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Songwriting and Composition

Here's the place to find out how to get out of creative ruts, analyze what makes a great song, discover inspirations for writing, and maybe even meet an online collaborator.


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  1. Let's Hear It!

    What would a Songwriting and Composition forum be without a place for us to post, share, listen, critique, discuss our music?? Here it is!

752 topics in this forum

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  1. who writes the songs?

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  2. Close encounters?

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  3. Some chords ...

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  4. Won`t load songs.

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  5. Song order

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  6. song writting

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  7. Songwriting books

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  8. Opening the door

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  9. Song threads

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  10. Collaboration

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  • Trending posts on MPN

    • Put an EMG SPC in your Strat!!! I have one in my Strat and one in my Tele, both have EMG pickups. It will boost your mids, slightly take your highs down but it's great for kicking leads up a notch and will save you extra cords and pedals on the floor. On a Strat you can have one tone control and one SPC, I'd put it in the middle position since you will be using it often. Simple solution, I LOVE it!!!
    • Nice music and yes, I hear the differences. People in general listen to stories, when we are children we listen to stories and it is ingrained in our beings.  Chords can present stories but they will always be underneath the primary content for the majority. So it goes... 
    • If you only look at melody and not at the structure of the beats, you will make one decision. I've heard lots of new and different beats as African, Middle Eastern, Caribbean, Asian and South American beats have become part and parcel of newer music. It's not that music is becoming simpler, it is that there are transitions to other aspects of complexity. Queen made a new and more complex structure of vocal harmonies more accessible. I don't listen enough to hear if that became part of the new 'ish" but I don't things overall are getting simpler, they are just changing in many ways and going by melody alone doesn't cover those changes. I could be wrong, I'm open to listening.  
    • @AROIOS just a remark. When spelling notes with letters, as is the case here, the sharps and flats are written after the note letter and not in front of it, it’s easier to read. 
    • Out of curiosity, do you believe that the diversity of note combinations has remained the same (or increased) in the past 50 years? If so, why? Also, why does this study fall apart almost instantly upon any real examination?   Do you believe that because the journal is apparently not true simply because it's allegedly open-source and not peer-reviewed and not replicated? Do you suppose it's possible that it could be true even if all of the above is true?   Just curious. Thanks for your time.

