Questions to musicians, what do I need to learn in order to "know music" ?

Discussion in 'General Production Forum' started by Rabbitfrog, May 5, 2019.

  1. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    You're kind of assuming all sounds in the world are tuned and have a note, they don't.

    Also, most of those examples start at a pitch and end in another, a soda can for example, whatever pitch it has won't match western 12-tone tunning so it won't ever be in key unless you run it thru Auto-Tune or something similar to force the tune, harmonizing it (playing a chord) will make it sound even worse. Not all sounds in music need to be in tune tho... Percussion instruments for example are rarely in tune, like drums for instance... So it might sound good to you, but it won't be on key.
     
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  2. oli@bass

    oli@bass NI Product Owner

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    Fun fact: A kick (esp electronic) which is in key (not necessarily the same note) with the main bass notes will have more impact ( - unless it is out of phase with the bass, then they will cancel out each other).

    A good drummer would also tune the toms to be in key with the song when recording. Some tune their toms 1,2,3 to form a major or minor chord. That way the toms can support the harmony or even play melodic motifs.
     
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  3. oli@bass

    oli@bass NI Product Owner

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    This!

    Especially because there’s not one theory but many different ones from various epochs and cultures. Some of them overlap, or evolved from one into another, which might be even more confusing because the same term may mean something slightly different from one theory to another. Western music theory from ancient greece to modern age has so many theories yet they all somehow go back to the ancient greek scales - with different interpretations. Also, there are very different approaches to creating harmonies. Some come from combining autonomous melodies (e.g. vocal melody over bass riff), some from combining pitches with certain mathematical relations to chords which are then put into a chord sequence according to some other ordering mechanism (e.g. chords consisting of notes of the same scale).

    What most if these theories have in common, is they establish a degree of tension between two notes or chords which determines their function in a sequence.

    In the end it’s all about creating tension and relaxation, by deceiving and satisfying the listeners expectations.
     
  4. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    Yes, e kicks and toms have a tonal aspect, general rule is the longer the sound is the more pronounced the main note will be, the problem tuning those to perfection is that they generally start at a higher note and end in a lower one; kicks and toms are generally generated with an Oscillator while snares/claps/hats with atonal noise.

    It can help with impact.. It also can just kind of merge with the bass due to the similar frequency content, resulting in just hearing the transient clearly, (clicky drum sound) which can be desirable in some genres, in others people tend to use sidechain to help the kick pop out of the mix nowadays.

    From my limited experience watching drummers prep before recording this is true altho it's a rough by-ear thing, it's impossible to do in a show for example as it takes some time. (unless it's an e-drum set).

    Yeah... Even if you just take into account western it's still confusing, I only know the basics mainly because when I start getting beyond that all the numbering, intervals and whatnot starts to resemble math and my brain has a hard time processing math... I find myself looking at the keys and counting, luckily there's always the option to go by ear AKA whatever sounds good. :D

    I am moving all these posts to another thread Rabbitfrog made in order not to clutter this bug thread in case he has more questions.
    https://www.native-instruments.com/...i-need-to-learn-in-order-to-know-music.355961
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2021
  5. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    That's sort of my whole idea. When making techno/trance music back in the day it was very common for people to start making music without any knowledge of music theory. In fact this is still my motto, so I am not going to lie -- the only reason why I learn music theory is so that I can have this conversation... And in order to defend my music preferences if people go down on it and start talking about how it's repetitive, simple etc. I can actually have a discussion and explain to people that things don't have to be complicated in order to be good.

    Like take a piano chord for example. The only reason a chord exists to add harmonics to a note, they take notes which are frequencies and add other frequencies that sound well together. That's only a way to work around the "limitation" of acoustic instruments. But if you take analogue monophonic subtractive synthesizer then one note already has a lot of harmonics in it, then you can further add sound through modulation. So one note sounds sometimes richer then two chords played with both hands on a piano. And if a take a digital synthesizer that uses sampled waveforms (Rompler or Wavetable) and add effects to it you can literally make an entire song using only one note and people wouldn't be able to hear that it's only one note.

    The whole reason why I asked about pitching samples properly is because I saw Jef Gibbons sample a monophonic synth and play chords with it and add all kinds of effects. But sampling a note and then assigning it to the same note is easy. But then I thought, what if I sample one of Korg's synthesizers with a ribbon? How would I be able to tell which note I am playing? And then I thought the same applies to sampled sounds, also based on Jef's video about sampling household noises which he says were in Bminor and if they were not in Bminor he tuned them. So that's why I hijacked the thread I thought yes tuning samples is one thing, but I want to know how can someone here that a note is different pitch using an actual musical sound.
     
