Introduction to the Composer's Craft

Write more interesting pieces of music by better understanding the foundational elements of composition.

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As a composer, there are many different tools in your toolbelt that can bring interest and originality to your music. You can use time signatures to add complexity, tonality to add emotional pull, rhythm to add drive, or something else to create some other unique dynamic. 

This course will take you through the essential elements of modern composing. You'll explore the beat, time signatures, rhythm, tonality, timbre, texture, and structure, with key examples to demonstrate along the way, as well as weekly personalized feedback from an expert Soundfly Mentor. By the end of this course, you'll be able to employ these tools more effectively in your compositions.

Tim Hansen

Composer, Songwriter, Educator

Tim is a composer, songwriter, music director and storyteller inspired by a variety of gleefully dark sources. An enthusiastic and charismatic educator, Tim has created lessons for TEDed, is composer in residence at Santa Sabina College, and is engaged with Musica Viva’s ‘Musician in the Classroom’ program in Sydney. He is a co-founding director of W4 New Music collective in New York and has worked with ensembles including Synergy Percussion, the Song Company, Contemporaneous, Cadillac Moon and TRANSIT. Tim has studied with Michael Gordon and Martin Bresnick amongst others, and holds a Masters in Music Theory and Composition from NYU.

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tim hansen
introduction to the composer's craft
music theory
song analysis

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Take this course for as low as $12/month with a Soundfly subscription, and get access to all the creative courses we offer, and much more. Cancel anytime.

Want to work on this course with 1-on-1 support from an expert mentor? Request a mentor through our
custom mentorship program here.

Compose more interesting music

By the end of this course, you'll be able to write complex music employing various foundational tools to bring your work to life.

Embrace the Elements

This course is built around dissecting essential compositional elements such as rhythm, beat, texture, tonality, and more.

Listen & Analyze Concepts in Action

We explore and analyze contemporary works by modern composers who use these concepts in their music.

Cultivate Your Toolkit Through Practice

We offer a series of constrained writing prompts to get you applying the concepts to your music right away.

Start Building Your Own Unique Portfolio

We'll help you develop your own compositional style using these elements as your starting point.


Add a custom mentorship session on top of your course subscription to work through the material one-on-one with an expert mentor. Get a more personalized experience featuring weekly calls, feedback, additional resources, and more. Tell us about your goals below to learn more.

Tim Maryon

Film Scorer, Arranger
  • Award-winning composer
  • MA in Film Scoring from the Royal College of Music
  • Has written for clients including the BBC and Victoria Beckham

Andre Madatian

Composer, Film Scorer
  • Degree in Film Scoring from Berklee College of Music
  • Music has appeared Bravo, CBS, Oprah Winfrey Network, and more
  • Touring guitarist and performer

Mahea Lee

Composer, Arranger, Educator
  • Contemporary Writing & Production grad from Berklee College of Music
  • Classically-trained pianist with 25 years experience
  • Composition experience in classical, jazz, pop, & contemporary genres


Course Outline

  1. Preview
    Section 1


  2. Section 2

    Getting Started

  3. Section 3

    Beats and Subdivision

  4. Preview
    Section 4

    Time Signatures

  5. Section 5


  6. Section 6


  7. Preview
    Section 7


  8. Section 8


  9. Section 9

    Structure and Form

  10. Section 10



Who is this course for?

This course is perfect for beginners. With tons of practice activities, this course will provide a boost to anyone who's interested in learning more about composition and looking to start their portfolio.

What will I learn?

Composing from scratch is one of the most challenging things you can do as a musician. In this course, we intend to introduce you to the common concepts that composers deal with every day when creating original music. By the end of this course, you will have a full understanding of some of the essential elements of composition, including rhythm, beat, texture, tonality, time signatures, and more. Each of these concepts can be directly applied to your own music.

What are the pre-reqs?

This course assumes a very basic knowledge of music notation, but it assumes little prior composing experience. If you feel the need to brush up on your music notation in advance, you can always check out our free course on how to read music.

How long does this course take?

This course was designed to be completed in roughly six weeks, assuming students would have a few hours a week to spend on it. Each "week" includes a certain section and challenge activity for you to take on. That said, that timeline is just a casual recommendation — you can choose to blow through it all in one sitting or take a year with it, if you'd like.

Is there a specific start date?

You can start the course anytime. If you'd like more accountability and guided feedback from a professional, you can request to work through the course and your own goals with a Soundfly Mentor for four or six weeks, and get a more personalized experience for a specific period of time.  

Learn more about custom mentorship here.

How many lessons are there?

This course includes 46 lessons, including videos, graphics, text, activities, demos, examples from professional composers, and much more. 

What do I get if I enroll as a subscriber?

As a subscriber, you'll get unlimited access to all courses on, including this and all our other premium courses, to go through at your own pace. This includes all the videos, tutorials, demos, quizzes, activities, downloads, and other materials within our full suite of courses.

You're also entitled to a 25% discount on our custom mentorship program, you will be invited to join our exclusive community Discord group, you'll be able join subscriber-only Study Groups, artist Q&As and workshops, annual contests and giveaways, and you'll have access to a growing list of exclusive discount perks courtesy of our partner brands. Cancel anytime.

You can find out more about subscribing here.

Can I take this course with a mentor?

Yes, absolutely. If you would like to go through the course with support, accountability, feedback, and guidance from an expert, you can request a mentor by filling out this form. A Soundfly staffperson will reach out within 48 hours to learn more about your goals, your music, and your skills level, and pair you with a mentor who can help you achieve your next musical milestone. Our mentorship program is our science-backed learning model designed to help you learn more efficiently and effectively. Your mentor will tailor the course to your experience and interests, offer detailed weekly feedback on your work, answer any questions you have, help you blow past obstacles, and keep you on track to accomplish your goals.

You can find out more about mentorship and our expert mentors here.