Melody and Counter Melody please?
Last Post 30 May 2012 08:01 PM by jruss00. 28 Replies.
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jruss00

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    14 Nov 2010 10:13 PM
    I've seen one from nfx but he didn't explain too much. I'm still confused by it some. I would like to see what to do on an actual keyboard rather then the screen, and someone to explain what's going on.

    I'm using reason for example, so the normal is 8 bars. I would like to see someone explain everything if possible? Maybe start with an Aminor then Cmajor? Atleast a 10-15 minute video would be awesome to see....


    would anybody be up for it? I would greatly appreciate it.
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    jruss00

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    15 Nov 2010 11:13 PM
    Nobody? Maybe I could explain a little better? My problem seems to be melody's. And counter melody's. I would really really love it if someone could explain what they were doing in the scale there in... like say you use A minor. Explain why your stopping on what note, and where your at in the measures, etc etc. It would help me out so much. I checked on nfx tutorial on melody but he didn't get too in depth with it... I'd like someone to explain it a little better if possible... this would help out so many people too. Thanks guys. If i knew how to do this I would definetly help out lol I'm not sure if i'm trying to do too much in my melody or if im stopping on the wrong notes at the end of the very last bar or what, but stuff just doesn't sound right to me, and I can't figure it out
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    AGC

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    16 Nov 2010 06:06 AM
    I don't do videos (I keep trying but I keep messing them up) but I know a lot about Music Theory (which is what your going into here). The producer Tune In is a monster in the music theory game and answers a lot of questions like this in the music theory section of the forums. I know it seems like a video would be easy but.... I can try to explain in words.

    The basics of modern music composition come down to Rhythm (like a drum beat) Chords (in patterns that repeat called chord progressions) and Melody (one note played at a time played in some type of pattern). You probably know this already but I'm just making sure.

    So to answer your question I need to make sure you understand the basics of these three elements, don't trip if you know this stuff, somebody else will get something out of it:

    Rhythm as it relates to melody:

    Most people (Since the very beginning of classical music including Mozart, Bach and everybody else you can think of) takes a "Dance" or a popular style of Drum beat we'll say (it's more than that but we're gonna keep it simple) let's say a classical composer would say "I think I'll make a Gavotte today" where a modern composer might say "I think I'll make a Trap Beat today".

    The rhythm of the melody will have some sort of relation to the rhythm of the Drum Beat and that's pretty much how the rhythm is picked. Sometimes there are specific rhythms that a melody in a certain style is "allowed" (actually "commonly" is probably a better word but I wanted to get the point across in terms of beginning producers) to have.

    You just learn this for each style by listening to a bunch of melodies in that style. If you "remake" or "transcribe" (as we old Jazz and old school Arrangers used to say) a beat this will help with this a lot. In fact, not sure there's a faster way to learn it.

    Chord progressions as it relates to melody:

    So we have a rhythm and we need a repeating chord progression. A common way to do this is change chords every two beats or every measure and start with the chord that is the key.

    So if we are in Am a very common thing (but not the only thing you can do by any means) is to start with Am. This is called the "Tonic" or "home" chord. It sounds like the song is starting or ending when you play this chord.

    Then we typically play some type of "Sub dominant" chord. The simple version would be to play Dm but we can play any of the chord in that key that has two notes in common with Dm. (If you don't know what these symbols mean there is a chart that is referenced in the front page that lists the notes in these chords and FL makes it really easy to drop these chords in with the chord tool).

    Then we typically play a "Dominant" chord, a chord with the most tension that demands resolution in the key in this case E7 let's say. Now we have a chord progression.

    This is just a typical pattern and I could write page upon page just on this subject but we'll keep it simple and just say we picked these chords cause they "sounded good" and leave it at that even though there is a theory that "Describes" why these chords are picked so much. We need to play them in some type of rhythm so I'll say two beats of Am two beats of Dm and four beats of E7. One type of notation to write this would be || Am / Dm / | E7 / / / || Now you might ask "why all this time on chord progressions when I asked about melodies"... we are going to answer that question right now.

    Using this stuff to pick notes for melody:

    The rhythm of the notes that we "pick" for my melody will fit the rhythm pattern of common music styles and the actual notes we pick will have long notes that are from the chord that are being played "under them". So let's make a real simple melody for our chord progression... We'll play... A, D, E . So two beats of a note called A, two beats of a note called D and four beats of a note called E. We can easily see why this sounds good. It is the roots of the chords. Since we are playing notes of the chords each note will always sound good. That's how we pick notes that sound good...

    What? OK, fine that is a little simple. Um, how about two beats of C, two beats of F and four beats of G#? These are the "thirds" of the chords and will sound like they have a little more tension.

    Want more choices? How about two beats of E, two beats of A and two beats of B. These are the fifths of the chords and they sound a little less "tense" than playing the thirds but not as "plain" as playing the roots all the time. As you have probably guessed by now, you can mix and match these.

