robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#1
I've been trying to write a guitar instrumental for a two days now (I think I total at about 6 hours). But i'm having a hard time making an instrumental that is not boring. I can lay down a basic song structure with chord progressions, and if I had a singer, it would be much simpler. But I don't, and a song that consists of only chord progressions without any vocals is utterly boring.
I've studied other guitar instrumentals and noticed that they always have one or more repeating melodies that are used a lot throughout the song. So I tried creating two melodies for repetitive use and one part that serves as an interlude between the two, and would then add one or two completely different parts in there. But.. No matter what I play, I am not pleased with the melodies I come up with. They all sound way too pentatonic for my taste and more like something Kalmah would play, than what I want to express. I'm currently using the natural minor scale. I want something that lifts you up, kinda like John Petrucci's Glasgow Kiss or Joe Satriani's stuff. I don't like the sound of the Natural Minor scale for my guitar instrumentals. I'm not running up and down the scale, i'm actually composing melodies using about 4 to 5 notes of the scale. But the sound of the natural minor scale doesn't fit what I want to express.

I want to learn how to express these kinds of things:
- I want to express bliss, dreaminess, happiness, etherealness, love.. A bit like Joe Satriani's "Flying in a blue dream".
- I also want to learn how to express speed, movement, "you're gonna make it", "you can do it", encouragement, glory.
- But also "danger is near", "you better watch out"
- And then, finally, I want to learn how to express extreme sadness and melancholy.

Composing within the Natural Minor scale doesn't seem to cut it for most of these. And the Major Scale is too happy, not the ethereal bliss I am talking about.
What scales should I learn to better invoke these emotions in my songs, and what other musical tools should I learn for this?
Last edited by robbit10 at Jan 15, 2013,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#2
Quote by robbit10
I've been trying to write a guitar instrumental for a few days now. But i'm having a hard time making my instrumental non-boring.


well there's your problem
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
z4twenny
UG's resident Psychopath
Join date: Nov 2005
936 IQ
#3
Sounds like the ts needs to actually learn about music and figure out what he wants to say musically before saying it.

Hey ts, ever try to write an eloquent well thought play in a language you barely speak?
EmilGD
Unregistered User
Join date: Feb 2008
93 IQ
#4
Try ditching the whole scale thought. Then try hearing a fitting melody in your head, find it on the guitar. It's the only way you'll achieve what you want without spending ages testing out every single scale in the world, until you randomly slump across that melody you probably had somewhere in the back of your mind the whole time anyways.
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
Join date: Sep 2010
688 IQ
#5
Quote by robbit10
I've been trying to write a guitar instrumental for a two days now (I think I total at about 6 hours).


Oh em gee. "Jenny Lee" took me weeks - and it's not even the most awesome, complicated instrumental you can write. Most of the prog snobs here would probably find it "boring" and "predictable".

It gets easier as you do it more, but if you want something that doesn't sound like you farted it out in an afternoon, it's gonna take longer than an afternoon.

I want to express happiness

And the Major Scale is too happy


Wat.

- I also want to learn how to express speed, movement, "you're gonna make it", "you can do it", encouragement, glory.
- But also "danger is near", "you better watch out"


While my way is far from the only (or even best) way, how I generally do translate these things to melody is to use the syllables of the words themselves as my rhythmic guide. Going back to Jenny Lee, note that the melody sounds like someone singing "Jen- ny Lee", over and over again. For your example of "You're gonna make it", I'd probably do exactly the same thing; convert it to eighth notes and gradually increase the tempo and transpose the motif up until it resolved. (And if none of that made any sense to you... you have a bit of studying to do, I'd wager.)

- And then, finally, I want to learn how to express extreme sadness and melancholy.


Same thing. I tend to do sad/slow/melancholy pieces in a minor key, slowly, with lots of lengthy, drawn-out notes. But that's just my style; I try to write sad songs that sound like someone is actually crying. It may not work for you. You have to find your own way of expressing it. There's no "use this scale and you will write a sad song" rulebook, although everyone agrees that Dm is the saddest of all keys.
robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#6
Quote by CarsonStevens
Oh em gee. "Jenny Lee" took me weeks - and it's not even the most awesome, complicated instrumental you can write. Most of the prog snobs here would probably find it "boring" and "predictable".

