Do you consider "not being able to compose a song on your accoustic instrument" a big shame?

Discussion in 'Education' started by foster911, Feb 16, 2017.

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Do you consider "not being able to compose a song on your accoustic instrument" a big shame?

  1. Yes!

  2. No!

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  1. foster911

    foster911 Rock Star

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    This song is by a big composer but it's a failure that I won't be able to compose a similar one after years of putting my steps in the production path. Do you have the same feeling?

    What we've learned from the production is selecting a key and playing with it to find a short melody and decorate it with other elements but in the past the situation was so different. No one was being satisfied by 10 second melodies. Similar threads have been created in the past but we still need to think of a remedy for the shortage of musical ideas in our songs. When you talk to people about making a modern track produced by DAWs, everyone has lots of ideas but for the musics with just one instrument, our minds are being turned off.


    George Gershwin - Summertime
    https://clyp.it/4zus3svl
    in the key of Eb
    Converted to midi by:
    artquid.com/seller/andreuhres/andre-uhres.html
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
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  3. Psychoacoustic

    Psychoacoustic Kapellmeister

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    You've never heard of folk music?
     
  4. jayxflash

    jayxflash Rock Star

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    The song in the example has in the first 3 seconds a bass, chords and melody - pretty much what we all do in our daws, bloody ironic, I know.

    Where do you get these ideas? Any - what you call - modern track can be - and usually is composed - played on a piano.

    So your own problems are "ours". Writing lots of chords for trumpet these days?
     
  5. superliquidsunshine

    superliquidsunshine Audiosexual

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    Hum your melody and convert it to midi, use synths and drum machines to add rhythmic thumps and pads. Voila, no problemo. Next.
     
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  6. Zenarcist

    Zenarcist Audiosexual

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    Why not compose inside your head? :)
     
    Last edited: Feb 16, 2017
  7. black bounty

    black bounty Ultrasonic

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    it's all about having sex with the right person, if you ask me
     
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  8. ClaudeBalls

    ClaudeBalls Producer

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    Interesting concept.

    To compose means to arrange elements inside a container. Like a painter within the boundary of his canvas or a photographer inside the viewfinder of his camera.

    To produce means to manifest, deliver or generate something.

    I think the underlying question that the OP is presenting is in this current era of DAW and most every musician having access to high quality recording capacity is:

    Are the basic elements of music (melody, harmony, thematic development, structure, storytelling, emotional content, message, meaning, communication) getting lost because it is technically so "easy" to produce "something" that makes a noise when you hit play?

    It is a common analogy to say that a record producer is similar to a film director. In the past during the healthy days of the music industry a producer was a specific job and artists and labels would bring in someone with the specific skills required to deliver something solid and commercially viable that maintained certain standards of musicality and sonic quality. The producer wasn't the writer of the songs, or the performer of the songs, or the lyricist or even the engineer mic'ing and mixing. Producer was a totally separate job. It was the guy with authority that had their eye on the big picture.

    In todays situation all of those jobs have been collapsed into one job "musician". That title has issues because it implies that one can play "music", so the term "producer" began to be used to cover the person that cannot "play" music but creates "music".

    Is there a difference between "music" and "sounds"?

    Yes there is. But it is totally up to the listener to decide.


    Ultimately I think it only matters if the person engaged in the act is content with how they spent their time. You cannot judge the value or importance of a thing by how popular it is or how much money is made from it.

    I think the basic laws of art govern the territory here. By this I mean if you finish what you start, and you persist over time you will have done "something". Writing a 1000 crappy songs is actually interesting if you look back at it as one big project. 50 years from now someone will be able to look at what you did and say "man that person was committed to their art."

    That is probably the only thing that matters.
     
  9. Zenarcist

    Zenarcist Audiosexual

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    An arranger was also a separate position, and a very important one. Groups such as the Beatles for example never worked without one.
     
