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mechanical
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« on: December 06, 2023 @490.50 »

I'm planning on learning music composition, mainly so I could create my own original soundtracks for games and also simply for fun. I'd like to ask some questions on music since every time I try to make music, I always get stuck somewhere. Maybe I'm just not that good when it comes to audio stuff, but I'd like to learn.

Some of my questions are: What's you music creation process like? Be as detailed as you like. How did you learn to compose music? If you were self taught, how did you teach yourself?? Any good resources on learning music theory that's available for free online? As well as free/relatively cheap tools to compose with? Any tips?? Especially for stuff like chords and melodies. Feel free to add more than these questions.

Any answer is appreciated  :ozwomp:

Edit: I'd also like to mention that the kind of music I'm planning on making is more instrumental music. Also added some more questions
« Last Edit: December 06, 2023 @992.53 by mechanical » Logged

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j
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« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2023 @656.45 »

so i've always considered my music to be awful sounding (at least when i'm singing - i can't hold a key for the life of me!), which is something that's hindered me a lot whilst composing.

i started making stuff back when i was around 15 or 16. my mum bought me a tiny traveling guitar from a music shop and i - growing up without access to the internet - just sort of mucked around. learnt a few chords from a book and tried to emulate the blues music i listened to. i'm not a super great guitarist; i don't play as much as i'd like to and to this day i'm still trying to figure out barre chords and where keys sit on the fretboard. anyway, i spent a lot of time mucking about as a kid with a few other instruments over the years (harmonica and an electric-acoustic hybrid guitar); taught myself some rudimentary music theory from a book (i know how to position quarter notes on a treble scale!), but i've never amounted to anything great with music, and it's really taken blows at my confidence. i never write sheet music. just lyrics with chords above them. maybe a guitar tab for some riffs.

earlier this year i made a bandcamp and i'm trying to get into music again more. i've jumped genres a bit - i like to make rap and spoken word stuff (because at least i'm good at writing!), but when i started i was very put off by how technologically involved and expensive music is. i'm super anarchistic in that i like to DIY everything, and my life is very connected to themes of nature and minimalism, so instead of buying a drum kit and what have you, i have a sandwich tin and some chopsticks to act as my snare and kick; a big wooden table for my bass and a few other instruments fashioned from everyday items. i've tried to distance myself from technology because i like to busk, and music (to me) shouldn't require multiple people or tech to be played and sound good. i remember reading this a little while into my journey and resonating heavily. i guess i've pretty much found my groove now, even if that groove doesn't align with the record in my head telling me that my music sucks because it doesn't sound like other music.

anyway. my process has been difficult to determine. when i write lyrics then try to add sound - they don't fit right. when i make sound then try to add lyrics, i always focus too much on what the sounds should be like. i guess i do both simultaneously? i tend to play a couple chords on my guitar first, bash a beat out on a table for a rhythm, then write to that recorded.

my partner uses musescore, which might be handy for you?
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mechanical
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« Reply #2 on: December 08, 2023 @377.11 »

i never write sheet music. just lyrics with chords above them.

so instead of buying a drum kit and what have you, i have a sandwich tin and some chopsticks to act as my snare and kick; a big wooden table for my bass and a few other instruments fashioned from everyday items.

I'd probably just write the chords too lol. Though, I'll definitely check out musecore (once I learn how to read sheet music that is...)

And the whole DIY instruments thing I'll try out too. I was mainly relying on free tools I could find on the internet but using household materials that could make noise could probably help a lot too! Thanks for the insight  :happy:

Oh and also, do you remember the name of that book? Maybe I could find it and buy next time I go to the bookstore

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« Reply #3 on: December 08, 2023 @728.26 »

i'm glad i could be of help and insight :)

Quote
do you remember the name of that book?

i don't - sorry! alas, any good old guitar book should do. a quick search on wiby returned this, which looks excellent for learning music fundamentals through guitar.
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ThunderPerfectWitchcraft
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« Reply #4 on: December 13, 2023 @993.67 »

Hej mechanical.

No experience with it, but from a fast glance
https://www.musictheory.net/lessons
seems to be okay. No need to read it all, but roman number analysis and functions are good to know if you want to do "pop"-style music. (e.g. it should be enough for rock, normal game music, and so on).

Learned to play whistle and various flutes as autodidact and eventually came to use LMMS, a tool that I can very much recommend to experiment with :).

