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YannickJason

wip Looking for compositional critique!

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Hey guys, it's been a while, huh?

I've been working nonstop on songs, but this one is giving me trouble for some reason. I like the general tune of it, but I feel like it needs something... more.

Here's the song: https://app.box.com/s/5aft3yf90ofclhyhzn2h

I feel like I need to relearn some things about composition, any help at all would be great!

Thanks!

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I like the general tune of it, but I feel like it needs something... more.

I agree. You might add a B-section, something that has different chords and/or rhythm. What you have is nice but it get's a bit repetitive since it's always the same beat/chords.

I find it a bit strange that the main theme is only played 2 times, at 00:42 and towards the end (2:07). To me it sounds like the stuff in between is just filling material. You could try to insert the melody at 1:10 again but this time with the repetition/variation like you did at 2:07.

I'm not so sure about that bass/synth instrument that comes in at the beginning of the piece, just sounds a bit weird and it also creates some disharmony in places, e.g. 00:18. Strings at 1:40 are pretty dry sounding.

Edited by Nostalvania

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I agree. You might add a B-section, something that has different chords and/or rhythm. What you have is nice but it get's a bit repetitive since it's always the same beat/chords.

I find it a bit strange that the main theme is only played 2 times, at 00:42 and towards the end (2:07). To me it sounds like the stuff in between is just filling material. You could try to insert the melody at 1:10 again but this time with the repetition/variation like you did at 2:07.

I'm not so sure about that bass/synth instrument that comes in at the beginning of the piece, just sounds a bit weird and it also creates some disharmony in places, e.g. 00:18. Strings at 1:40 are pretty dry sounding.

For sure the B-section was something this song needed, thanks!

As for the Bass, I knew it sounded muddy, but I had no idea until you pointed out the dissonance at 0:18; like I say, always open to any advice. I'm trying out a new section; I'll post it p later today.

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You have a lot of accidentals in the first theme but aren't treating them properly, such as in the chords. (Your chords are clashing with the melody because they don't fit the same key.)

When you say "relearning composition", how much are you not familiar with?

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You have a lot of accidentals in the first theme but aren't treating them properly, such as in the chords. (Your chords are clashing with the melody because they don't fit the same key.)

When you say "relearning composition", how much are you not familiar with?

Pretty much, chord progressions and harmonizing melodies. This started out as a chord progression test, but I wanted to take it further and make it into a song.

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Pretty much, chord progressions and harmonizing melodies. This started out as a chord progression test, but I wanted to take it further and make it into a song.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diatonic_scale

If you're not already familiar, read up on scales. After being able to understand your key, you should be able to fix those "wrong" notes in the first theme of the song.

After having a grasp of the notes you're "allowed" to use, in your key, you can generate a total of 7 completely tonal chords that fit within your key.

In C major key, these chords would be:

C major, D minor, E minor, F major, G major, A minor, B diminished

In standard form this is:

I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii^o (like a degree sign)

If you started the major scale on a different note for the song (thus changing the key), the standard form would always be true. The roman numeral number means the scale degree (In C major, 1 is C, 2 is D, etc.) whether it is capitalized or not is whether it is a major chord or not. If you had the key of F# major, 1 would be F#, 2 would be G#, etc. but all the major/minor qualities would be the same for each number. 1 will be major, 2 will be minor, etc.

That being said, learning progressions is easier because that's how chords are communicated. While I could list popular chord progressions, you could just search them yourself. I'll give basic chord tips instead:

-The most pleasing transition of a chord is either when it goes up a fourth or down a fifth (they're the same thing). C Major up to F Major , C Major down to F Major. D minor down to G major, D minor up to G major. Note that while it doesn't matter for this general tip, in your key, you want to keep track of the major and minor so that every chord is in the key. (refer to I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii^o )

-Also pleasing is going up or down a 3rd.

-To end a chord progression (cadence), you want to have the last two chords be either V -> I or vii^0 -> I. These have strong resolution. To have a chord progression lead strongly to another section, end it with a V chord. In whatever key you're in, with the tonal center being the 1 (the tonic, the root of the first chord, whatever you want to call it) scale degree, if you have the melody end on a note in the V chord and have the chord be a V chord, it will create a sense of wanting more. You hear this a lot especially in video game music where the melody will go a certain way, then you hear it again but it ends differently.