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  10. Vaijj

    Vaijj Kapellmeister

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    Odd.. and ohh really.. Love to read most of your post Mr Foster but this time i almost feel a little jumped on. Cause i pretty much do all my songs wiht only one instrument. If it doesnt hold the standard i want on either Piano or guitar i will ditch it. Since i live by the old school rule that if you cant play a song by a campfire with a acoustic guitar (and still sound good) it will not have the the right feel for me.

    But as said, keep on posting thoughts from your rather confused mind, been there myself and know partly how hard it can be looking for something you really dont know what it is. Just that one day i woke up and started to write for me and my skill lvl. Just started to do what i thought sounded good and i liked.. I dont think its much more than that and then grow with it and get better, write better, make it sound better..

    Live and learn friends..
    Vaijj
     
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  11. subGENRE

    subGENRE Audiosexual

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    Only you are limited by the boundaries that you keep setting for yourself.
    We can learn anything if we apply ourselves with proper motivation and dedication.
     
    Last edited: Feb 17, 2017
  12. subGENRE

    subGENRE Audiosexual

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    Its too full of theory and technique. No more room for execution. Needs a bigger swap file.
     
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  13. Herr Durr

    Herr Durr Audiosexual

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    Mozart, Beethoven ... :yes:

    Foster.. :no:
     
  14. miaik

    miaik Member

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    I think you are looking at it the wrong way, or to better say it, your mind is creating that "reality" for you. If you think that "it sucks" cause its raining, well it will suck for you, but to a man in the desert, its the most beautiful thing, the rain doesn't care what you think of it. Its the same with music, music is music, if its just few notes or whole bunch of them making symphony, as long as it has meaning, emotion, story to tell, feel, it doesn't matter if its just one note, one instrument or whole bunch of instruments and melodies.

    If you are in a dilemma, just start learning to play a piano, its the one of the easiest and versatile instruments to learn, and you probably have a midi keyboard already, you don't need to be a virtuoso. But it will take time. Music is something you learn your whole life, there aren't any rules, though some people like to think there are, but there aren't any, yes there are notes and scales, there is something called rhythm and melody and arrangement and orchestration etc. but i like to think of those things as a guide lines and tools, its not required to know them to make music but it can help, or confuse you, or box you into patterns. On a guitar, you can play one same note on several places on the fret but different strings, same as chords, you can play c-major chord in 3 places on the guitar and its the same chord, but do they all sound the same? Its the same note, same chord, but to me, they sound very different, you can play Moonlight Sonata by Beethoven on a guitar, or any other instrument, but with limitations or advantages, point is, its just not the same. You need a DAW for a song? So what, just think of it as just another instrument. Thats all it is after all, just another tool, instrument, that just happens can do a whole bunch of other stuff too.

    I've started playing guitar in 1996, since then i started playing few more instruments, in 2003 i got my first computer I could do music with. If I could get a computer from 2003 in 1996 I would probably still play the guitar, i just love playing that instrument, its my favourite, then the piano as the second, is piano better? or guitar? No, its silly to look at it that way, to me they are unique persons, creatures, that have unique voice and character, "I" just happen to enjoy playing guitar more. Doing EDM on a DAW is just another unique person, creature with unique voice and character, a tool, you can do it or dont, you could write EDM that could be played on just a guitar or a piano, but whats the point in writing music like that, worrying? Just do it, follow your feeling, that's the best guide when writing music, just do what it feels right to you, not anyone else but you, if the song or melody is not boring to you, if it make you feel great then why care if everyone else hates it.

    As i told you, if you feel you are a failure cause you put your time in learning production, well then just refocus, start learning a piano or any other instrument, its not that big of a deal really, again, music is something you never stop learning about. And everything you learned so far will one day be useful, I understand how you feel reading your post, don't fool yourself into thinking that, if you invested your time differently, that now, you could write something like Rhapsody in Blue. It takes more than knowledge, lessons, tutorials, practice, books, time etc etc about music, you have to feel it, listen to Erik Satie music, it is so simple compared to Rhapsody in Blue for example in technical terms, but is it better or worse? No, it is also music, take any EDM song and compare, is it better or worse? No would be an answer if it is "music", yes would be if it its just bunch on notes stacked up together with no story or meaning behind it, then again, it could have all of that but it just doesnt feel right to "you". You know, some people are disliking George Gershwin on youtube, not everyone feels it, but that doesnt mean it is bad music or non music.

