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 Creative "Hacks" 
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Post Creative "Hacks"
This might sound like a ridiculous idea and my audience for this is probably like 5 or 6 of you, but I thought I'd share a transformative new "technique" I just learned for making songs.

In an online discussion at icomposition.com about chords and the importance of music theory, I made this blanket statement:

"Give me a great chord progression and the melodies pretty much write themselves!"

I thought someone would respond by throwing a chord progression at me. Instead, the reply was to link to a Google App called "Chord Progression Master," but I don't have an Android device anymore. I didn't see an Iphone equivalent, so I searched and the first app that came up alphabetically was "Autochords."

Chord Progression Master:
https://play.google.com/store/apps/deta ... sionmaster

Autochords:
https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/autocho ... 23364?mt=8

I like Autochords because it asks you your choice of instrument: piano or guitar. I chose piano of course.

It comes up with genres and "moods" (I chose pop) and Beats Per Minute and then throws a semi-random assortment of chord changes at you, all tracked to the 1 of each beat with a simple drum metronome. As it looped, I felt myself humming out melodies instantly to it.

I set the phone in front of me at the piano and just went and rocked it out, with those autochords looping through four at a time. I just wrote 2 new songs in the first 30 minutes of playing with it.

The first progression that started me off was simply F, Dm, Am, E. I was intrigued. I had to work with the chord voicings to make that work and suddenly there was a melody.

Next pop progression was Em, C, G, D. Another instant melody after I worked out the voicings. Another instant jam that made me really feel like I was creating. I guess I'm somewhat starved for the chemistry of playing in a band and just jamming on someone's chord changes. It's the main attraction to Ann Arbor Stick Night--jamming on a chord progression and people taking turns soloing.

These were simple, easy-peasy triad chords in root position, played right on the one beat. Nothing that revolutionary, yet it really seemed to get me going creatively.

I have two new little piano tunes off the first two little progressions. I thought I would share and also see what others have for little creative "priming of the pump" tricks, hacks, and helpers; like Mozart, with his dice throwing to generate melodies.

I used the same Em C G D on my Railboard and viola! Another little ditty and some rocking out fun. I know Emmet used an elaborate chart to graph out the key changes for his seminal Parallel Galaxy, so the idea and the concept is a well-tried one.

I just hadn't seen an app that would play chords and a beat and let you jam on it, other than Garageband (which is also a cool way to start generating songs, but I digress...) An FYI if you haven't ever thought of this, and please share if you have a creative hack or app of your own.

Down in Fractal Rock,
--Steve

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Wed Jan 18, 2017 10:50 am
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Thanks Steve
A lot of fun (and value) to be had personally, as a Stick noob, from this but also HUGE potential for my classroom. I am forever trying to coax students out of the "I don't know what to write" composition hurdle, and also the "How do I improvise?" question.
This will get a test run soon!

Thank you for sharing.

Paul


Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:05 pm
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Everything I do is a hack, not sure about the creative aspect though... it is what it is... lol I will say this; the instrument is getting a lot easier for me. Slowly but surely.

I always try and start with some kind of 'feel' so, jamming with a rhythmic groove of some kind is really important to me... I am learning to keep a rhythmic percussive thing going while I jam out with the Stick...

Two very, very important books; Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry 1&2

I've never had a problem coming up with chord progressions, and even if something felt tired, I could always impose a different rhythmic value on it. And of course, some chords - implied, modal, or otherwise - have certain expected resolutions. And there's always the theoretical aspect that can be drawn upon. V7-I, modal interchange, passing Diminished, substitution, Tritone subs, and modulation.

An ever growing library consisting of The Real book, Abersold books, Berklee Books, etc plus my iTunes library and stacks of blank notation paper ensure that I never run out of ideas...

I also draw upon notation softwares like GP6, and Finale. Also, there are some interesting things you can do in a DAW like Logic ProX (my favourite) with midi, and the piano roll.

The Stick, however is fast becoming the most interesting creative tool/resource for me in regards to chords and chord progressions. I think Steve Adelson does some truly unique things in that respect

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Thu Jan 19, 2017 10:37 pm
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
pwrightyp wrote:
Thanks Steve
A lot of fun (and value) to be had personally, as a Stick noob, from this but also HUGE potential for my classroom. I am forever trying to coax students out of the "I don't know what to write" composition hurdle, and also the "How do I improvise?" question.
This will get a test run soon!

Thank you for sharing.

