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Submitting songs for critique

Discussion in 'Studio Lounge' started by Davedog, May 18, 2007.

  1. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Hi Kids, Its your Uncle Davedog again. First let me say, there's a lot of very talented folks out there and you're very much encouraged to post whatever you got for the opinions of your peers.

    HOWEVER. This forum is more of a 'how does it feel to write'....'what are the basics in key selection' .... 'how do I get my girl to love my guitar' kinda place. Submission for critique is one door north in the Track Talk section. I will move all to that place if you still don't get it! No worries.....eh?
  2. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I'd love to hear more about "the basics of key selection." I'm self taught, so I occasionally have some pretty large holes in my music theory knowledge (if you want to call it that).

    I'd be very interested indeed. I guess to be more specific I'd be curious to know if a song is, let's say Bb minor. I find I use the Bb, the C and F a lot. But I'm just going by feel/sound...I don't actually know the rhyme or reason of 1-3-5, 1-4-7 etc...know what I mean? Like, on paper, I don't know the mathematical reasons for what I'm doing.
  3. Kurt Foster

    Kurt Foster Distinguished Member

  4. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I'm familiar with the COF, I was hoping for a more dumbed down explanation.

    I was just trying to make use of a resource though...if it's a bother, no biggie. I'm sure I will have other q's.
  5. Brien Holcombe

    Brien Holcombe Well-Known Member

    You want to look up "nashville numbers". But it mostly fits basic progessions and is used by knuckleheads that do still play bars....rather juke box music. Still its a good tool. But theory in and of itself is what you are talking about.


    Follow the above link...start reading. After a few months some items will become more accessible than others. Some you will find out are inaccurate.

    But the only way to do it is to start...set aside 30 minutes or an hour every day and try to get a handle on it.

    Scales are vital to music and there are many...learn them as well.

    Sean G and Kurt Foster like this.
  6. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    Thank you Brien Holcombe. You narrowed down what I was talking about quite well.

    Not having ever gone to school or classes (for music lol) some of these things are still a mystery to me. I know all the standard scales, some blues scales but it's just from self teaching. I can read drum notation pretty well, I have a hard time with sheet music on piano OR guitar. I can't play any of them live...meaning you can't put some notation in front of me and me play it live. I can take that sheet music and figure it out. But I'm using iPad apps to help me to get better with it.

    Anyway, I'll continue to search for what music theory is and how to learn it and get better.

    It would be very beneficial for someone like me to understand more about it. My musical outlet is writing/production for hip hop and rnb beats (no laughing, I play acoustic guitar too)...for singers/rappers. So, aside from some very humble guitar, I play sections and record, and put it together. I seldom need to play more than 16 bars at a time.
  7. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    Brian is referring to what is commonly known as "the Nashville Numbering System", and is frequently used in both studios and live performances to make it easier to read the basics of a song.

    Let's say you are in the key of C...

    C would be the tonic , or the "1". If you count up four whole steps, including the 1 ( use a keyboard or piano, it's helpful to visualize it), you'll be on F... count up to 5 and you'll be on G. Therefore, a 1/4/5 progression in the key of C is C/F/G/.

    Try it in the key of G: G is your 1, C is your 4, and D is your 5... so, 1/4/5 in the key of G is G/C/D.

    Generally, the minor of the chord is the only one stipulated, not the major. So, in the key of G, 1/4m/5, is G/Cmin/D. The minor may also read as a "-" mark next to the number to stipulate its value, so G/Cm/D could read as 1/4-/5.

    This is a basic explanation. If you look it up online you'll find charts showing all the key sigs with the appropriate numbering.

    edited for typo correction
  8. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Pardon my correction, but this ought to read C/F/G for the 1/4/5 progression.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    sorry. typo. brain cramp.. fingers moving faster than my brain was. Thanks for catching that Bos. ;)
  10. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    I love all the info!

    I have a q for you guys who consider yourself well trained or knowledgable about theory...

    When you write a song, are you looking at it like math? Or maybe I mean, do you see the math? How do I articulate this...

    Perhaps what I'm trying to ask is do you hear songs/write songs with numbers? I don't mean to sterilize it, I wish I had the knowledge and I'm working steadily to acquire it. But for the people who are already there, what is the primary difference? Song writing speed? Creativity? Making good grooves?

    Maybe I don't even know what I want to ask lol. I think I'm curious if you "see" songs as literal sums of sorts, and also what the music theory knowledge changed the most about your composition?
  11. Sean G

    Sean G Well-Known Member

    Mathematics is behind everything. Mathematical equations can be formulated for just about anything you can think of.
    I think what you are alluding to would most likely be covered by set theory and number theory.

    Even Pythagoras studied the fundemental mathmatical relationship between the vibration of strings and harmony.
  12. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I can only speak for myself of course, but when I write, I'm not looking at or considering the "math" of music. That's not to say I don't understand the general rules of theory, it's just that don't normally approach writing a song in that way.

