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2nd attempt at creating an original sountrack and sax song

Profusia

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Worcestershire
Had another go at creating an original backing track. Actually did it last week and have been trying to play over it without mistakes. Not happening so giving up and putting it up as it stands. Its again very simplistic but I think it has a bit more structure than the first effort. Anyway, for those who have trouble sleeping...

http://soundcloud.com/profusia/what-a-good-day
 

Chris

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No trouble sleeping Tomas, just missed it yesterday. You're sounding good for just a couple attempts at composition. Any tips, well you could grab hold of any 'Standard'. Have a look at the chords and see if you can work out where they are going and why they are there. Very good example 'BlueBossa'..If you have any questions I'll try and answer them..

Chris..
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Location
Worcestershire
No trouble sleeping Tomas, just missed it yesterday. You're sounding good for just a couple attempts at composition. Any tips, well you could grab hold of any 'Standard'. Have a look at the chords and see if you can work out where they are going and why they are there. Very good example 'BlueBossa'..If you have any questions I'll try and answer them..

Chris..

Many thanks Chris. I actually know Blue Bossa as my tutor introduced it to us at band earlier in the year and I had a go at improvising over it back then so its already on my SoundCloud somewhere. I didn't look at the chords though - just winged it with a minor pentatonic I think can't remember. I'll have another look at the lead sheet - cheers :thumb:
 

Wade Cornell

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2,348
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New Zealand and Australia
I can't remember if you said that you're learning composition. If not you'd benefit from a course. I'd be the first to defend someone who is putting out experimental stuff using a structure that isn't "normal". In your tune you are attempting to play an extremely "normal" piece, but the chord structure it mostly at odds with what your melodic ideas reflect. I'm not suggesting you change the melodic part though. In the style you've chosen it would be nearly impossible to come up with a melodic line that fits. The chord choices, although they repeat (a good thing) just don't work. Being creative in your structure is to be admired, but it's got to work. Frankly I'm surprised you can't hear this as (from what I've heard) you've got a good melodic sense.

If this is the style you're interested in writing for, then you'd find immediate improvement with just a basic composition course as it will give you tried and true chord sequences and the thinking behind what makes a good (western style pop music) tune. This may be what Chris was suggesting, but he's far too nice to spell it out.
 

Profusia

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984
Location
Worcestershire
I can't remember if you said that you're learning composition. If not you'd benefit from a course.

Hi again Wade, and thanks again for taking the time to listen and feed back. No I'm not learning composition. However I had already come to realise that a course on composition is what I want next. Frustratingly I've missed a free course that was recently put on on-line through Coursera and Berklee School of Music (the people some of us have just started an online improvisation course with).

I'd be the first to defend someone who is putting out experimental stuff using a structure that isn't "normal". In your tune you are attempting to play an extremely "normal" piece, but the chord structure it mostly at odds with what your melodic ideas reflect. I'm not suggesting you change the melodic part though. In the style you've chosen it would be nearly impossible to come up with a melodic line that fits. The chord choices, although they repeat (a good thing) just don't work. Being creative in your structure is to be admired, but it's got to work. Frankly I'm surprised you can't hear this as (from what I've heard) you've got a good melodic sense.

"Experimental" sounds very grand. Everything is experimental for me!

Ok maybe I should just clarify: I played Eb tenor horn in brass bands in my teens 35 years ago. No playing by ear, no soloing let alone improvisation, and no understanding of chords. Just played the dots. Around that time I bought a circa 1927 King tenor with issues which came with an old Berg Larsen 110 1 SMS ebonite mouthpiece. I didn't take lessons and so, unable to play it, I quickly gave up. No involvement in music since then until last October when I decided to have a go at the sax again. So I pretty much started from scratch 6 months ago. I don't understand chords. Rather I should say, I'm starting to learn a little bit ABOUT chords, but I really struggle to hear them, and don't know about progressions or how to use them. Sorry, probably too much information, but sometimes I just feel the need to say "hang on I'm only a beginner".

The track wasn't meant to be experimental other than in the sense that creating a backing track is an experiment for me at this stage. And other than trying to use some II V Is (the only progression I've heard of) I threw in fairly random inversions and extensions just to see what the effect would be and how they'd sound. But I'm struggling to hear the differences between them. I was told that most people focus on melody in a piece of music, but there are some people who are more chord/harmony focussed. I think I must be at the extreme end of the melodic focus. I really hope I can develop my ear for chords and chord changes as this is worrying me. So when you say you're surprised I couldn't hear the problem, maybe I could and maybe I couldn't, but either way I definitely couldn't identify the problem. I certainly could tell that the backing track wasn't quite right, but if you could give some detail or clarification of where or why it doesn't work that would be really helpful.

If this is the style you're interested in writing for, then you'd find immediate improvement with just a basic composition course as it will give you tried and true chord sequences and the thinking behind what makes a good (western style pop music) tune.

I don't have any particular style in mind. I just want to create. But your encouragement to do a course has now given me the kick up the backside to actually start looking for one so thank you.

This may be what Chris was suggesting, but he's far too nice to spell it out.

Are we talking about the same Chris? (that's a JOKE!)
 

Wade Cornell

Well-Known Member
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2,348
Location
New Zealand and Australia
I'm hardly qualified to do an analysis of your composition other than hearing a chord sequence that would be difficult to match a melody to (in your chosen style). If writing a melody first it's a matter of an arrangement that goes "around" your melody. Most here just use backing tracks to assist them in playing melodies or improvisations.

