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Michael_somnes

Tips on where to start with theory

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Well, i practically know no theory of music or composition at all, just wondering if anyone could give some hints on books or e-books etc, i'm interested in game composing, orchestral and digital alike, but i need to know how to write/read scores and other basic stuff i probably don't know :o Any tips for a theory n00b? Example of what i can do, but i need to improve: http://ariae.loffel.org/music/projects/game_audio/iraq_suspense_120bpm.mp3

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i think if you know nothing about theory, and admittedly so, you're best bet would be to actually get it from a real person rather than a book; at least at first.

i'm not sure if you play an instrument, but i'd suggest taking piano lessons. i'd find a teacher and explain that your primary interest is in learning about theory and composition, as opposed to learning fur elise; and start from there.

i would also lean toward finding a teacher that has more of a jazz background. i tend to think that jazz musicians have a more unique way of simplifying theory, scales, harmony, form, improvisation... and that statement is by no means to be taken as derogatory to either jazz or classical musicians.

and piano for several reasons: 1) the layout of the keyboard is the most visual of instruments to relate any theoretical principles too. 2) because most likely, you'll be using some kind of sequencing software and keyboard to work out your compositions.

all the best,
www.keithlesliemusic.com

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For an extremely brief overview of all the different topics in theory, look into picking up "The Idiot's Guide to Music Theory". I am self-studied, and while some people will probably scoff at that, I tend to look at it as being truly creative while still knowing the "rules". The Idiot's Guide is a very good place to start for being cheap, and whatever you find in there that you feel would be useful to you, you can use it as a springboard to look up those topics individually.

To me, there are two forms of theory: the first form being that which is the basis for all music, and the second form which is genre-specific. The first form is typical stuff like phrases and what-not. It's the stuff we as composers already understand and know by heart.

The genre-specific is more geared towards what you are working with; unfortunately, there is a large amount of cross-over with this. For example, while each individual opus is emotional in its own way, for Film or Video Game Soundtracks, there's a large amount of emotion that is tied to what is already going on. I know I won't explain this correctly, but it's akin to the difference in reading a Mozart Symphony before writing a Film Score and reading a Film Score itself. I guess you could say each genre has its own nuances that are picked up as you study the music.

Now, with all this being said, the first thing I would suggest is not to go freaking out about not having any theory training. As stated above, I've never had any training whatsoever (just many books given to me by amazed teachers). If you are wanting to get into a certain type of composition (i.e., video games), I would suggest studying the soundtracks. There are many threads out there on what video game soundtracks you should look into to get a feel for the genre, though I will say that if you intend to go into role-playing games, there are just too many out there (I've studied in depth the Final Fantasy series, Chrono series, Dragon Quest series...yeah, you can see the Square-Enix pattern showing up quite rapidly). Find a type of game that you feel matches what you are looking for and study that score (older games have near-pefect midi replicas on such sites as V G Music dot com, since a basis for their sound cards back then was the midi software).

Go after the Idiot's Guide or its companions (which isn't just for idiots, I have "Music Theory", "Music Composition", and "Arranging and Orchestration", and I refer to them quite a bit). Especially grab the third, "Arranging and Orchestration", if you are serious about doing Orchestral Video Game music, because that's a skill you'll definitely need to acquire.

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I second what Gixander said. I have the For Dummies versions of Music Theory and Composing, and when I went to a guitar teacher (I'm trying to learn how to improvise) he was surprised at how much I was able to teach myself.

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I always strongly recommend reading up on Musical "Counterpoint". It teaches good melody writing and chord progressions.

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(Yah first post!)
Hey there, hope I can help.
theory is boooring when you don't apply it to music, so my advice is to play as much as possible with as many other (better) musicians as possible, listening to and trying to decipher as much music as you can. This worked for me great with general theory, but it never helped with my reading of the dots. As a jazz pianist, I found it really frustrating that this stupid piece of sheet in front of me took 5 hours to learn when I could just play the cd and pick it up in 10 minutes. So I decided to try learning to read on a instrument that I wasn't as experienced at and after a year or so I was doing pretty good. Transposing that to the keys wasn't that fun but I got there eventually.
Thats what worked for me, don't need books (Although they would of probably helped me a lot and saved me valuable time to make money and success), just motivation.
Super Positiveness my friend. : )

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Quote:
Original post by PhunkyMoosicdon't need books (Although they would of probably helped me a lot and saved me valuable time to make money and success), just motivation.


People that write music well usually have an innate ear to musical sounds. Theory books help to understand what's going on.

I am under the strong belief that theory can't make you a good writer, but it can make you a better writer.

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