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nathanimal
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A composing breakthrough - for me.

Sun Jan 06, 2019 6:06 am

This is obviously not specific to Logic Pro X or DAW production in general:

I've recently discovered and implemented what I call the "two finger rule" when composing new tracks. Which is to say, for anybody with reasonable competency on keyboards, work out compositions with only one finger on each hand - the bass line in the left hand and only the melody in the right hand.

Reasons why this works so well for me:

1. Frees up a lot of headspace to focus on the core framework of any piece music - the melody and the root of the chords.

2. This also puts more focus on making the melody as good as possible - a good melody, working in conjunction with the root of a chord, will help outline the quality of the chord without much need for help from the inner voices (i.e. "3rd and 4th fingers"). This is done by resolving to the 3rd or the 7th of a chord - whenever reasonably possible - when the chord changes. (Jazz improv 101.)

3. If the potential of a song is not immediately obvious from just listening to its bass line and melody, it is likely to fall flat no matter how much "arranging" is done. In my opinion.

4. Why only one finger on each hand? Given my jazz background and keyboard proficiency, it's really easy for me to go kind of nuts and start noodling - like a typical jazzer. Using only one finger on each hand forces me to simplify - and with music, like garlic - less is more. (Again, in my opinion.)

Thoughts?
Last edited by nathanimal on Mon Jan 07, 2019 8:34 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Atlas007
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Sun Jan 06, 2019 10:08 am

Interesting point if view!
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Ploki
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Tue Jan 08, 2019 12:39 pm

nathanimal wrote:
This is obviously not specific to Logic Pro X or DAW production in general:

1. Frees up a lot of headspace to focus on the core framework of any piece music - the melody and the root of the chords.

2. This also puts more focus on making the melody as good as possible - a good melody, working in conjunction with the root of a chord, will help outline the quality of the chord without much need for help from the inner voices (i.e. "3rd and 4th fingers"). This is done by resolving to the 3rd or the 7th of a chord - whenever reasonably possible - when the chord changes. (Jazz improv 101.)

3. If the potential of a song is not immediately obvious from just listening to its bass line and melody, it is likely to fall flat no matter how much "arranging" is done. In my opinion.

4. Why only one finger on each hand? Given my jazz background and keyboard proficiency, it's really easy for me to go kind of nuts and start noodling - like a typical jazzer. Using only one finger on each hand forces me to simplify - and with music, like garlic - less is more. (Again, in my opinion.)

Thoughts?


I think that's quite reasonable and sounds pretty good.

I'm a trained guitarist and composer (recently turned not-trained bassist). I really started appreciating bass lines only now when i actually started playing one.

When working with roots+melody that leaves a lot more space for polyphonic voice leading as well, making for interesting songs that not necessarily adhere to melody+chords.

I also know a couple of jazzers (guitarist) that tend to go chord-crazy right from the top, and a close colleague of mine also recently adopted a similar philosophy as you did: forcing himself out of jazz noodling.
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jimstam
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Tue Jan 15, 2019 6:30 am

JunkieXXL actually has a whole episode of studio time about programming strings where he talkes about this concept. (I think it was one of his last ones or his episode called writing for strings)
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Sun Jan 20, 2019 2:32 pm

I have read this in some song writing books, even simpler, reduce the song to a one note melody. Find/create a great melody, then find the chords which support it. Your idea has strong merit to it; by finding the bass note. I'm gonna try that sometime soon. Can a good composing tool/idea to work with
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Sascha Franck
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Sun Jan 20, 2019 7:17 pm

nathanimal wrote:
- and with music, like garlic - less is more. (Again, in my opinion.)

Thoughts?


Yes. I don't agree on the garlic part. With garlic, more is more. And well, for Mr. Malmsteen it is anyway:


On a serious note: I have been taught this very method while studying music already - just not exactly in a compositional context but more in order to explore chord possibilities. The general idea being that each and every melody note can be connected to each and every bass note by a more or less meaningful chord filling the gap between the two.
We were then given a rather easy melody and what seemed like some more or less randomly selected bass notes and had to fill things up with chordal notes. It was then expanded by things such as transposing the bass line in its entirety or just parts of it by random amounts.
Defenitely a very interesting concept and of course pretty helpful in a compositional environment, too.

I'm actually quite thankful that you bring this up as I keep forgetting about this very helpful concept all the time, for reasons unknown to me (well, as I am a rather trained musician as well, I gather that's because the "easy" solutions come in very quickly and you just don't keep going once you've found one plausible way to accompany a melody).
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Jan 21, 2019 1:11 am

Sascha Franck wrote:
I'm actually quite thankful that you bring this up as I keep forgetting about this very helpful concept all the time, for reasons unknown to me (well, as I am a rather trained musician as well, I gather that's because the "easy" solutions come in very quickly and you just don't keep going once you've found one plausible way to accompany a melody).


