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Please help me validate my learning path

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
Hey all,

Sorry in advance for the long post or if this is not the correct category for this thread. I'm in need of you expert advice to validate the learning path I set for myself for the upcoming weeks/months/years... yeah, probably years.

First, I want to give you a little bit of feedback, it may help. I'm a software developer by trade and have been at it for over 20 years. Even though I don't even have a bachelor degree, today I teach programming at one of the world's top technical university. So, I know a thing or two about teaching myself new skills.

Musically, I have been playing bass guitar and guitar on and off for 20 years as well but I can't read sheet music and have only a very limited knowledge about music theory (I know what a chord is, how to build one and make chord progressions and other things like that). I have used Reason, Sonar and Garageband in the past but haven't been making any music for about 3 years. Haven't picked up my bass in these 3 years neither and don't intend to in the near future. Oh, and I can't play keys. Really can't. I use step recording for MIDI recording.

So, what am I doing here? Glad you asked... When I write code, a book or a new course, I listen to music. Music without lyrics as I can't concentrate on what I'm doing if there are any lyrics. Not being a fan of EDM, I mostly listen to orchestral, cinematic music. Nailing a particularly difficult problem with "To Glory" from Thomas Bergersen in the background is definitely an epic experience.

More and more, I started to listen to films and games soundtracks even when not working. Up to a point where I start to "hear" in my head things I'd like to listen to. So, I had this great idea: "Imma learn to make it myself". And here I am.

Currently, I supplement my income by writing programming books and building apps for mostly shitty startups that will die within 6 months but am slowly getting fed up and burnt out from coding. My long term goal is to transition from this side job to making music. At least, become good enough so outlets like Audiojungle and Pond5 wouldn't reject me on the spot.

I drafted some sort of learning path for myself and if you could take a look at it and comment it, it would help a ton:

Music + Audio Production in Logic Pro X on Udemy - https://www.udemy.com/music-production-in-logic-pro-x-course/ - (80% complete).
To learn how to use Logic and be productive with it. I'm enjoying the course and would give it a good rating.

Evenant's Cinematic Music: From Idea to Finished Recording - https://courses.evenant.com/p/cinematic-music-from-idea-to-finished-recording - (20% complete)
Even though it is said that you don't need music theory to follow this course, I have to do a lot of research after each lesson in order to fully comprehend what was taught. On the positive side, it forces me to learn to read sheet music. I absolutely love this course so far. Worth every penny.

Alex Moukala's YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_CyR8Aqfl45kzFIDeMr-CQ - (watched about 5 videos so far)
I try watching one of his videos each time I complete 2-3 Evenant's lessons. I really like what his compositions sound like and would like to be able to do something in the same vein.

EastWest 103: Tools for Film, TV & Games - https://www.macprovideo.com/tutorial/eastwest-103-tools-film-tv-games&outline - (not started)
I want to learn how to use a more advanced library as the one I use at the moment (I have an EW ComposerCloud subscription). I tried HO from them but quickly went back to using the ensembles patches from Kirk Hunter's Virtuoso Ensembles as it is a little bit easier at the moment.

MIDI Orchestration Explained - https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/midi-orchestration-explained - (not started)
I will need to learn more about orchestration and how to work with it from a MIDI perspective. I thought this was a good option.

The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer - https://courses.evenant.com/p/the-aspiring-trailer-music-composer
This is the last course on my list that I plan to do. Trailer music shares something with the music I listen to while programming: repetition. I want to learn how to do that properly without it sounding dull. And who knows... maybe this could open some opportunities?

Of course, I spend as much time (if not more) practicing than learning. I sleep about 4h per night, this helps.

My setup is composed of Logic Pro X with Virtuoso Ensembles, Metropolis Ark I, EW ComposerCloud+ (so HO and EWQLSO), SonuScore The Orchestra, NI Una Corda (love the sound of this one) and Audio Imperia Multiverse for some effects.

The last thing: here's where I'm at for the time being. Be gentle, I only started a week ago, this is my first "completed" piece:


Now that you know all of this... what advice would you give me? Is my learning plan correct? What would you change/add/remove?

Thank you a lot for your time!
 

Seycara

Member
Hey all,

Sorry in advance for the long post or if this is not the correct category for this thread. I'm in need of you expert advice to validate the learning path I set for myself for the upcoming weeks/months/years... yeah, probably years.

