All the Right Information in One Spot

From Basic Music Theory to Advanced Elements of Composition Not Taught Anywhere Else

• Refresh your music theory and fill in the gaps with all the right information in one spot.

• Learn to write down the music you hear in your head and turn those ideas into finished compositions.

• In-depth video lessons and a start-to-finish workbook to apply what you learn away from the computer.

• Avoid writer’s block by learning how to add your unique creative voice to your music, regardless of your genre or style. 

• Once you purchase, you own it for life. 

• It's self-paced, and designed for in-depth study.

New! Weekly zoom meeting office hours to get direct feedback on your progress.

New! Get the course as a private podcast feed to absorb on the go.

Course Curriculum

The course covers all the major skills required to start composing music, including melody, harmony, form, ornamentation, and accompaniment.

    1. What Makes a Decent Melody?

    2. Help me make a better course by answering a few questions...

    3. Fundamental Concepts

    4. How We Got To Tonality

    5. The Major-Minor System

    6. Composing a Basic Melody

    7. Download the Course Workbook

    8. Worksheets: Simple Chord Tone Melody

    9. Guided Exercise 1-2-1: Simple Chord Tone Melody 1

    10. Guided Exercise 1-2-2: Simple Chord Tone Melody 2

    11. Q&A on Creating Basic Melodies

    1. Limitations and Creativity

    2. Connecting the Chord Tones

    3. Worksheets: Connecting Chord Tones

    4. Exercise 1-3-1: Adding Non-Chord Tones 1

    5. Exercise 1-3-2: Adding Non-Chord Tones 2

    6. Q&A on Connecting the Chord Tones

    1. Intervals

    2. Making Intervals Intuitive

    3. Chromatic Intervals

    4. Exercise 2-2-1: Interval Workout

    5. Triads and Inversions

    6. Making Triads Intuitive

    7. Seventh Chords

    8. Making Seventh Chords Intuitive

    9. Basic Chord Progression No. 1

    10. Q&A on the Essentials of Harmony

    1. Understanding C Major

    2. C Major Worksheet v4

    3. Learning Chord Progressions for Composers

    1. Intro to Harmonic Functions

    2. Tonic Function

    3. Dominant Function

    4. Pre-Dominant Function

    5. Intro to Harmonic Progressions

    6. Prolongation Progressions

    7. Cadential Progressions

    8. Sequential Progressions

    9. Q&A on Functional Harmony

    1. Applying Harmonic Theory to Your Vocabulary

    2. Download: Beginning, Middle, and Ending Progressions Worksheet

    3. Combining Beginnings, Middles, and Endings

    4. Connecting Progressions with Emotions

    5. Improvising with Progressions

    6. Improvising a Beginning Idea

About this course

  • $100.00
  • 109 lessons
  • 13 hours of video content
  • Comprehensive workbook
  • Shareable certificate
  • Mobile friendly

Featured Reviews

5 star rating

Fantastic course

B Mark

Thanks for the great course Jon! You clearly put a lot of effort into its design and delivery. I found it dived deep enough into the subject to provide a s...

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Thanks for the great course Jon! You clearly put a lot of effort into its design and delivery. I found it dived deep enough into the subject to provide a solid foundation, yet the pace and format kept it interesting and enjoyable. Would be great to see more from you in the future.

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5 star rating

Great course!

Shon Meckfessel

So many courses that claim to cover musical composition are really just an introduction to some basic theory, without a thorough explanation to how pieces ar...

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So many courses that claim to cover musical composition are really just an introduction to some basic theory, without a thorough explanation to how pieces are constructed as wholes. The AOC course is different - it really covers the way that larger pieces are put together and given coherence, while not neglecting the elements (like melody and harmony) that make those pieces up. Highly recommended!

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5 star rating

Oustanding Teaching and Course!

Matthew Plaski

I very much enjoyed this course, and I will definitely be taking more of Jon's composing courses in the future. He explains difficult concepts well and makes...

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I very much enjoyed this course, and I will definitely be taking more of Jon's composing courses in the future. He explains difficult concepts well and makes them easier to understand. I especially liked the applied examples from Beethoven, Mozart, and Mahler. Also, the workbook exercises help solidify the concepts without becoming tedious or boring. Overall, it was a fantastic course, and I learned a great deal about melody, harmony, and form.

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Practice Everything You Learn

With a comprehensive 96 page workbook

Each exercise has a clear purpose, detailed step by step process, and tips for getting the most out of the exercise.

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can I get direct feedback on my music?

    Yes! I host a weekly zoom meeting where I can answer your questions and give you feedback on your music. I also answer questions in the Q&A section of each lesson.

