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Full Version: Why you can't percussion
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Thread title was sort of clickbaitish, just bee-tee-dubs.

Anyway, I hear a lot of people on this site saying stuff like "I hate percussion" or "I suck at percussion". I'm here to tell you, that's a phase. Who am I to say though, you may ask? Someone who went through that phase. I got into piano from watching solely piano videos, and black midis. I used to make solely piano songs, and thought I was just a piano guy. While some people may just be piano people, most people who think they are aren't. It's kinda like how every baby has blue eyes in the first few months after birth, but eventually some of them have brown, green, grey, etc. 

Why does this happen? It's pretty simple, piano is amazing. Piano can do good in the low frequency section, highs, AND mids. Piano is incredibly versatile, it can work for just about any melody you can think of. This is why piano is the default setting when you open up the sequencer. It's the easiest to make sound good, and it's the most flattering sound overall. When people argue over which sound is best, it's usually between electric piano and grand piano. A lot of black midis use solely piano. To top it off, piano is an easy instrument to play, and learn. It's simple to understand, go right, it gets higher. It also doesn't hurt your fingers, and you can play a large number of notes at a time, opposed to a LOT of other instruments.

Why is this a problem? Piano gets overused, long and short of it. Piano can be done well if you know what you're doing, but a lot of people don't. A general rule for piano is to think of two hands, one playing low and one playing high. Also, assume each hand has an octave of spread (C4 to C5). An octave is a pretty reasonable spread that most pianists would be able to handle. The reason I say to do this is because the piano, as an instrument, was specifically designed, and evolved over hundreds of years to be played by two hands. You may say this limits you, but it doesn't, remember, there are other instruments. If you overload on piano, regardless of if you're using notes in harmony with one another, it's gonna sound dissonant. There;s a long explanation of why this happens, involving waveforms, and frequencies and phase cancellation, but I don't want to do that right now. Just look at black midis, these are people with that knowledge, yet at some high number of notes, it will become dissonant.

continued into second post...
What does this have to do with percush-cush? Well, a large portion of percussion *cough* cuica *cough* is the opposite of the piano. Also, percussion as a whole is just about the most important thing to music. This second post will be basically a guide on how to do percussion, because you need to learn. Regardless of if you just want to make piano only music, or if you don't care for percussion at all, even a lot of piano songs have percussion in the background. It's important, and if you can't learn the simplest bit, you have 0 chance of doing anything with music.

Let's start off with boots and cats. here's it in online sequencer. Why do I want to start with this? This is probably the most common percussion phrase there is, and it's fairly simple too. You might think of it as a trademark of dance music, or some other genre, but trust me, it's everywhere. EDM to Jazz to Trap to Emotional piano music. It can be found literally *****ing everywhere, in every genre, this is not an exaggeration. You can probably add this to a large portion of your own songs, and have it work well. Slow it down, speed it up, still works. The next simplest percussion phrase is simply kick snare, kick snare, then just 4/4 Kick or 4/4 Snare. As you can see, percussion doesn't have to be difficult. Add the 4/4 kick to one of your songs, it'll probably work, provided your song has a normal rhythm. Anyway, make variations on these pattrens, and you can be good at percussion in about 1 day.

Continued to next post...
So, the last post was all about stuff you can learn in like 24 hours. This post will contain advanced stuff that could take awhile, specifically Building percussion around your song/Building your song around percussion. This skill isn't mandatory for everyone, not like the 4/4 kick is. It's best to learn this after you've gotten melody, harmony, and rhythm down, so that you don't rely on it too much and become like an animal who was in a zoo his whole life and couldn't survive in the wild. 

First thing I'm going to talk about is layering. This is something that is talked about a lot more in other music forums/communities I visit than this one. First thing you need to know, it doesn't need to be hard, but it can. A simple idea of layering with percussion, can be seen in Divinity, by Porter Robinson. At the 20 second mark, he starts using a kick and a sort of square/triangle sounding wave with it. Notice how it sounds, how it blends. This site, unfortunately, does not give as many options in the way of changing you kicks/waves as, say, FL studio does. It's no big deal, you can still accomplish similar things. Try making an extended chord with square wave, and putting a kick at the beginning. Now, I said it can be complicated. It can. Think about things like, adding a triangle to a high pitched guitar strum to give it more of a chime. Woodblock on a pluck to make it more poppy. etc.

continued
Now, how does percush cush relate to the uhh instruments? well, adding percussion makes life way easier. Because of the low frequencies of the kick, you can add a lot more instruments besides piano and it won't sound so empty, and it'll work out. If you can layer instruments, then you might hear a kick and thing, "man, I could use something to go with it" and it can help you better form your song and build it better.

Anyway, thanks for surviving this long ramble of nonsense. In the end, you don't HAVE to use percussion, but you should at least know it's function and HOW to use it if you need/want it.

If you have questions, cuz it was like 2 AM when I wrote this and I was tired af, I wouldn't be surprised if I screwed up somewhere. Ask them. Comments, send them. even if they're rude, idc.
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