#1
In the past when i have come up with songs, i have always just strummed a few chords and when something sounded good i went with it.

I've never created a vocal melody and then figured out what chords/scales should go with it. Its always been the other way round.

Do people use Keys (minus the dim chord these days) to structure their songs?

I recently learned Neil Young's Hey, Hey, My, My song and i love how its has so many different chords in it. Major, Minor, Minor 7, Dom7 and Major 7.

If anyone has any info on this i would love to know.

Thanks!
#2
When I write songs, I try hearing things in my head. It may be a chord progression, guitar riff, melody, bassline, drumbeat or whatever. When you write stuff, you want to know what you are doing. If you are just noodling around, you are just hoping for good results. You are just playing random stuff. Composing shouldn't be random.
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
#3
yes, people use keys to figure out what goes with what. but most of the time it is subconscious, since almost all the music we listen to follows some key, at least for a while.

for example, one could come up with a vocal melody, then decide what key that's in, then use the notes in that key as a guide to drafting an acceptable accompaniment. maybe you choose the bassline for your accompaniment first, and then use those as root notes when building your chords (again, in the same key).

do you know how chord construction goes? and how each degree of a scale has a certain quality?
Quote by archerygenious
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#5
Quote by MaggaraMarine
When I write songs, I try hearing things in my head. It may be a chord progression, guitar riff, melody, bassline, drumbeat or whatever. When you write stuff, you want to know what you are doing. If you are just noodling around, you are just hoping for good results. You are just playing random stuff. Composing shouldn't be random.


Thank you. I have come up with some good acoustic songs in the past by just strumming around with chords that sounded good.
Now that i'm trying to layer my guitar playing, the theory comes in handy.

Quote by vIsIbleNoIsE
yes, people use keys to figure out what goes with what. but most of the time it is subconscious, since almost all the music we listen to follows some key, at least for a while.

for example, one could come up with a vocal melody, then decide what key that's in, then use the notes in that key as a guide to drafting an acceptable accompaniment. maybe you choose the bassline for your accompaniment first, and then use those as root notes when building your chords (again, in the same key).

do you know how chord construction goes? and how each degree of a scale has a certain quality?


Thank you, im going to have a go of this now on my looper pedal I have a good knowledge of chord construction, and how to find out what scale will fit nicely with what chords. Coming up with a vocal melody should make this interesting too


Another question i have:
The Neil Young song i'm learning atm has these chords in its verse:

Am7, G, Fmaj7 x2
C, Em,Em7, Am, F
Am, G, Fmaj7

I'm curious about any theory to the chord structure that might have been used.

What is the Key? C?
Is the C chord chosen in the 3rd bar because Am is the relative minor of C?
Will chords have just been changed to m7 and maj7 just top give the song a slightly different feel/flow in places?

Many thanks again!
#6
Quote by Elintasokas
What exactly do you mean by "minus the dim chord"? Locrian?


I just meant that you don't hear many people use them in popular music these days
#7
Quote by Funky Monk Funk
Thank you. I have come up with some good acoustic songs in the past by just strumming around with chords that sounded good.
Now that i'm trying to layer my guitar playing, the theory comes in handy.


Thank you, im going to have a go of this now on my looper pedal I have a good knowledge of chord construction, and how to find out what scale will fit nicely with what chords. Coming up with a vocal melody should make this interesting too


Another question i have:
The Neil Young song i'm learning atm has these chords in its verse:

Am7, G, Fmaj7 x2
C, Em,Em7, Am, F
Am, G, Fmaj7

I'm curious about any theory to the chord structure that might have been used.

What is the Key? C?
Is the C chord chosen in the 3rd bar because Am is the relative minor of C?
Will chords have just been changed to m7 and maj7 just top give the song a slightly different feel/flow in places?

Many thanks again!

Yeah, it's in A minor. At least it starts in A major. It might change to C major in the middle for a while, but it's the same notes so whatever. Relative major.

