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#1
This has been on my mind for awhile now. I have been playing guitar for about 1.2 years and have been wanting to write my own stuff, but is that even possible any more? Is there a rhythm or melody that hasn't been used or at least hasn't been heavily inspired by something else? What do you think?
#2
Depends how you divide up music. My old teacher used to say that Bach already wrote everything, we're all just adding our personalities to it.

There are too many aspects to music that you can't peg down to say that they've already been done. Even two people doing their best to play the exact same song aren't really playing the same song when you get down to details.
#4
Quote by Mr.Dissonant
My old teacher used to say that Bach already wrote everything,


how can Bach have written everything when he didn't even use 53tet or synthesizers with dank ass filters
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#5
Quote by theogonia777
how can Bach have written everything when he didn't even use 53tet or synthesizers with dank ass filters

Holy crap, 53tet is a thing. What would that even be used for?
#6
Quote by Mr.Dissonant
Holy crap, 53tet is a thing. What would that even be used for?


It's the closest ET system for approximating traditional Turkish makam music, though the pitches still would not be 100% accurate and not all 53 tones would be used. But it's about as close as you could get.
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#7
This is a very old question. Two and a half thousand years ago the lyre (a small kind of harp) was a popular instrument. Early ones had only four strings, hence the excavation of numerous carved tablets translated to read, "I can teach you to play lead lyre with just four notes!".

Today, Dolores Catherino is exploring the polychromatic world with 106ET.

Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
Last edited by PlusPaul at Jun 25, 2017,
#8
tmcginzie 

Well, no, yes, and it doesn't matter.

No because, as Paul pointed out, there are still dimensions in music not many have explored before. It doesn't even have to be something as complicated as 106TET, simply creating new sounds and tones can be a new idea, especially in the production-driven modern world.

On the other hand, yes, because most popular music uses the same ideas and structures over and over again. Pop songs are still based around four chord progressions with catchy, diatonic vocal melodies. Rock is still based around riffs, power chords and pentatonic scales. If you listen to whatever hit radio station you have, I'm sure any knowledgeable musician could dissect the song into tiny pieces very quickly, because it's all familiar ideas.

But... it doesn't matter because you can still tell the difference between those songs, right? I mean, practically all pop music is based around the same influences, but they're still recognizable and arguably very different. It takes a lot more than just note and rhythm choices to make a song unique, you have to think about the performer, production style, instrumentation, tone, lyrics... you can use the exact same chord progression as some other song, and end up with an original song that sounds unique. You could probably even use the same notes in the same order, but end up with a very original sounding idea through new phrasing and instrumentation. As was already mentioned, just you playing a cover of an existing song can sound original, because it's your style despite the composition.

The bottom line is, that you should write music that sounds good, not music that sounds unique. Unless you deliberately want to write unique music, regardless of the quality of the final product.

PlusPaul 

While I enjoy the sounds and the soundscapes she creates, every song by Dolores I've heard has been just ambient chords one after another. I would be impressed if she could write coherent songs that'd work with vocal melodies or something like that, but at the moment I'd say it's a cool idea that creates beautiful sounds, but we still don't understand how to write approachable, dynamic music with it.
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#9
Quote by tmcginzie
This has been on my mind for awhile now. I have been playing guitar for about 1.2 years and have been wanting to write my own stuff, but is that even possible any more? Is there a rhythm or melody that hasn't been used or at least hasn't been heavily inspired by something else? What do you think?

What's wrong with being inspired by something else? I mean, I'm not even sure if anybody has ever written a completely original piece. You are the sum of your influences. You develop your personal style by first imitating others. I wouldn't really worry about sounding "original". Nothing sounds 100% original and also, you can't expect your first songs to be masterpieces. You learn to write better songs by just doing it a lot, just like you become a better guitarist by playing the guitar a lot.

Music is more than melodies and rhythms. You can take one melodic or rhythmic motif and use it in a new way. It has a lot to do with how you organize your ideas.

But yeah, I wouldn't worry about it. If everything you write needs to sound 100% original, you will never become a good songwriter because with that mindset you will never write any songs.

