When most people think of a composer, they imagine someone sitting in a dusty attic with a grand piano, big white wig, and the year is 1800. That might have been accurate back then, but the modern composer is just like you and me. In fact, I am one.
In this course I'll show you techniques I use for writing music in a variety of styles and situations. I've worked with major american orchestras, film studios, and video game designers, so I've got more than a little experience. I'm also a PhD in music composition and a university professor (of music composition).
Recently I was named as a semi-finalist for the Grammy Foundation's Music Educator of the Year award because of my in-person university classes. Now I'm taking those classes to Udemy in an online format in order to reach more students, and give them the joy of Music Theory.
I'm planning on making several "sections" of this class, and this is only part 1. As the class grows, we will go deeper and deeper into my techniques. This class is focused on the beginning: Generating ideas and getting started.

What will I learn in this Course?

  • My background, and listen to some of my music
  • The different between music theory and music composition (highly opinionated!)
  • Tools of the trade: Software
  • Tools of the trade: Pencils and fine paper
  • How do you start?
  • The process
  • Program music and metaphors
  • Character sketches
  • Writing through canon
  • Form
  • Binary, Ternary, and Rondo forms
  • Starting with a plan
  • Graphic form representations
  • Triads, and basic rules of harmony
  • Chord progressions
  • Inversions
  • Song analysis
  • Melody writing
  • Any much, much, more!

Course Outline

  • Introduction
    • Welcome & Introduction
    • My Background
    • What is the Difference Between Music Theory and Music Composition?
  • Tools and Methods
    • Good Old Pencil and Paper
    • To Sit with an Instrument or not to Sit with an Instrument?
  • Process
    • F#!
    • Program Music and Metaphore
    • Download: Symphony Fantastique
    • Character Sketches
    • Free Writing
    • Canon
    • “Good Composers Borrow…”
  • Form
    • Different form “Templates”
    • Starting with a Plan
    • Graphic Form Representations
  • Harmony (A Quick Lesson)
    • Building Triads
    • Diatonic Chord Progressions
    • Inversions
    • Roman Numerals
    • Song Analysis No. 1
    • Song Analysis No. 2
  • Writing Chord Progressions
    • Using the Circle of Fifths for Composition
    • Song Analysis No. 3
    • Non-Chord Tones
    • Song Analysis No. 4
  • Writing Melodies
    • Writing Melodies Alone
    • Antecedent and Consequent
    • Writing Melodies with Harmony
    • Using Other Melodies as Influences
  • Wrap Up
    • More on Process
    • Coming Soon!
    • Thanks for Watching!

Course Information

Estimated Time: 4 Hours

Course Instructor

Jay Allen Author

J. Anthony Allen is an Ableton Certified Trainer, and a PhD in Music Composition and master of Electronic Sounds. His music has been heard internationally in film, radio, video games, and industrial sound, as well as the concert hall and theater. He currently is an adjunct professor of composition at the University of St. Thomas, and is the CEO and co-founder of Slam Academy in Minneapolis.



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Tools and Methods



Harmony (A Quick Lesson)

Writing Chord Progressions

Writing Melodies

Wrap Up

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