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Harry Hunt

Feedback wanted + tips for a complete novice

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Hi everybody! I'm a programmer at heart so I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing in here, but here goes ;-) So for as long as I can think, I've had these melodies in my head. But I could never do anything with them. I don't play an instrument, I don't know the last thing about music theory and did I mention that I don't play an instrument? So the day before yesterday I decided that I have to find a way of making music without actually learning how to play an instrument. So I downloaded a demo version of "FL Studio" and tried to write some music. For starters, I tried to get the beginning of the third movement of Brahm's third symphony into FL Studio and it worked reasonably well. I would hum or whistle the melody and then try to replay it in the piano roll. Having never used FL Studio before, I obviously couldn't get any kind of accentuation going, but I enjoyed the process so much, I went into the store the next day and not only bought the full version of FL Studio but also a MIDI keyboard (which of course I can't play). So I've been trying to record the melodies in my head since then and I've actually had some success. Of course it's a painstaking process, since I can't read or write music, don't play the piano and don't know anything about music theory. Long story short, here's the first song I wrote. It's called "After the war". So the reason I'm writing all of this is because a) I'm hoping to get some feedback (does it sound alright or is something completely off) and b) I'm wondering where I should go from here. I don't think I have the time for piano lessons, but I would still very much like to "optimize" the process. Should I look into music theory and if so, anything in particular? Thanks a lot in advance!

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hi

Your music sounds ok for a first piece, I think personally I would have chosen a different sound than piano for the slow melody - but I'm listening on laptop speakers at the moment so may not be getting the best impresion, but whether it works really depends on what you were trying to achieve.

As for theory, reading or writing music and playing the piano, here's my 2c :-

Carry on writing music for as long as you enjoy it, and take up any of the above when, naturally, you see that you need to in order to progress.

i.e. at some point to read scores may help your orchestrations, to write may allow others to play your music, to play piano might help you sequence more complex and rich parts or improvise and musical theory might help you be more precise about chord voicings, harmonies etc.

But you will know when one of those things is required because you'll find you get frustrated with very slow or no progress in that area and will see your own weakness.. Until then, forget about it and just try to progress by practice..

imho the point is to write the music you need to write, and that other stuff is just there to help if you need it.

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Quote:
Original post by Harry Hunt
I'm a programmer at heart so I'm not exactly sure what I'm doing in here, but here goes ;-)


I'm the same, a programmer who's also a musician. It's ok, there's quite a few of us. :)

Quote:
So for as long as I can think, I've had these melodies in my head. But I could never do anything with them. I don't play an instrument, I don't know the last thing about music theory and did I mention that I don't play an instrument?


Learning a little music theory should come easily for a programmer. It's nice to see that most things are divided up numerically, for instance. It's also good to appreciate the mathematical nature of scales and modes, etc. Just try not to get bogged down in what the more arty people often mean by theory, which is often more about terminology than anything else.

It doesn't help that musicians traditionally see things in terms of scales rather than semitones, and that music notation is usually biased that way, and towards the layout of the keyboard in particular. A guitar is probably a better beginning instrument than a keyboard for a beginner as it's far more scale-agnostic. Not much use for computer music however.

Quote:
So I've been trying to record the melodies in my head since then and I've actually had some success. Of course it's a painstaking process, since I can't read or write music, don't play the piano and don't know anything about music theory.


When you first start out, writing music on a keyboard will be easier if you use C major or A minor. That way, you can just play on the white keys (except if you need the leading tone in A harmonic minor, where you use G#.) You can always get the software to transpose the melody later if you need.

Quote:
Should I look into music theory and if so, anything in particular?


You need appreciation of scales (and modes), and from that, harmony and chords. You also need to appreciate rhythm and tempo. Always try to look for the underlying patterns however. A lot of traditional musicians treat learning music as a big exercise in memorisation and special cases when someone more mathematically inclined, such as a programmer, can bypass 90% of that by spotting the similarities and using the patterns they see.

[Edited by - Kylotan on July 7, 2008 7:20:39 AM]

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