favorite compositional devices: asymmetric and mixed meters.  The goals I use them for are throwing rhythms off, motivic development, and playing around with perception of beats and time. My main use of them: Asymmetric and mixed meters can be …

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Tool #13: Metric (Tempo) Modulation


Update: click to get to this post for a metric modulation calculator! Second update: check here for the new, easier-to-use calculator! Alright, let's tackle a rather hands-on technical tool.  Metric modulation (or more accurately, tempo modulation) is the shifting of the beat from one rhythmic value to another.  For example, simple metric modulations might change …

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