Understanding electronic music composing.

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
roman.i
KVRist
67 posts since 25 Aug, 2019

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 3:30 am

Hello KVR members,

I need some help with general understanding and approach to the electronic music composing.
I started with electronic music few months ago, learned how to use the daw, the theory behind mixing and effects, sound design, and finally reached a certain level that I'm comfortable with.
Now I'm trying to compose a full track, but struggling with actually putting the "right" scores into midi clips. I found the suggestion to always start composing with chords, so I learned piano basics, bought the Scaler plugin and created few nice chord progressions and tried to use them to create a track, but found that the chords were too "overwhelming". What I mean by that is that if we're talking about modern progressive or techno music styles I usually don't hear tracks so "complex" musically. Actually, I hardly hear electronic music with chords, maybe because I don't have musical hearing or there are really no chords but only baselines and melodies.
Also, I heard a producer on youtube talking about importance of midi in modern music, that in a past it was a major way to make the track interesting, but today we have all these synths with endless possibilities for creating a unique sounds, so midi became less important. And I actually heard some tracks follow this trend, that doesn't have any music but the full song is built on one note with a lot of effects and sounds.
So back to my issues, I would appreciate to hear some thoughts and recommendation how to continue and what skills to develop to make a progress.

Thanks!

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Forgotten
KVRAF
7282 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:13 am

Who suggested to always start composing with chords?

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DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
3564 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:20 am

Chords may work for trance or house, but certainly not techno. Melody, if any, is often not very harmonic and not build from any common chords.

It's all about the rhythm. Better check euclidean rhythms.
http://djwarmonger.wordpress.com/
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

Mushy Mushy
KVRAF
13501 posts since 7 Sep, 2008

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:27 am

What music do you make?

I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years and still have NFI what a chord is. Does it plug into the power socket?
"I was wondering if you'd like to try Magic Mushrooms"
"Oooh I dont know. Sounds a bit scary"
"It's not scary. You just lose a sense of who you are and all that sh!t"

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DJ Warmonger
KVRAF
3564 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:29 am

I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years and still have NFI what a chord is
Chords make normal people enjoy the music without drugs.
http://djwarmonger.wordpress.com/
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

Mushy Mushy
KVRAF
13501 posts since 7 Sep, 2008

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:33 am

DJ Warmonger wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:29 am
I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years and still have NFI what a chord is
Chords make normal people enjoy the music without drugs.
Metal fans are always on drugs? Who knew.
"I was wondering if you'd like to try Magic Mushrooms"
"Oooh I dont know. Sounds a bit scary"
"It's not scary. You just lose a sense of who you are and all that sh!t"

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
25674 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:39 am

Mushy Mushy wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:33 am
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:29 am
I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years and still have NFI what a chord is
Chords make normal people enjoy the music without drugs.
Metal fans are always on drugs? Who knew.
Never heard of power chords? ;)

Mushy Mushy
KVRAF
13501 posts since 7 Sep, 2008

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:40 am

thecontrolcentre wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:39 am
Mushy Mushy wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:33 am
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:29 am
I’ve been doing this for 20 odd years and still have NFI what a chord is
Chords make normal people enjoy the music without drugs.
Metal fans are always on drugs? Who knew.
Never heard of power chords? ;)
Oh f*ck it :lol:
"I was wondering if you'd like to try Magic Mushrooms"
"Oooh I dont know. Sounds a bit scary"
"It's not scary. You just lose a sense of who you are and all that sh!t"

Robmobius
KVRAF
3271 posts since 10 Sep, 2010 from A shit hole (Ireland).

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:00 am

I guess it's different for everybody...

But wouldn't you be better with a bassine? And then build a melody around it?
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roman.i
KVRist
67 posts since 25 Aug, 2019

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:10 am

Forgotten wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:13 am
Who suggested to always start composing with chords?
I found this suggestion a lot on the internet, then I watched a video made by dead mouse and he also suggested this approach. The idea to start with the chord progression, then the bottom note of each chord is the base note, also the melody may be from the chord, for example an arp from this chord. So the whole process is made around chords.
Didn't worked for me.

