Need advice. I feel stuck.

Chords, scales, harmony, melody, etc.
User avatar
vurt
addled muppet weed
40686 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:31 am

yeah, broadening ones horizons is never a bad thing.
listen to music, not this or that genre.
learn licks/riffs/tunes
nick melodies and make them yours, altering the rhythm or dropping/adding a note.

it sounds like youre expecting to be able to write a hit without working up to it.

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:37 am

You should seriously listen to jancivil about singing the melody. It is 100% accessible _right now_ to you if you can just figure out the notes. If you can't, get yourself a software that guesses them and then try to make sense of it: you might sing off key, but you still have the intervals more or less and once you transpose it all to proper key, you'll start hearing what is off and what ain't. You can either sing or whistle them, I personally whistle.

Here's a proof that the method works: https://picosong.com/wJAGN/

All melodies there were whistled. Each and every one. Add to that a couple of accidents while I was arranging the notes and well, this is the result. All I needed were the chords and the beat.

Also, there's one melody that doesn't follow so tightly the chords either, it's the one that resembles actually fairly close to the whistling itself, including couple slides here and there.

Structure is a mess, but that's like what I managed to do in just 2 days, next step is to work it out with a singer. Trust me, if there was only one thing I could have told to 19 year old myself, it would have been that you need to whistle the melodies. This would have saved me so much pain.

BUT there's one caveat: this does limit you. While making catchy stuff is easy like that, I have much more difficulties with stuff that isn't supposed to be so catchy. Also I think it's easier for "happier" songs because there's less sustained notes involved.

original flipper
KVRAF
2420 posts since 14 Sep, 2003 from Essex

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:49 am

Hi

When you consider that many a group started out very young and had success in music, yet initially had quite limited musical ability begs the question - how did they go on to create/produce popular and relatively 'complex' music with said limited ability?
I found that jamming with a bass guitarist friend helped my drum playing no end.
In this day though we lead very insular lives - people want to spend all their time in front of a computer and somehow gain the requisite skills by 'noodling' around!
I don't mean to sound judgemental of the OP or the opinions expressed by others (which sound fine as well) - the problem the 'bedroom' producer faces is that there are simply too many skills to learn - something has to give.
In days gone by without the distractions that currently befall people it would not have been difficult to start to develop musical skills because you would have had several hours a day of free time to practice your instrument - perhaps just unplug your computer get together with some other people with similar yearnings and get on with it - i think you would get pretty useful in a couple of years - I am sorry, but 'doodling' around for fifteen minuets a couple of times a week is not going to get you anywhere fast, anytime soon.
I really don't want to sound mean - i teach for a living and getting people to 'commit' to learning seems to be a dead pursuit in many, many cases!

User avatar
jancivil
KVRAF
16967 posts since 20 Oct, 2007 from No Location

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:52 am

I started out with a relative poor ear for pitch, I developed it. Talent... well it may be true you don't have any at all, but raw talent is somewhat overrated in this world, in my estimation.

When I was in better shape physically, a good day was still not very near to 100% accuracy using my own voice. It doesn't matter, you have to sing.

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:16 pm

jancivil wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:52 am
When I was in better shape physically, a good day was still not very near to 100% accuracy using my own voice. It doesn't matter, you have to sing.
100% accuracy would probably be pretty boring and not that useful ~in general~. It could be useful in pop music for background vocalists, maybe choirs and opera and classical singing otherwise, but I can't really imagine much more use for it. And choirs, opera & classical singing I only say because I don't know what is or isn't useful there.

A lot of synths in my eyes have this kind of problem. They are too perfect and predictable and to make them not, well, it's a lot of work. One can go and babble about analog synths and "analog drift" but really, when you compare that with Boards of Canada, who IIRC spent thousands just to get their hands on a synth that they break up to get sound of it that they use then 7 seconds in total in the album, well... it's still not enough.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dQEmaj9C6ko

Of course what matters is the context. But the idea of perfection in music is sort of, meh.

deastman
KVRAF
6953 posts since 7 Aug, 2003 from San Francisco Bay Area

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:23 pm

I was being overly dramatic about practicing 5 hours a day, but neglected to point that out. The point is to put in as much time as possible and to develop a regular, rigorous practice schedule.

