Music "theory"?


I’ve been experimenting with Renoise for a few days - I’ve found it to be a very simple yet powerful piece of software. I only grasp the basics - but I have to admit that I’m having some trouble getting started.

You see, when it comes to trying to actually make a somewhat decent piece of music, I just don’t know what to do - I think I’m fairly decent at making some drum patterns, but once I’ve made one, that’s where the process starts stalling. If I try to make some other kind of noise, I have no clue what to “play”.

What do you suggest? That I learn some “music theory”, as in piano or something? Should I consider putting in some money for a MIDI keyboard or something? I have access to some ancient Korg synth (but it’s impossible for me to use it near a computer)…

What should I do? I don’t think it’s an issue of learning how to use the software, but more of an… uh… “music” thing?

If you are not confident in an aspect of production, in this case the musical side of things, then there are two main options open to you.

The first is that you ignore theory and “guess” at what notes to put and just use your ears to tell you what sounds good and what doesn’t with no regard for conventional music theory. This is a way that a number of people write music these days and (from the other side) looks to have some merits. Mainly that you are not tied down to conventions and could potentially think up strange and wonderful combinations.

The second is that you could purchase a relatively cheap book off amazon or check a number of music theory websites in an attempt to learn more about conventional music theory including scales and modulation and all the other aspects that come into it. This is the option that I took and I believe it has it’s merits also. It gives you more direction and purpose as a composer by telling you the “typical” scales and you can use these to create chord progressions and melodies once you have learnt the basics of these techniques.

It ultimately comes down to a question of what kind of music you aim to create and which of these feels more comfortable to you in combination with that. If you are wanting to create IDM-aphex twin-gabba-breakcore then it is doubtful that you have need of the second option. However if you want to create melodic dance music, whether it be house or electro or anything else then the second option would clearly have more merit.

TL:DR Version: Depends on the kind of music you want to make whether you guess what notes or you try to learn theory.

or… you could just hit some random notes on your vsti, distort the whole track and tag your music “breakcore”

…works for me ;)

I do think you should try to bring some kind of musical conception to the tools. rather than expecting the tools to write the music for you.

There are an unlimited number of ways to discover your own take on music composition, studying theory books is one way, but another way is to learn a musical instrument and play along with tunes that you like.

Keep it simple in the beginning and experiment with rythms, and by rythms I do not mean just drums. Find a good bass sound and use just one note (lets say C). Use only C-notes and note-offs, put them at different places and fiddle around. When it sound somewhat good (rythmwise) you can start to change the C-notes to other notes. A help in the beginning is to divide the pattern into 4 sections.

Row 0-15,

Keep the bassnotes the same within these “sections” and you should have a hit in no time.

Bleh to forcing yourself to “finish” songs when you simply don’t have the inspiration for a “real” tune… just keep practicing and making snippets and beast and short melodies - it will come to you, if you have it in you to begin with. Even if there were shortcuts I would not take 'em, you’d miss out on all the really good stuff.

first develop and own your style (whatever makes you stand out) … this takes while to get … (fiddling with samples and noises kicks, snares, fx etc.)


dig into some music theory
while you’re at it … study up on some sound design, mixing, mastering, and audio engineering …

investing in a MIDI keyboard will only be the beginning …

once ya realize all the crazy possibilities u’ll find Renoise will become as addictive as super mario … and street fighter … and mortal kombat

Funny, I’d suggest the opposite: to never care about that, just about what YOU like -> blam! instant own style! :P

what’s even better, when you get “better” you can go back to older stuff and improve on it, because it will have soul and you will still dig… ahh, the benefits of the light side, who can count em? :D

I figured focusing on what ya liked went without saying … does anyone work hard to develop a sound they don’t like?

How are you going to develop and own a style if you don’t know which notes that work well and less well together?

by having ears?

good place to start is this book:…s/dp/0240519159

check out that suva theory link and the random note generator… i’ll try to provide links later. too much here at work atm.

classic elithistic point of view

Like telling a little boy who wants to play hockey to develop a uniqe playing style before he even can stand on a pair of skates.

I think a good place to start is this book:…l/dp/1854724460

LOL? How is basically saying “trust your guts” being elitist??? If you like music, if you can appreciate it, you can make it. You just need to actually be at the level you are, and play around. Don’t worry, once you ate all the fruit and collected all the gems, you will advance to the next stage. I never learned an instrument in my life, and I’m pretty sure I could play the blues without a list of blue notes or other such crap. If that is elitist, so be it… but at any rate it is exactly the OPPOSITE of how you seem to have read it, so let me be more verbose about it:

Fuck theory and fuck what people like… fuck uniqueness (that word is completely useless btw)… imitate and experiment to your hearts content, and you’ll be a good musician even without talent (if such a thing exists, personally I think it’s just “passion * practice”)[b]… because too many “musicians” do anything but that… they look up to others, they don’t have it inside themselves, so if you want to do yourself and music lovers everywhere a favor, just stroll past them ahead of the queue, while they chatter like confused little birds.

(Oh, and if you’re not making music because you a.) like music and/or b.) wanna express yourself, the only possible musical advice to you is “don’t record, release nothing, EVER”.)[/b]

I wouldn’t even go there…

When you learn the craft and build your tunes, your partaking in something that has some cool history to it, all the way back to the cave days.

It helps to prepare yourself with the proper tools to get the job done. Where would we be without the wheel or the gear ?

For music theory, this was my bible for some time, then I learned counterpoint elsewhere and since the book does not teach notation, I’ve had to build my own and I’m still sharpening and tweaking it to my liking, definitely Renoise influenced.

For synthesis, I just use the web intensely and its more organized in my brain and boomarks than on some book… most of the time its a hands on approach, just keep the volume knob at bay because you don’t want to blow your ears and monitors.

For mixing… lol, for now think of it as cooking, how would you “cook up” your tune. You can prepare a potato in so many ways and feed it to people with varying tastes, I prefer french fries ;)

For playing the keyboard, this youtube channel is a good start…

For classical guitar…

Recording with mics I haven’t done all that much. Mostly line ins.

Let your body and mind rest, take a nap or two.

amen…you’ve got to know what sounds good. Theoretically speaking, a song can work, but to the ears its not so appealing. As long as your liberated from genres your OK. The only thing worse than someone who can’t sing, is someone who thinks they can…

this is slightly offtopic, but I just need to get it off my chest so I’m sure I have it all out of my system haha:

fractal music, to me, is the most horrible thing there is. compared to that, I love even the most horrible jazz or breakcore any human could dream of.

so, yeah. how to explain that to someone who doesn’t already know it. it’s hard I guess.

Hehe I think I just clicked the wrong button, sorry. 1+1 accidently got to be 3 ^_^