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Any resources for a music newbie?


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#1 Sansato

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 04:32 AM

I want to be a ReMixer, but I know next to nothing about music. A lot of the concepts are foreign to me and my ear is... untrained, I guess you'd call it.

I do plan on taking piano lessons as soon as my finances get sorted out, but are there any resources that I can use to start boning up beforehand? Nothing fancy, just some basic reading material that's easy to understand. I'd really like to start studying some and try to familiarize myself with some of the concepts.

Also, I apologize in advance if this happens to be in the wrong place. I sometimes get confused as to where certain topics are supposed to go.
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#2 Rozovian

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 05:11 AM

Here's some basic reading material. If it's not easy to understand, let me know so I can improve it. :D

#3 Sansato

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 06:39 AM

Here's some basic reading material. If it's not easy to understand, let me know so I can improve it. :D


Hey, thanks. This is a pretty awesome guide you've got here, although I think I'm gonna have to do some heavy studying if I want it to stick (Not that it's your fault or anything, my memory just kind of sucks). I suppose that'll get easier for me to remember after I start practicing and stuff.
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#4 GallenWolf

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:24 AM

I think my understanding of music increased greatly after I started studying theory... this is the book that really gelled with me, and now I'm moving onto another book that is more in-depth. Took me about 3 months to finish the above, working it through lunch breaks etc :)

BTW piano lessons are awesome. I started them about the same time I did the theory book, can't say I can play the piano, but it has helped alot with figuring out harmony as well as picking up new ideas from other genres in the piano books.

#5 mickomoo

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:06 PM

I don't know if this will help but it's some stuff I told other people.
I just started out about nearly a year ago, and I'm still very much so a beginner but here's some words of encouragement/advice (might be kinda long):

-Be eager but not over eager. I'd honestly wish I'd picked up music as a hobby much earlier, but because I couldn't remix a specific song, or play something a certain way I honestly just dropped the hobby. Music is something that requires time, from playing to composing to mixing. A lot of time to learn and practice especially at first >_<

-Don't get too caught up into one idea, in other words it might actually be best that you not try a remix first, or at least not a remix for OC remix. Remixes are good because by covering an existing song you kind of learn the feel of composing with out going too far out on your own, but more or less it might be better to "cover" songs before remixing. The very first thing I wrote was not a remix, it was actually an accident. When making a remix of music from pokmon battle music I created a rift and eventually made my own song. It wasn't until 8 months later did I even attempt to remix a song and it still wasn't oc quality. I'm still trying to master my skills, mixing and rhythm. Music for me honestly is more of experimentation and serendipity than it is skill. You will always have ideas coming to your head some sound awesome and it's disappointing when you can record or capture them the way you want, but honestly it gets better the more you start to pick up writing and playing. Your ear will improve as you listen to music while simultaneously trying to write your own.

-You don't need to have a musical background, but you should become more musically observant. Listen to things within the a genre that inspires your or that you want to write. Notice what "voices" (instruments,or what have you ) tend to play together, and the general feel each voice/instrument's notes add to the song. Music is about what sounds nice together and you can learn a bit from existing songs. Also notice patterns and pattern changes that can occur in songs. In addition to listening to each instrument/voice pay attention to the role each instrument plays. From experience you know that rock music uses guitars as a lead, for many genre's it's apparent, but on a song by song basis see how each role's notes and rhythm shape the song.

- Pick up an instrument, have someone teach you or self teach. Though it's not necessary but it may help. I wasn't a stranger to music when I started writing, but honestly I wish I kept up my piano lessons from when I was younger, I can't play in rhythm to save my life. Also keep in mind that composing your own music requires 3 skills. Composing (not necessarily writing, just knowing what sounds good together), playing (assuming you're going to use a DAW with a midi keyboard, even if not playing can help), and mixing (mastering and creating a true final product) Each with it's own general skill set.

