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Video Tutorials about music composition, synthesizer sound design and programming on the Frans Absil YouTube channel

YouTube Channel and Video Archive

Film frame Links to movies and video episodes in the following categories:

  1. Composition and Arranging Techniques: YouTube playlist.
  2. Website Musician Tools: YouTube playlist.
  3. Theatre Music: music for theatre productions.
  4. Various Videos: movies and photo videos.
  5. Go to the YouTube video channel >>

Composition and Arranging Techniques

The links below refer to the Arranging Techniques and the Music Composition Techniques playlist on my YouTube channel. Most subjects in these video tutorials are also covered in PDF articles and e-books on this website.

The Music Composition Techniques playlist

Episode list in reverse chronological order:

  • Retrograde-Inversion Chain: If I were a RICH man! (23:36).

    The Retrograde-Inversion Chain (RICH) is a transformation technique in the pitch domain, that creates a longer melody from a short ordered note series motif. The RICH is discussed in the David Lewin book on Generalized Transformations and Joseph Straus shows a number of examples in Strawinsky's late music. This tutorial is about RICH fundamentals, properties and application. After presenting a number of classical music examples in great detail this technique is applied to the creation of three melodic phrases and three (modulating) transitions.

  • Riemannian Transformations: Part 4 The Long and Winding Tonnetz Threads (20:17).

    In the final episode from the tutorial series on Neo-Riemannian Theory two longer chord progressions are presented as composition examples. These use multiple basic and compound Riemannian transformations in the Tonnetz diagram and various diatonic and symmetric system Schillinger root cycle patterns. The episode concludes with the limitations of, and alternatives and extensions to the Tonnetz.

  • Riemannian Transformations: Part 3 "Order, order, order!" (26:08).

    In the tutorial series on Neo-Riemannian Theory this episode is about 3rd order compound Riemannian transformations. These are 3-element series of the basic transformations P, R and L, corresponding to a path with three moves in the triad Tonnetz diagram. We may identify 6 such transformations in major and minor, including 2 diatonic types, the SLIDE transformation (RPL/LPR) and 3 symmetric system types. We evaluate the Schillinger root cycle patterns and the equivalence between major and minor key transformations. Two chord progressions with 3rd order transformations only are turned into Instrumental Forms and example compositions in C major and minor.

  • Riemannian Transformations: Part 2 Five Paths to Domination (18:06).

    In this tutorial the elementary P, R and L Riemannian Transformations and the compound transformations PR, RP, PL and LP are applied to a dominant pedal point chord progression framework. Alternative triad transformation paths are shown in the Tonnetz diagram and interpreted in terms of Schillinger diatonic and symmetric system root cycle patterns. Five alternative paths are demonstrated with short orchestral composition and instrumental form examples.

  • Riemannian Transformations: Part 1 Schillinger Caught in the Tonnetz (26:59).

    An essential aspect of Neo-Riemannian Theory is chord transformation. This tutorial presents the 3 elementary Riemannian transformations (Parallel, Relative and Leading-tone exchange) and the compound transformations (PL, LP, PR, RP). Each of these is shown for major and minor triads in the Tonnetz diagram and staff notation. Transformations are interpreted in terms of the equivalent Schillinger Symmetric Harmony System Root Cycle, and demonstrated with a very short musical application example.

  • Twelvetone Triads and Hexachords: Part 3 Modal Triad Polychords (23:25).

    We may create twelvetone triad sets from combinations of modal triads, including the major, minor, diminished, sus2, sus4, Lydian and Phrygian trichord. This video presents 4 modal triad sets, with an analysis in terms of the equivalent hexachord Pitch-Class Set, and dissonance classification into a Hindemith Chord Group. Polychord voicings and Ulehla tension level are demonstrated. Chord progressions are created with various approaches, such as juxtaposition of hexachord combinations, polychord permutations, transpositions with pivot chords and overlap, variable density and strata harmony, and mixing different harmony systems. Instrumental Form design yields composition examples in various styles. This episode completes the series on Twelvetone Triads.

  • Twelvetone Triads and Hexachords: Part 2 Regular Triad Polychords (28:54).

