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Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

Lesson 19 of 26

Counter Melody with Apreggiators

J. Anthony Allen

Music Theory for Electronic Musicians 2: Minor Keys and More

J. Anthony Allen

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Lesson Info

19. Counter Melody with Apreggiators

Lesson Info

Counter Melody with Apreggiators

So the next thing I want to talk about, kind of the last chunk of the last section of this chunk of stuff, um, is adding a counter melody. Now, this is something that we don't think about as much because it's not as it's not as, um in your face as a melody and a core progression. Those are things that everyone kind of knows goes into a track. Um, but a counter melody is kind of important, and there's some really easy ways to make them since we're on the topic I thought I'd throw it out of. So I'm going to start with just this track that we have here. So let's hear it again. Okay, so what we want for a counter melodious something with some rhythm that ah is like another melody. But it's secondary to the main melody. So we have the main melody, and then we have this other one that's like basically serves as supporting role. It's kind of like best supporting actor of the melody world, where the melody is Ah, best actor, I guess the weird analogy, but I think it might work. Um, so we want ...

something that complements this melody that we've got, Ah, it still has to work. It still has to follow everything that we've already talked about. It has to work both horizontally and vertically, but, um, it's gonna be in the background. So in a way, ah, the horizontal elements of it are not as crucial because it's not going to be the thing that people walk away humming. Um, that's the melody. So the counter melody a little bit different. So the the trick, I'm going to show you now, too. To use these is some something called Justin Arpeggio. So I'm gonna just going to duplicate this track. So I have two pianos Now I'm gonna take this and I'm gonna arpeggio hate this. So you've probably seen an effect called our Peggy Ation. Um, it's in any dog. It's built into a lot of synthesizers. Um, I have it here enable right, here's appreciator and a bunch of settings. So I'm gonna tell you what AARP educator actually does and how we can use it in this setting. I'm not gonna put the effect onyx. I'm going to do an arpeggio Yater manually. I'm just gonna like do it and then maybe I'll through the effect on leaders, show that it's doing the same thing. Um, what an arpeggio Gator does is it plays a chord, but, um, note by note. So instead of this sounding like bam, here's the cord. It's gonna go bum bum bum and is gonna play the three different notes of the court in whatever pattern we tell it. So it only actually plays one note at a time, but it does. It are kind of around in a circle. So I'm gonna make these short that I was gonna move them and then we'll put this one here. So now goes up and down. Let's do that with all them. So now these cords are Are Pesci ated arpeggio comes from I think it comes from something. Do with the harp, like you know how Ah Harp plays accord. Maybe you don't. But when a heart place like, ah, lot of notes, it goes. Rather than playing all of these notes, I want So, um, I think that's where it comes from. I could be wrong. Don't quote me on that. So I'm just going up and down and up and down these chords this is going to be a very basic usage of it. There are more interesting things you can do, but okay, so let's hear. Just arpeggio hated version of the chord progression. Pretty boring, but it adds a nice little element to our track. So let's hear in context. So it's kind of making the whole track a little bit denser. And it's It's a melodic line. There's only one note happening at once, so it's It's moving in the same kind of way. It fits 100% horizontally, um, are sorry. Vertically, vertically, it fits 100% horizontally. It's not extremely interesting because it's just going up and down, but it's only there to complement eso. I like talking about these counter melodies at the same time is Melody. Let's make this do something a little more interesting, so I'm gonna get rid of this, and I'm gonna take our original core progression again. Just a start over. So here's our core progression. Now I'm gonna arpeggio eight this let's take the RPG ater tool, and if you're not using a bilton, you're our Pesci. Ater might look a little different than this, but here's mine so whatever yours looks like, you have all the same tools there. There's only a couple setting ons here settings on here that are important. And I'm sure yours has them somewhere. They might look different, but you have the same settings. So style is it going to go up, down, up, then down, up and down. Ah, random. I kind of like random. Let's say random with the heck rate is how fast it's going to go. So it's set to be an eighth note. Now let's scale that back to be 1/16 note that will be twice as fast. That'll be twice as fast as what we just were doing, actually, four times as fast. Um, those are actually the most important things, like the order that it's gonna play no tin and the speed. Ah, let's hear just that. Okay, so my are appreciate is playing random. Ah, I could have it do one of these other patterns up and down. It s just going up and down, but it's repeating the top note in the bottom note as it gets up there. Um, let's leave it on random. And let's give it more notes to use. So right now, it only has these notes to choose from. I could make it more interesting by giving it more notes, which would just be copy this whole thing to the active. Now it's got two octaves of the same chords toe work with. Now it will have a much wider range. Okay, so we're just using a piano in this. But if you really wanted to make put this into your track, adding this to a synthesizer can add a lot of depth to your track. It could make it really kind of feel a lot more dense. Um, bring out the melody if you do it just right. If you're really working on a track, I wouldn't recommend doing something random. Um, I just do that as kind of a starting point sometimes. But maybe if we did, the only problem with random is that its different every time you play it. Um, so if I really wanted that random sound, I would draw it out so that I would manually do it so that, um, it was the same every time. Um, I don't, like, really not know what's gonna happen in my track. So here it is doing doing that up. And another thing we could do here if we really wanted this to sound, give it a little more colors. We could add a non cord tone into this. I like to take one note and add it. Feel like the whole thing. So let's take this a and make sure every chord has an A in both actives. So the first and third cords here haven't a the second and fourth don't. So I'm adding a non core tone in. I think that's gonna give it a little bit more color. Okay, so it's it adds a little bit more, A little more. Um, I don't know, color to the to the core progression. So I didn't add that a in my actual piano part up here. Ah, and that's fine. Um, I just added it in the AARP educator so that it had more notes to chew on for to generate the counter melody material. The secondary melody. So it's all about counter melody. Just want to point out the AARP educator and how we can use that when we are working with chords and melodies. It's kind of ah ah something that exists in between a chord and melody, Right, cause it kind of generates melody like material out of cords. Um, and it it's a great tool to use for this idea of a counter melody. Hey, guys, 11 little addendum to that. Um, I just rewatched it. And I thought, I'm imagining someone sitting watching this video and saying, Ah, do I need a counter melody? And the answer is no. Ah, I'm glad you imaginary person asked me that. Um, no. If you're working on a track and you don't want or have a good idea for or just otherwise don't need a counter melody, leave it off. You don't You totally don't need one. This is just another kind of idea that I like Teoh. Um, explain because it it it shows the connection between melody and chords. Really? Well, I think eso if you don't want to do anything like that in your music, don't do it. You don't have to have it. It's not a requirement for a track. Um, in fact, if you're focusing on dance music, cause I know a lot of people watching this video are it's less likely to have something like this. So, um, if you're more focused on, like, trance, you might have something. Ah, that works as a counter melody, but, um but don't worry about it. It's just an idea. Just something to throw out there. You totally do not need a counter melody.