Imitating other people/recycling ideas has always been a part of music. For example many jazz standards are based on old popular melodies, and jazz musicians tend to use "quotes" in their improvisation. Electronic music (and modern pop) uses a lot of sampling. The whole career of Yngwie Malmsteen - and actually the whole "neoclassical metal" genre - is based on ripping off composers like Paganini, Vivaldi and Bach. Classical composers wrote "theme and variations" style pieces that many times were based on old melodies (a good example is Mozart's variations on "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star"), and in the renaissance period using old melodies as the basis of polyphonic compositions was pretty much the norm. My point is, you can create new out of old. Composing is not all about the ideas themselves, it has a lot to do with how you develop those ideas and how you use them in your compositions.
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Gear

Bach Stradivarius 37G
Charvel So Cal
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Hartke HyDrive 210c
Ibanez BL70
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Tokai TB48
Yamaha FG720S-12
Yamaha P115
#10
Sure there are. Even sticking to the standard tones, 10 random notes gives a number of permutations on the order of the number of people alive.
#11
Fuck. I just realized that I should have said that all the music I have that most music left to write other than Middle Eastern music which is write to left to correspond with Arabic.
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#12
I'm going to sing my song
And sing it all day long
A song that never ends
How can I tell you, all the things inside my head.
Moody Blues
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#13
Quote by smb
Sure there are. Even sticking to the standard tones, 10 random notes gives a number of permutations on the order of the number of people alive.


This is a bit rambly since I haven't been awake long enough to be coherent.

On the one hand I do acknowledge that statically there are more unused combinations of notes, but I also would say that common sense says a lot of those combinations are redundant (by the very nature of it, eleven out of every twelve will just be a transportation of another possibility for example) and a lot of them probably don't sound particularly pleasing or musical to most people. Actually, it makes me think of an article I read recently on an AI that takes colors, analyzes their hex values, and generates a name.

www.theatlantic.com/amp/article/527421/

Randomly generated note groupings are similar. That being said, I am now intrigued by the idea of writing music with the random number generator app on my phone using varying levels of "restrictions" to see if they can bring it to sound more musical.

That being said, there is a point where "uniqueness" is arguable. I listen to a lot of Irish music. I could take ten different melodies in Em, all with a unique combinations of notes, and play them and people would likely recognize them as not only all being Irish, but will probably not be 100% sure that they just heard more than three unique melodies. Then there are also things like variations in melodies. You are playing the same melody differently, but people would still recognize it as the same tune.

So this brings up the point of what "uniqueness" is and how well it really fits into the idea of "new" music. Things are similar in an almost intangible and unquantified manner when it comes to music regardless of whether they are actually unique combinations. Kind of like genetics. Two people might be relatively different genetically but might look more alike than to there respective siblings. Really uncanny cebrity lookalikes.

It's all conceptual stuff that can't be calculated or reduced to an algorithm.
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#14
I'm just illustrating the fact that people are very bad at estimating the order of possible results of simple permutations. It didn't seem to merit further analysis because the conclusion seemed pretty obvious. Not obvious enough though, it seems.
#15
Writing something totally original is not that important. Coming up with the right thing at the right time is critical. When is the first awesome song that uses the Seaboard gonna come out? That would be quite innovative. 
#17
Quote by Kevätuhri
PlusPaul

While I enjoy the sounds and the soundscapes she creates, every song by Dolores I've heard has been just ambient chords one after another. I would be impressed if she could write coherent songs that'd work with vocal melodies or something like that, but at the moment I'd say it's a cool idea that creates beautiful sounds, but we still don't understand how to write approachable, dynamic music with it.

In one of her videos she talks about that - she feels the same way.
Quote by reverb66
I'm pretty sure the Bible requires that you play through a tube amp in Texas.
#18
Quote by tmcginzie
This has been on my mind for awhile now. I have been playing guitar for about 1.2 years and have been wanting to write my own stuff, but is that even possible any more? Is there a rhythm or melody that hasn't been used or at least hasn't been heavily inspired by something else? What do you think?


Oh hell yes.
#19
Quote by 33db
A 10 note melody has 75 billions possibilities, think what a 12 note would have, then tie in the rhythm portion, vocals etc and I think you're safe for a while.



https://plus.maths.org/content/how-many-melodies-are-there

Besides it isn't just the notes, it's the emotion conveyed.


Didn't click the link but has does two notes make 25? You have a possibility of 12 notes per note or 7 if you stay diatonic or 8 or nine if you allow harmonic and melodic minor. So you get 12, 9, 8, or 7 squared, all of which are more than 25. It doesn't seem right unless they are cutting out redundant melodies such as AA, BB, CC, etc or things with identical intervals that can be transposed, such as AC and EG.
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#20
They set parameter limits so the numbers don't get out of hand.

The notes are relative instead of absolute, and within one octave. eg, C-E is the same as G-B.

So, one octave up, plus one octave down, including unison equals 25.
#21
Quote by Vreid
They set parameter limits so the numbers don't get out of hand.

The notes are relative instead of absolute, and within one octave. eg, C-E is the same as G-B.

So, one octave up, plus one octave down, including unison equals 25.


