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Composing Secrets : 1.Tracks and Instruments Composing Secrets : 1.Tracks and Instruments

Topic started by rjay (@ on Thu Aug 24 12:45:43 EDT 2000.
All times in EST +10:30 for IST.

Composing Secrets - Tracks and Instruments

Most songs have the following structure:(you can
think of them as parallel tracks)

1. Melody
2. Bass
3. Chord/Accompaniment
4. Drums
5. Percussion

Melody is sung by the singer or could be the
'solo' played by an instrument, when singer
is taking breath. In most music,
melody states the theme of the song/composition
and carries the emotion. All the other tracks
should provide a context to what is says or
reinforce and enhance it.

Human voice, flute, sax, trumpet, and synthetic
sounds serve well as melody instruments.

Drums set the basic pulse and rhythm and there
are many drum kits: acoustic, jazz, techno(used
in ;chandralekha - Thiruda; for example), power
(pottu vaitha kadhal thittam) and many many more.

Bass is usually played by a double bass - huge
violin, plucked like a guitar, or with a guitar
itself. With electronics, synth bass sounds are
generated from keyboard itself(kadalikkum pennin
kaigal - has a wonderful synth bass sound
in its intro.) Slap, Electric, Fretless,
are a few more common sounds. I will get you
recordings of these in isolation.

Accompaniment or backing is usually provided
by piano or guitar class of instruments.
And there are two types: block chords, where
you play the whole chords and hold them,
versus arpeggio and broken chords where
you strike the notes one after another.
In most western music, piano and guitar
are 2 pieces of the five piece orchestra
(voice, piano, guitar, strings, drums)

Strings typically provide counterpoint,
but can also play accompaniment.
My definition, Counterpoint is nothing but alternate melody
which either responds to the lead melody
or plays against it. Examples to follow.

Percussion is the name given by westerners
to all non-western beat instruments! ;)

Shakers, Morocos (chicku chiku) and sticks
and claves and others are examples.

Even bongos (from Africa) and our Tabla are
named percussion, but they are actually
drums because they can play alone and provide
rhythm without the drums.

We can proceed learning in two ways:

(i) We will explore the General midi sounds
128 instruments (16 categories and 8 in each)
and one drum kit. We will take each sound one
by one and learn to identify it and see what
its unique value is and how it has been used
in TFM. I can upload audio demos.

(ii) We can later see the song structure along time
axis (measures) - in terms of intro, theme, break, pallavi
, charanam structure and learn how orchestration
is effectively varied to serve the needs of
the listener at each position.

Basically, tracks and measures are the two
dimensions to understand a composition.

As an aid we can pull apart some famous songs of your choice to see how they are put together. And I can take one of my own compositions and share what thoughts and decisions guided its creation.

Here is a link to the tutorial that RJay has prepared:
Melody Making Exercise.


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