Arranging & Counterpoint Special Releases Organising your music Melody Writing exam pieces The creative process Getting started Chords (harmony)

Arranging & Counterpoint

Arranging your music 3: tips to help you write a great track (Counterpoint)

Organising your music so that it has a sense of direction, movement and flow is one of the most crucial factors in producing a good track.

Arranging your music 2: thinking in lines/ counterpoint

Arranging music is like designing a building: different materials, shapes, patterns and configurations all make a critical difference. In this first video of the season, we’ll break down well known tracks to see how you can arrange several simultaneous lines of melody. It’s easier than it sounds.

Special Releases

What Does Decolonisation In Music Look Like? (Podcast)

Guest artist Damsel Elysium explores education, money, power, health and the music industry – considering genres from Classical, Grime, and Hip-Hop to Jazz, Electronic and Experimental.

Music and food (Ear Opener special)

Music and food have a lot in common. They’re both powerful forces that can make us feel something deep down inside, whether we want them to or not!

Organising your music

We think all brilliant music in any genre is balanced and well-organised, but what do we mean by this? These videos will show you the different aspects of your music you’ll need to think carefully about to make it sound as good as it possibly can.

Structure Your Music: Thinking Beyond The Loop

This episode how you can easily find ways to make your track go on a journey.

Arranging your music: It can make or break your piece

The same track can sound completely different depending on the way your sounds and instruments are put together. In this video, we’ll give you four simple tips to bear in mind when arranging any kind of music.

Stripping away: why less is often more

If you’re not happy with your music, it might be tempting to add more layers or tunes to improve it – unfortunately this is often the wrong strategy! Here, top composers explain how stripping away a few ideas may actually be the best way to make your best ideas shine.

Writing music to a brief

Whether you’re preparing for an exam or working with a filmmaker, a brief might appear to limit your creativity with its rules and restrictions. Here are seven steps to discover your creativity when writing to a brief, using real-life examples.

Taking care of the bass

How can you make the most of your bass parts and avoid having a ‘muddy’ bass? In this video, we reveal the science of bass notes and give practical tips to make your basslines work for you.

Simple / complex: creating balance in your music

What makes a piece of music feel evenly balanced? When it’s not too empty but not too full? Not too simple but not over complicated? Here are four ideas to help you achieve balance in your music.

Structure – don’t get lost in detail

It can be easy to get stuck in the detail of your music early on in the process – spending hours on 5 seconds of music or fiddling with a plug-in. In this video musicians share ways to get a sense of how your whole piece is structured before getting bogged down in detail.


Writing tunes is something that we can all do – it really isn’t difficult! Once you’ve got a tune, we’ll then show you how to make the most of it.

Writing melodies: 15 things you should know when making up tunes 

When you have a blank screen or page in front of you, how do you begin to make up tunes? Actually it’s not hard – here are 15 simple ideas to get you writing melodies straight away.

Working with melody: 28 things to do with a tune [Part 1]

What you can do with a tune? How can you – as we say – develop melodies so you can write longer pieces without just stringing together lots of unrelated ideas? In this first video, we’ll cover simple and widely used techniques to keep your tune interesting.

Working with melody: 28 things to do with a tune [Part 2]

What can you do with a tune? How can you – as we say – develop melodies so you can write longer pieces without just stringing together lots of unrelated ideas? In this second video, we’ll explore some more advanced techniques to try with your tunes.

Writing exam pieces

We’ve worked with GCSE and A-Level students for over 15 years and we’ve heard hundreds of student exam pieces. In these two videos, we show you the 27 most common mistakes that cause students to lose marks, and how to avoid them.

27 “mistakes” to avoid in music exam compositions [Part 1]

Imagine being an examiner. You’re listening to your 70th piece of the day. It’s not that bad but you’re struggling to stay awake… This is part 1 of the most common pitfalls students may come across when writing an exam piece.

