Guide To Writing Your First Movie Score. Part 1

This very first part covers what would you need to have and know to begin writing your very first score.

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This is the 1st article I've ever written in my life. English is not my primary language, you'd have to forgive any mistakes. I tried to write this article AS simple as possible. While this article might also prove useful to any person who wishes to use virtual instruments in his work, I primarily base it around writing movie score music. This is only the 1st part of the article focusing on what you need to have and know, it only focuses on what you need to, it doesn't explain how to, if it turns out well, I can write the 2ond part already depicting how to actually USE what I described you need, that is in my opinion, and advanced features of VSTi to write a score. Let me know in the comments whether I should. IF YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT MOVIE SCORE IS, SCROLL DOWN, I give a brief explanation, and also some samples of my own. Here's some common terminology I'll be using in this article: VSTi- virtual studio instruments, basically just virtual instruments VST- virtual studio, we could consider the program a virtual studio environment Operator/host- this is how I call these programs which will contain the tools with which we create the composition, edit it, add effects, master it Score- in this genre movie score, I like to refer to compositions as scores Hello, I'd like to start this article with a bit of a introduction. My name's Andre, I'm a pretty active user here on UG and a lot of people don't like me. I'm 18, 1st year student in the Tallinn University of Technology studying computer systems. I went into music 2 years ago and I started with the guitar like most of you did, with time my ambitions grew and soon, after a few months of practice I started writing music. I started writing in guitar pro, I added a few guitars parts and thought it sounded too dry. So I added drum ensembles and orchestras, and once I finished, I thought that is sounded great. But I also asked myself: How would I be able to record this? That's when I went into the world of VST and VSTi. I was downloading various digital music editor, which I like to call either hosts or operators, because such programs I'd use as a medium, through which I'd connect all my virtual instruments and work. I tried all sorts of such programs: from low-end amateur 2GB programs to high-end professional ones of over 60GB. So it was a trial-and-error type of a run. Anyway, after I settled in on a very simple program called Magix Music Maker, I thought I could finally start working. The reason I chose it, is because it does not demand much in terms of CPU, it isn't too big, approximately 4GB, and it's very simple to use. After I found this operator, I now had to go find some VSTi. Fortunately for me, though, this program had some in-built ones, so I could start working right way. Needless to say, those VSTi weren't of the highest quality and one would easily spot this as something that doesn't sound quite real. But it didn't matter to me, because I could finally start working on something. I actually abandoned the 1st composition I wrote in guitar pro, and started writing music RIGHT in the program, because it's more comfortable to avoid using additional software. I released some music, it sounded well musically, but in terms of arrangement(how instruments sound, how they blend, how they are played), it was screaming amateur all over the place. Nevertheless, it was excellent practice for songwriting. I do realize that this introduction is getting quite long, so I'll start with why we're here. What do you need for the PLEASANT experience of writing a score 1) The operator First thing's first. To write something, you need something to write this something in. Generally I assume that most of you don't want to write sheet music and then distribute it to your personal orchestra, which none of us probably has, so I'll skip the sheet music part. You need a program in which you will start writing your scores. The most popular of such programs is Cubase, as an example. But I, personally, don't like it. Regardless of whether you had any experience in using digital music editors, the operator you choose MUST be 1.1) Able to Support plug-ins This is the most important aspect of your operator, because most VSTi are plug-ins. You download a VSTi, and you can't just open it and start writing. Just like you can't make a composition in the operator. In the operator, you can write music, but there isn't anything to play it with. The VSTi must attach itself to the operator and only then can you begin working. I will explain how to do this a bit later. 