  • Do I need prior composition experience?

    No. You must be able to read music notation in treble and bass clef. Everything else is explained in the course.

  • Will it work for my style or genre of music?

    Yes. When you learn the technique, we focus on classical style, but almost every concept taught in the course can be, with a little imagination, used in just about any genre.

  • Does it work on mobile?

    Yes. At least it should be... if something isn't working let me know.

  • Is there a certificate at the end?

    Yes. There is a shareable certificate at the end of the course.

  • What payment methods do you accept?

    PayPal, and Stripe. I accept all major credit and debit cards.

  • Do I need a membership if I purchase the course?

    No. Purchasing the courses will give you access for life. The membership allows access to the courses on a month to month basis, but you lose access after you cancel (once your month runs out).

  • What’s the difference between the free course and the paid Fundamentals course?

    The full course goes beyond learning basic vocabulary and shows you a complete process for composing. You'll gain the vocabulary and know exactly how to use it.

More Student Reviews

5 star rating

Such a great course ...

Michael Thom

Precise exposition of 'musical expectations' and how to apply them. The Fundamentals of Musical Composition has opened a world of understanding and possibili...

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Precise exposition of 'musical expectations' and how to apply them. The Fundamentals of Musical Composition has opened a world of understanding and possibility for me. Thank you Jon.

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5 star rating

The Fundamentals of Musical Composition

Jeremy Penalosa

The whole course is very informative. I personally enjoyed it and learned something new.

The whole course is very informative. I personally enjoyed it and learned something new.

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A Deeper Look at the Syllabus

Each module of the course has a clear goal for you as a composer.

The course is structured in a logical, step by step way to introduce new ideas and techniques, and then reinforce them along the way. Many students have told me over the years that it really help to clear up confusing aspects of theory they learned in school and make them practical.

Create a Basic Melody: a simple way to start composing right now.

Make More of Your Melody: With just three techniques, chord tones, passing tones, and neighbor tones, you can create a huge variety of melodies, with very little mental effort.

Master the Essentials of Harmony: Understand the basics of harmony quickly, so you can move onto what you really want to know - how to create chord progressions.

C Major and Fundamental Chord Progressions: Begin the process of integrating critical progressions, scales, and patterns into your playing and composing.

How Harmony Works: We'll look at functional harmony in depth, and then we’ll use a very handy chart to start creating functional chord progressions.

Harmony and the Real Power of Limitations: A practical section for you to start gaining more compositional vocabulary.

Understanding Form: Open up a whole new world of possibility in your compositions. Form is more than just how a piece is put together - it is really about how music interacts with time.

Compose a Sentence: Create forward momentum with one of the best ways to organize your themes.

Generating and Refining Basic Ideas: Writing great themes starts with being able to generate and refine two bar basic ideas.

Chord Progressions, Minor Keys, and Simple Modulation: This section should unravel a lot of the mysteries of creating logical sounding chord progressions, adding simple chromaticism (applied dominants), and modulating to closely related keys. First, we will look at functional harmony in depth, and then we’ll use a very handy chart to start creating functional chord progressions. From there, we move onto minor keys. Once we’ve covered both major and minor, we are ready to modulate.

Master Melodic Composition: Learn how to use scale lines, chord lines, and rhythm together as one coherent whole.

Understand Voice Leading and Harmonization: We'll look at critical aspects of voice leading and harmony, such as range, doubling, completeness, spacing, and melodic motion. We'll also look at how to harmonize a melody.

Compose a Period: The period has a balanced, complete feel, and is often used in themes of all types.

Embellish Your Melody: Melodic embellishment is one of the most powerful ways to enhance and vary your melody.

Composing a Beginning, Middle, and End: Small Ternary Form: This form will be the basis for our capstone project, the bagatelles. Small ternary form is a very common theme type, and is somewhat the forerunner to the more modern songwriting conventions of the AABA song form.

Adding Accompaniment: We'll look at how accompaniment works, and how you can turn any chord progression into a great sounding accompaniment.

Capstone Project: A Few Bagatelles: In the capstone project, you have more freedom than you have had in previous exercises. This is where you spread your wings and fly.

5 star rating

Good information

Christopher Wheeler

There are very few people that present theory in this way online. Most people probably think theory is just knowing scales and circle of fifths and a lot o...

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There are very few people that present theory in this way online. Most people probably think theory is just knowing scales and circle of fifths and a lot of places online present it like that. This course presents the theory of what the musical system is and how to use it and the functions it has. People disregard theory because they think it is a bunch of rules and it will limit their creativity while this couldn't be further from the truth. The musical system which we use was designed and created by people and is a system with some technicalities and must be properly understood.

