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A Little Music Theory for Producers
How music theory knowledge is required to produce music?
Disclaimer: Vaping is bad for your lungs, and is in no way required to be a music producer. LOL.
WHAT IS A MUSIC PRODUCER?
The definition has changed quite a bit over the last few decades. In the traditional sense, the music producer, or record producer, assists an artist with their recording project, bringing their vision to fruition and guiding their sound along the way, ultimately helping the artist deliver their music to the world.
Today, musicians who call themselves producers are functioning as both the artist and the administrator in pursuit of distributing music to the masses. The 'Bedroom' producer, as it is referred to recently, has come to be due to the ability of musicians to record on their own without the need for a music studio and expensive recording equipment. With a laptop and a good DAW, almost anyone can produce a song.
With the recent resurgence of Hip Hop music and inexpensive access to DAW software, many new artists that consider themselves "producers" are actually just "beat-makers" who develop grooves to give to others to use to rap on top of. They create loops or samples for others to use in their projects.
What we are attempting to do in our class is give you the fundamental skills to "Produce" your own music using the tools that we have available. As you advance your skills, you will learn that the production process has several steps:
We are currently in the SONGWRITING stage of our learning, which has brought me to the question: How much music theory does a student need to know in order to write a song?
Music theory is the study of how musical sounds and silence combine to make music.
It is the study of melody, harmony, and form.
u write more compelling compositions.
A song exists in a key that is made from a scale.
Take the notes from a scale and stack them to create harmony and chords.
Put different chords in order and get a chord progression.
FREEBERN'S MUSIC THEORY HACK FOR NEW PRODUCERS
Maj = Major
m = Minor
KEY: Songs are an organization of pitches that belong to a group of notes called a KEY
SCALE: There are seven notes in a key. This organization creates what we call a scale.
C D E F G A B C = Seven notes that follow the alphabet to create a scale.
This example uses only the white notes on the piano.
If we start on a different note, other than C, we need to use some
black notes on the piano to maintain the same pattern on the piano. G A B C D E F# G
KEY NAME is determined by the first note of the scale.
KEY QUALITY There are happy keys and sad sounding keys. Major and Minor respectively.
Play ABCDEFG on the piano. Then play CDEFGABC. Listen to the difference. Just by starting on a different note, we get a completely different sound.
Pick your key in your DAW by finding the KEY window. The pic below is the key in LOGIC software
THE HACK OVERVIEW: Set your key in your DAW and then use the notes shown in the charts below to know what pitches to use in your song.
In SoundTrap it is at the bottom.
When you set a KEY in the Logic DAW all the loops you drag into the arrange window will stay in that key.
When you want to create original material, use the notes from the key you are using. These charts will tell you what notes to use.
THE SIMPLE ROUTE FOR NOW:
Use only White Keys
The Key of C Major
The Key of A Minor
Be sure to pick the key in your DAW.
If you understand this and want to try other keys, check out the charts below:
Go to Logic, Ableton or Soundtrap and set the key to A minor
Open the loop window
Be sure to choose "Minor" if in Soundtrap
Drag in a bass line loop
Drag in a simple drum groove
Jam on the notes of the A minor scale and record them with the groove you just made. ABCDEFG
You may need to draw the notes into the piano roll if you don't have a keyboard.
Be sure you note the notes on the piano. If you skipped that work in the last unit, you will need to go back and do the work.
If all goes well the notes you choose will sound good. If they don't, double-check to make sure you are still in the key of A minor
SHOW YOUR INSTRUCTOR YOUR WORK WHEN YOU ARE DONE
CHORDS are created by playing ever other note in a scale.
Usually three notes. A B C D E F G. ACE is the first chord in the A minor scale!
Some chords sound happy = Major. i.e., CEG
Some chords sound sad = Minor. i.e. ACE
Some chords sound really creapy = Diminished i.e., BDF
Take a moment to write out: A B C D E F G
Over each note, stack notes every other alphabet letter. It would look like this:
Play them on your keyboard and listen to the sound they create.
The second chord will sound strange... it is diminished
Notice that the notes are every other letter?
Once you know how to create a chord, you can put them in an order that will sound pleasing.
There are some simple rules that you can try.
Using the number of the chord go from
1-2-3-4-5-6-7 In C = CMaj, Dm Em Fmaj Gmaj Am Bdim
1-6-4-2-7-5-3- In C = CMaj Am FMaj Dm Bdim. Gmaj Em
1-4-7-3-6-2-5-1 In C = CMaj, Fmaj Bdim Em Am Dm Gmaj
Here are two other ways to look at chord progressions.
Know that whatever number you are on, find that number on all rows - it will give you alternative pathways.
I.e., The chord on the 2 can go to a 3, or 5
HERE IS THE DEAL
This is very complicated stuff. To simplify this for you I offer a piece of software that will allow you to generate chord progressions and export them into logic. Watch this video to get started. There are many more resources online. Take the time to master this software, it is easier than taking a music theory approach.
Take a bit of time and go through this next resource
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