1.2) Easy for you to understand I understand that any program you download for the first time would be more-or-less confusing to you. But you need to pick one that would be relatively easier for you to understand. This is also the downfall of high-end operators, they are too complex to understand to use. You should also understand, that the quality of the operator would not generally affect your composition. Getting a professional operator wouldn't make your composition sound professional, any operator could do it. You are the one who can make it sound great. A professional operator DOES not grant you potential to write great sounding scores, your VSTi and your musical prowess are that potential. If every program you open looks confusing, how will you understand whether it will become natural for you to use it? Just look around it. Look for the export and import features, check which formats are supported, check what the operator offers: mixing tools, equalizers, effect presets, perhaps even built-in VSTi. If you can understand SOME of these features, then keep it for now, you can always replace the operator anyway. 1.2) Suitable for your computer Digital music editors are known to be quite consuming in terms of hardware, they need fast computers to function properly, so obviously you would want to find a program that wouldn't crash every 5 minutes because your computer can't handle it. How could you check whether a program is suitable? You can simply read the system specifications of your computer and compare them to what the program demands, or like I did by trial-and-error. I recommend: Magix Music Maker Because, it 1) IS NOT EXPENSIVE, 60$ 2) IS VERY EASY to learn and understand 3) Includes low-quality VSTi, which is enough for you to GET familiar with writing scores 4) Includes GREAT effect presets and mastering tools 5) Supports plug-ins 6) Can export in a wide variety of music AND video formats 7) Is used by me Link to buy: http://www.magix.com/us/music-maker/ 2) VSTi To write scores, you need virtual instruments. Even if you're lucky enough that your operator includes some VSTi, they are most probably of low quality. What does it mean, that the VSTi is of low quality? Simply, it means that it sounds unrealistic. High end VSTi sound great, and even if they don't sound realistic, they still sound PLEASANT. Sounding realistic is not your primary concern, your primary concern is to make sure that it sounds pleasant to the ear. However, I believe it right to assume that most of you are new to writing movie scores, so I don't recommend you buying anything unless you practice a bit with some free ones. Note that, great sounding VSTi are not just instruments, it's a library, meaning it containts many instruments. Another good thing to notice, is that there are some good free libraries available. Why am I saying for you try out before buying the very best? Because the MINIMUM price of a good library will be around 150$. Do you really want to spend that kind of money on something you might not even like? Also, good VSTi can also be tweaked: setting up the tone ,effects, and many other IMPORTANT things. I will explain how to do it and how to connect the VSTi to your operator in the 2ond part of the article, should there be one. FOR NEW users, I recommend: ANYTHING BY DSK I use: DSK Virtuoso, DSK Asian Because, they 1)Are free 2)Contain medium-good quality instruments 3)Can be set-up(tinkered with) 4)Are sometimes used by me Link to free download of these libraries, and many others released by DSK are here: http://www.dskmusic.com/ FOR EXPERIENCED users, I recommend: ANYTHING by EAST WEST QUANTUM LEAP I use: Symphonic Orchestra Silver Edition Because, they 1) Highest quality, high-end virtual libraries 2) Contain countless instruments 3) Contains ONLY the highest quality instruments and librares 4) Can be FULLY tweaked and set-up 5) Are used by me Link to buy: http://www.soundsonline.com/Symphonic-Orchestra 3) Midi Keyboard Note this, I included the word PLEASANT. This midi keyboard I am speaking of, is not absolutely required for you to write scores. But if you do not own one, you will most probably find yourself very annoyed and frustrated in the process of making a score. Therefore it is a good idea to get one, because the process of songwriting and arranging can be quite frustrating on it's own. What's a midi keyboard? It's, to put simply, a digital piano-ish thingy that you plug in into your computer, I will even help you find a good cheap'o one. Why would you need it? Because, if you don't have it, you'd have to play parts and improvise on your ACTUAL PC keyboard or by left clicking on the piano roll you see on the screen. It's simply much more convenient to use a midi keyboard for this. What type of a keyboard would you need though? the keyboard you choose MUST 3.1) Look like a piano The general keyboard, with which I am typing this article, would not be a very good keyboard for writing a score. I am refering to the musical keyboard which would generally look like a piano. 3.2) Have AT LEAST 2 octaves of keys You don't know what an octave is? Then just remember, it must have AT LEAST 25 keys. Why? Because it would be very annoying and frustrating to write a good score without at least 2 octaves of keys. Why? Because I might explain it in the part 2 of the article, should I write one. 3.3) Have a MIDI-out/be able to connect to a PC What is a MIDI-out you say? Look for round hole in your keyboard that says "out" and then you're good to go. Or it should have a USB cable that will connect to a PC. Why "or"? Because there are special cables that can connect from your "MIDI-out" to a PC, but generally it's better for the keyboard to have a socket to connect directly to a PC, because when you buy a keyboard that supports a MIDI-out but doesn't support a direct USB connection, you'd have