« Last Edit: December 13, 2023 @995.74 by ThunderPerfectWitchcraft » Logged

TheFrugalGamer
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« Reply #5 on: December 14, 2023 @81.02 »

One of our natives here, LetsLearnTogether, has a music page that you might find useful:
https://letslearntogether.neocities.org/music

I like using Signal for making MIDI music. MIDI is a bit antiquated, but I really enjoy it for a lot of different reasons. I usually just start playing around until something catches my interest, and then go from there.

But the best thing I can recommend for learning to write music is listening to a lot of it, just like writers always recommend that you read a lot. Doesn't even have to be the same type of music you want to write, just something that excites you and you enjoy. In my experience, I'll usually start to hear melodies show up in my head, sometimes even while I'm dreaming. I have no idea if that works the same way for other people, though.
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« Reply #6 on: December 15, 2023 @866.24 »

One of our natives here, LetsLearnTogether, has a music page that you might find useful:
https://letslearntogether.neocities.org/music

Oh snap! Thank you for the mention TheFrugalGamer. I appreciate it!

Originally, the intention behind the Writing About Music & Learning Musical Skills section of that page was to make Music Theory:

  • Accessible, as in easy to understand - Maybe it is because I am "self-taught" in nearly everything, but some explanations of Music Theory concepts didn't make sense to me. So, I tried to explain things simply, and further, have attempted to show the interconnections between different aspects of music as a whole. While it is based on a lot of personal study, it is not the "final word" on anything. Always learn as much as you can from as many different things as you can.
  • Freely available - I am ashamed to say that, in the past, I threw a lot of money into books, videos, and courses for learning Music Theory that I didn't always make good use of, so I wanted to help keep others from making the same mistake. Wherever possible, I have linked to free resources that have been a ton of help to me. You don't really need much of anything to make music.
  • Practical, yet fun - Some might see Music Theory as some kind of abstract idea that doesn't have any relevance to composing, or worse, as a set of rules that one has to rigidly follow in order to make music. It is neither. It is simply a tool for clarifying our ideas and communicating them to others, like language. It is a part of human nature to make music. And it should be enjoyable to do, not a chore!

Ideally, one would be able to read every article in the list from top-to-bottom and get a comprehensive foundation in music, able to understand what they hear and compose what they want. It still needs a lot of work, but it is my sincere hope that it will be of service to everyone.

A humble suggestion...

If one already has a general familiarity with basic concepts (like what notes, intervals, scales, chords, beats/counting, and rhythm patterns are), then they can get straight into the fun part: composing their own songs. They don't necessarily have to know how to read or write sheet music either, so long as they are able to record what they have played and remember how to play it to some extent.

We can start making a song from pretty much any aspect of it, and seeing how other people write songs from start-to-finish can be very helpful in developing our own process.

I hope that helps! Please let me know if you need any assistance. Everyone here has also given some excellent advice. :transport:
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freaksaint
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« Reply #7 on: December 15, 2023 @941.06 »

AHHH okay bear with me here. as a self-taught musician this is my favorite thing in the world to talk about so i'll try not to overwhelm you with a wall of text, as well as provide actionable resources for you to check out :)

a brief summary of my musical journey from ages 15-25: you may remember 10 years ago ukuleles were all the rage. [shudders] i was gifted one by my father for christmas...and it sat in a corner of my room for a year straight. i wanted to learn to play so badly but i was just too intimidated. finally i picked it up and dedicated myself to learning it. despite how stereotypical it might be as a 'beginner' instrument, it actually worked quite well for that purpose - learning things like chords, strumming, etc. i should note that i never have attempted to learn music theory or even what the notes on the fretboard are - this is because my father is quite literally a musical savant (not bragging necessarily, he's just awesome ok) and plays pretty much every instrument by ear, so that's what he taught me to do. after about a year of playing ukulele pretty badly, i was gifted a spare old acoustic guitar by my dad and i found it incredibly easy to transition from playing ukulele to playing guitar. most of the work was just mentally translating chords, which wasn't too bad considering the two instruments differed greatly in heft, sound, and number of strings.
speeding up a bit here - i enjoyed learning guitar and started learning songs with tabs + basic chords. somewhere along the way (at about 17 yrs old) i started trying to write my own songs. i have always loved singing/performing since i was a little kid - writing, too - so as soon as i started writing songs i basically never stopped. it was the perfect medium to express my thoughts and feelings, as well as to combine two art forms i loved dearly. BUT - i still didn't have a lot of confidence in my guitar playing, so i took to trying to teach myself how to make electronic music. i flipped between logic pro x and FL studio, usually combining the two (beats in FL studio, synths/etc via VSTs on logic). somewhere along the way i got good enough at guitar to start recording myself and combined my knowledge to make some kind of weird hodge podge of electronic/acoustic music - i was heavily influenced by my favorite band at the time (now, now) who did the same thing.

