Contemporary Composition part 5

Welcome to the last part of our Contemporary Composition series! I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and it sheds some light into different ways you can compose contemporary charts. This isn’t the only way to write, but I hope you found some parts (or all) valuable and useful to your writing and/or improvising!

In part 5 we are going to take about the final edits of the chart. This is the part of the composition process I suggest you make final melodic or chordal edits as necessary. If something doesn’t sound right or the way you want it…this is your opportunity to change it.

In this part of the process I will take a deeper look at the chords I’ve chosen. I will ask myself if these current chords fully support the melody or if I make a slight change-will it improve it? For instance, if I have a straight major 7th chord…does it sound better as a major 7th or major 7th (#11)? Does a Bb7 sound good or does a Bb7(b9) improve it? If it does, then make the change. If it doesn’t…leave it alone.

The last part of the process is deciding where to put rhythmic hits or punches. These are accents that the rhythm section can play (melodic notes or chords they play in a rhythmic pattern). A few examples of what this might look like are below:

While singing and reading through the composition-ask yourself where rhythmic hits or punches can be added to the composition. This can create a sense of depth and maturity to the chart. If it doesn’t need any-then leave it alone. However, to me, I find charts that have rhythmic hits or punches sound more put together then those that don’t.

Be careful that you don’t over-write with the rhythmic hits. Too much and the chart can lose it’s balance. In the case of Back and Forth, I had spots where I heard a catchy rhythmic pattern that fit in the space where the melody was static. However, when I played through the chart it made it too busy. So I kept the rhythmic hits simple. During the melody, the rhythm section plays a hit on beat 4 of the second measure. To me, it was all the chart needed.

This is the link to the piano part to Back and ForthBack and Forth Piano

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series. I plan on doing more posts about writing and composing tips in the future. If you haven’t already, please be sure to check out my books (Breaking the Monotony and Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) at my Digital Store.

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About the Author jasonklobnak

Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground.  The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).

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