So you're writing melodies and motifs that sound good... how can you improve these? How to make them sound better and work better in your songs? Jay Asher has some advice to share.  




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Jay is a Los Angeles-based composer, songwriter, arranger and orchestrator, conductor, keyboardist, as well as vocalist. As a composer, he is best known for scoring the New World Television series Zorro. Among the films and TV movies he has arranged, orchestrated and/or conducted are Paramount Pictures' Blame It On Rio Read More


If I'm to follow your professor's instructions, can I use unisons, or am I strictly limited to whatever intervals are allowed that week?
You can't just stop the article right there! (This was great. Keep going!)
Jay Asher
No unisons, Greg. :)
Hey Jay,

That was a great article. I'm a big fan of these types of disciplined writing exercises. Like the old saying goes: The absence of limitations is the biggest obstacle to creativity!

Thank you Jay, I love the concept and will try it starting today!

But I am not sure about week 3… When I play 4th interval I should immediately go to 3rd (opposite direction) and then what - does the rules about 3rds apply here still? So after 4th I should immediately go to 3rd and then immediately go to 2nd? That would be limiting for real, so I guess not :)
What about the restrictions imposed for the 5th, 6th, 7th and then the minors? It would be nice to know how those were used in your exercise as well, since you mentioned it.
Jay Asher
Always a second in the opposite direction.
So lets say that in the future I will play 5ths and let's play in major C.

It goes like this:

C (5th) G (mandatory opposite 4th) D (mandatory opposite 3rd) F (mandatory opposite 2nd) E?

Or for 7th: C B D A E G F?

So basically every time I play interval I need to "spiral" down?

It almost doesn't make sense :)

Possibly if I play 5th I am forced to play opposite 4th, but then I am free to play whatever interval (3rd or 2nd in any direction)?

I feel very stupid for not understanding, but simple example for week 3 and 4 would truly clear things up for me :)

Maybe a follow up article in 2 weeks time with more examples? :)
Jay Asher

1. There is no "key" per se', but it is diatonic. And no matter which interval you go up or down to, you must immediately then use a 2nd in the opposite direction.

2. Let us say that we have now gone through 2nd, 3rds, and are now incorporating 4ths. If iJump up a 4th I must immediately step down a 2nd. I then write mostly 2nds but now jump down a 3rd. I now immediately must step up a 2nd. I do seconds for a bit and go up/down a 4th again. Immediately I must do a 2nd in the opposite direction.
Jay, thank you very much. That cleared things up for good!
Jay Asher
Gary Hiebner
Great article! Rules and Restrictions can be a blessing in disguise with composing.
I'm just getting into music theory having casually played since my teenage years; mostly for understanding score better in my filmmaking. I was really enjoying this article, got to the bottom of the page, and and instantly recognized that it was written by the person who scored my favorite childhood show, Zorro. Will be visiting regularly now.
Jay Asher
Thank you for the kind words Ephisus. Also thanks Gary.

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