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Old 22-02-2014, 01:26 AM   #1
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composing procedure question

how do you start making your own music?
most tutorials start to tell you to start with the beats, then bass line, and then the melody.
but i'm a melody-oriented person, and melodies come more naturally to me than bass lines.
is this method problematic?

also i have the problem of structuring long songs.
do you think of structure first, then compose each section?
or do you develop on the fly?

thanks

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Old 22-02-2014, 01:41 AM   #2
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Re: composing procedure question

Favouring melody is definitely not a problem. My advice would be to learn an instrument to a decent competency. Keyboard would be the most obvious choice for electronic music.

My own workflow nearly always starts with chilling at the keyboard with no expectations. After a while, something seems to come out that I want to keep. Record that then jam along with a bassline or another melodic element.

For structuring, I prefer to work away from the PC or any instrument a lot of the time. I sometimes think of structures while I'm doing some brainless job, like cleaning... It's pretty handy to have a notebook at hand for this.

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Old 22-02-2014, 03:01 AM   #3
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Re: composing procedure question

Quote:
Originally Posted by 046oh View Post
how do you start making your own music?
most tutorials start to tell you to start with the beats, then bass line, and then the melody.
but i'm a melody-oriented person, and melodies come more naturally to me than bass lines.
is this method problematic?

also i have the problem of structuring long songs.
do you think of structure first, then compose each section?
or do you develop on the fly?

thanks
There Are Two Basic Ways Of Developing Music IMO

1. Finding a melody or tune by making noise and letting your ears decide or
2. Being able to conceive the sound in your head then translating it to paper/software/instrument.

Once you train your brain to be able to translate ideas onto paper or software, it makes it a lot easier In my opinion.

As a good place to start as Solarite suggested would be to learn an instrument. Another thing to do is learn about chord progressions and Scales. Now IDM/EDM doesn't always do a good job exhibiting the power of chord progressions and scales/melodies, but knowing about these things can only help you. Become familiar with what Chorus and Verse mean.

Also when you learn more and more don't feel you have to follow the rules like a book. The rules of harmony and Melodies are broken here and there all the time by great composers.
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Old 22-02-2014, 09:53 AM   #4
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Re: composing procedure question

thanks guys for the tips
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Old 22-02-2014, 02:33 PM   #5
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Re: composing procedure question

Before I even start writing a track, I will come up with a title which embodies a concept and then will choose a scale, key, and mode followed by time signature. Since I am relatively new to using theory in a more disciplined sense I have been challenging myself to try different mixes of these variables so that I am learning them as I go.

Following this, it really depends what I feel the track needs first as I work linearly so if drums are required immediately I will start there, if I am starting slow I will begin with atmospheres, and if there are to be chords at bar one I will figure out the first progression or motif followed by accompanying arpeggiations.

In the end, I would advise going with whatever feels most natural to you as this will no doubt lead to the best result. Trust yourself and your ear. An artist's instinct never lies.

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Old 23-02-2014, 12:14 PM   #6
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Re: composing procedure question

After being an 'analogue' musician for years I had/have trouble adjusting to a different frame of mind composing in a DAW. I felt like the program (Sonar, Live) was pushing me to create in a certain way or consecutive order and I felt I needed to learn so.

Then I realised a DAW is simply a tool! Although the program itself (Live in particular) does have options which make you think you need to work in a certain way it actually doesn't.

The way I see it, a DAW also has countless options to aid you if you well.. suck at making music. For eg. scales, arpeggiators, sample based functions (stretch, trigger..) Now I'm not saying you can't be creative using these functions but inherintely they fill the gap between not being able to play an instrument and being able to do so..

I play my own 'arpeggiations' live, I know when a melody is in tune or in a certain scale, instead of recording different pieces then triggering it or editting/cutting them up, I usually simply play it until I get it right.

Guess what I'm saying is, I switched my perspective from thinking a DAW has it's own structure to 'I have an idea for a tune - how can a DAW help ME?' So instead of trying to figure out all the functions in my DAW, or trying to achieve a certain effectiveness in workflow I simply create music and while doing so I run into options that can or cannot aid me, meanwhile trusting in the process that I am learning my DAW along the way..

