How To Compose Marching Band Music - Tips To Follow

Posted by Jam Addict Staff

This article will give some tips about how to compose marching band music.

In the world of music, I personally feel that marching band music should be written in the style of jazz music. Musicians from bands like the Utah State University drill team jazz band will tell you that their drum cadences are not written in a traditional cadence format, but that the more creative the cadence, the better the tune.

The best thing you can do is get some previous music written down. Once you know the rhythm and melody that you want to write the music to, it will be much easier to break down the music by simply drawing a straight line, parallel to the base line, from your cadence to the first beat of the measure.

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Now, it is imperative that you don't try to write out an entire 4-8-4 meter sequence by just using one measure. You will find that the music doesn't fit together and will make your band sound disjointed.

Instead, let's say we are writing a march. We need to come up with a cadence to the melody. The following structure is a good one for the most part:

Cadence-Music

Music band performing in front of building

To compose the music, we will start out with a Cmaj7alt 6 chord progression. The F major 3rd is repeated many times throughout the A minor 7th melody, and the D and C modes are played.

As we progress in the A minor 7th melody, the F major 3rd is repeated less and less. The Cmaj7alt 6 chord progression represents the melody and the A minor 7th is the bass note of the melody.

Now that we have the music composed, we can write out the marching band cadences.

Tracking of the cadence from your music

The notes on the grand piano.

Cadence 1. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root. You will find that the major chords are much easier to figure out than the minor chords because you can simply compare them to each other.

In the first bar, you can see that the notes E and G are 1. Now we need to figure out which notes we are going to play with the minor chord in the second bar. The first bar has the following notes:

D – D3, D5, A3

C – C3, C4, C5

F – F7, F7, F7

E – F#3, F#4, F#5

Now, you should be able to figure out that the notes in the second bar are:

G – G3, G4, G5

B3 – B4, B5, B5

D3 – D5, D5, D7

E3 – E4, E5, E5

For the cadence, we are going to play the root note, Fmaj7alt, with a drone note played on the 3rd fret, A#5. The drone note will follow the root note played by the leader while the Fmaj7alt chord is played on the 4th fret.

The 5th fret will play a C##5 arpeggio.

After the first three bars of music, you will find that the middle 4-5-bar section has a 5th and a 7th chord. The first fifth chord in the 5th bar will play a C#6 arpeggio. The 7th chord will play a C#7 arpeggio. Each of these chords will play a D#maj7alt chord over them.

After the 5th and 7th bars, you can find that the melody is played once again and the pattern repeats until the last measure of the song.

Cadence 2. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

Now, let's come up with a cadence for the second measure.

Cadence 2. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

Here is the same cadence but this time we have a different bass note on the 3rd fret. For this cadence, we will play the E minor 7th chord (E7alt) on the 3rd fret.

Cadence 3. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

This time we are going to change the bass note on the 3rd fret and play an A minor 7th. The bass note for this time is an A3 on the 3rd fret.

Cadence 4. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

Here is a cadence for the fourth measure

music notation

Cadence 5. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

This time we are going to change the bass note on the 3rd fret and play an F#7 on the 3rd fret.

Cadence 6. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

This time we are going to change the bass note on the 3rd fret and play a D#3 on the 3rd fret.

Cadence 7. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

This time we are going to change the bass note on the 3rd fret and play a D#maj7 arpeggio.

Cadence 8. In A minor 7th, the F major 3rd is played at the root.

This time we are going to change the bass note on the 3rd fret and play an F#5 on the 3rd fret.

The last two bars, we are going to play the same bass note for the 3rd fret of the 3rd bar, G#5, and the 3rd fret of the 4th bar, A#5.

You may or may not notice a difference, but here are two good articles about bass notes and what they mean.

After each cadence, you should see the chord progression repeat a little bit. At the end of each progression, we are playing a 7th chord over the root note Fmaj7alt.

I am sure you have all heard the phrase, practice makes perfect. That is a perfect example of how playing one cadence a day can help you become a better guitar player.

Remember, the best way to practice is to create. Every day, you should create at least one new musical piece, just like you did for our guitar chords and scales.

This piece is for the song, Cabin Fever. Enjoy!

 

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