I didn't mean I wanted to write an instrumental quickly in one day and be done with it. I meant that this is the first time I am actually composing instead of improvising on a backing track or chord progression or writing a chord progression and then building a song out of that in 10 minutes. But I just feel stuck because everything I play doesn't invoke the feelings I want them to. I am making this instrumental, by the way, because I want to learn how to create moving compositions and songs.
And since I improvised to backing tracks a lot, I must watch out and make sure the song doesn't sound like one big solo so I need a good repetitive structure.


Wat.

Yeah.. I contradicted myself a bit there. What I mean is, I want an ethereal, dreamy kind of happiness - but the major scale usually provides a kind of happiness that is very peppy, and very remeniscent of pop music. I want happy, but not "peppy happy".


While my way is far from the only (or even best) way, how I generally do translate these things to melody is to use the syllables of the words themselves as my rhythmic guide. Going back to Jenny Lee, note that the melody sounds like someone singing "Jen- ny Lee", over and over again. For your example of "You're gonna make it", I'd probably do exactly the same thing; convert it to eighth notes and gradually increase the tempo and transpose the motif up until it resolved. (And if none of that made any sense to you... you have a bit of studying to do, I'd wager.)

Just listened to Jenny Lee. Yep, I can hear what you mean, the main theme does sound like "Jenny Lee, Je-nny lee-ee"
I understand most of what you said except transposing the motif up until it resolves. Yes, I still have a lot of studying to do. I learnt the basics of Music Theory (Intervals, scales, harmonizing the major scale) from UG's lesson section and my guitar teacher. That was enough for many years, but now that i'm trying to compose, it's not. I'll look for lessons on this stuff on UG and the net.

Here's something I made about 2 years ago, notice how basic and boring it is: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yZ60pLRzbL4

This also completely didn't express what I wanted it to. I wanted to make something that would boost someone, kinda like Glasgow Kiss or F-zero's theme. Basically the "you can do it" thing.

But what I got was boring, generic, devoid-of-emotion "metal".
Last edited by robbit10 at Jan 15, 2013,
rockingamer2
Larmarky Remark
Join date: Nov 2006
408 IQ
#7
Development. Take a theme and screw with it, from little tweaks here and there to twisting it into something almost unrecognizable as the original theme.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^


"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.


MUSIC THEORY LINK
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
Join date: Sep 2010
688 IQ
#9
Quote by robbit10
I didn't mean I wanted to write an instrumental quickly in one day and be done with it. I meant that this is the first time I am actually composing instead of improvising on a backing track or chord progression or writing a chord progression and then building a song out of that in 10 minutes. But I just feel stuck because everything I play doesn't invoke the feelings I want them to. I am making this instrumental, by the way, because I want to learn how to create moving compositions and songs.


Yeah, that probably came out a bit snarkier than I intended it. Unfortunately, a lot of people do seem to have that attitude.

Regardless, what I said still stands. Sometimes I'm lucky and can hit on the right melody in one try. Sometimes it takes ages. More than one of the songs I've written have sat around unfinished for a very, very long time (read: years) because I couldn't finish it to my satisfaction.

Yeah.. I contradicted myself a bit there. What I mean is, I want an ethereal, dreamy kind of happiness - but the major scale usually provides a kind of happiness that is very peppy, and very remeniscent of pop music. I want happy, but not "peppy happy".


Hm. I think in such a case the scale isn't the thing, it's more the intervals. When I think "bliss", I think something very even, that doesn't bounce up and down a lot. You may want to experiment with transitioning from the root to, say, the third (or even minor third) with the second as a passing tone. Like the waves of the ocean in a melodic contour.

Or, just smoke a lot of weed, you dig?


I understand most of what you said except transposing the motif up until it resolves.


Simplest example is to go back to Jenny Lee and listen to the bit before the chorused guitar kicks in, where the main melody repeats three times, but each repeat is "higher" than the last.

But what I got was boring, generic, devoid-of-emotion "metal".


I don't know if I'd go that far. I agree with Keth in that the drums sound really flat, but I think it'd work very well as background music for a video game, for example.

You're right, though, that the biggest problem with that piece is a lack of melody. Something driving, harmonized over the chords, would do wonders for it.

I guess what I'm getting at is that you should give it some time, write a lot of stuff, and never throw any of it away. You never know what's going to be useful.

Matter of fact, I just uploaded a new track a few minutes ago that came about solely from dicking around with a new pedal.

