Music, Work

155th and 156th day

I need to understand various things about music a lot better so I can produce better music and be more efficient. Music theory is actually highly mathematical, and its base rules come from mathematicians and not musicians. Our current 12 note scale is a equal temperament form that originates from china. Where the ratio between every adjacent half tone is the same. Every octave spans twice the frequency range of the former, and every keys frequency is the 12th root of 2 multiplied by the frequency of the former. This configuration makes all keys also operate in harmony.

Musical harmony was for the longest time a branch of physics, but is now called musical acoustics. And various other fields relating to music are subjects of scientific study, and has its own branch in science such as Musical Cognition. Interesting books such as Musicophilia has been published by a famous neurologist called Oliver Sacks around the subject of Musical Cognition.

The most basic scales in music such as the major and the minor are based around intonations and not around their “musical” quality. Where the ratios between the keys can be represented by small integers. See, mathematicians gave you more musical rules to utilize.

All notations in music are highly mathematical, all its timing and rhythmic rules are simple mathematics that any dancing body can follow. The note layout of pitch is also quite easy to understand if you are willing to spend a few minutes to memorize some minor patterns and spot a few things within it. Its clefs, and why they are there.

For instance the treble and bass clef you find in most musical notations are separated by the middle C. So The middle C is an invisible line between the two staves. And other clefs are positioned on their five line staffs to account for their range and part in a score. Do a few exercises and find some patterns to help you see right away what pitch a note is, and you will not have problems reading music any more.

When it comes to musical composition, there are not a lot of rules that tell you how the music must be, but there are a lot of guidelines to utilize to prevent yourself from ending up in trouble. Have a rhythm before the melody and a melody before the harmony. Play with inversions of intervals when dealing with harmonies and construct music just like you would construct a painting.

Chord progression is also something to keep in mind and know how well the keys in the chords harmonize. The “three chord” songs are very common in pop-music and various other genres and it has to do with the diatonic harmonization of the major scale.

When it comes to authoring music, it is very good to have some sort of music theory background. If you are just winging it, you will need to experiment a lot to just create something that “sounds” good. I have gone through all that actually. I taught myself to play the guitar when I was around 14 and have been playing the guitar for 20 years now. I am very mechanically capable of playing the guitar, since I spend most of the time exercising phrases and songs made by musicians such as Dream Theatre. I could play a lot of scales and match them to keys, but I never went through the exercise of why until now. The name and modes of these scales and how to apply them and match various other things to what is being played. So, in essence, I saved the most simple stuff till last.

This audio engineering music authoring revelation everyone seems to be experiencing, I find to be a bit backwards and turns the software into an instrument basically, but does not give you all of the mathematical magic behind the why and how of music.

I picked up the new audio software that is called Bitwig and is made by the former ableton live engineers. A fresh rewrite of music software is just what the music industry needs. I like it. It is very simple and nice to use and supports all the common plugins, so I can play with my Drum machines and guitar effects in it.

Making sound effects for my game, I will just use Bitwig and my simple MIDI keyboard for the most part. But, I have also recorded some sounds around the house and might record some more. Then clean them up and apply some filters to make them interesting and fit into what it belongs to.

I am working through some exercises and samples in a book called “The Complete Musician”. A very comprehensive musical text about the theory of music. I like it. Also, playing with Sibelius and its musical notation tool while I am doing so also helps.

Not much music to show since I am a bit busy schooling myself with a few items before I commit to anything in that regard.

As always, work continues.

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