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Composing is not a difficult task as long as you do not make it difficult. There are a variety of ways you can fix even the worst piece of music and get at least a semi-descent song in the end.
Effects are probably the most basic thing to enhance a mod, as with most computer generated music. Be careful not to overuse effects though. Remember, different trackers and players sometimes interpret different effects strangely. Do not volume slide too much. A huge or less gradual volume slide can really louse up some primitive players. Remember, not everyone has the same software as you.
Although there are many tips and tricks for mods, to save space, typing time, ect. many of the mod tips I will leave out and instead ask you to refer to ourmidi tips section. I am sorry for this inconvience, but do to lack of time and other problems, it is easier this way. If you have trouble converting any of the tips from midi to mod, I'd be glad to answer any of your questions. However, I will still cover some specific mod tips, so don't be discouraged.
Song writing is probably THE most basic component of a great piece of music. If your song is written poorly, natrually, but not always, it will sound like trash. All the effects in the world can not always make a song. Sometimes people rely too much on effects, and it is such a common problem, we have decided to add it here. We asked a few people around the internet what makes a good song, and got varying responses, so here is the consensus.
Most people feel that song structure these days is extremely poor. Free software and ease of composition have attracted many "would be" composers. Composers can learn influence each other's bad habits and mistakes. Some "trackers" think that if they stick a bunch of common cords and slap on a few effects, they will have a song. Totally untrue. Listen to most rock music. Songs have a definite structure and follow a few basic rules. The same holds true for computer music. Remember, computer music logically is music. Just because you are playing on a computer and not a guitar does not mean that the same rules do not apply.

The Intro

The most basic part of any song is the intro. The intro sets the mood and tone for what is to come. It has rising dynamism and shadows things to come often. Be creative and focus intensley on the intro. Remember, the intro is the first part of a song people hear. If the intro is bad, chances are the listener will move on to something else. You can't judge a book by it's cover, but hey, people still do, so you have to expect that. The intro should catch the listener's interest, yet not overpower the rest of the song.

The Verse

The songs verses are the meat and potatoes of the song. Songs often focus very intensely on either the chorus or the verse. The verse can vary throughout the song, but most verses sound somewhat alike. For instance, you could use the same instruments for two verses and different notes or the different instruments, and different notes, but try not to vary too much. Do not start playing violins in a classical type piece in one verse and then the verse directly after start playing heavy metal guitars. It just does not make sense. Being creative is important, but do not let your creativity go overboard. If you take something too far, the song could sound like a totally new song altogether and confuse the listener. Try to have a lead instrument catching the listener's attention.

The Chorus

Almost every song needs the chorus in its basic structure. This is the part of the song that should really grab the listener's attention, usually more so than the verse. The chorus should give your audience a reason to keep listening. If your verse went badly, a nice chorus can help you recover. The chorus can make or break your song.

The Bridge

Not every song has to have a bridge, but it is usually advisable to include one. Some people like to make the bridge contrast with the rest of the song. Usually it varies from the verse, but not always. The bridge is like an intermission that can be any way you want it; overpowering, soft, or even just a slight variation of a verse. The bridge is not too important, but a weak bridge is an annoyance.

