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Music Theory 101


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#1 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:13 PM

GM Music Composition
Music Theory 101

By: Freelancer Studios
Download Tutorial ZIP

Other guides:
Composition 101



Introduction:
indent-We've all, at some point, tried our hands at making music, whether it be for a game, a friend, or just for fun. We've all, also, gotten tired of not getting the right sounds out of that music, either settling for something less than desired, or just scrapping the entire thing. What went wrong? Why couldn't you make it work? The biggest problem in small time music composition on the GMC, and elsewhere, is a general lack of musical knowledge. Not to say no one knows anything or that those that don't know nothing; most people do have a small amount of musical knowledge and practice at their disposal. But what comes of this trial-and-error style of composition? Well, for one, these play-by-ear composers can often find themselves stuck in a situation, unable to find that ever important next note; Or maybe you find yourself forever getting stuck while trying to merge multiple parts together while they just refuse to harmonize. If you ever find yourself at a loss for what to do next in your composition, are just starting into the realm of musical composition, or maybe just want a general reference to make your song writing experience that much easier, this guide is for you.


Back to the Basics:
indent-Bear with me for a moment, as there is no better place to start in a guide than at the very basics of what you're explaining (leaves little room for ambiguity), so here we are. Music is, at its core, made up of individual tones called notes. In Western music, the most common form (and kind you will by composing, trust me) there are twelve different notes, respectively named C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A, A#/Bb, and B. A few of these listing may confuse you, like the '#' and 'b' symbols, and why in the world there are some listing with two named. Allow me to explain. In the chromatic scale (which contains all of the notes), there are seven base notes denoted with letter named, C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. But, wait, there are five more notes, right? (12-7=5) Yes, there are, and these five notes are made by adding either a sharp sign (#) or a flat sign (b) to a certain note; these signs either raise a note's pitch half a step (a step being the distance between two notes), which is done by a sharp, or lower the note's pitch half a step, which is done by a flat.
indent-Now that we've got the basic notes, sharps, and flat out of the way, you've hopefully noticed that in the note list, a bunch of sharp and flat notes are grouped together. These notes are called enharmonic notes. An enharmonic note is a note that is exactly the same as another another note: C# and Db, for instance, are enharmonic. Every sharp note has an enharmonic flat (the flat of the note above it), and every flat note has an enharmonic sharp (the sharp of the note below it). From the list, you'll also notice that there is no B#/Cb, nor is there an E#/Fb. These notes are enharmonic with C and F respectively and are not commonly used.
Posted Image Figure 1.1 - All of the notes.

Scales and Harmony:
indent-Now that you've got a working understanding of what music is made of, we're going to take a look at how to put these pieces together. As you can see, when listing the musical notes, I always started with C. C is the base of most tonal measurement and theory. Why is this? To understand why C is such a popular note, we need to go into the next grouping of notes beyond chromatic (all 12 notes, if you don't recall): diatonic.
indent-A diatonic scale is comprised of seven notes. If you haven't seen the connection yet, there just happen to be seven notes when flats and sharps are excluded. The reason for C's fame is that the diatonic scale, when started at C, contains C, D, E, F, G, A, and B. This is called the C major scale. Scales are named after the note they start on, or the root, so a major scale starting on A would be the A major scale. Every scale has different notes, but the C major scale is the only one that contains no sharps or flats, making it the easiest to work with and remember. If you look at a piano, all of the white keys in the entire keyboard are part of the C major scale. But how is this, if scales only have seven notes? Every time you reach the end of a scale, the next note is a higher version of the first, or root, note. This is called an octave. So, for instance, if you played C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F, G, A, B, you would have played two octave of the C major scale. Now instead of trying to drill into your head all of the scales and how to find them, I've provided you with this nifty little diagram.
Posted Image Figure 2.1 - List of all major scales (use enharmonic to find unlisted scales)
indent-Now that you're down on scales, harmony is coming right on down the road. Basically, a harmonic note is a note that goes with another note (and sounds good). Chords are made of harmonic notes, in most cases the 1st, or root, the 3rd and the 5th. What are these strange things? Well, the 1st, or root, is the base of the chord. It's also the note that the chord is named after (so, a chord with root C is a C chord). The 3rd of a chord is the third note of the roots scale. So, for a C chord, the 3rd is E (C, D, E... Just count up the scale). The 5th is derived in the same way. The 5th of a C chord is G. So, a C major chord is made up of C, E, and G notes all played in unison.
indent-Knowing how to construct a chord also helps with multiple instrument harmonies. So, if you have one instrument, maybe a violin, and another instrument, a trumpet, for instance, and you want them to play separate parts at the same time, but don't know how to make their parts harmonize, look at the notes of a chord. Say your violin is playing a C in measure one, so, you look at the notes of a C chord: C, E, and G. You can pick the C, or the E, or the G for the trumpet to play, and it will harmonize, creating a C major chord. In the next measure, you may have the violin playing an A and two D's. Well, to find the trumpet part, look at the A and D chords (A chord: A, C#, E; D chord: D, F#, A). In short, for harmonizing parts, the easiest method is to pick notes from the root's chord.