I don’t know what to say to your being 19 and piano lessons costing too much. I don’t know your life situation or where you live. All I can say is that you have to prioritize the things which are most important to you in life, and since it seems that you’re willing to invest time and money into gear to make music, you would be better served by first learning how to actually make music. By the time I was 19, I had already had 10 years of piano lessons, 4 years of clarinet, and about 6 months of guitar. I had been working after school and in the summers since I was 13, had managed to buy several expensive pieces of music gear, and was also in college, learning audio engineering and video production. Maybe I was simply fortunate. I also know that I squandered a lot of that opportunity by never practicing or putting enough effort into learning the craft of playing an instrument. It wasn’t until later that I came to appreciate the importance of putting in hard work.

Fine, you can’t afford lessons. Look into the local programs others have mentioned. Find someone local to jam with. Find someone better than you, and see if they can give you some pointers. Or barter with them for lessons. Watch tons of videos, but you should be spending ten times as much time practicing what you watch.
Incomplete list of my gear: 110V AC to 12V DC 1.5A power supply (+ tip)

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:31 pm

Oh also I forgot to mention something - you say you've started from 15 and you're now 19.

If you started from ground zero at 15, well, one explanation why your piano skills haven't improved much is because you've spent most of this time learning like almost everything. It took me like 6 years to finally get really comfortable with a DAW, knowing all the ins & outs and how to do what and what are the best ways to achieve something et cetera. Not to mention the synths, all the other software, the effects, how to mix, music theory, et cetera. All of that stuff takes up your capacity to learn too, you know? You can't learn everything at once and I am most certain that you still probably learn new things with music production in general

So that might also be one of the reasons why you haven't progressed as much as you'd like with your piano skills

Funkaroma
KVRist
88 posts since 20 Dec, 2018

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:56 pm

My music taste is very divers. I like disco, blues, soul, jazz, reggae, electro, funk, hip hop from the 90s, techno, rock and I am probably forgetting a few that I also like. I never tried to recreate(except disco) out of that big variety of genre, but I think that is a great idea. I want to stay in the C minor key, because thats the key i’m learning for now, but there are without doubt enough tracks which are written in that key. My recreations probably wouldnt be any good, but for the learning I think that would be a good idea. I can’t read notes and it is actually something I avoided. I don’t know if it is necessary to learn this too. Like my main goal is to create my own music, but if it would be helpfull I would have to stick my nose in that too

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:59 pm

you don't necessarily have to recreate any particular songs though; whenever I do that, I just think about "something like this" rather than "this" and usually the result is "nothing like that but I learned a lot and I like this"

Funkaroma
KVRist
88 posts since 20 Dec, 2018

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:59 pm

Functional wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 11:37 am
You should seriously listen to jancivil about singing the melody. It is 100% accessible _right now_ to you if you can just figure out the notes. If you can't, get yourself a software that guesses them and then try to make sense of it: you might sing off key, but you still have the intervals more or less and once you transpose it all to proper key, you'll start hearing what is off and what ain't. You can either sing or whistle them, I personally whistle.

Here's a proof that the method works: https://picosong.com/wJAGN/

All melodies there were whistled. Each and every one. Add to that a couple of accidents while I was arranging the notes and well, this is the result. All I needed were the chords and the beat.

Also, there's one melody that doesn't follow so tightly the chords either, it's the one that resembles actually fairly close to the whistling itself, including couple slides here and there.

Structure is a mess, but that's like what I managed to do in just 2 days, next step is to work it out with a singer. Trust me, if there was only one thing I could have told to 19 year old myself, it would have been that you need to whistle the melodies. This would have saved me so much pain.

BUT there's one caveat: this does limit you. While making catchy stuff is easy like that, I have much more difficulties with stuff that isn't supposed to be so catchy. Also I think it's easier for "happier" songs because there's less sustained notes involved.
Thanks for the tip. The main genre I try to create isn’t supposed to be that catchy, but for learning the other genres it can be helpfull I think! For example disco.

Funkaroma
KVRist
88 posts since 20 Dec, 2018

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:14 pm

deastman wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:23 pm
I was being overly dramatic about practicing 5 hours a day, but neglected to point that out. The point is to put in as much time as possible and to develop a regular, rigorous practice schedule.

I don’t know what to say to your being 19 and piano lessons costing too much. I don’t know your life situation or where you live. All I can say is that you have to prioritize the things which are most important to you in life, and since it seems that you’re willing to invest time and money into gear to make music, you would be better served by first learning how to actually make music. By the time I was 19, I had already had 10 years of piano lessons, 4 years of clarinet, and about 6 months of guitar. I had been working after school and in the summers since I was 13, had managed to buy several expensive pieces of music gear, and was also in college, learning audio engineering and video production. Maybe I was simply fortunate. I also know that I squandered a lot of that opportunity by never practicing or putting enough effort into learning the craft of playing an instrument. It wasn’t until later that I came to appreciate the importance of putting in hard work.

