Composition and Theory


This was one of favorite threads in the old forum… although it as often lonely there, those looking for help usually got it.

One of the best gifts I ever received from a forum member was this

Seems like Christmas is a good time to give it back.


Great and simple site where you can get to grips with the basics in a light interactive way, with nice visual aids and audio examples. The exercises are great and if done daily for a few minutes can really drill all these concepts in. I should get back to these myself (the intervals ear training is particularly valuable).



So awesome! Is that video yours?


The Ravenspiral Guide is a good write-up, but limits itself to post-1800s western music theory and the classical twelve-tone equal temperament, - which is hardly: "all that is worth knowing about anything musical".

In fact, in my opinion, one of the main reasons so much electronic music today sounds so much the same, is that the vast majority of producers use the same (limited) system, seemingly without question.

So, we get the same 12 notes in the same configuration, over and over, ad nauseam.

But anyway.

I thought I’d point out, that there are many more choices than 12 different notes, even within western music itself. This Wikipedia page lists a bunch of them, and can be used as a place to start exploring new sounds:


That’s one reason… the other is the preponderance of 4/4 at 110-120 BPM. Another one is the fact so many electronic composers use the Western System of Harmony but never studied it … lots of drone pads with a tempered scale over the top…

Its true that the possibilities of arranging pitches is infinite. The Physics approach in the link you provided is fascinating and daunting!. (I had my time as a Harry Partch fan)

A study of systems used in different cultures over different time periods is another approach to discovery and inspiration.

Thank you for adding to the resources on this thread. :pray:


No, I found this in the depths of Youtube. I found it to be the best video explaining MIDI and its functions.


Thanks for sharing that… very informative :sunglasses:


Harry Partch’s music is wonderful, but his theories are not always clear or easy to understand.

For me, the most inspiring thing about Partch is probably that he was as much an instrument-builder as a composer. And that the music and the building/invention of instuments was closely intertwined in his work.

Something like this, perhaps:

  1. Invent a new instrument
  2. Build it yourself
  3. Learn to play it
  4. Compose some music for it
  5. Repeat.

It reminds me not to be lazy when I’m building my own (electronic) instruments.


It’s symbiosis in it’s purest form. And this is why I think the Control Voltage/MIDI formula is pretty much making everyone rethink what music theory and composition entails.


Indeed… he was a genius who understood the vast possibilities of different tuning methods and creating instruments that could make use of those various methods. He made his own path with little regard to whether anyone might follow. A few people did…

In the 80’s I had a classical guitar and music theory teacher named John Schneider who introduced me to Partch and other similar ideas. It was life changing.

I haven’t visited that world in a long time… who knows? I could easily wander back to that path for some inspiration from time to time.

Thanks again for sharing and adding some enrichment to this thread and the forum…


I have always believed that I have barely scratched the surface of understanding or making use of MIDI… Now I believe I’ve barely touched the surface and have a long way to go before making something like a scratch!


Check comments at on this. Folk just bullshiting author.
Don’t recommend this book.


Check comments at on this. Folk just bullshiting author.
Don’t recommend this book.


The site you link to literally calls it: “One of the finest free music theory books”.


Yeah… that’s what I saw. :eyes:. It’s a cool site though.


Check comments section


I don’t see it … maybe you can provide a quote. I think you are confused.


neon the rex is a terrible nickname, to be frank


Indeed and call me a cynic (which I definitely am). I downloaded that book and if the same guy who knows a hell of a lot about pretty obscure chord progressions, polyrhythms, syncopation wrote that track which is complete and utter junk from an electronic music perspective. It has no hook or repeating melody. It has untold chord progressions that have to my ears no relation to each other, has a very feeble rhythmic structure. It’s total junk. How has Kraftverk, the great electronic pop of Depeche Mode etc then electronic masterpieces by Juan Atkins and others from Detroit, Aphex Twin, The Black Dog, Orbital etc regressed to this utter bilge and this guy knows all this about music theory? I could wack something like that together in an afternoon I reckon. It says in the book “This is what I teach my guitar students” hmmmmmm I don’t reckon he even wrote it.


I don’t think it’s the same book… but if it is… so… one guy had a rant.