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krimzen
post Jan 1 2009, 02:32 AM
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Hey Ivan!
Im just trying to get some input, and i tend to understand your theoretical explanations pretty well.
So.. Im wondering what steps you take in order to compose something you can hear in your head. From key selection to scale choices and chord progressions. I know this is probably basic information, but ive noticed everyone does it differently and im struggling with it.
Any help would be appreciated.
Patrick.
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 2 2009, 04:26 PM
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Hey mate smile.gif

When I start to compose something, wetter it's a song, or some smaller piece, I always start from determining the key. Often it happens that some good note sequence, or a riff comes to mind, and then I see where I can play it on the fretboard.

So the steps would be in general something like this:

1. Determining the key: determining the key is nothing else than determining major scale notes that are used. When I start thinking about the key I normally right away know major scale, and Aeolian mode, since those 2 scales are in most common use. For example:

I play something, and then see that I'm using D major key. This means that D major scale is Ionian mode, and then I can determine other modes as well. Through practice I know immediately that relative minor to D major scale is B minor scale. B minor scale is Aeolian mode, and it starts from VI note of the D major scale. And then I check out the notes on the fretboard and modes that they build:

D (Ionian)
E (Dorian)
F# (Phrygian)
G (Lydian)
A (Mixolydian)
B (Aeolian)
C# (Locrian)

In general practice I usually just start with D major/B minor scale. I don't need to go deep into modes for now, but it is useful to write them down if composing the piece in D major key, simply as a reference.

At this time I already have a pattern in my head over the fretboard. Now bare in mind that this pattern doesn't change if you change the key - it is always the same, you can just shift it horizontally and play in another key, but for now we will stay in D major. The pattern looks like this:





2. Determining the chords: This is the second important part. Since I have the notes from D major key, I can easily determine the chords can be used as a backing. Knowing the chords is a lot of job done, so for example let's write down again D major/key notes:

D (Ionian) - D major
E (Dorian) - E minor
F# (Phrygian) - F# minor
G (Lydian) - G major
A (Mixolydian) - A major
B (Aeolian) - B minor
C# (Locrian) - C# dim (C#mb5)

In general practice I always start from D major/B minor chords from the picture bellow



The reason why I do this starts from the way I learned notes from the pattern in the first place. First scale I learned was B minor pentatonic, and from the picture B minor pentatonic box 1 is in the place where the marked B minor chord is. Then I just check out the relative major chord, that will always be in the place where D major chord is marked. These two positions are kinda engraved in my head along this basic pattern over the fretboard, so I naturally play then first.

After playing these 2 basic chords, I start to play all the other chords as well to get to know the progression a bit. Then I make the progression I want and improvise over it.

3. Making a guitar arrangements: In this final part I already know the key, the patterns and played all the 7 chords within the key. I use Nuendo DAW software and there I lay down the chord progression FIRST, and then work on the solo. If I need to rehearse the solo, like for the lesson I simply record over and over again some licks until I learn them by heart and slowly - bit by bit I compose the solo. When Rhythm and Solo tracks are done, I can maybe insert some guitar fill parts to fill the space if these two tracks sound a bit "empty".


So this is basically the procedure I got used to using over the years. In the beginning it was a bit hard to immediately know the patterns and chords, but I made a small table on the wall at that time where I written down all the notes in all the keys. This helped me as a guide to know the notes and chords right away without having to write them every time I start doing something new. After some year or two, I composed so much material in this manner that I was learning it by heart, and now I simply tell a key and know right away the notes and chords from it. If I decide that I'm using D major key, patterns immediately gets placed on the fretboard, and chords are right there within the patterns. I still use that Dmajor/Bminor reference from the second picture as a starting point, but can play all the chords right away based on the pattern on the neck.


Let me know if you have any more questions mate, this method may be little confusing, as it is not some general rule from a book - it's just something that I used over some period and through practice I kinda perfected it a bit. I think everybody learn similar methods for composing one way or another, and over certain period of time these methods become sort of a second nature so you use then without thinking.

If you want I can send you the table that I used, I think I still have it here somewhere.


Cheers mate smile.gif

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Jan 2 2009, 04:27 PM


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kaznie_NL
post Jan 2 2009, 05:45 PM
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QUOTE (Ivan Milenkovic @ Jan 2 2009, 04:26 PM) *
Hey mate smile.gif

When I start to compose something, wetter it's a song, or some smaller piece, I always start from determining the key. Often it happens that some good note sequence, or a riff comes to mind, and then I see where I can play it on the fretboard.