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Old 23-02-2014, 02:15 PM   #7
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Re: composing procedure question

Compose however is easiest for you. It will vary from track to track. For example you might be messing around on the piano and find a fantastic melody or chord progression which you want to use, so you'd start with that and build the drums around it. Another time you might have a beat stuck in your head all day, so get that down first and try and build a bassline around it! It all depends on your startpoint, I think if you try and structure your workflow too much then you end up stifling your creativity. Just sit down and do whatever feels right.

Hope this helps
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Old 23-02-2014, 02:33 PM   #8
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Re: composing procedure question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kastrik View Post
Compose however is easiest for you. It will vary from track to track. For example you might be messing around on the piano and find a fantastic melody or chord progression which you want to use, so you'd start with that and build the drums around it. Another time you might have a beat stuck in your head all day, so get that down first and try and build a bassline around it! It all depends on your startpoint, I think if you try and structure your workflow too much then you end up stifling your creativity. Just sit down and do whatever feels right.

Hope this helps
Kastrik
Ditto

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Old 23-02-2014, 04:31 PM   #9
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Re: composing procedure question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kastrik View Post
Compose however is easiest for you. It will vary from track to track. For example you might be messing around on the piano and find a fantastic melody or chord progression which you want to use, so you'd start with that and build the drums around it. Another time you might have a beat stuck in your head all day, so get that down first and try and build a bassline around it! It all depends on your startpoint, I think if you try and structure your workflow too much then you end up stifling your creativity. Just sit down and do whatever feels right.

Hope this helps
Kastrik
^^ This

Sometimes I'm fiddling with a drumline, and once I've mangled it a bit a tune sort of suggests itself to me.

Sometimes I'm making a new sound on a synth, and I just happen to accidentally tap something out, and I'll think 'blimey, I could use that!', so I'll save it in a clip. I may work on it there and then, or save it for later in my 'incubator' folder.

Sometimes I'll be in the bathroom or out for a walk with a tune in my head, and it starts to mutate into something awesome, and I'll hum it into my phone and rush back to get it down whilst it's still fresh in my mind (that's usually when the phone rings).

The most painful one is where I decide to experiment with something rhythmic. My scumbag brain will suggest something like 'why not make a track in 5/4 with an oriental scale' and I spend the next few weeks trying to wrestle it into something listenable.

But certainly, having some kind of structure to your workflow is very useful, because once you have an idea and some notion of what the track's going to be, it can save you the bother of having to work out what to do next.

I guess a lot depends on how your mind works...

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Old 23-02-2014, 04:49 PM   #10
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Re: composing procedure question

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Originally Posted by dogsolitude View Post
^^ This
My scumbag brain will suggest something like 'why not make a track in 5/4 with an oriental scale' and I spend the next few weeks trying to wrestle it into something listenable.
Haha the amount of times I've started a track in 5/4 and just given up...
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Old 24-02-2014, 01:26 AM   #11
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Re: composing procedure question

Melody is everything.. I do melody.. add sounds background noise.. bass line then drums and sound effects last..

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Old 28-02-2014, 01:41 PM   #12
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Re: composing procedure question

I don't think there is a set specific way to start composing. It differs from person to person. My composing ideas always switch. Sometimes it comes from a melody I'm thinking about or a nice chord progression or a beat. Just go with what you hear and what comes naturally to you.
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Old 01-03-2014, 04:40 AM   #13
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Re: composing procedure question

I develop on the fly. You have to. You have to be careful not to fall into the thinking that once you've created a 16 bar loop, all you have to do is copy and paste arrange it.

Not only do you have to arrange the pieces, but you have to continue to develop your idea. You can work your way up to your glorious 16 bar loop, but you have to also not consider it "done and finished", if you know what I mean.