I'm not sure if Chris writes out a melody before doing a backing track, probably not, but he understands the tried and tested conventions for his style. The tin pan alley guys who wrote most of the "standards" either wrote music or lyrics, only a few wrote both and often the backing was done by an arranger. There were some who could only write music if they had the lyrics, and some who couldn't write lyrics unless they first had the music. No set rule as to which comes first. It’s similar with composition as to whether you write backing or melodies first although with songs it’s usually melody first.

I apologise if it seemed that I was judging you as being further advanced, but take it as a compliment as your playing is very good for someone who has only been at it for six months. Doing a backing track is something I wouldn't have expected from a beginner either.

As said I think you have a good feeling for music and the potential to be a good melodic player. While waiting or trying to find a composition course there are a few exercises that you could try that might help get your ears adjusted to hearing harmonies and simple backing. Once again I have no idea about your level of knowledge, so will make this as simple as possible:

Write yourself a melody. It should be simple, repeat, modulate (if you can) and have a climax (if possible). If you understand the scales you used in your melody then you should be able to identify the root , third, fifth, seventh, etc. (adjust for minor keys). Keep your melody as a solo and write just a Bass line that only uses notes within the scales you used in your melodic solo, especially the root and fifth. Be sure to have your bass give you the rhythm as it's the backing and you are the melodic solo. I love this exercise as it isn't cluttered and can have lots of space. Sometimes the most beautiful music isn't just what you hear, but the spaces in between. It's the inferred harmonies that engages the listener rather than leaving nothing to the imagination. A next step (if you wish to go there) would be to see if you can add long notes that don't move too quickly and aren't moving at the same time as your bass or your solo. Strings work well for this. At this stage just try to use your ears to see what sounds right. These two exercises could keep me busy for the rest of my life as there are infinite possibilities (and I’m old). Keep the form simple, but stay away from everything moving as a block movement and try to use your ears. Hear the notes you want. Beyond a bass and drone continuum you would be dealing with all the complexity of chords and moving those so that they compliment your melody, or at least give you a structured backing that allows you to make up a melody or improvisation.

Best of luck
 

Profusia

Senior Member
Messages
984
Location
Worcestershire
I'm hardly qualified to do an analysis of your composition other than hearing a chord sequence that would be difficult to match a melody to (in your chosen style). If writing a melody first it's a matter of an arrangement that goes "around" your melody. Most here just use backing tracks to assist them in playing melodies or improvisations.

I'm not sure if Chris writes out a melody before doing a backing track, probably not, but he understands the tried and tested conventions for his style. The tin pan alley guys who wrote most of the "standards" either wrote music or lyrics, only a few wrote both and often the backing was done by an arranger. There were some who could only write music if they had the lyrics, and some who couldn't write lyrics unless they first had the music. No set rule as to which comes first. It’s similar with composition as to whether you write backing or melodies first although with songs it’s usually melody first.

I apologise if it seemed that I was judging you as being further advanced, but take it as a compliment as your playing is very good for someone who has only been at it for six months. Doing a backing track is something I wouldn't have expected from a beginner either.

As said I think you have a good feeling for music and the potential to be a good melodic player. While waiting or trying to find a composition course there are a few exercises that you could try that might help get your ears adjusted to hearing harmonies and simple backing. Once again I have no idea about your level of knowledge, so will make this as simple as possible:

Write yourself a melody. It should be simple, repeat, modulate (if you can) and have a climax (if possible). If you understand the scales you used in your melody then you should be able to identify the root , third, fifth, seventh, etc. (adjust for minor keys). Keep your melody as a solo and write just a Bass line that only uses notes within the scales you used in your melodic solo, especially the root and fifth. Be sure to have your bass give you the rhythm as it's the backing and you are the melodic solo. I love this exercise as it isn't cluttered and can have lots of space. Sometimes the most beautiful music isn't just what you hear, but the spaces in between. It's the inferred harmonies that engages the listener rather than leaving nothing to the imagination. A next step (if you wish to go there) would be to see if you can add long notes that don't move too quickly and aren't moving at the same time as your bass or your solo. Strings work well for this. At this stage just try to use your ears to see what sounds right. These two exercises could keep me busy for the rest of my life as there are infinite possibilities (and I’m old). Keep the form simple, but stay away from everything moving as a block movement and try to use your ears. Hear the notes you want. Beyond a bass and drone continuum you would be dealing with all the complexity of chords and moving those so that they compliment your melody, or at least give you a structured backing that allows you to make up a melody or improvisation.

Best of luck

Hi Wade,

No need to apologise at all, and if I seemed unappreciative believe me it wasn't intended. You'd already gone out of your way to listen to and feed back on this thing and now you've gone way way way beyond the call of duty and I do very much appreciate it.

In that 35 year non-musical sabbatical the one thing I did very occasionally do was write songs. Or rather a handful of snippets/partial songs (and poems). Not enough to fill a book or an album but just enough to indicate that there is some creativity wanting to get out. In fact only one full song with three choruses and what I'll call a lengthy bridge. And by write I simply mean come up with a lyric and a melody line in my head and record it vocally to PC. No rhythm section, no chords or harmonies or counter melodies or anything remotely clever. Not even a thought about whether in a minor or major key! So I think if I can do anything it will be the lyrics and melody. The rest I either need to learn how to do, or get an accomplice.

Your suggestions for an exercise is genuinely exciting. It gives me something to go at without feeling clueless and unable to start for ignorance. I can't wait to have a go. If only work and the rest of life didn't get in the way I'd start immediately!

I don't know if the iRealB app gives any control over instruments so adding strings may be a problem, (I think you just give it the chords and then pick a style from a menu) but if I feel I'm getting anywhere I'll definitely invest in some proper software for the job. Hope you don't mind me bugging you with something further to listen to if I do make some progress.
 

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