Composing a Fanfare for Crew Dragon: Day 4 (Part 2)

Reworking rhythms to make the next section of this piece connect more clearly to the first.

Assumed audience: Anyone interested in the process of writing composed music.

After getting some revisions done earlier in the day today, I was able to turn my attention to the next phase of this work, and the next (and probably final) major chunk of the piece of music. I spent a good bit of the evening noodling on the piano, playing over and over again through variations on the second riff I posted at the end of the first day. And standing on my deck, thinking — because I was stuck and the best way forward was standing outside in the quiet, watching some birds, pacing back and forth and running through the sound in my head, because I wasn’t succeeding in getting it out into the piano (much less an orchestral score!).

Standing on my deck, pacing, playing the music in my head helped! When I went back to the piano, I was able to find a couple new interesting melodies — but then I was also able to find a new, better rhythm. This was the same basic process I went through for nailing down the sound for the opening fanfare on the morning of the second day: taking the melodic progressions I had come up with already and getting them into the right shape rhythmically. It’s quite amazing how distinct the effect of the same sequence of pitches can be when set in different rhythmic relation.

I knew when I came back to the piano that I wanted to connect the sounds of the two sections a bit more directly — not just the harmonic patterns, but also the feel of them. The new rhythms I landed on do the trick nicely, as they’re a kind of variation on the rhythms from the fanfare. The difference: I removed some triplets in favor of two rhythms I use in the fanfare: sixteenth-sixteenth-eighth, and a dotted quarter note followed by a quarter note. It’s much improved.

With the new rhythms in place and a few new melodic and harmonic ideas (key change!), I also decided it would be helpful to survey the actual harmonies I ended up using in the fanfare, for easy reference. I fully expect to pull those back out more or less directly in this next section, and then to vary them.

my working notes from this evening