MUSIC THEORY TUTORIALS
Want to take your music to a new level?
I’m not talking about new hardware equipment, a new VST, or even a new technology. I’m talking about the basics: music background.
I know, a lot of producers simply run away from it. They say that music theory is too complicated, it will block the creative process, etc. The fact is that learning music theory and keyboard/piano techniques will help you to reach new levels regarding the quality of your art. It’s a valuable and necessary tool – it’s the music language, after all.
You can make music without music background; it’s an intuitive and joyful process – at least at the beginning. If you’re serious about your art, you soon will notice that you need to improve your music skills.
That’s why I appreciate electronic music producers: they can embrace the ability to create sounds through sound design; to create a track from scratch; to mix a track; to master a track; and also to compose a good piece. They can go beyond creating beats and compose good harmony sequences, vibrant and beautiful melodies; they will then create stunning tracks faster because they will have a musical idea and will be able to turn it into music in a blink. The entire development of a track will flow smoothly – and then you will know what intuitive means!
I can say that learning music is challenging. It’s not difficult to learn, though. In fact, it requires time, because you’re dealing with a lot of information. That’s all. The musician needs to practice all the theory, all the techniques, little by little, until it becomes natural. It’s like learning any skill, such as practicing martial arts, swimming, drawing, painting, playing a video game, or coding.
With that said, let’s start with the basics: musical notes. Everybody knows the sequence: C, D, E, F, G, A, B and then C again. The best way to learn musical concepts is viewing it in a piano keyboard:
It might be confusing if you never tried to play a keyboard or a piano because there are a lot of white and black keys. However, this is the easiest instrument to locate musical notes!
Notice that the piano keyboard has a lot of white keys, and some groups of black keys: you have a set of two black keys, then another one of three black keys, and then it keeps repeating as a pattern. We are going to use this pattern of black keys as a reference to find any musical note. So, if you want to find any C in a keyboard, just look for the group of two black keys:
The white key that comes before any set of two black keys will always be a C.
After finding the C, you just go through the white keys following the notes sequence:
This pattern will repeat throughout the piano keyboard. The only difference is that notes will go from lower to higher when you play from the left to the right:
Also, when you practice piano or keyboards, it’s common to identify every finger by a number. So, thumbs are identified by number 1, index fingers are number 2, middle fingers are 3, etc.:
Notice that no matter if your playing with your left or right hand: number 1 will always be the thumb, 2 is always the index, etc.
Let’s finish this first tutorial with a piano/keyboard practice:
It’s a useful practice to develop piano technique. Start playing with your right hand. Now you know that you will use finger 1 to play C, finger 2 to play D, etc. Go up and down with this practice, playing slowly at the beginning. Sooner you can use a metronome or a beat to play along. This practice will sound like this:
After playing for a while with the right hand, start playing with your left hand. It can be tricky, but keep playing.
You can add a drum beat and have more fun:
Finally, try playing with both hands together. Take your time. Play very slowly at the beginning. When you feel comfortable, you can try to play in a faster bpm.
That’s it! Have fun!