    You can do amazing things with just 2 chords, you could do with just one too, you could do it with just one instrument, after all, thats how it all began, with just one instrument, voice, a mother singing a lullaby to her child.

    Music is a subjective, very personal thing, based on emotions and feelings, it is not an exact science. You cant describe music with mathematical formulas, you can its building blocks, like tempo, melody etc. but not "music". It is like trying to describe
    your love for someone with math formulas, its silly even to try with words. But you can do it with music and art. One instrument, thousand instruments, EDM, folk, classical, rock, it really doesn't matter, as long as it is "music".
     
  15. tulamide

    tulamide Audiosexual

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    It's funny how we all jump on the trolloship :hillbilly:

    But since I'm already here...

    Please refrain from talking about yourself as "we". The whole paragraph is so wrong in each detail. No ten second melodies? What do you think a melody is? Repitition is key to a melody, else it's just improvising. I know your brain lacks the musical feel, so this will be a hard task for you, but here's a concerto by Mozart. Concentrate on the first 4 minutes and tell me how often the same two melodies are repeated over and over. (Tip: A lot)


    Selecting a key and playing with it to find a short melody? Wow, that lacks everythig music is about. Emotion, feel, a topic. "We" just play a melody, refine it until it fits "our" feeling, then build around it with the emotion in mind all the time. What you describe is what the online algorithmic pseudo-composing applications do. But you are not a computer, so don't behave like one. I wake up with a melody in my mind. Sometimes I dream of an orchestra-arranged suite, complete with all sections up to a triangle. That's what people do.

    Modern track produced by DAWs???? A DAW can't produce tracks. Again, it's just an application, a program. The one that produces a track is a human being, therefore putting in his ideas. Just because you don't like them doesn't mean they are worth less than a Mozart concerto. It is music. No more, no less.

    You don't need to be trained on an instrument, if you have the ability to open yourself and feel music. I play guitar and piano, both just so-so. I composed tracks with my guitar before turning them into electronic music. But I had the pleasure to meet several people that never played an instrument, yet their music is so full of emotion that I wish I would be so talented. Of course, not everyone is gifted, but those who are make music with whatever you give them - even a DAW :drummer:

    But I agree to the very last words. Your mind (regarding music) is indeed turned off.
     
  16. 23322332

    23322332 Producer

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    Gershwin was a student of Schillinger and his mathematical system of composing. He was basically doing all the fiddling in his head or on paper, not in the daw.
    Composing and performing the music are different tasks.


    Many classical works are too long and too repetitive, because the most composers had to:
    A) Compose many pieces with unique and beatiful melodies or
    B) Compose a longer piece with just one good melody and the rest - fillers like transitions, contrapuntal techniques and similer (and probably several semi-decent riffs, so the listeners aren't totally bored).
    Which one do you think was easier?
    Which one was more profitable?
    (The writers had the same problem: most classical books are filled with unnecessary descriptions and dialogues that don't do anything for the plot and any modern editor would cut them, but back in the day your publisher was paying mostly for the quantity and your "brand".)
     
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  17. SomeOtherGuy

    SomeOtherGuy Member

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    As a songwriter & producer I've had the thrill to work with some of the most talented and in demand LA session musicians. Some of these guys, literally just by hearing me run through a song once, are able to immediately play it back 1000 times better. Others can improvise amazing piano or horn or guitar solos, but ask them to play a specific melody and they'll demand sheet music. Others can't improvise to save their lives, but are otherwise musical prodigies. And many of these same people have never composed a song and have no idea how to even begin - which always astonishes me. I've also met songwriters who can't play a single instrument, yet have composed #1 chart topping songs simply by singing or humming the parts to the band. As for me, I consider myself just barely functional enough to write a song on piano or guitar, but not good enough to perform or record it.

