Be a Supporter!

How to progress in musical ability?

  • 523 Views
  • 24 Replies
New Topic Respond to this Topic
MrMeD
MrMeD
  • Member since: Jul. 25, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Melancholy
How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 09:22:36 Reply

Forgive me if this isn't meant to be in here, despite being in audio.

Basically, my question is, how do you actually "progress" in your musical ability? Every time I make a new song, it just fluctuates in quality, sometimes I have good ones, sometimes (oh who am I kidding, most of the time) it sounds really bad.
So, how do you actually make your songs sound better, how do you pick it up a notch and make better music?

Oh just in case anyone asks, I use FL Studio and I don't use 10000 presets.

Sequenced
Sequenced
  • Member since: Feb. 6, 2006
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Moderator
Level 20
Gamer
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 09:44:56 Reply

Learn a bit of music theory, learn how to EQ and mix, practice, practice and most of all, practice.

Try to make music your own style as well. Do your best to not copy what other people are doing.

For example: Ronald Jenkees


lel

Acid-Paradox
Acid-Paradox
  • Member since: Aug. 29, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 23
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 09:54:13 Reply

At 6/1/11 09:44 AM, Sequenced wrote: Learn a bit of music theory

Study and Practice.


Music is my passion , not my business.

DonCarrera
DonCarrera
  • Member since: May. 13, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 09:56:01 Reply

Pretty much what Sequenced said, but work on music theory and all that jazz before progressing to the intricacies of mastering. Good/clever/mood-setting songwriting >>>> than production value and can never really be skipped without consequences - so brush up on that first.

SpaceWhale
SpaceWhale
  • Member since: Jan. 7, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 08
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 09:57:23 Reply

Soundgoodizer!


Can you feel it mister Krabs?

BBS Signature
MrMeD
MrMeD
  • Member since: Jul. 25, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Melancholy
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 10:03:05 Reply

Ah, thanks for that Sequenced - any good tips on where to learn music theory easily? Or should I just google it?

At 6/1/11 09:57 AM, Space-Whale wrote: Soundgoodizer!

I don't touch that horrid thing!
(...okay maybe I have)

Acid-Paradox
Acid-Paradox
  • Member since: Aug. 29, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 23
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 10:08:13 Reply

At 6/1/11 10:03 AM, MrMeD wrote:

:Or should I just google it?

Actually yeah , the very first link of "music theory online" search is a really nice site to learn.

meow

You could also get a book like dandelot or the abrsm guides of music theory by Eric Taylor.


Music is my passion , not my business.

MrMeD
MrMeD
  • Member since: Jul. 25, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 12
Melancholy
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 10:21:59 Reply

Alright, thanks for that Acid-Paradox.
I'll check into that site further when I'm not so sleepy.
Thanks again.

horsebugger
horsebugger
  • Member since: Jul. 27, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 05
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 11:09:53 Reply

another important point is to analyse your own music and learn from your mistakes, sit down and listen to a track and try and work out what it is about the piece that makes it good or bad.

Another thing when it comes to the production side think is to save it in the state its in, and then play around try anything to make it sound better, and if it doesn't work then just load it back up and try again.

it was through a combination of these 2 that i recently discovered that in a lot of my recordings all the parts are set too loud, ive since gone back through older tracks and pulled back the levels and discovered a much cleaner recording.

hope this helps.

zelazon
zelazon
  • Member since: Oct. 2, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 02
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 17:37:34 Reply

Surprisingly, I barely have an understand of what music theory is, but I think I have it internalized within certain aspects of my songs. I think it would be beneficial to know different types of chords, and harmony that you could use to make your song better, as well as have patterns for your songs as well.

And most of all, I think the best advise is to keep your song organized... if your using the "10,000 presets," they're going to sound crappy without any sort of build to follow.

That's my advice.

Xenophaje
Xenophaje
  • Member since: May. 22, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 06
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 17:48:13 Reply

First of all you need a good ear to know where sound belongs. If your not sure how to get the sounds you want, experiment a little. That's what I do, it works for me. I improve really quickly doing that but that's me. You also need to learn what stuff does (how it makes music sound). Do this and you should improve quick.
Also, Like you I don't have any plugins, you don't need them to make good music that's a fact. I think they just make it a little easier sometimes.

