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Speak Your Music

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.

Your Assignment

  1. Watch the video in which Sarah describes the beginning of her composition process for the song “One World.”
  2. Note how she uses a big question to start her brainstorm, and then spends time thinking about how the words she chooses will sound when she sings them.
  3. Start your writing assignment by writing freely about the question “What is it that all human beings have in common?” Try not to judge what you write and let whatever comes to you come out in your writing.
  4. Review your free-write and pull out your favorite lines and words.
  5. Try sounding out your words in different cadences and rhythms and see what feels the best to you. Remember that simplicity, repetition, and rounded words or sounds are your friends.
  6. Try recording yourself using your phone or an online digital audio workstation (DAW) like SoundTrap.

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 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 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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