    This video tutorial is the second in a series about 12-tone triads, that is, sets of four triads that together cover all chromatic pitch-classes. There are a number of options for creating twelvetone triad sets from regular triads in thirds, i.e., the major, minor, augmented and diminished triad. This tutorial presents the sets with either 4, 3, 2 or 1 triad types. For each 12-tone triad set the properties of the hexachord combinations and polychord stacking permutations are analysed in terms of corresponding Pitch-Class set label, Interval-Class Vector, Hindemith chord group and Ulehla tension level classifications. The creation of chord progressions (called continuities in the Schillinger System) and application of Instrumental Forms in short composition examples in various styles is demonstrated.

  • Twelvetone Triads and Hexachords: Part 1 Polychord Structures and Properties (24:12).

    This video tutorial is the first in a series about 12-tone triads, that is, sets of four triads that together cover all chromatic pitch-classes. This episode discusses the pairwise combination of triads into hexachords. These receive a corresponding Pitch-Class Set prime form label and a Hindemith Chord Group classification. Triad pairs are stacked as polychords with a Ulehla Chord Tension Level indication, depending on the distribution of dissonant intervals over the chord structure. The video contains polychord voicing, chord progression and two composition examples.

  • Harmony Dissonance Control: Ulehla Chord Tension Level and Hindemith Chord Groups (29:40).

    In her book on contemporary harmony Ludmila Ulehla discusses dissonance control and proposes a chord tension level scheme. This tutorial presents chord structure examples for all nine tension levels and a mapping on the six Hindemith chord groups. Tension control is demonstrated in Schillinger diatonic and symmetric harmony chord progressions, considering aspects such as root movement, tension curve, voice leading and dissonant chordal function handling. Two of these progressions are used to develop musical composition examples: a rock synthesizer texture with lead soprano saxophone and an orchestral suspense cue.

  • Schillinger Hybrid Four-Part Harmony: Chord Progressions and Examples, Part 2 (23:36).

    Compose music with series of higher tension chords, using hybrid four-part harmony in diatonic and symmetric harmony chord progressions. The two-layer approach with root in the bass and a fixed set of upper layer 3-part chord structures is demonstrated with example progressions for variable system of harmony, chord tension and type. New voice leading aspects are alternative transformations with complete or partial parallelism for chord connections and the avoidance of parallel dissonant intervals with the bass part. This technique is illustrated with two composition examples.

  • Schillinger Hybrid Four-Part Harmony: Chord Structures, Progressions and Examples, Part 1 (24:03).

    In the diatonic and symmetric harmony system series of higher tension and extended chords can be used when writing hybrid four-part harmony chord progressions. With this technique from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, one may connect triads, sevenths, ninths, elevenths and thirteenth chords. Use the two-layer approach with root in the bass and 3-part upper chordal functions. Strict voice leading requirements are removed. This tutorial presents the fundamentals, the possible chord structures, progressions and examples.

  • Harmony Tension Level Control: Schillinger, Hindemith and Pitch-Class Sets, Part 5 (25:33).

    After classifying PC-Sets with the Hindemith six chord groups scheme, these can be used in Schillinger Diatonic-Symmetric Harmony. Write modern harmony chord progressions with tension and dissonance level control. Part 5 discusses leading tone identification in chords with tritone intervals, the interval quality of the root movement in chord connections, balancing the outer parts, and extended tonality in cadences and longer progressions. The principles are demonstrated in chord progression and composition examples.

  • Harmony Tension Level Control: Schillinger, Hindemith and Pitch-Class Sets, Part 4 (15:57).

    Another look at PC-Sets, to be used in the Schillinger Diatonic-Symmetric harmony system after mapping on the Hindemith chord classification scheme. For various 6-element sets there are example voicings. Two examples, one for orchestra, the other for wind quintet, will be derived from chord progressions with these sets.

  • Harmony Tension Level Control: Schillinger, Hindemith and Pitch-Class Sets, Part 3 (22:30).

    Use Pitch-Class Sets in Schillinger Diatonic-Symmetric Harmony after Hindemith Chord Group Classification. Control the harmony tension level in an extended tonality chord progression. The importance of the chord root and vertical dissonance distribution in the voicing. Fundamentals and examples. Part 3, 5-Element Sets.

  • Harmony Tension Level Control: Schillinger, Hindemith and Pitch-Class Sets, Part 2 Tetrachords (24:10).

    Merge Schillinger Diatonic-Symmetric Harmony with the classification of all possible Pitch-Class Sets using Hindemith’s Chord Groups. Harmony tension control within a chord progression with an expanded pool of structures, including 28 4-element PC Sets. Fundamentals, three progressions and three orchestral examples.

