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Variation and Development Techniques

How to Pass National 5 Music, Concepts at Work (Page 34) 


Audio Examples 1 - 4 Click ‘play’ to hear the examples above

Tip Maestro says…

And of course, even more possibilities for variation exist if we add rhythm changes, passing notesauxiliary notes and so on to the above phrases, creating another set of musical ideas from technique alone rather than inspiration! 


& Development

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Altering the order of the notes in a musical phrase in specific ways will produce new phrases which can develop your composition.


Example 1 below shows the original opening four bars of music in my instrumental composition. Writing/playing this phrase backwards produces a Retrograde of the original (Example 2), whereas writing/playing the notes in the opposite direction (as a mirror image) will create an Inversion of the original phrase (Example 3). For example, I begin on the original first note, C, but then invert each successive note; meaning instead of going up three steps to the next note, E, I go down three steps. If I continue this pattern of going down an equal number of steps when the original goes up, and going up an equal number of steps when the original goes down, the mirror image or inverted phrase is created.


Finally, if I write or play this inverted phrase backwards I create yet another version known as a Retrograde Inversion (Example 4).


You can hear each example on the audio player below. Listen as you follow the music.

Retrograde, Inversion and Retrograde Inversion