Video – Chord Progression Tips

There is more to a chord progression that just a sequence of chords. The video below offers some good tips for enhancing a basic chord progression such as:

  • lining up common notes between chords for a smoother transition
  • ensuring the common note between chords occurs in the same voicing (top, middle or bottom note)
  • switching from a chord to an inversion of the same chord
  • using sus chords to add extra interest (can also be used to force a common note between chords)
  • using syncopation to have the chord change with the off beat

These are all good tips to add extra interest to your composition.

Chord Progression Theory (by Revolution Harmony)

Mothers Day
by Gustavo Lopez, Paul Battersby

A piano piece that Gustavo wrote for Mother’s Day. I had some ideas as soon as I heard it so thought I’d see what I could do.

Gustavo Lopezoriginal piano composition
Paul Battersbypiccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, string bass, trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba, celesta, harp, percussion (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), mixing


You might also like: Cat Eyes, Red Nose

 

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Cat Eyes
by Gustavo Lopez, Paul Battersby

Another nice piano instrumental by Gustavo Lopez. I wanted to add subtle orchestra to support the piano and I mostly did that, but I still ended up with a big full orchestra crescendo in the middle.

Gustavo Lopezoriginal composition, piano
Paul Battersbypiccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, string bass, trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba, percussion (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), mixing


You might also like: Red Nose, Playing With Autumn Leaves

 

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Song Critique

If you are interested in some free advice on how to make your lyrics, music, song writing, mixing better, consider visiting one of the links below. They are all free forums where you can post your song and or lyrics and have other songwriters listen and offer their opinion. All you have to do is return the favour. Listen to their songs and offer your opinion.

Friends and family will mostly say nice things about your music and they may or may not know the difference between a good song and a song that has room for improvement. For honest, informed opinions, these forums are the place to go. I’ve spent most of my time at the first link below, but I’ve had songs reviewed at the others as well.

Songstuff  - music critique forum

Musesmuse - music critique forum

Just Plain Folks - music critique forum

Video – Counterpoint P1,P2

This is a follow up to the blog post where I discuss basic counterpoint here:

Video – Cheater’s Guide to Counterpoint

I strongly recommend reading the above post and watching that video first. With just the few counterpoint rules demonstrated, the above video will take you pretty far. The following 2 videos take things even further and discusses the rules for other intervals besides just 3rds and 6ths.The addition rules discussed below, are summarized as follows but will make more sense after watching the video.

First we need to define some terms

  • IC – Imperfect Consonances : 3rds and 6ths, major and minor
  • PC – Perfect Consonances : unison, 5ths, octaves
  • D – Dissonances : 2nds, 4ths, 7ths

The counterpoint rules for the above groups of intervals are:

1. You can arrive at an Imperfect Consonance (IC) by way of any other interval

IC (3rd, 6th)            -> IC (3rd, 6th)
PC (unison, 5th, octave) -> IC (3rd, 6th)
D (2nd, 4th, 7th)        -> IC (3rd, 6th)

In other words you can arrive at a 3rd or 6th by any other preceding interval.

2. You can only arrive at a Perfect Consonance by way of an imperfect consonance

IC (3rd, 6th) -> PC (unison, 5th, octave)

In other words you can only arrive at a Unison, 5th or Octave, by way of a 3rd or 6th.

3. You can only arrive at a Dissonance by an Imperfect Consonance.

IC (3rd, 6th) -> D (2nd, 4th, 7th)

In other words, you can only arrive at a 2nd, 4th or 7th by way of a preceding 3rd or 6th.

Basically, 3rd and 6th are like wild cards. They can do anything. They can follow or precede any other interval. All other intervals must be preceded by and lead to a 3rd or a 6th.

The above refers to harmonic intervals, both notes playing at the same time. For melodic intervals where notes play consecutively, only the augmented 4th and 7th intervals are considered dissonant.For a more complete explanation of the above summary, see the 2 videos below:

https://youtu.be/ZiFzLzDKZe8

Counterpoint P1 (Introduction) – by JJay Berthume

https://youtu.be/T7lNDhOykTo

Counterpoint P2 (Basic Principles) – by JJay Berthume

Breaths Of Maidens
by Matt Kresling, Paul Battersby

When I first heard this song, I really liked the lyrics. It was just vocals and ukulele originally so I decided to add guitar, bass and drums to finish the song and give it a more standard instrumentation.

Matt Kreslingoriginal song writing, vocals, ukulele
Paul Battersbyguitar, bass, drums, mixing

 

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Cemetery For The Soul
by Scott Thomson, Paul Battersby

This started out with a couple of electric guitars, a couple of synths and a drum track. In the repeating chord progression of the original music I heard a few things that gave me a lot of ideas for a melody and orchestral accompaniment so I added all those original ideas and more to this instrumental. Except for the above mentioned instruments from the original version, all the orchestra sounds are from my Virtual Playing Orchestra sound library, including the not yet released dynamic cross faded brass patches.

