How do you use intervals when coming up with themes?

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
KVRer
7 posts since 10 Jul, 2021

Post Sat Jul 31, 2021 5:52 am

Hi there,

Recently I’ve started to study intervals and I’m at a stage where I can familiarise myself with how each one of them sounds in different keys but what I really struggle with is putting them to use when coming up with themes and motifs.

Let’s say I’m writing a motif in minor key, even though I am using intervals that sound emotional and sad(m3rd, m6th, m7th) it just doesn’t sound the way I want it to - is it something perhaps I’m not getting and overlooking?

Does anybody have any ideas or examples to tackle this issue?

Thank you!

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fmr
KVRAF
10369 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Sat Jul 31, 2021 6:13 am

AivarasBurn wrote:
Sat Jul 31, 2021 5:52 am
Hi there,

Recently I’ve started to study intervals and I’m at a stage where I can familiarise myself with how each one of them sounds in different keys but what I really struggle with is putting them to use when coming up with themes and motifs.

Let’s say I’m writing a motif in minor key, even though I am using intervals that sound emotional and sad(m3rd, m6th, m7th) it just doesn’t sound the way I want it to - is it something perhaps I’m not getting and overlooking?

Does anybody have any ideas or examples to tackle this issue?

Thank you!
When you write, do you think word after word, or do you create whole phrases?

In music it's the same process. You shouldn't think in intervals, but in whole phrases. Sing the themes to yourself. There are several ways to go for it, but the first (and maybe simpler way) is a kind of question/answer pair, where the phrase has the same first member, and then a second member that finishes "opened" the first time (the question) and finishes "closed" the second time (the answer). To finish "opened" you usually finish the phrase in the dominant tone, while to finish "closed" you finish in the tonic tone.

Themes usually also develop as an arc (first member rises while the second member decays).

All these are just some thumb advices - basic rule is there are no absolute rules.
Fernando (FMR)

KVRAF
22808 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Sat Jul 31, 2021 9:03 am

"Let’s say I’m writing a motif in minor key, even though I am..."
learn extant music and make notes as to what's there.
the answer to 'how to use intervals' is 'your ear'. absent context, I'm unsure how a single interval has mood or affect per se*. also we should note intervals horizonally vs vertically.

*: for example, a #4 against a major triad is pretty popular in film music; in itself a #4 may seem like Black Sabbath Paranoid. Or, the main riff of Purple Haze is the guitar w. back and forth octaves as the bass does the same only at parallel tritones; not that Lydian feeling of the thing against the ground of major keys (Cf. John Williams) I began with at all.

KVRer

Topic Starter

7 posts since 10 Jul, 2021

Post Sat Jul 31, 2021 11:46 pm

Great, seems I’ve been delving into the detail way ahead of myself. Thanks for the tips guys!

KVRAF
22808 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Sun Aug 01, 2021 7:44 am

the way interval recognition was first taught to me was recognize from a song you know.
Like the #4: Ma RI a, West Side Story. #4 to 5 has a lot of drive. (do FI sol)
Octave: some WHERE over the rainbow; major 6: way UP high (do LA sol).

KVRer
8 posts since 20 Sep, 2019

Post Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:34 am

Forget intervals. Write a motif first, then analyse if you need to.

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fmr
KVRAF
10369 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Sat Aug 14, 2021 2:34 am

Vurniks wrote:
Sat Aug 14, 2021 1:34 am
Forget intervals. Write a motif first, then analyse if you need to.
Motif based music is complex, and motif development is complex. The way popular music and folk music was/is usually written was/is in phrases and sentences. Usually, a phrase is composed of two parts, sharing the same starting first half, and with different endings. The first phrase will have an open ending, and the second phrase will have a closing second part. This first phrase is called the antecedent (or question) and the second phrase the consequent (or answer).

http://openmusictheory.com/period.html

This is the best way to start, IMO.
Last edited by fmr on Sun Aug 15, 2021 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Fernando (FMR)

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KVRian
753 posts since 4 Feb, 2021

Post Sat Aug 14, 2021 6:28 am

Saying that one should drop the intervals and make motifs instead is like saying that people should not use words but sentences when writing a poem.

