Three Instruments

We can compose the majority of our piece with three instruments only. Even if we end up with a total of 6 instruments it might be best to compose only for 3 instruments so that we can keep track of the harmonic structure.

There is a simple way to go quickly from 2 instruments to 3 instruments. Try doing this with your piece:

  1. Complete the music for the two instruments in your composition. Be sure that you have properly controlled all of the dissonances and have clear textures. One of your instruments should be the "star" - the main melody.
  2. Add a third instrument to your composition (Go to Staff menu "Add Part Below Staff").
  3. Copy the instrument that is the background part and paste it into the new third staff.

Great! Now what....

Create Harmony From Unison Parts

You now have two instruments playing the same exact background part. We say these parts are in unison. You can quickly make harmony from unison parts! Try this:

  1. Add a third instrument to your piece.
  2. Copy and paste the entire background instrument part into the new third instrument.
  3. Move the entire third instrument up or down 1 skip in order to go from a unison part to a harmony part.

You'll likely need to double check your harmony parts with the main melody and make a few adjustments. For example, look for any open intervals or any clashes.


Visit this topic about filling out the orchestration here: Talk about Orchestration!
Share your thoughts and experiences with this technique. How have your students performed using this technique in their piece.

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