With regards to equipment you have a laptop all you need is a DAW (digital audio workstation). If you own a mac, they should come with garageband right? if not there's a "freeware" windows equivalent called mixcraft. Mixcraft is literally plug and play, it's what I've been using, though to mix mp3s after 2 weeks you'll probably wanna buy it it's only $80 which is fairly cheap for DAWs, and honestly I don't know any free ones. The thing is of course when you get your feet wet and you're well grounded, you'll probably wanna move on to a better DAW, logic cubase, hell even pro tools if you're feeling confident. DAWs run Vsts or virtual instruments which are either synths (sounds very commonly found in modern/pop music) or sampled (actually recorded from an instrument that has a player). I'm bringing this up because you can actually buy libraries of virtual instruments, and a good DAW should be able to run ones outside of the program's initial library (mixcraft can, but fyi it can get laggy depending on your comp, more powerful DAWs have no problem usually).

In addition to a DAW you'll probably want a midi keyboard/controler. If you're family has any electric pianos or keyboards they should plug up to your computer. If not, keyboards can be fairly cheap especially if you're just starting out. If you're really bold though you could just use a computer mouse and computer keyboard lol. Anyways, I know it's a lot of info but good luck with everything. Finding feedback or getting questions answered can be tough, but if I ever see you around I have no problem answering anything, lol if I can.

Hope that helps! If you also need more specific music theory advice I can also give you some basic pointers

#6 Garpocalypse

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Posted 01 April 2012 - 10:58 PM

and my ear is... untrained, I guess you'd call it.


Start with interval work in order to get the space in between notes. If you have a keyboard, and know any scale, sing 1-2,1-3,1-4,1-5 and so on up and down. Then get a drone CD with a string instrument or a tambora and do the same thing. really feel the pull each note has in relation to the tonic. (1)

Do this for around 15 minutes every time you work on your music.

If you are learning Keyboard it might be tough for you to do at this stage but try to play everything you hear.

#7 Neblix

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 12:27 AM

Also keep in mind that composing your own music requires 1 skill. Composing (not necessarily writing, just knowing what sounds good together.


Fixed. 10char

You do not need any performance abilities whatsoever, nor do you need to know how to mix and master. Stuff like Finale is just writing on notation only, and that's composing at the heart.

You outlined skills required for a successful PRODUCTION, even then performance ability is not required at all.

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#8 Sansato

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:06 AM

it might be better to "cover" songs before remixing.


I've seen the term "cover" before, but I don't think I've ever completely understood what the differences between a cover and a ReMix were.

If someone would fill me in on these details, I'd appreciate it.
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#9 ectogemia

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:22 AM

I've seen the term "cover" before, but I don't think I've ever completely understood what the differences between a cover and a ReMix were.

If someone would fill me in on these details, I'd appreciate it.


Cover = your best imitation to reproduce the original piece itself verbatim.

ReMix = a word this site uses to describe an arrangement of the original piece; taking ideas from the original piece and reconstructing them into something new that still hearkens strongly to the source.

remix = traditionally uses samples (direct source audio clips; e.g. .wav file) + original material to take elements of a source piece and put it into a completely different musical context.

#10 jnWake

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Posted 02 April 2012 - 01:26 AM

I could use some help too.

I am fine in the musical department. I know how to compose, know some musical theory and I have played the keyboards for a decent amount of time.

However, I am very lacking in the production department. I can write MIDI files but I have no idea what software/equipment I need to do a good arrangement. I have a KORG X5D and a notebook, what do I need to make arrangements?

To the original poster, I recommend reading the basics of music theory and then trying to learn some songs (preferably by ear). It really helps to see what other people do when composing.

#11 Sansato

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Posted 03 April 2012 - 11:15 PM

Cover = your best imitation to reproduce the original piece itself verbatim.


Okay, just to clarify.

I know that the composition has to be reproduced verbatim, but when making a cover of a song, am I allowed to use sounds that differ from those of the original? Or would that fall into the "remix" category? This is probably a dumb question, but I'm kind of confused here.
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#12 Neblix

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 12:33 AM

Okay, just to clarify.

I know that the composition has to be reproduced verbatim, but when making a cover of a song, am I allowed to use sounds that differ from those of the original? Or would that fall into the "remix" category? This is probably a dumb question, but I'm kind of confused here.



