Creating music

A lot of people here listen to music, but is anyone interested in making music? I’ve picked up a simple midi keyboard and a DAW to see if I can get into creating music. I had little understanding of music theory but I have slowly been picking up some basics. I know a couple of sites that help provide information.

Simple lessons with musical notation for each piece of info, some nifty exercises that can help you train your ear to recognize notes/chords, and some tools to help calculate stuff:

Most of the same lessons, but through youtube videos instead. The site is nagware tier if you try to use account features:
Nifty tool that lets you “sketch” out some chords, I also found it useful to play around with to understand what notes within a scale belong to which chord.

All this knowledge can help you better describe what you’re doing, but the real hard bit is actually applying this stuff. I mean, what chord progression should you apply to your song? Go with the tried and true I-V-vi-IV?

And then what melody do you put on top of it? What notes fit? What’s catchy? what provides the mood you want to get across? With all of the music theory, or all the sample packs, or all the long winded youtube tutorials, it’s not going to be able to actually put together a song for you. And once you write your song, you need to record it, produce it, get the mix right, and master it (or pay someone to do the parts you don’t know).

There’s some music making panels at MAGfest I’m thinking about attending, and from there the best way to get good is to actually spend time doing it instead of just talking about it. After I attend those panels, I’m going to try making a song per week no matter how crappy instead of getting stuck on trying to produce something good.

1 Like

I formally studied music theory for many years (since as you may recall, I nearly pursued music instead of technology). I was a serious musician until I got to RIT.

Back in the day, I used Cakewalk and a bunch of MIDI hardware to compose (occasionally), but primarily used it to arrange.

It’s all left me, though I’m pretty sure I could crank out some technically correct four part harmony without too much effort even today.

Melody gets pretty easy once you know scales. Just play around with different intervals within a scale you like and feel fits the song and you find something pretty quick. The weakness of learning theory alone is that theory has very little on rhythm. The beat is one of the biggest factors in the mood of a song, but the best way to learn it (the only one that’s worked for me) is just to play along to songs you like. I started with these:

If you’re learning keyboard, you may want to explore some New Orleans jazz and blues

Obligatory plug for my own music.

I’ve been analyzing songs I like on how they create their melody. I’ve learnt that a lot of songs stick strongly to playing the same notes as the chord, while sometimes using notes not part of the chord for what seems to be called tension. Turns out the difficult part isn’t what notes to pick, but how you use them.

I spend too much time trying to be fancy, and I keep going back to this song:

The melody at 30 seconds is just playing 2 different notes back and forth! Yet it’s better than anything I come up with.

At the same time, I grew up on videogames with crazy good melodies, and my ears loves fast notes. Arpeggios and energetic refrains are what really interest me. I definitely do thing jazz would help, but also I should maybe take a look at prog rock too.

Yeah that’s pretty much scales. You find the one that has the mood you want and play around with intervals until you find what you like.

That’s where rhythm steps in. You give two notes or chords the right timing and it can be a masterpiece. See also the piano in the intro and guitar in the verse for this classic

EDIT: If you’re wondering what this thing is…

1 Like

A new law has been passed to update how music licenses and royalties are distributed over the Internet.

What are your thoughts on this?

It doesn’t do anything to mess with copyright and make it worse, which is good. That is why you haven’t seen any tech people caring about it.

It’s a big deal and is very good for my employer, who is a music publisher.

It makes it easier for people who make music to get the royalties they deserve, and increases the total size of the royalty pie.

It makes it so they will use computers for some things that were still being done with paper.


This seems like the right place to put this in the new forum. In anticipation of my band’s second album coming soon, we finally got our first one up on all of the important digital places.

The album is from 2011 (listed as 2018 though, gonna get that fixed later) and we were super green, so it’s definitely not great by any means, but still want it put it out there in case it is someone else’s jam.

1 Like

Cross posting from boo-yah thread.

1 Like

“New” track from The Duchess (it was finished over a year ago but I only just released it).

Another “new” track.

I remember liking “old” version of this. I like this one more.

1 Like