Example 1 (Listen) - Violin and Trumpet Harmony

Posted Image
Figure 2.2 - Here's what's in the example. A violin and a trumpet harmonizing.

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 15 January 2009 - 05:17 PM.

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#2 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 21 November 2008 - 11:19 PM

Multi-Layer Composing:
indent-All right, so we've got note names, scales, chords, and harmony down, so now what? Well, until now, we've only gone over one single melody line. I'm sure you can imagine how boring music would be if songs only had one little line of notes going "doo-doo-dooo" throughout all the instruments. Well, thankfully, most music is not made like that. In modern (and classical) music, there are layers upon layers of melodies, harmonies, and bass-lines. In passing, one could call this counterpoint, but that's really another idea altogether, so we'll be sticking with "multi-layer" as our word of choice. Still having some trouble getting an idea of what multi-layer composing really is? Well, I'm here to help, so I'm giving you an excerpt from one of my pieces to show you what, exactly, this is all about.
Posted Image
Figure 3.1 - An excerpt from "Rough Sonatina" showing multi-layer composition.

indent-All these lines and dots may not make sense to you right now, but that will all come together another time, in another guide, so don't worry about them. Using the past example and some simple deductive reasoning, though, you should be able to see that none of the instruments in this example are playing the same thing. Looking at the jumble of notes, you can't help but think "How could that possibly sound good together?". Well, before we get into the nitty-gritty, take a listen to the song.

Example 2 (listen) - "Rough Sonatina"

indent-I hope you can hear how all of the different instruments are playing different harmonies and melodies throughout the song, some instruments even switching at times. Don't be too daunted, though, because it's not all as complex as it sounds. If you listen close, first of all, you can see that there are numerous occasions in most songs where a little snippet from earlier is repeated again and again and again, maybe in different instruments each time. Repeating an earlier snippet later on in a piece is an easy way to add on without getting to complicated, and playing the piece in a different instrument can add more interest to the listener as they try to figure out why it's so familiar... (*wink* Our little secret). That is all nice and everything, but you need to know how to put layers on top of each other, right? Well, it's the same idea as what we went over in the Harmony section, have the separate instruments' parts all harmonize into chords. If you'll look at the first note of all the instruments in the first measure, you'll see that there are only four notes being played (well, maybe you won't see, but I'll explain). In the harpsichord (Hpschd.), on the bottom line (bass clef, story for another time) there is a simple E major chord (E, G#, B). On the line above it (treble clef), there is a G# (which is also part of the E major chord). So far, so harmonic, right? Well, buckle your seatbelt as we look at the Violin II (Vln.II) and Cello (Vc.) parts. The first note of the Violin II part is an F#. If you're paying attention, you'll now see why I told you to buckle up. F# is NOT in the E major chord! This is true, yes, but it is in the E major scale, meaning that it can be paired with other members of the E scale family to make an E chord. Is this still an E major chord? No, only E, G#, and B are, but it is part of another chord. This particular note, F#, is the 2nd of E, and gives us a nice little suspend 2nd (sus2) chord. Yes, I realize there is a good possibility your brain is currently exploding, but don't worry about these fancy chord names and such, the main thing is that you get the general idea of what is happening. What is that general idea? That multi-layer composition is built on scale and chord harmony. Just to tie off the suspense, the cello's first note is a nice little G#, which fits right in with the Esus2.
indent-As a final note on multi-layer composition, you do not have to build from the same chord for your entire piece. For instance, in the first measure of the excerpt above, the first two beats (half of the measure) are built off of the Esus2 chord, and the second half is built off of a Cmaj (C major chord). So, perhaps the next thing we should look at is, yes, chord structure.

