70 episodes

The fast, easy & fun way to make music. Join 185K songwriters & producers. Free Book: HackMusicTheory.com/Books

Hack Music Theory Kate & Ray Harmony

    • Music
    • 3.8 • 6 Ratings

The fast, easy & fun way to make music. Join 185K songwriters & producers. Free Book: HackMusicTheory.com/Books

    4-Step Hack for Dark Bass Lines

    4-Step Hack for Dark Bass Lines

     



     

    4-Step Hack for Dark Bass Lines
     

    In this lesson you’ll learn a simple 4-step hack for writing dark and dissonant bass lines. We invite you to work along with us through the following steps, so by the end of this lesson, you’ll also have a finished bass line. But first... Tea!

     

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book "12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords". It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. The free download is below. Enjoy!

     

    Step 1. Setup
    Start by setting up two bars of 4|4 on your bass track, with your grid set to 1/16 notes, and your tempo set to 80 BPM. After you’ve finished writing your bass line though, play it at a few different tempos and find the BPM that works best.

     

    Step 2. Rhythm
    Now it’s time to write a rhythm that’s gonna get those heads boppin! So, using only 1/16 notes (and lots of rests), draw in a rhythm that gets you moving. We’ll be using C as our root note, so for now, draw in all your notes on C.

    Once you’ve got something down, loop up your two bars and put it on repeat. Does your rhythm get you pumped? If not, then keep playing around, cos writing a great rhythm is an essential step in writing a great bass line!

     

    Step 3. Mode
    Next, it’s time to choose a scale or mode that will reflect the mood you wanna convey through your bass line. We chose the Phrygian mode, as we felt like writing a heavy bass line that’s dark and dissonant. You can choose any mode though, it all depends on what vibe you wanna create. The steps in this lesson are still applicable.

    C Phrygian: C, D♭*, E♭, F, G, A♭, B♭

    *Be sure to use the D♭ in your bass line, as that note is what gives Phrygian its dark sound!

     

    And if you need help learning all the modes and their unique emotions, as well as how to use them, then check out the mode hacks in our Songwriting & Producing PDF / Course.

     

    Step 4. Melody
    Now that you’ve written your rhythm and you’ve chosen a mode, it’s finally time to get stuck into the melodic element of your bass line. So, have some fun and play around with moving the notes up/down on the MIDI grid. But, always double-check that every note you’ve moved off the root is in your chosen mode. 

    And be sure to keep at least a few notes on C, as playing the root note is vital in anchoring your bass line into the mode - that’s the only way you’re gonna tap into its emotion! Also, try to create a contour for your bass line that spans an octave (or more), as a big range like that will help prevent your bass line from getting boring. 

    Finally, when you’re happy with all the notes in your bass line, you can extend some of them, so they’re not all 1/16 notes anymore. And try to use a variety of note values, as that will make your bass line even more interesting!

     

    And it's as easy as that! Now you've got a dark and dissonant bass line. A heartfelt thank-you for being here in the Hack Music Theory community, you are valued and appreciated. Hope you enjoyed this lesson, and we're excited to hang out with you again soon. Until then, we're sending you good vibes and gratitude :)

     

    Free Download


     
     






    Wooohooo!!! You’re a mere 30 minutes away from being even smarter than you already are. Just head on over to your inbox now for your free download.




    There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.




     

    “The most brilliant, fast, easy & fun music theory book I’ve ever seen!” DEREK SIVERS, CD Baby founder







    We use this field to detect spam bots. If you fill this in, you will be marked as a spammer.


    DOWNLOAD FREE BOOK





    /* Layout */
    .ck_form {
    /* divider image */
    background: #EAE9EA url(data:

    • 4 min
    #1 Melody Hack

    #1 Melody Hack

     



     

    #1 Melody Hack
     

    Learn how to make better melodies with this game-changing hack!

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book "12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords". It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. The free download is below. Enjoy!

     

    The Hack
    First, to clarify. A fault is not a mistake! Music is an art, so if you’re making music from your heart, then there cannot be any mistakes. But, when songwriters and producers don’t understand theory, which is the grammar of music, they’re not able to fully express themselves. Just like if someone was trying to write a poem in a language they didn’t speak. The resulting work of art will undoubtedly have weaknesses. And a fault is defined as a weakness. So, how do you know if your melody has faults?

     

    The Test
    Easy, you use our Melody Test, which is simply to play your melody on the piano. Yes, it really is that simple. Because, by stripping away all the fancy sound design, you’re left with just the bare notes. This exposes any and all faults in your melody. Then after fixing them, you change the instrument back to your fancy sound, and now you have a melody that doesn’t just sound good, it actually is good!

