We all make music

We all make music
We all make music
Here it is. The thread to make music.
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RE: We all make music
note: don't read this yet if you are just starting. this post is out of order

Here are some basics for notes and scales (regarding the Western music system): there are twelve notes (known as half-steps) between one specific note (let's talk about C) to the same note in a higher octave. So from C3 to C4 on a piano, there are 12 keys (including each of the Cs). This does not mean that they are all "in key." They would have to be part of the scale.
A musical SCALE are the 8 notes from one specific note to the same note in the next octave. Any particular SCALE has a KEY based on one note. Let's use the key of C.

In C Major, the notes are like this:
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From note one to two in a major scale is two half-steps. (This is, more simply and obviously, one step.) Most moves from one note to the next are one whole step. The only two notes that don't are notes 3 and notes 7: they only have a half-step from note 3 to 4 and from note 7 to 8. So in the major scale, the amount of steps to the next note is:

Then there are 3 minor scales: the natural minor (most common), the harmonic minor, and the melodic minor.

The natural minor looks like this:
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and the harmonic minor looks like this:
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The melodic minor is distinct in that the keys are different when you ascend the notes and descend the notes of the scale. When you ascend the scale, it looks like this:
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But when you descend the scale, it is just the same as descending the natural minor.

An INTERVAL is the distance between two notes. An OCTAVE, also known as a PERFECT EIGHTH (12 half-steps from each other) is the most harmonic interval. Playing the two notes together results in the most agreeable-sounding combination of two notes together. A TRITONE, also known as an AUGMENTED FOURTH or DIMISNISHED FIFTH (six half-steps from each other) is the most discordant (least harmonic). Playing the two together results in a very uneasy sound. Playing A PERFECT FIFTH* (7 half steps away) or a PERFECT FOURTH also result in very harmonic sounds. In a major scale, note 1 and note 5 are a PERFECT FIFTH, note 1 and 4 are a PERFECT FOURTH; from 1 to 2, 1 to 3, 1 to 6 and 1 to 7 are a MAJOR SECOND, MAJOR THIRD, MAJOR SIXTH and MAJOR SEVENTH. In a natural minor scale, 1 to 3 is a MINOR THIRD, 1 to 6 is a MINOR SIXTH, and 1 to 7 is a MINOR SEVENTH.

A CHORD is made up of combining a THIRD INTERVAL and a FIFTH INTERVAL. A MAJOR CHORD is one with a PERFECT FIFTH and a MAJOR THIRD, while a MINOR CHORD is one with a PERFECT FIFTH and a MINOR THIRD. The name of a chord is based on its BASE NOTE, and what place it has on the scale. It is represented with a roman numeral. In the KEY of C Major, a I chord is with a C, an E and a G. An IV chord is with F, A and C. A V Chord is with a G, B and D. The I IV V chord progression is the most common chord progression in popular music.

You can add a SEVENTH INTERVAL TO A CHORD (either major or minor) to make it a SEVENTH CHORD. A seventh V chord is very good for going back to the I chord.
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RE: We all make music
When you're doing an 8 bit music, you'll probably be using one of the most basic soundwaves out there: a sine wave, a square wave, a triangle wave, or a sawtooth wave.

They look like this

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and sound like this

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Why do they sound like this? Well, the shape of the wave gives a note its specific timbre (pronounced TAM ber). Next lesson will go more into that, as well as the other three basic characteristics of a musical note.
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RE: We all make music
Okay so let's back up first to super basics.
A. Sound comes in waves.
B. Musical notes are a kind of sound that's more orderly than basic noise.
C. There's four basic characteristics of a note:

1. Its timbre (determined by the specific shape of the wave that occurs in one up-and-down wavelength.).
2. Its pitch (determined by the wavelength frequency-how frequently an up-and-down wavelength occurs.).
3. Its loudness or amplitude (determined by how high and low the wave goes)
4. Its duration (how long the total noise lasts, not just the single wavelength.)

What does this look like? Here's a diagram of a piano note:

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With 1, timbre, we can see a specific wave shape. A sine wave is a simpler wave form (the simplest of all), while more complex sounds like piano notes have more complex waves. Yet we can see that it's the same basic form repeating. Timbre is what makes a note sound "piano-y" or "flutey."