Chord Structure:
indent-Chord structure is, as you may have guessed, the order, or structure, in which the chords in your song appear, and which chords are used. This is probably the area of composition with the most freedom, as you fit it to what you want the song to sound like, rather fitting your song to sound like some harmony rules or something. But how do you pick chords for your structure? Well, you've got a few choices. You could just throw a bunch of random letters down and work with them until it sounds good, but this is basically just a pain in the neck most of the time. Something a little easier to do is to look at common chord structures and edit them to your liking. This takes a little work, but is far easier than playing around until something fits. Lastly, you can use chord patterns that you've seen in other songs, or used in some of your previous songs. This is the easiest to work with, and gets you the sound you hear in your head right off (assuming that sound comes from that pattern in the first place).
indent-Well, being told what to do is nice and all, but you do need some reference to know how to do it, right? So, here are some common chord structures (and the tools to interpret them).

1.The 12-bar Blues: I I I I, IV IV I I, V(7) IV I I
Nearly every musician has used variations of the 12-bar Blues chord pattern in their music, including the classical giants Bach and Beethoven. This is an overall good starting place for many songs.

2. The 2-5-1: IIm(7) V(7) Imaj(7)
The 2-5-1 pattern is a very prominent jazz pattern.

3. The "Greenday Pattern" III V II VI
This pattern is used in about every other Greenday song.

indent-The roman numeral stand for the chord's root's place in the scale of the songs key. For instance, if your song is in the key of C, C=I, D=II, E=III, F=IV, G=V, and so on. Also, a (7) next to a chord denotes that the chord commonly has a seventh (the seventh note of the root's scale) added to it here. As an example, a Cmaj7 would be comprised of the C major chord (CEG) plus C's seventh (B), to form the Cmaj7 (CEGB). Lastly, an 'm' next to a chord shows that the chord should be the minor variant. Minor chord are developed from minor scales, but, for now, to make a minor chord, just lower the 3rd one half step (making the chord a 1st, 3rdb, and 5th). So, a C minor chord would be made of C, Eb/D#, and G. In suit, A minor would be made of A, C, and E (the flat added to the C# of the Amaj chord lowers the C# to a regular C).

Conclusion:
indent-I hope this guide has been helpful and useful to you in understanding the basics of music theory better. If you liked the guide, look forward to more guides covering some of these subjects more in depth, and some new ideas completely. Thank you for reading.

Freelancer Studios

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 03 January 2009 - 09:12 PM.

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#3 ninjutsu63

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 04:55 PM

:angry: Wow! That's an impressive guide!
Even though I already knew most of it...
Perhaps you should post some things more specific to Video Game music?
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#4 LegacyCrono

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 06:33 PM

Perhaps you should post some things more specific to Video Game music?

There's not much to say about composing for video games, because there's no standard for video game musics. It is just like composing for movies, or simply composing traditional music. Of course you need to be careful with looping properties and stuff, but basically it's just the general theory. Nobuo Uematsu's "One Winged Angel" is Video Game music, and so is Shigeru Matsuzaki's songs for Katamari Damacy, Yoko Shimomura's Legend of Mana songs and et cetera. And I should remember you that Square-Enix used Utada Hikaru's "Simple and Clean" and "Passion" for Kingdom Hearts. As you can see, the same theories applies for video-game music... It's all about the composers' good sense on making something that will fit his/her needs.
Well, that's just my thoughts. Besides, I'm not a composer... I'll let the pros have the final word about that. :angry:

Great guide, buddy, but I think that people may get scared... it's a lot of stuff to have in mind!
But I'll try to remember you tutorial when I write a song. I think I now understand more or less the idea, but for me it's preety much having an ear and patience to get what you pictured on your mind. xD


Thanks a lot for posting this tutorial! More tutorials would be nice. Keep it up!!
SEE YA!!!!!
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#5 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 06:35 PM

Thanks. Yes, I plan on adding more guides, but I want to go in a pretty chronological order so that someone who doesn't know what one guide is talking about can refer to a previous guide. Keeps everyone up to date. In any case, thanks for your time, and glad you could learn anything from it.

