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Music: How do I start? [solved]

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I have: A great mind. A good ear for music. Lots of motivation. The Anvil Studio MIDI editor. Nearly no practical skill. I want: Skill with which to make fantastic music. Question: How do I get from what I have to what I want? [Edited by - Lukewarm on August 11, 2006 11:45:45 AM]

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Quote:
Original post by Lukewarm
I have:

A great mind.
A good ear for music.
Lots of motivation.
The Anvil Studio MIDI editor.
Nearly no practical skill.


I want:

Skill with which to make fantastic music.


Question:

How do I get from what I have to what I want?

When you say no skill, do you mean you have no musical ability, compositional ability or what? Can you read music? What skill or skills are you actually refering to?

You're wanting to write video game music- but have you ever composed before? If not, you should work on just writing music first and seeing if you can complete your ideas. Many people have good ears, but do not have talent in composition- just like all of us can write but not all of us are published authors.

If you ask many composers on this site, they'd tell you they have been composing for years. I started in middle school and I'm 27 now.

The Anvil Studio isn't going to get you very far sadly. To do serious game compositions you're going to need more powerful software. I'd check out Reason, Sonar, East West and others along those lines. Sure- its alot more money, but they are well worth it.

As far as how to get from where are you to what you want-- that part is actually pretty easy. Work at it!! :) If you need to beef up your music theory knowledge, take a class at a local community college or read a book on the matter. If your instrumental skills are lacking, practice. If you can't read music- buy one of those grade 1 piano books and teach yourself to read the staff and rhythm. If you can, get a private teacher. If you read music and it's your compositional talent that you feel is lacking, then do these things:

1) Most importantly, listen to EVERYTHING!!! Listen to bad music and try and figure out what makes it bad. Ask yourself how you'd make it better or more interesting. Listen to masterpieces and do the same, but this time recognize what makes this a materpiece. Also, listen just for the pure enjoyment of it. Surround yourself with music, all kinds and listen constantly.

2) Try your hand at some harmonic and structural(form) analysis of music. Here I mean actually take pencil and the music and begin to break apart the music. All college music majors have to class after class doing this- but many who don't take that route miss out on the valuable lessons you can get from doing this.

3) Train your ear even more. You say you have a good ear, now its time to work it out. Try and transcribe solos and pieces you hear. From jazz solos by the greats to a four part choral piece- these will be the push ups and sit ups for your ear. This is actually just an extension of number 1.

4) Start writing small pieces and slowly branch into large pieces. If you are really young at composition, then trying to do a full orchestration first thing is going to be more harmful then helpful. Depending on your skill, maybe start with only one melody for 8 measures.

Its also best that you're actually a musician and can play your butt off. Its very hard to be a composer who doesn't play a musical instrument or sing. The reason why is because you wont have all of the background and history other musicians have. I have, for example, played in a jazz band for 10 years, jazz combo for 6 years, marching band for 4 years, wind ensemble for ten years, saxophone quartet for 8 years, handbell choir for 1 year, choir (both SATB and TTBB) for 20 years, recorder ensemble for 1 year and orchestra for one year.

Was I God's gift to music in each of those ensembles? Heck no!!!! :) But each group gave me a new perspective on music, the instruments involved and a deeper understanding of how that ensemble worked. Someone who doesn't have that background is at a serious disadvantage.

Basically- and this is the short version- the better you can perform and understand music, the better you can compose it. Without that understanding and background- it will be much harder (not impossible, but harder) for your to write truly great music.

One last thought: writing music is truly a lifelong journey. I listen to stuff I did five years ago and think its decent. At the time, I thought it was pretty good. I hope that in another five years I'll think my current stuff is just decent too. Why? Because that shows I'm growing as a composer and musician. If I thought my stuff was great now and needed no improvement- that would just mean I couldn't grow anymore.

Sorry to ramble, hope that helps.

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We really should see about organising a collaborative effort to write up a 'getting started' article, after all, GDNet has a whole section set aside for Music & Sound articles with very little content, and we've got some very talented people here in the forum.

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I offered a while back to a few people to write some articles, and I also thought we should get a music showcase page, where it is like image of the day, but instead is like music of the week, where a composer is interviewed as well. Maybe I will start a petition.

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Speaking of which, there's supposed to be a rewrite of the For Beginners section which will actually include audio this time - I mentioned it to you last time you contacted me, but I havn't seen any activity on this from the relevant staff/mods for a while - I'll see about harassing them.

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Duncan: I used to play the trumpet.. apparently I should get back into it.

nsmadsen: Thank you. That was the information I was looking for.

Sean: If you start a petition, I'll sign.

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