Speak Your Music
Artist Focus on Clay Ross
Lesson Two: Making It Yours
Clay breaks down how he used source material from the Gullah tradition and West African music to create his original song.
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Your First Assignment
- Identify the musical “heart” of the song you selected in Part One of this course and use that as a starting point for new musical material. You could:
- create something at the same speed
- play around with new material in the same mood
- use a similar melodic or rhythmic idea
- There is no wrong answer, and anything that inspires you can be a point of entry.
Your Second Assignment
- Write a new lyric for the chorus of your new song that either expresses a similar feeling or fits with the mood of the original song.
- Once you have a chorus or “guiding theme” for your song, write a new verse that will lead up to the chorus.
- A stretch goal could be to write one more verse (for a total of two) so that you have an A-B-A-B song form.
- Finally, make a recording of your new song using your phone recorder, or any digital audio workstation (DAW) software available to you. SoundTrap is a good option that is free through the internet.
Explore Other Parts of Speak Your Music
Introduction | Express Yourself
Mazz Swift, Clay Ross, and Sarah Elizabeth Charles share their backgrounds and processes for creating music.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson One: Finding a Theme
Mazz shares her distinct approach to using improvisation as a way of generating musical ideas to use in composition.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Two: Tweaking, Tinkering, and Messing with Your Music
Mazz shares her recommendations for manipulating and organizing basic musical ideas in order to explore different compositional approaches.
Artist Focus on Mazz Swift | Lesson Three: Finished! For Now …
This video features the questions that Mazz uses to determine whether a piece of music is done or requires further editing.
Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson One: Building a Frame
Clay introduces his band Ranky Tanky and talks about the origins of their song “All For You.”
Artist Focus on Clay Ross | Lesson Three: A Life of Its Own
Clay explores how “All For You” evolved into new shapes as Ranky Tanky collaborated with other artists.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson One: My Big Idea
Sarah describes how she uses a big question to spark the idea for a new song that explores the relationship between all human beings.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Two: My Musical Brainstorm
Sarah demonstrates how she creates a musical foundation for her new piece, and then shapes a melody on top of that foundation.
Artist Focus on Sarah Elizabeth Charles | Lesson Three: Growing My Idea
Sarah explains how her collaboration with a musical friend helped to shape the final version of her new piece.