Also, you should check out The Complete Idiot's Guide to Music Composition. The sections on creating melodies are invaluable, but the whole book is quite good at laying out the basics.
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#10
It seems to me that your problem is a lack of vocabulary. You have the basic elements (scales and chords), but you don't have the experience to know how to put them together in an effective manner.

Going off of the "language" metaphor, you know how to put together a subject and a predicate to form a basic sentence, but that's the extent of your linguistic skill. You need dem adjectives, adverbs, articles, etc.

These parts of speech are NOT scales and chromatic notes though. These things are not your solution. You just need to read more literature, study what's going on and learn to do what these writers do.

The ONLY way to learn how to write a good melody is to learn as many melodies as you can and, more importantly INTERNALIZE them. Don't just learn a melody and say "done!" and forget all about it. Play it (AND sing it) in all twelve keys, and in as many different ways you can. Incorporate a little segment into a different melody, or just take the one melody and keep adding embellishments, changing rhythms, and just developing it.

Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4kVUIpfTPU

There's a little bit at the end where he talks about that. Here's another good video from the same master class: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y_7DgCrziI8

You should really watch all of the videos from this master class. Hal Galper has so much incredible insight.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
evolucian
Registered User
Join date: Jul 2008
682 IQ
#11
The simple question for the TS would be: Exactly how long have you been composing?
Followed by another with equal intensity: How many songs have you composed within that time frame?

Like all things in life, it takes time. And many repetitions. For starters, you can make a skeleton outline of your song and dictate to yourself the various sections that must have these emotive ideas. It is a story, and like all stories it needs various points of intrigue before the climactic end or climactic 8/10ths of the way through.

Your song will have repetitive sections, but that doesn't mean the melody must be exactly the same... that would be the boring part. Your melody will change and expand on the original idea. Or you can build up into your melody, by making that the focal point with the climax - in this case you will have fragments scattered around your piece, and like a jigsaw puzzle they all make perfect sense at the end.

There is a slight problem with the sectioning off though - that is, that you might drift away from your original idea and create something that surprises you. If it surprises you, it will surprise the listener. Be a story teller when you compose.

On to your emotive angles - what are your chords when you want these emotions present? Section off those chords alone and work out something that fits your interpretation of it. Still like the puzzle pieces being put together, if you have done this for your entire song in sections - listen to it. Listen to where you would need to join the sections with different lines or different approaches. Would you need a speedy collection of dots to transition between your emotives or would you need a note that lingers and takes off in the following sectioning?

After a while this all becomes seecond nature and you don't have to section it off as much... everything just starts to flow. Good luck
robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#12

The ONLY way to learn how to write a good melody is to learn as many melodies as you can and, more importantly INTERNALIZE them. Don't just learn a melody and say "done!" and forget all about it. Play it (AND sing it) in all twelve keys, and in as many different ways you can. Incorporate a little segment into a different melody, or just take the one melody and keep adding embellishments, changing rhythms, and just developing it.

Check out this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b4kVUIpfTPU


Ah! So basically, I would learn to play the melodies that have the most emotional impact on me.. Then play with them, play them in different keys, modify the embellishments, the rhythm, and so on.. And then perhaps use such a modified melody in one of my songs? Instead of trying to come up with a melody out of thin air?



Like all things in life, it takes time. And many repetitions. For starters, you can make a skeleton outline of your song and dictate to yourself the various sections that must have these emotive ideas. It is a story, and like all stories it needs various points of intrigue before the climactic end or climactic 8/10ths of the way through.

Your song will have repetitive sections, but that doesn't mean the melody must be exactly the same... that would be the boring part. Your melody will change and expand on the original idea. Or you can build up into your melody, by making that the focal point with the climax - in this case you will have fragments scattered around your piece, and like a jigsaw puzzle they all make perfect sense at the end.

Yep. I tried this today, after reading this yesterday: http://www.guitar9.com/satch2.html (look at the table)
I'm gonna record the instrumental I sketched out using this method today.

As for the part about melodies, yes, you have a point.. Constantly repeating the same melody without any changes to it IS boring. So a solution to that is to simply change the melody slightly each time it returns in the song?
Last edited by robbit10 at Jan 16, 2013,
steven seagull
not really a seagull
Join date: Oct 2006
1,064 IQ
#13
How long have you been playing?