27 “mistakes” to avoid in music exam compositions [Part 2]

Imagine being an examiner. You’re listening to your 70th piece of the day.  It’s not that bad but you’re struggling to stay awake… This is part 2 of the most common pitfalls students may come across when writing an exam piece.

The creative process

Everyone writes music in their own way, but most of us experience the same challenges. Here, you’ll also find great advice from the musicians we spoke to that we think will help any musician – whatever style of music you want to write.

Quick tips on how to finally finish a track

Knowing when to finish your track can be hard – how do you know when to stop? In this video we talk to seasoned professionals about what works for them and they share their advice on getting feedback, deadlines, overthinking, feeling insecure and even learning to love the imperfections,

Dealing with feedback

Getting feedback from your friends, teachers or collaborators can really help you understand how other people are hearing your music. We asked leading musicians how they go about getting feedback on their music.

Experimenting: why it’s for everyone

Experimenting – being curious and open to trying new ideas – is something that all the musicians we spoke to love to do. A small experiment can open a whole new set of possibilities that sets you off on a totally new creative path.

Where’s your head at?

Writing music can be a rewarding process, but can at times be emotionally draining. We asked leading musicians how they keep productive, sane and enjoy the process of making music, from dealing with writers block to working out their ideal schedule.

Being alert and letting your ideas grow (a conversation with Brian Eno)

We spoke to legendary musician and producer Brian Eno who told us about what he considers the most important quality for a music maker to have – alertness.

Phones: friend or foe to the creative process?

Your phone can be a brilliant tool to help get your ideas down quickly, but receiving messages and notifications can distract you from focusing on your music. So what do you do with your phone when you’re writing music? We asked musicians how they manage their relationship with their phones.

On Musical Knowledge

Can you know too much or too little about music theory? Do successful musicians even use the knowledge they have? We asked eight superb artists about how they think about their own music education. Some think they have quite a lot of knowledge and others say they don’t have much at all; but they are all creative and successful.

Being Methodical

Sometimes writing music is more about graft – putting the hours in – rather than just being inspired with a brilliant idea. Being methodical may not sound glamourous, but lots of composers believe that organising the way you work can actually unlock your creativity, not cramp your style.

Getting started

Every artist has their own way of getting started - from avoiding writer’s block or feeling overwhelmed, keeping their ideas fresh and using their software effectively. Here, celebrated musicians share their advice on how to make the beginning of the process an inspiring experience.

The beginnings of the process

Do you ever struggle with the early stages of a new project? Nine brilliant musicians reflect on how to stay focussed and productive when you are working on new material.

Pros and cons of notation software [Part 1]

In part 1, we find out if the sounds you hear played back in notation software programmes are realistic, and why you tend to hear certain techniques more than others in music made with virtual instruments.

Originality: how important is it?

Are you worried that your music doesn’t seem very original? This might not be a problem – it’s what you do with those ideas that counts. We spoke to leading musicians about using other people’s ideas as a springboard for their own music.

Pros and cons of notation software [Part 2]

Here are 9 things to watch out for when using notation software to make sure you are writing to the full potential of the musicians you’re writing for, and not the weaknesses of the software.

Pros and cons of notation software [Part 3]

In part 3 of our series exploring the pros and cons of notation software, we look at how your workflow – the way you use the software – can affect the music you write.

Chords (harmony)

Our guest composers all agree - you don't need tons of chords to make great music. But what happens if you want to try something new? Here we look at some classic chord sequences - simple and complex ones - to help you understand why they work and how you can learn from them.

How to write chord progressions: creating harmony with modulation (changing key)

Chords are the building blocks of so much modern music. Understanding how to write beautiful chord progressions is a wonderful way to open your mind to new musical worlds.

Chords 1: how many chords do you need?

What can you do if your harmony gets stuck or feels like it’s not doing enough? Do you need to use more interesting chords? In this video, we discuss ways to incorporate more adventurous harmonies.

Chords 2: How to hear when a chord change is possible and make it happen

How can you begin to change the chords in your music? Here’s a handful of tips you can try with your own music to spice up your chord choices.