to find the cable yourself. it is a good idea to buy a keyboard that is 3.4) Velocity-sensitive This means when you press softly on the key, the sound played will be quieter, more mild, non-agressive. Why is this important? Because you could write much more diverse tracks, and improvise much better when you have this option of "dynamics" when writing. It needn't be absolutely included, because you can manually adjust the velocity when writing a track, like I do anyway, because I don't record myself playing, I only improvise on the keyboard and then just put in the notes manually. But when improvising and looking for some sweet tune to start writing from, it will play an important role. I recommend: M-Audio keystation 49e Because, it 1) IS NOT RELATIVELY EXPENSIVE, around 120$ brand new 2) Has buttons 3) Has buttons to quickly go up-or-down an octave 4) Shows notes above the keys 5) Is velocity-sensitive 6) Is used by me 7) Can be connected directly to a PC with an USB cable 7) Looks great Link to buy: Amazon 3) Idea The concept of the songwriting remains the same. VSTi simply offers you the potential. You need to have an idea in your mind, which can also be spontaneous if you're improvising. But I also found it quite easier to transfer the ideas that I have in my mind to the piano, than to the guitar. Why? I've no idea. Sometimes I have the whole composition written in my mind, and all I have to do is just find the right note to begin it with. And it goes from there. What do you need to know to start writing a score? 1) Absolutely nothing That's right. You don't NEED theory, you don't need to know notes, you don't need to know anything. Not even how to play the damn piano, cause I don't. However, you will most probably write something hideously appalling if you have ABSOLUTELY no idea of what you are doing. So it is a good idea to know SOME basics in music. What would you WANT to know? 1) Notes? Octaves? What does it mean to know notes? Finding them on a keyboard? That would hardly be a problem since, at least on my keyboard, there's a small letter telling me what note the key is. I can't really explain what it means to know notes. I suppose it doesn't matter much to me. But what I found quite important is this genre, is the use of octaves. Quite simply, C on 1 octave is the same C on another octave, it just sounds either higher or lower. I really have a hard time explaining this, considering I have no idea what I'm talking about. To put it VERY bluntly, look at the piano, and try to notice a repeating pattern in the placement of black and white keys. You will notice that the pattern is made out of 7 white and 5 black keys, and that the pattern constantly repeats. Well, those 7 white and 5 black keys is an octave, what kind of an octave? It doesn't matter, all you'd have to know if you move the melody or note playing in this octave to another octave, it will still sound good along with it as it is the same melody. 2) Theory? I didn't actually learn any theory, but I do believe it can help those who struggle with songwriting. I never had trouble with songwriting, I guess it came a bit naturally to me. 3) Sonwriting method Everyone has their own. You need to find yours. How? Just try to write songs and you'll notice that you, just like the octaves, follow some pattern in which you create a composition. The reason you'd want to notice how you write songs is because you can spot some flaws in it, and fill them up. What could a flaw be? Perhaps you are stuck in a box using same chord and note patterns, perhaps you're always writing scores that are either slow, or fast all the time. Perhaps they lack dynamics. Analyzing your work and letting others analyze it will greatly help in your development as a score writer. What would you want to do? 1) Listen to other artists Amongst all the genres, I believe that inspiration is at most importance in THIS very genre. Having a full orchestra in my command, I could write virtually anything that would come to my mind, but it's all so overwhelming that you lose the track of your ideas, one replacing another every 10 seconds. So what do you do? Try to listen to some other artists, get some inspiration from it. Then try to write something similar. Writing similar? That seems like copying, but I don't mean write the same melodies, use the same notes or rhythm. No, in this genre, you don't do that- you capture the mood. Movie score music is mostly atmospheric, it is MEANT to create an environment for the picture. Look at some paintings and try to capture the idea of music suitable to this very painting. If you look at the painting of a winter? You would create something "cold", but it's not just about the general painting, look INTO the painting: the weather, the characters, the story behind the picture. Every little detail you notice would serve as AN IDEA for you. OR, you could go the other way around. I, for example, first write the music, and THEN I look for the painting that I believe would suit the music. Why do I do that? Simply because I like to experiment, I like my music to be in charge of my music, not the painting. What is this "movie score" genre? If you read all this article about some genre you've never heard about and came all the way to the end, I congratulate you. I'll use wikipedias definition. A film