I wasn't entirely sure how to ask this question, so I'll use visual references.

Please look at this piano roll picture: the green "blocks" represent the notes of a melody, the purple ones - the hits of the snare, and the orange ones - the hits of the kick drum. The tempo of the song is 158 BPM, and the vertical red lines represent each beat of the metronome.

Now, my question is: is the melody aligned well with the drums? If so, what makes it so? If not, how would the "blocks" need to be moved? Must each of these vertical lines mark the beginning of a new note in order for this to be OK? What if that messes up my melody? Would I have to rearrange the drum beat pattern if I wanted to keep this melody? Where can I read up on the theory behind this?

Thanks for your help!

piano roll of melody/drums

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    how does it sound? – b3ko Aug 20 '18 at 19:09
  • Hi, thanks for commenting. Are you asking me to upload a recording of this? – killahpl Aug 20 '18 at 19:18
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    It's impossible to tell without hearing it if it's in time, because different sounds that you use to play these notes will have different envelopes - and those different envelopes will require the underlying note data to be slightly different to achieve the similar senses of timing. – topo Reinstate Monica Aug 20 '18 at 19:40
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    it would help people determine if it sounded good, but i was more asking you if you thought it sounded good. i don't think there are any rules that determine what a good alignment between melody and drums is. just go with what you think sounds good. – b3ko Aug 20 '18 at 19:48
  • All right, here's a larger part of that melody with kick, snare and hat (ind you, this is unmixed, without all of the effects, etc.): dropbox.com/s/ssnab3j30zd1hpq/CotW.wav?dl=0 @b3ko I think it sounds ok, but I'm deaf when it comes to rhythm plus I really thought there was some piece of music theory or another that determined it (i.e. like you can't take a melody, create a second track with just any notes and call that a harmony). – killahpl Aug 20 '18 at 19:59

I think it sounds great, but it really depends on a few things. What style of music are you going for? Out of context this sounds more like an improvisatory solo than strictly a melody, is that the kind of vibe you want?

This, when written out into musical notation, would be quite syncopated (the guitar line at least). However in juxtaposition to the very rhythmic drum beat I think it works very well.

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  • thanks very much for the kind words. The style is supposed to be heavy/power metal. The "melody" is supposed to be a stand-in for vocals (and the whole things is supposed to be a demo of sorts to lure potential victims/bandmates ;) ) Re: syncopation, via Wikipedia: "syncopation involves a variety of rhythms which are in some way unexpected which make part or all of a tune or piece of music off-beat" ... so the clip I uploaded IS off-beat but that isn't necessarily a bad thing? Also, in the "melody", I'd like to extend the note at 0:09, but I'm afraid I'd go even further off-beat. – killahpl Aug 21 '18 at 7:10
  • Sorry I wasn't thinking and didn't realize you wouldn't know what syncopation was. Syncopation is a very common technique used to throw off our sense of the beat, used as early as Mozart, or possibly before (off the top of my head I can't remember), but used very commonly in jazz. – LKinson Aug 22 '18 at 10:44
  • I think a great experiment for you would be to line the start of every green bar (guitar) up with every red vertical line, which is technically a beat, and see how it sounds. I don't think it would be any better but it might give you an idea of what you're dealing with. SO many things can influence what sounds 'rhythmic', including the way an instrument attacks a note and how long it takes to sounds. for example, hit a note on a piano and it sounds almost immediately, but hit a gong and it takes a few seconds to reach max volume. These would all show up as a green bar in your program anyway. – LKinson Aug 22 '18 at 10:45

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