  • Schillinger System Diatonic-Symmetric Harmony: The Bass Part (22:20).

    This Schillinger harmony type by definition combines diatonic roots with independent chord structures. This normally yields a diatonic bass part, except when using the chord groups G6, G64, or a special case of chord inversion. This tutorial demonstrates these principles and the best approach to a bass part with altered notes.

  • Harmony Tension Level Control: Schillinger, Hindemith and Pitch-Class Sets, Part 1 Triads (27:38).

    Control the tension level curve in a chord progression, using the Schillinger Diatonic-Symmetric Harmony System, the chord classification scheme by Paul Hindemith and a Pitch-Class Set interval vector mapping. This episode shows the fundamentals for triads, presents three chord progressions and one orchestral music cue example.

  • Dissonant Chords in the Schillinger Diatonic Harmony System: An Overview (27:37).

    This episode summarizes the essentials from the separate tutorials on the Seventh, Ninth and Eleventh Chord. Aspects discussed are chord structure and position, preparation and resolution of the dissonant 7th, 9th and 11th, and root cycles. Two new example diatonic chord progressions are presented in detail.

  • The Eleventh Chord in the Schillinger Diatonic Harmony System (26:01).

    The 11th chord in diatonic harmony has three dissonant chordal functions 7, 9, and 11, that require preparation and resolution through careful voice leading. This tutorial discusses the S11 chord structure and position, and dissonance preparation and resolution techniques through suspensions, descending and ascending stepwise motion. Usage of the 11th chord is demonstrated with chord progressions and an up-tempo rock music example.

  • Reusing compositional elements from Richard Wagner's opera 'Tristan und Isolde', Act 3 Prelude (20:25).

    Analysis of this slow introduction music reveals a multilevel ternary form, plus a number of harmonic, melodic, and instrumentation elements. These are used to create new, contemporary idiom example compositions.

  • Composing with a Pitch-Class Set: the Orchestral Score for the 'Nika Albi' Trailer (12:25).

    PC-Set 5-Z17 (Allen Forte prime form numbering) is used as the unifying source in the atonal orchestral score for the Spitfire Audio Albion ONE 10th Anniversary trailer scoring competition. PC Set properties, derived chord structures and melody are demonstrated. Form and set application shown in an annotated condensed score.

  • Ninth Chords in the Schillinger Diatonic Harmony System, Part 1: Fundamentals (21:02), Part 2: Progressions (21:43).

    Using the 9th chord in diatonic harmony requires careful treatment of the dissonant chordal functions 7 and 9. Part 1 presents the fundamentals: the S9 chord structure in root position, the stepwise descending resolution and the three preparation options. Part 2 discusses three diatonic chord progressions with the ninth chord S9, and a short piece of mood music.

  • Euclidean Rhythm in Police Precinct Five (13:51).

    After reading the Godfried Toussaint 2017 paper I applied an Euclidean rhythm in a thrill music cue. This composition uses various rhythm and orchestral techniques. In the example there is a combination of fandango, Euclidean and cross-rhythm.

  • Multilevel Harmonic Sequence in the Introduction to the Valse Triste Op 44 by Jean Sibelius (13:30).

    The muted strings slow introduction to this waltz contains a chromatic harmonic sequence at the global level and two local diatonic sequences. Intermediate tonic chords present the main keys of the piece. Detailed analysis of the chord progression, voice leading and other musical elements. The copyright claim story (modified version): Multilevel Harmonic Sequence and how the Valse Triste became a saddening experience (14:30).

  • Modal Meetup between Persichetti and Schillinger: Composing with Modal Triads (21:50).

    Modal harmony derived from 7-pitch diatonic scales. Generalisation of root movement using the root cycle approach. Classification of modal triads as primary and secondary. Writing chord progressions in minor modes. Modification of the diminished triad. Example with a melodic and harmonic continuity in quasi-ancient, late Renaissance style.

  • Lost in Transition? Follow Schubert's Road Sign (13:51).

    Franz Schubert’s song ‘Der Wegweiser’ from the song cycle ‘Die Winterreise’ (1827) contains a transition with a sophisticated chord progression. In this video find a detailed discussion of the harmony, with symmetric roots (equal division of the octave), secondary dominants, the augmented 6th and the Neapolitan 6th chord. This section returns as a bridge in a contemporary style adaptation.