    Alright, so let’s run our example through the Melody Test and see what faults are exposed. And please note, it’s absolutely essential that you hear the melody in its harmonic context, so always play the root note of each chord in your progression below your melody. Our example is in the key of A minor, which is all the white notes from A to A, and the chords in our progression are: Am, Cmaj, Gmaj, Fmaj.

    As you can tell, stripping away the fancy sound design removes all distractions and forces our ears to focus exclusively on the notes. We can now hear that our melody has a lot of good qualities already, like its contour, motifs, and rhythm. And by the way, rhythm is usually the most overlooked element of a melody, so be sure to pay extra attention to that. And if you need help, just use our Melody Rhythm Rule.

     

    The Fix
    Okay that’s enough about the good qualities of our melody, let’s get to the fault. By using the Melody Test, we can now clearly hear (and feel) our melody’s fault. What is it? Our melody is lacking emotion!

    So, how do you add emotion to a melody? Easy, you use the 3rd note of each chord. You see, the 3rd note is the magic note that actually creates the happy sound in a major chord and the sad sound in a minor chord, so by playing 3rds in your melody, you strengthen it by emphasizing that emotional power!

    For example, in our first chord, Am, the 3rd note is C, which we’re not playing. So, by simply moving the D (4) down to C (♭3), we emphasize the sadness of that underlying minor chord. Next, we added 3rds into our melody over the Cmaj and Gmaj chords as well, which emphasizes the uplifting nature of those major chords.

    In this melody, we felt that it would be “too much of a good thing” to emphasize the happiness of three major chords in a row, so we didn’t use the 3rd (A) in our melody over Fmaj. This neutral approach of not using the 3rd in our melody slightly dilutes the uplifting nature of that underlying major chord.

     

    The Rule
    And that is a really important lesson. So important, in fact, that it’s part of our crucial 3rds Melody Rule, which is: In your melodies, use a 3rd to emphasize a major chord’s happiness or a minor chord’s sadness, and avoid using a 3rd when you want to dilute the underlying chord’s emotion.

    It goes without saying that every note has an emotion, not just the 3rd. But, not all notes have the same level of emotional power, and the note that pulls at our heartstrings the most, is the 3rd. Remember though, a good melody m

    • 8 min
    Counter Melody Rule

    Counter Melody Rule

     



     

    Counter Melody Rule
     

    Learn how to avoid this common fault many songwriters & producers make in their backing melodies!

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book "12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords". It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. The free download is below. Enjoy!

     

    The Fault
    To clarify. A fault is not a mistake! Music is an art, so if you’re making music from your heart, then there cannot be any mistakes. But, when songwriters and producers don’t understand theory, which is the grammar of music, they’re not able to fully express themselves. Just like if someone was trying to write a poem in a language they didn’t speak. The resulting work of art will undoubtedly have weaknesses. And a fault is defined as a weakness. So, what’s the fault in this backing melody?

    Well, in order to answer that question, we first need to ask another question: What’s the purpose of a backing melody? You see, once we understand what a backing melody is supposed to be adding to the music, we’ll understand why this backing melody is weak. In other words, why it is not fulfilling its purpose.

    So, backing melodies are most often used in hooks and choruses, when producers want to add depth to the music, which also thickens the sound. The idea is that this addition will make the section stand out. But, in order for a backing melody to add depth, it needs to be perceived by our ears as a new musical layer. Otherwise, it’ll merely be the lead melody’s shadow, which our ears will ignore. In the same way that when we’re walking down the street, our eyes ignore people’s shadows.

    And that brings us to our backing melody’s fault: It’s shadowing our lead melody, which is just a polite way of saying that it’s copying our lead melody. And nobody likes a copycat, especially lead melodies! The result of our backing melody being nothing more than a shadow, is that it does not fulfill its purpose: to add depth.

     

    The Fix
    Right, so now you’re probably thinking: How can I write backing melodies that will be perceived as new musical layers, so they actually add depth? Easy! You write your backing melodies using counterpoint. What’s counterpoint? Well, counterpoint is the technique of adding musical layers by writing melodies with countering contours.

    For example, if we take the first bar of our section, and instead of having our backing melody copy the contour of our lead melody, we change our backing melody so it counters the contour of our lead melody. Now, there’s numerous ways to counter a melody, but the best way is to literally go in the opposite direction. We do that here when our lead melody goes from B down to G, while our backing melody goes in the opposite direction, from A up to B. And we do it again when our lead goes from G up to A, while our backing goes from C down to B. And by the way, our example is in the key of A minor, which is all the white notes from A to A, and the tempo is 95 BPM.

    When a lead melody and backing melody move in opposite directions, that’s called contrary motion, and it’s just one of the ways to write counterpoint. If you wanna learn all the ways and how to use them to write countering melodies, then check out the counterpoint hack in our Songwriting & Producing PDF, which also includes all our other essential music making hacks, as well as MIDI examples.

