Unit 2 compositions – what you are aiming for

Here are some examples of Unit 2 compositions, and the marks they gained.

Example A – Big Band / Jazz composition

This gained 20 out of 20 for the composition. Why? Well…..

  • It was imaginative.
  • It felt complete as a composition (it felt finished)
  • The writing for the instruments sounded like it was meant to be performed on those instruments
It was also good for other reasons, and these are reasons you can include in your compositions:
  • It was based on several riffs. However, when a riff was repeated, something was added or changed – another instrument, a line of harmony, a different drum beat
  • The piece was constantly developing and changing within the style. Nothing stayed still for too long, providing interest for the listener. However, the different sections had a common sense of unity, belonging to the same piece. They were not different ideas in the same piece.
  • The drum part was interesting, not just the same thing throughout the piece.
  • The music, designed as a big band jazz piece, was playable and did what it said on the tin. It was supposed to be a big band piece and sounded like a big band piece.
The appraisal (below) gained 14 out of 20 marks. It showed that the composer had thought about what he was composing, and how his composition fitted his initial plan. He understood what chords he had used, and how they fitted in his composition. He understood the structure of the piece.
Example B.
This is a much simpler composition. 15/20
Again, it is riff based. It is meant to be a piece of dance/techno music, and again fits the bill exactly. In her appraisal, the composer has detailed:

  • why she chose this style
  • how it fits this style
  • How she composed it.
  • What problems she had composing it and how she overcame these problems.
The composition is very repetitive. However, this is in keeping with the style of music. Despite being repetitive  the music is continually developing, changing, again within the style.
So, key points to remember when composing.
  • Don’t have too many ideas. 2 or 3. It is how you use these ideas that is key (varying them with texture, instrumentation).
  • Keep your composition simple
  • Use texture to make it interesting – instruments do not continue all the time, there is variety.
  • Keep a record of what you have done and how you overcame any problems (I couldn’t think up a new tune so I….)
  • Make sure your composition fits your intended (or accidentally intended) style. Listen to 2 tracks in that style and copy their ideas of development and interest and structure.