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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.

Your First Assignment

  1. After watching Mazz’s video, select a single idea from the first lesson and start to manipulate that idea by changing different parameters, including:
    • Tempo
    • Articulation
    • Dynamics
    • Texture
  2. As you experiment, keep your inner ear/eye on how each version makes you feel. What does your “inner ‘yes’ choir” respond to the most?
  3. Once you have a version of your musical idea that you like, notate it however works best for you using one of the following methods:
    • Play it over and over again to memorize it.
    • Use traditional notation.
    • Create a graphic representation of the sound.
    • Record it using your voice memo app or a digital audio workstation (DAW).
  4. Now, repeat the experimentation and recording/notation process with the other two ideas you came up with in the first lesson. Don’t forget to replay the video as much as you need to refresh your memory on the process.

Your Second Assignment

  1. Now that you have figured out how you like each of the three ideas to be played, start experimenting with the order of your ideas.
    • Start with simple three-part forms: ABC, BCA, or CBA.
    • You can decide to repeat a section—AABC, ABBC, ABCC, ABACBA, or whatever pleases and amuses you the most!
  2. Try at least three different arrangements of your parts, listening for that “inner ‘yes’ choir.”
  3. Record each of the different arrangements you’ve made, and then simply let it rest. Take a deep breath, exhale fully, and go do something other than music so you can come back tomorrow with a fresh ear.

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 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 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.

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.

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