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Old 06-23-2009, 06:25 AM   #1
Motorstorm
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Self taught composers

Is it possible to self teach yourself music composition? I would take a degree course in music composition but don't have time as i'm doing a games design course but want to be able to compose music for my games efficiently and professionally and even though I done quite a few modules on sound engineering in my college i feel i need to do more. I wouldn't mind knowing how you guys started out?
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:13 PM   #2
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You need some music theory for sure. Alot of people can come up with stuff that sounds cool given enough tinkering. But to understand how to create different moods and environments is much easier when you're not guessing. I.E. melodic minor over a 5th chord sounds Egyptian...its just another tool for you to use.

I'm a guitar player mostly, some of the keyboard guys can probably explain this better than me. Learn how chords are put together, diatonic scales, circle of 5ths, etc. This stuff is crucial to composing IMO.
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:17 PM   #3
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Yes! My mother taught me the basics. (She graduated a conservatory though.) When she returned to UNO when I was in high school, I was able to access the colleges library and surpassed her knowledge within 3 years.

Books are your friend. Purchase a library card and go through every music theory book you can find. Start simple and work your way up. Its hard work, but you can do it.
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:30 PM   #4
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Thanks i'll read some books on music composing, but also i'm not sure about my setup, currently i have a midi keyboard and Reason oh and a grand piano in my home but when it comes to percussion reason is ok but also recording yourself hitting a random object like you would a drum can sometimes get you the sound you want once you've edited the sound then investing in percussion instruments
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Old 06-23-2009, 03:34 PM   #5
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a midi connection is fine. Theory has nothing to do with composing until you understand how to use it. Its really boring, so good luck to you. A piano will be your best friend when learning theory. Its keys are laid out just like the intervals you'll be learning about.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:06 PM   #6
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I never did well in elementary school music classes. I had no interest. My sister got the piano lessons. But, once I got into filmmaking I needed music for my films. I had listened to a lot of John Williams, Jerry Goldsmith type soundtracks, so I had fairly distinct ideas of what I wanted in a score, but I had trouble getting composers. A couple of people said yes, but nothing materialized.

Then one day, I dropped 2 grand on a synth keyboard and never looked back. I was like a one fingered typist. Then I discovered intervals - 3rds, 4ths, 5ths. Then I discovered that if I put a 3rd finger between the notes of the 5th that I could make a major or minor chord.

If you play orchestral or section type of samples/sounds, you realize that many instruments are mono-phonic (play one note or tone at a time, as opposed to intervals and chords). You might take that 5th chord and have trombones play the bottom note, clarinets playing the top note melody, etc. Of course, these instruments are in sections, so you can have a chord by having 3 trombone players each playing one of the notes. Of course, a timpani plays your bass note.

The bad thing is that this takes a while, but the cool thing about this self-learning process was that I had no intent on playing someone else's music, or practicing with well known songs. I was immediately making my own music. To this day, if someone asks me to play a well known song, it's not something I do. I literally have to figure it out by ear.

I'm sure there is a lot of good training to be had, and I think it can greatly speed up the learning process. I also encourage you to explore sounds and practice your own music, at home, to discover your identity.
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Old 06-24-2009, 04:41 AM   #7
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Interesting story Scoopic and i was in the same situation, i could either find a composer willing to work for free or use copyright free music, but then if you learn to compose yourself then you can get exactly the music you want and unless your paying yourself then its not going to cost anything apart from the equipment you need, and i'm suprised you paid that much for a keyboard back then when now you can pick up a decent midi for only 80 ($100)
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Old 06-25-2009, 05:34 PM   #8
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Yes, no problem. I've done it.
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Old 06-27-2009, 07:18 AM   #9
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I've done a few things where I self taught myself. Sometimes it's best to get some helpful tips on certain things to make sure you really know what your doing.
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Old 06-27-2009, 03:46 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Motorstorm View Post
Interesting story Scoopic and i was in the same situation, i could either find a composer willing to work for free or use copyright free music, but then if you learn to compose yourself then you can get exactly the music you want and unless your paying yourself then its not going to cost anything apart from the equipment you need, and i'm suprised you paid that much for a keyboard back then when now you can pick up a decent midi for only 80 ($100)

Back then, was 1984, Keyboards like the Prophet 5 were $5,000 and that was a cheap one! People weren't using computers for music. My first synth was the brand new Yamaha DX7 and it was a bargain compared to their original 20 grand FM synth, the GS-1. Shortly after, you could get into a Fairlight or Synclavier synth/sampling system for between 40K - 200K; yes more than many houses cost. They were used on a lot of soundtracks, though.

These days, musicians can buy a copy of Reason and a cheap MIDI controller for next to nothing. They don't know how good they have it.
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Old 07-06-2009, 07:14 PM   #11
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Do you play an instrument? If so, and you have never tried expressing original ideas on your instrument then I recommend giving it a go. Melodies, chord progressions/harmonies, rhythms and textures. Experiment, try and create moods and feelings with musical elements combined together. If you find the results pleasing to your ear then you can probably work with your own musical intuition to compose, developing whatever skills you need as you go.

But if you don't feel you have the intuition or creative spark to achieve this, then I would beg you to let an experienced composer do the work for you. There is too much bad music in the world, more it does not need.
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:36 PM   #12
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There are very, very few self taught film composers who have achieved any significant success. There are just too many things that you need to know.

Doing music for games is a different gig, so is much easier to accomplish without a formal education in composition. You must be very prolific - there can be dozens - even hundreds - of cues for a game, and there needs to be numerous variations on each theme. You must write for a higher degree of upfront emotional impact as compared to film/TV scoring (little or no dialog). It is also very loop based for obvious reasons.

You will have to learn a number of different delivery platforms as each game platform has unique requirements.

There are a number of composers forums that have games composition threads. I would suggest browsing them.
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Old 07-06-2009, 09:55 PM   #13
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i know this has nothing to do with music but i watched the film "SMOKIN ACES" and i wanted to learn how to throw cards just as a party trick, i went on youtube and found out how, i can now throw cards over 80 miles a hour and have accually cut a mans eye open (by accident) what im trying to say is the internet is the best tool you can ever have utilize it.
hope this helps
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Old 07-07-2009, 05:59 AM   #14
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Edited because I talk too much.

I would encourage anyone to pick their path and learn what they can. Do what feels right for you. Composer Danny Elfman is self taught. I'm self taught and don't feel like chopped liver, because of it.

Last edited by Scoopicman; 07-07-2009 at 06:38 AM.
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Old 07-07-2009, 06:12 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Leah Kardos View Post
There is too much bad music in the world, more it does not need.
Oh trust me after playing many videogames I know this, although i'm mainly talking about Japanese developed games, the game itself is good but the music is usually bad to say the least and the only case it is good is if the game designers hire a hollywood composer as in the case of the Metal gear solid games.
To be honest i'm not trying to label myself as the next big thing in music i just want to be able to create appropriate soundtracks for scenarios in my games whether its edgy synths, strings and percussion or something more melodic and I couldn't care if they're musical masterpieces or not as long as they set the mood and of course the right mood, because i think that the music is only bad if it creates the wrong mood for the scenario if we're talking about film and game music and not standalone music
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