Thinking Out Loud – Happy Mistakes?

This is a philosophical issue that I have been struggling to resolve, so do not expect there to be a right or wrong (or even a conclusive) answer at the end of this blog post. The purpose of today’s post is to pose a debate.

The scenario:

Say a person was asked to write a hit pop song combining modern influences of the time with trap beats, EDM-like bass, and retro synthwave dance. That was the person’s intention. After writing the song, it happened to become a classical song worthy of Mozart’s praise.

Did this person write a good or bad song?

Is it good because the music is good and the person is being artistic? Or, is it bad because it did not fulfill the original intention?

If you say that the song was good, then how do we define a good or bad song then if it seems the only criteria for it to be good is that it received praise?

On the other hand, if you say that it was a bad song, does that mean all “happy accidents” (like playing an unintentional note during improvisation, but working really well with the harmony) are labelled wrong or unmusical because they were done without fulfilling the original intention?

Personally, I am still undecided, but it is still worth to talk about and say…

Just thinking out loud.

Tip #210 – Jazzy Progression with the Hindu Scale

For those that don’t recall the Hindu Scale, I suggest looking back at some music theory posts I have covered. But to bring you up to speed, the Hindu scale is one of the modes of the melodic minor scale – specifically, the fifth mode.

That being said, we can think of the Hindu scale as the dominant (or mixolydian) of the melodic minor scale. And what do you know! Take a look at what kind of chord is built on the root of the Hindu scale. A dominant-seventh chord.

But that isn’t the only dominant seventh chord of the scale. In fact, there are two that are found in it, creating this famous jazz progression:

I7 – bVII7

While this progression certainly sounds modal because of the scale as well as jazzy because of the dominant-seventh chords, it flows well because it is similar to the “backdoor” progression we have talked about before. Only now the tonic is an unstable dominant figure.

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Improve Your Lyrics – Tip #42

In songwriting, you come across different terms for different sections.  Verse, chorus, bridge, refrain, post-chorus, etc.  But what is the difference between them?  Specifically, what is the difference between the chorus and refrain?

Both the chorus and refrained are sections that repeat unchanged.  In addition, both sections are typically where the title is as well as where everyone in the audience sings along.  Furthermore, they come after a verse-like section.  So are they the same?

Not exactly.  They are a different purpose for the song.  A chorus indicates the start of a new section, while a refrain indicates the conclusion/wrapping-up of the verse section back into a new one.  In addition, refrains are much shorter in length than choruses.

As you are debating on how you want to structure your song, consider the purpose of each line and their function.

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.

Teach Yourself Music Theory – 32.) Building Triads from Scales

Continuing with our topic of triads, we are going to be discussing what and which triads are built from scales… covering major, natural, harmonic, and melodic minor.

Beside the lead-sheet note note names, the Roman numeral figured-bass and triad quality remains the same from each respective scale regardless of starting pitch.

Let’s start with the major scale:

Building triads on each note, we get what we have above. 3 major triads, 3 minor triads, and 1 diminished triad. Chords I , IV , and V will always be major in a major key.

Now, natural minor:

We have the same amount of major, minor, and diminished triads… but they are in a different order.

As for harmonic minor:

With the inclusion of the raised leading tone, we see a quality of the chords change. Instead of v being minor, V is major in harmonic minor. Also, we have two diminished chords.

Finally, melodic minor:

With two raised pitches, we get another completely different group of triads. Now, the ii chord is minor… but the vio chord is diminished.

NOTE: the “B” symbol in the pictures means “flat” just like the “b” sign.

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Thinking Out Loud – The Need for Meta-Classes

Too often do I find assignments in college classes to be outside the topic of the class. For example: take a film scoring class where the assignment is to score a scene with funk music. On surface level, it seems like a reasonable assignment – the class is about writing music for film, and the homework is to write funk music for this film clip. But, as you start with an attempt towards the project, you’ll notice that there are many hurdles.

Like:

  • How do I write music to movies?
  • What DAW should I use and how?
  • What is the best way to synch music to film?
  • How do I write funk music?
  • How do I analyze funk music to understand it more?
  • How do I record, program, and mix the sounds?

These questions are usually answered by a “figure it out yourself,” attitude from the teacher that often points the student towards the library or YouTube. While this prepares a person somewhat to being independent, it lessens the need for college education – making it frivolous. Why go to an expensive college in that case what the teacher just asks you to be taught using YouTube for free?

We have talked about this before, but my idea is offering these “meta” classes to help fill in the blanks. I don’t expect there to be classes that teach funk music – but I would like classes that teach form & analysis to amend their curriculum to have students apply the knowledge they’ve learned to take unfamiliar styles of music and recreate them compositionally.

In addition, there should be time in classes to go over the tips and tricks of working with DAWs as well as the process the professor (who should be a professional in their field) maintains their workflow when doing a music project.

It cannot be “do this assignment, figure it out on the way, and I’ll grade you at the end” mentality.

Just thinking out loud.

Tip #209 – Understanding the Dhirasankarabharani Scale

The Carnatic music of South India has 72 scales (melakartas) comprised of seven different notes in either an ascending (arohana) or descending (avarohana) fashion. These scales are used in a kind of India music called rāga and are extremely beautiful. In addition these scales are grouped into different chakras, based on certain similarities.

Today’s melakarta is the Dhirasankarabharani scale (roughly translating to “the jewel of Shankara”), the fifth scale from the fifth chakra.

Below is a representation of the scale as if it was put into Western notation:

It is really a major scale.

Try playing around with the scale, possible harmonies, and progressions!

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Mix and Master Yourself – Quick Mix Guide (Part 2)

Today we are going to be talking about a quick guide in several installations on how to give your recorded song a good mix.  These tips can also be applied to using live sound as well, so keep your imagination wide with possibilities.

The next step you want to take is filtering out some unneeded frequencies.  This is a MUST in recorded audio, but it can also help when working with MIDI and the sound coming from virtual instruments.

In situation where you have mic bleeding (meaning that you are capturing unintended recorded audio – say from another instrument playing or from another room) you need to make sure it is not there for when you do the final mastering.  Using a low pass filter (LPF) that cuts high frequencies, or a high pass filter (HPF) that cuts low frequencies will be the best bet in a plug-in to use for cleaning out your audio.

This will allow instruments that naturally sound in the extreme low or high ends of our hearing to have less frequencies competing against them.  The filtering out of unnecessary sounds will make the necessary ones pop-out!

Thank you so much for taking the time to read! Feel free to comment, share, and subscribe for more daily tips below! Till next time.