WizMystery
WizMystery
  • Member since: Feb. 3, 2009
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 11
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-01 18:18:25 Reply

Originality and rationalization. This is all you need. Nothing else.

Allow me to share a recent story. I composed a 4-minute minimalist modern classical piece not to long ago. It contained only one instrument at a time, sounded monotonous and unemotional, and was not EQed at all (well that's because there's only one instrument, but all the other stuff involved in production was ignored completely). It was freely atonal, not following any serialist or theoretic standards, because it resulted from a simple fascination with the visual aspect of the piano roll.

I got several 9's and 10's for making this piece. All from the Review Request Club. How could something that sounded so terrible to the perceiving audience (or so I assume) be interpreted in such a positive manner? I posted my thought process. That is why. A short paragraph explaining the metaphor existing in the piece was enough to change people's minds. It was actually the first thing mentioned by the first reviewer, who claimed that he/she would have 0-voted my piece had that paragraph not been posted there.

There is a reason for this. People are more intelligent than you give them credit for most of the time. They were actually interested in my intent, as it proved that the idea was mine and mine alone. It didn't change the monotony. It didn't make my piece more emotional. It did, however, allow a criterion for objective evaluation to appear where subjective evaluation originally reigned.

In short, the only way of improving is being more original. This means ignoring all of your influences and just getting to what you want to express. Reviews are great and all, as they allow you to witness public opinion, but that public opinion is subjective at best if you don't provide any substance for people to evaluate. Describe why you wrote a particular piece to prove your originality. People will see you as a much better artist, and that is the only way for you to see yourself as one.

Usernamemyarse
Usernamemyarse
  • Member since: Oct. 17, 2009
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 05
Melancholy
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-02 15:59:18 Reply

See what you did wrong and never do it again?


BBS Signature
RedRavenRuler
RedRavenRuler
  • Member since: Jan. 13, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 03
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-02 16:51:08 Reply

Well first off it's always a good thing to know a few scales and some chords at least... really will save time rather than just "pecking" at the keyboard trying to find a note that works well with the others you're using.

Next off you're going to want to have a good amount of knowledge on navigating and using which ever program you may be using to produce in. It again will save you time if you know where to get to all the parts of the program and how to use a good amount of it's functions.

Another thing is PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE. I spend nearly every second of my free time producing, recording a friend, playing my drum set etc... The more music you "do" the better you'll get. Also I find listening to a LOT of music helps you hear how things get arranged and structured. For instance you'll hear that most "singles" are structured very similar regardless of genre.

You also will want to try out ways of having multiple melodies interacting, or the "Call and Response" technique. This can add a lot more emotion and depth to your song and it's a very simple concept to grasp and practice.

Another thing that I personally like to do is scour Youtube for any tutorials I can find for any program. It doesn't matter if I know how to make that bass sound or if I know the technique they're showing I find it incredibly helpful to see how others do things because generally there's almost always a slight difference from how I do it and that 1 extra piece of knowledge can benefit your productions. Also you can USUALLY find a way to carry over from different programs, Abelton isn't TO MUCH different from FL etc... so you can generally figure out a way to do their technique in your DAW of choice with a little fiddling around.

I realize most of this has been said in one form or another by other posts in this thread but I thought I'd just share what I personally do to progress my "skill".


My latest DnB creation finished on March 7th - http://www.newgrounds.com/audio/lis ten/404636

clock-work
clock-work
  • Member since: Feb. 4, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 04
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-02 17:08:06 Reply

At 6/2/11 02:07 PM, jpsuperfresh wrote: Youtube is my sensei :D

Hurray! :D


Welcome to stupid.

BBS Signature
clock-work
clock-work
  • Member since: Feb. 4, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 04
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-02 17:19:13 Reply

Practice practice practice.


Welcome to stupid.

BBS Signature
heur
heur
  • Member since: May. 29, 2011
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 03
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-04 13:10:54 Reply

While making junk is obviously not, in itself, a good thing... it is in the bigger picture.

Maybe it's a design secret, but you're suppose to make junk. Er. I mean. Not everything you make should be passable.

It's sort of like those stupid cliches about how in order to succeed you have to fail. Your junk work, provided you applied some effort, still put your mind to work to try new things. And now you know what doesn't work, or may stumble upon something that does.

Rather than thinking of a junk song as something in and of itself, a mistake, think of it as one iteration toward something good.

Basically, keep making junk. And you'll make more non-junk.