With 2, pitch, we see how many times a wave would happen in a second (since the x axis is measuring time). A higher pitch has a shorter wavelength, so it occurs more frequently. If you hold down a string on a ukelele, you make it shorter than a whole string, and the pitch becomes higher as a result. Yes, a string is basically a wave.

With 3, loudness/amplitude is easy to see, measured by the y axis, with the highest and lowest point of a wave showing how loud it is. An amplitude of 0 on a wave graph is silence, which makes sense if you think how a string not moving is silent while the harder you pluck it, the more it will vibrate/wave about and the louder it will be.

In reality, many sounds - the piano included - would probably get quieter after the first wave repetition, but I put this here for ease of demonstrating timbre. A real life piano note would look more like this, with amplitude decreasing as time goes on after the initial strike of the mallet against the string inside the piano:

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With 4, duration is also a no brainer. It's how long the total noise lasts until its amplitude becomes 0.
If you say "Laaaaaaaaaa" its duration will be longer than saying "La."

Now back to 8 bit stuff. The reason why 8 bit music has the specific timbres it has is because the wave forms were simple and easy to make by early computers/software, and took up less memory. They weren't about to load up a bunch complex waves to be rendered when you've got only a little bit of space per cartridge.

Lastly, the sine wave is the simplest timbre of all. Every note has a fundamental pitch/tone - the lowest frequency of that note - which consists of a sine wave. More complex noises have a bunch of other, quieter pitches occurring at the same time atop that (called overtones) to give it a more complex waveform and different-sounding timbre. The way an instrument is built determines which overtones are favored and which are left out. The more overtones you put atop the fundamental tone, the "noisier" it sounds.
White noise (demonstrated at the beginning of this) has every single frequency occuring atop one another, which makes you unable to distinguish a pitch. Just as white is all colors of light occurring simultaneously, noise is all pitches occuring simultaneously.

quick quiz one:

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I. These two waves differ in only ONE of the 4 basic qualities. Which one is it, and how does wave a compare to b?
1) timbre. a's timbre is more complex
2) timbre. a's timbre is simpler
3) pitch. a's pitch is higher
4) pitch. a's pitch is lower
5) amplitude. a's amplitude is louder
6) amplitude. a's amplitude is quieter
7) duration. a's duration is longer.
8) duration. a's duration is shorter.

and what's your reasoning for that?
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RE: We all make music
3, because it has a higher frequency?
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RE: We all make music

something funny about pitch (which I set up with that example): One wave that is twice as long as another will be exactly one octave below it in pitch (So, C3 is one octave below C4, and you can fit two c4 waves in the same duration as a c3). A wave that's only half as long will abe exactly one octave above it. If you pluck an open guitar string, then hold down the point exactly in the middle of it, the noise you make plucking it again will be one octave above the first noise.

Demo of an octave:
(This is in C major. it's the easiest key to work with because it's got no sharps or flats. Just letters all the way.)

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first, the c3 note. then the c4 note. Then the c3 and c4 note together. You'll notice they blend very nicely together, because their wave forms overlap! They have a 2:1 ratio - that is, the higher note happens 2 times by the time the lower one happens once. The simpler the ratio is between two overlapping pitches, the more ~harmonious~ it will sound! Music is very math-pattern-based, which is why deaf people can compose it easily.

Then I go through all 8 notes of a scale, to show what a major scale--the octave and all of the notes between those two notes sounds like. oct, 8.
[C3 D3 E3 F3 G3 A4 B4 C4.]

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Finally here's the seventh note in the octave B4 and the last note C4 to show what happens when two notes played together don't fit well. They have a 16:15 ratio, which is discordant - the opposite of harmonious.

and that's the intro to pitches
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RE: We all make music
duration and tempo and time

Okay so a sound lasts as long as it lasts. In common notation, there's whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes etc etc. The kind of note measures how long that note will last according to how many BEATS PER MEASURE there are.

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Beat: there's usually a common pulse to a music, fitting into a pattern that you can dance or bob up and down or move around to.

