Oh, I should have mentioned I listen to songs other people do and they can understand the words where I can’t, so some of it may be on my part Her voice has great character, precision and clarity in tone and those things aren’t heard that often, not often enough at least. I’m thoroughly enjoying listening to your music, and that is the biggest compliment I can give and that I’d hope to receive about my own music.
I’ll not hijack your thread so I’ll be as terse as possible in response to your question, which knowing myself is still long. I could just answer “no” but that is very boring I come from a very poor family, no one in my family ever owned any musical instrument and as far as culture goes there wasn’t any musical upbringing of any kind. I simply didn’t listen to music until I was around 12-13. I played video games and read books instead when I wasn’t outside
I got my first instrument when I was 15 and a half for xmas, a £30 second hand electric guitar with an amp that barely had any distortion and a Metallica tab book and I was incredibly happy making my annoying 4 note alternating solos (lol.) I sat and looked at the numbers, learning a few things from guitar magazines along the way, and started learning that way. Practicing matching the sound I was making to the sound on the CD. This probably came in handy as a starting point in my skill to aurally analyze orchestrations and the various layers in music. I did receive around 15x 1 hour music theory sessions free from college, but I barely understood how I got the answers right. I passed the grade 5 theory exam by 1 percent, without really understanding the application of the theory in music performance or composition. In that respect it was more like mathematics to me.
When I was 17 I saw Lord of the Rings and for some reason I heard orchestra music in a new way, in total awe. Although, to this day I still do not enjoy even a little bit listening to the likes of Bach, Mozart or Beethoven. I do, however, enjoy the vivid and remarkable colour of orchestration and harmony from the Romantic period. That has always fascinated me. Early Classical music evokes no response in me, it doesn’t connect with me in any kind of way. So anyway, at the point of seeing, or hearing Lord of the Rings rather (although I do love the movies,) I decided I wanted to try to write my own orchestra music. My very first composition at the age of 17 was done purely in notation software and featured 1st violins, 2nd violins (not even correctly scored the 1st violins overlapped and played lower notes) and a flute. I just kept listening to film music such as; Harry Potter, Conan the Barbarian and my aural skills to identify orchestration got better over time. With each composition (they were only around 1 minute long and similar to the Final Fantasy 7 music which is the other half of my initial inspiration) I added more instruments and as expected just through practice the orchestrations naturally became more refined, coherent and pleasing to listen to. Although until I was aged 23 I think I didn’t know what a DAW or sample libraries were.
A friend prompted me to find some better sounds and I came across East West Quantum Leaps Symphonic Orchestra Gold, which helped me progress as the increased realism in sounds brought my orchestration to new heights. I’ve felt I’ve always had a knack for creating solid melodies (although I think harmony is something that takes more time to develop and almost definitely requires studying theory/chords or learning so many songs that you develop an ear for harmony/voice leading that way.) But orchestration is an art by itself, as the orchestration genius Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov wrote “To orchestrate is to create, and this cannot be taught.”
It’s only really been in the last 2 years that I’ve looked at the Hollywood Strings product manual and a few tutorials and really began catching my productions/midi editing skills up to a similar standard of orchestration and focused on it. I’ve watched violin tutorial Youtube videos showing the various techniques, knowing the names does help with composing, but knowing how a musician performs their instrument in greater detail helps you to get the sample libraries to sound more realistic. I still have some way to go but I’m happy that I feel I progress.
Anyway, just last week I’ve bought my first jazz books. One which I am enjoying is ‘Berklee Jazz Piano’ by Ray Santisi. I feel my weakest area now is my ability to progress harmonically in my music and with any genre of music I know this will help. It covers practical techniques too, one of which says to practice alternating notes of the arpeggios with fingers 1 3 5 2 4 and repeat etc, and mix up the combinations to develop muscle memory. I took the same approach when I practiced guitar so learning a second instrument is definitely easier if you applied good learning techniques in the first. Jazz is also a genre that I’ve never really listened to, occasionally heard the odd excerpt of music that I enjoyed but I’m finally starting to listen to it more, learn it more and enjoy it.
So to sum up I’m almost all self-taught through practicing, although I’ve read a couple of theory book and orchestration books over these years. I’m 26 years old at the moment.
Likewise I’d like to ask you the same question about how you learned music and got into the particular styles of music you write/perform and what kind of books you read, lessons you received and songs you learned/studied. The songs really are great and the sophistication in the chord progressions, voice leading and harmonies in this kind of music fascinates me and it’s out of my reach at the moment but I’m trying to learn it