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Any methods on cleaning the subjectivity palette for your music?


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this is now a video game music thread (apparently) 

i already posted this in the actual vgm thread but listen to the harmony on this

 

1 hour ago, TubularCorporation said:

But they know their theory.

they sure do

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1 hour ago, brian trageskin said:

this is now a video game music thread (apparently) 

i already posted this in the actual vgm thread but listen to the harmony on this

 

they sure do

Where is the vgm thread?

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On 4/13/2016 at 2:37 AM, marf said:

im really self hating lately on the composing. i get so down. seriously depressed. hoping i dont suck. i just need a few melodies or something i love. cant give it up.

Learn some scales, noodle around with those scales on the piano for an hour (i mean seriously noodle like just go to town on) don't think just hit random keys, do flourishes think medieval/baroque, make sure all the random keys you're hitting are in the scale though. Record all the midi, listen back and pick out a melody from there. Don't do a minutes worth though, really just fuck around for a good 20 mins at least. Out of randomness comes patterns eventually : ) if you've got a good ear, you'll find something in the mess. 

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Posted (edited)

Alternatively, just smack the hell out of the keyboard rhytmically with your monitors completely off and record the MIDI.  Quantize it to a scale.  Cut a few clips out at random, with snap-to-grid turned on and the grid size set to one bar.  Duplicate them all a few times, and arrange them on the timeline in some kind of common pattern, maybe AABA'CA or something.  Turn your monitors on, chose a VSTi or hardware synth and find/program a sound you like.  Play back the sequence you made and see how it sounds.  Overdub on it and make an arrangement by ear, but try not to change the original track that much.

 

 

OR

 

 

Go down to the highway and record some traffic noises.  Go home and run the recording through your DAW's pitch-to-MIDI converter.  make an arrangement of the results. A bunch of geese can be substituted for traffic if you have goose access.

 

EDIT: there was a third one but I got distracted by something and by the time I was done with that I'd forgotten what it was, but I remember now.

Download an mp3 of some song, preferably in an unrelated genre you don't like.  Overdub a bunch of stuff on it, then when you're maybe 5-10 overdubs in delete the original song and keep doing overdubs. 70s/80s trucker rock is good for this, especially the lightweight, corporate kind.

 

Changing the speed and/or pitch aggressively before you start overdubbing is OK.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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On 5/20/2021 at 8:01 AM, TubularCorporation said:

Yes.

 

Like I said before, theory follows practice.

I think this is where i ask what counts as theory. Does an intuitive understanding of how to make things sounds a certain way and why they sound a certain way count as theory? Because I think practice builds up this intuitive knowledge base but I doubt there's much stuff like discovering the circle of fifths while mucking around with a guitar

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7 hours ago, vkxwz said:

I think this is where i ask what counts as theory. Does an intuitive understanding of how to make things sounds a certain way and why they sound a certain way count as theory? Because I think practice builds up this intuitive knowledge base but I doubt there's much stuff like discovering the circle of fifths while mucking around with a guitar

i think the notion of intuitive understanding/knowledge is misleading. intuition has nothing to do with conceptual understanding. yes, you can learn what works/what doesn't by trial and error but this doesn't have to do with understanding the theory behind it. that's not to say you can't gain conceptual understanding using this method, you definitely can, but intuition has nothing to do with it. 

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Posted (edited)
8 hours ago, vkxwz said:

I think this is where i ask what counts as theory. Does an intuitive understanding of how to make things sounds a certain way and why they sound a certain way count as theory? Because I think practice builds up this intuitive knowledge base but I doubt there's much stuff like discovering the circle of fifths while mucking around with a guitar

Not "practice" like "practicing," in the idiom "theory follows practice," practice means application or execution.  As I'm using it, it means that music theory is descriptive rather than prescriptive.  It's a tool for analyzing what people have already done and more easily applying aspects of it to what you do, rather than being a set of rules that you follow to make music that is "correct."

 

Music is the horse, theory is the cart.

Edited by TubularCorporation
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Theory and practice inform each other in a dialectic relationship all the time. An example --> modal jazz was born out of an intellectual/theoretical realisation that functional harmony had hit an end point with be bop. Some new rules/dogmas/conventions were formulated and a whole new field of improvisational jazz was opened up. Subsequently, new theory arose from this new music. 

What was the main driver for musical innovation in the 20th century? Within popular music, new instruments and new technology were probably most important. The electric guitar, distortion, multi track recording, synthesizers, sequencing, samplers. Within the classical/academic fields, theory played a huge role with the formulation of serialism, twelve tone technique, aleatory, atonality, polytonality, etc. While musique concrete, sound collages, editing, etc, were partially founded on the invention of tape.  

