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Ambient and Music Theory
MUFF WIGGLER Forum Index -> Production Techniques Goto page Previous  1, 2 [all]
Author Ambient and Music Theory
boxxgrooved
[quote="Lux A Turner"]
Trigga wrote:
...exotic scales etc.
Use the internet to identify Middle C on a keyboard, then play it, followed by the seven white notes to the right of it. You have just played the scale of C major.

Now do the same thing, but start with a different white note - one that isn't Middle C. You have now played an exotic scale.


This thread has been great. After reading the above quote I did some homework and worked out what exotic scales are produced by playing just the white keys and starting at different positions. They are as follows:

White Key/Scale

C - Major
D - Dorian
E - Phrygian
F - Lydian
G - Mixolydian
A - Minor
B - Locrian

If you are not a proficient keyboardist like myself the tip above about these scales and seeking out triads that sound well together within these scales is a easy way to break into some quick composition. Granted you are limited to these exotic scales but with differsnt combinations of chords and melodies this opens up a whole lot of music w00t
lauprellim
[quote="boxxgrooved"][quote="Lux A Turner"]
Trigga wrote:
After reading the above quote I did some homework and worked out what exotic scales are produced by playing just the white keys and starting at different positions.


I gotta say, these are not really very exotic. They’re just the white key modes...you want exotic, try Nicholas Slominsky’s book, “Thesaurus of musical scales and melodic patterns,” a classic source that influenced a lot of people including Coltrane and many others....
Lunar Garden
Trigga wrote:
I've been listening to a lot of Eurorack ambient these days, R. Beny, Lightbath, Ann Annie etc. What I found is that this style is overly harmonic and melodic far from the more noisy and disharmonic bleeps and blops style which is also around.
I wonder, how you get these smooth evolving harmonic and melodic patterns via Eurorack?


These artists inspired me to carry on making music. In my opinion a lot depends on the sequence itself, sometimes 4-8 notes are enough, sometimes random notes can lead to songs.
On the other hand I think a lot depends on the modules too. I ended up with Yarns, Rings and Clouds and that's all my modular, but it's enough for the sounds I was after (a row of modulators will come later lol).
All accompanied by a Big Sky for some "lushness". Most ambient music is mainly about treatment, processing that little you have. If the sequence is fine it will get just better imo.
This was the latest I recorded, it's only 6 steps with 3 notes from a piano roll which I just wrote randomly in the sequencer, with some arp with random style setting, inspired by the mentioned artists smile

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqUXC7qXtPk

"Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep." Scott Adams
felixer
[quote="boxxgrooved"]
Lux A Turner wrote:
Trigga wrote:
...exotic scales etc.
Use the internet to identify Middle C on a keyboard, then play it, followed by the seven white notes to the right of it. You have just played the scale of C major.

Now do the same thing, but start with a different white note - one that isn't Middle C. You have now played an exotic scale.


This thread has been great. After reading the above quote I did some homework and worked out what exotic scales are produced by playing just the white keys and starting at different positions. They are as follows:

White Key/Scale

C - Major
D - Dorian
E - Phrygian
F - Lydian
G - Mixolydian
A - Minor
B - Locrian

If you are not a proficient keyboardist like myself the tip above about these scales and seeking out triads that sound well together within these scales is a easy way to break into some quick composition. Granted you are limited to these exotic scales but with differsnt combinations of chords and melodies this opens up a whole lot of music w00t

these are the old chruchmodes. nothing exotic. been around since the middle ages. the only really new system is the pan/a tonal one that schönberg introduced back in the 1910's. and of course the work that xenakis did. he used 'sieves' to select his pitches. so they are scales that do not repeat every octave. most ambient music is extremely boring, harmonically speaking. culminating in this new age junk. lots of reasons for this but the main thing, i think, is because most of those people simply do not know enough about the modern repertoire ... and btw you can use the black keys. they are there for a reason. or are you a racist?
lauprellim
Quote:
the work that xenakis did. he used 'sieves' to select his pitches. so they are scales that do not repeat every octave.


Hey, sieves are a great idea by the way. Don’t forget the scales Stockhausen designed for MANTRA, which are technically sieves I suppose — the progression starts with all the notes “crunched together” ( i.e., the 12 note chromatic scale) and ends by spreading those 12 notes across the entire span of the piano keyboard, resulting in some pretty cool collections in between.

