Started working on another project last night. I’ve given up on chopping track samples for now, but will come back to it eventually. Anyway for those that are interested in the process I took to get the bare bones of what I have now, here it is.
First I decided on a lead instrument. As mentioned I am doing some online piano lessons and decided to use a nice piano PCMSynth preset from the Single Cell Software forums. I then hooked up my Midi Keyboard and started playing random notes and chords in different octaves until I found combinations that sounded interesting. I would then click the triggers to input the notes into Caustic. If a note didn’t sound right I would delete the trigger, then use the keyboard to sound out different notes in it’s place in real time.
Following finding a nice melody, I added a simple beat with beat box just to get a better feel of what I was working with.
Of course this is far from over. Right now it is just the beginning Piano lead and one beat box pattern. Eventually I will add more instrumewnts, FX etc.
I think it already sounds 100% better than the final product of my first track.
Still nothing to show! I have been trying to figure out a good melody, learning theory, watching videos, reading tutorials. I think I have chords, scales and all that good stuff down, but it’s hard to put it to practice! So here is a big link on melody tips to keep you busy.
P.S. I think it may be easier to build a melody off a beat than a beat off of a melody.
*Edit: I thought I already posted about scales, but I guess not.
This is important to learn so pay a little attention. Here are some cheat sheets for learning the Major and Minor Scales on the go. In the following information T=Tone (two keys over) S=Semitone (one key over). Also for these examples my root key will be C. Have a play with a synth or piano or midi keyboard to listen for the differences.
Major Scale: Root Key – T – T – S – T – T – T – S or C -D – E – F – G – A – B
Natural Minor Scale: Root Key – T – S – T – T – S – T – T or C – D – E Flat – F – G – A Flat – B Flat – C
Harmonic Minor Scale: Root Key – T – S – T – T – S – T+S (a tone and a half) – T or C – D – E Flat – F – G – A Flat – B – C
Now comes the tricky one. The following is the Melodic Minor Scale. Unlike the other scales, this one is not played the same in reverse.
Chromatic Minor Scale Ascending: Follow the “Natural Minor Scale” but raise the 6th and 7th note a semi ton
i.e. Root Key – T – S – T – T – T – T – T or C – D – E Flat – F – G – A – B – C
Chromatic Minor Scale Descending: Same pattern as the “Natural Minor Scale”
I said I was going to mess around with putting chords into beats, but I ran into a hiccup. I wanted to use a piano sample, but I didn’t have one in a single key, so I used a chord sample… Anyway it sounds ok. I used the Subsynth machine to add a bassline (ironically I couldn’t get a good sound out of the bassline machine), but I think it came through a little too strong. I plan on fixing that as I continue building the composition.
A good tip I found for the bassline is to use a machine that has a low pass filter. It will kill out all of the high and mid frequencies, just leaving nice punchy lows. I also heard that using a wood wind instrument and throwing it through a low pass filter makes a really effective bassline sound. I don’t have any wood wind samples yet, but I will try it out in the future.
All in all I learned I need to find more samples. A lot of the free ones I have are weird and I can’t figure out how to use them yet.
If there was one thing I have been worried about in regards to this project, it was memorizing chords. I ended up finding a youtube video that explains how to find 3 key major and minor chords quite easily.
First you need to find your root key, for this example lets use C. You count 4 keys to the right, including the flats (black keys) which would be an E. Now find go three chords to the right of the E, which is a G. Boom, press them at the same time and you have a C major chord.
Same as before find your root key, lets use an E. This time start by going 3 keys to the right, which is a G. Now 4 keys to the right of that, which is a B. Press all three at the same time and there you have an E flat.
So the cool thing is, if you can remember this you can make a major or minor out of any root key. Every Octave only has 12 keys, and each Major and Minor chord is done the same in each octave.
Here is my reference video. Note it is for “Hip Hop Chord Progression” but he breaks it down in general really well. I’m off to experiment mixing these in with some beats.