Audio: round (0:18)

Figure: round
Round form
Figure: round form

round plays two rounds on square wave lead synths in the key of C. The first round in bars 1-4 uses only quarter notes and half notes, the second round in bars 5-8 has a slightly more complex rhythm. The round figure shows the score and the round form figure shows the structure of a round.

A round is a self harmonising melody.

A round has only one melody. Two or more parts play or sing exactly the same melody but offset from each other in time so that the melody overlaps itself.

A short melodic idea is all that is needed to start writing a round. A typical idea is short and lasts for a single bar. The melodic idea is shown as riff 1 in the round form figure.

A round is written in sections. The melodic idea is copied in its entirety to the second bar of the second part, shown as riff 1 in the lower part of the round form figure. This riff is then harmonised to produce riff 2, shown in the second bar of the top part in the round form figure. This process continues indefinitely with a typical round having two to four sections.

The voices in a round can cross, as they do in bars 1 to 4 of round, or they can be written to avoid crossing, as in bars 5 to 8.

The process for writing a round usually involves a lot of trial and error. round involved a lot of experimentation and great deal of twiddling of notes and rhythm to get a reasonable result.

One easy way to create a round is to write a short melodic idea on a computer. Cut and paste a copy of the idea so that it starts after the original and see what happens. It really is that easy, and great fun. Some interesting harmonies will certainly result.

round is not a contrapuntal round. The counterpoint approach is demonstrated by a canon. Typically, a round is sung and a canon is instrumental.

Glee catch and partsong are all interesting variations of a round.