What i often do i mute everything except the main melody and re-do the harmonic structure to fit the vocals better after it's been composed. Sometimes it's futile, but sometimes interesting results can happen that wouldn't have the other way around.
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nathanimal
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Jan 21, 2019 8:53 am

Sascha Franck wrote:
nathanimal wrote:
- and with music, like garlic - less is more. (Again, in my opinion.)

Thoughts?


Yes. I don't agree on the garlic part. With garlic, more is more. And well, for Mr. Malmsteen it is anyway.


Yes, that's true... sometimes more can be more. I came from that school of thought after finishing my music degree, and I've been in recovery ever since. But that's just me. My ideal is working "more" into "less" without leaving the average listener behind - but that is really hard to pull off. (The master, in my opinion - Oscar Peterson.)
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Atlas007
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Jan 21, 2019 11:09 am

I believe that keeping all the cards open, and whatever fits the bill become a taker. That often, ifnot always, means starting with a plan which sets rules to just be drifted away from... That implies revisiting countless times, involving at times padding or pruning, which yields into a circular process.
Although, fundamentally valuable, starting from the ground up (single note melody vs single note bass vs harmonic chordal analysis) approach is one (musical composition method) way among others...
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Sascha Franck
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Jan 21, 2019 5:04 pm

nathanimal wrote:
Yes, that's true... sometimes more can be more. I came from that school of thought after finishing my music degree, and I've been in recovery ever since. But that's just me. My ideal is working "more" into "less" without leaving the average listener behind - but that is really hard to pull off. (The master, in my opinion - Oscar Peterson.)


Fwiw, regarding music, I often think along the lines of "less is more". And yes, Peterson is excellent at that. Another thing always coming to my mind when it's about that thing is Rickie Lee Jones' album "Pop Pop" - extremely intimidating recordings of some standards and such, or Joe Pass' and Ella Fitzgeralds duo recordings, equally qualifiying for a "no fuss" approach. Or some of Rebecca Bakkens somewhat electronically influenced works.

Whatever, with garlic I can't agree. I can't have enough of it - to the sheer amazement of Ms. Franck who almost hates garlic.
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Jan 21, 2019 9:02 pm

Sascha Franck wrote:
nathanimal wrote:
...Ms. Franck who almost hates garlic.
Did you wed with a quasi vampire? :shock:
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Tue Jan 22, 2019 1:15 am

Atlas007 wrote:
Did you wed with a quasi vampire? :shock:


Uhm - I actually never checked. Maybe I should...
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Mon Feb 25, 2019 3:31 pm

A textbook(!) that I keep coming back to, several times a year, is Professor(!) Jimmy Webb's "TuneSmith.."

One of the many things that he talks about, extensively, is chords and possibilities for harmonization.

(I patiently plow through his "middle eight," learning a college education's worth of something new, every single time. He truly is a scholar, but with a gift for presentation.)

"Yes, music really is 'anchored upon' just two notes at a time."

Care to delve further? (Entirely your choice ...)
Last edited by MikeRobinson on Tue Mar 05, 2019 7:46 am, edited 2 times in total.
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nathanimal
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Tue Feb 26, 2019 4:40 pm

Interesting! I feel validated. I'll have to check that book out.
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Wed May 01, 2019 11:04 pm

nathanimal wrote:
2. This also puts more focus on making the melody as good as possible - a good melody, working in conjunction with the root of a chord, will help outline the quality of the chord without much need for help from the inner voices (i.e. "3rd and 4th fingers"). This is done by resolving to the 3rd or the 7th of a chord - whenever reasonably possible - when the chord changes. (Jazz improv 101.)


I love this idea. I still find myself writing progressions first, then fitting melodies over the chords. I realize that most composition literature advises against the way I write, but it’s a habit. This technique sounds like a great way to ease myself in focusing on melody first. Thanks for sharing!
Last edited by TheUncannyValley on Thu May 02, 2019 7:59 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Wed May 01, 2019 11:13 pm

nathanimal wrote:
and with music, like garlic - less is more. (Again, in my opinion.)

One bite of my mother in law’s Chicken Marsala might change your mind. Tender, roasted, whole garlic cloves that gently pop in your mouth... mmmmm!

...and my father’s family is from Transylvania. One might think I’d have a built-in aversion...
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MikeRobinson
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Re: A composing breakthrough - for me.

Thu May 02, 2019 2:23 pm

...and my father’s family is from Transylvania. ...

It's okay, my musical friend ... I had already guessed as much from your avatar ... :lol:
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