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> Marek's Creativity Workouts, for Gab's Army
Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 14 2014, 05:23 PM
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Hi Marek! Welcome to our thread for Gab's Army where we will work on creativity, composition and music theory. I'm very excited about this since I think that the direction of this thread can guide us to unexplored fields by both of us.

At first please share here all the things that come to mind related to these topics, or other things related to creation in your life. Tell me what limitations you feel when you compose music, what things you'd like to achieve, what composers you admire and everything else you consider important...



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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 15 2014, 10:12 AM
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Hi Gabriel! I'll try to answer the questions you gave below.

Creativity: creativity is "the thing" that one can hear in their head, or more precisely the quantity and quality of it. Some people can hear more/nicer stuff in their heads than others, and we will brand them more creative. I expect this to be associated with practice, the more one tries to "bring stuff from his head" the more skill in it he will have. I don't practice this skill, when I tried that it was always difficult, and many times I easily forgot my own idea before trying to bring it outside my head. Sometimes I have a "phrase' in my head, and in my head it seems pretty easy, but somehow I can't find the right notes on the guitar, like in my head the guitar is out of tune huh.gif

Music Theory: Another field where I know very little. Basically I know that scales are formulas of intervals/tones. Because of that I theoretically know how to estimate what chords can go well with a scale, but in reality this knowledge was almost never used, got rusted and it would now be hard to use it properly. As far as scale practice goes, in the past I "run" the neck with the pentatonic scale all over the neck and also the Minor/Major scale, but as little thought and understanding was given, now I can tell that it yielded more result as a alternate picking exercise, than the learning of scales. When soloing I feel most comfortable in the 1'st position of pentatonic, and can play few lick outside of it. The sad part is that sometimes I learn a lesson here on GMC, and am not sure in what position it is played, in what scale, so I won't be able to quickly apply it on any backingtrack...
I don't remember if I have any other theory knowledge...

Composition + Limitations when composing: holy grail of musicians, after all what is the point of playing guitar if not for expressing oneself? And that can be done only by playing your own music. Even though it may sound weird, I think I have more success in this department than in the previous two. I am in a band, and together with the drummer we "composed" 5 songs, and agree to split the "glory" 50/50. I also "composed" three basic chord bashing songs along with the lyrics that I sang beside the campfires, in the past. As of now I don't really have anything recorded to share with you, and that is associated with my limitations (I'll write about them soon).
The one of more difficult parts of composing is connecting ideas in a nice way, but also of course formulating ideas that fit well together.
In the band, we already abandoned few ideas we liked, because no one could think of a good continuation. Like we have one or two riffs we like, but two riffs is often not enough to make a song, and somehow we can't find anything else that we could add and be happy with the result. The second part - nice connection - is also a problem, often parts sound nice separately but you can feel that the transition from one part to the other could be improved.
Limitations are many, the two obvious are:
- lack of practice/enough ideas
- lack of theory
But there is also something I think is big, but may be wrong.. -->
I have no skill in working with music on the computer, I cannot make my own backingtracks, I don't understand the programmes that are commonly used to make music. For example I thought about making my own backingtracks and bought EzDrummer with the Drumkit from Hell addon in the past, but there was no "idiot prof" interface that I hoped for, that would basically generate some stuff on its own dry.gif I had no idea how to use this thing, and since then it just sits on a shelve. That is also the reason I don't have anything from my band recorded, I can record my guitar parts via Line6 Gearbox and Reaper, but would not be able to add drum/bass. What is more I feel/expect that it is beyond my ability, because of lack of both musical theory and lack of any idea how to play the drums.

Creation in life: I am in a need to create, but I rarely do. I have multiple hobbies, one of them is assembling painting model kits/historical/fantasy miniatures. I like it and it somehow helps with the creation part, but of course it isn't all that creative, because I work with something that is "premade".
There are also many activities I "would like" to learn, like drawing, singing and blacksmithing, but hesitate to do so. On one side I already have too many hobbies/interests and because of that I live in a constant feeling of doing to little and "failing" in my hobbies. So there is a rational reason why I shouldn't even think about starting anything more.
On the other side it is difficult for me to get out of my comfort zone, I'm afraid that I won't make it. This goes to all of my activities, be it composing music, trying out new painting techniques, fear of losing in a board game. I have some success in practicing GMC lessons and this gives me satisfaction, so I tend to practice them instead of learning theory/EzDrummer or trying hard to compose...