    I start with either lyrics or a certain chord progression, sometimes it's even just the hook, and other times it might be just a phrase or a snippet. There have also been a few times where a particular synth patch or guitar or piano sound can spark creativity, as can a certain rhythmic structure, too.
    For me, songwriting is much more "right brain" than it is left-brain/analytical or theory based. There's certainly theory involved, as there is with any music; if I analyze the music I'm sure to find instances of things like relative minors, inversions, major and minor 7th's, suspensions, 11 chords, modulations/key sig changes, etc., but it doesn't start there for me; the theory itself doesn't initially spark the creative fire of songwriting, it's much more artistically based.

    But ... This is all just my way; everyone is different in there approach to songwriting. ;)

  13. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    That's, very basically, how I write. I honestly don't really even know what "Music Theory" includes, but I'll come up with a chord progression. A lot of the keys I tend to work in I know the 3,4,5,7, but I don't really think about it. A melody, a groove, a sound...I just mess with it until I find something and then build around it.

    Picking up some piano now and I find it's a little easier to "see" the numbers.

    A side question...because I learned on guitar, there is a lot of little in-between slides, pitches, hammer on/off etc, we often don't stick exactly true to a key. If it's in C, you may hear a C# in there. I don't know if this is correct or not. My father was a musician (amazing guitarist) and I've noticed that he will add momentary flairs like that.

    A studio that I used to go to the owner is a drummer/producer. And he will remove notes that aren't in the key.

    Is one way correct? Or does it just depend on the instrument? I know "rules" may be too strong a word, but is there a "correct" way? Or do we just train our ears through years of practice, and then just do what we think sounds right.

    E.g. I'll often pitch something down to add a certain "feel" to the song. To return to the Key of C example, I'll pitch the D down a bit to change the feel of the song. But not all the way down to a C#. But that's production. When playing, sometimes you will hear the off notes. I'm really curious what the theory people think of this?
  14. DogsoverLava

    DogsoverLava Active Member

    In Western music theory there is a "math" that the system itself has been based on, and then there's the tradition or canon on which we have developed and evolved our musical tastes and sensibilities based on the rules of this math. Even an unschooled musical novice unfamiliar with theory, or "the math" itself can sit at a guitar or piano and play a chord - then in their head "hear" what chord wants to naturally come next and either search for that chord until they hit on it, or in the search find another chord that also works but maybe takes the song in a new surprising direction. That's how lots of songs get written - but that ghost chord we are looking for to follow the last exist in our head as an echo that we are naturally through our exposure to the western canon primed to hear - so we absorbed the math through exposure without ever know or doing the math. Most of us (even schooled musicians) have that moment when we are looking for or feeling around for that next chord on our instruments.... knowing theory or the math so to speak can help you zero in on the chord faster without having to search for it. It can also allow you to compose without having an instrument in your hands -- but this takes practice, and a very good ear and is something you generally have to train and practice to do unless you are some kind of savant to begin with.

    These days I do a mix of both - I'm trying to be more conscious of my choices in real time by naming and identifying them as they are --- so when I look for that chord I'm now naming it in relation to the key and the last chord played.

    Here's a fun resource for you -- I hooked up my songwriting partner with this who has zero musical education and it really helped him bring some of the abstract into the real.
  15. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    That site is exactly what I needed! It's exactly what I wanted to understand better. Thank you!
  16. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    I get many newbs in the studio overtime. Those unfamilliar to theory (at least the basics of scales) will make mistakes like playing all the chords in major while being unable to say which scale they are on... They have no clue that in C major, their is a few minor chords...
    It doesn't meen the song can't be enjoyable but it may be somewhat weird to many. Unless you call that fusion jazz :ROFLMAO:
  17. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member


    I'm pretty easy to please, but some of the intense jazz fusion, man I just don't get it. I saw some drum solo recently and I actually found it a bit difficult to sit through, and drums are my favorite.

    It will come to me eventually if you care to see it, I think it was a netflix documentary. Pretty sure actually now that I think about it.

    I guess the genius is just beyond me at the present time. It's not for a lack of trying. Maybe the hard core JF are like olives for me. It took me forever to develop a taste for olives. My musical palette is just not ready for it I guess.
  18. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    As soon as polyrythms gets in the playing of a drummer many will be lost. I got to sit in front of Steve Smith in a drumshop where he proceeded to play 1 through 9 over 4. Let's say that 5 over 4, 7 and 9 are very difficult to grasp for a normal brain !! ;)
    His next exercise was to play in 9/8 with a band playing in 4/4 if I remember.. Dawm !!

    Another insane polyrythms player is Marco Minneman. If only I could play half as good !
  19. Brother Junk

    Brother Junk Active Member

    It was called A Drummer's Dream. I can't remember which drummer it was, but the solo just felt strange.

    I need to think about a 9/8 for a while to even get a handle on how I could do it. (if)
  20. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    Add an eight-note to a 4/4... there you go ;)

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