    • Key History Although Misha has only been available since mid 2022, its interval-based note-transposition concept actually goes back decades. In 1994, when I was on the editorial staff at Keyboard magazine, a rather confusing press release came in the mail about a product with the most unusual and humorous name I’ve ever heard: the Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee. If you have the July 1994 issue of Keyboard, you can see this text in the New Products section on page 139:        MIDI INTERFACE. Yippeeeeee! Haven’t you always wanted to play music using a computer keyboard? Gruenbaum Research has the answer: Their        Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee ($1,495) is a micro-processor-based MIDI interface that allows you to trigger synth modules from a standard        computer QWERTY keyboard. Modulations and changes of scale are accomplished with the touch of a button or a footswitch. Tone rows and harmony        configurations can be created or selected on the fly. Gruenbaum Research, New York, NY.    Managing editor Debbie Greenberg and I co-wrote this text based on the press release materials we received, but there wasn’t a photo of the Samchillian and we didn’t understand that it was actually a unique MIDI controller, which you can see for yourself in this vintage YouTube video:         Leon Gruenbaum’s Samchillian Tip Tip Tip Cheeepeeeee, as it looked in 2013. (photo by Mick F. Cantarella)      Leon Gruenbaum created the Samchillian, which is really the predecessor to Misha.    There’s another fascinating connection between Misha and Keyboard: Steve DeFuria wrote the Software for Musicians and Systems & Applications columns for the magazine — usually both in the same edition! — beginning in early 1986. In his Systems & Applications column for the September 1987 issue, titled Mapping Perfect Harmonies, Steve wrote, “Wouldn’t it be great if you could just tell your instruments what key you’re playing in, and then play whatever notes you want, while your instruments supply the appropriate harmony note or notes?” He goes on to describe how to program and play with diatonic, Lydian, and Ionian key maps on a powerful MIDI processor that was available at the time, the Axxess Unlimited Mapper. “One of the amazing things about playing this way is the resulting freedom from the standard harmonic ideas that we all tend to fall into in most keyboard styles. If you’re an improviser, you’ll be bowled over by the effect this has on your approach to melody and harmonization. Talk about instant gratification! You’ll undoubtedly find some music that you didn’t know you had in you.”    Steve could have been writing about Misha. Isn’t it great that Steve and Leon got to work together in bringing Misha to life? Eventide project manager Joe Waltz was the third musketeer in making Misha happen.    I will be Zooming soon with Leon, Steve, and Joe about Misha’s creation and where they’d like it to go. Stay tuned.   Bottom Line Misha may not appeal to you. Maybe it would bother you for an E key not to play an E, and perhaps it would bother you for one key to play a different note every time you played it. Modular users might feel its 28hp width isn’t worth the features it delivers. It’s not cheap either.    I get it. I understand these qualms. But for me, Misha hits so many of the right notes. In action, with multitimbral voices from different synths playing a melody or chord progression or sequence like I’ve never played it before, I’m drawn into what’s happening, how I can change what’s going on, where it might go next — it’s challenging and inspiring at the same time. While I worked with Misha, I found that I tended to record more often than I usually do to capture music I didn’t necessarily know how to recreate.    Misha brought me new capabilities in making music, and it’s with me to stay.     Pros: Inspiring MIDI note processing and sequencing. Outstanding for improvising and discovering new melodies and chord progressions, whether or not you know music theory. If you do, Misha is deeply programmable to meet your needs. Scores of scales are available, including plenty that are microtonal. CV control of VCO waveform volumes and pan positions.   Cons: Addictive. No MIDI I/O via USB port. No MIDI control of VCO waveform volumes or pan positions. Tone Row restriction of notes in sequences might seem limiting. Bypassing MIDI note processing requires CC#88 or a multi-step menu dive.  
    • Alternative Controllers with Misha Within Misha’s menu system, you can assign MIDI CCs, MIDI notes, and control voltages to perform functions such as changing the key, the scale, and any other parameter that controls what Misha does. I mentioned earlier about using lengthy keyboards to access extra operations that shorter keyboards can’t get to, but non-keyboard MIDI controllers can play nicely with Misha as well.    Steve DeFuria uses a Novation Launchpad X when he performs live with Misha. It looks like this:    Here’s a map that shows how Steve has programmed Launchpad buttons to control Misha’s key and scale with MIDI CC#s that don’t interfere with the wrong parameters, and choose a different preset, all from the same surface. The Launchpad is a secondary controller, while Steve plays notes on an 88-key MIDI keyboard.      When Steve composes with Misha, he works in Cubase and, instead of using the Launchpad, he enters scale and key CC# data in Misha’s track using Cubase’s MIDI editor.    In my case, I needed something considerably smaller. For the past few years, I’ve packed different battery-powered music devices into a Pelican 1490 case, almost everything connected and ready to plug in, turn on, and make noise with friends. Here are two earlier versions of “Peli” that included Misha. In the case on the right, I used the Dave Smith Instruments Mopho as a second voice to the MicroFreak, both fed MIDI data from Misha. The case came with me to San Francisco for the celebration of Sequential Circuit’s founder Dave Smith, and I wanted to include the Mopho as my personal tribute to Dave. The following day, I played this system in a jam session with co-synthesist David Battino, jazz guitarist Michael Groh, drummer Dave Brandt, and bass player Ned Doherty.      With Misha doing its thing, the improvisational material I played was completely different than my contributions to the music using synths and effects without Misha. I have jammed numerous times with Misha in my system, and the more time I work with it before and at jams, the more different things I can do with Misha’s melodies, sequences, and chord progressions.    Here’s the way Peli looks as of September 2023.      Things are really tight, but I needed a way to change keys, scales, and more in as tiny a space as possible. The solution appears at the bottom toward the right of the MicroFreak. The little off-white box with blue buttons is a Distropolis Goods Phantasmal Force (https://www.tindie.com/products/distropolis/phantasmal-force-micro-midi-controller).        This is what I’ve programmed the DGPF’s 16 buttons to do with Misha.      It was a matter of figuring out which controllers were free and avoiding any controllers used by MIDI gear downstream from Misha. With such extra control engaged, I can change Misha’s key and scale in real time, and quickly enable or disable Misha’s interval processing.
