32 votes
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When did the anonymous "you" become popular in western pop music?

I'm going to go with "it was always common". Certainly many Renaissance madrigals are written to "you" (or "thee", as the case may be): Come again! Sweet love doth now invite Thy graces that ...
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  • 20.2k
25 votes

Is it necessary to use only notes and chords that belong in a specific scale?

As the other answers have correctly pointed out, you can do what sounds good to you. But this might leave you with a feeling of not knowing where to start. That's why I would like to let you know the ...
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  • 19.5k
25 votes
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How "hard" to read is this rhythm? A rhythmic comparison

Minor nitpick: in your first example, the semiquaver should precede the minim. That will improve readability: Major nitpick: The two rhythms are identical. A crotchet triplet can be subdivided into ...
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  • 9,479
21 votes
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Which would benefit my band the most, learning covers or writing originals?

You should do both! When I just start working with other musicians, I like to get a cover or two under our belts so we can feel each other out and learn to play as a group. Literally at the same time, ...
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21 votes

Is it necessary to use only notes and chords that belong in a specific scale?

Theory is not a set of rules to be followed or broken. Theory is a set of explanations for why things sound the way they do. As a composer you use theory to help inform your choices, but it never ...
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  • 21.2k
20 votes
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Does the starting note for a song have to be the starting note of its scale?

Does a scale always have to start off with the note it is named after? A scale is a collection of notes with one of those notes designated as the 'home note'. When you're playing that scale in a ...
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19 votes
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Is it acceptable to change tempo in the middle of a song or is this a bad idea?

Is changing tempo during the song and back again a common device used on modern popular music? Or is there a good reason to avoid this type thing? No, it is not a device commonly used in popular ...
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  • 25.1k
17 votes

How do I get out of my song writing rut and compose something new and fresh for a change?

Listen, listen, listen to lots of new kinds of music. Regularly. Not just your style or your favorites. Don't just listen. Marinate. Challenge yourself. It'll be tough initially, and it may not hold ...
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17 votes
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How do I get out of my song writing rut and compose something new and fresh for a change?

TLDR; Listen to new music, play in new keys, try to emulate other styles/genres, choose new chord progressions and approach your writing from a different perspective, ie, which instrument you write on,...
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  • 7,379
15 votes
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What is the difference between 'chorus' and 'refrain'?

It gets more complicated. The term 'refrain' comes from a time when poems were routinely set to music, and it is more appropriately left for the discussion of Classical and Romantic songs. At the ...
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  • 2,765
14 votes
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Is it necessary to use only notes and chords that belong in a specific scale?

TL;DR: No. You can use anything you like, as long as it sounds good to you. You can use many scales or not use any; you can use chords from some scale or use chords outside that scale. Just ...
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14 votes
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what are the characteristics that define a "good" melody?

It does depend on the style of music, but generally speaking I think there are good rules of thumb which will yield good results in most styles. Keep it easy to sing and easy to remember. You want ...
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  • 2,180
12 votes

Which would benefit my band the most, learning covers or writing originals?

I agree 100% with everything Todd Wilcox stated in his excellent answer! To add to what he said - as a songwriter myself, I find that learning covers is a great way to improve not only my skills as ...
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12 votes

Is it necessary to use only notes and chords that belong in a specific scale?

First, you play a toy xylophone, and it has 1 octave of the notes in a major scale. And you can play a lot of nursery rhymes. Then you pick up a recorder, and there are some more notes in between the ...
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  • 243
12 votes
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Why does most "Country" Music use mostly major and minor plain simple chords?

You could also ask “why do artists outside of the country genre use complex chords instead of the simpler harmonies of country music?” The complex harmonies are not necessarily better. In the country ...
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12 votes
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Layering multiple instruments

You really have two questions there. I'm going to answer this one: In a section like the chorus, how do you get the layering of many instrument to get that full and rich impression? Playing a ...
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12 votes

Lead guitar improvisation strategies for young intermediate guitarists

Reading music - safe. Regurgitating others' riffs - safe. Both, when one is good at either (or both) have a certain authenticity to them. 'I play what's written - if it's written, it's probaably good, ...
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  • 173k
11 votes

What key could the progression Cm - G - Dm - Am be in?

Whilst on a major scale ,borrowing chords from the minor scale with the same name is common (and vice versa). Really common to be honest. Some of the most common borrowed chords are the V (dominant), ...
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11 votes
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Song Structure: What's up with Verse/Chorus/Verse 2/Chorus/Verse 3/Bridge/Chorus?

The verse-chorus (sometimes with a bridge) form replaced the AABA 32-bar formula in popular music at around the sixties. And the 32-bar form replaced the strophic form (verses sometimes with a refrain)...
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  • 5,021
11 votes

How can you retain the melody or tune you come up with in your head?

I would recommend recording yourself. Recording devices are so cheap and common now, that it would be the easy solution. As far a recalling a song or tune, there probably is not that much difference ...
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11 votes

Lead guitar improvisation strategies for young intermediate guitarists

I am not a music teacher, have not been teached by a music teacher and would not consider myself a 'good' guitarist. But I remember having similar problems in terms of improvisation. When I tried to ...
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  • 1,031
10 votes
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Is writing lyrics similar to writing poetry?

Do you need lyrics? If it is hard to write them, it's easiest to skip them and compose instrumental music. If this is not an option, do you have a friend that can write them? Not all musicians write ...
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10 votes
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The Chords in this progression sound great but don't belong together - so why do they work?

Intro: G to E This could work chromatically. It doesn't really belong to any scale. You play G and by chromatically changing G to G# you go to E. Beatles had a similar progression on the verse of ...
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10 votes

Does a vocal melody have any rhythmic responsibility to the underlying arrangement in pop music?

No. It doesn't have to. If you want, it can; but if you don't want, it doesn't need to. I think the best thing you can say is that the good ones add up to a significant whole - something greater than ...
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  • 22.6k
10 votes

How to convert what I'm singing to notes

Your playing needs to be in the same key you're thinking about i.e. singing in, and there are basically two different approaches to do the coordination. A: playing adjusts to singing: find the key ...
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10 votes

Can Schubert songs only be fully appreciated by German speakers?

Any vocal work can only be fully appreciated by listening to it in the original language, whether that language is German (Schubert's "Winterreise", or any Wagner or Strauss opera) or ...
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  • 15.3k
10 votes
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What is 22 equal temperament?

In the common 12-edo tuning, the octave is divided in 12 equally-spaced steps (hence equal divisions of the octave). What's meant my “equal” is that the frequency ratio between subsequent notes is ...
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10 votes

What are the key ideas behind a good bassline?

Do note that your question is really vague (and too close to the "opinion based" flag). As many rules, the first rule is that there is no absolute rule. Bass lines are fundamental (yes, ...
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  • 5,740
9 votes

Is making things over-complicated a common mistake for new songwriters?

It's somewhat like writing a story, or a book. One of the first things to consider is - what is the audience, who am I writing this for? A lot of the best known/loved songs are quite simple. That's ...
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  • 173k
9 votes
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What are the key ideas behind a good bassline?

The important thing about the bass is that it's the bridge between the drums and the other instruments. How it fills that role is massively dependent on the musical style, the conventions of that ...
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