Back to music theory basics

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This is a broadly discussed topic like — making melodies for psytrance. What advice would u give, how to go about on them and how to make them especially if one is not theoretically really equipped in music? I mean, whenever I making a lead I get stuck with patterns. If a track is in “G” for example, I start my lead with the “G” on the piano roll and try different notes, but somehow they don’t really sound good to me, so I have to add something like an arp to get some variations.

And one more question about percussions, I meant their arrangement. Like set a loop for a 16 bar and keep adding stuff like what apart from hi-hats snare cymbals, anything that I should know in terms of making a smooth progression in a track. Thanks!


Zahaan, from my understanding you have jumped into music production while missing some fundamental knowledge about the music itself.

We used to think that electronic dance music, like PsyTrance, for instance, is all about technologies, plugins and stuff like that. But knowing this technology side of things alone won’t let you create a piece of art. I really recommend to go back to the basics and start off with some elementary music theory book. Even if you think “I want to produce Psytrance, not playing on a piano!” — still, do read any kind of such a book.

The Everything Essential Music Theory Book is one of the many elementary music theory books

Yes, it’s tough. It’s like start learning a foreign language, literally. I’m not telling you to get a musical degree, just knowing the basics: the physical properties of sound, musical notation, rhythms, intervals, scales, chords, and more. So rather than randomly clicking into MIDI-notes on a piano-roll hoping that it might work, you’ll be able to precisely transform your ideas into rich musical content. You’ll be amazed by how helpful it is even for electronic music production!

As for the percussions arrangement and progression, I strongly recommend to read one of the previous advice titled Rhythm structure basics, it explains pretty much everything from your questions.

On cover image: a MIDI notes taken from one of my first ever released track called “Ancient Civilization”. By the way, it’s available as a free download.

 755   2016   Advice   Production

Since 2015, I’ve run an advice section giving my experience and answering readers’ questions on music production, DJing, performing, marketing, management, and other aspects of the music industry. The purpose of the series is to spread knowledge and cultivate professionalism in the music industry. The advice series works simply: you send me your questions, and I answer them with a blog post when I have something relevant to say. Send me your questions via the form.

© Daniel Sokolovskiy, 2023
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