Okay. Figured that it was something like that.
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#22
Quote by theogonia777
Didn't click the link but has does two notes make 25?  You have a possibility of 12 notes per note or 7 if you stay diatonic or 8 or nine if you allow harmonic and melodic minor.  So you get 12, 9, 8, or 7 squared, all of which are more than 25.  It doesn't seem right unless they are cutting out redundant melodies such as AA, BB, CC, etc or things with identical intervals that can be transposed, such as AC and EG.

Didn't click the link
#23
Quote by theogonia777
how can Bach have written everything when he didn't even use 53tet or synthesizers with dank ass filters


psh, synthesizers didn't have bach

but yeah as said above, there are so many nuances to writing that it's hard to really quantify the sheer number of combinations possible, and that's just in 12TET. your reaction is natural though, and i feel like most people have it early on. the issue is that you realize, "oh, i'm only supposed to be playing 7 notes at a time, and there are only 12 notes, and all my licks and all the music i like sounds kinda the same." this comes from how little music (in the grand scheme of things) you've really internalized.

when you're actively listening to all kinds of music - and not just listening, but analyzing it, even if you don't formally chart it out - you start to realize more and more how little you actually know. your view of music has been through a microscope, because if you took everything at face value, you'd be overwhelmed



another thing to keep in mind is that notes are really a fairly small part of music. you can (theoretically) make interesting music with 1 note, and schoenberg proved you can make really boring music with all the notes.
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#24
Hail

People just don't realize the sheer scope of what is sonically possible. You can make interesting music without using distinctly pitched sounds. Like you said, people like to visual music in terms of notes rather than looking at it in terms of sound. Like I hear a lot of jazz guitar players that are very skilled technically but their playing is so uninteresting to me because it's based entirely on note selection and phrasing. But there's no concern for sound. You don't have screaming bends or percussive dead notes or any major variations in timbre or whatever. So much they could be doing but aren't.

There's such much neat stuff to do to create atmospheres and textures and that's really what a lot of people don't think about. It's all about the chords and the notes and the melodies but not creating something that is almost its own self contained world.
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#25
theogonia777 
She who shall remain nameless has a point, I think Steve Vai brought the idea of noise (in context) as music better than anyone else, for me.
Last edited by 33db at Jun 25, 2017,
#26
Stuff like this.



The note choice of the fills from the lead zithery instruments (I want to say kanun since the music has that Middle Eastern vibe but I feel like I remember them using kantele a lot) is important, but the bird sounds and the choir/pad sounds all build together and it creates a soundscape. You close your eyes and you can practically see some far off land.



Very basic melody, but the pan flute sound makes it sound all foresty. The timbre of the lead instruments, and particularly the association of different timbres with different things, in this case an association of pan pipes with forests or the Andes mountains, suggests sounds of the remote wilderness. You have the sounds of forest creatures as well, and the underlying drone is a bit unnerving. It creates this dichotomy of having this tranquil forest pipe thing with this "deadly beast around every corner" uneasiness.



In this one, the sound of the piano is very crucial in creating the vibe. I'm not gonna say anything else, but for anyone that has never played Metroid Prime, can you guess the environment of the sector where this theme plays?
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#27
theogonia777 If it's a kantele, I'd say it's either prepared in some way or played with an unusual technique. At least to me, it sounds kind of "muted" in a weird way, not really the word I'm looking for but it's similar in feel to a sitar, where it feels like something is restricting the notes from ringing out fully.

Speaking of Metroid, fusion is obviously the superior game in the series, and a similar example can be found in it's soundtrack.



Obviously, much more emphasis is on the tone rather than then notes, and again, it's not hard to tell which environment this track fits.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#28
Yeah, I don’t think it is a kantele. I recall them using kantele a lot, but maybe not. Like I said, my first guess would be kanun but could be a hammered dulcimer.
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#29
the premise of the post is a closed circuit. extend the idea to words/books..remember .. all inventions have been invented-US Patent office-Charles Duell

we are just beginning to see/hear/feel and more of what we will discover..there will be exploration in every genre and new genres will be born..we are still discovering our oceans..and space-should we overcome our petty egos we may find out the "why" of the universe..
play well

wolf
#30
So long as you can exponentially increase the number of different kinds of instruments in usage, and so long as you can change tuning and notation systems, and so long as you can exploit amusical sounds (noise outside of drums), then I'd say the world is your oyster.