For arranging long songs, just take your idea and fluff it out a bit. Lengthen it. Tease the listeners with bits and pieces of your main arrangement, but don't give them the full bit. Build up energy.

As for "procedure", I start with chord progressions. Everything flows from the chords for me, because you can extract bass and melody from the chords quite easily. Usually a little drum pattern + jamming with chords over the beat gets the creative juices flowing for me.

Whatever you do, have fun doing it. Good luck!
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Old 03-03-2014, 06:33 AM   #14
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Re: composing procedure question

what fluent said is a good point. i feel like i fell into this trap early on a lot, because it is easy to get a little loop going then just spas out on the ctrl + d.
it depends on a number of things, you should have a general idea of how the arrangement should go in your head once you have the basis of the track and just try to slowly build that. you will find that some loops get boring and repetitive faster than others might, so using carry over sounds, automation, effects etc. will be an important part of your arrangement. this helps keep it fresh, build tension or pretty much do whatever you want it to do.
basically, experiment with the loop youve built and see what works and what doesnt, then when you have a couple different pieces or variations on it you can piece these together.
it takes time and practice in the end, you'll slowly begin to get used to it and be able to get ideas out faster with time.

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Old 03-03-2014, 08:59 AM   #15
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Re: composing procedure question

In Live, I do session view for drafts until I get a flow going and then I quickly go into arrangement to keep the flow happening. If it's not linear for me, it's not going to come out good. No matter what DAW you're using, keep everything in check. Your arrangement is just as important as your smaller ideas.
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Old 03-03-2014, 09:16 AM   #16
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Re: composing procedure question

found this quote on the internet : Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art." - Charlie "YardBird" Parker

maybe it helps
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Old 03-03-2014, 10:47 AM   #17
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Re: composing procedure question

Definitely nothing wrong with starting melody, I find that when I start with drums I end up making the same types of melodies again and again.
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Old 03-03-2014, 07:42 PM   #18
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Re: composing procedure question

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Originally Posted by imma3k View Post
what fluent said is a good point. i feel like i fell into this trap early on a lot, because it is easy to get a little loop going then just spas out on the ctrl + d.
There's nothing really wrong with that approach, per say. I still use it. It's effective at building a basic song structure. Just something to keep in mind, is that's not ALL the work that needs to be done to build an effective arrangement.

In other words, you should not consider your loop parts completely finished and just needing to be copied everywhere. You're going to have to do some more editing to create a great arrangement.
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Old 10-10-2014, 04:46 PM   #19
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Re: composing procedure question

First off, I'm super new at all this so take what I say next with that in mind..
I find ableton live's session view to be extremely helpful with this. Just start making loops, drums, melody, bass line... a soundscape
Then I combine them to see what I like and create scenes that I arrange into the basic skeleton of the song and record that into arrangement view. Like has been said above, it's not even close to done at this point. I find this way much easier (and more fun) than trying to build the song structure in the traditional arrangement view.

Edit: sorry! I was reading this thread when I joined and didn't bother to look at how old it was!

Last edited by GetLow; 10-10-2014 at 05:37 PM.. Reason: I'm stupid...
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Old 13-10-2014, 06:18 PM   #20
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Re: composing procedure question

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Originally Posted by GetLow View Post
First off, I'm super new at all this so take what I say next with that in mind..
I find ableton live's session view to be extremely helpful with this. Just start making loops, drums, melody, bass line... a soundscape
Then I combine them to see what I like and create scenes that I arrange into the basic skeleton of the song and record that into arrangement view. Like has been said above, it's not even close to done at this point. I find this way much easier (and more fun) than trying to build the song structure in the traditional arrangement view.

Edit: sorry! I was reading this thread when I joined and didn't bother to look at how old it was!
I haven't been around here long but it seems like reviving old threads is pretty common here

Coming from a musician's background, Live's Session View is perfect for jamming, or "Live" performance. Arrangement view is where all the precision happens; some might say it's the tedious part of composition. But Arrangement view is where you can more easily do multiple automation - essentially, turn 10 knobs and slide 10 faders at the same time.

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