  • The Return of the Tchaikovsky Pivot Pitch Chord Change (13:15).

    Use common pitches as a pivot for connecting remotely related, non-diatonic triads. Starting with an example from a Tchaikovsky symphony, all twelve possible connections are discussed, and two new transitions are created. The pivot pitch chord change technique is demonstrated with a composition in contemporary funk-rock idiom.

  • Jazzy Chase Music Cue with Pitch-Class Sets and a Schillinger Rhythm (8:00).

    Functional music in modern, atonal jazz idiom. Selection of a Pitch-Class set, transformations and complement, overlap and subset property. Creation of a rhythm family from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition. Annotated score example for an up-tempo swing piece with ternary form and rhythm section, brass, percussion and strings instrumentation.

  • Seventh Chord in the Schillinger Diatonic Harmony System (18:46).

    Preparation and resolution of the dissonant 7th chordal function. Seventh chord and positive and negative diatonic root cycles in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition. Exchange of adjacent functions to improve the voice leading in chord progressions with 7th chords.

  • Symmetric Harmony Nomenclature in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition (32:03).

    Definitions, terminology and symbols used. Equal division of the octave. Schillinger root number notation, alternative notation with semitone interval numbers: five symmetry options. Symmetric scales: multiple roots, expansion form. Symmetric system of harmony: root cycles and chord progressions. Chord structure, tension level, voice leading and part transformation. Instrumental forms and examples.

  • Diatonic Harmony Nomenclature in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition (29:35).

    Definitions, terminology and symbols used. Diatonic scales: degree and expansion. Chord structure: density, chordal function and tension. Chord progression: positive and negative root cycles, harmony and bass in separate layers (strata), part voice leading. Application to various modal scales (Ionian, pentatonic, Dorian).

  • Twelve-tone Chords with Minimum Tension: Chord Structures and Progressions (24:30).

    Four-part chords in thirds as building blocks. Distribution of chords and dissonant intervals over three layers. Six possible twelve-tone chords. Harmonic progression with tension curve and using common building blocks. Example with three instrumental forms.

  • Subharmonic Series: Sound Design and Application in Music (6:46).

    Oscillator and pitch tuning settings for sound design with the subharmonic series. Creating typical sounds with the NI Reaktor Subharmonic ensemble. Application in three music examples (two canons, extended chord progression).

  • Pop Music Horn Section: Patterns and Riffs (9:10).

    Approaches and techniques: riffs, syncopated accents, independent bass part, sustained harmonic background, imitation, pattern variation and permutation. These approaches are illustrated with 13 score and audio examples in various popular music styles (rock, funk, R&B, soul).

  • Quarter Tone Textures (6:52).

    Create harmonic textures with eight monophonic synthesizers using quarter tone tuning and long portamento time. Examples demonstrate bell chords, variable density and chord structure. Tension curves through moving chords and clusters.

  • Layered Suspense Cue (7:40).

    Create a layered game music cue with PC Set 3-5. Start from a main element with given chord progression and rhythm. Extract three layers with variable number of pitches. Combine the layers in thematic statements and connect these with transitions. Apply this technique to a suspense music cue.

  • Melodic Modulation (7:36).

    This technique from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, Theory of Pitch-Scales is used for creating a melodic continuity and modulating between keys. Interval-units from two diatonic source scales are used to generate the melodic continuity. Three modulation approaches are demonstrated in two examples: an orchestral score and a synthesizer texture.

  • Chase Cue with Pitch-Class Set 3-3 (6:58).

    Functional music for film. Use the properties of PC Set 3-3, e.g., overlap under transposition and inversion, to generate chord progressions. Apply these to chase cue elements such as pedal point, dissonant cluster, ostinato riff, brass accents and climax. Combine these in an orchestral score example.

  • PC Set 6-33 and Strata Harmony (9:54).

    Use a single Pitch-Class Set to compose music in various styles. Apply the Strata Harmony technique from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, General Theory of Harmony. Create chord progressions and 4-layer voice leading schemes in classical and jazz music style. Demonstrate instrumental forms in 6 score examples.

  • The Passing 7th Generalized (7:18).