    This idea of "tension" (we call it "Inside" for less and "Outside" for more in the Jazz world) is very important is when we get into scales (or "passing tones" = notes not in the chords or scales) we use how much "tension" we want to decide on the note we will play.

    Scale Tones and Non Scale Tones as it relates to melodies:


    So in our case our progression is in the key of A Minor. So our scale is A Minor. So we can use the scale A B C D E F G A. And if I want to play the rhythms in between the changing of the chords I can use other notes from the scale to do that. So if I play A for two beats D for two beats and E for two beats I can "make up" a way to use other notes in the key to get to a chord tone when the chord is changing and use chord tones on "Strong Beats" (beats 1 and 3 in the time signature 4/4) so that my melody sounds "good".

    We don't want to "hang" on a non chord tone too long in your melody and you can very, very quickly play notes that are not in the key (say Eb) as a passing tone to add even more tension into your melody. That is how we pick the notes for our melodies.

    Counter melody:

    Follow these rules and make another melody, pretty much that simple. However... if we use the exact same rhythm that is called Counter Point in Classical music and Harmonizing the melody in modern musical styles (I'm simplifying a little to make it easier to understand, yes Tune In, I'm aware of what your thinking). And we use a different rhythm it is called a counter melody. Since we used the chord tones to pick our first melody the next melody will sound good with it and harmony will result if we stayed "inside" (the chords) enough with our melody.

    Might be helpful:  Chord Spellings in All Twelve Keys Chart


    Hope that helps...

     


     

    Since I didn't do a vid I thought it might be better in the "Theory Section" .

     

    ****Moved****


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    Sabotage
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    16 Nov 2010 09:31 AM
    I see schools in session again A.G.C. ?

    *Moved*
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    AGC

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    16 Nov 2010 09:37 AM
    Two days off in a row... lol.
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    NFX
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    16 Nov 2010 09:54 AM

    Damn A.G.C. if I had a payroll, you'd be on it.

     EDIT: This is now an article and the referenced file is marked as "free" (does not deduct points when you download)

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    Bro Lance
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    16 Nov 2010 09:55 AM

    Great article! Nice formatting too! Very easy to read 

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    jruss00

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    16 Nov 2010 10:18 AM
    Thank you! That helped out alot. I will begin testing this out tonight. Would still be cool to add to this with a video for most of us that are having trouble with this!
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    jruss00

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    16 Nov 2010 10:19 AM
    So if anybody other then AGC wants to do up a video feel free too. If I can figure out what's going on and make my stuff better, I might actually come forth and do so!
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    AGC

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    16 Nov 2010 12:55 PM
    Well if you want to get specific about piano... can't do much better than this guys videos. Jazz Improvisation is what you want to look up in Google or on Youtube btw for this kinda stuff.

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    jruss00

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    17 Nov 2010 10:59 PM
    thanks man, greatly appreciated. alot of people probably dont thank you alot, but honestly i really appreciate it, sorry i havent replied back i been stuck working overtime the last couple of days... lol i havent checked out the video yet either
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    misterphreeze

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    18 Jan 2011 09:31 AM
    This article is a HUGE help AGC. You def did it again. I have a point of confusion though. In the Scale Tones and Non Scale Tones as it relates to melodies: section you say

    "And if I want to play the rhythms in between the changing of the chords I can use other notes from the scale to do that. So if I play A for two beats D for two beats and E for two beats I can "make up" a way to use other notes in the key to get to a chord tone when the chord is changing and use chord tones on "Strong Beats" (beats 1 and 3 in the time signature 4/4) so that my melody sounds "good". "

    So when playing a rhythm (while the chords are still being held for the 2 or 4 beats) use the other notes in the scale to lead up to the next chord in the progression? sort of like a mini-transition? you say use chord tones on strong beats so that would mean any tone from any of the chords in the progression or specifically a tone from the chord that changes on that strong beat?

    Maybe a small .flp file with a two bar example would help clear things up. :-D
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    misterphreeze

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    18 Jan 2011 09:58 AM
    Also are the chords, melody, and counter melody played with same instrument different octave? or different instruments same octave or mix and match to your ear? im guessing that may depend on the musical style too? for example i primarily want to do hip hop and r&b.

    I know a ton of questions but i'll stop there.
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    misterphreeze

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    18 Jan 2011 10:04 AM
    Ok I lied, one last post. The melody tut done by nfx suggests that a good melody should return back home. is home always the root of the scale? can the melody start and end on a note that isnt the root note long as its starting and ending on the same one?

    sorry if these are stupid questions. i wouldnt know.
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    Br0
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    18 Jan 2011 10:36 AM
    AGC dropped a big *** bomb on this one! lol..Great article!
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    18 Jan 2011 11:19 AM
    Posted By misterphreeze on 18 Jan 2011 11:04 AM
    Ok I lied, one last post. The melody tut done by nfx suggests that a good melody should return back home. is home always the root of the scale? can the melody start and end on a note that isnt the root note long as its starting and ending on the same one?

    sorry if these are stupid questions. i wouldnt know.

