#1
Hey guys, Iv'e been making music on single instruments for a while now, but it has became boring and unfulfilling, ideally I want to make compositions which include more than one instrument, so I was thinking of getting my head down and trying to learn theory. I was wondering if anyone else is competent in it, and how long did it take you to become competent? A year, two or three years? Does it help to build compositions and improve the quality of your music significantly? Also, does it become less boring to learn the further you advance in it?

I'd appreciate any comments, thanks.
#2
If you're <15 years old I HIGHLY recommend you to go in music's school - you will learn music's theory, history and you will master one instrument. It's the best way to learn theory if you're teenager. I'm finishing it this year, I'm playing piano (studied 7 years), theory sometimes helps to create nice melodies. Especially some classical music theory mixed with rock or metal, because most of the theory is music's school (in my school) is about classical music. Pretty nice result when you mix it though.
#4
You can always arrange your compositions for an ensemble. What kind of compositions are they? Are they just chords or is there a melody? Are they played on guitar? Is there singing/lyrics?

You don't need theory to write good songs. Actually theory doesn't write songs for you. It may be easier to find what you are looking for if you know theory, though. Being able to analyze what you have done and what's in your head helps. But composing good songs is all about writing what's in your mind. If you know theory, it may be easier to experiment with parts you aren't happy with (for example try different chords and stuff).

But yeah, I don't know what kind of songs you have written. Are they instrumentals? Are they just guitar riffs? What kind of music would you like to write?
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#5
Honestly, I'd start listening to more flavours of music and just take note (I do it quite literally; there's notes all over my score of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5) of how the instruments blend. Then just experiment with similar and contrasting textures, as well as colour.

In addition, you could always take what you've written and experiment with different rearrangements to produce certain tone colours.


But remember; composition is not something that 'just clicks.' It only really does if you happen to be a prodigy at the skill. So you REALLY have to put effort into it. I usually just carry around an old, beat-up book of manuscript paper and just write ideas down whenever they decide to hit me, and work with them later. It really helps.


F**k, I thought that this was about composition. Well, on the topic of music theory, if you don't know it very much/at all, I'd go through all of the lessons on musictheory.net, and do a bunch of listening exercises. It'll get you ready for the aural aspects of music theory.
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Last edited by Mister A.J. at Sep 22, 2013,
#6
Thanks for all the replies.

Just another question, at the moment, I do not know any theory at at all for any instrument, not a single scale or chord. By learning a chord on the guitar, which I could use as a harmony, are there scales etc that I could use as a melody, that would suit that chord?

Do two separate instruments have to be tuned in a certain way to sound good together? or played in the same chords etc?

There probably stupid question's but..
#7
Quote by MaggaraMarine
You can always arrange your compositions for an ensemble. What kind of compositions are they? Are they just chords or is there a melody? Are they played on guitar? Is there singing/lyrics?

You don't need theory to write good songs. Actually theory doesn't write songs for you. It may be easier to find what you are looking for if you know theory, though. Being able to analyze what you have done and what's in your head helps. But composing good songs is all about writing what's in your mind. If you know theory, it may be easier to experiment with parts you aren't happy with (for example try different chords and stuff).

But yeah, I don't know what kind of songs you have written. Are they instrumentals? Are they just guitar riffs? What kind of music would you like to write?


Here are some, they aren't that impressive, the blue one especially needs someting more, but there a foundation, I think:

https://soundcloud.com/frankiewinwood

I'm not sure what type of music I want to make, I just want to understand how to make a instrumental with more than one layer I suppose..
Last edited by FWinwood at Sep 22, 2013,
#8
Quote by Mister A.J.
Honestly, I'd start listening to more flavours of music and just take note (I do it quite literally; there's notes all over my score of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 and Mendelssohn's Symphony No. 5) of how the instruments blend. Then just experiment with similar and contrasting textures, as well as colour.

In addition, you could always take what you've written and experiment with different rearrangements to produce certain tone colours.


But remember; composition is not something that 'just clicks.' It only really does if you happen to be a prodigy at the skill. So you REALLY have to put effort into it. I usually just carry around an old, beat-up book of manuscript paper and just write ideas down whenever they decide to hit me, and work with them later. It really helps.


F**k, I thought that this was about composition. Well, on the topic of music theory, if you don't know it very much/at all, I'd go through all of the lessons on musictheory.net, and do a bunch of listening exercises. It'll get you ready for the aural aspects of music theory.


Lol, yeah I guess my first post wasn't that clear, but thanks for the website, I'll look on it
#9
Quote by FWinwood
Lol, yeah I guess my first post wasn't that clear, but thanks for the website, I'll look on it

No probs man. Glad to be of help.
Join the 7 String Legion!