    Use the passing 7th in diatonic and symmetric system chord progressions with positive and negative root cycles. This technique is discussed in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, Special Theory of Harmony. Create a melody based on the passing 7th. Add chromatic passing tones to a diatonic chord progression. These approaches are combined in an orchestral score example.

  • Density Control of Strata Harmony (8:17).

    This technique is from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, General Theory of Harmony. The starting point is a set of progressions with extended chords in thirds. The chordal functions are distributed over four strata. Then a density mask is designed and applied to the strata harmony for an orchestral score example.

  • Symmetrically Distributed Triads and Transformations (7:29).

    This episode demonstrates the voice leading options for connecting triads in the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, Special Theory of Harmony. Triad progressions are shown for positive and negative root cycles in the symmetric division of the octave system. All options are combined in an orchestral score example.

  • String Section Voicing (4:58).

    Create moving parts in string section phrases, based on sustained harmony voicing approaches in classical music and jazz style. Instrumental forms and imitation are demonstrated with four examples for string orchestra and cello quartet. Read more about the 'Arranging by Examples' E-book >>

  • Hybrid 5-Part Harmony with Variable Tension (4:33).

    This technique from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, Special Theory of Harmony is demonstrated with five examples in various musical styles and types of chord progression. PDF article >>

  • Hybrid 5-Part Harmony with Constant Tension (5:05).

    This technique from the Schillinger System of Musical Composition, Special Theory of Harmony is demonstrated with several examples in various musical styles and progression types. PDF article >>

  • Harmonic Structures in Perfect Fifths (2:02).

    This episode is about creating harmonic textures with two layers of three-part chord structures in perfect fifths. In a counterpoint setting there is control of the dissonance and harmonic tension level. The technique is demonstrated with an example: the introduction from the studio orchestra arrangement of 'I'll Remember April'. PDF article >>

  • Composing with the Fibonacci number series (1:24).

    In this example the Fibonacci number series (2,3,5,8,13) is applied in the time and pitch domain. The technique is demonstrated with 'Tension Cue 13', a short film music thrill cue. HTML description page >>

  • Introducing the Guide to Schillinger's Theory of Rhythm (4:57).

    A set of demos and audio examples from this E-book, demonstrating techniques for rhythm generation, variation, development and style. Read more about the 'Theory of Rhythm' E-book >>

The Arranging Techniques playlist

Companion material for the 'Arranging by Examples' E-book. Episode list in reverse chronological order:

  • Ensemble Techniques [6/6]: Percussive Voicing for Full Big Band Part 2 (15:51).

    In the final part of this 20-episode arranging technique series planned for 2019, there are a more examples of percussive ensemble writing for full big band with five saxophones, four trumpets and four trombones. We'll study chordal function distribution and chord voicings in each section, and also see two examples with bitonal flavour for an intermediate size band with four saxophones and six brass players. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Ensemble Techniques [5/6]: Percussive Voicing for Full Big Band Part 1 (12:09).

    We proceed with the percussive ensemble arranging technique. In this episode there are additional examples of writing rhythmic tutti block chords, adding a five-piece saxophone section to the eight brass in a full big band. In condensed score examples we see the voicing for the separate saxophone, trumpet and trombone section. The distribution of essential chordal functions and chord extensions over the parts is discussed. There is the interval relation quality check for pairs of lead and outer parts. Some examples show alternative saxophone section voicings for the same tutti phrase. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Ensemble Techniques [4/6]: Rhythmic Background for Brass Section (13:24).

    A special type of percussive writing for brass section is the rhythmic background. This ensemble arranging technique uses phrases with brass stabs and detailed articulation markings. The examples are for 6-piece brass section (3 trumpets, 3 trombones) and demonstrate phrases in the high, middle and low register. Alternative voicings are shown, with diatonic and altered extensions, and with triad and cluster trumpet voicings. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Ensemble Techniques [3/6]: Percussive Brass Voicings (9:04).

    Write brass section block chords in percussive style. This episode focuses on the voicing for trumpet and trombone section. The examples demonstrate extended chord voicing, triads for trumpets, bitonal voicing, lead part doubling, root position chords for trombones. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Ensemble Techniques [2/6]: Brass Section Voicing for Extended Chords (16:15).

    This arranging technique video tutorial focuses on brass section voicing for extended chords. Chordal functions for various chord types will be distributed over a jazz big band trumpet and trombone section. Relevant aspects are internal balance, essential chordal functions and full chords in each group, and doublings. A special category are bitonal voicings of extended dominant chords. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Ensemble Techniques [1/6]: Distribution of 4-Part Sectional Harmony (14:26).

