Own Compositions in Rock & Pop exams

Own Compositions in Rock & Pop exams

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BY: Guest Writer
25 October 2023

One thing  exams have always championed is self-expression. This might seem contradictory within an exam context, but the option to include an ‘Own Choice’ or ‘Own Composition’ song within your three-song setlist is just one of the ways to express your creative personality in a Trinity Rock & Pop exam.

In a previous blog post, we explored  . We considered how to choose and present something appropriate for the grade level you are sitting. But what if you don’t want to cover someone else’s work, but truly show us your musical identity? Why not have a go at writing your own song?

The question is: where to start? This is a vital question for songwriters and composers across the world. That moment where you are staring at a blank piece of paper can easily turn into writer’s block if you are not careful. Here are a few tips and ideas to get started:

  1. Set some rules. The most common reason for writer’s block is being faced with too many Think about it – if you went to an ice cream parlour which had every flavour ever created, how long would it take to decide which one to buy? Whereas, when presented with a simple choice of two or three options, most people will come to a decision quickly. Music can be the same, so have some fun! Make a game out of composing by creating certain rules or restrictions to get the process started. For example, you might decide you want each line of a lyric to start with a verb, or each verse can only be 16 bars long. Whatever the limitations or rules you come up with, have a go – you can always choose to break the rules later.

  2. Be inspired. Take some time to explore the music you lost. What is it that speaks to you? Is it a particular style – ballad, pop punk, electronic, for example – or technique such as a walking bass, use of slide or a complex vocal run? How could you incorporate this into your song? Your inspiration doesn’t necessarily need to come from other pieces of music either; quotes, literature and movie genres have all played their part in the creation of celebrated pop classics. Consider what else inspires you: nature, moments or people from history, politics, computer games, a memory or observation? Most artists combine multiple influences, intentionally or not, creating a melting pot of ideas which fuse to become an ‘original’ style or idea. It is the unique combination or different influences or ideas that speak to that artist and how they are combined that make something original.

  3. Take it one step at a time! Very few songs are written and fully formed in one go. Some take days, weeks, months or even years to form. However, you can get started by concentrating on one aspect. This could be writing the lyrics, creating a chord sequence for a section or considering the groove or rhythmic style of a song. Whatever it is…

  4. …just do it! If you don’t get started, how will you finish? The best thing you can do is give it a go – if you don’t like it, you can always start again. One idea can often be the catalyst that gets the creative juices flowing, breeding more ideas as you go. But if you don’t get the ball rolling, it’s a lot harder build momentum from a standing start.

However, you set off on your creative journey, writing your own songs can be a hugely satisfying experience. Why not give song-writing a go today?




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