How to Compose Music like Beethoven or Mozart
How to compose music like Beethoven or Mozart will help you to see how easy it is to come up with your own melody. After reading this article, you will understand the strategy behind making a composition regardless of your age and skill. The great master composers have left us with amazing melodies which continue to fascinate generation after generation and today, we are looking at Ode to Joy which is especially suitable to teach children how to compose just like Beethoven did so long ago.
Beethoven’s Ode to Joy in the key of C
First, let’s listen to the melody:
Beethoven used only five notes to compose the first eight bars of “Ode to Joy”.
Now we know the melody and the notes used to compose this famous melody. The reason why this composition is so famous is simply the way the notes are arranged. If they were in a different order, the melody would have been forgotten like so many other compositions. So how do we put notes in the right order?
How to put notes in the right order (to make a nice composition)
Composing music is not hard if we understand the grouping of notes. Take a look at the image below to help you see how notes can be grouped. Note the blue and green notes. We’ll talk about them next.
Ignore the red notes for a moment. This will help you understand note groups faster and make the topic less confusing. Before we analyze the chord groups, we should talk about measures. Measures divide notes into groups. The above melody is divided into 8 measures. Each line is four measures long. Every time a measure ends, you see a vertical line. After that line, a new measure starts.
Now that you can identify the eight measures, you can begin to see the note groups which are color-coded to help you learn faster. Let’s look at each group in detail.
The blue note group consists of C, E and G notes.
The green note group consists of D, F and G notes.
The red notes are “passing” notes which we’ll discuss in a bit. Ignore them for now.
Look at measures 1, 3, 5, 7 and 8. They have more blue notes than green ones.
Look at measures 2, 4 and 6. They have more green notes than blue ones.
If you memorize those two groups, then you too can compose music like Beethoven.
Grouping of notes is not new. When musicians talk about note groups, they use the term “chord” instead. What is a chord? In its basic form, a chord is a group of 3 or more notes. Let’s look at measure one. The notes used in measure one are E, E, F and G. The E and G notes are part of the C major chord. (Remember that the C chord is made up of C, E, and G notes). Beethoven composed this beautiful melody with two chords. C and G.
I’ve colored the passing notes in red. Although they are NOT part of the chord group which dominates a particular measure, advanced composers use them to give their melodies a natural sounding flow. For new composers, it is perfectly acceptable to compose without passing notes to create the structure of a melody. After that, one should analyze if and where a passing note enhances the melody. The rule is very simple. If it sounds good, it is right. If it doesn’t sound good, well, one better rethinks the choice and experiments with other notes.
Give composing your own music a try (you might love it)
Amazingly, many musicians think that composing music is for advanced and highly educated performers only. But that isn’t true. I know many guitar players who never had one single guitar lesson but, they managed to come up with their own songs of which many are amazingly beautiful. Professionals refer to those who just make up music as amateurs but they really shouldn’t because anyone who is creative and comes up with a phrase of melody is a composer. Sometimes it is better to not have music education because the emotion and experience of the composer are much more important than knowing the rules.
Are you ready to compose?
I have exciting news for you. To help you get started, simply visit the Little Composers website and play with their free apps
Every app emphasizes composing music and regardless of your age and musical knowledge, one of the apps will be perfect for you and get you started composing music that is correct and maybe even marketable.
The Little Composers Piano is the most popular app and comes with an extensive help page plus some explainer videos to get you started. Everything you’ve read here applies when using the app and as soon as you remember the blue and green chord groups also known as the C and G7 chords, you are ready to compose your own music.
The germans have a saying that “no master has ever fallen from heaven” which is similar to the north American saying “Rome wasn’t built in a day”. The secret of succeeding is to not give up. Loading the app, playing a few keys and giving up is easy. Identifying the measures and chord groups only takes a few minutes and if you do, then you will come up with your own music and melodies of which you can be proud of.
If you need help then post it below or on the Little Composers Facebook page
We are always happy to help creative individuals on their musical journey.