I have had this idea come time and again for me to write a suite about different types of weather. However, when I think of the different types of whether in musical terms, each one is different. Here is what I think of when I think of different types of weather in terms of music:

  • Sunny: Glory of the major key, no hint of minor, Majestic sound, Moderate tempo, Graceful melody over nice sounding chords with maybe even a fugato thrown in in the middle of the piece, More likely to be a sharp key, Plagal motion

  • Windy: Lots of melodic motion, even in the bass, Emphasis on scales and arpeggios, Minor or major, depends on the context(just a breeze or a light gust, Major, a strong gust, Minor), Tempo also depends on context(this movement is the most likely to have an inverse Picardy Third i.e. start in major and end in minor)

  • Cloudy: Moderately slow tempo, Like Sunny in that it is a melody over chords with maybe a contrapuntal section, but the contrapuntal section doesn't amount to a fugato, just free counterpoint, Minor key

  • Rainy: Slow tempo(like Adagio or slower), Lamenting, melancholic melody in a minor key, Pulse kind of like the human heart to represent raindrops falling, Exchange of bass and melody roles between hands, Never breaks completely free from the minor tonality for the entire movement

  • Thunderstorm: The dramatic climax of everything, Diminished chords used as dominant substitute and to modulate, Loud dynamic overall, with only a few quiet sections, Chord progression in the bass representing the rumbling thunder, Chords in the right hand representing the lightning strike, Minor key(in particular, I always tend to gravitate to C minor for this thunderstorm depiction, probably has to do with my Beethoven influence), Melodic chaos that somehow doesn't sound wrong, Lots of turbulent octaves in the bass, Presto tempo, Calm interlude before the next movement(this interlude might modulate from C minor to Bb major for example)

  • Snowy: Major key, More grace notes and staccato to represent the snowfall, Glistening melody to represent the beauty of the snow, More high pitches, More likely to be a flat key

As you can see, with the exception of the Sunny and Cloudy movements, about the only parallel between movements is whether it is major or minor. 6 movements though doesn't seem like enough. That sharp to flat motion(like for example D major to Bb major) just seems inconclusive to finish with. It feels as though I need a concluding seventh movement. Does this have to be some weather phenomenon like say a rainbow to fit in with the theme of the suite being weather? Or does it just have to be like a coda to all the movements?

And, how can I get these disparate movements that work perfectly well as separate pieces to form a cohesive suite when there is so much change from 1 movement to the next. As an example, take the Sunny and Windy movements. The melody goes from being majestic, like the sun, to being fast and uncertain like a gust of wind. The bass goes from mainly chords outside of any fugato to having an equal melodic role. The key goes from major to minor. The tempo changes. Nothing seems similar about these 2 movements. But if you look at how weather goes from sunny to stormy, the wind precedes the cloudy weather, there might be rain a few days before the storm, and then the storm hits.

It has been suggested to me to write a prelude before the Sunny movement and a Finale to act as a coda of the entire suite. I have never written a prelude as a movement though, so I don't know how it differs from writing a prelude as a work of its own. The movement coda idea however sounds perfect for the ending of this piece. Maybe I should reference previous melodic material from each of the previous movements in this Finale.

So, how can I make all of the movements make sense both as separate pieces and as a full suite when they, for the most part aren't similar to each other and they don't share a common tonality? Different endings for the standalone piece versus the suite movement(so like the standalone piece ends in the tonic, whereas the ending of the suite movement modulates to the key of the next movement)? In other words, how can I make my suite cohesive when the individual movements aren't all that similar?

2 Answers 2


You might use Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons" and Haydn's "The Seasons" and PDQ Bach's "The Seasons" (Opus 2.5 tsp) to find ideas.


You sound like you've got a really clear creative direction - which is good!

I would consider using using motifs or common rhythmic ideas to create a sense of the different pieces 'speaking' to each other. Another way might be to use the same chord progression and dress it up differently (for instance, different instrumentation, orchestration, etc - or perhaps using a different key).

If you're composing in a DAW, other options to consider would be sampling or using digital effects. You could possibly sample earlier parts of the piece to create new atmospheres or vice versa.

I would finally stress that the best solution, however, is to just start and see what happens. Perfect is the enemy of good, as they say...

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