We could say that I have a motivation problem, but from my experience lack of motivation should be associated with deeper problems/fears/urges and as of now, I don't really comprehend those as of now.

Composers I admire: surprisingly difficult question. I don't really now the answer.
My favourite, beloved band is Blind Guardian. My favourite album is Imaginations from The other Side. Song from it - Bright Eyes or Mordred Song. I also fell in love with Blind Guardian vocalist + Iced Earth guitarist side project Demons and Wizards, although it sounds quite different guitar wise, but the composing of Hansi can be sensed;p
But, as far as composing goes, I feel like Blind Guardian is miles away from what I can emulate or even comprehend. There is some much stuff going on in their songs, always few instruments, always the lead guitar is playing some "solo-like" stuff, so many changes in the songs, my mind is overwhelmed.
When I listen to for example Megadeth I at least think that I could copy their song structure, like Riff1+Riff2+Chorus+Riff2+Chorus+Solo+Riff1 or something like that. I can hear that the guitar riffing is the "meat and potatoes" of the song. This is something I very much enjoy in some bands, that they have the "raw, in your face, heavy metal" attitude. Many Judas Priest/Megadeth/GraveDigger songs, or for example Warrel Dane solo album have this "simple" feel, and I fantasise that I could also make music like that. As much as I would love to make something Blind Guardianish I feel like it is so much difficult:/

I don't know if those answers are enough, but even typing all this text and thinking about my answers got me a bit tired, so I apologize if it is not enough/hard to read.

Once again thanks for accepting me in the army, so we can eliminate our enemies together laugh.gif

This post has been edited by Marek Rojewski: Apr 15 2014, 10:12 AM


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 15 2014, 04:38 PM
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Hi mate! Your answer is fantastic. Thanks a lot for taking the time to go deeper and cover the different topics. There are many things to work but first I would like to share a part of my story related to composition.

I remember that it was extremely difficult for me to create songs that I liked when I was around 13 years old. I used to jam with a friend and we composed some Maiden meets punk songs that were ok but I wasn't very happy of them. I decided to become a better guitarist, and I practiced a lot until I found a band called Damnation that was looking for a guitar player. I was 17 years old, I could already play metal at a good level but never could compose songs. Damnation had amazing songs and good bassist and singer. I recorded a demo in cassette and I sent it to them. The bass player was a great composer, and being with him taught me that it was possible to create good music, there wasn't a big secret, it was just trying, creating ideas, songs, keeping motivation, listening to a lot of music, learning lots of songs, and trusting in your thoughts, letting it be natural. I remember that in those days, I said: ok, I have a great composer in the band, I will use my time to keep on evolving as a guitarist. I used to arrange the songs but not composing for the bands.
One day, the project was over, the bassist discussed with the vocalist, we auditioned another one and the issue happened again, so I said... I will focus on something from my own, which doesn't depend on other guy.
The day after the band was over I started to compose songs, I was totally motivated to gain all the time I had wasted leading with band mates issues. I just sat down and started to compose some progressive/power metal stuff. It was something completely new for me, I remember starting basing on other songs structures, other songs drum tracks. I didn't think in the quality, I just started working, trusting totally in myself and the first ideas that came to mind to connect the parts and finish the songs. I composed 9 songs and a power metal version of help (The Beatles) in 10 days. I remember my brother saying: It's cool that you are always sure of how the song must continue... and my answer to that is.. I'm not sure but I want to finish it to continue with a new one.
This happened in 2002 and from that year I composed lots of songs for my projects, being Cirse my main one since 2003.
At first, my ideas were too influenced by songs, and in some cases it were variations at first which slowly gain their own personality. This process helped me to slowly discover myself and my compositions become better and better, and more connected with my own personality. This is an endless journey, but it would have started if I would just waited until I felt that I could compose a masterpiece that could be included in my favorite band's best album.