    Writing a jazz big band tutti may be based on a 4-part sectional harmony setting and involves the distribution of the parts over the instruments in the saxophone, trumpet and trombone section. This ensemble arranging technique is demonstrated for a number of swing jazz phrases, for a full, medium and small size big band. Aspects discussed are the voicing diagram, close, mixed or open voicing, and the interval relation between pairs of lead and outer parts. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Five Parts [3/3]: Combining Techniques (6:34).

    When writing 5-part sectional harmony, a basic arranging technique, we may combine several approaches. In this episode the examples, with given phrase in the lead part and basic harmony in the rhythm, demonstrate the application of the extended 4-part sectional harmony technique, major chords in 4ths, and 5-part extended and altered dominant chords. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Five Parts [2/3]: Chords in Fourths (8:23).

    Major and minor 7th chords may be written in a voicing that favours the interval of the perfect 4th between neighbouring parts. Five-part sectional harmony setting may be based on these chords. This episode presents two examples that demonstrate closed, mixed and open position voicings and the use of exact parallel chords in 4ths. Writing 5-part sectional harmony is a basic arranging technique. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Five Parts [1/3]: Extended 4-Part Sectional Harmony (7:16).

    Create a five-part sectional harmony setting from a given 4-part sectional harmony voicing. In this approach the lead part is copied to a lower voice. The example demonstrates different alternative voicings, including the drop 2, the even wider drop 2 and 4, and a mixed voicing. Writing sectional harmony is a basic arranging technique. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [11/11]: Combining Techniques (11:15).

    The final episode on 4-part sectional harmony is about combining various arranging techniques in a phrase. This is demonstrated with a swing jazz-blues example, using five alternative harmonisations. We see the return of earlier episode subjects such as the secondary dominant chord, diatonic parallel and leading tone chords, the substitute chord, preventing repeated notes and subdominant function chords. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [10/11]: Extended and Altered Dominant Chord (7:34).

    In 4-part sectional harmony non-chordal and non-diatonic notes in the lead may be harmonised with extended and altered dominant chords. These intermediate dominant chords contain higher chordal functions such as the 9, 11 or 13, in either diatonic or altered form. This arranging technique is illustrated with a swing jazz phrase, using two different harmonisations. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [9/11]: Eliminating Repeated Notes (5:42).

    In Four-Part Sectional Harmony repeated notes may be prevented or eliminated by swapping notes between neighbouring parts. At medium to fast tempo this exchange of notes makes sectional playing easier. Occasional repeated notes at the end of a phrase are acceptable. This arranging technique is illustrated with two examples in jazz swing style. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [8/11]: Drop 2 Voicing (6:10).

    Create a more open voicing in 4-part Sectional Harmony by using the Drop 2 technique. Three examples demonstrate this arranging technique, the alternation between close and Drop 2 voicing and the fully open position setting with the Drop 2 and Drop 4 technique. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [7/11]: Diatonic Parallel Chords (4:14).

    When writing 4-part sectional harmony for a given stepwise moving lead phrase we may use a series of diatonic parallel chord structures. This technique is illustrated with a jazz arranging phrase for trumpet section. This example presents a fully diatonic parallel setting and an alternative with modal variants and chromatic alterations. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [6/11]: The Subdominant Chord (3:53).

    In 4-part sectional harmony we may use subdominant function chords as intermediate harmony. In this episode we apply the supertonic and subdominant degree chords for harmonisation of a given stepwise moving lead part in a short big band style phrase for saxophones. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [5/11]: The Minor 7th Chord (5:07).

    The combination minor seventh chord on the supertonic (2nd), mediant (3rd) and submediant (6th) degrees of a diatonic major scale and a diatonic lead voice may pose a problem in writing sectional harmony. This episode shows the occasional failing of the standard approaches and demonstrates the technique of connecting minor 7th chords. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [4/11]: The Exact Parallel Chord (4:58).

    Use a series of exact parallel chords for the harmonisation of non-chordal notes in 4-part sectional harmony. The score example in this episode uses secondary dominant chords, a leading tone chord and two options with exact parallel chords. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [3/11]: The Substitute Chord (6:10).