score is original music written specifically to accompany a film, forming part of the film's soundtrack, which also usually includes dialogue and sound effects. The score comprises a number of orchestral, instrumental or choral pieces called cues which are timed to begin and end at specific points during the film in order to enhance the dramatic narrative and the emotional impact of the scene in question. What does it mean to you? It means that you CAN'T listen to scores as you do to normal music. Because they carry different meanings. I found that very many people enjoy movie scores in movies, but when they listen to them without the movie, just like they would a normal song, they don't like it, they don't know what this is, they are confused. Please do not make such mistakes, and when making a movie score and showing them to your friends you'd very oftenly have to explain the background behind the music. Movies with movie scores: lord of the rings, star wars, inception, 300, narnia, harry potter, avatar and others which fit under the genre "epic". I thank you for reading the article, and I hope you enjoyed it as much as I enjoyed making it. I'm sorry I couldn't cover the "theory" section behind the music, but that is simply because I have no idea myself. If you wish me to make the 2ond part which focuses on how to UTILIZE and how to USE what you could have bought for writing score music, write so in the comments section which I would check regularly. The reason why I didn't include part 2 right in here, is because I currently don't have time to write such a long article and I'm not entirely sure people will be interested. I also apologize if my article seems completely biased an irrelevant, I am simply stating my opinion, if you disagree with it, it is your choice. All my recently recorded samples, 3 of them at the present, can be found in my youtube channel.

17 comments sorted by best / new / date

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    theogonia777
    i'm impressed that this was actually a decent article. why can't your posts be more like this?
    Kapalen
    I read the whole article. You clearly should have called this a guide to midi setup and called part 2 a guide to scoring. If you want to arrange a 32 piece orchestra by trial and error, no you don't HAVE to know theory, no one ever has to learn theory. But it's like saying, I don't have to drive to work, I could just strap tires to my arms and run the whole way. Why make yourself do all the extra work? If you're avoiding theory because you think it dictates the ability to write music, then you don't even know what theory is well enough to have an opinion on it at all. If you're a natural? Then you've got nowhere to go but up. That honestly sounds like an excuse a lazy person would give for not putting in the effort, or some attempt to be a contrarian "artist". And you admit yourself your examples aren't that good? Don't you think they'd benefit from you knowing what the hell you're doing? You said yourself also that you should listen to other people's scores, and I'd bet money those people know theory. So here you are trying to learn from people who know it, and you try to get at it in a roundabout way (how many of your scores are in a key and not just nonchromatic shit?) all so you can say "I don't need theory, I'm a natural"? That just makes you look stupid.
    TheGreifer
    A knowledge of music theory is not musical elitism. Music theory simply lets you know why what you are writing sounds the way it is. It is a huge time saver.
    Kapalen
    This wasn't a guide to music scoring as much as it was a guide to setting up a midi workstation. Not an unadmirable goal necessarily but not what was promised. On the two aspects actually about scoring you put 1. Songwiritng - do it your own way. And 2. Theory - beats me. Scoring for movies is about atmosphere, about being forward with the message but not taking away from the visual. To understand that you have to understand A LOT of theory, like violins modulating to dissonant sounds and back and hugely layered chord structures, who plays the root, the fifth, rests etc.
    Zeletros
    Kapalen wrote: This wasn't a guide to music scoring as much as it was a guide to setting up a midi workstation. Not an unadmirable goal necessarily but not what was promised. On the two aspects actually about scoring you put 1. Songwiritng - do it your own way. And 2. Theory - beats me. Scoring for movies is about atmosphere, about being forward with the message but not taking away from the visual. To understand that you have to understand A LOT of theory, like violins modulating to dissonant sounds and back and hugely layered chord structures, who plays the root, the fifth, rests etc.
    This is the 1st part, if you read the whole article, then I clearly pointed out that I only posted what is NEEDED for it in this 1st part, and I promised to write a continued part if this one became successful. Actually it IS score-oriented, because I provided links and talked mostly about VSTi used in score music. I did post that score music IS atmospheric at most. I don't have to understand a lot of theory, I even left a link to MY examples, which, perhaps not too good, but NOT bad either, and can serve as a example that lack of theory doesn't cripple.