First, I want to give you a little bit of feedback, it may help. I'm a software developer by trade and have been at it for over 20 years. Even though I don't even have a bachelor degree, today I teach programming at one of the world's top technical university. So, I know a thing or two about teaching myself new skills.

Musically, I have been playing bass guitar and guitar on and off for 20 years as well but I can't read sheet music and have only a very limited knowledge about music theory (I know what a chord is, how to build one and make chord progressions and other things like that). I have used Reason, Sonar and Garageband in the past but haven't been making any music for about 3 years. Haven't picked up my bass in these 3 years neither and don't intend to in the near future. Oh, and I can't play keys. Really can't. I use step recording for MIDI recording.

So, what am I doing here? Glad you asked... When I write code, a book or a new course, I listen to music. Music without lyrics as I can't concentrate on what I'm doing if there are any lyrics. Not being a fan of EDM, I mostly listen to orchestral, cinematic music. Nailing a particularly difficult problem with "To Glory" from Thomas Bergersen in the background is definitely an epic experience.

More and more, I started to listen to films and games soundtracks even when not working. Up to a point where I start to "hear" in my head things I'd like to listen to. So, I had this great idea: "Imma learn to make it myself". And here I am.

Currently, I supplement my income by writing programming books and building apps for mostly shitty startups that will die within 6 months but am slowly getting fed up and burnt out from coding. My long term goal is to transition from this side job to making music. At least, become good enough so outlets like Audiojungle and Pond5 wouldn't reject me on the spot.

I drafted some sort of learning path for myself and if you could take a look at it and comment it, it would help a ton:

Music + Audio Production in Logic Pro X on Udemy - https://www.udemy.com/music-production-in-logic-pro-x-course/ - (80% complete).
To learn how to use Logic and be productive with it. I'm enjoying the course and would give it a good rating.

Evenant's Cinematic Music: From Idea to Finished Recording - https://courses.evenant.com/p/cinematic-music-from-idea-to-finished-recording - (20% complete)
Even though it is said that you don't need music theory to follow this course, I have to do a lot of research after each lesson in order to fully comprehend what was taught. On the positive side, it forces me to learn to read sheet music. I absolutely love this course so far. Worth every penny.

Alex Moukala's YouTube channel - https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC_CyR8Aqfl45kzFIDeMr-CQ - (watched about 5 videos so far)
I try watching one of his videos each time I complete 2-3 Evenant's lessons. I really like what his compositions sound like and would like to be able to do something in the same vein.

EastWest 103: Tools for Film, TV & Games - https://www.macprovideo.com/tutorial/eastwest-103-tools-film-tv-games&outline - (not started)
I want to learn how to use a more advanced library as the one I use at the moment (I have an EW ComposerCloud subscription). I tried HO from them but quickly went back to using the ensembles patches from Kirk Hunter's Virtuoso Ensembles as it is a little bit easier at the moment.

MIDI Orchestration Explained - https://www.groove3.com/tutorials/midi-orchestration-explained - (not started)
I will need to learn more about orchestration and how to work with it from a MIDI perspective. I thought this was a good option.

The Aspiring Trailer Music Composer - https://courses.evenant.com/p/the-aspiring-trailer-music-composer
This is the last course on my list that I plan to do. Trailer music shares something with the music I listen to while programming: repetition. I want to learn how to do that properly without it sounding dull. And who knows... maybe this could open some opportunities?

Of course, I spend as much time (if not more) practicing than learning. I sleep about 4h per night, this helps.

My setup is composed of Logic Pro X with Virtuoso Ensembles, Metropolis Ark I, EW ComposerCloud+ (so HO and EWQLSO), SonuScore The Orchestra, NI Una Corda (love the sound of this one) and Audio Imperia Multiverse for some effects.

The last thing: here's where I'm at for the time being. Be gentle, I only started a week ago, this is my first "completed" piece:


Now that you know all of this... what advice would you give me? Is my learning plan correct? What would you change/add/remove?

Thank you a lot for your time!