    This video demonstrates music arranging examples with substitute chords, another approach to harmonisation of non-chordal notes in 4-part sectional harmony. Secondary dominant, leading tone and substitute chords in major and minor key chord changes. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [2/11]: The Leading Tone Chord (3:24).

    Sectional harmony is a basic arranging technique. Write a parallel 4-part setting for given lead and basic harmony in the rhythm section. Use the leading tone chord of harmonisation of non-chordal notes. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.

  • Sectional Harmony in Four Parts [1/11]: The Secondary Dominant Chord (4:54).

    Start of a series on this fundamental arranging technique. Parallel 4-part setting for given lead and basic harmony in the rhythm section. The use of intermediate secondary dominant and diminished 7th chords. Syncopations. The audio examples are discussed in detail in the book Arranging by Examples: The Practical Guide to Jazz and Pop Orchestra Arranging.


Website Musician Tools

  • Wind Controller playing Audio Modeling and Sample Modeling virtual solo brass instruments (15:10).

    This video is a performance test result with an Akai EWI 5000 playing solo brass instruments from the Audio Modeling SWAM Solo Brass bundle and Sample Modeling Brass. A number of themes from the classical music repertoire (Mussorgsky, Tchaikovsky, Berlioz, Ravel, Mahler and Strauss) are recorded as realtime Midi into a DAW with low latency setting. These performances are compared with a version for Spitfire Audio Symphonic Library samples. In addition short improvisations demonstrate the aspects of sound, attack control, legato and tonguing for marcato-staccato notes, dynamics.

  • Comparing the Audio Modeling, Spitfire Audio Symphonic and Sample Modeling Brass Sections (12:23).

    First impressions of the recently (Feb 2020) released Audio Modeling SWAM Solo Brass bundle. In this video the sound of this modeling approach to virtual instruments is compared with a fully sampled library (Spitfire Audio Symphonic) and a mixed approach (Sample Modeling). Three short pieces are used in the project: 1) Bach, Choralgesang 364, Wer nur den lieben Gott läßt walten, 2) Opening measures from Schumann, Symphony No 3, Mvt. 4 Feierlich, 3) Excerpt from Bartók, Concerto for Orchestra, Mvt. 2 Giuoco delle coppie. Listen to the full brass section and the individual parts. Played with Akai EWI, Midi keyboard, and Lemur controller on iPad into Cubase 10 DAW. Limited Midi editing, no EQ/compression, mostly default instrument settings.

  • Liine Lemur Script for Articulation Keyswitch Selection and Drumpad Playing (13:41).

    This tutorial presents a reusable Lemur multiline script design for both sample library articulation selection with keyswitches, and drum and percussion kit playing. The Midi controller application is demonstrated on an iOS device. Details of the script source code are discussed.

  • Musical Analysis: Visiting the Great Composers, 6th Edition (1:28).

    The new edition of this e-book is now available in the webshop. More than 1000 pages with detailed analysis of classical, tonal music masterpieces. Covers 20 composers, over 300 movements, 20 symphonies, opera, chamber music and solo pieces. Find formal, melodic and harmonic analysis in text, tables and diagrams.

  • How to use the Pitch-Class Set Tool (9:18).

    The musician toolbox on my website contains a GUI for working with atonal music pitch-class sets. Select any Allen Forte set name with cardinal number between 3 and 9 from the menu. The inspector shows set properties and has buttons for transposition, inversion and complement. Two inspectors enable set comparison, overlap and subset characteristics. Find the set name for given pitches. All PC Set tool functions are demonstrated.

  • How to use the Film Music Tempo Calculation (FMTC) tool (6:16).

    The FMTC tool from the Website finds the best BPM tempo setting for a movie scene with timed events. The fixed tempo music cue will have hit points on beats at these events. This tutorial demonstrates the FMTC tool for an example movie and music cue.


Theatre Music

  • The Good Woman of Setzuan (1:27).

    Video trailer "De goede mens van Sezuan". Theatre company Spot'70 Warmenhuizen 2012 stage production.

  • Harenkarstival 2008 Project: Identiteit Harenkarspel (3:39).

    This is the closing song from the 2008 Harenkarstival theatre and music festival in Warmenhuizen, North-Holland. The lyrics are about the Harenkarspel village community life. Vocals: Stephanie Kramer. Music and lyrics: Frans Absil. Photo's: Nico Komen. Song lyrics as subtitles in Dutch.