Fine, you can’t afford lessons. Look into the local programs others have mentioned. Find someone local to jam with. Find someone better than you, and see if they can give you some pointers. Or barter with them for lessons. Watch tons of videos, but you should be spending ten times as much time practicing what you watch.
That makes some more sense for me yeah! Unfortunately I can’t have a paid job right now, because I have a disease. Anyway I don’t want to go too much in detail, but I had a job application (freelance) in my city in a sort of local studio. It’s for people who can’t really get paid work, but they help to still get you going. I know there are some escorts who have piano knowledge where I probably can learn from. But first my goal is too build up rhythm, because I didn’t do much after I got this disease, so that’s why I am choosing for freelance instead of paid to reduce the working pressure till I can handled it again and I am better. I’m healing but it is a slow progress. + point is that I wouldn’t have that option if I hadn’t anything. I’m quit excited to start and look forward to it. I still have to be patient because it takes 2 weeks before I can start.

Funkaroma
KVRist
88 posts since 20 Dec, 2018

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:18 pm

Functional wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 12:31 pm
Oh also I forgot to mention something - you say you've started from 15 and you're now 19.

If you started from ground zero at 15, well, one explanation why your piano skills haven't improved much is because you've spent most of this time learning like almost everything. It took me like 6 years to finally get really comfortable with a DAW, knowing all the ins & outs and how to do what and what are the best ways to achieve something et cetera. Not to mention the synths, all the other software, the effects, how to mix, music theory, et cetera. All of that stuff takes up your capacity to learn too, you know? You can't learn everything at once and I am most certain that you still probably learn new things with music production in general

So that might also be one of the reasons why you haven't progressed as much as you'd like with your piano skills
15 till my 17th I wasn’t very serious with it. Most of the music was made out of samples then. When I was 18 I was getting more serious and I’m now almost 20. So probably I’m busy with it 1,5 years, but I could make more progress definitely, but I can’t change the past so I hope I can make a better start from now!

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:27 pm

Going freelance is, for better or for worse, the future sadly. I tried getting into studios to become a mixing engineer but sadly all I see are opportunities that you need contacts for and people like me can only really get into the business if they can accrue somehow the capital to set up a studio of their own. So I decided going into freelance domain.

If you get good enough at producing, you can sell songs $500 a pop or lease them (in particular if suited for rappers) for like $25-100 a pop depending on whenever they want mp3, .wav or the full stems and also offer to sell exclusive rights. So if you ever considered hiphop or trap music, you might wanna learn how to make that. It's not ultra difficult music to make, lots of tutorials around that can help you there (although practical piano skills would help you _a lot_). But $500 a song ain't that much so if you're going for EDM:ish music, you probably want to become an actual ghost producer or have fame yourself. That route takes a while, but you can get some income already if you sell songs $500 a pop. Selling beats I think is overall more lucrative if you don't get to the top but you have to make a name for yourself through instagram etc and market yourself properly to really get it going. A decent 20-30k a year ain't really unrealistic and the work it takes isn't as bad as selling EDM.

Note, you can make EDM songs in just couple of days, so $500 is really good. But this only works in paper I found out: trying to make a living only by doing that will end up with you hating music, because "2 days" also entails lot of physical & mental stress and your hearing will be blown to bits pretty quick. So I personally found someone who wants to make something bit more pop that could amount to some revenue and hope that things eventually pick off.

But that all means doing stuff you might not like doing and if you don't, perhaps don't then. I wouldn't wanna do any of this selling & marketing stuff but sadly each of us has to make a living and most of us have to do it through things we don't really want to do. + you'll still likely have years ahead of you before you even get to the level where you can comfortably produce tracks in couple of days

Funkaroma
KVRist
88 posts since 20 Dec, 2018

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:14 pm

Functional wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 1:27 pm
Going freelance is, for better or for worse, the future sadly. I tried getting into studios to become a mixing engineer but sadly all I see are opportunities that you need contacts for and people like me can only really get into the business if they can accrue somehow the capital to set up a studio of their own. So I decided going into freelance domain.