Paul
I did not even think about its possible utility in the classroom. This would be a great tool for getting the students going on their compositions and improvisation. I'm glad you found this suggestion useful!

Just to share, I put Autochord on the piano with my 11-year old son, Xavier besides me, and we rocked out some improv together on these chords. It was a lot of fricking fun, I must say! And it kept us both to a metronome and gave a constant rhythm track for us to jam against. Such happy moments between father and son are very precious! :geek:

Jayesskerr wrote:
Everything I do is a hack, not sure about the creative aspect though... it is what it is... lol I will say this; the instrument is getting a lot easier for me. Slowly but surely.

I always try and start with some kind of 'feel' so, jamming with a rhythmic groove of some kind is really important to me... I am learning to keep a rhythmic percussive thing going while I jam out with the Stick...

Two very, very important books; Ted Greene's Chord Chemistry 1&2

I've never had a problem coming up with chord progressions, and even if something felt tired, I could always impose a different rhythmic value on it. And of course, some chords - implied, modal, or otherwise - have certain expected resolutions. And there's always the theoretical aspect that can be drawn upon. V7-I, modal interchange, passing Diminished, substitution, Tritone subs, and modulation.

An ever growing library consisting of The Real book, Abersold books, Berklee Books, etc plus my iTunes library and stacks of blank notation paper ensure that I never run out of ideas...

I also draw upon notation softwares like GP6, and Finale. Also, there are some interesting things you can do in a DAW like Logic ProX (my favourite) with midi, and the piano roll.

The Stick, however is fast becoming the most interesting creative tool/resource for me in regards to chords and chord progressions. I think Steve Adelson does some truly unique things in that respect


Hey, you can't be any more "hacky" than me, brother! I love that word, by the way. As a writer of hack fiction and speculation, the original meaning of the term, "a hack writer," applies to me, and then the modern meaning of the word, "to wrangle computers," also applies to me, and then the newer millennial meaning of "Hack" as a timesaver or efficiency improver also interests me. And then to "hack" away at something with an axe also seems to resonate with me. If I didn't have a last name like "Sink," I might have tried to do something more with "hack." "Sir Hack-A-Lot" or "The Haxster," or something more clever that I haven't though of (yet). I am The Hack-Meister! Okay, still needs work.

But to your larger point, about interesting things you can do for creative ideas using your DAW (and MIDI):

I like to take percussion MIDI lines and feed them through a polyphonic instrument bank. And then do the same thing in reverse: take a piano riff and sent it to the percussion banks and trigger things. I've gotten new melodies from taking rhythms and turning them into melodies, using NI's Reaktor which will turn every snare hit or bass kick into a pitched note.

Here's me doing that: not a single MIDI note was played. This was all generated taking samples and running them through Reaktor, and then scratching, and then manipulating samples. Not a chord change (or chord) or scale or actual note played on an instrument, yet a musical piece (that I've posted several times on this forum. I'm finally gonna add a vocal track to this and make this into something!).

Here's "Mutational Frequencies" done entirely on Native Instruments Maschine.


And thanks guys for the ideas and the comments about the autochord app idea! I'm glad that it was of use to someone!

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Wenge-on-Wenge NS/Stick, #170130, Bass 4ths
http://soundcloud.com/stephen-sink-1
https://www.youtube.com/user/paigan0


Fri Jan 20, 2017 7:04 am
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
To me "Hack" means "Problem solving" which kind of goes hand in hand with creativity. My opinion... lol

And yeah, I love taking percussive grooves and converting them to other software instruments, ends up being really interesting. (hint hint Ultrabeat, Drummer to Alchemy plugs...)

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:29 am
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Jayesskerr wrote:
To me "Hack" means "Problem solving" which kind of goes hand in hand with creativity. My opinion... lol

And yeah, I love taking percussive grooves and converting them to other software instruments, ends up being really interesting. (hint hint Ultrabeat, Drummer to Alchemy plugs...)

I love your Grand Unifying Theory that creativity is really just problem solving. I've never really heard that exact formulation before. We tend to think that creativity is thinking outside of the box, but it's usually for some abstract ideal of Art, rather than creatively trying to solve real-world problems.