    Zeletros
    "This is only the 1st part of the article focusing on what you need to have and know, it only focuses on what you need to, it doesn't explain how to, if it turns out well, I can write the 2ond part already depicting how to actually USE what I described you need, that is in my opinion, and advanced features of VSTi to write a score." I don't understand why you people feel betrayed to the fact I focused this article on setting up. I recommend you listening to other people simply for inspiration, not because they might know some theory. Why do I not learn theory? Because I don't need it, I love my compositions, the reason I told them that they aren't really good and aren't really bad, is to avoid looking like an ego-maniac. I write music every day, I never learned any theory, it SOUNDS good. Why WOULD I need theory if I'm fine without it? Seriously, how many of you who actually studied theory to write "PRO" music? OR are you just looking for an excuse to rip on people for making music without it, musical elitism?
    Kapalen
    Let me say this about theory, it's a tool box. If you were a carpenter trying to work without a hammer, how stupid would you be? Yeah you could punch your nails into the wall but that only goes so far. What about when you need more complex equipment? It's the same with theory, yeah you can play around and figure out which notes are in a scale, but what about complex arpeggios and arrangements, that's a lot of fumbling around you'll have to do? The idea of song form itself is a concept of music theory.
    Kapalen
    Ah. So I'm using theory whether I know it or not? Then makes sense not to waste time learning it.
    Yeah if you ignor everything else I said, sure. You know what'm if you're ok writing your little pretend movie scores in your little box where you can never get better, and if you do you had to work 5 times as hard as everyone else to do so, then fine. But you're not exactly qualified to be writing a guide about something you not only don't understand but refuse to understand.
    Zeletros
    Kapalen wrote: Ah. So I'm using theory whether I know it or not? Then makes sense not to waste time learning it. Yeah if you ignor everything else I said, sure. You know what'm if you're ok writing your little pretend movie scores in your little box where you can never get better, and if you do you had to work 5 times as hard as everyone else to do so, then fine. But you're not exactly qualified to be writing a guide about something you not only don't understand but refuse to understand.
    You absolutely don't sound like a butt-hurt musical elitist* * indicates sarcasm. You're not exactly qualified to tell me I'm not exactly qualified considering you didn't show any of your compositions. Theory is the box. Avoiding it gives more freedom whether you see it or not. Avoiding methods to writing songs is a method itself.
    Kapalen
    Zeletros wrote: Theory is the box. Avoiding it gives more freedom whether you see it or not. Avoiding methods to writing songs is a method itself.
    Theory is a tool box, you don't have to use any tools you don't want. Avoiding it would give more freedom if that's what you were actually doing, but you're not. You're stumbling through the forest of theory and you think you've discovered something amazing when you bump into a tree. Now if you actually learned theory, then you could become the man who takes those trees and builds a house out of them or a fire, something that wasn't already there. By claiming ignorance of the discoveries made thousands of years ago, you can make yourself feel better when you come up with it on your own. If you want to avoid methods of writing songs, you could do something crazy like Arnold Schoenberg, or even John Cage, but that's NOT what you're doing. You write standard western style music. How would it make me "butt hurt" when I'm not the one who fell for your nonsense? I just chimed in to let people reading this know what they were getting. The opinion of an intentionally ignorant man. I'm not a musical elitist, but I have studied Film Scoring, soudn for picture, and the art of soundtrack design at an actual university, and so I can detect your bullshit pretty easy.
    Zeletros
    Kapalen wrote: dodo4hire wrote: Hey haters, This is part one. this is not a full tutorial for writing. this is a tutorial starting from A, not (unlike a lot of tutorials) starting with, "Hey, score music likes Csus4add13lydian chords so let use this" without saying you what the **** it means. This article has a terminology list and starts from A. good for people about to start wanting to write this type of music (and that is clearly stated and even referred to in the end of the article) And yes, you can write music without theory. how did the first musicians start then? I myself only use theory for analyzing music, and not writing. i just play on keyboard/guitar/violin what sounds good and i keep that, add to it, remove parts, like i am sketching a picture untill i am pleased, i do not think about chord progression, time signatures or what i am doing during the proces. Appearantly there is a new type of nazi next to the grammar nazi's. I am dissapointed... You're a moron. If you are sitting there trying to play what sounds good, wouldn't it be nice if you could think "Oh a fifth would add this sound, and if I add a 7th it'd do this" and so on. All you're doing is slowing your own progress. It's like if you're sketching a picture and apply the PRINCIPLES OF ART just like musicians apply MUSIC THEORY. It's not Art Law or Music Rules. It's a TOOLBOX. If you write in a key, you're using theory, whether you acknowledge it or not. You're sitting around reinventing the wheel every time you write a song. It's when you learn the basics that you're free to let the YOU come out in how the music is written and sounds. Like if a quarterback refused to practice throwing, he spends every game figuring out what routes are and so he can never progress to thinking on his feet and coming up with new ideas. If you're improvising (possibly the highest form of the art) and you can't play in key and you have to keep wondering what chord everyone is playing, or what time signature it's in, you'll look like an idiot, because you are one, you're intentionally ignorant. The very idea of octaves in music is no more than an idea in theory. Your instrument has octaves? Bam you're using theory. Western theory includes half tones. You can play A#? BAM that's theory. You think it sounds good when you play an F after that A#? THEORY! You use it, so you might as well use ALL of it. You're saying "Learning Modes will only hurt my ability to play." It'd be like a math teacher saying "Man I never learned calculus because it really hampers my ability to do algebra."
