tobyfox · @tobyfox

17th Jul 2016 from TwitLonger

“How Do I Get Good At Music?”

People constantly ask me how I learned to compose music & how to improve. Well, I pretty much just made up music on the piano and then transferred it to the computer until I was OK at it. But here's some tips:

1. Just do it.
It doesn't matter what you use: a DAW, an instrument, pen and paper, etc. Just start creating songs. Personally, I make them up on the piano then transcribe them into FL Studio. But seriously, just start doing it. Experience is the most valuable thing here. There's no trick to make something good on your first try. Just try your best, and keep making things.

2. Learn to play an instrument
Before I composed music, I learned how to play songs I liked by ear on the piano. It took me years to become proficient at it, but learning to play songs you know is an extremely valuable skill that will help you understand how common chord progressions and melodies are formed.

3. Analyze songs you like
If you can read music, analyze the aspects of songs you like that you want to improve at. Pay attention. What aspects of your favorite songs do you like the most? Is there a drum pattern you like, or a chord progression you don’t understand? You could even look at a MIDI or sheet music and try to copy it by hand. Obviously don't use something you've copied in an actual song, but it's good practice.

4. Experiment
Mess around and try new things. This is the main way to improve at anything, really.

5. Improving at production
A lot of improving at production is just experimentation, experience, using good VSTs/samples/plugins, and watching/reading tutorials. Seriously, it's just effort. Download samples and VSTs and mess around. Listen back and forth to your own song and a well-loved song in the same genre. Put some effort in learning about effects, here are the SUPER BASIC things you pretty much have to know about.
- Equalization
- Reverb/Delay/Echo
- Limiters & Compressors

When analyzing a song, what aspects of a song should you generally pay attention to? What should you consider in your own songs?

1. Melody
2. Chords
3. Rhythm & Meter
4. Instrumentation & Timbre
5. Structure
6. Production (if digital)

1. Melody - What's the melody? Countermelody? How do they relate to one another?
2. Chords - What are the chords? How do the chords sound? How are they arranged in relation to each other? How do the chords relate to the melody?
3. Rhythm - What are the prevailing rhythms in the song? How are the drums arranged? How do the melody/countermelody/bass/drum parts all relate to one another, rhythm-wise?
4. Instrumentation - What&how many instruments are used, and where? What ranges (high? low? mid?) do the instruments occupy? How do the instruments change throughout the piece?
5. Structure - What are the different "parts" of the song, and how do the above four qualities change in each of them? How does one part transition to another?
6. Production - How are effects used in each part of the song? How are the parts of the song panned (L/R)? What kind of samples are used - and HOW are they used?

With each of these, you shouldn't learn "how" but also ask yourself "why" each of these decisions were made.

As a final note, for "making up" melodies, I don't really know where it comes from. For me, it feels natural for song ideas to come to me in the shower or while I'm walking around. I don't know if this will start happening to you. But what I can say is, if you want to compose a song, physically all you have to do is place notes on a staff and tune some effects. So on that level there's nothing holding you back from doing the same thing as a great composer. It's all knowledge. And I guess how good your samples are lol

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