And yes, whenever there's a major or minor chord you can freely add a seventh. That just changes the feel of the chord a little. Jazz uses seventh chords all the time. It's not just sevenths, though. You can also add ninths, #11ths in major chords, natural 11ths in minors, sixths, etc.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Dec 13, 2013,
#8
Quote by Elintasokas
Yeah, it's in A minor. At least it starts in A major. It might change to C major in the middle for a while, but it's the same notes so whatever. Relative major.

And yes, whenever there's a major or minor chord you can freely add a seventh. That just changes the feel of the chord a little. Jazz uses seventh chords all the time. It's not just sevenths, though. You can also add ninths, #11ths in major chords, natural 11ths in minors, sixths, etc.


Amazing. Thank you.
#9
Quote by Funky Monk Funk
Thank you. I have come up with some good acoustic songs in the past by just strumming around with chords that sounded good.
Now that i'm trying to layer my guitar playing, the theory comes in handy.


Thank you, im going to have a go of this now on my looper pedal I have a good knowledge of chord construction, and how to find out what scale will fit nicely with what chords. Coming up with a vocal melody should make this interesting too


Another question i have:
The Neil Young song i'm learning atm has these chords in its verse:

Am7, G, Fmaj7 x2
C, Em,Em7, Am, F
Am, G, Fmaj7

I'm curious about any theory to the chord structure that might have been used.

What is the Key? C?
Is the C chord chosen in the 3rd bar because Am is the relative minor of C?
Will chords have just been changed to m7 and maj7 just top give the song a slightly different feel/flow in places?

Many thanks again!

When writing songs, music should come first, then theory. Theory is there only for understanding what's happening in music. Theory doesn't write music.

I bet Neil Young just used his ears. He heard a melody in his head, figured out which chords fit the melody and wrote the song. I'm sure he didn't think "let's write this song in the key of A minor, let's use these chords and let's write a melody using the A minor scale". I'm sure music came first. He heard things in his head. So try hearing things in your head. As I said, it could be a drum beat, guitar riff, bassline, vocal melody or whatever. Music is all about sound.

But why Neil Young wrote a song like that was because he knew the sound of the chords and used those chords because they fit the melody. Many songwriters and musicians may not know a lot of theory. But they know the sound and know how to find the sounds they are looking for. Knowing theory helps finding those sounds. But having a good ear is a lot more important than knowing lots of theory. Theory just makes it easier to understand music.

Remember that everything you hear in your head is right. Nothing is against music theory because music theory isn't rules. It doesn't tell you what to do and what you can't do. It just explains what you have done.

When writing songs, you may want to sing melodies, not play them on guitar. Or at least hear melodies in your head before playing. Being able to compose without any instruments is good. Then you know what you really want. If you just noodle around with guitar, the sound is just coming from your instrument. You may not know the sound, you are just hoping for good sounds coming out of your guitar. As I said, composing isn't random. So learn the sound, not just the fingerings!
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
#10
Regarding what someone said a few posts up, based on that chord progression you showed me, the Neil Young song is in A minor the entire time, it is never in A major. As far as what scales you can use...

Am7, G, Fmaj7, Fmaj7
- For this progression, you can play in the key of A minor throughout, but that's kind of boring.
- Over the A minor 7th, you can also use A Dorian, which belongs to the family of G major (E minor)
- Over the G major, you can also use the G major scale as well as the G Mixolydian, which belongs to the key of C major (A minor) but you'd emphasize the G, *B*, D, and *F* notes to get a more Mixo sound.
- Over the F major 7th, you can use the C major scale, but you want to emphasize the F, A, and C, and E notes to effectively give it a more F Lydian feel. You can also use F major (D minor) if you want, but again, you got to emphasize the chord tones, particularly the major third and the major seventh, to give it a Lydian feel.

