Today we got told we have to compose a piece of music in 25 mins i am now wonderin if this is possible. I would love to now how to come around the structure of composing a piece in 25 mins so please can you come up with the structure. I have 1 person that i am hoping to reply as i think that they would give really gd advice but saying that you all do. Can you give us a structure IE:

10 mins chords
10 mins Melody
and the rest anding nice addons.



I suppose it would depend on how long the piece was to be and for how many players Donna--I cant help but maybe if you let our would-be composers know the details you may get a more worthwhile answer
Good Luck-glad its not me :?

Jo Elson

me too. thats sounds really tough. when i had to compose a piece for my exams(there was no time limit just a deadline) but it took me ages to get it right. But good luck.


Active Member
Since you are only being given 25 minutes, I would hazard a guess that it isn't intended to be a long piece, or one of infinite complexity?

Like eckyboy said, a few more details would be helpful...
Probly be about 15-20 mins that sounds pretty resonable. It has to be for any instrament but probly quite a few. This is really hard and i dont have a clue on what to do. HELP:!::!::!::!:

Brian Bowen

Active Member
If you mean the music has to be 15-20 minutes duration and you have just 25 minutes in which to write it, either your teacher's a fool or there's a communication problem (most likely the latter)!

I don't know what kind of a course you're on, but in 25 minutes you should perhaps try something like a hymn-tune (say 16 bars), writing the melody and harmony and scored for brass or string quartet.


Active Member
Well if I was given this task, my instinct on how to approach it would be this:

  • Get yourself a chord sequence, maybe 8+8 bars.
  • Use this chord sequence to write a 'theme'
  • Write some variations on the theme, whether it be varying the chord sequence or the easier option of say inverting the theme, using a part of it and repeating it in sequences etc
  • Finish with the theme again

That could last about the 3 mins that Aidan suggested, which sounds about right to me.

If writing for more than say instrument and piano, you could throw quotes from the melody around the accompanying parts etc

Just some random ideas, hope they help, if only a little...

Naomi McFadyen

New Member
Very possible this is... veeerrrrrrry possible... easy in fact.
It's bound to just be a 3/4 min piece... not a 15/20 min! You just have 25mins to write A composition....

I'd stick to writing melody line with written chords over the top... this can then be played by either piano, guitar, or both... the melody... seeing as you play cornet, write it for cornet... although maybe writing it in C 'concert' and for a C instrument maybe quicker so you don't have to transpose... :)

Have an A section, B section, and return to the A section again...
Keep it simple... 1/4/5 chords... (so, if you were in the key of C, you'd stick to C major, F major and G major chords... maybe modulate to the dominant (G) in the B section... using G, C and D major chords... alternatively you could go to the relative minor, A minor... (using A, D and E minor chords)

So, many options, but definatly possible!

Good luck! :D

James McFadyen

New Member
Chords - steal em'!!!! Chords are not copyright, so you can steal the chords to the Beatles 'Yesterday' and put ur own tune to it. Just don't copy the counterpoint that they did with the chords, coz that is illegal! Either that or choose a simple structure.

Melody - here's the easy part. Write a two bar phrase. take this two bar phrase, and invert it for bars three and four. Take this 4-bar mini-melody and do a retrodgrade on it, turning it into an 8 bar melody. You can use augmentation and diminution as well, perhaps to turn it into a 16-bar phrase?

The first thing to think about is structure - set it out in ternary form or something, the important thing is to plan it first. Then, write a simple chord structure. This is 'A'. Modulate to a related key (Tonic Minor, Sub Dominant, Dominant) feel free to use an unrelated key if u feel adventurous!! :) Get a chord structure for this new modulated bit, that you're 'B'. Put a tune over the whole thing and wallah! simple as that!

Do you have to score it or just write the chords and the melody, like on the keyboard and let the keyboard play the 'accompaniment'?

Try to keep it diatonic, you can't loose with that! :) Instead of doing fancy modulations within a melody use things like unaccented passing notes, passing notes, auxilary notes, appogiatura's (not in the ornamental sence!), etc.

