Composing Tip: Play it backwards

It has been a while since I’ve done one of these but I had to get this out there because it just worked really well for me.

When I was writing music in high school my piano made a suggestion to me when I got stuck with what to write next. She told me to try taking some melody I already have and play the notes backwards to see if anything interesting comes of it.

For a decade I have tried this tip and nothing really came of it. However, last week I was trying to come up with an intro to a hymn and I played the last line of the song backwards and wah lah! It was perfect! I was so excited that after trying it many times it finally worked and it worked really well. I’m excited to finish the song!

So, try it and maybe you’ll get something from playing a melody backwards!

2 thoughts on “Composing Tip: Play it backwards

  1. Your arrangement of Take Time to Be Holy led me to do a similar thing. I took the notes in your interlude: Eb (quarter), Eb-F-G-Bb (8ths) and put a similar sequence in a new measure. I think the melody was D, D-Eb-F-D, next C
    C-D-E-C with the harmony chords Eb, D, C, and G, which led to the G7 and the transposition to the key of C. When I figured that out, getting back to the key of C was easier, because I could go backwards from a C to D to Eb to Bb7 and
    into Eb. I gave my interlude to my choir director without making a copy, so
    it is just a guess, but I hope it is close and makes sense. Danielle, could you share with me which hymn worked well for you? I love to improvise hymn introductions in a new way for choir and slightly for the congregation. Thank
    you for sharing the tip from your piano teacher and how it worked for you.. Trina

    • Glad I got some suspicion going 🙂 I didn’t mention the song for that very reason and when I put that hymn on the site, when it’s all done, I will reveal!

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