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5 star rating

Fundamentals of Musical Composition

Chris Carter

I'm really enjoying the Art Of Composing online courses! My composing is has improved so much since I started a month ago. All the lessons are presented cl...

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I'm really enjoying the Art Of Composing online courses! My composing is has improved so much since I started a month ago. All the lessons are presented clearly with nice musical examples! I can't wait to dive into another lesson today! Thanks Jon!

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Even More Student Reviews...

5 star rating

I wish that I had had this course when I started college.

Tom Harvey

Every music student should have a course like this.

Every music student should have a course like this.

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5 star rating

Finally! What we all have wanted

Luke Van Grouw

I finally found what I have been looking for. This course is for all who want to compose, but never thought they could! Without going into confusing subjects...

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I finally found what I have been looking for. This course is for all who want to compose, but never thought they could! Without going into confusing subjects, it teaches all the fundamentals of composing. I can't wait to finish and start composing full pieces.

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Watch this lesson on melody from the course

Don't worry if you don't know all the terms, you will by the this point in the course.

More Student Reviews

5 star rating

The title is appropriate to the subject matter

Skevos Alachouzos

I particularly like the stress upon the importance of self-imposed limitations; and I suspect that the same principle holds true in all forms of creative wor...

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I particularly like the stress upon the importance of self-imposed limitations; and I suspect that the same principle holds true in all forms of creative work including poetry, prose writing etc and even (e.g.) painting (as in, for instance, limiting onself to a particular, restricted palette of colours).

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4 star rating

totally diggin' it !

MR Mark

Hey Jon, I am really loving the fun way you have gone about constructing a course that is based on some fundamental building blocks, and incorporates useful...

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Hey Jon, I am really loving the fun way you have gone about constructing a course that is based on some fundamental building blocks, and incorporates useful limitations that enable anyone to start composing.

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5 star rating

Excellent

chris maxwell

The course is very logical and well thought out. It begins at the beginning, so to speak, and is thorough and comprehensive. Most excellent for learning to c...

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The course is very logical and well thought out. It begins at the beginning, so to speak, and is thorough and comprehensive. Most excellent for learning to compose in the classical style, which would be a good beginning point for any composing style. The course is a very useful learning tool.

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5 star rating

Such a great course ...

Michael Thom

Precise exposition of 'musical expectations' and how to apply them. The Fundamentals of Musical Composition has opened a world of understanding and possibili...

Read More

Precise exposition of 'musical expectations' and how to apply them. The Fundamentals of Musical Composition has opened a world of understanding and possibility for me. Thank you Jon.

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Meet Your Composition Teacher

Creator of Art of Composing Jon Brantingham

I've composed for over twenty years, and I am passionate about teaching and learning composition.
5 star rating

Beyond Worth It

Kyle Clayton

I can't speak highly enough of this course. I'm a casual guitarist with no formal musical education who took it to have a better grasp of songwriting. Despit...

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I can't speak highly enough of this course. I'm a casual guitarist with no formal musical education who took it to have a better grasp of songwriting. Despite only a basic self-taught theory background, I was able to follow along immediately and improved my understanding of composition theory by leaps and bounds. The lesson are structured intelligently, and the exercises are focused yet demanding enough that you WILL improve if you simply do the work. I don't play classical music, but the compositional principles carryover easily to any kind of Western genre. I'm no longer guessing what chords or notes might work. I have a growing intuitive sense of what I'm trying to do, and it's easier to write better songs, faster. The instructor's philosophy of music education is sensible and effective. For the price of this course, the knowledge I gained was ridiculous. I searched all over the internet for a way to learn composition, and this was the best option by a long shot. As much as it's helped me, I've probably forgotten or failed to fully grasp the majority of the principles taught. This is not a knock on the course. It was taught well. I concentrated by efforts on understanding the high value basics. The only way to learn this stuff is to put it under your fingers for hours and hours. There was too much good stuff for me to nail in one pass. Even a fraction of it was enough to make me improve by leaps and bounds. I can now go back and work it through again, focusing on things I neglected the first time. There's probably a solid two years worth of work available here to someone who wants to do it right, but even a cursory pass will yield improvement. For guitarist, I found a lot of the exercises more difficult on guitar, so I got myself an electronic keyboard and learned to play basic piano. That alone was a rewarding journey. It's doable on guitar, but easier on keyboard unless you're already a really great guitarist. Once the principles are grasped, it transfers back to guitar quite readily. I used the free software Musescore to write my compositions, and recommend it to students. If you have any desire at all to learn basic Western music composition, this course is worth its weight in gold.

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