The idea behind presenting worked exercises from practical textbooks is twofold:

Firstly, in order to develop the technique essential to composition, I worked all the exercises, sometimes more than once, in the chosen books. Even exercises such as these can be made to sound quite interesting and musical. Writing them in Dorico and recording them in Cubase also present opportunities for revision as well as become more fluent with the software.

Secondly, it might be beneficial to anyone else who is working through the same exercises. Naturally, my solutions are only one of many possible, but if anyone gets stuck, or is just curious as to how someone else did them, then he can check to see how somebody else realized them or solved a particular problem.

All the exercises in William Lovelock’s First Year Harmony, Second Year Harmony, Third Year Harmony and Free Counterpoint are available to view. I hope to upload 108 Exercises In Harmonisation by the same author. However, I am currently working through Owen Swindale’s Polyphonic Compoisition, which focuses on 16th century counterpoint, and uploading the chapters as I finish them.

Exercise workings are in two colours: notes in red are those given by the author and notes in black are those I have added to complete the workings.

Additionally, piano performances of all First Year Harmony exercises may be heard by clicking on the audio widget above each chapter’s score. Other performances are in preparation.


Once one has acquired a fair knowledge of rudiments (meaning at least Grade 5 Distinction level), the study of harmony can begin. The three text books by William Lovelock, First Year Harmony, Second Year Harmony and Third Year Harmony are excellent for learning. Books Two and Three are not for the faint of heart as they get more and more involved as they progress. Patience, diligence and the “long view”are necessary. Lovelock communicates in a refreshingly direct, old school manner so doesn’t waste words or encourage mediocrity.

My experience suggests each book takes about nine months if averaging around two hours a day.


After a couple of years harmony, the study of counterpoint can begin. Lovelock’s Free Counterpoint is similar in style to his harmony books and goes from beginner level to professional in its ten chapters. Additionally, in his book Musical Composition, C V Stanford considers the study of 16th century counterpoint to be essential for the study of composition. To this end Owen Swindale’s Polyphonic Composition is ideal. Some people, probably not good at it, mock counterpoint as being too dry and academic, but contrapuntal facility elevates one’s work enormously by adding coherence and authority to a piece. It also helps in writing countermelodies. And we all know that no amount technology can hide or atone for an inferior technique.

Please feel free to check my workings of any of the exercises.


Once the core skills of harmony and counterpoint have developed well, then the fun can really start. There are many textbooks on the subject, several of which (eg by Berlioz and Rimsky Korsakov) are of great interest as historical classics. For practical study, I suggest Samuel Adler’s The Study of Orchestration. I bought a hardback copy, which was the right decision, but it was expensive (£140). I also bought the companion Workbook for The Study of Orchestration, which has many examples to be worked and so is ideal for practice.


Before doing the Cinematic Composing Momentum course, I had not previously composed anything for orchestra. If you are curious, there are Cubase mockups and Dorico scores under the “Works” tab at the top of each page on this site of several of the pieces I composed over the seven months of the course.