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#6 LegacyCrono

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 06:58 PM

That's good to hear! :angry:
I'll be looking for them. ^^

Dude, now I just want to try to compose some stuff...
I'll upload for you guys if I make something worth listening to... xD
EDIT:Can't believe it... I was doing a good song and Fruity Loops suddenly closed by itself! Gaaarh!!! >__<

SEE YA!!!!!

Edited by LegacyCrono, 22 November 2008 - 08:01 PM.

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#7 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 08:41 PM

That's cool, yeah. If you guys want to post some stuff you make after reading this, that's great. I'd like to hear what you guys are putting out. In any case, if you post your song, I'll probably link it in the first post as an example, if you approve. Thanks for the feedback.

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#8 chaz13

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Posted 22 November 2008 - 09:28 PM

This is a fantastic guide, it's God's gift to anyone whos composing a song for a game and doesn't know where to start.
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#9 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 23 November 2008 - 03:24 AM

Thanks a lot chaz13. Has anyone got any suggestions as to what the next guide should be about?

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#10 oZone

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 05:43 PM

From the list, you'll also notice that there is no B#/Cb, nor is there an E#/Fb. These notes do not exist (just take it as it is).

I don't know if I should *facepalm* or if I'm reading this wrong but other than that, it looks pretty solid. Good job.

Maybe you should put in some software recommendations? (If you haven't already; I just skimmed over it.)
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#11 wiseman15

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Posted 25 November 2008 - 06:24 PM

I think the next one should be about intervals and the evil parallels :)

Then basic counterpoint ^_^

and then more stuff...

Or, that's the rough order that they did it in my class.


Great idea! I never thought of teaching them how to make music! haha
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#12 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 26 November 2008 - 12:53 PM

From the list, you'll also notice that there is no B#/Cb, nor is there an E#/Fb. These notes do not exist (just take it as it is).

I don't know if I should *facepalm* or if I'm reading this wrong but other than that, it looks pretty solid. Good job.

Maybe you should put in some software recommendations? (If you haven't already; I just skimmed over it.)


I'm sorry, I guess I missed something. What's the problem oZone? It is, in fact, true that E#/Fb and B#/Cb do not exist.

Thanks wiseman15, those are some good things to touch in the next.

For the software recommendations, I was planning on adding a section on that in the next guide, but I'm glad you mentioned that, thanks.

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#13 oZone

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 06:35 PM

I'm sorry, I guess I missed something. What's the problem oZone? It is, in fact, true that E#/Fb and B#/Cb do not exist.

E# and B# are enharmonic to F and C; how could they not exist?

Each letter is represented once in a diatonic scale and none are repeated. For instance, in the key of F# Major the notes are:
F# G# A# B C# D# E#

Even though they are enharmonic, it is never:
F# G# A# B C# D# F

Otherwise you would have two F's and no E's.

Edited by oZone, 27 November 2008 - 06:36 PM.

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#14 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 08:49 PM

I think we're both interpreting this differently. The way I see, and have been taught, it, there are no B and E sharps because they would be the same as C and F. If you went along the same lines of thinking, there would be Fb and Cb, they would just be the same as E and B. So, it just depends on how you look at it (Though, if you're looking at music or most MIDI programs, I bet you won't find E#, Fb, B#, or Cb).

Let me know if you can think of any other reasons I should change this, if you're right, I'll be thankful,
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#15 oZone

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Posted 27 November 2008 - 09:23 PM

The way I see, and have been taught, it, there are no B and E sharps because they would be the same as C and F.

But with that reasoning, couldn't you say that Gb doesn't exist because it's also F#? I will admit though that it's very unlikely that those notes would appear in any software.

