Working with pitches without a keyboard

Hey everyone,

I just made a new video on making pitches and melodies without a keyboard, and wanted to use it as a jumping off point to start some interesting discussion and share some ideas.

I don’t have much of a background in tonal music theory, so writing melodies and chord progressions, particularly when sitting in front of a keyboard, was one of the things I was least confident with when starting out in the world of modular. Mylar Melodies’ video on generative music-making techniques and similar videos were a big help, especially starting out.

What kind of processes or techniques do you use to compose music? Do you take more of a purposeful approach sequencing specific melodies + chord progressions, or do you leave it more up to randomness?

I’m quite interested in process-based composition and work like Terry Riley’s In C, where the composition is both fixed (pre-determined notated bars of music) and fluid (arrangement of the music alters every time based on the performers). Anyone have any good examples of similar work?

Hope we can get some good ideas and discussion going! Cheers.


I’m in the same boat. The reason I got into modular in the first place was because I was interested in synthesis, but didn’t know a thing about playing a keyboard.

I think Mylar Melodies said it best in the video you referenced (a big inspiration to me as well). Sure, the machine is doing the work. But you decide when it’s right. And that’s my entire philosophy behind modular melodies- the machine throws something at me and I decide whether or not it sounds the way I want it to. Now almost a year down the modular rabbit hole, I’ve found a sequencer or two that allow me to interact with the machine in a way where it comes up with a basic melody, and I tweak it until it’s right. I’m not a huge fan of sequencers that require step-by-step programing. Instead I prefer interactive sequencers, which can be tweaked during a performance to create that fluid, non-structured, process based composition technique.

So to answer your question, I leave it up to randomness. But I know what it should sound like, and I know when it’s right.

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