    Finally, to add even more musical depth, play around with countering your lead melody’s rhythm, too. You’ll notice in our example, there’s a few times where our backing melody plays a different rhythm to our lead melody. The most obvious example of this is in the beginning of our second bar (see MIDI below), where the lead melody plays one long note, and

    • 6 min
    Melody Rhythm Rule

    Melody Rhythm Rule

     



     

    Melody Rhythm Rule
     

    Learn how to avoid this rhythmic fault that many songwriters and producers make in their melodies. But first... Tea!

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book "12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords". It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. The free download is below. Enjoy!

     

    The Fault
    Firstly, just to clarify. A fault is not a mistake! Music is an art, so if you’re making music from your heart, then there cannot be any mistakes. But, when songwriters and producers don’t understand theory, which is the grammar of music, they’re not able to fully express themselves. Just like if someone was trying to write a poem in a language they didn’t speak. The resulting work of art will undoubtedly have weaknesses. And a fault is defined as a weakness. So, what’s the fault in this melody?

    Well, it sounds completely lifeless, right? It’s totally lacking in vital energy. What’s causing that? Rhythm! Or rather, a lack thereof. Unfortunately for rhythm, it’s usually the overlooked element in a melody. Indeed, songwriters and producers often seem to forget that melody actually contains two elements: pitch and rhythm. To hear this in action, just listen to the New Music Friday playlist on Spotify every week. It’s clear that the rhythms of most melodies are an afterthought, at best.

    I’ve worked with countless songwriters and producers who’ve ended up at the horribly frustrating point of wanting to delete a melody, cos they just can’t get it sounding right. Up until that point though, they’d spent all their time trying to fix the pitches, but they’d not once considered that maybe it’s the rhythm that needs fixing. So, after bringing their attention to the forgotten element of rhythm, a few small tweaks later, and they’ve fallen in love with the exact same melody they were about to delete. So next time you’re frustrated and tempted to delete a melody, try experimenting with its rhythm instead, and see if you can save it!

     

    The Fix
    Now you’re probably wondering what exactly makes a good rhythm. Well first, it’s important to remember that a rhythm is a pattern in time. And just like with all other patterns, our human brains get bored if there’s too much repetition, and they get overwhelmed if there’s too much variety. Therefore, good rhythms (like all good patterns), enjoy a pleasing yet interesting balance of repetition and variety.

    Most melodies these days do not have any problem with repetition, it’s the lack of variety that causes their weakness. Variety in a melody is created by using many different note values, and most importantly, syncopation. Syncopation is when you accent an off-beat, and it puts a real spring in your melody’s step, bringing it to life.

    For example, in the first three beats of our rhythm, we moved two on-beat notes to off-beats. The difference that this small tweak makes to our melody is truly unbelievable! You can hear it’s already being revived, and we’re only in the first bar.

    And by the way, our example is in the key of A minor, which is all the white notes from A to A, and the tempo is 95 BPM.

    Now, you’re probably wondering how to tell if your melody’s rhythm is boring. Easy, you give it the one-note test. You see, removing the pitch element of your melody will expose its rhythm. In other words, if your melody is captivating when played on one pitch, then it has a good rhythm. If it sounds boring on one pitch, then you need to work on its rhythm.

     

    The Rule
    So to conclude. Our Melody Rhythm Rule is that your melody should still sound good when played on only one pitch. And the best way to do that is to ensure that your melody’s rhythm balances repetition and variety,

    • 5 min
    Stepwise Melody Rule

    Stepwise Melody Rule

     



     

    Stepwise Melody Rule
     

    Learn how to avoid this common fault many songwriters and producers make in their melodies. But first... Tea!

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book "12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords". It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. The free download is below. Enjoy!

     

    The Fault
    Right, first things first. We intentionally use the word “fault” in this context, because music is an art, so technically there can’t be any mistakes. But, and it’s a big but, there can definitely be faults, as faults are weaknesses. And unfortunately, when songwriters and producers compose by ear, their music ends up with many faults!

    For the record, though, it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of our current music education system that focuses on classical and jazz, which are irrelevant for most songwriters and producers. This means they struggle finding resources to learn relevant music theory, which often results in them composing music by ear instead. This is a huge problem in the music world, and it was the inspiration for us launching Hack Music Theory back in 2016, so songwriters and producers could finally have a place to learn theory that’s actually relevant to the music they make!

    Now, let’s get back to that melody. So, what is the theory fault here? Well, it contains more than three stepwise notes from the scale. In the beginning of the melody, it goes: E, D, C, B. And in the middle of the melody, it goes: E, D, C, B, A.

    We refer to this as the “practising scales” fault, because whenever a melody goes stepwise through the scale (up or down), it literally sounds like the producer accidentally hit the Record button while they were practising their scales.