Let's say, for example, it's 4 years...now you've been learning to read, write and speak in your native language pretty much since you were born, but what kind of stories were you writing in school at the age of 4, or even 5 and 6?

As far as music goes you're still an infant, you're not going to bang out a stunning, complex instrumental in your early attempts and there's no reason to worry that you can't. Just figure out what you want to *say* musically speaking then figure out if you've got the technical ability to make it happen, and if you don't just scale back your expectations a bit until it's manageable.

Like everything in life you get better with time and experience, there's no shortcut to those things, you just need to start doing stuff.
Actually called Mark!

Quote by TNfootballfan62
People with a duck for their avatar always give good advice.

...it's a seagull

Quote by Dave_Mc
i wanna see a clip of a recto buying some groceries.


stuffmycatswatchontv.tumblr.com
TheHydra
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2011
421 IQ
#14
I'd like to share one of the most important songs I've ever heard, because it got me out of a bad spot when I heard it and I hope it can help others who are stuck in a musical rut.

Listen:

http://grooveshark.com/s/Lost+In+A+Whirlpool/3FTTty?src=5

Not very good, huh? That lead line is pretty aimless, it's dull, the bends aren't in tune, and there isn't much compositional consideration going on. It sounds, in my opinion, like mindless notes for much of it. That's Frank Zappa performing, age 18. He'd been playing guitar for 1-2 years and learning music for 6.

Let's check in with Frank at age 40, after 22 years of touring, composing, recording, improvising, jamming and what have you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5wDDoKpVd8s

Holy hot damn! That's quite a change, isn't it? That kid playing shitty blues lines in his bedroom became one hell of a player/improviser/composer. All he needed was experience. Extensive amounts of time and effort to hone his skills down into the sharp point they became. There's nothing stopping anyone from doing this.
Last edited by TheHydra at Jan 16, 2013,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#15
why didn't you play the video of him performing on the bi-cycle on live television

btw, you do know that song is a parody right? as in, like, it's supposed to be really shitty?
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
TheHydra
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2011
421 IQ
#16
Quote by Hail
why didn't you play the video of him performing on the bi-cycle on live television

Because it's awesome, and therefore counter-intuitive to the point.
Last edited by TheHydra at Jan 16, 2013,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#17
Quote by TheHydra
Because it's awesome, and counter-intuitive to the point.


Lost in a Whirlpool", a blues parody from around 1958–59 in which Beefheart sings of being flushed down the toilet;


i thought you like legitimately had a shitty zappa song, but it was just one of the many that was shitty because he wanted it to be shitty
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
TheHydra
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2011
421 IQ
#18
Quote by Hail
i thought you like legitimately had a shitty zappa song, but it was just one of the many that was shitty because he wanted it to be shitty

I'm not so sure. It's certainly a silly song making fun of the blues form, but even his parodies had a genuine element to them, especially when it came to him playing guitar solos.

One example that springs to mind is "Truck Driver Divorce". Pure country parody, but was performed with an improvised solo in the middle sometimes. The song itself also had some interesting rhythmic elements to it, just like everything else he did.
Last edited by TheHydra at Jan 16, 2013,
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#21
that's soul what lol
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
TheHydra
Registered User
Join date: Aug 2011
421 IQ
#22
Meh. Blues spin-off.

Parody or not, I still think his performance was genuine in that recording. There's a Guitar Player interview from 1983 where he talks about how his early inspiration in playing the guitar was Johnny Watson and Guitar Slim, and how they were just "yellin' it at you."

BM: You've mentioned Johnny Guitar Watson and Gatemouth Brown as major influences.

FZ: I wouldn't say that Gatemouth sounded so blasphemous. Johnny Guitar Watson was an extremely evil-sounding guitar player at the time, but the smuttiest one I heard was Guitar Slim [Eddie Jones]... just pure smut. The thing that I liked about the two solos I heard when I was 16 that really intrigued me – the solo on Three Hours Past Midnight and the solo on The Story Of My Life – was not just the tone of the instrument but the absolute maniac way that he spewed out these notes in a phrase with little or no regard to the rest of the meter or what was going on, but still being aware of where the beat was. He was just yellin' it at you.

BM: More like a voice, which is how you think about your own solo playing.

