To write an instrumental piece based on an ostinato pattern. To write an instrumental piece based on an ostinato pattern


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To write an instrumental piece based on an ostinato pattern.



An ostinato is a musical device. It is a constantly repeated pattern evident in the music.

  • An ostinato is a musical device. It is a constantly repeated pattern evident in the music.

  • It is a motif or phrase which is persistently repeated in the same musical voice.

  • The repeating idea may be a rhythmic pattern, part of a tune, or a complete melody.

  • In common usage, the term covers repetition with variation and development, such as the alteration of an ostinato line to fit changing harmonies or keys.



Time Lapse

  • Time Lapse

  • Pachelbel’s Canon

  • Lament - Purcell

  • Mars – Holst

  • Take 5 – Dave Brubeck

  • Take a chance on me – ABBA

  • Immigrant song – Led Zeppelin

  • [Note: the ostinato may not be heard throughout the entire piece – it could be just

  • part of the piece.]







Store your chosen bass line by either playing onto a track using Cubase, (or any other suitable programme), or notate on Sibelius.

  • Store your chosen bass line by either playing onto a track using Cubase, (or any other suitable programme), or notate on Sibelius.

  • As the ostinato is a repeated pattern, copy the material about 6 or 8 times.

  • Fit in the chords above: either play in using the guitar, or input using the keyboard.

  • Evaluate, and make any necessary changes.

  • At this point it is advisable to vary and improve the chordal style as you go along.



To make your melody more convincing, ensure that the phrases are not the same length as the bass pattern. Try to make the tune flow across the ‘joins’ in the bass pattern!

  • To make your melody more convincing, ensure that the phrases are not the same length as the bass pattern. Try to make the tune flow across the ‘joins’ in the bass pattern!



Listen critically to your piece, identifying the weaker sections. Work out why they don’t work as well as you would like…..then, either amend or delete… and try again!

  • Listen critically to your piece, identifying the weaker sections. Work out why they don’t work as well as you would like…..then, either amend or delete… and try again!

  • Add another layer / track which uses shorter or longer notes

  • Fit in other ‘motifs’ on top of, or in between the melodic phrases





Store your ideas in the same way as for section A.

  • Store your ideas in the same way as for section A.



Decide on the overall form – it is a good idea to check this with your teacher.

  • Decide on the overall form – it is a good idea to check this with your teacher.

  • If you are happy with the two sections already written – what about an intro and a coda?

  • You could repeat the first section to produce a TERNARY FORM i.e. A B A. Some people develop the ideas in section A even further when they repeat the section!

  • Remember – evaluate!! Decide what sounds good, and what is less effective…discuss with your teacher, then improve where necessary!




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