The Resolution

Your song has to have and end, right? The end should be a slight variation of something in the song or a more drastic one if you want, but it should be appropriate and worthy to close. Weak closings just ruin a song. A closing is so simple. Just fade out, lower the volume, and bring a whole bunch of energy together and then cut it. The one thing not to do in a closing is to just cut the music. It sounds like someone just turned off your stereo while you were listening. That is not pleasing, is it?
As you can see, structuring a song is fairly simple, so there is no excuse to forget it. It is suprising how many people neglect this most basic element of music. Remember A-B-C-B-D-B-E or anything like that? This simply refers to the structure silly.
The melody of a song also determines the quality. Playing an instrument is the best way to learn about melody. If you use drums, your drums can not be all random. I have done some wierd drum variations, but nothing too random. It does not sound natrual at all. If the excitement is building up in your song, put excitement in the drum section too. Do not just leave the same beat hanging there the whole time that makes your listener want to shoot himself if he/she has to hear that awful beat in their head another 100 times. When writing a drum track, pretend that you are the live drummer, reacting to what your band is doing on stage. Are you going to go into a heavy explosion in your song? Put a nice rising fill-in at the end of the pattern before. Reached a high? Even in the middle of a measure? Put a cymbal crash -thanks to necros for that tip posted! Remember, snares and bass drums are not the only things that make up percussion instruments. Use hi-hats, timpanis, cymbals, and any other kind of percussion.
After structure, I probably here people complaining about samples the most. Some people say they cannot get them, others rip them without giving credit where it is due. Please give any ripped samples credit. You are allowed to rip samples, but it is common courtesy to give credit. Sample some on your own too. Get some cd's, look for a part with only 1 instrument like at the begining of a song, and sample it on in. You can edit the length, frequency, ect. once it is in your computer. It is not hard to sample. Just go down to radio shack, get an audio video cable that can plug into your soundcard's line in jack or an adapter for a standard audio visual cable and jack your cd player, keyboard, guitar, ect. right into your sound card. Check your sound card manual if you still have difficulty. Standard tv a/v cables will even work! Remember, for better sample quality, try to sample away from any interference ie a microwave, tv, ect. I find turning off my monitor sometimes cuts down on interference. The better quality your cable, the less interference of course.
Bad chord progression is a common mistake, and unfortunatley, very hard to correct. Try to be as creative and original as possible. Here's necros's (he's an excellent composer btw) list of top five progressions to avoid, along with actual note-readings at the end if you need them:

#5. Cmin Bb Ab Gmin (yuck, it sounds like a bad romance movie)
#4. C F Am G (be there, done that, heard it before)
#3. C F C G (can it get any worse??)
#2. Cm Ab Fm Bb (i've even used this one, you have to orchestrate it damn well to get it to sound decent)
#1. C F G (ACK ACK ACK this is like every lame 50's song put together)

In case you need them here's a chord ref table:

Cmin = C - D#- G
Ab = G# - C - D#
G = G - B - D
Bb = A#- D - F
F = F - A - C
Fm = F - G# - C
Remember: Either get a good progression, or get a good groove.
The secret of a good groove it to make it less chord-oriented, and more riff-oriented. Think of a catchy phrase which will fit within in the chords, imagine it as sort of a rhythm section. Use the drum track to help.

Effects and Other Tricks

By using the notedelay effect, you can create a really professional sounding reverb/delay sound. Copy a passage to a different channel, and pan the two channels to opposite sides (this sort of extreme panning can be done with SB as well as GUS). Then insert the effect SD1 or SD2 into the infobyte column for each note on the second channel. A similar effect can be achieved by inserting the passage on the second channel one row down, although at all but the fastest tempos this is too much of a delay and becomes an echo which is muddy unless the volume of the second channel is reduced considerably.

When using a wavetable soundcard in tracking it is advisable to run out of GUS RAM. (My GUS has 512k, with a 1024k upgrade it would be better; with 256k it'd be a nightmare.) This in some ways is frustrating as you keep having to make adjustments to your music to allow for the memory limitations, as well as coping with ST3's lack of grace in dealing with a GUS memory shortage. However, in other ways it is good because it makes your MODs smaller and hence minimises download time as well as wasted disk space. At some stage I will deal with size reduction in the WAV tips document, but here and now I will list some ways to minimise GUS memory wastage in ST3 itself.

First of all I must stress the uslessness of having, say, a piano sample, a bass sample and a piano + bass combo sample. The combo sample will not only be harder to work with due to its dual cycles (see this month's WAV tips) but it is unneccesary unless you have already used all 16 available channels. Some people claim that you should use as few channels as possible, for a variety of reasons, but today's computers, sound cards and MOD players are quite capable of dealing with all 16 channels, and you can easily just copy the pattern data to another channel (using the large-scale copy commands listed in January's MOD tips) and bump up the instrument number by changing the first note, selecting the rest and using alt+s.

A second way of conserving GUS memory is by using one sample where you would usually have two completely different ones. For instance, instead of having an open hihat and closed hihat, or a short brass and long brass sample, just have the open hihat or the long brass, and use functions like cutsample and sample offset to achieve the sounds of the other samples.

This technique requires much more work than if you were using the two separate samples, but can save memory if you're desperate to make your samples 1k smaller.

Thanks to all those who contributed on usenet to this section.

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