Measure: a unit in notation for grouping how many beats makes up the pattern. You'll be able to tell by its time signature. Also, the first beat in a measure is usually the strongest.

Time signature: The most common ones you'll see and use are 4/4 and 3/4. The bottom number tells you what the basic note you'll be using is - with the 4 on bottom, it's a quarter note; the top number tells you how many of those notes there are per measure - so a 4/4 time signature means there's 4 quarter notes per measure. 4/4 goes "One two three four, one two three four" and 3/4 goes "One two three, one two three."

Tempo and beats per minute: the faster the pattern of beats is, the faster the tempo. An easy way to measure tempo is with BEATS PER MINUTE (BPM). The average human heart beats at about 100 beats per minute. A common BPM for mid-tempo music is 120 beats per minute, slightly higher than your heartbeat so it excites you. At 120 bpm, a measure will be 2 seconds long.

Here's a demonstration, using a metronome at 4/4 time at a speed of 120bpm, showing how many of each note you can fit in a measure. A whole note, 2 half notes, 4 quarter notes, 8 eighth notes.

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A timed silence is called a rest, and there are rest counterpoints to all the notes (a whole rest, quarter rest, etc etc)

You can do smaller notes.
You can add 50% of the note's time to them by making them "dotted." A dotted half note is a half note (2 quarter notes) plus 50% more (so +1 quarter note). A dotted quarter note is the length of a quarter note plus an eighth note.

There are some time irregularities, like triplets, which are three notes played in the space of 2.

You don't have to keep to tempo strictly, but it helps starting out. Some genres specialize in accenting offbeats, through "swinging" the beat or syncopation. Those are words which you are now aware of but you don't need to learn now.

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RE: We all make music
I most definitely don't have the expertise in proper, formal music knowledge to contribute to this amazing thread, but in my opinion rhythm is absolutely critical to music and usually criminally under-emphasized when teaching music theory! (I could say it reeks of implicit Western value judgements or whatever, but I'm not that type of douche and we're all just here to learn and have a good time.) Syncopation is vital: it just don't mean a thing if it ain't got that swing. I'll lean on using a TON of examples to do my explaining work for me. Here's a high-class artsy-fartsy example I picked up watching a series on music theory that covered rhythm. This is the song they use for coronation in Britain:

Every single note throughout the whole piece hits on the beat, divided evenly into equal intervals. One instrument hits just the quarters, another hits just the eighths, another is responsible for sixteenths, and the choir is responsible for the whole notes. There's not much emphasis on any note in particular, but where there is, it's on the first beat of the measure. In every way it is a perfect illustration of these standard ways of breaking down rhythms without getting into triplets or any of that. It's pretty boring, though!

A couple hundred years later, Philip Glass, a great minimalist composer, created an opera about a disliked, monotheistic ancient Egyptian pharaoh, Akhenaten. Here's how he opened it:

Notice how it begins exactly the same, but with alternative instrumentation — horns, and a deep bass instead of an uplifting choir — and (I think?) transposed into a minor key to create a more menacing or at least ominous atmosphere. Then, after 4 measures or about 13 seconds, the rhythm suddenly seems to slip out from underneath you, like your blinker falling in and out-of-sync with the blinker of the car in front of you. All that's happened is he's changed which note he's emphasizing. The whole song — his whole career — proceeds in this fashion, repeating itself and slowly mutating, with only occasional actual note changes. Indeed, it's hard to tell much has changed at all since 13 seconds in, but all the while it has, in ways far too subtle for me to really explain or even comprehend, as emphasized when it abruptly switches back to the original theme lifted from Zadok The Priest at about 1 minute, 52 seconds in. Then it leaps into some arpeggios (a quick succession that runs up and then right back down the same notes symmetrically — usually just someone playing a scale in the key the song is in) because it's Philip Glass, and that's what Philip Glass does. The whole thing is gripping and magical, and every time I listen to it I can't help but want to listen to the whole thing. Actually, there's not much syncopation in this song at all, and where there is it's not obvious — it's kinda a wild goose chase to have lead you down this road, but hopefully it demonstrates the power of rhythm and you like the song as much as I do.

