Audiobus: Use your music apps together.

What is Audiobus?Audiobus is an award-winning music app for iPhone and iPad which lets you use your other music apps together. Chain effects on your favourite synth, run the output of apps or Audio Units into an app like GarageBand or Loopy, or select a different audio interface output for each app. Route MIDI between apps — drive a synth from a MIDI sequencer, or add an arpeggiator to your MIDI keyboard — or sync with your external MIDI gear. And control your entire setup from a MIDI controller.

Download on the App Store

Audiobus is the app that makes the rest of your setup better.

OT: What should I learn and work on to improve song writing via singing and chord progressions?

I am a non-professional musician and have a couple of weeks off before starting a new job. I want to dedicate some time to learning something new regarding music, or train myself more thoroughly in something I only understand superficially. One of my top priorities is to become better at songwriting. My gut says sketching out song ideas quickly via singing and chord progressions is the way to go.

Ideas on my list:

  • Learn Scaler 2 in great depth
  • Finish listening to Jameson Nathan Jones composition course I bought
  • Ear training on chords
  • Learn Melodyne
  • Learn Cubasis thoroughly as my omnipresent song tool
  • Singing lessons (phone or desktop app)
  • Learn more on piano with respect to chords and harmony
  • Ear training on "feeling" scales and harmonies
  • Buy and learn Oxi One
  • Learn Synth V AI vocal software in depth
  • Learn my MPC Key 61 in greater depth
  • Get and learn SP404
  • Learn OB-6 desktop in depth (I'm a synth guy who's so-so at sound design)

Any advice?

Thanks!

«13

Comments

  • Music theory?

  • Songwriting has been my passion for a very long time. You’ve got a great list there! I had a handful of singing lessons, face-to face, 1 to 1, some 20 years ago, and that was one of best investments I ever made. I think Scaler 2 is great - you honestly don’t need to dive too deep to have it taking your ideas in new directions. One aspect of it I found invaluable was the modulation section which suggests how to move from one key to another.

    As far as starting a new song is concerned, everyone will have their own way, but 95% of the time, I start with a more or less complete set of lyrics, and only then start working on a melody and chord structure on guitar or piano after that.

  • Thanks. Regarding music theory, I had some in high school and IIRC college. So typically theory hasn't been a stumbling block. But I have to note school was decades ago :)

  • edited May 18

    Last comment: It's funny I didn't even think about it until now, but with infinite time and patience, I would work on guitar.

    She and I have had a turbulent, difficult relationship for 40+ years. Currently I rarely pick up it, focusing instead on bass, MPC, keys, and now song writing.

  • If you play piano or guitar, learn some Beatles songs. It’s amazing how much you can learn abound songwriting by analyzing other people’s work, with the added benefit of being able to play some Beatles songs. They are mostly not difficult to learn either.

  • Music theory and I like using the Story Circle that Dan Harmon talks about which is just a simplified version of the “Hero’s Journey”. Thinking in terms of story writing helps me in getting a concrete idea on how to write my song

  • Thx. FYI, I’ve been playing Beatles a long time. More going on harmonically than many listeners might think.

    Haven’t heard of Dan Harmon, I’ll check him out.

  • Really the very best thing you can do is just write as many songs as you possibly can.

    Theory is useful, but getting stuck in and actually writing is the most important thing by far.

    In some ways all this learning theory and apps might even be a form of procrastination, doing everything except actually writing songs 😉

  • Also whatever voice and style is uniquely yours will only emerge through writing, theory can’t teach you that, it comes from within and you need to do the work to find it.

  • edited May 20

    Don’t have an audience in mind, don’t tailor it to an imagined market, don’t cater for a style of music and those who inhabit that style – be original, even if it’s crap at first because the crapness is, “well, you know, that's just, like, your opinion, man.”

    You can’t join in an existing style or scene and just tag along without it being inferior, because it’s already started and you’re joining in late like a cargo cult – do the next thing, which hasn’t happened yet

  • I would go for learning piano , chord progressions and singing.
    For me music happens in real time.

    So push record and sing and play. Then refine what ever comes up in a daw of choise.

  • Certainly do what you can to improve your theory knowledge, and analyze songs that you like. If you understand what makes a song appeal to you, then you can more easily compose along the same lines.

