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Fjuka shares how to produce music without theory

There are many key elements required in producing an industry standard track of any genre. The seven elements of music are: rhythm, melody, harmony, timbre, dynamics, texture, and form.

Fjuka usually starts with the vocal melody, more specifically, the vocals for the hook and records them immediately into the DAW. To figure out the right BPM for the song Fjuka taps the metronome to the beat of the vocal and comes up with the right number for the idea. Listen to 'More Than Just Friends' on Spotify or Youtube.

A melody is a single note at a time that plays in a certain rhythm, the singer or instrument playing the melody has a certain timbre and will have a change in dynamics (going from soft to loud). The notes that make up the melody usually fall within a specific scale but because music theory has more scales than just major and minor plus accidentals are a possibility (notes that lie outside of the scale) it's not possible to be wrong at this point in the composition which is why it is a common place for producers that aren't using theory to start as it gives you four of the elements right out of the gate. Grab a sequence of notes that is catchy to you and this will become your melody, record it with the tempo and rhythm you are feeling.

Once the melody is recorded Fjuka can then focus on the chords which requires the most daunting element of them all, harmony. Harmony is a tough one because it requires multiple notes to be played but necessary for a song to have any kind of body and solidarity to it. The harmony is the ground in which the melody springs from so all we have to do is make it match.

Fjuka can tell by listening if notes are matching or not and will play along to the original recording for a considerable amount of time to come up with the matching harmony notes. Not everyone has the skill to know if notes match or not and is an element where mistakes are possible especially once you get more than three or more notes playing at the same time. If your worried your ears aren't working don't fear because there are plugins and midi maps created by other producers that can guide you. A plugin will be the next best thing to match the melody you already created because it will play automatic harmony notes that belong together with the touch of just one note on your midi instrument. Some helpful chord generating plugins are 'Captain Chords', Cthulhu from Xfer Records, or Chord Prism. You can also use a midi map of a chord progression that someone else has made however this may not give you much flexibility towards the melody that is really in your head or already in the DAW. Starting with the midi map and pulling the melody from the notes within the chords they used is a good way around that problem, it won't give you as much flexibility, but you'll end up with a solid track.

So far the song has melody and harmony but if it were a house it would be lacking a foundation, an attic, and all the framework. The bass is going to be our foundation for the house. A matching bass note relies on knowing the root note for the composition. A root note is the start of the scale, it's the beginning and the end, it's what we need to feel resolved. A song starts with the root, ventures out, and comes back again in a cycle that happens every phrase of the song. Once you know what note this is in the melody you'll play the same note as a bass, when the melody goes on and the harmony changes to something new the bass note will need to change with it. Using the same notes guarantees it will not clash but isn't the only option, your ears may tell you if something else matches but mostly it's good to keep it simple. People don't care what their foundation looks like all they care is that it's solid. The same thing goes for a song, the listener doesn't care to have the worlds craziest bass line they just want to feel it so they can melt deeper into the song.

The attic of a song would be the atmosphere and sometimes fx, like sweeps and risers. A light pad sound or even just noise that matches the key signature is a good instrument choice for atmosphere. To match the key signature look back to the notes already used in the harmony and melody. Multiple notes can be used to harmonize above the melody, usually an octave or so higher than anything else in the track. If sweeps and risers are being used they should be in key with the song, so matching that root note. The atmosphere contributes greatly to the song's timbre and texture as it adds another layer that can emphasize where the sound is going and it's beauty or emotion.

"In this track, my goal was to tell a story about how my love life has been for many years and gives everyone who struggle with love some hope."

The drums are the framework of the house, they hold everything together. Using reference tracks will help in figuring out how to make the beat that will match the style your going for because every genre has distinctive rhythms and sample choices. A lot of producers chose to start with the drums since they are so impactful on the genre. A drum sample still has pitch and the pitch can still be matched to the instruments in the song, most DAWs have an easy way of tuning the drums as you go.

At this point all of the musical elements have been covered except for form which is the structure of the song. Fjuka starts with the busiest part of the song which is the drop or chorus. "I like to do it this way, because if you use too much time on other parts of the song and then find out the drop will not work, then I feel like it has been a waste of time." After having the drop she extends the ideas backwards with a buildup, then verse, then intro. Usually this structure is mirrored multiple times in one song so the listener gets the chorus more than once, look to your favorite tracks for more structure ideas.

'More Than Just Friends' is Fjuka's latest release and a testament to the fact that music can be produced without the knowledge of music theory. Listen on Spotify or Youtube. The new track has about half lyrics and half instrumental so whether you produce with our without vocals there's a moment that may resonate with you.

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