It's great that you're using all these online resources and trying your hand at some epic music but have you thought of learning from a more "classical" perspective? I learned orchestration from the Rimsky Korsakov and Piston texts as well as harmony/counterpoint from the traditional perspective and I find that it is everything one would need for moving things digital (of course, minus learning how to use the daw/vst etc.). If you're in no rush, try giving some of these texts a read and learn some traditional harmonization techniques; I believe you will find in the long run this being the easiest way to continually make good music.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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I learned orchestration from the Rimsky Korsakov and Piston texts as well as harmony/counterpoint from the traditional perspective

Thanks for the reply. I just took a look and at the moment, these two resources seem to be way above my head :-p I hope to eventually get there but this will take time. To give you an idea of where I am on the theory side, I just only completed the musictheory.net lessons... Last week, I couldn't read a staff and I still can't read one properly without painstakingly counting the notes in my head before counting them on the MIDI keyboard, hehehe.
 

Lassi Tani

Senior Member
After you've finished what you've started, I suggest you to check out Mike Verta's Composition 1. What you'll learn from him gives a really good base to build on. He teaches very practically, and it's easy to understand and logical, what he teaches. When I started, I didn't get his courses, but I studied orchestration in Thinkspace Online, and what I was missing was composing skills. Now I'm watching his courses, which I should have done straight in the beginning!

In your piece, there's definitely a lot happening. Overall I can't quite hear the melody line, because the background is louder and in front of the melody. I suppose the melody is in the strings, but the piano comes on top of it. When doing loud/epic sounding music, many beginners start filling up the piece with a lot of instruments and turning everything loud. I did the same thing, when I started. For loud music too, this principle is important: Think of what is the most important instrument/section of a part. Next think of ways, how to make it heard better. Take other instruments from the same range out, or play them lower. Make background quieter. Make their pattern different. At the moment, there are quite a lot happening in your piece, but I'm not sure, what is the melody/theme in the piece. I'm not sure how you started writing this piece, but usually you'll end up with a stronger theme, if you start with it, and not straight with the chord progression.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

digitalcomposing.com
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I suggest you to check out Mike Verta

I've seen his masterclasses mentionned a lot on VI-C and bookmarked it. But as you say, I'm not sure I'm ready for this. Will come back to them later down the road.

In your piece, there's definitely a lot happening

Oh yeah. It's heavily cluttered with too many things... which I didn't notice while I was making it.

not straight with the chord progression

Good catch, I started with the chord progression. That was before I learned about motif development on the Evenant course. Now, I'd do it totally differently!

many beginners start filling up the piece with a lot of instruments and turning everything loud

And this is exactly what I did... I have no clue about orchestration, mixing... Still a long way to go :) Thanks a lot for taking the time to reply!
 

mikeh-375

old school
Hey Akarin,
It's great that you want to learn, it is the right way if you want to do orchestral music well (and properly for that matter).
I agree with Seycara about the long road to mastery via text and would also recommend personal tuition to get you through the bits you can't grasp and to guide you further still. Judging from your responses, be patient and start off with the basics and master them - there are plenty of good texts out there that cover them, but if you are serious, you must practice all the disciplines, (harmony, counterpoint etc.) the way you would an instrument - just an hour or 2 each day of focused and planned study with excercises will see a marked improvement over time.
It's up to you how far you go with learning, but to state the obvious, the more you know, the better your facility to create more convincing music. Be warned though, the road is long, but you can turn off whenever you feel as though you have learnt enough to be able to create what you want to.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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Thank you @douggibson, this is absolutely awesome advice. I don't plan on doing this full time but at some point maybe make a side income out of it. That is still a long, long shot in the future. For the time being, I simply love the process of learning and applying what I'm learning. Last week, I didn't know what an interval was. Now, I somewhat do and this stuff is just so exciting. I'm learning at my pace and maybe someday, this will bring me somewhere :)

As for sitting with a professional composer, I don't think there's any in my area of Switzerland. And believe me, I tried finding one. I'm considering piano lessons, though. That would already go a long way for me to be able to read music and place my chords using a MIDI keyboard rather than clicking in my DAW!
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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MatFluor

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As for sitting with a professional composer, I don't think there's any in my area of Switzerland. And believe me, I tried finding one.

Yep, know that feeling. I'm a swiss guy as well ;) Switzerland has some composers, but very few into Orchestral music, and even fewer wanting to take assistants. Making a career especially in Film and TV is "hard mode" here.