Ok, I wrote a lot! haha I hope that you can see what I mean... smile.gif


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 15 2014, 08:21 PM
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Thanks for the story Gabriel, I guess there is no way to reach the end of the road without starting to walk it wink.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 16 2014, 01:24 PM
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Exactly. smile.gif

Ok mate, I just wake up with this thread in mind and I decided that the first assignment is to learn to write drums on Reaper with EZdrummer and create your own backing tracks. This is so important If you want to start composing your own songs.

So, my idea was that you choose a song (it can be simple if you want, something like AC/DC, Grave Digger, Judas Priest ) and write drums and bass. There are lots of good tutorials about this at youtube. Here I found one:




Deadline for this assignment: April 23th


Are you in?


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 16 2014, 03:17 PM
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Woha, we start fearlessly!:P The video looked very "doable" until something like 10 minute mark, when he started to tweak everything to sound better. But I guess this is not so important at first. I'll do my best to meet the deadline, only obstacle that can be a problem is if my girlfriend convinces me to go out of town for the few free days that Easter provides us.

I'll write more and keep in touch, now installing EzDrummer on my PC wink.gif


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 16 2014, 04:37 PM
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Wanted to edit the previous post, but dunno if you already read it or not -->
What VST should I use for the BASS? Also, how should I do this?:/ I can maybe find some bass tabs, but otherwise no idea how to do it, I don't have "good ear". So if I find some tabs and VST I guess I'll be able to work with it on Reaper, or even use TuxGuitar to make a bass midi and throw it in Reaper.


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 16 2014, 06:45 PM
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QUOTE (Marek Rojewski @ Apr 16 2014, 12:37 PM) *
Wanted to edit the previous post, but dunno if you already read it or not -->
What VST should I use for the BASS? Also, how should I do this?:/ I can maybe find some bass tabs, but otherwise no idea how to do it, I don't have "good ear". So if I find some tabs and VST I guess I'll be able to work with it on Reaper, or even use TuxGuitar to make a bass midi and throw it in Reaper.



Hi mate! Great to see you already working on the task! smile.gif

Here you can find a free vst Bass: http://www.vst4free.com/free_vst.php?id=191

How to transcribe bass? You can go very simple, just keep roots, not arranges. You can play the guitar chords roots and don't worry if there are wrong notes. Do it the best you can.

What song are you going to transcribe?


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 17 2014, 08:24 PM
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The second song that came to my mind was Warriors of the World by Manowar (the first one was Monster of Rock by Judas Priest but after listening I thought I may come up with something easier:P). If the Warriors of the World is not too easy, then I'll go with that. Maybe will find some chorus/organ VST and try to add that as well?


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 18 2014, 05:15 AM
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That's a very good choice. It has a simple harmony so you can follow it with bass. Let me know if you need help with it or if you want to check it with me.

There are lots of free VSTi out there. Here you have a good link: http://www.native-instruments.com/es/speci...ts-and-effects/



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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 18 2014, 12:15 PM
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Hi Gabriel! Here is what I "produced".

Attached File  asignment.mp3 ( 2.46MB ) Number of downloads: 46


I don't know if the assignment was more about sound edition or not. The embarrassing truth about me is that I have also very little experience with guitar gear and sound tweaking. So embarrassing that I forgot to write about that in my first post dry.gif laugh.gif All the possibilities to change the sound of these organs or bass give me a headache mellow.gif

I'm pretty happy with the result so far, few days ago I wouldn't think I'll make something like this. The organ part was a nice addition, feels like a full orchestra composer already biggrin.gif tongue.gif

I uploaded the version that is shorter than the whole song, but I think there is nothing more to look for besides a gap without bass/drums when there was the "and if I fall in battle -bridge-".

I think that in few instances the bass makes some sliding/other guitar effects that I have no knowledge of how I could put them in Reaper.


PS: now I started to worry if my assignment was about "writing" the exact drums and bass of the song, or trying to write something else ohmy.gif Hope it was the first thing wink.gif

This post has been edited by Marek Rojewski: Apr 18 2014, 12:17 PM


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 18 2014, 04:29 PM
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hehehe this is excellent mate! Congratulations on achieving the first assignment! You see... you wasn't able to write drums and bass some days ago and now you wrote the main idea of this song by Manowar. smile.gif

Did you use the VSTi that I suggested for bass? It sounds good!

We won't care now about mix and overall sound, the idea is to train your skills to be able to record demos of your songs and ideas fluently.

I have been thinking on a second assignment which I know will be a bit more tricky. The task consist on choosing one of those 5 songs that you composed with your drummer do a demo with VSTi and real guitars. You can ask your friend to help you to transcribe the drum rhythms and fills.

If you need help with guitar amp emulators or recording guitars, just tell me.

The deadline for this one is April 25th (1 week).

Are you in? smile.gif


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 18 2014, 06:02 PM
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I'm glad I did okay smile.gif

The assignment can be tricky, because of Easter holidays the drummer can be unavailable dry.gif (nowadays he is working and studying on some computer science course so he is really busy). So as much as I would like to "take" this assignment, I think some "backup" plan would be good for us. I'll try to convince the drummer, but maybe you can think of some "backup" assignment that I can work on without his help? Maybe another "copy song" one...

I'll keep you informed about the possibilities of me and my drummer working on this one:)


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 19 2014, 02:57 AM
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Sure, please keep me updated about this. If it's not possible we can go for a metal song that you already know how to play on guitar and record your own version.


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 25 2014, 10:02 PM
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Excuses, excuses...

To the last moment, I hoped that the drummer will find time and help me with this assignment. But he is very busy nowadays and our band is on hiatus for the next two months, so finally he didn't come.

I tried to work on my own, and choose one of the simpler songs. Of course the way I programmed the drums has little to do with the way the drummer plays, he really is quite good at it, and makes the drum lines interesting. I just conveyed the basic idea behind the track.

At the end of the song there is a guitar solo, but I can't figure out how exactly the rhythm guitar/drums/bass work under the solo laugh.gif I'll work on it, but wanted to share what I already have.

I must say that the song sounds much better in the rehersal room wink.gif

Here it is: Attached File  tluste.mp3 ( 2.9MB ) Number of downloads: 47


PS: figuring out the solo background is quite important, because I wanted to work on the solo, and it was always hard without the backingtrack. So I hope to be able to show that part soon wink.gif

This post has been edited by Marek Rojewski: Apr 25 2014, 10:03 PM


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 26 2014, 03:07 PM
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Great job man! Don't worry about all those excuses! There is always time to improve this demos, and at the same time we are using this as a practice to train your recording demos abilities. smile.gif

I understand everything except when there are no more guitars. I'm not sure about what's happening there with the song.

About drums, there is nothing like a real drummer for it but there are some tricks that I use to make my drums better in demos (then the drummer can arrange the part). I sometimes borrow loops or grooves from other songs that are close to the one that I'm composing. I use EZdrummer loops, of famous songs midis.


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 26 2014, 06:17 PM
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The part without the guitar at the end, should be the solo part, but I assume I am forgetting something important up there, or just have problems with programming it with the right note length. I sent the file to the drummer and vocalist, maybe they can tell me what I am missing tongue.gif


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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 28 2014, 04:27 AM
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QUOTE (Marek Rojewski @ Apr 26 2014, 02:17 PM) *
The part without the guitar at the end, should be the solo part, but I assume I am forgetting something important up there, or just have problems with programming it with the right note length. I sent the file to the drummer and vocalist, maybe they can tell me what I am missing tongue.gif



hehe ok! let's see what they say..


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Marek Rojewski
post Apr 30 2014, 05:04 PM
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Hi Gabriel. The feedback that I got from my bandmates was rather disappointing, but I'll think of something. I'm going for a four days holidays, so I won't be able to post or work on the assignment, but I do take the guitar and metronome, to practice if possible:)



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Gabriel Leopardi
post Apr 30 2014, 07:12 PM
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QUOTE (Marek Rojewski @ Apr 30 2014, 01:04 PM) *
Hi Gabriel. The feedback that I got from my bandmates was rather disappointing, but I'll think of something. I'm going for a four days holidays, so I won't be able to post or work on the assignment, but I do take the guitar and metronome, to practice if possible:)


Don't worry about bad comments. You are on a learning process. Be brave and keep going, one day they will ask you for recording some demos for their projects. biggrin.gif


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