  • @michael_m said:
    Certainly do what you can to improve your theory knowledge, and analyze songs that you like. If you understand what makes a song appeal to you, then you can more easily compose along the same lines.

    I agree analysing songs is fun and useful, and if you take the time you can make interesting discoveries.

    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often covers.

    For example the riff to Seven Nation Army is so effective partly because the rhythm is so interesting: quarter notes, eighth notes, and triplets. Harmonically the riff is super simple: it's just a walk up and down the minor scale, but that rhythmic pause before the final note causes tension, which is then resolved with the resolution on the 5th. It's a combination of harmonic tension-and-release and rhythm, but most theory would just ignore the rhythmic side of the analysis.

    And sometimes great songs use ridiculously simple harmonic structures. Dreams by Fleetwood Mac is just the same two chords repeated for the entire length of the song. It doesn't matter because the melody is strong enough to carry that simple harmonic framework.

    So I agree that analysis is both fun and useful, but obviously there are a million ways to skin a cat and great songs will follow all sorts of different frameworks. And I think the more time people spend actually writing, the more they can explore ideas in their own songs.

  • edited May 20

    I've been eyeing these courses.

    Jameson Nathan Jones caught my attention when I noticed he uses a Moog Matriarch. I'm interested in learning how he incorporates the Matriarch and other synths into his composition process

    https://www.jamesonnathanjones.com/composition-concepts-for-artists-15

    I recently watched Kiefer's Tiny Desk Concert and shortly after found his 15 exercises for better writing course.

    https://courses.kiefermusic.com/courses/15-exercises

    One person (not Kiefer himself) showing some ideas he got from Kiefer's course without giving away too much from the course

    I'm not a singer/songwriter though. I'm just not wired to write lyrics. What I've gathered from interviews with some of my favorite singer/songwriters is that they all learned songs written by their favorite songwriters, well enough to sing and play the songs live.

  • edited May 20

    Thanks everyone!

    I'm a big fan of Jameson Nathan Jones on YouTube. But so far it doesn't appear he deals with songs with lyrics. So far the course is Jameson playing his synths with Ableton. His insights are very good. But it may well be that everything is in the context of instrumental compositions.

    BTW, one of his teachings is have harmonies come along by composing each line separately. So the chords emerge from the lines, not from choosing the chords per se directly. At least that's my takeaway.

  • edited May 20

    BTW, finally learning Drambo wasn't on my list at the thread start, but I feel I had a breakthrough yesterday anyway with it. I got through a couple of Ben Richard tutorial videos. YMMV, but I really needed that hand-holding to get past my befuddlement. I also have zero experience with modular, and that might have been a factor in my learning curve.

    Leaning more to sing and bang out chord progressions and capture it all rapidly wherever I am seems to be right path.

    I also offer this video to you folks. Love Andy Edwards...

    Now, I don't expect to become a music artist at my age. But I do believe his advice of high output for sketches, feedback from trusted friends, and then going to recordings makes sense. And resonates with non-musical creative projects I've done in software.

  • Learning songs by ear is the fastest way to get better at songwriting. That and making listening to music an active experience whether singing along or keeping time with hands.

  • @BroCoast said:
    Learning songs by ear is the fastest way to get better at songwriting. That and making listening to music an active experience whether singing along or keeping time with hands.

    Playing by ear really is fantastic. It puts a lot of what I’ve learned about theory into context and has helped me understand the rise and fall and tension and release of what I have learned.

  • @richardyot said:
    ..,,,,
    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often …..

    I recently listened to an interview with Pat Metheny who said that you could be kept busy for years and years learning about harmony and chords…but that you can cover most of what is teachable about melody in 30 minutes…that it remains a mystery what makes some melodies instantly memorable or moving and while melodies with similar characteristics can be utterly unremarkable … that melody remains a mystery and a miracle.

  • @espiegel123 said:

    @richardyot said:
    ..,,,,
    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often …..

    I recently listened to an interview with Pat Metheny who said that you could be kept busy for years and years learning about harmony and chords…but that you can cover most of what is teachable about melody in 30 minutes…that it remains a mystery what makes some melodies instantly memorable or moving and while melodies with similar characteristics can be utterly unremarkable … that melody remains a mystery and a miracle.

