How do you play your melodies?


Simple enough question :smiley:

  • Traditional instruments (guitar, piano, violin…)
  • MPE controller (Seaboard, LinnStrument, Continuum…)
  • Traditional MIDI keyboard
  • Grid controller (Launchpad, Ableton Push…)
  • I don’t play, I program

0 voters


With the “studio” disassembled at present, I don’t. After the weekend I may be back in business again.


Lately I’ve been digging into traditional afro/cuban percussion rhythms, using them as a base for experiments with various forms of midi randomisation (as a way to generate to new melodies).

I’ll use various forms of notation, but also piano and bass guitar when learning/imitating various parts (playing along to some track on youtube for example). Drawing the MIDI with the mouse or playing/recording it with a MIDI keyboard is about 50/50 - I think. I almost never record my bass playing, but only use it as a tool for studying basslines.


Another related question would be:

Do you “play in” your parameter automation?

  • Yes, with knobs and faders on traditional MIDI controllers
  • Yes, with a dedicated XY controller (Kaos pad, QuNeo, Hot Hand…)
  • Yes, while playing MPE (Seaboard, LinnStrument…)
  • No, I use LFOs, envelopes, step sequencers and similar modulation sources
  • No, I program/paint auomation curves

0 voters


I almost never record manual MIDI movement, but prefer doing manual stuff on external analogue hardware instead (resampling/recording back into the DAW as I go). I often draw general fade ins/outs in the DAW, though, - since I suck at doing long steady fades manually.


This (and the OP) needs more multiple choice combinations!

I do all of the above at different times for example, all aside from polyphonic midi. “Programming” is still valid even if you have a launchpad, guitar and midi controller sitting in front of you


Yeah I wanted to change it to multiple choice but it said I can’t change polls after 5 minutes… Pick whatever you do most often or consider to be the best option.

I also often still program stuff when I’m lazy or focus more on sound/preset design, but I’m not really using traditional MIDI keyboards or grid controllers much (or at all) since I got MPE. QuNeo sometimes, but that one is expressive too.


Interesting, so far about 3/4 of the voters program melodies, 2/3 use traditional instruments and less than 1/2 a tradiitonal MIDI keyboard! I would have expected more!

Not many MPE users so far… Better get a Seaboard fast instead of your next hardware synth, this musical revolution is happening without you! :wink:


i couldn’t recommend enough the plugin boutique scaler plugin which comes very handy for some quick & fresh ideas … but … for some advanced user i highly recommend the Orb Composer midi tool. The 1st Ai midi creation tool. If you already know how to play your scales & chords , this Orb Ai thing is an amazing tool. It gives you new melodies, chords, progression & can build a whole track easy.


What’s an MPE controller?


Sometimes ive used just random arppegiation and beat repeat and sometimes resampled with slicex to get glitches and on a couple of occasions I hummed the melody and used Edisons dump scale to piano roll feature… and fine tuned the sequence from there…


MPE is the current on-going revolution in electronic music production :smiley:
It allows you to play synths expressively and bridges the gap between synthetic sound design and traditional expressive instruments.


Great points, especially for an IDM forum haha! I have used both techniques too, singing/humming melodies is seriously underrated as a quick way to get melodies, especially for people not that comfy with controllers.


Sounds interesting, I know Scaler but never heard of Orb Composer - you got any tracks made with it?


Hi guys, there you have a brief example of a midi phrase built in Orb, very short but you’ll get an idea. In the folder you get screenshots of orb, an ableton live ALS File containing the separate midi tracks & an audio example.

ORB 4 Live ALS File + wav + jpeg


Thanks man for uploading this stuff, much appreciated!
The WAV sounds pretty interesting! Gonna check the project soon!


No worries dude, that is a brief overview of Orb, i’ve just scratched the surface in this exemple as i’m not a pro musician either, i had the chance to get it for a fraction of its retail price so … but if you spend time sorting it out it can create some amazing pieces of music. As far as i’ve used it, it’s perfect for ambiant, classical or long evolving music, i need more practice to create dangerous IDM midi stuff.


So this might no be the most on-topic post in this thread, but having had this episode last night, I thought I might show how I acquire a lot of my recent melodic ideas & how they migrate into my work.

While this is not a dream journal, a majority of the musical ideas stewing in my head originate when I am unconscious. My previous job as a machine operator, there was no overhead music & loads of dull-roar machines running, so in my sequence of working, there was plenty of time to conjure melodies that worked out of my subconscious. My current occupation jeopardizes this with overhead music playing at certain locations. I hate overhead music; it kills any thoughts I might have developed.

