Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting/Critique my composition


I'm looking for professional feedback on my composition. I am 14 and in year 9 and my music teacher has asked me if I can show him one of my compositions because he is interested in hearing what I have composed. But I'm really nervous to show it to him. So I thought I would show you first and you could listen to it before I show it to him to see what someone else thinks of it.

It's really short, only about 2 minutes. Also, sorry for the bad quality and the glitch at the end, I have just recorded it playing from my digital piano through a voice recorder and haven't figured out how to put it onto an SD card yet.

The piece is sort of reminiscent of my childhood when we used to live near the beach and me and my sister would go walking to the end of the pier every morning.

Here is the piece on Youtube:

Hi Yasmin,

Thanks very much for getting in touch and also for sending the link to your composition on YouTube. Well, I am glad that you are not nervous about showing the piece to me. But honestly, I don't think you need have any worry about showing the piece to your teacher. I think it is a delightful piece, really lovely.

I'll tell you why I think it's so attractive. You start with a relaxing introduction in G minor 4/4 time with a three-note B flat-C-D figure in the piano right-hand. Then the oboe comes in with the D-C-D melody. At the 15" marker, we hear a development of the idea with a flute (I think) imitating the oboe. You then use a sequence, taking the original three-note oboe pattern and placing it at a higher pitch over C minor harmony.

At the 21" marker the key moves into E flat - a very effective change - and the original melody between two notes a tone apart opens out into two notes a third apart. This really gives it a sense of opening out and blossoming. The other thing that works well here (again I am at the 21" marker) is that you change the time signature from 4/4/ to 3/4 and the rather plodding rhythm changes into triple time, giving it a kind of lilting waltz-like feeling.

At 24" you develop the melody further with a downward phrase and at 27" extend it using another effective sequence. At 34" you make another variation on the phrase so the listener feels that the music is really going somewhere. Then at 47" you neatly get us back to a D7 chord, which of course is the dominant of G minor and leads us naturally back to the repeat in G minor. The change back to 4/4 at this point also works well and completely changes the mood to the uncertainty we had at the beginning.

The next section (as far as I can tell without seeing the music) is pretty well a repeat of the first section.

There's only one suggestion that I'd like you to think about. At 1'33" we hear the piano accompaniment again (which is fine), but then at 1'39" the oboe comes in exactly as before and it sounds as though you are about to embark on a second repeat of the melody, which would be too much. As it happens, the piano actually introduces a short coda. But you don't want the listener thinking "Here we go again". So I'd recommend that you think about changing the notes in the oboe part at that point. Maybe you could take a phrase from earlier in the piece and use that as your closing idea. But I'll leave you to ponder that issue.

It sounds to me as though your have written other pieces before this one, because it sounds assured and confident, and you have shown a good grasp of using harmony and melody effectively. By all means show it to your teacher with confidence! I wish you luck with your musical studies and if you feel you'd like to get back to me any other time, please do so.

All good wishes


Musical Composition, Theory and Songwriting

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Dr Colin


I can answer questions from students of "classical" composing, arranging, notation problems and music theory, writing for instruments and voice and writing music for education. I can answer questions about orchestration but I do not cover questions about pop or rock music, pop song writing or electronic music.

I taught for many years in UK up to "A" level theory and composition. I have spent many years in music education, initially (like everyone else) as a teacher. Then I moved on to advisory work (teaching teachers!) and also lectured, giving many workshops for teachers in developing music education skills and techniques. For a time I worked as a teacher-lecturer at London University's Institute of Education and eventually worked full-time as a Music Education Adviser to schools in part of London, offering advice on music education and curriculum development.


I started composing music at the age 14 (it was mostly rubbish, since you asked) and now have a large number of compositions to credit as well as many publications, especially for instrumental music and choral music. I have also written several acclaimed works for large orchestra and choir. My work has been published particularly in the UK (under different names)(notably by Boosey & Hawkes, Novello, and Schott) but also in the USA and the Netherlands.

My music for elementary players (several publications) has been performed and broadcast worldwide. I am now retired from my previous job as Music Education Adviser. These days I spend most of my time composing and arranging. I am currently working on instrumental arrangements of world national anthems for my National Anthems website and also completing a suite of very easy piano solos and duets for elementary players. For many years I have used the music program "Finale" for all my music writing activities.

International Society for Music Education; Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.

"The Times" Educational Supplement; "Hi-Fi News and Record Review". For several years, I used to write for many of the state music education periodicals in the US and I also wrote several influential articles on instrumental music teaching for "Music Teacher" magazine in the UK. (UK).

PhD(Hons); MA(Hons); FLCM (compositon) ARCM, LMusTCL,(music diplomas)

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