I don't want to argue over something so insignificant, so let's leave it here and you can take it how you want, otherwise we'll just be going in circles :/ ...

Edited by oZone, 27 November 2008 - 09:23 PM.

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#16 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 04:26 AM

The way I see, and have been taught, it, there are no B and E sharps because they would be the same as C and F.

But with that reasoning, couldn't you say that Gb doesn't exist because it's also F#? I will admit though that it's very unlikely that those notes would appear in any software.

I don't want to argue over something so insignificant, so let's leave it here and you can take it how you want, otherwise we'll just be going in circles :/ ...


It's merely a personal preference I'm sure, but it seems most people aren't terribly keen on B and E sharp because there's no half step between B-C and E-F. To anyone out there that this may be confusing, this doesn't really effect you, we're both right in our own way, so don't worry about it (I don't want you to be too confused).

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#17 benburch2001

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 05:46 PM

When dealing with music theory of course E# and B# exist, although you wont have to deal with them often as they only appear in scales nobody ever uses. Technically they do exist however, so Ozone is right. When your teaching music theory you are better off just giving it to them straight rather than saying it doesnt exist because they dont need to worry about it. It'll only confuse them down the track :)
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#18 LegacyCrono

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 07:19 PM

I always considered # as "one half tone up" and b as "one half tone down"... Well, I think E# is valid. There IS a half tone up to E, and it's F! So? That doesn't makes E# invalid. It's just... an useless notation. But a valid useless notation!
I prefer saying F instead of E# but unfortunatelly I've saw E# being used sometimes... Oh well.

I was reading a book about playing keyboards a few months ago, that mentioned the terrifying "A##". Heh, I remember that when I first glanced it I tought it was speaking about some computer programming language. xD
It was just for teaching purposes, I guess, so people shouldn't be using that kind of notation... it's just weird.

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#19 benburch2001

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Posted 02 December 2008 - 07:43 PM

I always considered # as "one half tone up" and b as "one half tone down"... Well, I think E# is valid. There IS a half tone up to E, and it's F! So? That doesn't makes E# invalid. It's just... an useless notation. But a valid useless notation!
I prefer saying F instead of E# but unfortunatelly I've saw E# being used sometimes... Oh well.

I was reading a book about playing keyboards a few months ago, that mentioned the terrifying "A##". Heh, I remember that when I first glanced it I tought it was speaking about some computer programming language. xD
It was just for teaching purposes, I guess, so people shouldn't be using that kind of notation... it's just weird.

SEE YA!!!!!


It's not useless, its necessary when being theoretically correct. Although situations when it is theoretically correct don't occur often which is why people get scared and confused when they see it.
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#20 Edibleacid Games

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 06:51 AM

Meh, I've been playing the trombone for quite some time, but most music composers for the computer use treble clef, not BASS clef.
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#21 epicCreations

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 05:40 AM

I see you used -indent in white since it gets rid of the spaces. ^_^
Try using the color #F3F3F3 instead of white; it's the same as the background color and will blend in perfectly. ^_^
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#22 Marcus Derekus

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 05:44 AM

I know, i'm replying a month late but. There is infact a B# and an E# and this notation IS useful for even more then being theoretically correct.

If you know how t read sheet music and understand that different keys are displayed by different notes being sharped or flatted (besides C) then you will notice that:

The only way to display the key of C# in sheet notation is to Sharp every white note, including B and E, you will find this factor to be true if you ever read the sheet music to a song written in C#.

SOOOO, this proves that B# and E# are not just alternative names to C and F but are pretty much required. I mean, I guess you could say C and F but the sheet notation displays it as E# and B#. xD

Edited by Marcus Derekus, 03 January 2009 - 05:50 AM.

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*I AM CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE*

I Compose music for SERIOUS games/projects of any sort for FREE. For samples of my work check here

If you are interested then PM me

or email me at Colburn.b.hayden@gmail.com

#23 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 09:04 PM

Becuase it seems that I can't get a reply without somebody complaining about my Cb and Fb statement, I changed it in hopes of rectifying a few feelings. In any case, I may have meant to ignore Cb and Fb for the time being when I wrote it, but I can't really confirm that: this was a while back. And Marcus Derekus, yes, I can obviously read sheet music.

