[ .. reprinted courtesy The Adventures of Bloggard .. ]
Lyon Street, San Francisco, 1987: I loved the synthesizer, and found it easy to read the manuals, to fiddle with the sounds.
Playing the keyboard was something else.
I took two lessons, to learn how to move my hands on the fretboard. I began learning to read, but it was slow.
Then I happily discovered that composition is easy.
First, chords. Staying in the key of C, you just play all the white keys. If you play four notes, skipping every other white key, you get some kind of a seventh chord. If your lowest note is on the C or F note then you’ll get a major chord, which sounds very rich. If your lowest note is on the D, E, or A note you’ll get a minor chord which sounds haunted. If your lowest note is on the G or B note, you get a real sour chord.
So, for starters, you just plunk around with these seven chords, and find a series of them that sounds good. This is pretty simple. The next step is even easier.
Fire up the drum machine. Set its speed and the rhythm pattern.
Play these chords on top of the rhythm. Find the way that sounds good. Now just play it over and over again.
While you’re playing imagine that some melody is already there, and just listen for it. It is already there. If you listen, you’ll hear it. Maybe bit by bit, or maybe all at once, but you will hear it.
Sing or hum this melody. Go around a few times. Now start working out how to play that melody with your right hand. I wasn’t a good enough player to do that at the same time as playing the left-hand chords, so I’d just record the left-hand chords and let the machine play them.
After you’ve worked out how to play the melody, you can write it down. This was very slow for me, but note by note, it can be done. Now with the chord symbols and the melody written down, you have a written piece of music.
Learn to play it with both hands.
Nothing to it.
Want to hear one? Go to the musician’s gallery at my TraktorTopaz website and play some of my songs. Select a song — I recommend Maggie’s Song and Fly Like Summer Love — hope you enjoy them!
Composition is easy.