  6. skinswashdc

    skinswashdc Well-Known Member

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    Mixed in Key $50 will tag the key of all your samples with the BPM I believe. All your files will be retagged with the bpm/key of song. Will make things easier when working in Maschine.
     
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  7. Ian_Fu

    Ian_Fu NI Product Owner

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    I've got some time so.... imrho


    How much you need to learn depends on what you want to do, like anything else. Back in my day, most people started playing in bands and picked up their first instrument depending on what was needed. If someone else had picked bass or drums, then you were the guitarist and away you go. Start learning. Many great songs have been created that way.

    In the synth world as an example, Gary Numan famously turned up to do his first album as a guitar band playing punk style songs but someone had left a Moog in the corner. He played a note, the bass shook the building, and that was it. Out the window went the punk songs and he started doing synth/guitar stuff with no idea what he was doing.

    Matt Johnson (Jamiroquai) taught himself and is one of the best keyboard players around. His left hand is a thing of beauty

    and the reason he gives for that, is that when he started out gigging, a lot of the vocalists he worked with would sing in different keys and so he needed to learn all the different keys and scales to get along.

    Myself, I'm not a great player but one of my first jobs was working as a church organ tuner. Doing that, I'd listen to notes being repeated many, many, times a day. I could compose a tune in my head and know what they key/notes were before I even sat down to play it. When you sit there playing "C + a 4th... C + a 5th...D + a 4th... D+ a 5th....etc...etc" a few thousands times, then you recognize it and if you want to get into session work for example, then you'll need to be able to do that and you'll also need to learn if the scale is Pentatonic, Mixolydian, Dorian, etc. Nobody wants to pay studio time for someone who takes 5 minutes to work out the notes when someone says "It's 1,5,4 in C".

    Rick Beato is an (very) experienced session musician who literally only a couple of days ago, put out a video discussing exactly that.

    It's well worth a watch if only to marvel at his genius.

    Talking of videos and YouTube, one of the regular adverts that pops into my stream comes from DeadMau5. In that advert, there is a part where he mentions that he has no idea how to play an instrument so he has to draw everything he does on the screen and, looking at it, most of that appears to be guesswork along with a "Yeah, that sounds good. I'll use that" approach.

    In short, what you need to know depends on what you want to do. There's no real 'answer' other than that.
     
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  8. D-One

    D-One Moderator Moderator

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    Today too, in any genre especially since computers became common.
    Growing up listening to Hip-Hop in the late 90's I've heard those comments a lot too, my response is simple:
    In order to judge a music genre you have to spend time listening to it and learn the nuances, this goes for everything, as everything people don't like "sounds repetitive" or ''all the same", basically it's ignorance.
    I don't know anything about wine for example, unless it's really terrible "it's all the same to me" this is my ignorance as someone who never dedicated any time to learn the nuances of the different tastes in my palate, while an expert might go on and on about how it tastes dry or fruity or has a cinnamon taste or whatnot... lol :D

    That is definitively not the only reason chords exist, maybe in technical terms the point is indeed to add harmonics but in practical terms it's about harmony, tension, and release. Harmony and a lot of overtone harmonics aren't the same thing afaik.
    This is quite a complicated topic and again... I am not an expert but there have been several research papers written on this subject; this is not to say a single note song cant be amazing, it sure can if you develop a taste geared more to sound design nuances then to harmony or melody.
     
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  9. JesterMgee

    JesterMgee NI Product Owner

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    Loads of interesting discussion here which really shows the broad pallet of "music" knowledge out there, but from the OP the question is actually far more than just the scope of melodies and instrumentation. He is also asking about production etc which really is an endless sea of things to learn.

    The lines are completely blurred from what they were 30-50 years ago when I was a young lad getting into music. When you heard the term "musician" it was typically associated with someone who played an instrument specifically, they did not produce, they did not mix, they did not "DJ", they played guitar, had long hair and were good at that one single part of the band so they could invest and focus on that one part. Then you would have DJ/Producers that just put some basic samples together but typically had vocalists doing something.... It was rare you had just 1 guy doing everything and smashing it without any experience so you had groups of people that were all really talented in their own areas.

    Without getting TLDR, A producer back in the day would help a band "produce" their sound, kind of like a grandfather helping the grandkids learn some new tricks etc and this guy spoke the bands lingo but also knew how to tell the engineers running the gear what he wanted as the vision, the engineers then knew what to twist and plugin to make it all happen.