***

Sometimes if I want to write something and I'm having a hard time getting started, I'll find a song that I like, with the feeling I want to get across, and copy the chord progression. From there I tweak and develop. By the end it usually comes out pretty distinct.


BBS Signature
Reaper93
Reaper93
  • Member since: Sep. 4, 2007
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 06
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-04 15:55:17 Reply

At 6/1/11 09:56 AM, DonCarrera wrote: Pretty much what Sequenced said, but work on music theory and all that jazz before progressing to the intricacies of mastering. Good/clever/mood-setting songwriting >>>> than production value and can never really be skipped without consequences - so brush up on that first.

Speaking as a person who F-ed it up and went mixing first composition second I can say this speaks truth. Don't even give two seconds of time to "mastering" until you write a good song first. Mixing turns a good song into a great song, or even a mediocre song into a good song, but if you can't even make a mediocre song to begin with, mixing will do nothing for you, and mastering can only turn a great song into a REALLY EXTRA SPECIAL great song. There's not much to gain by learning how to master things for a medium or monitor, but there's a lot to gain from music theory, practice, and mixing.

At 6/1/11 06:18 PM, WizMystery wrote: There is a reason for this. People are more intelligent than you give them credit for most of the time. They were actually interested in my intent, as it proved that the idea was mine and mine alone. It didn't change the monotony. It didn't make my piece more emotional. It did, however, allow a criterion for objective evaluation to appear where subjective evaluation originally reigned.

I would also like to take this time to point out that for every person who is more intelligent than you give them credit for, there is a person who is so much more stupid than you could ever imagine. This is why you don't give the intelligent people the credit. People voting 0 instantly and without remorse is just something people will do because they want to trash your day and feel better (or even simply because they're sociopathic and don't know "right" from "wrong", who knows). So for every good review you get, expect a dozen votes of 0 or an abusive review in return.

Along that same vein it is also important to separate "abusive" reviews from "brutally honest" reviews. The latter is EXACTLY what you want (because it tells you what went wrong and why), whether you know it or not, while the former is just a put down like "sounds bad yo".

TL;DR -
Music theory, mixing, practicing, and listening to critical reviews while not getting bummed out about the people who are just out to ruin your day is how you progress.

Also important is learning about the workflow of your music-making setup, whatever it may be, so you're time-efficient. 3500 hours makes you an expert, but if half of that time is just trying to find how to link a channel to the mixer you're not getting to be an expert in much of anything important.

neolinked
neolinked
  • Member since: Dec. 4, 2010
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 03
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-04 17:15:40 Reply

every time you make a song, try to learn something new.


Click pic for my best trance song

BBS Signature
FatKidWitAJetPak
FatKidWitAJetPak
  • Member since: Jul. 28, 2007
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 29
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-04 17:49:01 Reply

I learn new things by experimenting with different VSTs and techniques so that I can always produce new sounds and get better at understanding what I am doing when producing my music.

Spikrodd
Spikrodd
  • Member since: Aug. 27, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 09
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-04 23:02:19 Reply

See those things called boundaries? Yeah, go ahead and break them down. Don't try to emulate someone's sound note for note either. Learn off of them, yes, but don't try to be them. also:

PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.

Swizletek
Swizletek
  • Member since: Sep. 6, 2008
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 05
Blank Slate
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-05 23:02:02 Reply

Listen to as much music as you can. Especially before composing.
The more you listen to other artists, the more you'll see how other people develop their ideas.
IMO in order to write any good music, first you have to be in the right frame of mind.
If you arent 'in the mood' to compose, theres no way you'll ever make anything decent.

Avensus
Avensus
  • Member since: May. 16, 2004
  • Offline.
Forum Stats
Member
Level 19
Musician
Response to How to progress in musical ability? 2011-06-06 05:45:06 Reply

There's a few things you can do.

Listen to heaps of music, but don't just idly let it flow into your ears. Analyse it, think about the harmony, the progression of chords (if there are any), and the metre. It's also important to make sure it's a wide variety of music, so that you've got a wide variety of influences.

Knowing the piano really well helps, too. Apparently, you're (musically) set for life if you learn piano before you turn 8. That's too late for us, but the piano is helpful because it's much easier to see where the notes "fit in."

Research some stuff. If there's music you're interested in, do some research about what makes that music unique from other music. If you can discuss it with other people, even better.