The main reason I wanted to share this particular musical dream notes is due to the altered nature of the musical instruments presented to me. Normally there is music present, but not often when I view actual performers. The setting in short was something along the lines of me being on a piano sales floor & someone asked me to play such&such piece to which I anxiously scooted up to a piano & attempted to run my non-practiced fingers across the keyboard. Things changed when I was stopped my a man & a woman. Suddenly the nature of the piano changed. The main housing became … different. On my right (high notes hung a blue woven hammock-instrument that looked like it could support a cat. behind & underneath it was a guitar? that more resembled a flat koto. The main point on this device was the strings were replaced with 1 single wide clear ribbon connected at both ends that vibrated with an odd transient wave. The remainder of the belly of the piano was similar in that there were still wires remaining. However they were singled & spaced further apart. Mind you all these components were under the lifted lid (somehow). The man & woman began playing these “3” instruments. The man first utilizing the hammock, which gave darker plucky sounds with a very short decay (at least some physics still manifests in my dreams) then turned to the ribbon-guitar which gave some bendy tones similar to a pedal steel guitar. The woman shifted her feet under the opposite end of the pedal lyre & utilized the sostenuto & sustain pedals by lifting her feet (no physics for this) while simultaneously plucking the reformatted strings of the piano. I know the sound was unearthly but do not remember the details for events which shall manifest later. The 2 stared at me with somber faces as they played as if scolding me for being an inadequate musician, to which I readied a reply. I told them something around the lines of “it can feed into this:” before playing a “drop the bass” hard DnB riff in my head. I swear in my waking moments this song in my head was so horrifically loud the couple should have been able to hear my brainwaves. Having awoken (IRL) due to this at about 0245, motivation for writing these details was almost lost to a simple rollover-&-lose-consciousness-again but I’ve learned from the past that you will not remember a single thing if you do this.

So here is how I normally take notes post{dream}erous:

2019.08.29 dream
man played mini hammock & wavy fretless guitar ribbon
woman played open piano chamber few thick strings
unique sounds, cannot replicate, dnb was my reply

180 BPM dnb drums
1               2               3               4               
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
k       k       s       k       k       k       s       k
Ab2 ~~~ hiQ cutoff rising sweep ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
k       k       s       k       k       k       s       k
_       Abx     Aby Abx Aby Abx G5      Abx A5      Abx Ab5
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
k       k       s       k       k       k       s       k
_       Abx     Aby Abx Aby Abx G5      Abx A5      Abx Ab5
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   
k       k       s       k       k       k       s       k
_       Abx     Aby Abx Aby Abx G4      Abx A4      Abx Ab4

What makes this particularly unique is the Ab{x,y} are notes struck almost dead (maybe a portamento up to the note, but release kills the sound before it reaches the destination pitch) but other than that it is pretty lackluster. I don’t normally write down percussion but that k/s was loud. All other cymbals were not observed in my dream so I have nothing to formulate.

So having given you that with no audible context (maybe I’ll write it out eventually) I will demonstrate something more tangible. Due to the header I’ll let you assess the nature of these notes.

2018.11.14 dream

Ebm CbM

1               2               3               4
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
Bb4         Cb4 Bb4                     Eb4     Gb4     Bb4
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
Ab4         Bb4 Ab4
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
Cb4         Db5 Cb4                     Eb4     Gb4     Cb4
.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  

So in this example if you hear how I accompany this melody, the Ebm & BM chords are not enough to provide a good structure for progression so I add in sus2 & authentic cadence. The melody is usually the 1st thing I type up followed by any anomalies needed for sound design / accompaniment. Then as you see I can amp up the riff into other material in my waking hours. Forgive the lack of quantization, as I have my BB102 open & played this riff right on through as an example. Maybe I’ll consider incorporating it into the tune.

1 last thing that I don’t think matters a great deal to you readers: timing. Sometimes if I don’t get the tune typed out in time it will begin to fade. I use emacs since I can set everything up faster than I can blink. I type out the raw notes w/ spaces in between e e e c d d d b then go back through & tab them out to rhythm.

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
e   e   e   c                   d   d   d   b 

Lastly is capitalizing note names & assigning octaves

.   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .  
E4  E4  E4  C4                  D4  D4  D4  B3

Any chord structures then prepend to the tune.

Thanks for reading. I hope I wasn’t too much of a blowhard & didn’t derail the thread. Hope you enjoyed my zany dream


Very interesting stuff and process @Vulpes, thanks for sharing!


These days I just write everything on guitar. I have guitar pro 7 installed so I tend to write up my ideas in little files. It’s the most natural tool for me and it’s just really easy to write on one.