learning to actually be a musician

Andrew Robinson andrew at bml.co.uk
Tue Mar 3 18:46:14 CET 2015

My approach to learning composition has been a bit odd - I used to avoid
theory like the plague, and try and go off in interesting directions just
by using my ears, as I was more interested in production than writing, and
I always tried to make music (or even just sound) that doesn't sound like
anyone else's. I tried to use my general lack of rhythm and dexterity to my
advantage by not doing anything in real-time - preferring to hone my
programming instead of my scales.

A few years ago I finally gave in to my desire to do chords properly
(mostly due to my obsession with the awe inspring chord changes  at the end
of of Propaganda's Dr Mabuse 12" (this part starts at about the7 minute
mark in this video, but you need to hear the whole thing to get the full
effect: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1gMnHhqPKEo ), and bought Harmony
Improvisator, which a tool that allows me to attack music theory from a
similarly left-field direction. It's a bit like Hooktheory, but with a
much, much larger chord library, which really suits me, as I've always
loved music with more complex chord and progressions, and I wanted to skip
the I, IV, V stuff and dive straight in to the diminshed minor 7ths and
suspended 9ths where the intersting stuff is. I've been trying to find a
good youtube link that shows off what it does, but I cant find anything
that uses it's more interesting functions - perhaps I'll have to make one
myself? There's a free demo version here though:

Improvisator makes it ridiculously easy to come up with complex chord
sequences, hook up an arpeggiator and it actually takes a considerable
effort *not* to sound like you're channeling the spirit of JS Bach - For
example, here's something I threw together for a video experiment, which
came together ridiculously easily:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-4SKBwAopw . Noodling around with
Improvisator is really fun, and I'm starting to get to the point where I
can get what I'm hearing in my head into audio without having to peck
around on the interface (or use the suggestions, which are great, but
qualify as 'cheating' as far as I'm concerned - not that I'm above using
them when I'm a bit stuck!), no matter how difficult a chord it is to name
or play.

Improvisator isn't perfect (no easy way to do chord inversions, and a
clunky composition interface) but it's *so* powerful that I have to
recommend it. Most of my music nowadays is blocked out in improvisator and
then then taken into a midi editor to work out timing and add inversions.

- Andy_R

On 3 March 2015 at 16:46, deeplfo <deeplfo at gmail.com> wrote:

> I’m very curious about what other -bar’ians are doing in this regard, so I
>> hope you guys will also fill in details on this thread ..
> Good one Nigel, and an important thing I guess for all of us who came from
> just the passion for music.
> Jay:  My first couple of years of Uni were at a college in the US with a
> good music program and I took a bunch of music classes, as well as piano
> lessons.  Later on, after pursuing music a bit more seriously as an
> amateur, and getting gear, etc., that education paid off, but I knew I
> needed more.  But I never had a strong motivation to do it in a more
> structured and strict manner.  I did however start a long process of self
> learning, on playing, on writing, on theory, etc...and for me that has been
> very satisfying and fulfilling.
> On the keyboard topic, I really like this series:
> http://www.amazon.com/Level-2A-Theory-Piano-Adventures/dp/1616770821/ref=pd_sim_b_2?ie=UTF8&refRID=0HD0V0RPY0C1MM12QJKW
> Also, a really strange thing happened about a year or so ago:  I started
> reading loads of books on some of my favorite classical composers, Brahms,
> Ravel, Debussy, Schubert,...and found that reading about these guy's life
> and music was very insightful and helped answer a lot of questions running
> around in my head on music at the time.  I totally recommend doing this.
> mohsen
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