Do you have a favorite Mazurka?
Two of my favorites are Mazurka Appasionta by Agustin Barrios and Adelita by Francisco Tarrega.
I recently performed 16 new Mazurkas that were composed over the past few months by members of my online school. They were all inspired by Adelita, but all turned out very different. A clip of one Mazurka from the program is below.
Next livestream: Wednesday September 29th, 7pm AEST
How to compose a Mazurka in 4 steps
You might be wondering, how were so many people able to compose a Mazurka? Here are the steps they used!
Step 1: Plan
Probably the most important step was to have a plan. A plan gives your composition structure and cohesion and helps focus your creativity.
If you've tried composing before, you might have experienced stumbling blocks like:
- Not knowing where/how to start
- Not knowing how to extend beyond your initial ideas
- Not understanding about the underpinnings of music
Having a plan addresses all of those points!
What did the Mazurka plan that composers featured in tonight's livestream look like? Check it out below:
Step 2: Melody
Think about what the most defining feature of a piece is.
Most of the time, it's melody. A melody is something you can connect with, because it's something you can sing (or hum, or whistle if you prefer).
I like to say that melody is the heart of a song.
Melody also contains crucial structural elements and helps to organize your composition. For example,. the term 'Parallel Period' in the plan above is referring to a key melodic structure that's used in many melodies.
Below is a melody that was based on another Mazurka, Maria Luisa. This was written by Trisha, whose Mazurka 'Between the Tides' is recorded above.
Step 3: Harmony
Now that you've got a solid structure and beautiful melody, time to add chords in!
You might be thinking, "but there are so many chords to choose from!!"
Good news: you can just choose from three chords, called the primary chords (I, IV and V).
Below is Trisha's melody from above, now with the addition of primary chords.
Step 4: Edit and Refine
Now you've got some really solid material to start refining and editing.
Some of the considerations you want to think about:
Here's an example below, where Joe drastically altered the texture to make his piece much more playable. Notice the other details that were added too, such as dynamics, articulations, harmonics and a fermata.
I hope this has inspired you and given you encouragement to compose.
Many of the composers featured in the concert recording are very new to composition, but that hasn't stopped them from writing some incredibly beautiful music.
If you can play something on guitar, then you can compose something, no matter your ability or experience.
Follow the 4 step process and see what emerges!
If you want further guidance, check out my online composition course here - you can take it at your own pace.
Dr. Daniel Nistico is a passionate performer, author and educator who specializes in the performance practice of 18th and 19th century guitar music. Daniel's teaching and research aims to revitalize the concept of being a well-rounded musician, with emphasis on topics like harmony that can lead to deeper musical understanding and provide tools for composing and improvising.