That should get you some ideas... the rest of the progression looks pretty similar in terms of what chords it uses, keep in mind you can also play E Dorian over that E minor 7th (belongs to family of D major/B minor)
#11
^ I don't think playing A minor scale over the progression sounds boring. I mean, what you are doing is just changing one note (A dorian over A minor - there's just one note difference, G major over G major - it's the same notes as in A dorian, notes in F lydian over F is the same as playing A minor all the time). So what you are actually doing is playing in A minor and using the major 6th accidental (F#) over Am and G chords.

I wouldn't really think in terms of CST here. It's a simple A minor progression and that kind of thinking makes it look over complicated. If you want to add accidentals, add them, but I would think in A minor all the time. Because A is the tonic all the time.

How is one accidental going to make your playing sound so much more interesting? I don't think it's about the notes you use. More notes doesn't mean more interesting music. Actually I think we focus too much on what scales to use over what chords. There is a lot more to music than just scales and chords. You can play all 12 notes or you can play just four notes and do interesting stuff with both. Basic diatonic minor scale doesn't sound boring if you can use it right.

Use your ears if you want to solo over something. Rhythm makes things a lot more important. It's also about phrasing. Just watch Groove Workshop by Victor Wooten.

Using more scales isn't going to turn your playing from terrible to amazing. It's not about scales, it's about how you use the notes. That's why good guitarists sound better than bad guitarists. The notes are the same, the style is different. Awesome guitarists don't use any special scales - most of them use the basic major and minor scales. Actually lots of guitarists stick with pentatonic most of the time but still sound great.

And I think TS wasn't asking about soloing. He was asking about writing songs. Noodling around with scales isn't going to make great music. You need to use your ears to write good music. Because music is all about sound and you want to know the sound. More scales =/= better music.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 13, 2013,
#12
Quote by MaggaraMarine
^ I don't think playing A minor scale over the progression sounds boring. I mean, what you are doing is just changing one note (A dorian over A minor - there's just one note difference, G major over G major - it's the same notes as in A dorian, notes in F lydian over F is the same as playing A minor all the time). So what you are actually doing is playing in A minor and using the major 6th accidental (F#) over Am and G chords.


You're right, just using the A minor scale over a progression in A minor can be exciting too, but I was assuming the TS wanted to think outside the box a bit. Your observation about the F# is a really good way of explaining how to combine scales together when you solo over chord changes.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
I wouldn't really think in terms of CST here. It's a simple A minor progression and that kind of thinking makes it look over complicated. If you want to add accidentals, add them, but I would think in A minor all the time. Because A is the tonic all the time.


Different people think about things in different ways. What may work for you may not work for someone else. I would think of A minor as "home base" in this example and then borrow notes from those other scales I mentioned and/or arpeggios.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
How is one accidental going to make your playing sound so much more interesting? I don't think it's about the notes you use. More notes doesn't mean more interesting music. Actually I think we focus too much on what scales to use over what chords. There is a lot more to music than just scales and chords. You can play all 12 notes or you can play just four notes and do interesting stuff with both. Basic diatonic minor scale doesn't sound boring if you can use it right.


You're right. The major scale doesn't sound boring if you can use it right. That doesn't mean you need to confine yourself to thinking strictly in terms of one particular major scale per song. Players like Michael Schenker and Jeff Beck wrote lyrical solos partially because they could borrow those notes from related scales outside the "home base" effectively, that is to say, they could use those borrowed notes to convey the kind of emotion they wanted to convey.

You're right. You can play all 12 notes. I think it is important to know how all 12 of those notes are going to sound over any combination of different notes, within reason anyways. If you go for metaphors, think of the soloist as a painter and each of those 12 notes are different colors which he will mix on the canvas to express the color (emotion) they can picture in their head.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
Use your ears if you want to solo over something. Rhythm makes things a lot more important. It's also about phrasing. Just watch Groove Workshop by Victor Wooten.