It's funny how "theory" is such as mystical word to a lot of people, often linked to its supposed ability to limit or corrupt your pure imagination or your romantic idea of "genius". This is ultimately a bit of a lazy cop-out - that it's better to just feel your way into creating music rather than working analytically. Both approaches are valid, but most people working intuitively will never transcend genre/tradition/convention. Which is completely fine.

To me theory is simply an association between the musical ear and the conceptual and language parts of the brain. I am able to recognise, let's say, the lydian tonality and associate it with the word "lydian". I can then go over to the piano or the guitar and improvise/compose within that tonality. Just as I'm able to recognise and name polymeters, I-IV-V progressions, syncopations, a swung drum machine beat or parallel harmony (chord memory rave riffs!). None of which hampers my ability to make music freely or intuitively.

Theory doesn't have to come from an academic text book, either. Every band on earth has their own weird, internal names for beats, structures, cues, whatever. The point is to have a shared language and be able to talk verbally about the music. 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, psn said:

It's funny how "theory" is such as mystical word to a lot of people, often linked to its supposed ability to limit or corrupt your pure imagination or your romantic idea of "genius". 

here's what a canadian composer has to say about it (timestamped): 

 

Edited by brian trageskin
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I agree with him until he says "then the theorists come after".

Theory doesn't come exclusively from formal theorists.

Sometimes a musician or a composer is a formal theorist.

Sometimes a theory is formulated first, then decades of music follows - as with Schönberg's serialism/twelve tone technique.

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1 hour ago, psn said:

Theory and practice inform each other in a dialectic relationship all the time.

Right, of course, but in my opinion theory follows practice.

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1 minute ago, psn said:

I agree with him until he says "then the theorists come after".

Theory doesn't come exclusively from formal theorists.

Sometimes a musician or a composer is a formal theorist.

Sometimes a theory is formulated first, then decades of music follows - as with Schönberg's serialism/twelve tone technique.

yeah i guess he forgot to mention the fact that all composers use their knowledge of theory to compose, and he's no exception. he's interviewed a few composers on his channel (brian ferneyhough (for example) and yeah, they all do. how surprising. 

he's also put the spotlight on composers who didn't know theory, like carl ruggles or jandek (not a "composer" but a music project), which is interesting. the case of carl ruggles in particular is very interesting. and rare.

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Posted (edited)
43 minutes ago, brian trageskin said:

yeah i guess he forgot to mention the fact that all composers use their knowledge of theory to compose

We all use our knowledge in trying to find something that works for us based on our level of theoretical or other kinds of knowledge and our taste.

we can’t use ignorance but we can substitute it with intelligence but it’s practically impossible to completely substitute the theory, no matter how intelligent or creative we are bc it’s too complicated and even if’s possible itd be too counterproductively time consuming 

imagine trying to write a symphony without knowing shit about the theory 

Edited by xox
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48 minutes ago, TubularCorporation said:

Right, of course, but in my opinion theory follows practice.

You seem to be hung up in some dogmatic circular argument that theory is what follows practice and therefore theory follows practice. I gave a couple of famous examples of practice following theory.

Synthesis is a part of musical theory, isn't it? Timbre, etc. What about FM synthesis? It was formulated theoretically years before it could be implemented practically.

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Yeah I think if I start out doing things that intuitively feel like a good idea, and I occasionally stop to meditate, reflect on whether it was a good idea or not,  then by repeating this process, eventually I get to a point where I have my own theory of what to do in a certain situation to get the result I want.

Theory is a kind of a formalisation of what I get once I have trained my intuition/gut feeling.

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20 minutes ago, psn said:

You seem to be hung up in some dogmatic circular argument that theory is what follows practice and therefore theory follows practice. I gave a couple of famous examples of practice following theory.

Synthesis is a part of musical theory, isn't it? Timbre, etc. What about FM synthesis? It was formulated theoretically years before it could be implemented practically.

It's not dogmatic, circular or an uncommon opinion. 

I don't know anything or have any opinions about him as a composer, musician or academic but this David Baker quote puts it pretty well:

"I believe without exception that theory follows practice. Whenever there is a conflict between theory and practice, theory is wrong. As far as I'm concerned, we make theories for what people have done."

 

I also think the Robbie Basho quote about technique applies pretty well to theory, too, and I've always liked it:

"My philosophy is quite simple: soul first, technique later, or 'Better to drink wine from the hands than water from a pretty cup'; of course the ultimate is wine from a pretty cup. Amen."

 

 

Or you could think of it this way: music is just fine without theory, but theory without music is meaningless.

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