Is there a proper way to write music?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by leftyguitarjoe, Jun 22, 2009.

  1. leftyguitarjoe

    leftyguitarjoe Correct-handed

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    When I write, I just play something. I'll say "hey, this is a cool riff. Hmm... weird. It only has 7 notes" or "This comes out to 11 notes?"

    then I slap on a 7/8 or 11/16 time signature on it and call it a day.

    I dont write to any specific timing. I write it, then figure out what timing I happened to write it in. It makes for some really interesting music, but its very confusing anyone who isnt in my brain:wallbash:

    Am I doing it wrong?
     
  2. Nastinate513

    Nastinate513 Active Member

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    For a long time thats how i was doing it, and as much as I enjoy writing music like that its hard to get a drummer down, and it was always really hard for me to stay in time signatures like that after i came up with a riff. Try playing to a click track or metronome but one with a louder or different hit at the start of the measure so you always keep it the same. Im not sure if this is how it is supposed to be done but i found this easier when you want to put drums and other instruments to your music.
     
  3. TonalArchitect

    TonalArchitect Augmented Chords!

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    No, there is absolutely no right or wrong way to write music. In fact, if your stuff is in an odd timing like 7 or 11, don't feel as though you must force it into 4/4.

    I think we've all heard enough 4/4.

    I see no reason for which music should be written in any specific timing, unless you're exploring that particular meter (e.g. "let's see what I can do with 7/4").

    Claude Debussy once wrote/said that time signatures were the composer's greatest enemy.

    I don't completely agree with that, since I believe that meter is another tool to use, but we can take from his words that we should make meter work for us, not the other way around.

    So write in odd meters, change meters 72 times within a song. It's not good to force yourself to write in any way, because it will sound forced.

    (Although, again, experimenting with stuff is okay if you want to put it in 4/4 or 12/8.)

    There is the problem of having others be able to play in it, but there are a few solutions:

    1.) Make the lazy bastards practice, but be warned: they may complain because they have to become competent :squint:

    2.) Do mixed meter things. Say your lazy 4/4 whore of a drummer refuses to accept having to play in 7/8 or 11/16. Let him play in 4, but play your riffs over it. This does not have to be a Meshuggah-like cycles thing. You could play one measure of 7/8 and one of 9/8, or 7, 5, and 4 or whatever.

    Mix two of your odd-time riffs together and let the drummer play in 4/4. This would make the bass-drum-doubling-every-damn-guitar-note-thing more difficult to execute, but there's always the option of not doing that.

    If your other guitarist (if there is one) and bassist are also 4/4-only guys, then they could play a different riff. This will require some arranging and playing around with ideas, but the results would be pretty different and probably worth it.

    As long as your ideas sound good and natural within their odd meters, then there's no reason to think it's bad, and it's certainly not wrong. Don't stifle your creativity because of others.
     
  4. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Robert hits the nail on the head yet again. By all means, use whatever you want in your music. Conventions are only as good as the composers that perpetuate them.
     
  5. Scar Symmetry

    Scar Symmetry Ex Whiny Bitch

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    the proper way to write songs is:

    Intro - Chorus - Verse - Bridge - Chorus - Verse - Chorus - Middle 8 - Chorus - Outro.

    if you're not doing it this way you are doing it wrong.

    /sarcasm.
     
  6. AvantGuardian

    AvantGuardian Orange Vigilante

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    I took some composition lessons from a very experimental/avant garde composer awhile back and one of the things he had me do was notate my compositions using the horizontal space between the notes on the staff to represent time. Additionally, I would make other scribbles to indicate held notes, odd groupings, rests, etc. This was all done to get ideas down in the moment and to avoid getting bogged down in the tedious and often difficult "quantizing" with beaming and meter and all of that.

    This really encouraged me to break out of my typical 4/4, 3/4, 6/8, etc. meters and throw in groups of 5 or 7 or write in 11/8 or whatever. If I had an idea that I ended up really wanting to develop and add other instruments to, I could then go back and deal with cleaning up the notation, assigning an appropriate meter and all of that.

    Basically, it really helped me to not get too bogged down in traditional notation when I was still in the idea generation stage. Its almost like having a musical shorthand just to get the idea down. Its also somewhat intuitive to read if you're consistant with it. My instructor actually played a few of my ideas just based on my shorthand notation having not heard me play them and they sounded very close to what I had in my head.
     
  7. liquidcow

    liquidcow SS.org Regular

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    There are many techniques to writing music, if we're talking classical then various composer would have their own preferred techniques, some would use experimental techniques or 'systems' but there's no one 'proper' one. If there were then music would be very boring.

    Experimenting with different ways of writing is key to coming up with interesting stuff. I use many different approached - sometimes more improvisational, sometimes trying to be very logical and planning things out - and I find that using a different o new approach is often what is most inspiring.
     
  8. MarkyPerfection

    MarkyPerfection Violence Advocate

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    The proper way to write music is to write from your feelings as opposed to your intellect. Everything else (theory, technique) is just a means to an end -- in this case, the end is expression.
     