  • Harenkarstival 2008 Project: Harenkarspel Village Scenes (9:50).

    This quasi-ancient movie was made for the 2008 Harenkarstival theatre and music festival in Warmenhuizen, North-Holland. It depicts the Harenkarspel village community life with irony. The original music was performed live on stage. The project received an award in the "Kern met Pit" contest in the Netherlands.


Various Videos

  • The Rough Lady Rides Again, Spitfire Audio Westworld Scoring Competition 2020 (4:20).

    Spitfire Audio Westworld Scoring Competition 2020 entry for the car chase scene from Episode 5, HBO Westworld Season 3. My entry is a score with a combination of virtual orchestral and electronic instruments. The Midi mockup was created in Steinberg Cubase 10.

  • Route l'amour perdu, composition for big band (6:55).

    This is a moderate tempo piece for big band in contemporary jazz style. It has the saxophone section doubling on woodwinds (flutes, clarinets, bass clarinet), various brass mutes, contemporary harmonies (bitonal, polychord, cluster voicings) and features the keyboard player (piano, synth), lead trombone and 2nd trumpet with solos. The movie shows the score, road travel imagery and gives production details.

  • Aiba Kiln: Folk Tune from Brexitania for Small Orchestra (3:19).

    Orchestral setting with folk music character. Main melody with three statements for solo trumpet, flute and solo violin. Backgrounds for sustained strings and set as brass chorale. Bridge section for electric guitar, electric piano and synthesizers with melodic fragments in imitation. The movie shows an annotated score.

  • YouTube Channel 500 Subscribers (2:20).

    Milestone reached on December 24, 2018. Thanks for the views and subscriptions. Plans for next year (2019).

  • ADAM Audio Soundtrack Competition 2018 (0:30).

    Soundtrack to the photo by Tobias Zielony, The Opening (2005). Orchestral-electronic texture. Two phrases of atonal music, based on sets of 12-tone triads.

  • Redo Or Undo Last Action (9:32).

    Composition for electric guitar and string orchestra. Composition process, the Midi mockup and the audio.

  • The Siege of Lemongrad (7:46).

    Symphonic poem for orchestra, in socialist realism music idiom, using typical style elements from the great comrade composer Dmitri.

  • Albion ONE trailer (1:12).

    My entry for the 'Albion ONE 10th Anniversary trailer' scoring competition. The short orchestral piece in atonal style is called 'Nika Albi'.

  • Concert RNLN Marine Band - Marinierskapel (4:47).

    The Royal Netherlands Navy Marine Band - Marinierskapel der Koninklijke Marine (Conductor: Peter Kleine Schaars) plays 'Seasonal Songs'. Arrangements by Frans Absil: Let It Snow, It Might As Well Be Spring, The Summer Knows, Autumn Leaves. Live recording April 2015.

  • Die Elbe: Hamburg Blankenese - Altona (3:29).

    Taking the ferry along the river Elbe from Hamburg Blankenese to the Altona Fischmarkt. German Airbus factory at Finkenwerder. Ship traffic. Port of Hamburg container terminal. Riverside landscape and buildings; Dockland, offices and apartment blocks. Filmed with iPad, music with Logic Pro X.

  • Road Movie (2:54).

    Dutch traffic and roadside views, while driving along highways in the Netherlands. Video and music production by Frans Absil.

  • Camperduin Beach (1:36).

    Photo video. Camperduin Beach and Hondsbossche Zeewering, North-Holland, August 2006. Audio background contains wind and wave noise with a musical texture full of suspense. Dissonant chords for strings, horns and pitched percussion.

  • River Geul (1:33).

    Photo video. Geul river near Wijlre and Mechelen, Zuid-Limburg. Audio track contains frog calls, used as rhythm for a relaxed bossa nova musical texture, a.k.a. Copaca-Rana.

  • Schoorl Dunes (1:49).

    Photo video. Schoorl dunes and beach, North-Holland, Netherlands, December 2006. Audio background: strong winds blowing over sand dunes, with sustained quarter-tone violin clusters.

  • Warmenhuizen in Winter (2:12).

    Photo video. Warmenhuizen in winter, Harenkarspel, North Holland, Netherlands. The music is based on a symmetric scale for celesta and pizzicato strings, with a middle section in diatonic harmony.