FZ: Yeah, I think that's the most direct way to communicate with somebody, using speech rhythms. That really makes a big difference. Because, if you listen to a guy playing nice neat scale patterns and things like that, no matter how skillful he is in making his stuff land on the beat, you always hear it as Music – capital "M" music – lines, chord changes, and stuff like that. Real studied. But if you want to get beyond music into emotional content, you have to break through that and just talk on your instrument, just make it talk. And if you're gonna make it talk, you have to be aware that there's a different rhythmic attitude you have to adopt in order to do that.


I hear a lot of that in his playing from that era. Just him beating the shit out of the thing, enjoying the noise, and trying to get some emotional message out but not quite being proficient enough to do it, which is something many beginner guitarists can likely relate to. This element is still present in the rest of his guitar playing, but he obviously managed to hone it into the deadly weapon it became.
Last edited by TheHydra at Jan 16, 2013,
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#23
Quote by robbit10
Ah! So basically, I would learn to play the melodies that have the most emotional impact on me.. Then play with them, play them in different keys, modify the embellishments, the rhythm, and so on.. And then perhaps use such a modified melody in one of my songs? Instead of trying to come up with a melody out of thin air?
Not at all what I was saying. You still want to come up with your own melodies, but by doing those steps, you'll develop the vocabulary.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
Join date: Sep 2010
688 IQ
#24
Quote by Hail
you try sounding good in a blues parody

like, really, it's not possible. it's physically out of bounds


"Weird Al" Yankovic - "Generic Blues"

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Hox4QHh0C0

Quote by robbit10
Ah! So basically, I would learn to play the melodies that have the most emotional impact on me.. Then play with them, play them in different keys, modify the embellishments, the rhythm, and so on.. And then perhaps use such a modified melody in one of my songs? Instead of trying to come up with a melody out of thin air?


While that's not what food was saying, it's not a bad idea... especially if you can't come up with a melody on your own. I wouldn't release a song like that, but that's just me.

Quote by robbit1
As for the part about melodies, yes, you have a point.. Constantly repeating the same melody without any changes to it IS boring. So a solution to that is to simply change the melody slightly each time it returns in the song?


Yes. The key to a good melody is repetition and variation. That book I recommended to you has an entire chapter devoted to it.
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#25
Quote by CarsonStevens
While that's not what food was saying, it's not a bad idea... especially if you can't come up with a melody on your own. I wouldn't release a song like that, but that's just me.
Come to think of it, if you're doing simple diatonic stuff, chances are it's been done before.

However, I don't see this as an excuse to intentionally copy licks. If you write something and then find out, after the fact, that it's almost exactly like another song, it's up to you to choose whether it's unique enough, but I think that if you think "I'll take this idea and change it a bit," then you're just stealing the idea.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#26
Quote by food1010
Not at all what I was saying. You still want to come up with your own melodies, but by doing those steps, you'll develop the vocabulary.

Ah, yes. I think i'll do both - learn tons of melodies, play them in different keys, then write my own melodies. And when I struggle to come up with a melody, borrow the melody from someone else's song but modify it so much that it's unrecognizable compared to the other melody.


While that's not what food was saying, it's not a bad idea... especially if you can't come up with a melody on your own. I wouldn't release a song like that, but that's just me.

Indeed.. However, if one would change the melody so drastically that it's unrecognizable compared to the other melody, then it's no problem, right? You're essentially basing your own melody on someone else's melody but modifying it so much that it's completely distinct from the original.


However, I don't see this as an excuse to intentionally copy licks. If you write something and then find out, after the fact, that it's almost exactly like another song, it's up to you to choose whether it's unique enough, but I think that if you think "I'll take this idea and change it a bit," then you're just stealing the idea.

This happened to me once. I composed/recorded a song and liked it, then my dad came in and said it was very much like a song he used to hear on the radio.. He even stated it was almost a copy. I threw the song away.

As for "I'll take this idea and change it a bit", is it really stealing if you modify it so much that it has tons of your own ideas in it?
This argument also reminds me of an argument that is frequent on art forums.. Whether you should or should not use photo's as a reference to paint or draw. Without using reference, my drawings were crappy. With reference, though, they were a lot better. I basically took a few photo's - in case of one of my paintings, a photo of a meerkat and a photo of a mage's staff, and used them both to create a painting of a wizard-meerkat.
Perhaps the same approach will work well for me in music? Look up a few melodies, combine them and add a few of my own twists to it, resulting in something new.