But then, I'm not exactly known for listening to classical music, and classical music isn't very well-known for its rhythmic virtuosity, either. No, if you want to explore rhythm, you're best served looking into the genre of music closest to my heart: hip-hop. Here's a good example of a super-early disco rap cut:

A rapper is a fundamentally monophonic instrument, like a triangle, cowbell, or most other percussive instruments, only able to emphasize notes by rhyming the note with another note's attached word (or, later, by omission) or by raising or slightly modulating their voice in some way. A genre where the lead instrument is percussive is bound to lead to interesting and complicated rhythmic arrangements, but not yet. Below is part of the first verse of The Breaks, very roughly transcribed by yours truly. I'll use a | for the downbeat and a . for the upbeat (which in this song is where the claps are,) though the real backbeat is more complicated than this and my transcription will be irregular because of the lengths of words:

|           .             |             .
Breaks on a bus,          breaks on the CAR,
|           .             |             .
breaks  to  make          you aSUPERSTAR.
|           .             |             .
Breaks  to  WIN,     and  breaks   to   LOSE.
|           .             |             .
These here  breaks  will  ROCK   your   shoes, and
|           .             |             .
THESE       ARE     the   BREAKS.

It's extremely simplistic, like a childhood playground rhyme. "Car/star", "lose/shoes", all placed at the end of the line. ("Break/make" appears to be wholly accidental.) The only time Kurtis Blow doesn't hit either the backbeat or upbeat is when he uses the clap after "superstar" as a pause to take a breath. Most rap through 1986 was almost exactly like this, with only small, incremental changes and like 3 guys who did anything more advanced (see the spoiler below,) until:

Luckily I don't have to rely on my own sloppy ASCII transcription for this, because some enterprising nerd took it upon himself to put the whole thing to sheet music. Look at it! He doesn't wholly disregard the 1, 2, 3, 4 of the metronome, but he flits around it and doesn't seem to care exactly where his rhymes and all his syllables and the ends of his sentences fall in relationship to it. He's drawing on a long, rich tradition of syncopation, from funk, to jazz, winding all the way back to ragtime and Cuba, and from there, Africa.

One simple form of syncopation is the latin Bossa Nova clave, which is sorta a simplified rumba to fit 4/4. It's like playing a triplet, but then you just... keep going for another measure, keeping the equal intervals for two more taps. It wouldn't be fair, then, to call the notes in this half of the pattern triplets or quarter notes or eighths or anything at all — they are syncopated, off the beat and yet somehow "on" it, not just randomly placed. Here's a drummer playing it:

Another popular 4/4 variation on the rumba is the Bo Diddley beat, the lead guitar rhythm from this song:

Syncopation can place beats "ahead" of or "behind" the up- and downbeat, where they "ought" to be, and thus either drive you inexorably ahead or jerk you back. I regret that I can not explain it in more detail than this. Listen to this dusty song come alive as it wildly improvises patterns of syncopation so fast you hardly know what happens:

And I don't think any discussion of syncopation can be truly complete without touching on the king, Fela Kuti. Every song of his is a delicately-woven funky tapestry of different syncopated rhythms that would seem to have nothing to do with each other until you placed them together, repeated ad nauseum. This strategy is called "polyrhythm," and it can even include parts of the song played in an entirely different time signature from the rest! Here's one of my favorites, and once again a nerd who transcribed the whole shebang into sheet music:

And... that's pretty much all I know about music theory, unless you want to talk about my sampling technique, but I don't think anyone does. Plus this thread's ostensibly supposed to be helping Kitet learn to use Famitracker, hence the chiptune digression, and rhythms that don't fall on the 1-and-2-and-3-and-etc are an ABSOLUTE NIGHTMARE to put into a tracker!


Also, I wouldn't call 120 BPM mid-tempo at all. Mid-tempo is like, 70-90 BPM. 120 BPM is downright fast, unless you're secretly talking half-time and it's really 60 BPM, which you appear to be doing in your tindeck, in which case it's a little slow.
RE: We all make music
I wasn't going to get into more complex rhythms yet because giving too much at once can be overwhelming (like my first post). I mean I only had 3/4 and 4/4 I left out compound meter and cut time because even having to decide "oh no is this in 3/4 or 6/8? 2/2 or 4/4?" will slow you down if you're just starting.