    Nowadays, people want to do all of the above, on their own, in their bedroom and have the end result surpass what was produced 30 years ago all without the collective knowledge of 100+ years of experience from a team of people or without any training of any sort. Hard fact everyone needs to be told no matter how much they feel they want it, you will likely never make anything decent that anyone wants to listen to nor build even half the skill no matter what you invest in it. The market is oversaturated these days and there is so much noise out there that no one wants to really hear anything more.

    So basically, there are so many aspects to not just learning an instrument, or learning music theory, writing progressions, melodies, percussion, sound editing and design, mixing, mastering, production...... the field of learning is endless and you will be hard pressed to find even the most experienced song writer, producer or engineer who could not say they still have things they wish to learn.

    The question is not what you need to learn to "know music" that is impossible from the mindset you have where you think you will just "get it all" one day and start making stuff people like. You need time, drive, persistence and enthusiasm that outweighs anything else. You need to sit and experiment, learn the basics bit by bit and make hundreds of crappy tracks no one wants to listen to, be told your skills are $hit, be laughed at and ridiculed for the lack of knowledge you have, be frustrated by the fact you can only make the same kind of beat and play that same melody over and over and you have no good ideas and nothing original and it all sounds crap compared to commercial releases.... Then after all this beating you down, you will either move on or have that glimmer of a breakthrough where you make something that is different, that you really like that makes you wonder how the hell you came up with it, and that will be enough to push you to discover something else new.

    But you will never "know music", why someone likes a melody and someone else does not, why a certain progression or combination of instruments makes you feel a certain way. Why you can hate a song one week but really like it the next. All you can do is choose what you really want to learn and invest your time into it. That is what it takes, time, energy, enthusiasm and lots of it.
     
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  10. Rabbitfrog

    Rabbitfrog NI Product Owner

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    JesterMgee Haha, I think you went a bit away from my original question because you confused "How?" with "Why?" I mean the second half of your response feels like it's geared in preparation for becoming a musician. But, not everyone wants to be a musician, some people just want to make music.If that makes sense.

    I am not going to lie I wanted to be a musician, but now i just enjoyment mashing pads in Maschine. It's like...people who go and get wood and then make table or a desk, they know their stuff won't be sold at stores, but they get satisfaction from creating something and they get a sense of accomplishment. Same with music. Creating stuff is a necessity, we all need to create something, otherwise we get depressed because only being consumers is not natural to us. Humans make stuff... So if you do it at a job you love or at home while your cat/dog/fish is the only listener -- it's ok, it doesn't matter. ((Actually as I typed and re-read this for editing, I remembered a story, because as I said this, I know a lot of people will agree with me, but I knew a couple and the guy was really ambitious and he went with the path you described, getting shot down, ridiculed and turned down...up to a point where his own girlfriend did this, I was there when she politely made him aware of the fact that nobody is listening to his music... They broke up))

    But the "How?" is still there, I mean even if it's just out of curiosity then it's good to know music. I mean I made this topic 2 years ago and I read it again, and I seem so confused. I guess because back then my question was "smeared" across synthesizers, samplers, analog, digital. But a month or so go, I literally just picked up my Casio piano, looked up how to play piano and bam, suddenly I know music theory. Well enough to know Minor/Major scales, Minor/Major chords and how they all flow together in harmony to creat simple melodies. And suddenly all those keys and signatures now make sense. I don't know what's changed maybe I am more about "going with the flow" these days. Or maybe I finally started making music as a hobby, just to get satisfaction, out of desire to have my own track playing when I am out in the nature or driving to work. That's it.

    I remember when I first got Traktor and I swore to learn beatmatching because I thought the "Sync" button would give me cancer. Ok...I did. And now I never want to beatmatch. I used to make horrible boring mixes because all my energy went into beatmatching. But then I pressed the sync button and got addicted to mixing tracks. I took out all my old CDs that date back to 1996 in some cases and I went mental, now my mixes loop, sample, fade back and forth, speed up and slow down, play in reverse, and clash into completely different tracks when I play two loops out of two tracks and apply effects.... I did this to over 60 CDs and counting.
     
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  11. Ian_Fu

    Ian_Fu NI Product Owner

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    100% this!

    In many ways I have more respect for amateurs who make music purely for the pleasure, knowing it'll never be heard or make money, doing it just for the purity of creating something that sounds beautiful to them. But, I could be biased. It's 40 years since I played with the aim of being one of my idols in front of thousands. These days, I just want/need/have to create, and whatever I learn or need to learn is based around fulfilling that goal.
     
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