This post is intended for DP Music Candidates thinking about composition (creating). The featured piece is Variations on America by Charles Ives.
We also discuss finding inspiration in unusual places.

How do you find inspiration to compose (create)?
(I use this word specifically regardless of the media used for the composition. The DP Music course asks candidates to present their creative thinking through a variety of options. The following discussion will apply to the following options: composition, music technology composition, improvisation, and arranging.

Have you ever tried to use ‘found sounds’ in a composition? This is where you might record the sound of cars driving through a busy intersection in the city centre/downtown area and then try to transcribe some of the sounds onto staff paper?
Have you ever heard the aural result of listening to two bands playing two different songs simultaneously (polytonality)? Could you transcribe this onto staff paper?

Please note that a final DP Music ‘creation’ might not need to be transcribed (if the option is musical technology composition or improvisation), but starting a creative idea through some kind of notation is advisable as it makes your thinking visible.

Charles Ives, a early twentieth-century United States composer, was inspired by polytonality and employed this technique in his compositions.
I would like to quickly feature the composition ‘Variations on America’ by Charles Ives.
Please find a version of America the Beatiful’ by S. Ward below:
(this was theme for Ives’ variations)
America the Beautiful by Samuel Augustus Ward (retrieved on 29 November 2013 from

Variations on America (Ives) uses polytonality from 2.49-3.09, but I find the entire composition quite interesting.
Variations on America by Charles Ives (retrieved on 29 November 2013 from

I encourage you to find musical inspiration in unique and seemingly ‘mundane’ places.
If you are