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#10
learn the absolute basics of music theory: how scales are made, how to construct chords (major/minor/diminished), common chord progressions. no need to obsess over them and try to memorize it all. when you understand what all of those are, then just keep those in mind as you learn to play songs. and learn every part of a song (for example, learn the melody and the harmony). after a few songs you should start to get better intuition for how things go together.
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#11
Quote by vIsIbleNoIsE
learn the absolute basics of music theory: how scales are made, how to construct chords (major/minor/diminished), common chord progressions. no need to obsess over them and try to memorize it all. when you understand what all of those are, then just keep those in mind as you learn to play songs. and learn every part of a song (for example, learn the melody and the harmony). after a few songs you should start to get better intuition for how things go together.


Does the C chord for example have scales that suit it? If it does, does that mean that I could play a harmony in the C chord, and then use those scales to layer a melody over the top of it?
#12
Quote by FWinwood
Does the C chord for example have scales that suit it? If it does, does that mean that I could play a harmony in the C chord, and then use those scales to layer a melody over the top of it?

The C major triad (I assume you're asking C major) has six keys that it's in (not counting borrowed harmony, but that's a discussion for later), but each one resolves to a different chord and is in a different part of the scale itself. In essence, you would be playing a melody that suits the key itself, with the C chord as a component of the total harmony.

For example, a chord progression in G Major.

Gmaj - Cmaj - Amin - D7 - Gmaj

The melody itself would be in G major, but the C major chord plays an important role in the chord progression, so the melody would naturally sound good over it.


A different example in C Major.

Cmaj - Amin - Dmin - G7 - Cmaj

Here, the C chord is much more important than before, because that's what the progression itself resolves to. Basically, anything you play in the key of C major would sound good over this progression.


That's about as bare bones as I can get it, but I'm sure there are others who could explain it a hell of a lot better.
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#13
as Mister A.J. said, a C chord is featured in several different keys. it's more important to pay attention to the key that you're in - just stick with the scale that the chord progression's key suggests.

beyond that, obviously the notes of the C chord itself would fit the most over a C chord. all the other notes of the scale can be used as "passing notes" (google it), but a safe rule would be to avoid staying on those notes for too long, or on strong beats.

and if using that rule sounds boring, feel free to break it later on - if you stress a note that isn't part of the regular C chord, you're essentially adding color to that chord (you might be turning a C major chord into a C major 7th chord, for example). basically, think of the notes of a melody as a moving extension of the harmony.
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#14
Don't think too much about scales or stuff when you are composing. Think about melody. Try to hear a melody in your head and try to play it. Knowing scales helps because your melody usually fits a scale. But don't let a scale write your song if you know what I mean. I mean, sometimes playing notes outside of a scale sounds better. So let your ear guide you. If it's hard to find the notes in your head, sing the melody and record it. Remember that if you think it sounds good, it sounds good. There are no rules that you need to follow in music. Just write music that sounds good to you, that's pretty much the only rule when it comes to composing.

You need to know basic chords. If you don't know them, learn them. They make guitar playing so much easier. How long have you been playing?

The songs you posted were kind of random experimenting/noodling. I wouldn't really even call them songs. And I wouldn't try to arrange them to a band. What kind of music do you like (genre, artists)?

If you write for many instruments, listen to what other bands do. In a rock band there's usually guitar, bass, drums and vocals. You usually want vocals to sing a melody and guitar to play a riff. Bass guitar can play the same riff as guitar or then it can play a different kind of bassline. Guitar can play chords and bass play a bass riff or something like that. And drums of course play the beat. Though I'm not sure if you even like rock music.

Oh, and bass and guitar use exactly the same tuning, bass is just tuned an octave lower (and if you don't know what is an octave, play your low E string and then play the 2nd fret of your D string and then play your high E string - they are all the same note but just in different octaves - the lowest note on a four string bass is an octave lower than the low E string on guitar). So maybe add a bassline in your songs. The simplest way to do it is to play chord tones with bass. Or then, as I said, play the same riff as guitar. Having a bass is really important because it makes the song sound so much fuller. With just guitar it can sound pretty thin.

Best thing to do is to listen to lots of music and listen to what all the instruments do. That way you'll learn how to use different instruments in your songs.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
Laney VC30
Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#15
It's funny how composers start off learning how to write for one instrument, and then progress to writing for chamber ensembles then to larger ensembles. Ironically when a composer matures, there is interest again in writing for small ensembles and solo instruments. This time exploring the instrument in much more depth than they did when they were young.
#17
Music theory came about as a means of explaining what it is we are doing when playing an instrument. Theory is not a means to an end, but for anyone who has passion for music; it is something they should want to pick up a little at a time along the way. The key word is "little". It is ridiculous to assume that we need to cram our head with as much knowledge in as little time as possible. People who say that music theory is not required are extremely closed minded as are those who say it is required. Music theory can be beneficial but as this article makes clear, there are plenty of solid musicians with little to no knowledge of it.