The kids these days use "hack" to mean "trick" or "technique": "one strange hack to lose 23 pounds!" I resisted it at first, but the kids have always changed the language in every language and era since the Cave Men Kids started saying "Ugg!" instead of "Ook!" Literally every culture and every language and every country known to humans through all time have complained about the kids mucking up their perfectly beautiful languages. So okay, kids with your hippity hop and your slang and your cell phone devices. Pull up them pants! 8-)

And I'm not familiar with Ultrabeat and not much with Alchemy. Since it's my thread to hijack, can you elaborate on that process? Maybe share some examples? It sounds like not much of a hijack, actually--that's exactly the kind of creative enhancement process I'm looking to hear about. I'd love to hear more! Thanks!

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Wenge-on-Wenge NS/Stick, #170130, Bass 4ths
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 10:57 am
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the topic;

Alchemy is a cool synth native to Logic ProX, although if you have the NI Komplete bundle, Absynth is pretty damn cool and does some similar things, although I really like Alchemy... I think it sounds pretty unique.

Ultrabeat is a sequencer, kind of a 'drum machine' in Logic, it's step based and very powerful; plus you can drag and drop your own samples in there. Quite nifty.

Battery, or Boom might be similar to Ultrabeat, but the integration isn't quite the same.

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:08 pm
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Jayesskerr wrote:
Sorry, didn't mean to hijack the topic;

Alchemy is a cool synth native to Logic ProX, although if you have the NI Komplete bundle, Absynth is pretty damn cool and does some similar things, although I really like Alchemy... I think it sounds pretty unique.

Ultrabeat is a sequencer, kind of a 'drum machine' in Logic, it's step based and very powerful; plus you can drag and drop your own samples in there. Quite nifty.

Battery, or Boom might be similar to Ultrabeat, but the integration isn't quite the same.

No hijack at all! I see my disconnect here: Ultrabeat and Alchemy are both Logic ProX plugins, or mini-modules. I've only played a little with Logic Pro, mainly to export files (mainly from you!) I get exactly what you're saying now. I have heard lots of stuff I like that was done with Alchemy synths. And Absynth rocks. And so does Massive, another NI product. I think like 90% of the dubstep out there is done with Massive (any dub experts please correct me!) Nothing wub wubs like Massive!

And the irony here is that you know I've been on a piano kick now for a couple of years, taking it back to my "roots" after a long, long stretch of decades playing with every synth from ARP 2600 to Moogs to Kurzweils to Oberheim, Rolands, Yamahas, a Korg DW8000.... Oh, and Fender Rhodes '76 Electric Piano! My favorite! :cry:

The idea is to plug one thing's output into another's thing inputs, especially where to do so would violate all sorts of "rules" about what you're "supposed" to do. Like plugging my electric Fender Rhodes piano into a guitar rig setup and getting off on distortion and POWERCHORDS for KEYBOARDS, which is more awesome than my allcaps would suggest. Feeding the sequencer drum patterns, and the drum machine some samples.

On the hardware side of the creative hack house, how about flipping that guitar upside down and restringing it backwards so you can play left handed? Jimi had a lot of harware creative hacks that come to mind. I think EVH with his one-knob guitar or [insert long list of guitar and music innovators, to include prominently a young Mr. Emmett Chapman, who got the idea to flip his guitar around vertically and get both hands around it for tapping. And built and designed Sticks and a company and family and...] Every major guitar innovator.

So by "hacks" I really mean "ways to get the creative juices flowing," which really translates to "how to come up with original music (that hopefully both rocks and is not the same old thing)," which leads of course to "how do I support my cocaine and hookers habit by my songwriting skills?" :o (For the record, fortunately I'm into neither coke nor hookers--which my music sales might buy me a 2-liter of the good Diet Coke stuff--but the rock and roll joke was just too easy. Sorry!)

And really, I was just trying to share about the Autochords app. :lol: I got a kick out of the fact that as soon as I heard 4 chords played each on the one beat, my melody "whistling/humming flag" immediately was activated. And me and the boy had a rocking good time duo piano on it, with it being the rhythm section. I don't think that was the intended purpose for it, but see "Hacking, Creative." :)

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Rosewood 10-string, #5989, M4s
Sapphire Railboard, #6763, MR
Wenge-on-Wenge NS/Stick, #170130, Bass 4ths
http://soundcloud.com/stephen-sink-1
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Fri Jan 20, 2017 1:56 pm
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
All good. This thread inspired me to record a simple guitar thing, and see what I could do to it. Hack indeed! Fun.

Thanks, Steve!

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 5:36 pm
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Post Re: Creative "Hacks"
Also, I never really used it but I bet Band in a Box would be a great tool too!

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Fri Jan 20, 2017 6:38 pm
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