If you get good enough at producing, you can sell songs $500 a pop or lease them (in particular if suited for rappers) for like $25-100 a pop depending on whenever they want mp3, .wav or the full stems and also offer to sell exclusive rights. So if you ever considered hiphop or trap music, you might wanna learn how to make that. It's not ultra difficult music to make, lots of tutorials around that can help you there (although practical piano skills would help you _a lot_). But $500 a song ain't that much so if you're going for EDM:ish music, you probably want to become an actual ghost producer or have fame yourself. That route takes a while, but you can get some income already if you sell songs $500 a pop. Selling beats I think is overall more lucrative if you don't get to the top but you have to make a name for yourself through instagram etc and market yourself properly to really get it going. A decent 20-30k a year ain't really unrealistic and the work it takes isn't as bad as selling EDM.

Note, you can make EDM songs in just couple of days, so $500 is really good. But this only works in paper I found out: trying to make a living only by doing that will end up with you hating music, because "2 days" also entails lot of physical & mental stress and your hearing will be blown to bits pretty quick. So I personally found someone who wants to make something bit more pop that could amount to some revenue and hope that things eventually pick off.

But that all means doing stuff you might not like doing and if you don't, perhaps don't then. I wouldn't wanna do any of this selling & marketing stuff but sadly each of us has to make a living and most of us have to do it through things we don't really want to do. + you'll still likely have years ahead of you before you even get to the level where you can comfortably produce tracks in couple of days
Thank you for your time to point this out!! I’ll be honest and say that it is something I wonder about a lot. I love music and everything around it, but it is a hard choise to make a decision if I want to keep it as a hobby or want to make living of it. I did hospitality school before I had my disease and I had to stop with it, but I’m actually glad I did, because it wasn’t something for me. I have the time now to spend time in becoming a better music producer, so time will tell which choice I am going to make. In best case senario this is something I could make a living from. I don’t want to be rich or anything, because money is by far not the most important thing in life, but I must be able to pay the rents and pay my dinner etc. My other interest lays with drawing which is something I do my whole life and I wouldn’t mind to combine those 2.

I’m 19 so of course I am familar with trap and hip hop. I’ve got lots of friends which listin to this music. Personally it’s one of the few genres I don’t really like with a few exceptions. I can apreciate some artist like Mick Jenkins for example. At the other hand I wouldn’t mind it to produce tracks in this genre too if I can keep making the music that I personally like as well.

I wish you luck with your new project with the other person which belies more with your personal preference!

Functional
KVRist
444 posts since 26 Oct, 2011

Re: Need advice. I feel stuck.

Post Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:51 pm

Funkaroma wrote:
Mon Feb 11, 2019 2:14 pm
Thank you for your time to point this out!! I’ll be honest and say that it is something I wonder about a lot. I love music and everything around it, but it is a hard choise to make a decision if I want to keep it as a hobby or want to make living of it.
I don't know your situation so I really can't say if you want to try or not. But if you do have a disease that makes conventional work tough for you, this is something. A lot of people complain that music doesn't really pay anymore but it's not really true - it's just that these days the way things work has changed a lot. You want to sell your music directly unless you truly can get a good deal from a huge label. Most people get caught in waiting for labels, even though you can already begin selling your music for something without the huge label noticing you. But it still will take a lot of work. Selling songs for $500 a pop just ain't that much and will kill off any soul you think you might have.

Drawing can help you to build your brand or your aesthetic (which one depends on what kind of project it is). I don't know how you would combine truly both of the artforms but I guess there is some way I just don't know of.

Thing with "beatmaking" is that it's pretty simple but honestly if you don't enjoy that sort of stuff, you probably shouldn't. There's some exceptions, such as Clams Casino, but you're always safer to aim for what is currently popular rather than try taking risks - especially if you're making music to get a salary. Still, if it's something you don't enjoy enough, it'll just suck the soul out of you and you'll end up hating music.

Also, there's other forms of revenue for producers in particular. You can teach music production to people. You can make YouTube content. You can perform live, even if it really doesn't entail anything else except you going wild behind CDJ decks that you don't actually use for anything at all (people just wanna see you if you get any popularity at all, I think everyone knows at this point what's it about). Commercial music, music for games, music for theaters & dance theaters etc. There's a lot of possibilities, it just takes a long time to build up to it and get the proper contacts. So keep your goals realistic - prospects are large, but they won't come overnight and you probably need to develop further if you have issues with melodies for now.

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