But really, once you get out of equal temperament, the possibilities are quite inspiring!
ayruos
wrt Indian classical music, which I had actually studied as a kid (and hated it - but now I'm kinda looking back at it again!), a lot of the scales or raagas actually are the same as certain Western scales (harmonic minor, melodic minor, etc) but what makes them sound exotic/unique or makes them independent raagas is that they have strict rules about not playing certain notes when descending or ascending, or how certain notes cannot be followed by the others, etc.

So while it may seem easy to just get the notes programmed into a quantiser and call it an exotic scale, the little nuances like this actually make them sound unique. No need to follow rules of Indian classical, but making up own rules when sequencing can go a long way too.
felixer
ayruos wrote:
making up own rules when sequencing can go a long way too.

why have rules in the first place? i still think that those first pieces schönberg wrote (after he did gurrelieder) are his best. because he didn't use rules and just wrote what felt good to him. rules are nice if you don't really know what to do. and it can give a larger piece a certain continuety. but as a whole: just do as you please ...
anomie
boxxgrooved wrote:

This thread has been great. After reading the above quote I did some homework and worked out what exotic scales are produced by playing just the white keys and starting at different positions. They are as follows:

White Key/Scale

C - Major
D - Dorian
E - Phrygian
F - Lydian
G - Mixolydian
A - Minor
B - Locrian

If you are not a proficient keyboardist like myself the tip above about these scales and seeking out triads that sound well together within these scales is a easy way to break into some quick composition. Granted you are limited to these exotic scales but with different combinations of chords and melodies this opens up a whole lot of music w00t


A couple of others have pointed out that these are pretty well-known modes, and exotic only if you're used to just major and minor scales. But you're absolutely right that they still open up a while lot of new music if you're just used to those minor and major scales. Try just the black keys too - you'll get major and minor pentatonic scales.

However, the key thing here (no pun intended) is to think about the overall movement in whatever piece you create, and this is one of the main uses of harmony (not just melody). One of the big reasons that bad ambient music is flaccid and boring is because there's no tension or progression in it, and that's often because there's no textural or harmonic movement. If you're opening up to new modes of melody, you should also check out more exotic chords and progressions (eg jazz chord or the natural harmonic series)
Muzone
felixer wrote:

why have rules in the first place? ...........
........ rules are nice if you don't really know what to do.


In principle yes; instinct, feeling and self critique can get you where you want (and not just musically!) but "the rules" do give you a good jumping off point and analysing if/why they work for you can be a great creative exercise.

Anyway, I never quite answer myself if deliberately not following the rules is a rule in itself?
matthewjuran
Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:

why have rules in the first place? ...........
........ rules are nice if you don't really know what to do.


In principle yes; instinct, feeling and self critique can get you where you want (and not just musically!) but "the rules" do give you a good jumping off point and analysing if/why they work for you can be a great creative exercise.

Anyway, I never quite answer myself if deliberately not following the rules is a rule in itself?

It’s hard to break a rule well if you don’t know it and the motivation for it.
felixer
matthewjuran wrote:
Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:

why have rules in the first place? ...........
........ rules are nice if you don't really know what to do.


In principle yes; instinct, feeling and self critique can get you where you want (and not just musically!) but "the rules" do give you a good jumping off point and analysing if/why they work for you can be a great creative exercise.

Anyway, I never quite answer myself if deliberately not following the rules is a rule in itself?

It’s hard to break a rule well if you don’t know it and the motivation for it.

that is a stupid game. only good for musicologists.
Jerome
Trigga wrote:
I've been listening to a lot of Eurorack ambient these days, R. Beny, Lightbath, Ann Annie etc. What I found is that this style is overly harmonic and melodic far from the more noisy and disharmonic bleeps and blops style which is also around.
I wonder, how you get these smooth evolving harmonic and melodic patterns via Eurorack? Would be great if people could open their production processes a bit and let us know whether there is a lot of actual music theory involved (what I suppose) or whether it's just jamming ...

In fact, to me it seems to get quality harmonic and melodic sounding recordings you have to be a very good musician in the non-euro world, as this stuff is often almost classical and sometimes lending exotic scales etc.


