Do you have an idea for a song, but you don’t know where to go next? Then learn how to write a song like a pro, with this new workflow series.
Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate Harmony and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory. We help you make great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! If that sounds useful to you, then subscribe to our YouTube channel (or Podcast) and hit that bell to get notified every Friday, when we publish our new video. Also, if you’re new to our channel, be sure to download our free book “12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords” below. Alright, it’s time to open your DAW to hack music theory.
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Okay, so you’ve got an idea for a song, and you’ve got it programmed into your DAW, but what do you do next, and how do you turn that idea into a section? That’s what you’ll learn in this lesson. But first… tea!
In last week’s lesson How to Start Writing a Song we showed you the workflow for starting a new song and getting it up and running in minutes, so if you missed that, check it out. So now we’re at the point where we have an idea, and it’s programmed into our DAW, but how do we grow that idea into a whole section? Easy, just follow these 3 steps:
STEP 1. RHYTHM
Right, so open your drum track that you wrote from last week’s lesson, then copy the rhythm of its most interesting bit. For ours, that’s definitely the irregular cymbal pattern, as our kick pattern is just a simple four-on-the-floor. However, if you went with a simpler cymbal pattern and a more interesting kick pattern, then copy the rhythm of your kicks instead. Next, paste that rhythm into your bass track, and move it to the note you want to make your root. And if you just hit play right now, you’ll notice it’s already sounding pretty damn cool.
STEP 2. CHORDS
Now that you’ve got the rhythm for your bass line, it’s time to choose a mode, and assign pitches to this rhythm that outline a chord progression. I know, you’re probably thinking: Chords?! Yep, in order to write a great bass line, you need to be thinking about its harmony, which will in turn start writing your chord progression for you (and that’s actually next week’s lesson, where you’ll learn how to finish this section). Right, so we went with the Aeolian mode, and the chords we chose are: I → ♭VII → IV → ♭III. Also, be sure to change chords on interesting beats, instead of the predictable beat 1 and beat 3.
STEP 3. MELODY
Alright, now that you have the harmony for your bass line, it’s time to turn that into a melody, cos a bass line that only plays the root note of each chord is a boring bass line. Now, there’s many ways to turn this into a melody, but they all involve adding some notes to create an interesting melodic contour. We actually chose the very conventional Aeolian mode in step 2, because we wanted to add chromaticism here, which is extra spicy, so there was no need for a spicy mode to start with. And by the way, chromaticism is just a fancy way of saying you’re playing one or more notes that are not in your mode. We added the ♭2, 7, ♭5, and 3. And this passing note at the end here looks like a chromatic note, but it’s not, it’s just the 2.
If you wanna learn everything you need to know about modes in three simple hacks, then check out our Songwriting & Producing PDF (click & scroll down). It also contains hacks on how to write bass lines, chord progressions, riffs, melodies, counterpoint harmonies, and more, and it comes with MIDI examples too!
Kate & Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony)
Music Teachers & Producers in Vancouver BC, Canada
Take Your Music to the Next Level
LEVEL 1 – FREE BOOK
"12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords" will give you a super solid music theory foundation in 30 minutes!
LEVEL 2 – SONGWRITING & PRODUCING PDF (click & scroll)
This is our best-selling PDF, which includes MIDI file examples. Learn the essential hacks for songwriting and producing, like our Melody Checklist (the ultimate list of do's and don'ts for writing great melodies). You'll also learn how to write chord progressions, bass lines, riffs, counterpoint harmonies, and more!
LEVEL 3 – LESSON PACKS
After learning our essential hacks, it's time to put them to practical use and start writing some new songs. Lesson packs include step-by-step PDF guides to making music for different instruments and in different genres (electronic, metal, soundtrack, etc.), as well as multitrack MIDI files of the examples.
LEVEL 4 – ONLINE APPRENTICESHIP
Go from a blank screen to a finished song, in this online video course. Learn how to write new sections for an existing section, how to transition between sections in different keys, how to structure and arrange, and much more! This course has been called "life-changing" many times, so join 700+ music makers now (from all genres), who are learning Ray's secret hack: Song Whispering.
Hack Music Theory is a pioneering DAW method for making great music that stands out, so you can move and grow your audience! Taught by multi-award-winning music lecturer Ray Harmony, and his protégé wife Kate Harmony, from their studio in Vancouver BC, Canada. Ray is the author of critically-acclaimed book series "Hack Music Theory", and has made music with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Tom Morello (Rage Against the Machine), Steven Wilson (Porcupine Tree), Devin Townsend (Strapping Young Lad), Ihsahn (Emperor), Kool Keith (Ultramagnetic MCs), Madchild (Swollen Members), and many more! Kate has the highest grade distinction in Popular Music Theory from the London College of Music, and is the only person on the planet who's been trained by Ray to teach his method. On that note, the "Hack Music Theory" YouTube channel teaches relevant and instantly-usable music theory for producers, DAW users, and all other music makers (songwriters, singers, guitarists, bassists, drummers, etc.) in all genres, from EDM to R&B, pop to hip-hop, reggae to rock, electronic to metal (and yes, we djefinitely djent!).
© 2019 Revolution Harmony
Revolution Harmony is Ray Harmony & Kate Harmony
All content (script & music) in video by Revolution Harmony