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 Part 2. As the class grows, we will go deeper and deeper into my techniques. This class is focused on the creating a sense of Tension and Release: one of the most fundamental concepts in music composition.

What will I learn in this Course?

  • My background, and listen to some of my music
  • Why Tension and Release?
  • Tools of the trade: Software
  • Tools of the trade: Pencils and fine paper
  • Long Term and Short Term Tensions
  • Using Form for Tension and Release
  • Forms that Create Drama
  • Sonata Form
  • The 4 Elements of Form
  • Example: Mozart, Moonlight Sonata
  • Composing with Sonata Form
  • Modern Uses of Sonata Form
  • Example: Muse, Butterflies and Hurricans
  • Tension and Release with Meter
  • Compound Meters
  • Meter Signatures
  • Alternating Compound and Duple Meters
  • Using Rhythm for Altering Expectations
  • Rhythmic Patterns
  • Pattern Obfuscation
  • Example: Philip Glass, Truman Show Soundtrack
  • Example: Allen, Aporia
  • Using Harmony for Tension and Release
  • Consonance and Dissonance
  • Prolonging Dominant
  • Emphasized Resolution
  • Pedal Tones
  • Moving "Pedal Tones"
  • Example: Aphex Twin, Ventolin
  • Combining Multiple Techniques
  • Example: Mozart, Sonata in C
  • Example: Allen, Angel of Repose
  • Film Music and Tension Cues
  • Composing for Films
  • Any much, much, more!

Course Outline

  • Welcome & Overview
    • Introduction
    • My Background
    • Why Tension and Release?
    • Review: Tools
    • Download: Staff Paper
    • Review: The Process of Composing
  • Tension & Release in Form
    • Forms That We Know So Far
    • Forms that Create Drama
    • Sonata Form
    • The 4 Elements of Sonata Form
    • Sonata Form Examples
    • Using Sonata Form for Tension and Release
    • Download: Moonlight Sonata
    • Modern Uses of Form for Tension
    • Example: Muse (Butterflies and Hurricanes)
  • Tension & Release in Meter
    • Stylistic Concerns
    • Compound Meters
    • Compound Meter Definition
    • Compound Meter Signatures
    • Another Perspective
    • Alternating Compound and Duple Meters for Tension
  • Tension & Release in Rhythm
    • Pattern Obfuscation
    • Example: Philip Glass (From the Soundtrack to The Truman Show)
    • Download: Glass, Truman Sleeps
    • Example: Aporia
  • Tension & Release in Harmony
    • Consonance and Dissonance
    • Prolonged Dominant
    • Emphasized Resolution
    • Pedal Tones
    • Long Resolution of Pedal Tones
    • Pedal Tones in Higher Voices
    • Example: Aphex Twin, Ventolin
  • Combining Techniques
    • Using Multiple Techniques
    • Download: Sonata in C, Mozart
    • Example: Kinesthesia, Movement 7
    • Film Music and Tension Techniques
    • Composing Music for Films
  • Wrap Up
    • Coming Soon: Composition Techniques 3: Composing for Film
    • Thanks & Bye!

Course Information

Estimated Time: 3.75 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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Welcome & Overview

Tension & Release in Form

Tension & Release in Meter

Tension & Release in Rhythm

Tension & Release in Harmony

Combining Techniques

Wrap Up

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