    • Sequencing & the Tone Row Each of Misha’s presets includes a sequence, which you control using the     Stop/Record and Play/Pause buttons. As Misha plays a sequence, you’ll see the Auto Play Menu, and single button-strokes allow you to restart from the first step and vary the duration of all of the notes in the sequence from short, to medium, to long. With dual-button combinations, you can insert a silent step or a random note at the end of the sequence, convert each note in the sequence to a triplet, and undo any of these processes.    Using the Key knob in Auto Play mode, while a sequence is running, you can select among eight play options, including the familiar forward, backward, and random, plus these that aren’t common: Transpose up or down, in which case the sequence gets transposed on each repetition chromatically or by fifths; and Translate up or down, which moves the sequence either way while maintaining the current key signature.    At the same time, the Scale knob lets you use the interval buttons to change sequence playback while you navigate through these options: Interval, which temporarily inserts one or more intervals into the sequence before it returns to the original playback pattern; Clock Division, which allows you to change playback tempo in relation to the master clock, from 192 pulses per step, or one step every two measures, to three pulses per step, or 1/32nd notes; Transpose and Translate; Octave; and Chord (see below).  If you aren’t careful with your timing, changing the clock division mid-measure can offset Misha’s count, and hopefully hitting the restart button will put things back in sync again.    If you pause a sequence, it will start from the paused point when you hit play again. While a sequence is paused, playing notes within Misha’s current MIDI Note Map zone steps through notes in the sequence by intervals.    If you hit the stop button to cease sequence playback, Misha will go into Play mode, all of its interval buttons will light up, and playing buttons or keys will step through notes in the current scale between the defined top and bottom notes. That range is much wider than a typical sequence might have, so I find it useful to alternate between Play and Auto Play modes for creating different flavors of melodies.    Manually playing through a sequence reminds me of Casio’s One Key Play function on portable keyboards from the past. There were two buttons for One Key Play, allowing you to step through a sequence at speeds and with rhythmic timing determined by how you pushed the buttons. Misha’s way of working is considerably more flexible: You can use more than two buttons or keys to progress through the sequence, different intervals create a sequence of notes that differs from the original sequence, and velocity control from a MIDI keyboard allows dynamics that weren’t possible using Casio’s non-velocity-sensing One Key Play buttons.    Besides Misha’s interval-selection approach to note generation, its sequencer works in a rather unusual fashion as well. It’s based on the Tone Row, a 20th Century composition method often attributed to Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951). In a Tone Row, a note can only sound once and can’t be repeated until every other note in the scale has played.    With Misha’s sequencer stopped and in Play mode, when you push the record button and play a new sequence using the interval buttons and/or a MIDI controller, if an interval change leads to a note that has already played, Misha will select the next available note in the scale in the direction of the interval change.    There’s a clock input for sync, and Misha will ignore its internal clock if something is plugged into the jack. Want Misha in charge of tempo? It lacks a dedicated clock output jack, but enabling Clock Output set output 3 to carry the internal clock at 24 ppq. When Misha’s Clock Menu is active, you see the current tempo and can tap in another using three or more keystrokes.    When the master clock is running (Misha’s or from an external source) and you engage record, it’s a step-entry process. So you play intervals and when all of the notes in the scale have sounded, Misha will begin repeating the sequence you’ve entered, each step having the same duration. If you don’t want to use all of the notes in a scale, you can hit the play button to finish the sequence. Should you absolutely need a note to be repeated, you can set Misha to play the note in the octave above or below the desired note. This restriction might bother some musicians, but I don’t think it’s a serious problem. It didn’t keep me from creating effective sequences.    With an external clock source connected to Misha’s clock input, but the clock isn’t running, if you touch Misha’s play button, it will sound the first step of the current sequence and then stop, waiting for the external clock to roll. This may not be unusual, but I wish it didn’t do that.   Chords In Chord mode, Misha sends triads — or two notes, if you prefer — to its MIDI out, and individual pitch CVs and gates to its three sets of analog outputs. You can create your own chords, but nine are ready to play, including third, sixth, three types of triads, Jazz, and Copeland. You can select among chords using Misha’s interval buttons, MIDI notes or CCs, and control voltages. Misha’s LCD reveals the note names transmitted for each chord, and it gives the root note of the chord a bit of velocity boost over those for the second and third notes.    I wish individual notes in a chord could be transmitted on different MIDI channels, so you could play multitimbral-voiced chords. You can get complex timbres using Misha’s analog outputs to control modules in a modular system.  
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