How to Write for Theme & Variation
Last time we talked about a trick called the splitting line technique where we could make a countermelody more interesting by breaking it up between two different melodic lines.
This time I am going to discuss what theme and variation are and how this is used. Theme and variation lets you take a single melody or a part of that and use it as the basis for similar musical ideas.
This allows you to work with a single melody throughout your piece, but make it more interesting on a consistent basis than you would with simple repetition.
There are many kinds of variations you can use but today we will only use the first two, called sequence and inversion.
Lets start off with Sequence. This is where the original theme is replayed starting on a different pitch. There are two kind of sequences, an exact sequence and an inexact sequence.
An exact sequence uses the exact intervals of the original motif (even if it’s chromatic) as shown below:
So as you can see in the second example I transposed the original theme a minor second down. That means I used the exact intervals of the original theme while starting on a different pitch.
Based on the two examples above we now can make an eight bar song: