Music Composition | How to Understand Composition (Made Simple)
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Music Composition | How to Understand Composition (Made Simple)

September 15, 2019


Hey guys, I’m Wilson from CScales, and in
this video I’m gonna be showing you how to understand a music production core
that’s probably the least understood for most producers, which is composition. Most people have probably tried learning composition at some point in time to
better their music, but usually stop because they couldn’t relate to the
information and found it too complicated to learn. So this is you, I figured I’d
show you a way to understand composition that’s simple and easy to implement in
your production by relating it to something everybody knows, language. Let’s
start with the basics. What is composition? Sure chords and melodies are
the surface level of what it is but the biggest reason on why people implement
composition is to control the mood of your production. In other words, it
controls when somebody feels happy or sad in a song. This isn’t to say that
there aren’t other factors that control a person’s mood in a song but
composition is by far the most impactful method which is why it’s considered a
core part of production. So before we get into details, let’s first start by
showing you how to think about composition. Instead of happy and sad,
we’re going to replace these specific emotions with more broad feelings like
lighter moods or darker moods and place them in a spectrum. When you first start
your production the first thing you need to think about in the composition is
where you want to be in this spectrum. This is going to be your baseline mood.
The second thing you need to figure out is how far away you want to move from
this mood. So for example if you have a lighter sounding mood how far away do
you want this emotion to change. Another way to think about this is to visualize
the spectrum as warm and cold instead of black and white. Within each of these
colors there’s going to be a lighter and darker version. In music we tend to split
these into major lighter versions of the color or minor darker versions of the
color. So in our example, if you’re a lighter based mood you have a choice of
switching between the tones within that base or switching to tones in other
bases. But as you move towards the ends of the spectrum the intensity of the
darkness increases. So let’s get into some details using Calvin Harris’s song
“Slide” as an example. Composition is an emotional language.
Just like you need different arrangements of letters to know specific
languages, you need to have different arrangements of notes to create the
seven base mood languages which are called modes. You might have heard two of
these base languages in music, which are the C major scale which is an Ionian
mode. And an A minor scale which is an Aeolian mode. Now I’m not gonna go into too much
details about these different modes, scales, and music theory, but you’d like to
see a separate video on this topic, let me know in the comments. Anyways, “Slide’s”
mood language is the third darkest language, the Aeolian mode, a D flat Aeolian
to be exact. But for the sake of simplicity, we’re
gonna switch this key to an A Aeolian, which is all the white keys on a piano. As a side-note,
switching keys is kind of like changing accents in a language. The base language
is still the same, just like the English language in Britain in America, but the
way it’s told it gives it a different style and character. Now that we have the
language, it’s time to create the sentence structure which use something
called chords. The basic structure of a chord is just a combination of three
notes in a mode, usually starting with a tonic chord, which is another way of
saying a chord with the first note being the first note of the scale in the mode.
In the case of “Slide” you only have two chords, both in the same base mood of a
Aeolian, which are the darker sounding tonic A minor chord. and a lighter sounding G
major chord. As a result, the sentence structure for this emotional language is one that switches from a dark mood to a light mood. Here’s what it would sound
like if the sentence structure had a second chord in a dark mood. And in more advanced situations we could
even do something like borrow chords from different modes, or different languages,
for even lighter or darker structures This is something called modal
interchange, which again we won’t go into too much detail for now but it allows
you to create even more mood changes than just the seven in the base mood.
Finally the last piece of composition is what’s being said in the emotional
sentence which is the melody. The melody is the characteristics that make the
song special and usually always follow the structure of a chord much like how
what you say follows a specific sentence structure. With so many combinations you can always find different melodies that sound good in the same chord structure.
Let’s take a look at some melodies from popular songs using the same chord
structure from “Slide” the only difference is that the melody changes or what’s
been said. You’re going to notice a common theme in a lot of these melodies. They setup a repetition that gets broken later in the
melody. This is the golden rule for melodies. You always want to be
establishing a groove for the audience to get a hold of as a common theme. Once they understand it, changing it even the slightest bit every now and then keeps
the melody interesting and prevents the song from going stale. So to summarize there’s three things you ultimately need to decide in a
composition. The mode, which is the general mood baseline or the emotional
language. The chords which are the changes in the mood or the language
structure. And the melody, which is the emotional theme and style, and what’s
being said in the language. If you’d like to see more on this topic and a
comprehensive look on how to make music productions simple for your own process
head over to learncscales.com where we use FL studio and the Mainstream Top 40
songs show you the fastest and simplest methods to learn and master music
production. So thank you for watching and we’re going to be posting more videos on
this channel every week so stay tuned and I’ll see you on the next one.

Only registered users can comment.

  1. thank you very much for all of these videos! very well made and very easy to understand! please continue with this!

  2. How did you get the order of chords from light to dark within each mode? It doesn't seem like it's the same relative order as the modes?

  3. Could you do compression next. It’s the ONE thing I struggle with and seeing it simple would help alot

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