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“Thunder”: The “All the Diatonics” Award goes to this song, with all six main diatonics used! Every chorus is a little different lengthwise, so that’s cool, too. The bridge is really an instrumental, but I’m still calling it a bridge because of the new harmonic material.

To return to the Akai S1000 briefly: The band has also stated that many of their most-loved sounds aren’t generated by synths at all, but rather by samplers. Part of their creative process revolved around recording actual sources — everything from live instruments to field recordings — and then purposely trying to mangle it beyond recognition with the sampler and tape machines. What results are those characteristic Boards of Canada sonic artifacts: fluctuating pitches, irregular timbres, and analog tones.

Creating presets for the instruments and effects that you use often can help you solidify a consistent sound, and help eliminate extra time spent changing parameters in stock presets. Personalized presets can also be helpful when tracking vocals and instruments by giving you a head start in the rough mixing process. The more confident you can be in your presets, the less you have to worry about laying down tracks that just don’t sound right.

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Four years later, I was on my first-ever DIY tour with the original lineup of band whose name I need not mention — it was a rough, January midwest tour… Cold and unforgiving. We maintained sanity by cancelling two of our Ohio shows and hanging out in Chicago for a week, where Borey Shin (composer and keyboardist extraordinaire) bought a Morricone soundtrack called Giornata Nera Per L’Ariete, and that drove the final nail into the coffin, so to speak. There was a Russian website at the time where you could pirate every Morricone soundtrack for free, so I started doing my homework.

The great thing about recording to MIDI is that you can always go in and move notes or chords around by hand. So if the quantization makes some parts of your track sound wacky, just highlight whatever notes you want to edit, and drag them forward or backward in time. The same goes for correcting wrong notes — just drag them into the correct position and voila!

Me: I’m a songwriter, and I also blog and teach private music lessons.

Sergio Leone’s classic, epic Spaghetti Western was one of many in the genre scored by famed Italian composer Ennio Morricone, whose work we profiled pretty extensively here. Now, the original version of this piece was written for solo voice, and it was only arranged later for the theremin as a replacement, but dang does it work beautifully! We just couldn’t leave it out.

A great guitar tone starts with a great guitar, and one of the biggest determining factors in how your electric guitar will sound is the pickup you’ve got in it. There are tons of different pickups on the market you can choose from, but let’s back up for a minute. Here are two common ways pickups are classified.

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Inspiration may strike like lightning, but just about as frequently, so go out and find your own stories, ideas, characters, and narratives in these blogs!

A great example of this technique comes from P!nk. At 2:03 in “Walk Me Home,” she sings the chorus an octave below, accompanied by nothing but an acoustic guitar, which makes the final chorus that returns later all the more impressive and memorable.

Improve your composition, arranging, and writing with this collection of Soundfly articles full of tips and resources on music composition. For more help, check out Soundfly’s course, Introduction to the Composer’s Craft.

If you are still unsure if your mix is ready for mastering, send it to the mastering engineer and ask their opinion. Any professional engineer will be able to help you catch potential issues in your sound and give you advice on how to address them within your mix to ensure best possible final results for your mastered song.

“God’s Plan”: Man, the chords in this loop were hard to identify. Not only because the notes here don’t conform to standard A-440 tuning (it’s all about 20 cents sharp of G major), but because they start out as ninth chords whose upper halves are louder and more timbre-distinct than their lower, arpeggio-happy halves. It’s almost like it’s better explained not as “9-chords,” but as “an Em stacked on top of an Am,” and then “a D chord stacked on a G chord.” This “separation” thinking is enhanced by the low-muffled organ patch playing the Am and G, and the more trebly organ patch playing the Em and D.