In this unit, you'll find useful guidelines on how to structure your composition.

Build tension

Try creating an effective structure for your fanfare by building and releasing tension. Building tension in music can be done by:

  • Increasing the tempo
  • Using faster notes
  • Adding in more new notes from the mode to the melody
  • Rising in pitch
  • Spreading the pitch higher and lower simultaneously
  • Making the texture thicker by adding more voices
  • Getting louder
  • Increasing the dynamic contrast
  • Adding a change of timbre such as tremolo in the strings


Take some time to reflect on your fanfare

Some things to think about might include:

  • Does the fanfare have good overall timing and pacing?
  • Are the moments of transition and change where I would like them to be?
  • Does the fanfare have a clear direction or does it sometimes lose its way?
  • Is the overall structure coherent and satisfying?
  • Are my ideas clear? Does it do what I wanted it to do?
  • Have I chosen the right instruments for the right roles/parts?



We’ve created a series of films to help you understand what a fanfare is and to support you as you design your fanfare which you can find here.



We have included some models from the Royal Opera House repertoire to listen to.

You may find it useful to listen to a few other fanfares and think about what the composer was trying to achieve with their fanfare. There should be a few you recognize too!

Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copland

Looney Tunes Theme Music

London Olympic Fanfare