The whole point of a cover is a verbatim composition with a fresh new soundscape. For instance, Brandon Strader did a metal cover of the Skyrim theme.


It's the Skyrim theme, but with electric guitars and drums.

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#13 Sansato

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 01:33 AM

The whole point of a cover is a verbatim composition with a fresh new soundscape. For instance, Brandon Strader did a metal cover of the Skyrim theme.


It's the Skyrim theme, but with electric guitars and drums.


So the way I understand it is this. If I were to cover an 8-bit song (like the ending theme to Super Mario Land, for example), I could make the soundscape however I wanted to as long as I still recreate the original song note for note.

I'm still a little confused as to whether or not certain backing elements (like pads, for instance) are allowed when they aren't present in the original. I'm guessing no, but I'm not entirely sure.
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#14 Neblix

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 02:02 AM

I'm still a little confused as to whether or not certain backing elements (like pads, for instance) are allowed when they aren't present in the original.

Electric guitars weren't in the skyrim theme, Brandon was allowed to use those.

You're overthinking it. Covers are just remaking the song in whatever way you want.

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#15 Sansato

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Posted 04 April 2012 - 02:40 AM

Electric guitars weren't in the skyrim theme, Brandon was allowed to use those.

You're overthinking it. Covers are just remaking the song in whatever way you want.


Okay, I get it now.

Yeah, I guess I was overthinking the verbatim part. Thanks for the clarification, Neblix.
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#16 Die

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Posted 14 April 2012 - 10:50 PM

Don't worry. Play songs by ear and you'll train your ear.

And about music theory, you can find lots of useful information just by googling.

You could look for...

1) The notes
2) Scales
3) Intervals
4) Chords (along with its inversions, extensions, etc.)
5) Harmony / Chord Progressions

Those are the basic things that you'll want to know. Then comes arrangements, rhythm, etc., but with those, you'll do just fine.

http://www.musictheory.net is a good resource, and it's easy to use.

#17 Sansato

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 04:32 PM

Time for me to ask something else, it seems.

I will admit to owning the fruity edition of FL Studio 9 as part of a previous and very feeble attempt to make music (which unfortunately amounted to taking pre-existing MIDI files and giving them a new coat of paint for the most part). I was planning on using it to make music after I actually learned a thing or two about it. However, I recently had to purchase a new computer and start over, so I'm going to have to buy a new DAW before I can do any real work.

While I'll probably take mickomoo's advice and get Mixcraft, I'd like to have something in mind for later on. What's the general consensus on FL Studio and Reason? Is one better than the other? Do each have certain features that the other has not? This isn't entirely urgent, but I'd like to know the answers the last question at the very least.
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#18 Neblix

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:06 PM

FL Studio 10 is free for you.
There's no reason to switch DAW's.

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#19 Sansato

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:23 PM

Why in the world would you buy Mixcraft when you already have a DAW you're used to?

If you really want a cookie-cutter multitrack lane DAW, just get REAPER. It's free. (not to mention Mixcraft is just plain ugly)




(you know FL Studio 10 is FREE for you, right?)


First, good point. I guess I just wasn't thinking enough.

Second, I might look into Reaper. If it doesn't appeal to me, then I'll just get FL.

Third, wait, I can get it free? If I have to have my regkey or whatever that file was, then it probably won't work that way for me. I wasn't smart enough to back up those really important files like I should have done, so if this involves my old laptop in any way, I'm S.O.L. .
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#20 Neblix

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Posted 15 April 2012 - 05:52 PM

First, good point. I guess I just wasn't thinking enough.

Second, I might look into Reaper. If it doesn't appeal to me, then I'll just get FL.

Third, wait, I can get it free? If I have to have my regkey or whatever that file was, then it probably won't work that way for me. I wasn't smart enough to back up those really important files like I should have done, so if this involves my old laptop in any way, I'm S.O.L. .



http://www.image-lin...reeupdates.html
You can get your regkey from your My Account page.


No, this isn't a new thing. It's been there for years. :) That's why it's undeniably the best deal in music software. Cubase, Pro Tools, Reason, etc. all cost money ($200-300 per version) to upgrade. ("best deal" meaning most content for your buck)

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