Not arguing any of these points with you. Playing with your ears is very important, as my previous paragraph implies.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
Using more scales isn't going to turn your playing from terrible to amazing. It's not about scales, it's about how you use the notes. That's why good guitarists sound better than bad guitarists. The notes are the same, the style is different. Awesome guitarists don't use any special scales - most of them use the basic major and minor scales. Actually lots of guitarists stick with pentatonic most of the time but still sound great.


Yes, I would say that scales are just one piece of a guitarist's tool box and yes, it is about how you use the notes. I will argue that a large percentage of what I would consider awesome guitarists do use multiple scales over chord progressions in the way I have described to great effect. Pentatonic scales certainly have their place in blues and rock music. Speaking of those "borrowed" notes, what about the flattened fifth of the minor pentatonic scale, aka the "blue note"? I think if a whole genre of music can be built around one extra note (gross simplification, I know, but still) then knowing when you can borrow other ones certainly can't hurt.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
And I think TS wasn't asking about soloing. He was asking about writing songs. Noodling around with scales isn't going to make great music. You need to use your ears to write good music. Because music is all about sound and you want to know the sound. More scales =/= better music.


TS was asking about creating melodies, which are essentially the components of guitar solos. Noodling on scales is not the same as using (or not using) all twelve notes to effectively communicate whatever idea you want to communicate using your instrument, which is all I am advocating here. Yes, certainly use your ears to make good music by learning how all 12 of those notes sound in different context and how they sound in relative relation to one another. More ability to express oneself = potential to make better music.
#13
Quote by onelightminute
Regarding what someone said a few posts up, based on that chord progression you showed me, the Neil Young song is in A minor the entire time, it is never in A major. As far as what scales you can use...

Am7, G, Fmaj7, Fmaj7
- For this progression, you can play in the key of A minor throughout, but that's kind of boring.
- Over the A minor 7th, you can also use A Dorian, which belongs to the family of G major (E minor)
- Over the G major, you can also use the G major scale as well as the G Mixolydian, which belongs to the key of C major (A minor) but you'd emphasize the G, *B*, D, and *F* notes to get a more Mixo sound.
- Over the F major 7th, you can use the C major scale, but you want to emphasize the F, A, and C, and E notes to effectively give it a more F Lydian feel. You can also use F major (D minor) if you want, but again, you got to emphasize the chord tones, particularly the major third and the major seventh, to give it a Lydian feel.

That should get you some ideas... the rest of the progression looks pretty similar in terms of what chords it uses, keep in mind you can also play E Dorian over that E minor 7th (belongs to family of D major/B minor)


You forgot to mention pentatonic and blues scales :P
#14
I write lyrics first if I'm writing a lyrics song.
I then try to feel how the lyrics would work depending on the harmony and melody. I write my harmony and melody around my lyrics.
#15
Yes, I did forget pentatonic and blues scales... but I thought everyone knew you could use those interchangeably with the same diatonic scale (in most cases)

Oh, this is about writing a vocal melody? whoops. Anyway, most of the time I will go ahead and write the instrumental first, then listen again with a guitar or keyboard in hand and try to come up with a simple melody. I'm better at guitar so I use a keyboard to do this because my technical limitations on keyboard help make sure I don't write something too complicated for a vocal melody.
#16
Even if you write a guitar melody, I think it will sound better if you compose it without playing. I mean, if you just compose melodies by playing them, you may just play the patterns your fingers remember. But if you just use your ear, your fingers won't affect the writing in any way. It will sound more melodic if it's written with your ears and not with your fingers.

Yeah, sometimes cool stuff comes out of your guitar but I would at least suggest trying to write without your guitar.

I have composed many guitar riffs in my head without touching the guitar.
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
#17
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Even if you write a guitar melody, I think it will sound better if you compose it without playing. I mean, if you just compose melodies by playing them, you may just play the patterns your fingers remember. But if you just use your ear, your fingers won't affect the writing in any way. It will sound more melodic if it's written with your ears and not with your fingers.