Scott Thomsonoriginal composition, guitar1, guitar2, synth, drums
Paul Battersbypiccolo, flute, oboe, clarinet, english horn, bassoon, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, synth harp, trumpet, french horn, trombone, tuba, glockenspiel, misc percussion (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), mixing
YouTube video
Audio only

 

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Video – Cheater’s Guide to Counterpoint

What is counterpoint? It’s defined by Merriam Webster as:

one or more independent melodies added above or below a given melody

The rules of counterpoint have been developed to instruct a composer on how to create a counter melody that can be independent yet still blend harmonically with the main melody.

The video below demonstrates the steps to composing with nothing more than the most basic understanding of music theory and counterpoint. All you need to know is what notes are in a chord, what notes belong to the scale in the key of your chord progression, how to choose a chord inversion so that one chord more easily flows into the next and 2 very simple and basic counterpoint rules. That’s it.

For choosing chord inversions, what I mean is that if you are playing a C chord “C-E-G” and you wish to move to an F chord, instead of playing C-E-G and then F-A-C, you are better off playing C-E-G and then C-F-A, because this represents less movement. Instead of all notes moving up by 4 notes, one note stays the same and the rest only move up by one note. This is referred to as good voice leading.

So, the steps from the video below are as follows:

  1. Start with a chord progression One chord per bar. You could use C F Am G C for example – though that’s not what was used in the video. It’s just a nice easy chord progression
  2. Create a half tone melody using chord tones from whatever chord is being played in that bar. If you are playing a “C” chord, your chord tone melody can use “C”, “E” or “G” since those are the notes that make up a “C” chord
  3. Replace some half tone notes with shorter notes to move from one half tone melody note to another, usually by playing a fragment of a scale moving up or down towards the next melody note
  4. Add a half tone harmony (which will become the counter melody) to the existing main melody you already have from step 3. To do this, choose a note that is a 3rd or 6th below the melody tone. Other intervals can be used but this requires a slightly more advanced knowledge of counterpoint which provides guidance on which intervals can follow and precede other intervals (see my follow up post about counterpoint). 3rd and 6ths can always follow and precede each other so for now, it’s simplest to stick with 3rds and 6ths. Note that steps 3 and 4 can also be done in the opposite order. 
  5. Repeat step 3 for the harmony, with this rule in mind: generally, when the melody is holding a note, the counter melody should be moving. When the melody is moving, the counter melody should be holding a note. So for example, if the melody is playing a half note, perhaps the counter melody could be playing quarter or eighth notes using either chord tones or part of a scale.

Between 4:18 and 18:26 is a good example of easily using just the basics of music theory and counterpoint as described above. (I’ve already set the video to start at 4:18)

The Cheater’s Guide to Counterpoint (by the “Art of Composing”)

Scoring Central Forum

Scoring Central - amateur composers forum
Scoring Central is a forum hosted by Mattias Westlund, creator of Sonatina Symphonic Orchestra. The forum is currently a small, friendly and supportive community. I can’t come up with a better description than that provided by Mattias himself so I’ll just quote him:

Scoring Central is a forum for all virtual orchestration enthusiasts; hobbyists, amateurs, semi-professionals and professionals alike. Here you can discuss everything from composing and music theory to sample libraries, plugins, DAW’s, audio interfaces, sampling, mixing and lots more. You are also welcome to post your own tracks in the User Music subforum.

I’m a moderator there and I visit the forum daily. If you want to discuss virtual orchestration, sampling, plugins, anything to do with making orchestral music using your computer along with free or low cost sample libraries and free or low cost VST plugins, the Scoring Central forum is a good place to do that.

Cerulean
by Nielson, Baldwin, Emond, Battersby

From Samuel Nielson:

A peaceful, hopefully emotional piece

I started out planning to use a full orchestra but it didn’t take me long to realize this song needed a smaller softer approach so I decided to limit myself to solo instruments : a string quartet, woodwinds and a harp all from my Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library.

show / hide lyrics
Cerulean
Lyrics by: Suzann Baldwin

All the mist on the ground,
grey spreading all around,
is just a lost cloud that has found
a quiet place to sleep.
Leaving the bed unmade.
Waiting for pain to fade.
I always thought the plans we made
were promises that you would keep.

(chorus)
Fear makes my blood run cold
in every shade of blue
I can’t stop my mind from running
back to you.

Saw a doll in a tree.
Sadly she looked at me.
Tattered eyes, hair caught in a breeze.
Misguided fantasy.
Give me the time I spent,
those days that came and went,
I was waiting dumb and silent,
for your rehearsed apology.

(instrumental)

(repeat chorus)

I watch as sorrow comes,
so dark and bittersweet,
while all the things you never said
lay silent at my feet.
Fear makes my blood run cold
in every shade of blue
I can’t stop my mind from running
running forever back to you.

Samuel Nielsonpiano composition, melody
Suzann Baldwinlyrics
Gregg Emondvocals
Paul Battersbyflute, oboe, clarinet, 1st violin, 2nd violin, viola, cello, harp (all from Virtual Playing Orchestra sample library), mixing

 

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