let me make something clear: i had no idea what i was doing. i was playing in the purest sense of the word. the really great thing about some of the music software available today is that the interface allows for that kind of improvisation. there is NOTHING wrong with messing around with virtual knobs and buttons and settings until you get a sound you like. if you can't figure out if it actually 'sounds' good from a production standpoint, you can probably find someone on the internet with enough experience to give you a second opinion. but honestly? i wasn't even doing that. i was just doing what sounded good to me, and what came out was really unique and surprisingly developed. sure, listening back i could have mixed some things better, but i hadn't really developed an ear for things like that. it was just about what sounds i could make with these limited materials. and having fun!! i wasn't trying to be a popstar or anything. i just did it for the love of the game, same as i do now.
that music in question was released a LONG time ago, and now sits in a vault forever, because, well...i'm transmasc and have been on T for over 3 years now and cannot bear to hear my voice pre-T lol. just before i came out i had an entire album written and was just about to record it, then, uh...well, you can imagine. going on hormones, and the accompanying voice drop (which took about a year and a half to settle, aka stabilize enough that i could sing ANYTHING without my voice breaking) forced me to take a break from singing outside of the vocal exercises i committed to doing daily. even though this sucked and i hated that i couldn't keep recording the songs i'd written, this had a great advantage in forcing me to get better at guitar. i'm actually very grateful for this time in retrospect - i would have probably continued at an amateur level otherwise.

now, all of that to say - i hope you can see, at least from my example, that there is no one way to go about learning music. and one thing i've learned from working with actual producers/sound engineers/other musicians is that a TON of people taught themselves music in nontraditional ways, and it's not a barrier to creating music collaboratively OR on your own. if you can put some sounds together in a way that sounds good to you, you can make music! it can be as simple or as complex as you want. there's truly no limits and please don't listen to anyone who tries to tell you otherwise.

since you mentioned you wanted to make instrumental music, here is my number one recommendation: get a midi keyboard if you don't already have one. this will be a game changer for you. i highly recommend the akai mpk mini, which is kind of known as the generic beginner midi keyboard - but only because its price and simplified interface make it so accessible. if $80 is steep for you (i get it, trust me) then you MAY be able to find a similar midi keyboard secondhand. but i'll always recommend shelling out for the mpk because it's plug-and-play, so you don't have to worry about downloading a driver or whatever like you might for some older midi keeb models.

the great thing about midi keyboards is that you really don't even need to know how to play a traditional piano or even what the notes are to use it. i mean, knowing the notes on the keyboard kind of HELPS, lol, but it's not totally necessary. just listen to what you're playing and put some notes together that sound good and at some point you might have a melody. also working with midi notes in any program is great bc you can record a note and then adjust it to your liking in the DAW, so if you hit a wrong key it only takes seconds to fix.

additionally: just from my experience, FL studio is a great program to start with! it might not be free, but, um...it could be. ifyouknowwhatimean. that's all i'm gonna say.  :ziped: anyway, there's LOADS of tutorials on youtube. same with logic pro x - and you can find an insane amount of VSTs to download. synth1 is a personal favorite; i love that you can download other people's patches and use them.

ok, this got long, as i expected...i'll leave you with this advice: like any skill, learning to play music (and songwriting) takes time. you're probably not going to like the first batch of things you create. it's important to keep trying at all costs - you will eventually start to notice the incremental improvements! my favorite songwriting advice to give to people is just to write a LOT, knowing that there's a chance 50-70% will probably be horrific flaming garbage. i write a lot of horrific flaming garbage, but i don't let it get to me because i know it's just a part of the process of creating - i have to disengage my inner critic when it comes to just getting ideas down. figure out what bothers you about it, DON'T DELETE IT, but do move onto the next thing with that lesson learned. it takes time! be kind to yourself and enjoy the process.

if have any additional questions for me, please let me know! i'm happy to share all that i can.  :4u:
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have you guys heard of neil young?....pretty cool stuff......
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