Class Description

In the first part of Music Theory for Electronic Musicians, we learned how to work with the piano roll editor in a DAW to make harmonies, melodies, and whole tracks. In this second part, we'll expand on those ideas. We'll work with minor keys, focus some time on melody and bassline writing, and we'll talk about how different tracks work. 

Extensive Analysis 

In this class, we feature an extensive track analysis segment by Daft Punk, Avicii, Skrillex, and many more. In each of these segments, we'll look at their tracks on the piano roll editor. We'll talk about why they sound the way they do, and how you can use similar techniques in your own music. Each of these segments picks apart multiple elements of the song and dissects it in an easily digestiable manner. 

Who should take this course? 

Anyone interested in producing their own tracks. This will get you up and running and give your tracks a unique sound in no time.


This course consists of video lectures, which all contain a session in Ableton Live 9. If you are using a different program (or none at all), no worries! This isn't a class on how to use Ableton Live, and the concepts can be applied to any DAW.  



Well, I slobbered all over you after your first class and this one is as good or better. I realize people don't go to college for 12 years and learn what you shared in a few hours and you didn't earn your doctorate with just this stuff. I mean Julliard must offer a lot more, but you have advanced my knowledge by miles and I've got to say thank you. Make some more of these simple, common talk courses - I'll buy them all.

Nick van Lochem

This course its so good he makes it al sound so easy. that ists easy to remember and use in your creations.

Scott Vincent

Very cool class - learned a lot from this class as well as from the Part 1 class. Highly recommend both classes!