Music Question?

I wrote a song and came up with a tune, but I am not familiar at all with musical instruments to be honest. Is there a way to create that tune I want without learning musical theory? 

Like, an app that hears tune and can create chords out of it? This seems like a reach but I thought I'd ask anyway.

If not, would I be able to contact and collaborate on the tune with a musician? I'm trying to figure out ways to get an instrumental track or just chords for the song. Any ideas would be super helpful

1 Answer

  • 3 weeks ago
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    I'm not sure about an app exactly, but AI can compose - although it's pretty awful. You can listen to various AI 'compositions' on youtube, there's a smashmouth one that is pretty popular (because of course there is)

    The idea of an in depth knowledge of music theory being necessary to compose is really, really stupid. For starters there were thousands of musicians who had - at most - a sketchy idea of theory that wrote half the popular songs of the 20th century. Irving Berlin, one of the most successful musicians of the early 20th century (his most famous piece being White Christmas), could only play in 1 key on the piano and could barely read music. Yet his music is lush, dense, complex and extremely well written.

    Then you have the fact that most of the central ideas of music theory applied to 18th century western music. It simply doesn't have the tools to deal with music that is too far removed from that - although it does have a lot of 'patches' to try - but like any patch they often don't work very well.

    What you need isn't to understand the monolith of MUSIC THEORY - i.e to fully understand neopolitan sixths, Bach chorales, figured bass and all the other nonsense that is near enough totally useless today, you just need to figure out how music works - or at least how you want it to work. That is a LOT easier.

    Let's pretend you've written a TOTALLY ORIGINAL MELODY that is absolutely nothing like All Star. The notes are


    Looks like a whole load of garbage, right? The next thing you need to know is where the beat is. Let's assume your piece has 4 beats in a bar (a pretty fair assumption). Clap a steady pulse to find the bars - it helps to emphasise the first beat of the bar.

    F |*C* AAGFF |*Bb*AAGGF F| *C* AAAGFF| *D* C | (I simplified this a bit - the original has some notes going across the barline)

    Starting to make more sense now.

    So what are the chords? This bit is a little harder, but not much. If you knew what *key* the music is in it would help a lot. Let's write out all the notes we have in alphabetical order. 

    A Bb C D F G - we don't have an E note (Eb E or E#) let's just assume it's E natural.

    A Bb C D E F G. Those are the notes of F MAJOR - but starting on A (if you don't know this you could just go to a "what scale is this" website and type in the notes). The melody also starts on an F to give you a clue!

    F G A Bb C D E

    That is all that key is - the palette of notes we've chosen to use. Sometimes we might choose notes that aren't in that palette, but often in simpler pieces we'll just stick to the ones we started with.

    We can then use the notes in the key to make chords. As we're in F you could just play a chord of F underneath the whole melody - it would actually sound OK 90% of the time. Try it yourself and see what it sounds like. 

    You might have heard it gets a little crunchy sounding when you have the Bb - ESPECIALLY as that note is on a very strong beat. This is because the Bb in the melody and the A in the chord do not like each other - they clash very strongly. If you can try playing a chord of F *without* the A and then a Bb in your right hand (or sing it if you're on guitar). Sounds better, right?

    So we now have a chord sequence! The "F with no A in it but with a Bb instead" chord is called "Fsus4". Don't worry about this name - it's just a lot easier to write. If you want to think of it as "F but with a Bb instead of an A" that's fine - again, you don't NEED to know the "correct" way of doing things. Half the time musicians can't agree what's correct anyway. Our chord sequence now goes

    F                      Fsus4              F                     Fsus4

    F |*C* AAGFF |*Bb*AAGGF F| *C* AAAGFF| *D* C |

    So that's all very well, but it's not the most interesting thing. Let's change the Fsus4 chord to a different chord completely. Bb is the first note in that bar, let's try that instead.

    F                       Bb                   F                     Bb

    F |*C* AAGFF |*Bb*AAGGF F| *C* AAAGFF| *D* C |

    OK the second chord sounds pretty good - but I'm not sure about the last one. The C clashes slightly with both the D *and* Bb in a Bb chord. Let's play it safe and simply play a chord of C - that way we know it'll fit.

    F                       Bb                   F                     Bb  C

    F |*C* AAGFF |*Bb*AAGGF F| *C* AAAGFF| *D* C | repeat

    And *THAT* is how you write a song. You didn't need to know that "subdominant-dominant-tonic is good cadential movement" you just went "Bb C F sounds pretty good". Of course you COULD write

    F                      Gm7(sus4)        F/A                  Bbsus2

    F |*C* AAGFF |*Bb*AAGGF F| *C* AAAGFF| *D* C |

    ... or even something more ridiculous than that - but you don't need to do anything like that. The key is that you can teach yourself to do this - music theory isn't hard. There are also no "wrong" answers. Some of the best music ever written was people writing strange answers to normal questions.

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