Yeah, sometimes cool stuff comes out of your guitar but I would at least suggest trying to write without your guitar.

I have composed many guitar riffs in my head without touching the guitar.


Yes, this is a very true statement. I developed a lot of my own unique style by writing my songs in GP without actually touching a guitar.

That's why I still use the keyboard to improvise vocal melodies. It's not an instrument I am super comfortable with but I know the layout of the keys and have enough technical ability to write simple vocal melodies, but I don't get stuck hammering out what my fingers already know like with guitar.
#18
Quote by MaggaraMarine
Even if you write a guitar melody, I think it will sound better if you compose it without playing. I mean, if you just compose melodies by playing them, you may just play the patterns your fingers remember. But if you just use your ear, your fingers won't affect the writing in any way. It will sound more melodic if it's written with your ears and not with your fingers.

Yeah, sometimes cool stuff comes out of your guitar but I would at least suggest trying to write without your guitar.

I have composed many guitar riffs in my head without touching the guitar.


Hmm, interesting. This doesn't work for me at all. I'm way more creative when using my piano. The same goes for transcribing. I find transcribing without an instrument a huge waste of time and making things harder than is necessary.
#19
Quote by Elintasokas
Hmm, interesting. This doesn't work for me at all. I'm way more creative when using my piano. The same goes for transcribing. I find transcribing without an instrument a huge waste of time and making things harder than is necessary.

But when you use piano, do you still use your ears? Does the music come inside of you or does it come from your fingers?

As I said, composing shouldn't be random. And it is random if you don't know the sound. I think songwriting could be compared to writing books. When you write a book, you know what you want to say. You know what every word means. You don't randomly put words after each other and hope for the best result. Same with music. Words are like different sounds. You of course could just "randomly" play notes (and I know it's not completely random - your fingers do remember some patterns and play them. But that way you are stuck in the patterns your fingers remember and your songs may end up sounding the same). But what's the message if you don't even know how it's going to sound like before you play it?

You need to train your ears. IMO noodling is not a way to write songs.

Though of course if you are playing the piano, you may get inspired easier. I'm not saying that your writing is random. Sometimes I get inspired by one sound which gives me lots of song ideas in my head and then writing a song becomes really easy. But even then the ideas come from my head, not from my fingers.
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
Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 15, 2013,
#20
Quote by MaggaraMarine
But when you use piano, do you still use your ears? Does the music come inside of you or does it come from your fingers?

As I said, composing shouldn't be random. And it is random if you don't know the sound. I think songwriting could be compared to writing books. When you write a book, you know what you want to say. You know what every word means. You don't randomly put words after each other and hope for the best result. Same with music. Words are like different sounds. You of course could just "randomly" play notes (and I know it's not completely random - your fingers do remember some patterns and play them. But that way you are stuck in the patterns your fingers remember and your songs may end up sounding the same). But what's the message if you don't even know how it's going to sound like before you play it?

You need to train your ears. IMO noodling is not a way to write songs.

Though of course if you are playing the piano, you may get inspired easier. I'm not saying that your writing is random. Sometimes I get inspired by one sound which gives me lots of song ideas in my head and then writing a song becomes really easy. But even then the ideas come from my head, not from my fingers.


Well, it's not random. I can of course anticipate what the note sounds like before I play it. But let's face it, making a melody is trial and error. By improvising on the piano and trying different combinations, you can get a satisfactory result way faster than without it. Why would I NOT use the piano? The only reason I can think of is for bragging rights. I MADE THIS SONG WITHOUT AN INSTRUMENT!!1 look, without hands!

I'm not saying it's dumb to do it without an instrument, but using one just makes it much more effective imo.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Dec 15, 2013,
#21
Quote by Elintasokas
Well, it's not random. I can of course anticipate what the note sounds like before I play it. But let's face it, making a melody is trial and error. By improvising on the piano and trying different combinations, you can get a satisfactory result way faster than without it. Why would I NOT use the piano? The only reason I can think of is for bragging rights. I MADE THIS SONG WITHOUT AN INSTRUMENT!!1 look, without hands!

