How can you learn to write music if you can't afford to take a class?
I can come up with tunes and hear my music with full accompaniment, but I don't know how to put the notes on paper! Is there a source on the Web or somewhere else that will help me learn? (Remember, I'm broke! No work, no savings. Money can't help me get a teacher.) Thanks!
Don't ask me! I'm just as much in the dark about it as you are. Although I have gone to the library and found a couple of books on music theory.
I even designed a color coded music sheet showing 16ths, 8ths, quarters, halves, and whole notes. By moving my hand at a consistent beat across the paper and touching a pencil to the page as I hum the notes, I can get close to the notes. Then I use a keyboard to match the tones I hum with the proper keys and mark the notes appropriately.
But there's got to be a better way!
It may be worth checking the library for more books on music theory. I found that books were generally a lot more comprehensive than what I could find on the internet. You should make sure you start at a level you understand; some music theory books are horrendously complicated.
Looking at how the notes are arranged in sheet music can also help a lot.
There are many, many Hubs in HubPages (some are quite excellent) that can teach you about reading and writing music. Start by reading them. Daniel Carter has written and published a great deal of music. He is one you might check first.
A lot of music writing software (Cakewalk for certain and probably Finale and Sibelius) can interface with a music keyboard, so that you can play on the keyboard and the music is recorded in written form. [You may also be able to use the computer keyboard to write the music - different letter keys representing different notes. It takes more explanation than I can give here.] The cost of the software varies. I'm a big fan of Cakewalk Home Studio, but it also has some drawbacks.
Also, have you considered recording (on tape or digitally) your music and then hiring someone else to write it out? There is a highly published musician I've heard about who doesn't know how to read or write out her own music; she plays and sings it, and she has an assistant who writes it out in notation.
Since you're "broke," the idea of hiring someone probably sounds ludicrous and impossible. But you might be able to find someone who would do it for free initially, with the promise of future payment if your song sells. That sort of arrangement if often offered on Craigslist.
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