I have no music or instrument background. I am part of film project and I am the music director. I need to create theme songs for various different characters and situations. I am given no money so I cannot afford a proper lesson. I have been given 4 months as learning period.

It is pretty bad. I was thinking of using some free music software to create the music. I can probably invest some money to buy cheap books but no courses.

Despite all the limitations, I really want to learn the proper material and make good music so what are basic concepts I need? Is there a specific way to learn or is it the same as learnibg physics and math?

  • Finding out how music functions is a good start. Learning to play an instrument will help, but in 4 months? It's a tall order!
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 7:58
  • Is this project as part of an academic course, or are you at a private company, or is this for an amateur production? (I'm thinking if you're working in an academic setting you might be able to find musicians who can at least improvise something, with direction.)
    – Andy
    Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 10:00
  • 3
    With no music or instrument background why were you chosen to be the music director? Did you volunteer or did you exaggerate your qualifications? If I was in your position I would resign. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 11:18
  • 1
    This is an amateur project that we are making for fun and to learn. I do not expect myself to become Mozart in 4 months. I volunteered because it is an opportunity to learn. I just want to learn the theory, not instruments. Even if I can make a simple piece, I think it is fine. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 12:06
  • It's not exactly like learning physics or math, but it's similar. In some ways it's like training for an endurance event like a marathon. You can't do all the training in a short amount of time because our bodies can't change that quickly. Commented Oct 3, 2016 at 12:19

6 Answers 6


Like many people who think music is straightforward, I think you have made incorrect assumptions in your question:

Learning music composition is very much about time - you need to listen to others, you need to practice, you need to play, you need to read theory...

You cannot do this in any effective way in 4 months. Realistically, a couple of years can give you a grounding, but even then you are likely to compose 'beginner' to 'intermediate' level pieces.

This is a huge discipline, and it is difficult. It is not at all like learning physics or maths, though, despite having some well understood rules of composition.


If this is an amateur project meant for fun and learning, then I think 4 months is plenty of time to learn the basics of a music program or app and then compose something for your project. I think Garage Band is a great beginning program. There are other great programs as well. There are also tons of YouTube videos on how to use those apps. Focus on how to use the app or program and experiment with it everyday. Don't get too caught up in theory, but if you feel stuck try and look up specific concepts. Think of it like learning a language rather than math or physics. Learn phrases, learn by ear, learn a little grammar (theory). The main thing is to do it everyday. Especially since you only have 4 months.


Get an environment for creating music (usually a digital audio workstation). Play around with it for a few days, consult the manual, get accustomed to the environment, make simple melodies.

Then, after you're a somewhat comfy with your DAW, start learning about intervals, chords, and chord progressions, and use what you learn to make somewhat more complex melodies and arrangements.

Make sure you listen to and like what you hear. Being able to just write stuff and hear it is an insane advantage, and it can really speed up the writing process.


From a creative point of view, the answer is simple:

There are no fundamentals to learn. None.

You can start literally anywhere - with the sound of a particular instrument in your head, with a mathematical formula, with a picture of a cactus... and go in any direction that ends up creating sound (or not!).

By all means, you could go down the direction of learning an instrument, learning theory, and so on. You'll have to work very hard to get far down that road in four months... but you may get far enough, and having a "beginners' mind" is often seen as a very good thing from a creative point of view.

Or you could come up with a soundtrack concept based on getting people together and ad-libbing whistled themes. Or you could make a soundtrack based on sound effects, or made from cut-up samples of pieces of audio already in the (legal) public domain. Or based on having people you know phone you and leave bits of sound as messages, which you work into the film...

...or a combination of all of those things.

Don't neglect all the stuff that may seem 'secondary' but will be an important part of the project, like the recording technology you'll use, mixing the tracks, syncing them to the picture, matching the mood of the music to the story, and so on. You could learn a lot from just taking pre-existing pieces of music and effects and placing them against an existing video. Learning all that in 4 months could be a tall order, so don't focus too much on the 'pure' musical side.

Sounds fun. Good luck!


You are not going to create useful music for a film project in 4 months without a music or instrument background. But you might work on a backing track nevertheless by combining existing music. The main problem here is figuring out the licensing situation you have to deal with regarding the planned kind of performances of your film project. With the additional constraint of "no budget", you might be very far up shit creek if a number of showings are planned.

In that case, you might want go looking for music students you can interest in the project, in exchange for credits/publicity and try working out together how to arrive at something that is satisfactory for project and participants and free of rights to parties bound by contracts to licensing groups.

Your "title" is that of "music director", not "music creator". You are responsible for making sure that by the end of the production, the music is where it needs to be. Trying to create it all by yourself given your current personal starting point as you imagine it right now is not going to work. Try getting a team together and use the opportunity to learn as much from them as you can while you try pulling your weight together.

I don't see that anything else would be overly realistic.


Composing Music and Music direction is not so easy as you are thinking. It can’t be achieved in 4 months.

Music is ocean and you have mentioned that you want to create good music but good music will be created with studying of music theory ,practicing it and having experience of several years of understanding the music techniques.

You should be able to understand & write “staff notation” and to least “playing a keyboard” and some “scales” where you can run your fingers and write the music.

muse score is free software which will help to compose but since you do not know the staff notation - you first learn to read staff notation for 1 months and with this software you can try to create some music but not a GOOD music.

But some where you need to start so that over a period of time you can achieve good music.

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