Here is an interview with R. Beny. He explains some of his process very well.
Worth reading.

http://www.horizontalpitch.com/2018/02/chosen-waves-014-r-beny-cities- sleep-like-seeds/
orangehexagon
why on earth would anyone making electronic music think that musicianship isn't fundamental? it's music -- just a different variety of music.
orangehexagon
felixer wrote:
matthewjuran wrote:
Muzone wrote:
felixer wrote:

why have rules in the first place? ...........
........ rules are nice if you don't really know what to do.


In principle yes; instinct, feeling and self critique can get you where you want (and not just musically!) but "the rules" do give you a good jumping off point and analysing if/why they work for you can be a great creative exercise.

Anyway, I never quite answer myself if deliberately not following the rules is a rule in itself?

It’s hard to break a rule well if you don’t know it and the motivation for it.

that is a stupid game. only good for musicologists.


This is a common misconception by those who never learned music theory. I'm not trying to be a jerk, but this is 99% the case.

You have to learn how to build a foundation before you can build a house. (this also reminds me of a comment on youtube "this proves that random does not equal autechre").

It wasn't until after I studied theory that my musicianship improved exponentially. With tonal music, it's all about interval relationships. When I write music I'm not thinking about theory at all, but I've internalized the feeling of intervals and interval relationships from my time studying and practicing theory.

There are people that say that studying theory will hamper your instinctual senses or something like that, but it's actually quite the opposite. If you study properly and with a good teacher, you will learn to enhance your instincts and develop a better ear.
kcd06
You can never break all the rules until you know what they actually are, so arguments against learning any theory--regardless of origin--are kind of silly and probably serving as an excuse for mere laziness.
naturligfunktion
Recently I have started to study music theory on a very basic level, and I feel that it has helped ALOT in my music making. It is also quite fun, now it almost feel that I am experimenting with music, which gives everything another level. So it is something I personally recommend.

When I started out with music long ago I also learned a bit, but my friends at this time made fun of me, so I stopped and developed a strong anti theory approach to music. Suppose it had a few advantages, as in I find a related, curious mind towards music is good, but honestly I do not see why knowledge of theory would hamper that? As I see it: if you like music, why not learn more? smile

Best advice I got is this: identify your scale on a keyboard. Then make sure that all the other instruments are playing those keys. Works every time. Now I am even trying to expand on this (with a help from a new friend that has ALOT of knowledge) and it is just so fun!
naturligfunktion
Sorry for spamming, but I also find that it is not necessary to always think theory, as in a chord progression should be like so and so. Rather to know some trix can be very valuable when facing a problem with a song.

Tension and release for example, as mentioned several times in this thread, is a key concept in good music (I think). It does not have to be harmonic tension and release, it can also be in dynamics, aggression or how elements in the song are presented. So when a song feels dull or uninteresting, it may be a good idea to try to either build some tension, or perhaps release it, and bring the tune home.

There are several great channels on youtube discussing this. Right now I really dig Ben Levin, so thats tip number 3 smile
lauprellim
naturligfunktion wrote:
When I started out with music long ago I also learned a bit, but my friends at this time made fun of me, so I stopped and developed a strong anti theory approach to music.


This just doesn't seem right to me!
naturligfunktion
lauprellim wrote:
naturligfunktion wrote:
When I started out with music long ago I also learned a bit, but my friends at this time made fun of me, so I stopped and developed a strong anti theory approach to music.


This just doesn't seem right to me!


Well, it was divided. On the one hand it where those who studied music three years in school (which in sweden was called "estet" as in aesthetic). Those guys where terrible and saw themselves as rockstars with infinite knowledge in music. When I asked them about theory, they ridiculed me for being wrong, but could not explain why.

On the other side where those who I played with at that time. Punk and rock kids. They really hated anything academic related to music, and so did I. Someone also said that Paul McCartney couldn't read notes and that was like the ultimate proof of music theory being evil. And on that road it went meh
lauprellim
naturligfunktion wrote:
Those guys where terrible and saw themselves as rockstars with infinite knowledge in music. When I asked them about theory, they ridiculed me for being wrong, but could not explain why.


I can tell you: there are a lot of professional music theorists who will ridicule each other, but not know why either!
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