Music Theory - Melody Composition for Grade 8 ABRSM

Composition - get top scores, write strong harmonic structure and modulations, with well-crafted, musical phrases.
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  • Lectures 16
  • Length 1 hour
  • Skill Level Expert Level
  • Languages English
  • Includes Lifetime access
    30 day money back guarantee!
    Available on iOS and Android
    Certificate of Completion
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About This Course

Published 10/2015 English

Course Description

If you are taking the ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory exam, this course is for you. This question is worth 20% of the whole exam, but since it seems rather "subjective" - how can you know whether your composition is any good?

In this course, you'll learn exactly how to craft a high-scoring composition, which will please the examiners and please you too!

In this course you will learn:

  • How to adapt the ideas of the given opening in the exam question, using techniques such as sequences, imitation, augmentation/diminution and others, to produce a coherent whole.
  • How to plan a strong, balanced structure for your composition, using clear phrases and appropriate cadences.
  • How to modulate - through which keys, and precisely how to do that, using a variety of methods.
  • How to make your performance directions meaningful and idiomatic (suitable for the instrument you're writing for).


I've been coaching students through their music theory exams for many years, and have a wealth of experience which I'd love to share with you. I'm available via the Udemy discussion board to answer any queries you may have and listen to your comments.

The course includes several PDFs including a Cadences revision cheat sheet, and a selection of practice Composition Exercises. You are more than welcome to send me your finished product for comment and a likely score.

What are the requirements?

  • Students should have passed ABRSM grade 5 theory and also studied material for grades 6-7.

What am I going to get from this course?

  • Write a high-scoring composition for the ABRSM grade 8 Music Theory exam.
  • Create a solid structural foundation for your composition, based on phrases and cadences.
  • Modulate through different keys effectively and smoothly.
  • Use appropriate and musical performance directions.
  • Write in an idiomatic style which suits the instrument you're writing for.

What is the target audience?

  • This course is aimed at candidates taking the ABRSM Grade 8 Music Theory exam.

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

Forever yours.
Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
Desktop, iOS and Android.

Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Introduction
01:25

Introduction to the Course.

Article

Print off the accompanying course notes PDF here, so that you can take your own notes as you follow the course (includes manuscript staves!)

Section 2: How to Compose
03:47

Planning ahead - how to think about your composition's structure.

05:25

How to work out which parts of the given opening will be the best ones to adapt, to make the rest of your composition.

04:28

How to adapt a melodic idea, using a diatonic sequence.

03:24

More ways to adapt a musical idea to create something new.

03:56

How to make a contrasting section which is still connected to the rest of the composition.

03:04

What defines a musical phrase?

Cadences Cheat Sheet
1 page
04:15

How to work out a scheme for modulations.

06:50

Learn the mechanics of modulation - here we explore two methods which you can use effectively.

02:57

How to write performance directions correctly - and some typical mistakes to avoid.

09:32

What you need to take into consideration when composing for a specific instrument.

Section 3: BONUS! MORE MUSIC THEORY STUFF
07:55

Follow along as I create a 16-bar composition including modulations.

2 pages

Practice exercises in PDF.

BONUS! Lots more music theory resources!
Article

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Instructor Biography

Victoria Williams, Music Theory Specialist BA (Mus), Founder of My Music Theory

"This course was absolutely first rate in every way. Ms. Williams presented the material clearly, thoughtfully, and with an obvious love of teaching. The only way this could possibly have been any better is to have had the privilege of studying with her in person. I'm amazed by how much information I learned -- and in such an enjoyable way! Ms. Williams is someone who not only has a deep understanding of music theory, but a rare and wonderful creativity that makes her such an effective teacher of it. Bravo and thank you!"


Victoria graduated from the University of Leeds in 1995 with a BA in Music, specialising in Musicology.

Since 2007, Victoria has been teaching music theory online and by email via her acclaimed website MyMusicTheory, offering free music theory tuition following the structured syllabus of the ABRSM (Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music).

Victoria teaches all ABRSM levels, from grade 1 (beginner) up to grade 8 (undergraduate level) and has an in depth knowledge of both the syllabus requirements and examiners' marking schemes. As well as teaching the ABRSM syllabus, Victoria is equally at home preparing students for the Trinity Guildhall exams, the Australian AMEB exams and the AP Music Theory exams taken in the USA.

Victoria's lessons break the tricky concepts of music and music theory down into easy-to-understand steps. She approaches teaching from the learner's point of view, building up on existing knowledge little by little, and avoids the “baffling with detail" stance taken by traditional music theory text books. She has an outstanding track-record with her students' exam successes, with the vast majority gaining top rated “merits and distinctions" from the ABRSM.

Victoria is an accomplished pianist and clarinettist, holding ABRSM grade 8 in both, and also composes in her free time. She has three children and two crazy cats.

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