When people ask this question they're usually referring to this sort of musical Overton Window. Normally when you show people harsh noise or something like Ligetti's Metronomes they lose their fuckin mind, like they're listening to Hitler's speeches. I think in that regard the truly avant garde stuff that makes the people of the next few centuries ask that question is going to be almost incomprehensible to us, at least compared to what we tend to think of as experimental and "out there"

The same problem has existed within visual arts. Before each great revolution, people have said "all has been done! art is over and human expression is now limited to these borders!". And then Jackson Pollock played bukkake with a brush. I don't think that, just because a lot of music or visual are is self referential (in music someone like Yasunao Tone might be an example of this), this scenario is no longer possible.
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Last edited by Banjocal at Jun 25, 2017,
#31
I don't think it really matter how many possible note combinations there are. You can use the same thing in a new way and create something new out of it. Music is about so much more than just note choice. If you use the same notes in a different context, it may sound pretty different. Then again, if you use different notes in a similar context, it may sound pretty similar.

What makes a lot of mainstream pop music (or metalcore or glam metal or whatever) sound "the same" is not the melodies. It has more to do with predictable structure, similar rhythms, similar arrangements/instrumentation, similar sounds and stuff like that.

I don't think "running out of notes" is a problem. People don't usually even like too chromatic stuff, and they tend to prefer melodies based on the pentatonic and diatonic scales (so most of the time even 12 different notes is too much). Adding 100 more notes wouldn't really change anything.
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
#32
Quote by theogonia777
Yeah, I don’t think it is a kantele. I recall them using kantele a lot, but maybe not.  Like I said, my first guess would be kanun but could be a hammered dulcimer.

More likely it's all samples.
#33
Those posting clips of music - are they evidence in support of or contrary to the initial premise
#34
Quote by MaggaraMarine
I don't think it really matter how many possible note combinations there are. You can use the same thing in a new way and create something new out of it. Music is about so much more than just note choice. If you use the same notes in a different context, it may sound pretty different. Then again, if you use different notes in a similar context, it may sound pretty similar.

What makes a lot of mainstream pop music (or metalcore or glam metal or whatever) sound "the same" is not the melodies. It has more to do with predictable structure, similar rhythms, similar arrangements/instrumentation, similar sounds and stuff like that.

I don't think "running out of notes" is a problem. People don't usually even like too chromatic stuff, and they tend to prefer melodies based on the pentatonic and diatonic scales (so most of the time even 12 different notes is too much). Adding 100 more notes wouldn't really change anything.

It isn't "how many notes", it is how many melody possibilities exist from the existing 12 note structure.
#35
I would add that single note melody lines are one thing, and 2 or more notes played at a time creating the melody are another.

Lately I have been really into hybrid picking and 2 notes (or more) at a time melodies, I'm not even sure what this is called... chordal melodies *shrug* I dunno.

I use the chords as a guide but stretch out.
It's really helped me get back into the guitar as I almost always did single note lead lines before, and frankly not in a very melodic way.
#36
Quote by smb
Those posting clips of music - are they evidence in support of or contrary to the initial premise

I posted that youtube clip just to show it's most likely all the foreign instruments/ sounds were samples, played on pads and keys.

That's another factor int he discussion, samples from existing music being used to create new music and/or instruments.
#37
I just like the inherent contradiction in saying "there's lots more music to write - check out this weird track" but actually that's reducing the number of remaining possibilities
#38
Quote by smb
I just like the inherent contradiction in saying "there's lots more music to write - check out this weird track" but actually that's reducing the number of remaining possibilities

Kind of - but on the other hand, if we couldn't find any examples of weird music, wouldn't that be much more concrete proof that everything has been done already?

Idk, maybe it's a lose-lose scenario.
Quote by Jet Penguin
Theory: Not rules, just tools.

Quote by Hail
*note that by fan i mean that guy who wants his friends to know he knows this totally obscure hip band that only he knows about with 236 views on youtube. lookin' at Kev here
#39
In the end it comes down to definitions

if there's no limit on duration, there are infinite musical possibilities

If there is an upper limit on duration then you'd need to consider the abilities of our senses to resolve minor differences

but if that's the case, is my scratched Slip It In vinyl a separate composition to the original recording
#40
Quote by 33db
More likely it's all samples.


It seems like more of a backing track. You really can't play all those things with just two people without MIDI aND backing track. It's played lived for the studio recordings. I know they play a lot of different and have employed a lot of session musicians. Not to mention, if you look next to her, she clearly has some sort of zither right next to her though I can't tell (no pun intended) what it is from that angle.

Quote by smb
Those posting clips of music - are they evidence in support of or contrary to the initial premise


My point in posting it is supporting what Hail said about music being more than just choice. If you start to think outside of just the notes that you're playing and think about sound, it opens up hold new worlds. Things like timbre and other qualities of instruments, whether they are properties of sound or of association, can often do more for a track than a melody. Textures and atmospheres.
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