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Music Composition Notes

How do I Compose Music?

Choose an instrument to play: 

  • piano
  • guitar
  • piano/voice
  • guitar/voice

Improvise a few lines to create a motif (melody or chord progression) that catches my attention and emotions

Tempo is not necessarily critical in the beginning because you can only improvise at a max speed which is based on your ability to mentally process musical ideas

Determine the time signature of the motif

Select drum patterns and drum kits if so desired

Key signature and scales used, comes later, during chord track analysis

I turn on the recorder and I start playing, allowing my subconscious to control everything. My conscious mind is primarily concerned with keeping the improvised music in sync with the metronome beat in the music software. While you can create music using varying tempos, it is much easier to edit the music later if it's maintained in a fairly strict tempo environment. I normally improvise for anywhere from 60 seconds up to three or 4 minutes as the motif develops with appropriate variations in theme and structure.

Why Write Music?

I've been asking myself this question for a long time.  I always wanted to put music up for public display. But, as you know, copyright rules don't allow you to produce other people's music without a lot of complicated rules, processes and procedures. A lot of people ignore copyright restrictions, putting up pieces on various social media platforms with the phrase, cover song, in quotations. I find this to be very irritating. If you're going to produce and record a cover song, ask for permission properly, pay the appropriate dues and fees to the originating artists, and make the production worthy of your effort and their artform.  Now don't get me wrong, it's not like I don't do other people's music.  I just don't record it or publish it.   

Thus, with the previous paragraph and mine, I begin my journey to create my own music so I can be "public".  This has led me to more complex computer software programs, improving my musical capability through practice time on my instruments of choice, and many hours in the music studio.  I guess my motivation is to see where this journey takes me. I have not begun the process yet of teaching my created music to other musicians. This would not be too difficult since all my music now ends up in standard music notation. I've never tried to write music to commemorate an event or as a tribute to a particular person. Though, I have had emotional thoughts in my head for some compositions, remembering people that have passed or who are gravely ill. Without emotion, there is no music.


After years of improvising, I tend to create music in standard patterns:

  • introduction
  • verse
  • pre-chorus
  • chorus
  • interlude or solo
  • outro or ending

Drum patterns, like the ones you buy from Groove Monkey,  EZDrummer or Cubase, are pre-labeled with these musical sections. It's usually good to keep fairly tight control over wasted beats that don't fit within the standard phrasing of these drum patterns. Thus, the 8 measure or 16 measure musical phrase is common.  12/8 blues patterns are also fun!

I have experimented on several tracks with music that does not maintain a steady beat. Cubase has a means by which to detect relative beats from recorded music but it creates tons of tempo changes that become difficult to control during the editing process.  If you want to create music without set tempo, I would recommend that you just turn off tempo and record on a blank slate. This works fine for single passes but if you want to synchronize with other instruments, it becomes very difficult to do.

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