    Yes, exactly. For the vast majority of listeners melody is the main thing they will like in a song, and rhythm is a fundamental part of what makes a melody interesting. Yet music theory concentrates almost exclusively on harmony, as if melody and rhythm were secondary, unimportant, aspects of music.

    And that's because harmony can be formalised, and analysed within that formal framework. Because melody and (to a lesser extent) rhythm are much harder to analyse in this way, they are just ignored. There are mountains of literature on harmony, often delving into extreme complexity, yet a two-chord song can become a timeless classic. 😂

  • edited May 21

    A couple of examples that illustrate what I'm talking about:

    What makes You Only Get What You Give so catchy? It's the rhythm. Almost chant-like, with a very memorable call-and-response pattern.

    If you look at the sheet music, the rhythm is much more interesting than you might think on a casual listen. That pause between the first and second notes is crucial, and the notes in the first bar get progressively shorter (quarter with rest, quarter, then eighth). The response part is all quarter notes, but starts on the second beat of the bar. It sounds deceptively simple, but it's not just a straight rhythm.

    Another example: Here Comes The Sun, a really catchy melody.

    The notes in the opening phrase start relatively even, and then at the end of the line there is the little darling which is sung in a much faster rhythm. This is what makes the phrase interesting to listen to, it's rhythmically uneven and there is a call-and-response pattern between two different rhythms. Here comes the sun - little darling, Here comes the sun, I say

    When I'm writing a melody, the number one thing I am aware of is the rhythm, because IMO that's where the magic is. Harmony is important, but mainly because you can use it to create tension and release - singing non-chord tones that resolve into the chord. For me harmony is about finding cadences, and resolving tension in a satisfying way. The actual chords underlying the melody are one of the least important things in a song.

  • edited May 21

    take some music lesson in real life. find a local teacher.

    usually just the participation adds tremendous motivation outside of the lessons.

    recently i took a fine arts course. The course in itself is just a gentle push in motivation to learn core principles.

  • edited May 21

    If a genie could grant me three wishes for musicianship, one would certainly be to play well by ear on guitar or piano.

    I'm OK at it, but not great. I can think of a bandmate who learned guitar by ear and that fundamental capability is one reason he's a superior musician.

    Regarding find teachers, I've had a few music teachers for guitar and bass. IIRC, they rarely if ever wrote songs or offered any tips on making songs. I think song-writing desire and capability has overlap, but isn't the same thing, as instrument performance desire and capability.

  • Again, really enjoying the posts here, thx!

  • @richardyot said:

    @espiegel123 said:

    @richardyot said:
    ..,,,,
    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often …..

    I recently listened to an interview with Pat Metheny who said that you could be kept busy for years and years learning about harmony and chords…but that you can cover most of what is teachable about melody in 30 minutes…that it remains a mystery what makes some melodies instantly memorable or moving and while melodies with similar characteristics can be utterly unremarkable … that melody remains a mystery and a miracle.

    Yes, exactly. For the vast majority of listeners melody is the main thing they will like in a song, and rhythm is a fundamental part of what makes a melody interesting. Yet music theory concentrates almost exclusively on harmony, as if melody and rhythm were secondary, unimportant, aspects of music.

    And that's because harmony can be formalised, and analysed within that formal framework. Because melody and (to a lesser extent) rhythm are much harder to analyse in this way, they are just ignored. There are mountains of literature on harmony, often delving into extreme complexity, yet a two-chord song can become a timeless classic. 😂

    I would disagree that melody and rhythm are ignored in theory (and music theory really should be called analysis since it is really just a description of usage). I would say that theory texts simply doesn't have very much to say about what makes a good melody or compelling rhythm -- as no one has figured it out. Heck even accomplished musicians often have difficulty picking up the feel of unfamiliar styles or traditions of music.

  • @espiegel123 said:

    @richardyot said:

    @espiegel123 said:

    @richardyot said:
    ..,,,,
    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often …..

    I recently listened to an interview with Pat Metheny who said that you could be kept busy for years and years learning about harmony and chords…but that you can cover most of what is teachable about melody in 30 minutes…that it remains a mystery what makes some melodies instantly memorable or moving and while melodies with similar characteristics can be utterly unremarkable … that melody remains a mystery and a miracle.

    Yes, exactly. For the vast majority of listeners melody is the main thing they will like in a song, and rhythm is a fundamental part of what makes a melody interesting. Yet music theory concentrates almost exclusively on harmony, as if melody and rhythm were secondary, unimportant, aspects of music.

