Do you want to know to make good music? Well, it might sound pretty bold at first glance that I’m able to list you all the things you need for making pleasant music, but it isn’t. If you think about it, it’s really all there is to it. Of course it still doesn’t mean you can’t fail, because I can’t give you a recipe for creativity or how to develop a set of musical ears. What I can do is highlight you these musical devices that – when used at the right proportion – can help you to get the idea of how to make good music. People who are interested in 12 tone serialism or want to create some other kind of atonal music might need to look elsewhere though.
How to make good music – the key components
Movement: It’s kind of hard to even avoid this one, because once you have a sequence of notes appearing one after the other, your piece is moving. It’s basically the way the musical phrases follow each other, in whatever way you create them to. You can make it quick and dense or slow and sparse; whatever floats your boat.
Repetition: Yep, our well known friend (pun!). Whatever peculiar phrase you created, you can embed it in some innocent bloke’s short term memory by repeating it. How tricky, hey? Who said music wasn’t about psychological manipulation, after all.
Suspense: The very thing you can drive the listeners nuts with. Riding the edge of familiarity and unexpectedness enables you to keep up their interest, without revealing the joke prematurely, so to say. You want the fuckers give everything, but you don’t want to give it to them all at once. Let them suffer and allow them enjoy the torture.
How to make good music?
Surprise: Once you have set up the trap properly, you can attack the listener with something surprising. It can be anything from a slightly out of place rhythmic element to a bunch of dissonant notes. Use surprise as some kind of spice; don’t overuse it but make sure it’s noticeable.
Resolution: The orgasm of the whole thing, man. It can really be the king of your composition, the final victory. Don’t forget though that it only works if you used the above devices carefully. Resolution at best is the thing you want to delay/confront with suspense and the repetition and constant movement of previous phrases, so it finally arrives just slightly unexpectedly, blooming out of a musical surprise you have created.
So that’s the theoretical recipe on how to make good music. Now go out and break the rules!