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Quick Tips for Composing Classical Hymn Arrangements

Quick Tips for Composing Classical Hymn Arrangements

03.07.2017 Статья

Four quick tips for composing classical hymn arrangements that I've learned over the years.

One of my hobbies is creating piano pieces that beautifully combine both familiar hymns with classical masterpieces.  When I first started creating classical hymn arrangements, I used this basic framework (begin with an excerpt of the classical piece, weave in the hymn tune, and finish with another excerpt of the classical piece) as a guide.  Looking back, I now realize my creativity and originality were hindered by not arranging the classical piece.

Last year, my music composition instructor gave me a whole new way of looking at my classical hymn arrangements and how to compose them.  She suggested I arrange the classical piece itself (not just weaving in the hymn tune), so the entire arrangement would be more unique and original.  Ever since I began using this new way of composing classical hymn arrangements, I find them much more enjoyable to play because they have a familiar, yet fresh sound.

Quick Tips for Composing Classical Hymn Arrangements:
  • Find a hymn tune and classical piece that sound like a nice "match".  Sometimes, this is easier said than done.  However, "My Faith Looks Up to Thee" and "Piano Sonata No. 16" by W. A. Mozart are simply made for each other.  The beginning melody line of the sonata clearly corresponds with the tune of the hymn.  For this reason, several classical hymn arrangements have been made using this combination by various pianists.

  • To keep the style of a classical piece when weaving in the hymn tune, use similar rhythmic patterns or other distinguishing elements from the original piece.  I often try to keep the base line as similar as possible and only adjust it when the hymn tune conflicts or needs a little creative spark.

  • Adding a twist to a classical piece can be really fun and as simple as using a different rhythm or altering the tonality from major to minor, or vice versa.

  • If a classical piece is lengthy, consider arranging only your favorite sections of the classical piece with the hymn tune.  In the "My Faith Looks Up to Thee in the Style of Mozart" arrangement, I did not include every section from Mozart's original Piano Sonata No.16 in C Major.

Arranging familiar tunes is a great way for pianists to experiment with the musical elements that create different styles and moods.
Do you create classical hymn arrangements?
Please leave a comment with your own tips or questions!


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