Similarly, the OP´s question is like asking how to use words when uttering sentences. :help:

However, if it makes sense to the rest of you, never mind me :ud:
Tribe Of Hǫfuð https://soundcloud.com/user-228690154 "First rule: From one perfect consonance to another perfect consonance one must proceed in contrary or obligue motion." Johann Joseph Fux 1725.

KVRAF
22808 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Thu Aug 19, 2021 11:07 am

embrace tf out of knowing intervals by ear, above all, in the beginning. pick things off of recordings and get your ear together, first and foremost, if you want to invent music. It never happens from a vacuum.

"Similarly, the OP..." - well, the OP is a noob, the nonsense answer seems to think it's something one should heed

KVRAF
2059 posts since 20 Dec, 2002 from The Benighted States of Trumpistan

Post Thu Aug 19, 2021 5:27 pm

Revise, rework, redo... if it took Beethoven dozens of tries to get a theme right (as his notebooks show), there's a slight chance you might not get it right the first time.
Joy and kindness are acts of resistance -- fight the power!

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KVRAF
13035 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:16 am

Jafo wrote:
Thu Aug 19, 2021 5:27 pm
if it took Beethoven dozens of tries to get a theme right (as his notebooks show) [...]
Beethoven might have thought: let's try jumping that melody by a fifth there instead of a third, and let's ornate that sustained note there with a trill of a minor second.

How he used it is just naming what happens.

Oh, and there were some silly rules about parallel fifths and tritones being off limits.

Maybe this is the sort of stuff the OP was inquiring about?
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
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fmr
KVRAF
10369 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Fri Aug 20, 2021 1:01 am

BertKoor wrote:
Fri Aug 20, 2021 12:16 am
Oh, and there were some silly rules about parallel fifths and tritones being off limits.
NOT in Beethoven's time (that wasn't a "thing" for more than 100 years by then)

And there were reasons for those rules (as usually there are), It wasn't "just because".
Fernando (FMR)

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KVRAF
13035 posts since 8 Mar, 2005 from Utrecht, Holland

Post Fri Aug 20, 2021 2:12 am

I did not specify what rules were used in what times, did I? :-P
We are the KVR collective. Resistance is futile. You will be assimilated. Image
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KVRAF
22808 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from not here

Post Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:17 am

I would actually recommend getting a sense of melody that's yours, ie., get to where you can improvise melodically, & aptly, before worrying advanced ideas like themes.
I never actively 'try to come up with a theme', I come up with a line and another line and the flow of time reveals things one might consider a 'theme'. Motifs galore, yes, which happen in the doing, rather than "ima make a motif now" after reading about it. Get music in the doing of music, learn from the masters, whomever they appear to be to you and get your musicianship to the level of someone that's prepared to compose.

As far as 'silly rules like _', the reason for such a rule as avoid parallel fifths in four-part writing are like this: a fifth is such a prevalent thing acoustically that you're more or less robbing one of four parts as to independence of parts, the same reasoning you avoid parallel octaves in four parts. It's not silly, it's why classical music has the kind of sound it does. Later musics developed differently, but that style period has principles like this for real reasons, such as the economy in voice-leading and its particular elegance owing to eg., that kind of independence. It's the same kind of thinking which has parts moving in contrary motion in contrapuntal consideration.

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fmr
KVRAF
10369 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Fri Aug 20, 2021 2:24 pm

jancivil wrote:
Fri Aug 20, 2021 9:17 am
As far as 'silly rules like _', the reason for such a rule as avoid parallel fifths in four-part writing are like this: a fifth is such a prevalent thing acoustically that you're more or less robbing one of four parts as to independence of parts, the same reasoning you avoid parallel octaves in four parts. It's not silly, it's why classical music has the kind of sound it does. Later musics developed differently, but that style period has principles like this for real reasons, such as the economy in voice-leading and its particular elegance owing to eg., that kind of independence. It's the same kind of thinking which has parts moving in contrary motion in contrapuntal consideration.
^^^ This is what I was referring to ^^^

People keep mentioning those rules as if they were some kind of "stupid and arbitrary impositions" when, in fact, they were rational rules, that existed for technical reasons.

When polyphony faded away, in favor of accompanied melody (with the triumph of the Opera) those rules vanished with it, because the musical logic they served also disappeared.
Fernando (FMR)

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