Challenge #1:  melodic figures

the challenge:

Play around with two figures in the same way that you’d play with “musical Legos.”
Which figures?
The two we focused on the most in this video: the 3-note scale and the neighbor figure (also 3-notes) .

the goal:

Get a sense for what it’s like to work with melodic figures.

the process:

Work on your melody for about 10 minutes. Put it down, then come back and tweak any parts you don’t quite like.


Choose a key. Major or minor; up to you. Either jot out a simple chord progression you know, or just ad lib the harmony as you go.


Examples A and B represent rhythms we heard from Bach, Sheeran, and Richard Rogers. I’m also giving option C, even though in the video, I emphasized that figures start on a beat. In my book, I explain effective ways to resituate figures metrically, and this is one. (I call this a "ligature.") Try it (or your own  rhythm) if you wish


about 4 bars; 8 if you’re ambitious.


Keep in mind that I haven’t given full instructions for how to control harmony and how to connect figures together. So don’t fret if your first attempts sound a little wonky in spots. THAT IS OK! Stay loose! Have fun!

One final thought.
Guitar players, violists, and singers all have well-established
warm-up exercises to do before they practice.

Why don’t composers have warm-up exercises?

This challenge makes a pretty good one, if you choose to use it like that.