My suggestion for you folks starting out at home is to doodle around with whatever program you have with each lesson for a few minutes, building only a little bit at a time. The stuff you make now should be boring, but you have to learn the basics before you get all dave brubeck on everyone's asses. Though I'd maybe want to do one or two more basic lessons on pitch before you'll have enough to make a basic melody/song

for a tracker, famitracker is free.

for a sequencer, LMMS is free (and available for windows, linux and apple). I can maybe help a little with LMMS? I booted it up this morning to see if I remembered anything from it. Maybe a few lessons from now will be a video of showing how to work lmms

E: Oh, and Audacity is a good general-purpose audio file editor. good for converting other work files to finished mp3s, cutting up files, recording voice, etc

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RE: We all make music
Pitch: c major scale

so in this post, we started on pitch, intervals and scales. Also we found that octaves --something 8 notes on a scale apart -- sound good together.

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You might've noticed those black keys on that keyboard. Those are either flats or sharps (depends on what scale you're using). Generally a scale will have all 7 letters in it, with the key note occurring twice, on the first an last notes:
that's the key of A Minor

However, those black-keyed tones don't stop existing! There are 8 notes in a scale, but 12 semitones between the first C and the second. A semitone is a basic measurement of pitch shown by one rightward or leftward movement on that tuned keyboard. A sharp (♯) makes a note a semitone higher, and a flat (♭)

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Simply put, there's 8 notes in a scale, and 12 semitones between octaves. Here's a demonstration of that from C to C.

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Explanation: first it goes from C to C based on C major scale, which is 8 notes:
then going one semitone at a time from C to C
C C♯ D D♯ E F F# G G♯ A A♯ B C

Lastly just for fun I show a wholetone scale, where you jump one wholetone at a time instead of a semitone. (Sometimes wholetone scales are used to give a floaty or spacey feel.)
C D E F# G# A# C

Next time: intervals
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RE: We all make music

An interval is the number of semitones one note is from another. You already know one of them: an octave! An octave is 12 semitones away from the first one. It can refer to the jump you make between two notes, or those two notes played simultaneously.

If you start from C and play another note, here's how many semitones each note is away from the base:

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All of these different intervals have names!

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I've color-coded it from roughly most concordant/harmonious(green) to most discordant (red). It's agreed that most concordant goes in the order of unison, octave, fifth then fourth, but it gets more subjective after that over an exact order. Generally, the unison, octave, fifth, fourth, major and minor thirds, and major and minor sixths are grouped together as "concordant intervals," while major and minor seconds, major and minor sevenths, and the tritone are all grouped together as discordant intervals. The ratios also differ according to exact tuning methods for more discordant intervals but the exact ratio doesn't matter; what matters is how it sounds.

And how does it sound?

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Discordant intervals, while discordant, aren't all bad. In fact, they're good to be used every now and then to give a piece of music tension. A lot of music is based on building up tension by going to less concordant melodies and then releasing it by progressing your way back to the key note. This is the basic idea behind a chord progression.

Speaking of which, next time we'll put two intervals together at once to get chords!

home work: explore how intervals are everywhere by doing the following:
first, play the note C. play it long.
then play another long note, a perfect fifth above the C.
then play a third long note a perfect fourth above that last note (you'll be an octave above the first note by now)
then go up a major third above that
finish off by playing a semi tone below that.

basically do this:
C2 G2 C3 E3 D♯3

answer key:
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RE: We all make music
i didn't play the notes long enough and it sounds more like a YOU DISCOVERED A MYSTERY cue from legend of zelda or something

RE: We all make music
I looked a midi for the 'you got a thing' and apparently it's an F chord [F A C] with extra As added on higher octaves, then the same chord transposed (moved, or cut+pasted) up one semitone three times in a row.
so it goes basically [F A C] [F♯ A♯ C♯] [G B D] [G♯ C D♯]

Speaking of chords.........!

