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What Musical Rules ? Please, Advice

Guest nickko

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hi to all,

i have just started playing keyboard for two years now and i have learned from the music school that all kinds of music have some basic rules.

musical scale, harmony, chords, beginning, refrain, repeat, end and so on.

just lately i was talking with an old man that he was working for several years as a session musician at the well known avionne studio at geniva and told me some things about the structure of the music that i wish to discuss with you.

that man was playing synthesizer from early seventies but his speciality was the hammond b3 which was the top of the range at that time and cost a fortune.

hi is still have his lovely hammond in cyprus that he is living now.

according to his words if my music have harmony and the correct chords within the musical scale major/minor then there is no rule for someone to compose anything without worrying about measures and refrains and repeats and all those stuff.

he told me also that he have composed some synthesizer instrumental music in 4/4 (influenced from tangerine dream and craftwork) and the first refrain came up after 26 meters while others do that within 16 or 24 measures.

after two minutes this composition goes to the unsusual 12/8 and end again in 4/4.

he told me that most of his own compositions rely with one refrain and the structure was not strictly within 4/4, also he told me not care at all about measures and refrains.

i took his advice and on some of my music i didnt care at all about measures and i was wondering if this approach is correct.

i don't know much about music and music theory so please kindly let me have your advice and/or any coments you may have.

i am interested in synth/electronic music like ambient and new age.

my favourite artists are among others : tangerine dream, brian eno, yianni.

please, you can listen to musi music that i have uploaded in the forum

Song and Recording Critique under the titles :tea and apples and tea and rain.

it would be really nice to hear your comments negatives or .... positives.

many thanks in advance.

Edited by nickko
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A lot of electronic musicians who start out writing with a sequencer, and this includes really popular styles like hip-hop & dance music, find it easier to create sections that are 4 or 8 measures long & loop them, building up the arrangement like that. Also, it gets across to the audience better and it's easier to rap over. Also, pop-type music is almost necessarily going to have repeated sections or refrains. What your friend was talking about was a more "organic" (for lack of a better word) approach to compising, where you let the melody go where it wants, when it wants, and leave yourself less concerned about form. This is a perfectly valid approach that has yeilded some of the greatest compositions in the history of western music. I myself am trying to break free of pop formalism and experiment with this kind of writing... I think it's good to have both comceptions in your repetoire...

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dear Retrosaurus Rex,

good afternoon and i thank you very much for your kind reply.

you see, i do not have much experience with those things but i have to read and exercise a lot and a lot more for a composition and orchestration.

ok, for the moment i feel happy with some loops and a live playing of simple chords and melody.

propably i have to compose as i feel and not strictly within musical forms and structures.

i have uploaded some music i have created some time ago under the name tea and apples and tea and rain under the song critique forum.

actually those pieces are composed freely within the correct harmony and chord rules but not within a strictly form.

ok this was done because i have used loops and some simple chords and melody.

thanks again.

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  • 3 months later...

As your gentleman friend correctly pointed out, there are no "rules." Only guidelines as to what other people have found "works well." (Of course, "what works well" is in part based on solid mathematical underpinnings, as J. S. Bach explored in much of his work.) I suggest that you start with your instincts, and certainly those of your esteemed associate, with regard to "what works well," and then you explore various possibilities in what is a very much experimental way. ("Try it on. If it fits, keep it. If not, set it aside. Discard nothing.")

Certainly, people like your friend probably have a very "battle hardened" perspective on music-making, that is to say simply in the sense that they had to "get it done." Get product out the door, so to speak, and make it really good. There's something to be said for that, because it helps you to set boundaries upon your indecisiveness. :) As various writers have said at various times, "the two best things that ever happened to me were a job, and a deadline." A 'creative writer' has forever; a journalist has until three o'clock.

Edited by MikeRobinson
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  • 5 months later...
  • Noob

Hello there! This was exactly what my problem was when I started writing songs. I tried to come up with a song that would fit the frame of an intro, verse, chorus, another verse, chorus, outro etc. When I stopped caring about those "rules" is when I finally managed to write a good song. This song is an example of that. It doesnt have a clear structure and no repeating chorus, and that is what makes it my favorite of the songs Ive written so far. The same thing about the chords and scales, never forget that you can do exactly what you want when it comes to writing music. http://soundcloud.com/arvidlizell/drive-on-re-recorded

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