So the steps would be in general something like this:

1. Determining the key: determining the key is nothing else than determining major scale notes that are used. When I start thinking about the key I normally right away know major scale, and Aeolian mode, since those 2 scales are in most common use. For example:

I play something, and then see that I'm using D major key. This means that D major scale is Ionian mode, and then I can determine other modes as well. Through practice I know immediately that relative minor to D major scale is B minor scale. B minor scale is Aeolian mode, and it starts from VI note of the D major scale. And then I check out the notes on the fretboard and modes that they build:

D (Ionian)
E (Dorian)
F# (Phrygian)
G (Lydian)
A (Mixolydian)
B (Aeolian)
C# (Locrian)

In general practice I usually just start with D major/B minor scale. I don't need to go deep into modes for now, but it is useful to write them down if composing the piece in D major key, simply as a reference.

At this time I already have a pattern in my head over the fretboard. Now bare in mind that this pattern doesn't change if you change the key - it is always the same, you can just shift it horizontally and play in another key, but for now we will stay in D major. The pattern looks like this:





2. Determining the chords: This is the second important part. Since I have the notes from D major key, I can easily determine the chords can be used as a backing. Knowing the chords is a lot of job done, so for example let's write down again D major/key notes:

D (Ionian) - D major
E (Dorian) - E minor
F# (Phrygian) - F# minor
G (Lydian) - G major
A (Mixolydian) - A major
B (Aeolian) - B minor
C# (Locrian) - C# dim (C#mb5)

In general practice I always start from D major/B minor chords from the picture bellow



The reason why I do this starts from the way I learned notes from the pattern in the first place. First scale I learned was B minor pentatonic, and from the picture B minor pentatonic box 1 is in the place where the marked B minor chord is. Then I just check out the relative major chord, that will always be in the place where D major chord is marked. These two positions are kinda engraved in my head along this basic pattern over the fretboard, so I naturally play then first.

After playing these 2 basic chords, I start to play all the other chords as well to get to know the progression a bit. Then I make the progression I want and improvise over it.

3. Making a guitar arrangements: In this final part I already know the key, the patterns and played all the 7 chords within the key. I use Nuendo DAW software and there I lay down the chord progression FIRST, and then work on the solo. If I need to rehearse the solo, like for the lesson I simply record over and over again some licks until I learn them by heart and slowly - bit by bit I compose the solo. When Rhythm and Solo tracks are done, I can maybe insert some guitar fill parts to fill the space if these two tracks sound a bit "empty".


So this is basically the procedure I got used to using over the years. In the beginning it was a bit hard to immediately know the patterns and chords, but I made a small table on the wall at that time where I written down all the notes in all the keys. This helped me as a guide to know the notes and chords right away without having to write them every time I start doing something new. After some year or two, I composed so much material in this manner that I was learning it by heart, and now I simply tell a key and know right away the notes and chords from it. If I decide that I'm using D major key, patterns immediately gets placed on the fretboard, and chords are right there within the patterns. I still use that Dmajor/Bminor reference from the second picture as a starting point, but can play all the chords right away based on the pattern on the neck.


Let me know if you have any more questions mate, this method may be little confusing, as it is not some general rule from a book - it's just something that I used over some period and through practice I kinda perfected it a bit. I think everybody learn similar methods for composing one way or another, and over certain period of time these methods become sort of a second nature so you use then without thinking.

If you want I can send you the table that I used, I think I still have it here somewhere.


Cheers mate smile.gif

mellow.gif mellow.gif ... You like typing don't ya? Great stuff Ivan!!



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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 2 2009, 06:43 PM
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Been typing for 4 hours on the forums now, I think it's time for a meal biggrin.gif


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krimzen
post Jan 3 2009, 02:09 AM
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I couldnt have asked for a better response. Thank you so much. You read my mind at the end, I would be really grateful if you could send me that table.
Thanks again Ivan
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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 3 2009, 06:11 PM
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No problem mate, here ya go smile.gif It can be a bit confusing, so ask me if you need explanation for it. Here's the thing with it:

This is basically the table with all the diatonic keys. There are 14 of them, because of the way the circle of fifths and fourths work (some of them have the same notes) You don't need to be bothered by this, so let's check out how this table works:

In the middle column (column "J" ) you have the key of C major. It starts from above with the note C and goes down like this:

C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D
E
F
G
A

Now pay attention at the color that C note has. It is orange. The C in the row 10 is orange as well. This is the C major SCALE and KEY

The notes bellow the row 10 are going to A which is the last note in the C major column. It is in row 15 and marked with dark blue color. I have done this cause I wanted to have full relative minor scale of every key as well, and because of the intervals which I will explain now.

