Intention / Expression

Intention / Expression

Beginning to control and use sounds for a purpose.

What is an Intention?

An intention is a deliberate desire to make something happen. It doesn’t mean that what is imagined or desired will actually happen, but that someone does wants it to happen.

Intentions in Music

When we compose with sounds we might imagine a certain sound or structure. Being able to imagine what we want to create is a really important part of the process, because it gives us a direction (without it we will just end up randomly adding sounds together).

Turning an Intention into a Reality.

Intentions are often responsible for actions. What we do, is controlled by what we want to do.

When making music with sounds its often really useful to have a clear idea of what it is that you want to do. And once you have this idea, its really important to be able to know how you can make it a reality.

There is no point in being able to imagine the most amazing sound if we can’t create it. And therefore we need to understand actions.

Making your imagination a reality

As many physics teachers say: “Every action has an equal and opposite reaction”.

This means that when we do something, it has an effect. Every sound that is created is due to an action. Something has happened to make that sound.

Experience allows us to link what we want to make (intention), with knowledge about how we are going to make it (action).

It is only through practice and years of experience that we are able to make this connection better and better. Being able to understand how sounds work gives us a great advantage in being able to imagine and realise our imagination.

But there is no better time to start this process of gathering experience than right here, right now!

Turning Actions into Sounds

It is a fact that the quality of the action controls the quality of the sound.

If we can understand how this process works (and what kind of actions produce which kind of sounds) then we can make a direct link between our imagined ideas and the actions controlling sound. We will know HOW to realise our intentions.


Use the following action words (verbs) to help you perform actions that create new sounds.

Part One – Actions

  • How are the actions that you perform, linked to the qualities of the sound?
  • What happens to the sounds if you change the action?

Part Two – From Imagination to Sound

Imagine a sound, and then work out which kind of actions you need to perform in order to make this sound.

Pass these instructions to another person and ask them to make the sound that you are imagining.

  • How close are they?
  • Can you adapt your instructions to help them get closer to your imagined sound.
  • Can you make a sound that they are able to imagine

You could create these sounds by using the manipulations in Compose with Sounds. Or by performing them with your voice or on instruments in the classroom.

Composition Tip

Often it is better to be able to perform and create exactly the sounds that you want, rather than manipulating other sounds to make what you imagine.


See below for a full list of words:

  • accelerate
  • accentuate
  • accumulate
  • soften
  • aerate
  • enlarge
  • add
  • alter
  • alternate
  • amplify
  • enliven
  • stop
  • articulate
  • attenuate
  • increase
  • lower
  • shift
  • break into parts
  • split up
  • deform
  • gear down
  • move
  • develop
  • dilate
  • diminish
  • dislocate
  • distort
  • divide
  • double
  • spread
  • break up
  • raise
  • make distant
  • stack up
  • like together
  • tangle
  • enrich
  • thicken
  • fade out
  • extinguish
  • stretch
  • stifle
  • fix
  • freeze
  • enlarge
  • harmonise
  • interlace
  • overlay
  • interupt
  • reverse
  • join
  • juxtapose
  • smooth
  • mix
  • model
  • modulate
  • break into pieces
  • raise/lower by an octave
  • scatter
  • disrupt
  • slowdown
  • bring close
  • redouble
  • reduce
  • reiterate
  • release
  • relaunch
  • reinforce
  • turn upside down
  • respond
  • resume
  • reproduce
  • delay
  • retain
  • remove
  • return
  • retract
  • reveal
  • make rhythmic
  • separate
  • stress
  • support
  • superimpose
  • temporise
  • stamp
  • turn
  • transform
  • transmute
  • transpose
  • vary
  • vibrate