How composition strategies influence melodic idea generation

Ashleigh Southam, Alistair Macaulay, Jamie Costley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Previous research has shown that classroom activities in music composition, involve the use of composition strategies during the creative process. This implies that teaching composition strategies may be beneficial to improve compositions in regards to their craftsmanship and their originality. Practical guides on composing for experienced musicians suggest using composition strategies as a way to create variety and novelty. This study aimed to investigate how the use of composition strategies might influence melodic idea generation from the perspective of experienced musicians. Five participants were given two short composition activities. In the first activity, participants composed freely with or without using composition strategies. In the second activity, participants were to include a choice of five composition strategies that were provided. They were subsequently interviewed about their composition process, their experience of the activities and how they viewed the strategies in relation to generating ideas. Results showed that all the participants perceived the as being an external phenomena that sometimes encroached on their more subconscious approach to idea generation and selection. This result has implications for how to assist idea generation during creative musical activities. Instructional sequencing could benefit from including idea generation as a precursor to learning new information.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal of Music Education
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2024


  • Composition
  • creativity
  • melody
  • music
  • teaching strategies

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Music


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