Now pay attention to the Column "A". There you have the degrees of the scale written down. You have I - VIII from orange row 3 to orange row 10. These numbers tell you what degree are the notes in rows of the major scales to the right.

Now check out the Column "B". There you can see the intervals that notes represent. You will notice that there are interval numbers from 1-13. I've gone beyond the major scale root, so you can easily pick the notes for extended chords.

The next column "C" tells you what mode every note builds within a key to the right. This is where to colors come in handy. I've made this layout:

ORANGE
LIGHT BLUE
LIGHT BLUE
YELLOW
YELLOW
DARK BLUE
GREEN
ORANGE
( and repeating again )

Because the table contains too many notes, sometimes it is difficult to find the right note. So this should help. "Warm" colors build major chords, and "cold" colors build minor chords. Green is exception and it is building diminished chord (Locrian mode).

ORANGE is the root of the key
LIGHT BLUE is 2 note of the key, builds dorian mode, has minor chord
LIGHT BLUE is 3 note of the key, builds phrygian mode, has minor chord
YELLOW is 4 note of the key, builds Lydian mode, has major chord
YELLOW is 5 note of the key, builds Mixolydian mode, has major chord
DARK BLUE is 6 note of the key, builds Aeolian mode, natural minor scale, builds minor chord
GREEN is 7 note of the key, builds Locrian mode, and diminished chord.

This table can tell you quick and easy what notes are within any key you want, and you can stack notes to build chords as well. I suggest printing the sheet in color and putting it on the wall. After some time the colors will enable you to find the right note immediately, and after some more time you will learn them by heart. Since this is practically the whole diatonic scale theory the system is pretty effective.

TABLE OF KEYS

This post has been edited by Ivan Milenkovic: Sep 10 2009, 10:26 PM


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krimzen
post Jan 4 2009, 03:27 AM
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Wow thats pretty ingenious. And of course i have a few questions because I however am not a genious.
I dont understand how to read it horizontally. Vertically it makes sense. Horizontally, not so much.
Also where do you pull the relative minors from?

Again thank you, this is a theoretical revelation for me. Im sure it would help a lot of other people as well.
Hm the more I look at it the more it makes sense.. This is a good thing.

Thanks again, ttys
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skennington
post Jan 4 2009, 04:10 AM
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Ivan, your a machine...Thanks for all you do here man! smile.gif


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Ivan Milenkovic
post Jan 4 2009, 04:39 PM
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QUOTE (krimzen @ Jan 4 2009, 03:27 AM) *
Wow thats pretty ingenious. And of course i have a few questions because I however am not a genious.
I dont understand how to read it horizontally. Vertically it makes sense. Horizontally, not so much.
Also where do you pull the relative minors from?

Again thank you, this is a theoretical revelation for me. Im sure it would help a lot of other people as well.
Hm the more I look at it the more it makes sense.. This is a good thing.

Thanks again, ttys

You don't have to read it horizontally at all mate, the notes are stacked only vertically as scales. Horizontaly you can see what mode every note builds, and what interval it represents in it's major key.

Every major scale (key) has a relative minor one. For example C major scale has relative A minor scale. A minor starts from dark blue row (row 8), and finishes of on the last dark blue row (row 16).

I know it can be a bit confusing at first but after a while you will pay attention only to colors as guides hopefully and learn it all pretty fast. Ask freely if you need more questions. CHeers! smile.gif

QUOTE (skennington @ Jan 4 2009, 04:10 AM) *
Ivan, your a machine...Thanks for all you do here man! smile.gif


It's my my pleasure mate, cheers! smile.gif


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Arrival
post Apr 20 2009, 11:44 PM
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This website could be a useful tool for everyone. I saved the page to my desktop, so it's on my computer wherever I take it even without internet.

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Ivan Milenkovic
post Apr 22 2009, 12:54 PM
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Great idea mate! smile.gif


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