Music theory help?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Jimmyprice
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Music theory help?

Post by Jimmyprice » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:41 am

I've been noticing lately that my lack of knowledge in music theory has been effecting my production, I'm finding it hard to make baselines and hooks that flow and fit in with my tracks. Does anybody know any good tips or tutorials that would help me with chord progression in house / minimal style music?

Any help would be appreciated

Cheerz

MacGuffin
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MacGuffin » Thu Jul 08, 2010 12:00 pm

I found that Music Composition for Dummies was pretty useful.

docprosper
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by docprosper » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:20 pm

I just picked up the Chord Wheel (which I think I found out about somewhere else on this forum). It allows you to easily tell which scale a set of chords/notes are in, how to transpose between scales, etc. I have just started using it but have found it to be a useful tool. Link below
-Hamish

http://www.amazon.com/Chord-Wheel-Ultim ... 617&sr=8-1
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Tone Deft
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:29 pm

in the meantime use the midi scale plug in that comes with Live.

learn how to write out the major and minor scales by hand in every key. then learn how chords are spelled. in doing those you'll run across lots of new concepts, that'll keep you busy for a few months.
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v0ins315
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by v0ins315 » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:39 pm

I'm currently reading "Music Theory for Computer Musicians." So far so good. Very interesting book.
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MPGK
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MPGK » Thu Jul 08, 2010 7:43 pm

I know I'm writing this in every thread like this (the search function will bring up lots of them), but get a good, studied teacher or at least get a good book written by one.
The risk is high you learn wrong things or make it far too complicated for yourself than necessary, especially when referring to websites and articles written by "hobby teachers". Believe me, it's all not that complicated when you learn it right and there are a million ways to learn theory in a wrong way and you'll end up counting half steps to get to a major seven, which will slow down your production process even more.

pskept
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by pskept » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:10 pm

i took a few years of violin lessons (only stopping for financial reasons). i told my teacher that learning music theory was a large part of my interest in taking music lessons so we spent many lessons focusing on theory and not even touching our instruments. it helped me considerably with quite a few things i was struggling with when composing with ableton and other tools. sometimes i had some trouble conveying what i wanted to know about because i didn't know the proper terminology she was expecting. some concepts, like microtonal scales, i still had to work out on my own. she was aware of alternate tunings for the violin but not necessarily the science behind microtonal scales.

Musiclab
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Musiclab » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:12 pm

MPGK wrote: there are a million ways to learn theory in a wrong way
How do you learn theory the wrong way?

MPGK
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MPGK » Thu Jul 08, 2010 8:25 pm

Musiclab wrote:
MPGK wrote: there are a million ways to learn theory in a wrong way
How do you learn theory the wrong way?
You get told that a D sharp is exactly the same as an E flat. You don't get told that harmonic, melodic and natural minor are three sides of the same coin. You don't get told that it's easiest to use natural tones when identifying intervals. You start learning which scales to use over an augmented dominant seventh chord before even knowing anything about overtones... etc. pp.

And worst of all: You learn everything but you still can't hear anything.

Lazos
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Lazos » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:04 pm

MPGK wrote:
Musiclab wrote:
MPGK wrote: there are a million ways to learn theory in a wrong way
How do you learn theory the wrong way?
You get told that a D sharp is exactly the same as an E flat. You don't get told that harmonic, melodic and natural minor are three sides of the same coin. You don't get told that it's easiest to use natural tones when identifying intervals. You start learning which scales to use over an augmented dominant seventh chord before even knowing anything about overtones... etc. pp.

And worst of all: You learn everything but you still can't hear anything.

This is why ear training should always go hand in hand with theory.

btw, for beginner students in Western common practice theory, D sharp and E flat should be exactly (enharmonically) the same (just like on a piano or guitar). It would be too confusing (IMHO) to start talking about historical tunings, comma/cent deviations and the like for a beginner.

I agree about overtones, though. :wink:

MPGK
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by MPGK » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:25 pm

Lazos wrote:btw, for beginner students in Western common practice theory, D sharp and E flat should be exactly (enharmonically) the same (just like on a piano or guitar). It would be too confusing (IMHO) to start talking about historical tunings, comma/cent deviations and the like for a beginner.
That's exactly what I mean by learning the wrong way.
Sure, they sound the same on guitar and piano and in the absolute abstract, but in fact they are two completely different things. It would actually be MUCH MORE confusing NOT to teach students the difference, and these are fundamental basics and have absolutely nothing to do with "historical tunings" or deviations of any kind - though, in fact, on a violin, a D sharp sounds different than an E flat.

e.g., in a C minor chord, this note would be the third: 1-2-3 - C-D-E. Add the flat given by the key you're in, and you're good to go. Ta-dah, it's an E flat. It's really that easy. Calling it a D sharp would be like calling your own mother "grandma's daughter". It's the same thing, but it's overly complicated - plus, it could also mean your aunt.

I don't know how often I had to explain this to students because they learned it wrong. And as a result, they end up confused and frustrated when faced with more complicated harmonic or melodic issues.

thefinger
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by thefinger » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:34 pm

MPGK wrote:I know I'm writing this in every thread like this (the search function will bring up lots of them), but get a good, studied teacher or at least get a good book written by one.
this. preferably a college textbook. stay away from music theory for dummies" type books which will teach you about a tenth (if even) of what a good textbook will.

and realize there are no "tips" and "tricks", at least not without context. it's a language.

oh wait, my tip is for you to practice hard.

evon
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by evon » Thu Jul 08, 2010 10:50 pm

In my opinion learning the rudiments of music (actually that that was the name of my first music theory-"The Rudiments of Music"-I cant recall who wrote it)is all you will need initially. Learning to play at least three of the common scales. I mean realy learning to approach them from any angle on the keyboard or fretboard.
This is where the freedom lies.

It is always good to link up with other musicians..get in a band or group. This is usually easier achieved when you are young. That is how I gained the little that I now know, and it has taken me a long way.
fe real!

Tone Deft
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by Tone Deft » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:07 pm

^very good point. the basic 5 note pentatonic scale can be incredibly versatile.

the freedom of stepping into a band situation and being able to jam along with scales is an amazing experience. Band In A Box was an incredible tool for me to learn the fretboard, it's well past time I did that with the keyboard.
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mersault
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Re: Music theory help?

Post by mersault » Thu Jul 08, 2010 11:09 pm

Its nice to see questions like these pop up on here - There are several good books on music theory out there, but I would highly recommend one that's in the style of a workbook - with written exercises along with each lesson - makes all the difference with retaining what you're reading about.

I agree with MPGK, in learning true music theory, scale degrees are extremely important!

There's no quick fix in learning these things, so be patient and try to be thorough. Your best bet would be a teacher, but a good workbook will do - and save you some money!

...that being said, I've had many friends take on the attitude like, "I don't need to know that stuff for what I do, I just like to make crazy, rebellious music" -BUT it doesn't work that way. Its those same cats who end up resolving their D chords to G chords, because theirs ears led them there. ...far from rebellion.

Beethoven was one of the biggest, most badass musical rebels EVER (not only for his time, but for years to come as well) - and he knew a few things about music theory.

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