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  #1  
Old 2013-01-14, 03:54
elhewman's Avatar
elhewman elhewman is offline
 
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Learning formal theory Vs.Imitation.

Well its been 2.5 years of staying focused on my hobby. I've learned some important basics of software synths/samplers, sound design, drum patterns, mixing and odds and ends. In addition understand to a degree how my favorite artists achieve things sonically speaking.

Now that I know how achieve sonic results better(much to learn), I have been wanting to actually finish projects and eventually make an album in time. But I feel I am missing a proper foundation e.g. the ability to write at all.

I use the exact same chord progressions in the major scale over and over which is probably okay to a degree, but I always end up with loops that could be bridges, choruses, outros,drops ect and I end up with a headache and frustration trying to glue stuff together. You probably see the dilemma.

In my case what would you recommend? What would have the best pay out?

1. Study formal music theory to the extent that I know why my artists songs sound complete and well executed.

or

2.Just study the music I like and attempt covers even if they are rough.

or

3. Do both. This would be fun but there is still so much to learn and master from sound design to mixing and time is limited.

Thanks for the input everybody who has been down this road.
  #2  
Old 2013-01-14, 04:20
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QVprod QVprod is offline
 
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All music is at imitation at some level. Simply listening to music you'll hear different chord progressions. The catch is understanding enough basic theory to be able to figure out what those progressions are.
So I'd say best option is to do both. It is indeed time consuming but its worth it. Just don't try to learn everything at once

*Side note, if you're planing on releasing an album, you'll definitely want to learn new progressions. Hearing a bunch of different songs to the same chords can be a bit monotonous.
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  #3  
Old 2013-01-14, 04:20
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I gotta say, knowing music theory alone is not enough. I've gone through formal music training, yet I still find that I gravitate towards the same chord progression/scales/rhythmic patterns all the time - which usually results in tracks sounding repetitive and uninspiring. My way to breaking out of the rut is:

- Listen to lots of music made by others (all genres!) and try to figure out parts I like by ear. This gives me a wealth of interesting patterns and progressions I would've never thought of.

- Force myself to do something different each time (start with a rarely-used note, compose in an unusual scale, compose on top of a stem or a sample created by someone else etc.)
  #4  
Old 2013-01-14, 04:22
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SteveDiverse SteveDiverse is offline
 
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theory is useful for studying and analyzing music that already exists and not very useful for creating music.

imitation sounds like a good idea, but if you imitate, you sound similar.

when i took composition classes, the hardest thing we were asked to do is void ourselves of all music we've heard from the outside, and find our own music from the inside.

the suggestion from the teacher was that during the semester while we were taking the class, that we not listen to anyone else's music (except what other students presented in class) so that we minimized external musical influence.
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Last edited by SteveDiverse; 2013-01-14 at 04:26.
  #5  
Old 2013-01-14, 04:39
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3rdFloorSound 3rdFloorSound is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveDiverse View Post
theory is useful for studying and analyzing music that already exists and not very useful for creating music.

imitation sounds like a good idea, but if you imitate, you sound similar.

when i took composition classes, the hardest thing we were asked to do is void ourselves of all music we've heard from the outside, and find our own music from the inside.

the suggestion from the teacher was that during the semester while we were taking the class, that we not listen to anyone else's music (except what other students presented in class) so that we minimized external musical influence.
Wow, I've found the exact opposite when it comes to theory. It tends to inspire songs I never would have hit upon without that background. May be the way people use theory that makes the difference, though. I'll pick a scale at random, say Neapolitan Minor and see what feeling it gives me, find a few chords that fit it, those two elements will inspire a rhythm, etc. Yeah, If you limit yourself to the major/minor scale you'll start feeling repetitive because there are patterns that easily and naturally fit that scale--changing key can break that a bit due to the configuration of the instrument and your dexterity.

