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  • Holly Mead

Composing Music by William Russo: Chapter 3 / Part 2

In the next part of chapter 3, we learn about different kinds of rhythmic transformation!


​​Rhythmic Transformation

Rhythmic Transformation: "a theme's rhythm is changed in order to vary it from previous statements."


Displacement: a phrase can be started on a different beat, e.g. instead of starting on beat one, try starting your phrase on beat two or the and of two. And/or, you can change the time signature from 4/4 to 3/4, etc. This type of rhythmic transformation works best with some kind of accompaniment.

Augmentation (can be regular or irregular): the lengthening of the time values of the notes of a melody. Sometimes, composers use this device to add dignity, majesty, or climax to the end of a section or piece.

Diminution (can be regular or irregular): the shortening of the time values of the notes of a melody. This technique can introduce a sense of urgency/tension to the music.

Reiteration: when you repeat some of the tones in your phrase.


Here is a breakdown of when/where I utilized the aforementioned types of rhythmic transformation in "A Dog! A Panic In A Pagoda!" (so named in honor of one of my fav palindromes):


Displacement: m.11-18

Augmentation: m.36-43

Diminution: m.19-25

​Reiteration: m.24-25

I had fun using pitched percussion for this exercise: marimba/vibes/piano!


In the next part of Chapter 3, we will learn about musical addition, subtraction, context, and subfigurations!