Jump Start Your Creativity!
…with Mozart or Beethoven! At one time, using another artists idea to build a masterpiece was considered an homage, a great honor! (These days it’s called plagiarism!) So, we won’t need to take it straight off the page, but gleaning another artist’s great idea and using it as a springboard into improvisation or original composition, is something quite worthwhile.
I would like to share just a few improv/composition exercises that use previously written music as a starting place. Since I have discussed in my earlier articles more specifics on motifs, development and form, please refer back to Parts 1 and 2 of “Get It Going” if you haven’t previously had a chance to read them!
Theme & Variations
This is probably the most obvious place to start. I’d suggest to start by listening to some examples. Here are a few suggestions:
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Variations on “Ah vous dirai-je, Maman” (K. 265 / K. 300e)
Ludwig van Beethoven, 33 Variations on a Waltz by Anton Diabelli, Op. 120
Max Reger, Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Mozart, Op.132
Make a simple lead line chart of a familiar tune (I like to use Twinkle, Jingle Bells and Jesus Loves Me, to name a few).
- Write (or have the student) write out the melody line. You may choose to use just the starting note for the melody, and then only the lyrics.
- Using the most basic chord choices (I, IV and V in the given key), play the melody, and let the student [···]