Putting this all together, scales and chords are partly built on keeping how concordant and discordant some intervals are. Since fifths and fourths are ratios that are easy on the ear, you want them more often than you do discordant ones. If you play two intervals simultaneously - a perfect fifth and an octave - you'll find that there's also a perfect fourth between the fifth note and the octave note.

But thirds are fine too, and you get something even better when you take a base note -let's say C - build a fifth atop that C to get a G - and then a third between those two, stick a note there. That's how you make a chord!

Of course, if you're putting a third on top of a base, there's two possibilities for doing that: first you can make a major third from C to E (4 semitones) which leaves 3 semitones from E to G. Any chord that has an interval of 4 followed by an interval of 3 is called a major chord (since it is made up of a major third and a fifth)

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Between the two instances of the chord, I break it up to show how it's made up of a fifth interval and a third interval playing simultaneously. Also at the end: when you break up the notes of a chord and play them separately, it's called an arpeggio

or you can start with a minor third from C to D♯/E♭, leaving 4 semitones from D♯ to G. This is a minor chord, because it is made up of a minor third and a fifth.

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Chords serve as a backbone to much music. Also, you can raise or lower any note of a chord by an octave here or there for easier playing or more variety, or if you want to switch up which instrument plays what (for instance, if you want the bass instrument to not get stuck playing the same note). Raising/lowering one or more notes in a chord by an octave is called an inversion.

Some music, especially jazz, makes use of putting another minor third atop the fifth, to make a seventh chord (a dominant seventh chord). The interval of the seventh is a minor seventh (10 semitones from base), btw. It'll be C E G B♭.
If you see a letter followed by a 7 and nothing else, it's a dominant seventh chord.

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The most basic instance of this is the I IV V I chord progression.
The roman numerals stand for what the base note is in the chord- so in C major, a I IV V I progression would be
I: a chord based on the first note in the scale [C E G]
IV: a chord based on the fourth note in the scale [F A C]
V: a chord based on the fifth note in the scale [G B D]

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just the chord notes with inversions

A piece of music will generally end on the key note - the first note in the key, in any octave, otherwise known as the tonic.
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RE: We all make music
wheat we all make music, but not necessarily on the internet

today class i would like you to make music out of something less conventional. Like a cucumber

or human flesh. Flesh is very musical

*teacher demonstrates by slapping their stomach in a drum-solo*

that'll be all. And remember, this is worth 20% of your final grade and maybe your life savings. maybe.
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RE: We all make music
Whistling is great. I don't know how to teach anyone to whistle but like, practice whistling to karaoke versions of songs instead of just doing the hunger games noise all the time?
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RE: We all make music
Learning by listening, and call-and-response

some videos about elements of jazz music:


It can help to think of a song as a conversation between different voices or parts. Each separate instrument/part is a voice. Each voice plays its part by speaking in individual phrases, which are followed up by other phrases that (audably) make sense coming after it.

Sometimes one voice will repeat or respond to a first instrument's phrase. This is called call and response. "Everybody in the house say hey!" gets followed by another voice saying "Hey!" or "No way!"


One way to hone your ability to make music is to listen to lots of music. When listening to a piece of music you like, keep in mind a particular element of how music works, and just try to concentrate on how that song you like employs that particular element. Like one time while listening, just hone in on the drum part, and try to think how to replicate it, or what you'd have to do to make a rhythm like that. Another time, try to think what particular timbres/instruments/voices make up the melody. Another time, think of techniques of how the voices play off each other and interact.

Just break things down into their parts so you can reuse them later. You don't even have to do anything, just apply your new awareness to when you're normally listening to music and go 'oh yeah! this song i like, it does <such and such a thing>!'
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RE: We all make music
music making programs for free:

here's an article with some links. go to this first because my knowledge of freeware is probably outdated by now

Audacity is a good general-purpose audio file editor. good for converting other work files to finished mp3s, cutting up files, recording voice, etc

for a tracker, famitracker is free.

for a sequencer,

pxtone (or http://www.cavestory.org/pixels-works/pixtone.php) is free. the pxtone link is at the top of the guide.[/url]

LMMS is free (and available for windows, linux and apple).

rosegarden is for linux but i think it lets you do it on non-linux systems.

If you have a mac it comes with garageband. which is good
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