FLS

EDIT: Re-reading my post, I can see it may be offensive. It isn't, I'm just a bit tired an cranky at the moment ;P Anyway, thanks to everyone for pointing that out to me.

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 03 January 2009 - 09:09 PM.

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#24 lewa

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Posted 03 January 2009 - 09:53 PM

YAY thank you very much for this topic. I've just started composing, and harmony has been hating me. I shall study this at a time when I have more patience ^_^

-lewa
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Supercilious, I know. Sorry. I blame GIMP.

#25 Marcus Derekus

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 12:12 AM

Becuase it seems that I can't get a reply without somebody complaining about my Cb and Fb statement, I changed it in hopes of rectifying a few feelings. In any case, I may have meant to ignore Cb and Fb for the time being when I wrote it, but I can't really confirm that: this was a while back. And Marcus Derekus, yes, I can obviously read sheet music.

FLS

EDIT: Re-reading my post, I can see it may be offensive. It isn't, I'm just a bit tired an cranky at the moment ;P Anyway, thanks to everyone for pointing that out to me.


Oh, I don't take it in ANY way offensive and I don't see why anyone would, and if I came off in any way offensive i am VERY sorry. I was just trying to point out an area where E# or B# may be useful.

I think you are doing a VERY good job at helping others learn more about music and since THAT is the main point I WILL NOT bring up the issue of E# & B# again (unless someone else does, then I may answer their questions).

And freelancer, I know you read sheet music fluently, I was also explaining to other readers of this post, sorry about the confusion.

Edited by Marcus Derekus, 04 January 2009 - 12:17 AM.

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*I AM CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE*

I Compose music for SERIOUS games/projects of any sort for FREE. For samples of my work check here

If you are interested then PM me

or email me at Colburn.b.hayden@gmail.com

#26 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 04 January 2009 - 12:31 AM

All is well Marcus. As for you, lewa, glad you appreciate the guide. Let me know if I can help you in any way.

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#27 lewa

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 02:21 AM

Well, I just finished reading your tutorial, and I loved it (again). I'll probably revisit it later. I think I have a good mind for coming up with melodies, and I'm glad to be able to harmonize different instruments (and the simplification of Major to Minor chords was wonderful...I've been using A minor as a refrence ^_^ ).

-lewa
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Supercilious, I know. Sorry. I blame GIMP.

#28 Marcus Derekus

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 06:31 AM

Well, I just finished reading your tutorial, and I loved it (again). I'll probably revisit it later. I think I have a good mind for coming up with melodies, and I'm glad to be able to harmonize different instruments (and the simplification of Major to Minor chords was wonderful...I've been using A minor as a refrence ^_^ ).

-lewa


Dang Freelancer, are you trying to make competition for me?j/k lol

It seems this tutorial is VERY popular, i'm glad to see that it is going well. Great job.

to lewa: Good luck on composing, and have a BLAST doing it. I love composing, the satisfaction of completing a song is great. Try your best not to turn it into WORK, as that ruins it (yes you may WORK for a client to fullfil a request, but it still should be FUN)XD
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*I AM CURRENTLY NOT AVAILABLE*

I Compose music for SERIOUS games/projects of any sort for FREE. For samples of my work check here

If you are interested then PM me

or email me at Colburn.b.hayden@gmail.com

#29 MatrixQuare

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 08:53 AM

Finished reading your guide... But I'm still a bit lost as to how I should start and proceed with music composition.

If this is supposed to be a 101 tutorial, should I at least be able to walk away and be able to compose a decent tune after reading this? If that's the case, then I must've failed and I should go back and re-read it... But at the same time, it also seemed a bit too short (in my opinion), and as soon as it started to get interesting, it was over! Now, I'm no musician, so I don't know what could possibly be missing, but that's just my personal feeling after reading the tutorial.

Thanks for the info nonetheless ^_^.
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#30 chopinfiles.com

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:10 AM

Yeah me too

Edited by chopinfiles.com, 05 January 2009 - 09:11 AM.