Holy hot damn! That's quite a change, isn't it? That kid playing shitty blues lines in his bedroom became one hell of a player/improviser/composer. All he needed was experience. Extensive amounts of time and effort to hone his skills down into the sharp point they became. There's nothing stopping anyone from doing this.

Yup, that sure is a big difference! This, along with several other things i've watched and read, made me realise that I shouldn't care if my compositions are crap - with every composition I make, I gain experience and get better. I might as well make 10 crap songs, but with every crap song I make, I gain experience.

This video is also very good:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1cg_DO4bY4
The part I'm talking about is at 05:50


If you add a good bass, fix the overly fake drums, fix the mixing a bit, it would sound a lot better.

You're right.. The song IS simple, but with good mixing and better drums, it would sound a lot better. (And without that annoying lead guitar lick)


How long have you been playing?

About 7 years, but i've mostly been playing covers and improvising on top of backing tracks or other people playing, or improvising chord progressions that others would then play lead guitar to. No real composing.
Last edited by robbit10 at Jan 17, 2013,
CarsonStevens
Rocksmith
Join date: Sep 2010
688 IQ
#27
Quote by robbit10
Indeed.. However, if one would change the melody so drastically that it's unrecognizable compared to the other melody, then it's no problem, right? You're essentially basing your own melody on someone else's melody but modifying it so much that it's completely distinct from the original.


Absolutely. After all, it's only the same if it uses the same notes, aye? It's up to you how much to change before you consider it "new".

This happened to me once. I composed/recorded a song and liked it, then my dad came in and said it was very much like a song he used to hear on the radio.. He even stated it was almost a copy. I threw the song away.


I did that once. One of the first songs I wrote unconsciously "borrowed" the rhythm from Zeppelin's "Communications Breakdown". Once I realized that I was bummed. Then I took it to my instructor and he explained to me how it was different; yes, the rhythm was the same, but I was in a different key, using the chords to a different effect, etc. So in his mind, it wasn't the same.

Oh, and Kid Rock - "All Summer Long".

This argument also reminds me of an argument that is frequent on art forums.. Whether you should or should not use photo's as a reference to paint or draw.


I'm in game development. Every artist I've ever worked with has used references. Some even paint over photographs. Whatever gets the job done...
robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#28
I did that once. One of the first songs I wrote unconsciously "borrowed" the rhythm from Zeppelin's "Communications Breakdown". Once I realized that I was bummed. Then I took it to my instructor and he explained to me how it was different; yes, the rhythm was the same, but I was in a different key, using the chords to a different effect, etc. So in his mind, it wasn't the same.

Yep, it is different indeed. It would be absurd if a song would be considered a ripoff simply because one used the same chord progression. There are only so many to go around, after all.

As for the song I made then, I no longer have it, but I do remember that it had a melody that was apparently from some song my dad knew - might've heard it on the radio or something.

As for the book suggestion, I seem to have missed that part of your post but i'll look into that book now, thanks! Along with some other music theory books.


I'm in game development. Every artist I've ever worked with has used references. Some even paint over photographs. Whatever gets the job done...

While I AM getting a bit off-topic here.. Funny, so am I Well, not professionally. I basically made two games in Unity3D of which one is finished, and one game tech demo in C++ and SFML.
What do you code your games in? And, erm, just in case we derail this thread, let's take it to private messages.
Hail
i'm a mean bully
Join date: Jan 2010
431 IQ
#29
it's actually a rule here in MT that you need to derail every thread you post in, lest ye be banned
Quote by theogonia777
Hail killed MT

Quote by jongtr
I want to be Hail when I grow up.
robbit10
Exploring Metal
Join date: Jan 2009
4,477 IQ
#30
Quote by Hail
it's actually a rule here in MT that you need to derail every thread you post in, lest ye be banned

Well, seems this thread is following the "rules" nicely then, eh?
FlavorOfSound
Registered User
Join date: Dec 2011
61 IQ
#31
food1010, thank you for showing me these videos! This is stuff I definitely needed to hear!
"I hear it's amazing when the famous purple stuffed worm in flap-jaw space with the tuning fork does a raw blink on Hara-Kiri Rock. I need scissors! 61!"
- Colonal Campbell
MaggaraMarine
Slapping the bass.
Join date: Oct 2009
3,411 IQ
#32
Quote by robbit10
Here's something I made about 2 years ago, notice how basic and boring it is:

This also completely didn't express what I wanted it to. I wanted to make something that would boost someone, kinda like Glasgow Kiss or F-zero's theme. Basically the "you can do it" thing.

