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  • Writer's pictureHolly Mead

Composing Music by William Russo: Chapter 2 / Exercise 2


Chapter 2 begins with an explanation of major and minor triads, diatonic chords, chord symbol notation, and a preliminary exercise which requires students to practice writing out the tones of various chord symbols.

For ex.2, we will construct a song in three parts using two-chord progressions using major and minor triads in the key of C. Part one will explore chords that are a perfect fourth and/or fifth apart. Part two will explore chords that are a second apart, and part three will explore chords that are a third apart.

In order to sugar coat this info for the kiddos, it’s time to return to our hero’s journey…

The straw pallet is comfortable, but you sleep fitfully and dream that several hungry lions are chasing you. When Shella comes to collect you the following morning, she points to one of the harps on the wall. “Bring that one. It is Ceridwen’s favorite.”

Who is Ceridwen, you wonder? You obediently dismount the harp from its place and clutch it to your chest. Your anxiety begins a long, slow crescendo as you follow Shella back to the feast hall from yesternight. The chairs and tables and hordes of people are gone. Only Edrevol and his mysterious guest are present.

Shella gives you a gentle nudge forward, and you to kneel before the king.

Edrevol turns to the hooded figure by his side. “Ceridwen, allow me to introduce our new court bard. Bard, meet your predecessor, Ceridwen. Please rise.”

So! The former court bard wasn’t fed to Edrevol’s lions! You feel a wave of relief as you stand.

“Would you do me the honor of accompanying me while I sing?” Ceridwen asks, stepping forward and pulling back the dark hood to reveal the kind eyes of a girl who looks to be about your same age.

You bow low in assent and do your best to play along with Ceridwen’s tuneful singing.

*Footnote - Russo recommends doing this exercise in the key of C for beginners, but I fudged a little and chose Db to mix things up. Song lyrics for my example-piece are courtesy of Christina Rossetti (1830-1894).

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