I don't have an answer for the question what type of music I'm making, because I'm still not making any music :dog: , but the direction is melodic techno, I guess this is the closest, maybe electro.

anomandaris1
KVRist
355 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:24 am

In electronic dance music we have RHYTHM>MELODY>HARMONY (this means that drum patterns, accompaniment figures like chord stabs/arpeggios and basslines are the most important elements in a dance track - the actual pitches of chord accompaniment are not very important as long as they don't clash with the melody or bassline )
In modern pop music - MELODY>RHYTHM>HARMONY; in old pop music (like easy listening, lounge, jazzy and similar - MELODY>HARMONY>RHYTHM)
In background, ambient music we will have the harmony or the sound design as the most important element.
I suggest the OP to learn to play some songs that he likes and to try and create his own compositions by copying some genre elements - like typical chord patterns or instrumentation choices etc.
About how to start and actually finish a composition - there are no right or wrong answers... anything works as long as you are good.
Btw, the deadmau5 guy is a total amateur as a musician, but also a millionaire - a living proof that you don't need talent or much skills to succeed.
Melodic techno - learn to play melodies then??? Start from children songs, then progress to trance, pop etc until you can play baroque music (it is more techno than techno - I wonder why trance people don't incorporate more oldschool classical music techniques that fit perfectly into quantized 4x4 music)

roman.i
KVRist
67 posts since 25 Aug, 2019

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:54 am

I'm not convinced how this relates to playing the music, I'm not a musician and not going to play a piano for anyone. If I can express this in a piano roll with a mouse, I prefer to take this shortcut.

anomandaris1
KVRist
355 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:16 am

roman.i wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:54 am
I'm not convinced how this relates to playing the music, I'm not a musician and not going to play a piano for anyone. If I can express this in a piano roll with a mouse, I prefer to take this shortcut.
It is harder to create good music with piano roll than playing it. Something like Akai Fire or Ableton Push is easier than piano, because you can play custom scales without "wrong notes" (and piano fingerings are actually hard beyond few basic keys like B major or C major). While you can just input the midi mechanically, 99 % of the people get stuck in a 4-8 bar loop (instead of actually writing something interesting with beginning, middle and end, and actually contrasting melodic sections).

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Forgotten
KVRAF
7282 posts since 15 Apr, 2019 from Nowhere

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:36 am

roman.i wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:10 am
Forgotten wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:13 am
Who suggested to always start composing with chords?
I found this suggestion a lot on the internet, then I watched a video made by dead mouse and he also suggested this approach. The idea to start with the chord progression, then the bottom note of each chord is the base note, also the melody may be from the chord, for example an arp from this chord. So the whole process is made around chords.
Didn't worked for me.
It probably didn’t work as it’s not very good advice. Chords are not the start point for composition, they are the accompaniment; a result of harmonizing the melody.

My suggestion would be to write a melody then harmonize it as you feel appropriate.

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donkey tugger
Boss Lovin' DR
6450 posts since 15 Mar, 2002 from the grimness of yorkshire

Re: Understanding electronic music composing.

Post Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:54 am

Forgotten wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 6:36 am
roman.i wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 5:10 am
Forgotten wrote:
Tue Dec 24, 2019 4:13 am
Who suggested to always start composing with chords?
I found this suggestion a lot on the internet, then I watched a video made by dead mouse and he also suggested this approach. The idea to start with the chord progression, then the bottom note of each chord is the base note, also the melody may be from the chord, for example an arp from this chord. So the whole process is made around chords.
Didn't worked for me.
It probably didn’t work as it’s not very good advice. Chords are not the start point for composition, they are the accompaniment; a result of harmonizing the melody.

My suggestion would be to write a melody then harmonize it as you feel appropriate.
:o Must be doing it wrong. I've never started out with a 'melody' in me bloody life. Just sing some shite on top of the chords.

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