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MSBOA / Jazz Commission Project: Supernova

Video Part Two Outline

by Vince Corozine (ASCAP)

This is the second in a series of six videos that will take you through the creative process as I compose a jazz waltz, SUPERNOVA, for the Michigan All-State Jazz Ensemble under the direction of Max Colley, Jr….the band director at Northview High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

In the last video, I discussed what items should be considered before beginning to compose a musical composition.
As a review: Here is the ostinato pedal-point that I decided to use for creating tension in the rhythm section.

pedal point

Suspended above this ostinato pedal-point is a contrasting syncopated theme that I will use as a transition or interlude just prior to the solos.  This theme will work well in imitation.

contrasting theme 1

contrasting theme 2

I next selected a theme for unison trombones that moves gently above the rhythm section.

original form

original form 2

After careful evaluation of the main theme, I felt that it was too symmetrical, very predictable and required alteration for added interest. In addition, the two-measure rhythmic motives of the main theme are too conventional-sounding.

My next thought was to evaluate how the great musical masters of the past treated their themes. I began to analyze Haydn, Mozart, Beethoven, Schubert, and others. I discovered a compositional technique called “interversion” used by many of the masters.

Let’s listen to a few examples and then I will apply the same principle to my “predictable” theme to make it a bit more appealing. Here is an example, played by the cellos, of the theme from Schubert’s “Unfinished Symphony”


Observe that measures one and four are similar in rhythm and measures two and three are also similar in rhythm. This technique is called “interversion”

This German folk song is another illustration of “interversion” Notice how measures 2 and 3 are the same rhythmically, as are measures 1 and 4 with slight modification. This example is scored for three woodwinds.


The next example of “interversion” is from Dvorak’s “New World Symphony” Notice how measures two and three are similar in rhythm. Observe how in measures four and five the motive stated in measure three is in augmentation. This is written for English horn.

new world

“Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho” is scored for brass quartet and is another example of “interversion” Notice how measures two and three are identical in rhythm. In fact, measure four is also a repeat of measure two modified. I decided to give this an imitative treatment for variety.


Notice that measures two and three match rhythmically, in”interversion.” I decided to apply this principle of “interversion” to my SUPERNOVA theme.  Observe how in measure six; I varied the rhythm to provide more interest. Constant quarter notes can be a bit overbearing and tedious to the ear.  Applying the principle of “Interversion” to my main theme for trombones resulted in the following: Observe how measures two and three match rhythmically.


revised 2

This modification of the theme using the compositional technique of “interversion” results in a much more satisfying musical theme.

Next I decided to begin the piece in A minor and modulate up a minor third to C minor later in the arrangement. Modulations are like a change of scenery in a play…they can also supply a “lift” to the piece.

Part 3 will deal with ways that a composer can develop a theme.


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