Not that you probably need it, here's a few descriptions of the words I've used in here:

Retrograde = Backwards
Inversion = upside down (ie: major fifth up, becomes a major fifth down)
Augmentation = make the notes longer (not nessesarily double)
Dimunition = make the notes shorter (not nessesarily half)

Try and stay away from straight arpeggio writing. If you're in a chord of C, don't just stick to notes C, E and G, use passing notes and stuff like I recommened above. It will make it sound less cheesy and will actually make it easier to get to the next chord.

Since you've only got 25mins to write it, don't write fancy chords - the rule of thumb in harmony is that you can only write music with chords 1, 4 and 5 (C, F and G, for example) for no more than 3 mins coz people get bored!! :) use some nice touches of chord 6 and chord 3, though.

Finish off with a perfect cadence going from the dominant seventh to the tonic, you can even be ultra clever and do a perfect cadence utilising the Bdim chord (in the key of C) This gives your cadence a less cheesier feel, but just depends on what you want, really.

If you wanna be fancy you can add in a flattened 3 chord, in C major, this would be Eb major (although this involves modulation - but it's a great trick but needs some careful thought to use properly, still if you take 26mins to write your piece, I'm sure they won't mind!)

I've written more than I was mean't to, in fact wayyyyy too much! ;) But hope at least a bit of it was a little bit useful.

Good luck ;)
OOPS not 20-25 its a 5 mins one i just asked my mate it can be brass rap or for a song that you have made up. Still can anyone help. :lol:


Active Member

Compose a short (four/six beats) fragment of music, preferably quick, modal and rhythmically well defined. Keyboard instruments work well, but for quickest results use Cubase! Repeat it eight times.

Then write it out again but with one small change - maybe just a single note or an element of the rhythm - and repeat another eight times.

Repeat this process until all the original fragment has been transformed into something quite different and/or you have reached your time limit!

This is how the early work of American composer Steve Reich was constructed - I'm sure that you'll find plenty about him on the web.

Have fun!


James McFadyen

New Member
Naruco said:
you could go to the relative minor, A minor... (using A, D and E minor chords)
You mean E major Naomi!!!! Unless you are meaning the harmonic minor here? :wink: :wink:

Going from E minor to A minor would insinuate the use of the 6th Mode, Aeolian. :roll:

A perfect cadence in a minor key wouldn't usually go from E minor to A minor, it would go from E major to A minor and in fact if you make it an E major 7th (not Emaj7) the voice leading would sound great if one would take the 7th of E major (D), you could then resolve this note down onto the 3rd of A minor by step downwards.



I don't profess to be a composer, but this would be my simplistic approach to it!

Decide on the Time Signature and tempo of the piece. From this you should then be able to work out approximately how many bars you will need for the length of the music (in multiples of 8 ). If you write it 'Lento' you won't need to write so much music! Next, decide on your key signature - keep it simple; i.e. C, F or G Major.
Then divide each 8 bar phrase into 2 sets of four bars so you can easily see where you are within each phrase of the music as you are writing. Start your melody on a note from the tonic chord. It makes life easier if you write out the notes contained within the basic chords (I, IV & V) of the key you are composing in on a separate piece of paper. Sticking to these chords helps establish the sound of what key you are in. At the end of each 4 bar phrase use a cadence; Perfect (V - I), Plagal (IV - I) or Imperfect (I - V, II - V or IV - V). When composing your melody try not to jump around too much (especially if you haven't got perfect pitch or a piano to try it out on!). Move in seconds or thirds - it tends to give a better result if you can't 'hear' what you are writing. Your first 8 bars should be your 'theme'. Then for the middle section vary the rhythm (modulate to a related key if you're clever) for the final 8 bars return to your original 'theme' or something very similar and end with a Plagal or Perfect Cadence, using the tonic note as the last note of the melody. Write in appropriate dynamic and style markings.

Hope this is helpful!
Being the highly distinguished composer I am :roll: :shock: (cough cough)...

I suggest you get on your computer, set your music writing program to solo staff and piano accom., then close your eyes and click as fast as possible all over the page. Then, simply print out the composition and hand it in, titled "Abstract concertpiece No. 1"...if it has to be handwritten just grab some manuscript and do the same with a pen.

Worse things have probably been done...