I'm not saying it's dumb to do it without an instrument, but using one just makes it much more effective imo.

Yeah, if it works for you, of course. But I'm against noodling around with scales and just guessing (but whatever, your approach isn't random like that). But when I write songs, they always start ringing in my head. I just can't start playing something and it becomes a song. Because if I do that, I usually play more with my fingers than with my head and I'm not satisfied with it (it usually sounds really generic, unless I'm in a good mood - but usually then the ideas come from my head).

But I mean, sometimes songs just start ringing in your head when there are no instruments close to you. And when that happens, you want to be able to recognize the pitches and rhythms and chords you hear.

Yeah, sometimes it's trial and error. But I don't know. I still get the bigger picture of the idea in my head and then may experiment with different chords/voicings, change some notes, etc. The ideas don't come from playing random notes. And as I said, sometimes I get inspired by a random sound and after that ideas start ringing in my head.
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
#22
Quote by MaggaraMarine

Yeah, sometimes it's trial and error. But I don't know. I still get the bigger picture of the idea in my head and then may experiment with different chords/voicings, change some notes, etc. The ideas don't come from playing random notes. And as I said, sometimes I get inspired by a random sound and after that ideas start ringing in my head.


Yeah, exactly this! In the end, what is the difference?

I mean you can play the initial melody your hear in your head (which sometimes IS the perfect melody you end up keeping) and try something like "okay, maybe if this line goes DOWN instead of UP, would it sound better? Skip a bit here? hmm..."

OR

You can put the notes on whatever program you compose in and then try the same thing. Essentially it's exactly the same thing you're doing, but instead of using an instrument, you use the software. You're still trying different things in the melody. I'm pretty sure you don't stick with the first thing you hear in your head very often. You change notes and try if it sounds better that way.
#23
I've been trying to move away from composing with programs like Sibelius, it's simply too distracting. And the limitations on them simply piss me off. Things like having to respell triplets because they can't cross barlines. And the If you know exactly what you need to put down, writing by hand is a lot quicker. Of course when writing by hand, I do sketches and transformations. But it's different with software, the automated functions makes you much lazier. I will say this though, the explode function makes arranging big charts easy.

Quote by MaggaraMarine
As I said, composing shouldn't be random. And it is random if you don't know the sound. I think songwriting could be compared to writing books. When you write a book, you know what you want to say. You know what every word means. You don't randomly put words after each other and hope for the best result. Same with music. Words are like different sounds.

I completely agree! From my experience, knowing what you want is the one of the most important aspects of composition. Sure experimentation is fine, but you need to not only how and idea of how you'll structure it, but what timbres will be present, what instrumentation you will be using, and what textures will be created. At the same time you don't know whether any of these things will work, and that is when sketching comes in.
Last edited by GoldenGuitar at Dec 16, 2013,
#24
Quote by GoldenGuitar
I've been trying to move away from composing with programs like Sibelius, it's simply too distracting. And the limitations on them simply piss me off. comes in.


The problem with notation programs is that the end result sounds like shit basically. I mean I can write songs with general MIDI sounds for 5 years and be decent at the composing itself, but my tracks will sound more or less like they belong into a NES game from the 80s. No one will listen to that. Then when I finally switch to using a DAW, I have no clue about mixing/EQing etc and I will take at least a year to get "okay" at that.

I'm comfortable with reading music and I've tried notation programs many times, but I just can't stand those MIDI-like soundfonts after using a DAW for many years. Also they feel somehow clunky to me.
Last edited by Elintasokas at Dec 16, 2013,
#25
Quote by Elintasokas
The problem with notation programs is that the end result sounds like shit basically. I mean I can write songs with general MIDI sounds for 5 years and be decent at the composing itself, but my tracks will sound more or less like they belong into a NES game from the 80s. No one will listen to that. Then when I finally switch to using a DAW, I have no clue about mixing/EQing etc and I will take at least a year to get "okay" at that.