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#31 benburch2001

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:11 AM

Finished reading your guide... But I'm still a bit lost as to how I should start and proceed with music composition.

If this is supposed to be a 101 tutorial, should I at least be able to walk away and be able to compose a decent tune after reading this? If that's the case, then I must've failed and I should go back and re-read it... But at the same time, it also seemed a bit too short (in my opinion), and as soon as it started to get interesting, it was over! Now, I'm no musician, so I don't know what could possibly be missing, but that's just my personal feeling after reading the tutorial.

Thanks for the info nonetheless ^_^.


Maybe try google, theres plenty of sites that will show you the basics, possibly in a more complete way than is possible in a forum post.

Such as: http://library.think...eory/theory.htm

To put your knowledge to practice, download a notation program such as Anvil Studio or Noteworthy Composer.

Keep in mind that music theory isnt easy to learn and you will need to practice writing music lots and lots to get the hang of it. It isnt something you can learn in 5 minutes, and its especially hard if youve never played an instrument before.
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#32 MatrixQuare

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 09:13 AM

Thanks Ben! I'll look into it ^_^.
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#33 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 05 January 2009 - 11:26 PM

Thanks to everyone for the feedback (I've been on holiday for the last two weeks, so replies have been slow). In any case, I'm glad you liked the tutorial lewa. And, no Marcus, there's no competition (yet).

MatrixQuare, there is a small difference between music theory and actual composition. Music theory is the set of guidelines that allow you to compose more efficiently, whereas composition is the actual act of writing music. This guide is meant to help you learn to compose more efficiently through use of music theory. Perhaps I'll write up another tutorial on composition in general, seems to be a good place to go. Hope that helped.

FLS

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 05 January 2009 - 11:27 PM.

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#34 innybinny

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 02:04 AM

If this is supposed to be a 101 tutorial, should I at least be able to walk away and be able to compose a decent tune after reading this?


No - if you couldn't compose before this tutorial, you won't suddenly be able to compose after it. That takes practice. To me, this tutorial seems like a basic outline on what each of these things are, and is a foundation for more complex discussion later.

However, knowledge of music theory will tend to make you improve faster.
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#35 blue123

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 04:29 PM

If this is supposed to be a 101 tutorial, should I at least be able to walk away and be able to compose a decent tune after reading this?


No - if you couldn't compose before this tutorial, you won't suddenly be able to compose after it. That takes practice. To me, this tutorial seems like a basic outline on what each of these things are, and is a foundation for more complex discussion later.

However, knowledge of music theory will tend to make you improve faster.


This is true. If you are looking at how to make music, use this as your base from which to investigate and look up topics.

Nice work, Freelancer. Only complaint is, however, figure 1.1 appears confusing at first. You may be better off with replacing it with a labelled keyboard. The next most important thing you should write about is cadences, in my opinion. Send me a PM and I'll help out.

Edited by blue123, 06 January 2009 - 04:30 PM.

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#36 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 07:19 PM

Cadences are important, yeah. I've been brainstorming ideas for a Composition 101 tutorial, and have so far come up with: Key Signature, Time Signature, Keyboard Layout, Melodic Movement, Bass Movement, Choosing Composition Software, and How to get the most out of your composition software. I'm extremely open to suggestions, as this one is meant to show you how to enter the world of music composition from square 1.

FLS
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#37 innybinny

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Posted 06 January 2009 - 10:50 PM

By the way, I'm pretty sure there's just one other minor error in here...a sus2 chord is a chord with a lowered third, not with the third included, and so technically g# wouldn't be part of the Esus2 chord.
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#38 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 03:11 AM

You're right, my bad. I'm sure the thing is plagued with small things like that, but it gives the guys an idea. I'll see what I can do about that. Thanks for the proofreads.

FLS

EDIT: I don't see too much reason to change the section in the tutorial, as it's fairly ambiguous as to how, exactly, the Esus2 is made. For our purposes, though, perhaps E/F# would be more appropriate?

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 07 January 2009 - 03:43 AM.