    This fault is extremely common, as songwriters and producers who compose by ear don’t have the confidence that theory gives you to experiment, so they tend to play it safe and stick with a lot of stepwise movements. You see, our ears will always be led by musical gravity to the predictable note, like resolving the 7 up to the 8. Boring! If we wanna make cool music that stands out, we need to use theory!

    And by the way, if you were wondering, our example is in the key of A minor, which is all the white notes from A to A, and the tempo is 100 BPM.

     

    The Fix
    You know what’s interesting? Now that you’re aware of this fault, you’ll start noticing it everywhere. It really is sad how common it is! But, there’s a super easy hack to fix this fault. All you have to do is change a note (or two) in each scale segment, to break up that stepwise movement.

    In our example, we only had to change one note in each segment to fix this fault. After this tweak, our melody now has no more than three stepwise notes, which is the maximum you want. It’s truly amazing how changing just one note can have such a massive impact on a melody!

     

    The Rule
    So to conclude, our Stepwise Melody Rule is to have no more than three stepwise notes in your melodies (unless for some good reason, you really really want that). Lastly, if you need more help writing melodies, then simply use our "Melody Checklist", which tells you exactly what to do and what not to do in your melodies. The "Melody Checklist" can be found in our Songwriting & Producing PDF. Thanks for being here in the Hack Music Theory community, we really appreciate you, and we'll see you next time. Until then, we're sending you good vibes and gratitude :)

     

     

    Free Download


     
     






    Wooohooo!!! You’re a mere 30 minutes away from being even smarter than you already are. Just head on over to your inbox now for your free download.




    There was an error submitting your subscription. Pleas

    • 5 min
    5-Second Intro Rule

    5-Second Intro Rule

     


     

    5-Second Intro Rule
     

    Learn how to use our 5-Second Intro Rule to instantly capture the attention of your listeners, so your songs don’t get skipped. But first... Tea!

    Hello revolutionary music makers, we are Kate and Ray Harmony (AKA Revolution Harmony), and welcome to Hack Music Theory, the fast, easy and fun way to make music! If you’re new to theory, or if you just want a refresher, then read our free book 12 Music Theory Hacks to Learn Scales & Chords. It’ll give you a super solid music theory foundation in just 30 minutes. Enjoy!

     



     
     






    Wooohooo!!! You’re a mere 30 minutes away from being even smarter than you already are. Just head on over to your inbox now for your free download.




    There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.




     

    “The most brilliant, fast, easy & fun music theory book I’ve ever seen!” DEREK SIVERS, CD Baby founder







    We use this field to detect spam bots. If you fill this in, you will be marked as a spammer.


    DOWNLOAD FREE BOOK





    /* Layout */
    .ck_form {
    /* divider image */
    background: #EAE9EA url(data:image/gif;base64,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) repeat-y center top;
    font-family: 'Montserrat';
    line-height: 1.5em;
    overflow: hidden;
    color: #000000;
    font-size: 16px;
    border-top: none;
    border-top-color: #666666;
    border-bottom: none;
    border-bottom-color: #3d3d3d;
    -webkit-box-shadow: none;
    -moz-box-shadow: none;
    box-shadow: none;
    clear: both;
    margin: 0px 0px;
    }

    .ck_form, .ck_form * {
    -webkit-box-sizing: border-box;
    -moz-box-sizing: border-box;
    box-sizing: border-box;
    }

    #ck_subscribe_form {
    clear: both;
    }

    /* Element Queries — uses JS */

    .ck_form_content, .ck_form_fields {
    width: 50%;
    float: left;
    padding: 5%;
    }

    .ck_form.ck_horizontal {
    }

    .ck_form_content {
    border-bottom: none;
    }

    .ck_form.ck_vertical {
    background: #fff;
    }

    .ck_vertical .ck_form_content, .ck_vertical .ck_form_fields {
    padding: 10%;
    width: 100%;
    float: none;
    }

    .ck_vertical .ck_form_content {
    border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
    overflow: hidden;
    }

    /* Trigger the vertical layout with media queries as well */

    @media all and (max-width: 499px) {

    .ck_form {
    background: #fff;
    }

    .ck_form_content, .ck_form_fields {
    padding: 10%;
    width: 100%;
    float: none;
    }

    .ck_form_content {
    border-bottom: 1px dotted #aaa;
    }

    }

    /* Content */

    • 14 min

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5
6 Ratings

6 Ratings

Daemoni€ ,

Theoryously Good!

A wonderful set of handy guides

fractal_h ,

Fantastic content, video awol

This podcast is full of fantastic tips both for beginner and advanced, in a fun and enjoyable format.
But the presenters keep referring to things on screen, and the video is missing!

Top Podcasts In Music

Listeners Also Subscribed To