    So from my perspective there's a lot of room for just about anyone, with any level of skill or talent, to produce music. There's also plenty of music being produced these days with absolutely zero evidence of skill or talent, and even some of that music, inexplicably, becomes popular. I've long since stopped trying to figure out the formula.

    Just to touch on the Beatles, someone mentioned they always worked with an arranger - that's not true at all. They worked with a producer who was able to shape their songs and improve their sound - yes occaisionally by writing a string arrangement - or altering the tempo, or playing a more difficult part - but after a couple years' studio experience the Beatles were in full control of their songwriting and arranging and relied on their engineers and producer to innovate during the recording process more than anything else.

    Going back to Gershwin - I suspect if he were alive today he'd be using the latest technologies - but I also suspect he would not be nearly as successful. Contemporary music today is not melody oriented, it's more about beats and a top-line over repeating 3~4 chord patterns. Yes, there's always been music like that, but what you don't (or very very rarely) get in popular music today are fully fleshed out arrangements for a small ensemble, "jazz" chords, and combined with world-class musicians and singers. Lyrics also take a back seat in most contemporary pop - which is ironic because whenever you hear a song that really stays on the charts for a long while they're always the ones that have excellent lyrics. That MIDI arrangement in the OP is actually pretty awful, check this out instead, one of my favorites. And if you want to hear a Gershwin tune that will truly blow your mind, check out Rhapsody In Blue!
     
  18. The Teknomage

    The Teknomage Rock Star

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    I answered your question no. Mainly because I don't have an acoustic instrument. Do I wish I could play Keyboard better? Hell yeah, but the only person I have to blame for that is me. But as composing and playing are not the same thing, It doesn't really get in the way that much.
    It also depends on what genre, my mood and inspiration, as to how I go about composing, but usually I'll be sat in front of my machines But if I'm using any samples in the composition, then that proccess will start at my recorder or computer, but the idea will be forming in my mind.
    I guess I just don't do that kind of music where it would sound good being played by one instrument, and I have no desire to be a virtuoso. If I did, I would stop composing my own songs and spend my money and time on piano lessons instead.
     
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  19. 23322332

    23322332 Producer

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    And why is the music not melody oriented?
    Because the public doesn't like melodies? Or coming with a good melody is way harder than using the rhythmical pattern of an older hit with a pentatonic scale...
    You can still hear good and pretty complex (in terms of modulations) and melody songs in Disney's cartoons.

    BTW, Rhapsody in Blue was orchestrated and arranged by Ferde Grofe - who isn't very famous, but check some of his music.
    Many of the big composers have used ghostwriters and orchestrators just like the Hollywood guys do.
    It's usually a secret as long as they were paying enough, but sometimes there were scandals; check any good biography of Liszt for details.
     
  20. jayxflash

    jayxflash Rock Star

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    I'd say is (also) connected to music consumption style. Do you know why radios have a short heavy-rotation playlist? Because every time a potential listener zaps the FM the radios want to make sure the listener will recognize a hit song and remain on their frequency. Now, the same applies to songs: short hooks, alternates between hooks and choruses so the listener will quickly recognize the song.

    Regardless how good a melody is, context is king. A long piece that has slightly "unattractive" segments will lower the "quality bar of the brain" and when the "beautiful melody" is introduced, the brain will flow with endorphines. The same melody placed in a string of melodies will not produce the same effect to the brain.

    In connection with my first paragraph, the classical music consumption at that time was the form of live concert, the public would not have any distractions hence the composer had plenty of time to use these tricks.

    Nowdays people are having 10 distractions on top of listening music (same for clubs - girls, drinks, gossip), so technically (as human we are not true-multitasking) once every few seconds our brain is focused on actually listening music. If in that period music is not rewarding us with a hook or chorus or a catchy verse, we don't like it.

    This is why we have music for listening (sitting in a chair, doing nothing but listening the music) and music for dance. These are very different products, aimed at different listening environments (yes, sound system can make or break a song), different mindsets and - why not? - different people.
     
  21. jayxflash

    jayxflash Rock Star

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