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#39 innybinny

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 10:35 AM

I agree it's a pretty ambiguous and unimportant point. But then again, I'm picky. :)
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#40 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 03:16 PM

Haha, quite. In any case, I seem to be gathering a bit of support for the next 'guide', so I'll make a point of circulating the final draft for proofing and such. Hopefully that'll help rectify things like that before release.

FLS
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#41 benburch2001

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:21 PM

Haha, quite. In any case, I seem to be gathering a bit of support for the next 'guide', so I'll make a point of circulating the final draft for proofing and such. Hopefully that'll help rectify things like that before release.

FLS


What is it going to contain?
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#42 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 05:25 PM

Composition rules for beginning composers-to-be, like the keys on a keyboard, constructing melody, choosing and using software, etc...


FLS

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 07 January 2009 - 05:25 PM.

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#43 MatrixQuare

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Posted 07 January 2009 - 11:29 PM

Composition rules for beginning composers-to-be, like the keys on a keyboard, constructing melody, choosing and using software, etc...


FLS

Yay!

So, after reading this and the upcoming tutorial, someone who has no prior knowledge should at least be able to make a simple tune, right :)?
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#44 innybinny

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 12:28 AM

Yay!

So, after reading this and the upcoming tutorial, someone who has no prior knowledge should at least be able to make a simple tune, right


Using basic composition rules, you should be able to compose a basic, yet most likely uninspiring tune straight away. With music theory, the 'spark' that gives music inspiration will come quicker also, but that won't likely come immediately.

Without it, though, your music will likely be a horrible clashing of notes, with a one in a thousand chance of stumbling upon some insanely weird combination which sounds absolutely stunning - yet without theory you won't know what to do with it. The odds of that are essentially worthless, but quite likely slightly higher than little while with the basics of theory due to the natre of theoretical restrictions.

So, with all that being said, yes, you should be able to create a simple song, if this tutorial is good.
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#45 blue123

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 03:58 PM

Composition rules for beginning composers-to-be, like the keys on a keyboard, constructing melody, choosing and using software, etc...


FLS

Yay!

So, after reading this and the upcoming tutorial, someone who has no prior knowledge should at least be able to make a simple tune, right :D?


Emphasis on simple. A tutorial is good and all, but it takes much time to develop understanding and how to apply it.

Also, I'll be writing the chapter on key and time signatures. This may take a while, due to the fact I'm currently busy.
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#46 Andy0_0black

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Posted 08 January 2009 - 11:52 PM

Thank you for this guide Freelancer Studios, it helped me better understand music theory in a usable context.

Also, I'll be writing the chapter on key and time signatures. This may take a while, due to the fact I'm currently busy.

This is one thing I would very much like to see. If you choose to go into more detail, something on various uses and theory of rhythm would be fantastic.
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#47 lewa

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 04:50 PM

Mods: This topic should be pinned!

I would really like to see (even some basic) tips on software. Right now I just use audacity.

Edited by lewa, 12 January 2009 - 06:45 PM.

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Supercilious, I know. Sorry. I blame GIMP.

#48 Freelancer Studios

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Posted 12 January 2009 - 07:14 PM

Thanks for the enthusiasm lewa. I'm planning on adding some short software sections in the next tutorial ('Choosing and Using Software' and 'Getting the most from your software'). In any case, Audacity is a very good program that I highly recommend for mixing, mastering, and recording, so you're on the right track as is. If you want to get into any computer synthesis, take a look at Anvil Studios (more for orchestral and piano style sounds; saves as MIDI) and Sound Club (good for drums and basses; saves as WAV).

FLS

EDIT: I've got the software section finished up for the next guide, and you won't be disappointed. It should give you a good idea of what to get.

EDIT2: New guide is up! Composition 101

Edited by Freelancer Studios, 15 January 2009 - 05:14 PM.

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#49 cmangames

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 07:55 AM

I dont make music like that, half of the stuf i do isn't even instruments!
i dont really care about harmonizing when i do that.
that is MY music theory! :P
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#50 Evano

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Posted 28 January 2009 - 08:21 AM

I care about harmonizing :P. Sounds good if you know about it, if you don't, your composition would sound really awkward with a lot of random notes playing at once. Even if i don't really like theory that much, it's good to know some so you can have a basic idea on what would sound good etc. :D