Speed Composing

Barbara Freedmanlessons, student music4 Comments

It’s the end of the school year and my most advanced class, Electronic Music 3, is getting a little restless. I made their final exam the submission to MENC Electronic Music Talent Search and that was submitted a few of weeks ago. Yesterday, a couple of students came in and told me they challenged each other to a match. They wanted to see who could compose the best Reggaeton piece in one class. Other students heard this and wanted in. So began our first “Speed Composing” contest.

We came up with a bunch of different genres and I wrote them down on slips of paper. We pull a genre out of the hat and they have 30 minutes to compose 16 measure in that genre. At the end of the 30 minutes, we play each students piece and they vote on the best one. Yesterday was Reggaeton and today is Classic Rock. Other genres include Country, Reggae, Big Band Swing, Bluegrass, New Age (OK, they said “head music”!), Techno, Ballad, Heavy Metal, Hip Hop, Industrial, Authentic Latin (Samba, Mambo, Cha Cha Cha, etc) and Blues.

Students participate if they want and if they don’t they are working on their own music. Some of those that do participate may not come close to the “authentic” style but they sure do give it a shot! It’s really interesting to hear what they hear about a particular genre. I am looking forward to the next few weeks to see what they come up with.

  • One advantage with this ‘speed composing’ would be that the product produced would probably be emotionally vibrant, with less polish. Working quickly brings out more instinct.

    As a composer, my first draft is usually written rather quickly. If I over-think this first stage, my work tends to become mannered and rather contrived (i.e. not acceptable).

    Thanks for the interesting posting.

  • Great comments! Thanks. I’ll be following up on this project as it is evolving. I am going to see if I can get some of the kids music on this site. Stay tuned as I’d love to hear more of your thoughts.

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