  9. Harry

    Harry Doom man of Doom. Contributor

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    If you can look back at your music after it's written and can say it's good, then it's done "properly".
    That's all that matters, good music.
     
  10. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Return of the Dread-I

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    no... there maybe a "correct" way to physically write it as far as notation goes but as for writing as in composition... NO

    /thread
     
  11. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    By all means, though, study form. There's some basic ideas out there that people spit on and call restrictive, but the spirit of these forms is entirely valid. Good composers know how to mix musical ideas, and being aware of what those ideas are is the first step.
     
  12. TonalArchitect

    TonalArchitect Augmented Chords!

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    ^ :agreed:

    Studying theory and form gives more tools. And sometimes attempting to write within certain constraints can be inspiring, so long as the fear to deviate for creative reasons is set aside.

    It's like with poetry. There are traditional forms such as the sonnet and Villanelle. It's a good idea for poets to explore them and attempt to write them according to the rules, but don't hack and force a verse to fit the form: it's not a hot dog.

    It's the same in music: composers are still using that bedamned Sonata form. It's more complex but still fairly flexible. But at the same time, Beethoven's Fifth (if I remember correctly) messes around with it because doing so expressed what he wanted to express.
     
  13. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    Beethoven was a great writer of absolute music, and the structure of the first movement of the fifth symphony is, indeed, much harder to follow than a sonata allegro of any earlier composer. However, I think it is easier to look at the form's effectiveness in a dramatic example.

    Mozart structured the ensemble finale of the second act of La Nozze di Figaro in sonata form, though you wouldn't know it if you were working from a textbook definition of sonata form; the development occurs as more characters enter the stage, with their vocal lines substituting the part of different themes, and becoming more harmonically distant as the scene progresses. Intellectually, it sounds logical, but taken from a dramatic standpoint, we see a much more satisfying connection: as the countess Almaviva tries to hide her lover from her raging husband, the tension builds, accounting for the movement of the tonal center.

    That's an example of the creative use of a form, as opposed to having a ready-made mold into which you pour musical notes.
     
  14. All_¥our_Bass

    All_¥our_Bass Deathly Chuuni

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    Once I learned of odd meters I started writing in them, I had been bored of 4/4 for quite some time. Also you could do metric variation on one riff or idea, by adding or subtracting parts of them.

    Sorry this is lame-ass tab but I think you should get the idea.
    Code:
     4/4 with no variation
    A|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|
    E|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|
    B|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|
    
    A|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|
    E|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|
    B|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|
    
    
    mixed meters
    made by 'strechting' or 'squishing' the parts
    A|------4-5-4-----|-----4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-------|------4-5-----|
    E|------2-3-2-3~~-|-----2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3-3~~-|------2-3-3~~-|
    B|-0000-------1~~-|-000-------1~~-|-0000-------1-1~~-|-0000-----1~~-|
    
    A|--------4-----|------4-5-4-----|------4-5-4-----|----------4-5-4-------|
    E|--------2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|------2-3-2-3~~-|----------2-3-2-3-3~~-|
    B|-000000---1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-0000-------1~~-|-00000000-------1-1~~-|
     
  15. cycloptopus

    cycloptopus SS.org Regular

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    I agree with this. It's not what you do but HOW you do it. 4/4 isn't inherintly bad, but if you want to sound atypical you might not choose to use it. I believe Music Theory in general is not necessarily how to write music, but rather a way to explain why great music is considered great. So when we study Bach, for example, we aren't saying, "if you don't do it this way, it is wrong." It's more like, "The reason this music is great is because for centuries the human brain has reacted in a positive way to it. This is how he did it..." Whether you like Bach or not, his place in the history of music is indisputable. As far as forms go, using limitation can unlock creativity or really make you think about how to be creative within it. I think that's why people like Haiku in poetry so much. Refrigerator.
     
  16. synrgy

    synrgy Ya ya ya I am Lorde

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    Stylistically speaking, no.

    Procedurally speaking, no.

    Notationally speaking, kinda.

    Theoretically speaking, kinda.

    Mostly no.
     
  17. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Return of the Dread-I

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    ^ :agreed:

    but i tend to only learn the theory that will help me do what i want to do at a particular moment in time. my friend knows lots of theory and is pretty good at dumbing stuff down so he'll basically teach me cool stuff her learns from time to time and he starts getting into the theory of it and i only really hear half of it... once i know the finger patterns i don't really care about much else.
     
  18. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    I'm reading a book right now that complains a lot about the free use of chromaticism (What the hell!), and a quote that comes up a couple times in the first few chapters is "do what you please, but don't displease others." Keep in mind that this is from a guy who believes the immutability of diatonicism and "expressive" music. I've witnessed far more passion in twelve-tone music (I actually saw a fight over the definition of music. Fun.). It's about what you want to do and knowing how to do it.
     
  19. jonathan_addams

    jonathan_addams Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely yes.

    The correct, and ONLY, way to write music is the way YOU want to, and to make music that YOU like.
     
  20. Konfyouzd

    Konfyouzd Return of the Dread-I

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