To learn more about this, research writing phrases and periods. Anyways, for an example, halfway through the section, the melody ends on say the 5th note, and the chord is a V chord (this is called a half cadence). The melody then repeats, and the chords do, but maybe around the middle of its repetition it'll go a little differently, and then instead of the last chords being something to V, it'll be V to I (this is an authentic cadence). This is the simplest, strongest way in tonal music to create a melody. Composers will mess around with these ideas a lot, make it seem not so apparent, maybe ignore it, or use it in unexpected ways, but being aware of it makes it easier to understand how you can make a catchy melody.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Period_(music)

Edited by Neblix

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Your melody's composition is in such a way that it never cadences (so it always asks for more), which is what old game composers did to help the music loop. If you like it this way, that's fine. If you don't like it this way, then a way to solve it would be to cadence it.

Try rewriting the last measure of the melody so that its last note hits the tonic of your key instead of what you're ending it on (I think you're ending it on the 3rd) and have the chord that plays during that last note be the tonic chord and have the chord before it be the v chord. I think you're in Db minor, so that means have the last note of the melody be Db, and have the last two chords be Ab minor (in classical music, you would do major, but it really doesn't fit here) to Db minor.

Edited by Neblix

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Did some more changes. Here's the whole thing thus far. I took out the introductory piano chords just so I could figure out what the main chords were. The cadence feels a lot better where it is!

https://app.box.com/s/vyv13e4r16xc9wi0l5sb

Also, I made a mistake before, Db minor doesn't exist. You are in C# minor, which is

C# D# E F# G# A B C#

Anyways, yes! Now you've got it. Your melody is a musical idea, and the cadence is the conclusion of the idea.

You wouldn't feel so great talking to me if I just

Another fun non-traditional cadence is to use the v7 chord instead of the v, or the minor 7th chord which has the fifth of the key (in this case, G#) as the root. Traditional cadences call for V and V7, and it's up to you if you want to introduce that leading tone (because those chords use B#, not B) because it is then said that you're in harmonic minor, which has a raised 7th from the normal minor scale. Harmonic minor allows for "perfect authentic cadences", which uses a major chord starting on the fifth (or dominant) of your key which then goes to the tonic chord. In other words, you need to use a note outside the scale in minor for perfect authentic cadences, while in a major key it is naturally in the scale (V -> I is naturally in a major key, while the minor key v -> i needs to have a note altered to become V -> i). This has a more classical music flavor to it, a little less "soul" and a little more "sorrow". There's also a couple more rules dealing with the differences between "perfect" and "imperfect", just consult Wiki if you're really interested.

Edited by Neblix

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Yeah, sounds much better, nice work!

Some little things: I think you could fade out the last note of the lead at 2:09, it stops a bit abruptly. The Ab- chord seems to clash a bit with the D in the bass at 2:27, 2:34, 2:41 and 2:48, it's not a big deal, but i just noticed it.

Keep it up.

Edited by Nostalvania

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Sounds nice and i think 3:14 is a good length. Seems like you slowed down the tempo, any slower and it would start to drag.

Not so sure about the flanger on the piano but that's probably just a matter of taste.

There is still the dissonance from the G# minor (sorry i said Ab minor before) chord and the D in the bass at 3:05. You could try to change the G# minor to a Dmajor7 or maybe a A triad with the D as the root but then you probably have to change the D# in the melody to a E. You could also use a F# or C# minor chord instead of the G# minor at 3:05.

Edited by Nostalvania

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I wouldn't advise use any chords with a D note unless he is looking for a tension-resolution situation that arises when you have tritones and accidentals.

D is not in any mode (or key, scale) of C# (except Phrygian but if you want to use that you have to change a lot of the composition).

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I'm aware of that D doesn't belong to C# minor and should be avoided if possible i agree with that, although it works at other places like 2:50, but there's actually no melody so it's not a problem.

Edited by Nostalvania

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It's fine because he's using it as a leading tone. (He's resolving the D by following it with C#)

I don't quite hear much dissonance here, I think the problem is the production. The bass notes become too low and incomprehensible by the human ear because of the sound, and also because the mixing isn't crystal clear.

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