But what I got was boring, generic, devoid-of-emotion "metal".

Your song sounded like it could be in a video game. Yes, pretty generic by itself but if it was a background track of a video game scene, it would sound OK.

BTW, change the intro chord progression from Em-C-D-Em to Em-C-D-A, it would fit the melody much better. The song had that kind of "battle metal" feeling. The drum intro was kind of cool. As I said, it would fit a fighting scene of some video game well.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Charvel So Cal
Ibanez Blazer
Yamaha FG720S-12
Tokai TB48
Laney VC30
Hartke HyDrive 210c
food1010
Bassist
Join date: Jun 2007
1,660 IQ
#33
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Your song sounded like it could be in a video game. Yes, pretty generic by itself but if it was a background track of a video game scene, it would sound OK.

BTW, change the intro chord progression from Em-C-D-Em to Em-C-D-A, it would fit the melody much better. The song had that kind of "battle metal" feeling. The drum intro was kind of cool. As I said, it would fit a fighting scene of some video game well.
Honestly the problem is that there is no melody. That lead line is really just filler. It doesn't develop anything.

To reinforce what I said before, you just need to learn how to come up with melodies. You could use that exact same chord progression, come up with a melody, add some rhythmic variation, and you have yourself a song. Maybe not a fantastic song, but more than just some random riffage.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
白い雲
Registered User
Join date: Apr 2008
174 IQ
#34
Quote by robbit10
No matter what I play, I am not pleased with the melodies I come up with. They all sound way too pentatonic for my taste and more like something Kalmah would play, than what I want to express. I'm currently using the natural minor scale. I want something that lifts you up, kinda like John Petrucci's Glasgow Kiss or Joe Satriani's stuff. I don't like the sound of the Natural Minor scale for my guitar instrumentals.

I want to learn how to express these kinds of things:
- I want to express bliss, dreaminess, happiness, etherealness, love.. A bit like Joe Satriani's "Flying in a blue dream".

And the Major Scale is too happy, not the ethereal bliss I am talking about.
What scales should I learn to better invoke these emotions in my songs, and what other musical tools should I learn for this?


Flying in a blue dream is Lydian, so you could experiment with that for the ethereal sound. Glasgow Kiss is Mixolydian. As for conveying something dangerous sounding, have you heard "Race with Devil on Spanish Highway" by Al DiMeola? To me, that song conveys that feeling. That uses Phrygian. The harmony of a song plays a big role in the sound too. I like to analyze chord progressions in songs to get an idea of how the mood is created, and look for patterns between songs.

Now, here are some more general suggestions:

Learn/experiment with different scales, try out different chord progressions, try out different types of chord alterations. You can actually use a melody you already have, and reharmonize it in different modes and chord progressions to see what sound fits for you.

Analyze the melody, arrangemet, and harmony of songs you like, to get an idea of how they convey the emotion they do.

You might need to learn more theory to understand some of the things you're trying to do or some of the songs you analyze. Teachers are the best bet of course, and books are good too. "Tonal Harmony" by Kostka and Payne is good for basic theory, "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine is good for the more 20th century tonal music ideas used not only in jazz, but also rock, classical music, and pop. One book that you might find very beneficial is "Jazz Composition: Theory and Practice" by Ted Pease. I also like Tom Kolb's books, "Chord Progressions for Guitar" and "Soloing Strategies for Guitar". He's also got a book on modes, and one on theory, but I haven't read them, so I can't attest to them.

Now, that's enough to give you a proper headache! Perhaps even more important than any of the above is to try to create and develop sounds that are purely from your own imagination. People do this with melodies, sure, but try it with chord progressions too. When I do this, I'll usually write out the roots of the chords I hear in my head first, and then experiment with voicings and chord constructions until I find what I'm looking for. It can help a lot to put stuff into a program that'll play them back, so that you can hear what you wrote easily. Cheers!

p.s. when I said teachers are good, I meant good teachers are good . Unfortunately, there are a lot of teachers out there who are good at teaching your basic rock guitar and blues or pop songwriting, but not much else. If you ask a question about a more complex topic and your teacher tries to convince you that it's unnecessary complicated, or a fringe idea that's not worth learning, then maybe look elsewhere.
Last edited by 白い雲 at Jan 19, 2013,