    Ah. So I'm using theory whether I know it or not? Then makes sense not to waste time learning it.
    dodo4hire
    Hey haters, This is part one. this is not a full tutorial for writing. this is a tutorial starting from A, not (unlike a lot of tutorials) starting with, "Hey, score music likes Csus4add13lydian chords so let use this" without saying you what the **** it means. This article has a terminology list and starts from A. good for people about to start wanting to write this type of music (and that is clearly stated and even referred to in the end of the article) And yes, you can write music without theory. how did the first musicians start then? I myself only use theory for analyzing music, and not writing. i just play on keyboard/guitar/violin what sounds good and i keep that, add to it, remove parts, like i am sketching a picture untill i am pleased, i do not think about chord progression, time signatures or what i am doing during the proces. Appearantly there is a new type of nazi next to the grammar nazi's. I am dissapointed...
    ZeligtheAxMan
    Yeah, I'm gonna have to agree with Zeletros; If you're a natural you don't need to know what the sounds you're making are. It may HELP to have a bit of theory but I don't think it in anyway dictates the ability to write music...
    Zeletros
    hriday_hazarika wrote: A movie score doesn't have to be "epic".
    Never did I imply that it is. Movies usually are, though.
    Kapalen
    dodo4hire wrote: Hey haters, This is part one. this is not a full tutorial for writing. this is a tutorial starting from A, not (unlike a lot of tutorials) starting with, "Hey, score music likes Csus4add13lydian chords so let use this" without saying you what the **** it means. This article has a terminology list and starts from A. good for people about to start wanting to write this type of music (and that is clearly stated and even referred to in the end of the article) And yes, you can write music without theory. how did the first musicians start then? I myself only use theory for analyzing music, and not writing. i just play on keyboard/guitar/violin what sounds good and i keep that, add to it, remove parts, like i am sketching a picture untill i am pleased, i do not think about chord progression, time signatures or what i am doing during the proces. Appearantly there is a new type of nazi next to the grammar nazi's. I am dissapointed...
    You're a moron. If you are sitting there trying to play what sounds good, wouldn't it be nice if you could think "Oh a fifth would add this sound, and if I add a 7th it'd do this" and so on. All you're doing is slowing your own progress. It's like if you're sketching a picture and apply the PRINCIPLES OF ART just like musicians apply MUSIC THEORY. It's not Art Law or Music Rules. It's a TOOLBOX. If you write in a key, you're using theory, whether you acknowledge it or not. You're sitting around reinventing the wheel every time you write a song. It's when you learn the basics that you're free to let the YOU come out in how the music is written and sounds. Like if a quarterback refused to practice throwing, he spends every game figuring out what routes are and so he can never progress to thinking on his feet and coming up with new ideas. If you're improvising (possibly the highest form of the art) and you can't play in key and you have to keep wondering what chord everyone is playing, or what time signature it's in, you'll look like an idiot, because you are one, you're intentionally ignorant. The very idea of octaves in music is no more than an idea in theory. Your instrument has octaves? Bam you're using theory. Western theory includes half tones. You can play A#? BAM that's theory. You think it sounds good when you play an F after that A#? THEORY! You use it, so you might as well use ALL of it. You're saying "Learning Modes will only hurt my ability to play." It'd be like a math teacher saying "Man I never learned calculus because it really hampers my ability to do algebra."