Where are you located? Maybe you would fancy a coffee/beer somewhere ;)
 

GtrString

Senior Member
Hi there, your plan for going though that information is valid, if it gets you to where you want to be.

Your own track is a great start on a portfolio, though. I dont see any of the classes you listed as relevant based on this. You are setting the bar too low. Those courses will teach you what you already know, and tell you that you need more information in your head to get better. Your cue has the trailer instrumentation, it builds, 3 act structure, the mix punches. Its a valid library cue. This is not rocket science and you wont become the next Beethoven.

There are thousands like your track that out there, not better, not worse, so create 5 more of those, finetune them the best you can, add something unexpected, and then move on to something different, in order to build a diverse portfolio. Then pitch it to some libraries. You need to get rejected a lot of times, because it is never really about your track, it is about what they need right now. Evaluate progress on a yearly basis. As a library composer, you need volume, not just quality, so keep moving forward. The minutes of your life is ticking away, to quote HZ.

I think you need a better balance between passive information and active experimentation. Passive learning materials are nice-to, but not need-to. Dont learn by watching, it is ineffective. Learn by doing and discover what you need to learn from trying to do what you want, before signing up for anything. That is need-to, imho. I think there is quite a big risk youll use the courses to pacify yourself, based on the assumption that you are not good enough to make “proper” music, untill you have filled your head with all the right information. Thats a certain path to the kiss of death.

Your goals does not seem very informed. It is not realistic to make a living from submitting tracks to music libraries. That can be a part of an income, yes, but its more like a pitstop than a final destination, if a full income is your goal. But dont waste time on goal setting, as you have a drive already. Think more about building a portfolio now, work today, not after youve finished x number of classes. Use your portfolio to pitch, hook up with collaborators, present yourself, get teaching/ review / scoring gigs ect. Nobody cares about the classes you took, music is not driven by what you can tell about yourself, like an educational CV ect, it is driven by what you can show you can do. Your career has already started, and your mind lags behind it.

So dont sell yourself short. Do the work. Now.
 

Marko Zirkovich

Active Member
Hey Akarin, you've gotten some great advice in regards to music already. Let me chime in with something that might be even more important in the long run: get more sleep. 4 hours/night is way too little. You might think/feel that sleep is wasted time, but it's essential. Not only for your health, but for your productivity as well. The better rested you are, the better you'll function when you are actually awake and the more productive you'll be.
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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Thanks for your reply :)

Very nice what you said about my track but it definitely sounds like crap :-D Right now, I think I'm learning a lot from the Evenant course I mentioned earlier. After each lesson, I create 1-2 new tracks to apply what I just learned and so far, it works well. I'm not limiting myself to passive learning. I experiment. A lot!

As for the income thing, I don't plan on making this a full-time income, I'm a realist. My side gig is to write programming books. One book takes me anywhere between 6 months to 12 months to write and I'd really like to switch from writing books to making music. If it doesn't work out financially... ...who cares, I'm having fun :)
 
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Akarin

Akarin

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Hey Akarin, you've gotten some great advice in regards to music already. Let me chime in with something that might be even more important in the long run: get more sleep. 4 hours/night is way too little. You might think/feel that sleep is wasted time, but it's essential. Not only for your health but for your productivity as well. The better rested you are, the better you'll function when you are actually awake and the more productive you'll be.

Hehe, thanks! I guess it's just my sleep cycle that is wired like this. Haven't slept any different in at least the past 30 years :)
 

GtrString

Senior Member
Thanks for your reply :)

Very nice what you said about my track but it definitely sounds like crap :-D

Well, its very cool you so easily can dismiss my thoughts about your track. I was not trying to patronize you, but elicit the qualities I could see was present in the track, so you could recognize what you in fact already CAN do. But in the end it is not your (nor mine) opinion about your own music that counts, if you are to be a professional. Mine may not be what you are looking for, but I do have 10 years of experience with library music and a day job teaching at the university. Good luck ahead.
 
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Jeremy Spencer

Senior Member
I'm considering piano lessons, though. That would already go a long way for me to be able to read music and place my chords using a MIDI keyboard rather than clicking in my DAW!

Do it! I started formal classical piano lessons four months ago (even though I've been playing by ear and composing for over 20 years). My composition and playing have improved drastically, not to mention my technique. However, if you take lessons, make sure you have a piano or at least a decent weighted keyboard.
 
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