Learning Composition on MIDI Keyboard

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
53 posts since 6 Dec, 2017

Post Wed Oct 09, 2019 7:21 am

I have a basic m-audio 88 key velocity sensitive keyboard.

Sometimes with composition I struggle to understand what's the best way to learn. The other day I downloaded a song and put the mp3 into Ableton and I warped it. I then inserted empty MIDI blocks on different channels myself and named each channel "synth, drums, bass, fx etc..." and each block in each channel "original synth, synth with low pass, synth with delay etc...". I felt it was a good practice to understand the arrangement of artists I listen to thus helping me get better in my chosen field.

I have also been learning songs on my keyboard via a free tutorial youtube channel.

I make my own tracks and play around with composition techniques e.g. I might change a songs time signature, automate bpm in areas, have b sections in places, but not a fluent pianist.

Anyway my point is I don't know whether I'm using my small amounts of time effectively. My favourite genres I like to make are experimental electronic so I listen to the likes of autechre, aphex, object blue, skee mask etc.. I like sound design. I do tasks such as open FM8 twice, have a preset on one and init on the other, then copy the preset and see how it's achieved. My main goal is to move onto Reaktor and build/ code.

So what areas of composition would you recommend? I've seen some of my favourite musicians claim that the rigorous structure of composition can hinder them such as learning all the scale types, modes etc..

1156 posts since 30 Dec, 2014

Re: Learning Composition on MIDI Keyboard

Post Wed Oct 09, 2019 6:28 pm

Having first started making any sort of music back on an Atari 800 XL back in the 1980's and played the keyboard from the age of 4, ( my Dad's organ ) and a 3 octave Casio SK1 sampling keyboard I can tell you that, there is no set way to learn music composition or the way in which you dedicate time to it and in what way. You have a keyboard and a large one at that to fully develop your playing skill to be a competent and skilled player and when you are able to do that, you will find the music production aspects to fall into place, both from listening and from playing. The better you can learn to play a keyboard in your case the better your musical compositions will be as you develop the muscle memory and ability to do more complex maneuvers over the keys that you won't forget, kinda like riding a bike.

If you have the desire to create music, you will... but your heart needs to be in it to make something worth listening to, at least for your own benefit... if know one else's. You will find as you develop your own tracks that, you develop your own style and sound if you like, which will be something that people will recognise... You'll never know everything about the process in making music, you learn what you need to learn and as a by product from what you do create. Music production and everything that surrounds it is a vast complex field of the arts...

Building in Reaktor with nodes is a very different discipline mind set wise from composing a piece of music. It will take a much longer time and time in which may be better spent on actually creating music first and understanding how synthesizers work on the surface, moving to modular routing on them and then moving to Reaktor when you have the basic foundations in understanding of it all. Moving straight to Reaktor will really set you up for a steep learning curve from the outset without the background knowledge and skills you have gained in the previous fields. There are no set rules though... it's what you yourself feels in what core area you want to focus on.

As for learning scales and chords, it's not really necessary unless you're working with other people in a band, studying it as part of a school /college/uni course or want to replicate a particular song you know for example. Songs have constructs / structure because it's makes sense from that of the producer that creates the music to assemble it. It forms a story and like a story, it needs a beginning, middle and end. Music requires structures because it's that in which helps to engage the listeners attention over periods of time... If you're not doing that, then what's the point... You don't need to know everything when it come to music, but you need to be able to communicate it in a way the listener likes, and that includes yourself. :-)

For reference, I also have developed some big Reaktor instrument projects over the past 6 years. It's a distraction from making music though, and very time intensive. Because I have a long music development history, it's easy for me to fall back on that.. If I was first starting out making music, that wouldn't be quite as easy I don't think...with having to add another nodal network building hurdle to try and conquer that would just slow down my progression musically.
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