    Root of the scale or key yes.  So normally, there are exceptions, there are always exceptions but they are very very few.  So if my melody is in C Major the melody usually starts and ends on C, if your in C Minor it also usually starts and ends on C, If it's C Mixolydian etc.
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    18 Jan 2011 11:46 AM
    Posted By misterphreeze on 18 Jan 2011 10:31 AM
    This article is a HUGE help AGC. You def did it again. I have a point of confusion though. In the Scale Tones and Non Scale Tones as it relates to melodies: section you say

    "And if I want to play the rhythms in between the changing of the chords I can use other notes from the scale to do that. So if I play A for two beats D for two beats and E for two beats I can "make up" a way to use other notes in the key to get to a chord tone when the chord is changing and use chord tones on "Strong Beats" (beats 1 and 3 in the time signature 4/4) so that my melody sounds "good". "

    So when playing a rhythm (while the chords are still being held for the 2 or 4 beats) use the other notes in the scale to lead up to the next chord in the progression? sort of like a mini-transition? you say use chord tones on strong beats so that would mean any tone from any of the chords in the progression or specifically a tone from the chord that changes on that strong beat?

    Maybe a small .flp file with a two bar example would help clear things up. :-D

    Hmnn... I think your over thinking it a little.   Your playing a platform video game... you know one of those ones where you jump around like Prince of Persia?  OK, Chord tones are like places you can stand indefinitely, Scale tones are like the places you step on but then they crumble after a while and Passing tones (non scale tones) are like running along a wall or something, you can only do it exceptionally briefly.  Like that...  any deeper understanding is optional.  If you understand it at this point stay here for awhile until you get it under your belt before returning to what follows later.

    So if lets take an A Minor Scale.   A B C D E F G.  Let's take two chords where we play every other note at the same time... say Am(ACE)  and Dm (DFA).  What I'm saying is on the beat (if you don't know what that is Google it or Youtube it) 1 2 3 4 in 4/4 you should play chord tones, in between those Beats you can play Scale tones... any scale tone you like... right  before you get to a Chord Tone or Beat you can play a Chromatic (Non Scale tone) that is exactly One Half Step Above or Below a Chord Tone. 

    Now this will work but if we want to get slightly more complicated we can separate beats into strong beats and weak beats.  In Modern Music almost all music is made in 4/4.  In 4/4 time there are 4 beats.  We number the beats 1 2 3 and 4.  the Odd beats are considered Strong Beats... these beats are where we typically start our musical phrases, where you start humming when you make up a tune.  The weak beats are in Modern Melododic Composition sometimes treated like an Off beat (in between 1 2 3 and 4) when we are goin for more of a Jazzy Feel Rather than a Classical type Melodic Tension Content.  There is more musical tension by playing non chord tones on 2 and 4 then if we have strict adherence to Chord Tones On Beats and so it's a judgment call... how spicy do you want your dish to be?

    Again, when we get to this level there are variations the way to think about it is to go back to our Prince of Persia example.

    When you step on solid ground you can kind of start over so if you play a chord tone off of the beat you can go back to a chromatic or scale tone and that is how all the "fancy" variations are made.   Modern melodic composition is pretty much that simple... this is based off of Jazz Improvisation and not Classical Music Theory so if you get Theory for Imbeciles or something it may something more complicated than this but that kind of stuff only applies to composing music that has not been popular for over 200 years.  It is unfortunate that people get confused and try to apply rules that were made for Baroque music to Modern music but it just isn't the case.  It isn't any more complicated than this..

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    misterphreeze

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    18 Jan 2011 12:32 PM
    Thanks man. I totally understand the strong beat thing and 4/4 time all that. The prince or persia example is what i needed. I understood that too but I was overthinking it. I was playing around with the example you gave in fl studio and the ish sounds good for no reason lol. I just started doing it over some simple boom bap beat with a bass kick and a snare/clap. the progression sounds so much better with the melody riding along on the strong beats but doing its on thing in between.

    totally think i got it just overthinking.
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    misterphreeze

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    18 Jan 2011 12:36 PM
    i think i have to keep reminding myself that so much of music is unlimited and not always or never kind of things.
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    18 Jan 2011 01:51 PM
    Posted By misterphreeze on 18 Jan 2011 01:32 PM
      I just started doing it over some simple boom bap beat with a bass kick and a snare/clap. the progression sounds so much better with the melody riding along on the strong beats but doing its on thing in between.


    Yup, that's it excactly! Good job.  Yeah, it's weird it works like that, it just does... lol.  I just never questioned things like that for some reason and that kinda made if faster for me... that and having one of the Nations Greatest Music Educators (Actually listed in a book somewhere) as a teacher in High School.
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