I'm comfortable with reading music and I've tried notation programs many times, but I just can't stand those MIDI-like soundfonts after using a DAW for many years. Also they feel somehow clunky to me.

Sibelius comes with okay sample packs, and of course I also use DAW's, although I hate using Logic. But I only use them when I'm not writing for performers. If I was scoring something and I wasn't recording real instruments, then I would do the mix purely on a DAW.
#26
I don't necessarily even write it. I just record the guitar/bass/drum/vocal/whatever part that I come up with. It depends. But yeah, sometimes it's easier to do it on Sibelius, sometimes I just don't bother doing it and record my ideas straight away. The advantage of writing them down on Sibelius is that you can perfect the idea easier (and get an idea of how the ideas sound together). You can try different basslines or drum beats or whatever. And I have got used to the Midi sounds. They don't sound that bad to me.

If we continue my book analogy, tweaking your melodies/other parts is just like finding the right way to say whatever you want to say. You already know what you are going to say but you try to find out the best way to say it.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
Fender Dimension Bass
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Last edited by MaggaraMarine at Dec 16, 2013,
#27
Am7, G, Fmaj7 x2
C, Em,Em7, Am, F
Am, G, Fmaj7

I think the chord variations help "grease the wheels" of the chord changes. The Am7 adds a high G, and the next chord is G which is sort of foreshadowed. Then the Fmaj7 adds an E right before an A (in the case, Am7) which works especially well since E is the dominant of A. Moreover, the Fmaj7 has an Am within it (A-C-E) and could be written Am/F(?) The first series has less "change" between the chords than would be the case if you had Am-G-F. The changes are thus rather subtle, kind of like musical Taoism (going with the flow?)

At the same time, the song is strongly rooted in the key of Am at the low end, but skirts with the key of Em/G at the high end, so the song sort of pulls the listener in two directions, similar to contrapuntal music, perhaps?

In the second series of chords, the Em7 also adds a high D, which is the dominant of G and keeps this trend going. And, Em7 has an entire G chord within it. At the same time, D being the mediate of A means that the Em7, having both a D and an E, should strongly resolve to an A chord (in this case, Am).


Well, right or wrong, this is sort of how I'd start breaking it apart in music theory terms. Ultimately, I might say the song should have a melancholy feel not only because of the minor key and minor chords, but also you have a song in one key (let's call it Am) that skirts with movement clockwise around the circle of fifths to Em, but ultimately it does not go there and stays in Am. In fact, as noted, Fmaj7 has a whole Am chord within it, with an added F bass note. Now, by itself, Am could be in three minor keys -- Dm, Am, or Em -- But with the F, it could only be in Dm or Am because in the key of Em, the F becomes sharp.

So, when I look at the song, I see a series of chord progressions that are in an Am that is seeking to evolve to an Em, but the last chord of each progression -- the Fmaj7 -- says, "nope, not today." In fact, as F is the relative major of Dm, it really pulls the song back like a pendulum the other direction.

I've read movement in one direction adds energy and the other direction saps it. I know it works this way moving from A to B versus A to G, for example. I may be wrong, but I think it may work that way to some extent with movement by 5ths versus by 4ths (i.e., A to E adds energy, A to D saps energy?) Anyway, whether it's right or wrong, in terms of energy, I do think the song flirts with a key change, they ultimately "resolves" against the notion of any key change, and in that sense it seems to tell a story, and can "work" with the right lyrics, instrumentation, etc.

You've also got the bass notes going downhill, A-G-F, to create a sort of descending feel in both the first progression and the end of the second progression. This could also add to a melancholy feel perhaps, or at least a second of patterned movement which a listener can latch onto (like a subtle hook).

Ken
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Last edited by krm27 at Dec 16, 2013,