Imitation--to an extent--has given me great ideas too. Just try not to take more than one or two aspects as a jumping off point. A rhythm pattern. or maybe there's a cool interval between a piece of the melody and a chord. More than that, and yeah, you'll start getting closer to mimic territory.

I guess I just find that being around music inspires music in the way reading a good book has always inspired me to write.
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  #6  
Old 2013-01-14, 05:03
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SteveDiverse SteveDiverse is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rdFloorSound View Post
May be the way people use theory that makes the difference
I'm sure that's true.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 3rdFloorSound View Post
I'll pick a scale at random, say Neapolitan Minor and see what feeling it gives me, find a few chords that fit it, those two elements will inspire a rhythm
Actually, I agree, and I left out your bit about limiting yourself to major/minor.

I think I should edit my post, but I won't since you quoted it...but, the problem with learning theory is that if you have no knowledge, the sky is the limit...then, once you learn it all...the sky is the limit.

But as you are learning theory, when your knowledge is in between none and all, it ends up being severely limiting.

I think ignorance is bliss...I also think superlative knowledge is bliss...it's everything in between that's the problem
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Last edited by SteveDiverse; 2013-01-14 at 05:07.
  #7  
Old 2013-01-14, 05:07
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elhewman elhewman is offline
 
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Wow thanks for the replies! Very in depth. I will admit I did not clarify my stylistic goal which may help. I am going for uplifting beats/pop songs(for now) that center around major chords.
Artists like Sigur ros, Gold panda, and Dntel have used redundant uplifting progressions that would be embarrassing to play on a guitar alone due to the almost sappy pop punk nature. Yet, these artists breath new life into these overused progressions again with their writing style. I want to find a way to do that myself but always get lost when trying to finish the song.

I am not wanting to be the next Aphex twin, but rather find my niche in producing uplifting electronic music. Not everybody's forte here, and I probably sound like a mainstream wannabe.... but I gotta fallow my inspiration.

Just seeking advice on how to achieve this. Your replies have been helpful. I am contemplating some of the out of the box advice I have heard. Very interesting. I still lean for the idea of learning music theory though. Thanks
  #8  
Old 2013-01-14, 16:21
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3rdFloorSound 3rdFloorSound is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveDiverse View Post
I'm sure that's true.

Actually, I agree, and I left out your bit about limiting yourself to major/minor.

I think I should edit my post, but I won't since you quoted it...but, the problem with learning theory is that if you have no knowledge, the sky is the limit...then, once you learn it all...the sky is the limit.

But as you are learning theory, when your knowledge is in between none and all, it ends up being severely limiting.

I think ignorance is bliss...I also think superlative knowledge is bliss...it's everything in between that's the problem
Haha well when it comes to theory, my ignorance was the 1990's Spent most of that time learning other people's stuff. Great for warming up on guitar though. I wonder where my theory knowledge ends, Going to have to get back into it and find the point at which I got distracted. May have been counterpoint.
Quote:
Originally Posted by elhewman View Post
Artists like Sigur ros, Gold panda, and Dntel have used redundant uplifting progressions that would be embarrassing to play on a guitar alone due to the almost sappy pop punk nature. Yet, these artists breath new life into these overused progressions again with their writing style. I want to find a way to do that myself but always get lost when trying to finish the song.
One thing to try might be to take one of those progressions apart and find melodies that interact with each chord in interesting ways. The common thing to do is take notes from inside the chord and use those an octave or two up. See what else works, instead.
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  #9  
Old 2013-01-14, 19:01
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elhewman elhewman is offline
 
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[QUOTE=One thing to try might be to take one of those progressions apart and find melodies that interact with each chord in interesting ways. The common thing to do is take notes from inside the chord and use those an octave or two up. See what else works, instead.[/QUOTE]

This is some good advice.. awsome!
  #10  
Old 2013-01-14, 19:51
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3rdFloorSound 3rdFloorSound is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elhewman View Post
This is some good advice.. awsome!
Heh, you know what? It just gave ME a song lol
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