    And that's because harmony can be formalised, and analysed within that formal framework. Because melody and (to a lesser extent) rhythm are much harder to analyse in this way, they are just ignored. There are mountains of literature on harmony, often delving into extreme complexity, yet a two-chord song can become a timeless classic. 😂

    I would disagree that melody and rhythm are ignored in theory (and music theory really should be called analysis since it is really just a description of usage). I would say that theory texts simply doesn't have very much to say about what makes a good melody or compelling rhythm -- as no one has figured it out. Heck even accomplished musicians often have difficulty picking up the feel of unfamiliar styles or traditions of music.

    But hear me out here: the point I've tried to make in this thread is that rhythm is a really important aspect of melody, with examples(!), and yet it's hardly ever discussed as such in music theory.

    Imagine if theory books about painting only talked about colour, without ever mentioning form, half the concepts would be missing. That's how I feel about the focus on harmony in most theory content.

  • @espiegel123 said:

    @richardyot said:
    ..,,,,
    One caveat for me though is that most theory focuses almost exclusively on harmony, probably because it's easier to formalise than melody or rhythm.

    What makes a melody memorable? That's something you hardly ever see discussed, probably because some of the factors are intangible. But rhythm is an essential aspect of melody, and it's not something that theory often …..

    I recently listened to an interview with Pat Metheny who said that you could be kept busy for years and years learning about harmony and chords…but that you can cover most of what is teachable about melody in 30 minutes…that it remains a mystery what makes some melodies instantly memorable or moving and while melodies with similar characteristics can be utterly unremarkable … that melody remains a mystery and a miracle.

    Reminds me of an interview with Muddy Waters - he said he loved the freedom of playing in Europe compared to the US, but found it difficult to play with white musicians as they had learned all the blues standards but didn’t actually know how to play any of them.

  • @joegrant413 said:

    Regarding find teachers, I've had a few music teachers for guitar and bass. IIRC, they rarely if ever wrote songs or offered any tips on making songs.

    I have also had some music teachers over the years. My experience has been similar in that none of my musical instrument (guitar, piano, etc. ) teachers taught songwriting lessons, let alone mentioned instruction in songwriting as an option. I did have a cello teacher who went on to record and release a couple of albums featuring her singing voice and lyrics, but this was several years after I stopped taking cello lessons with her.

    That's really on me though, in that I was never looking for help in writing lyrics or music to go with lyrics, nor was I lookin for help in composition as I thought I'd figure out how to compose by simply by trial and error - not a very practical attitude to have as I gradually realized over time.

    I had one music teacher who made all the students compose music for class. His approach was to have us listen to a wide variety of music - very little of it recognizable to students as a pop hit tune or classical favorite - I'd daresay most of it was quite avant-garde in fact - then tell us "just play around with stuff, you'll figure something out". :D

  • edited May 21

    Regarding rhythm and groove, it's been interesting to compare these two versions of a famous (infamous to others) pop tune cowritten by Kenny Loggins and Michael McDonald of the Doobie Brothers.

    Loggins had top shelf session musicians playing for him. Yet to my ears, Loggins' rhythm section doesn't sound as groovy compared to the more famous version of this song. I don't hear anything "wrong" with his rhythm section - they sound tight with each other, and everyone sounds perfectly in time with each other. Maybe the problem is they sound too tight and perfect.

    Groove was something the Doobies cared deeply about, and they understood the difference between "good groove" and playing perfectly in time with, say, a metronome. This became readily apparent as I compared their tracks with covers of their songs by other artists.

    Definitely a lot to gain by learning what makes your favorite songs tick using your ear, and trying to use your ear and body to try to suss out why some songs, or versions of the same song, make your body want to move more than others.

    This metronome exercise by Victor Wooten might help. Try to apply what he says to whatever instruments you play, not just rush out to buy a bass :smiley: He's trying to get you to hear the space between clicks and play with the placement of your notes in relation to the clicks (a teeny tiny bit behind the click, a tiny bit behind the click, just a bit behind the click, dead on the click,e tc.).

  • Stumbled upon this guy in Reddit years ago and really liked how he simplifies music theory with his own framework.

Sign In or Register to comment.