Music By Jason
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1  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: What are people working on? on: June 04, 2010, 06:37:33 PM
A book about what?!
2  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / What are people working on? on: June 02, 2010, 03:11:45 PM
Just curious to hear what people around this forum are working on.  Whether it's just working on cues to beef up your demo, or maybe you've got a major deadline coming up, let's hear what sort of projects people are doing.

So... what you are you up to lately?
3  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Feedback for a newbie please :-) on: March 04, 2010, 02:48:43 PM
Hey MaxLeonhart.... I really like this last piece you posted as well your others. We've had conversations in the past, so you already know I like your writing. But I want to commend you on the progress you've made in your use of MIDI instruments. Comparing the first cue you posted in the thread to this, you can really hear more movement and emotion in the string lines and the way you controlling expression and volume. Plus your reverb choices are making a big difference as well.

Just wanted to say that it's sound better and better all the time and I want to encourage you to keep it up!!

4  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Seeking advice regarding EWQL libraries on: March 04, 2010, 02:38:52 PM
Yeah, definitely... Dannthr is right... you don't want to be using notation programs as sequencers.
5  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Seeking advice regarding EWQL libraries on: March 03, 2010, 07:49:24 PM
Hmmm... can you call EWQLSO samples from Sibelius? I'm a Finale user... so I'm not sure if Sibelius allows for VST plugins or not... anyone know?
6  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Recording on: March 03, 2010, 07:44:56 PM
Hey Steve... not sure if you mean live recordings or just what software/hardware we are using to mix and master our midi mockups and computer sessions, but I'll give you (for whatever it's worth) what I use in both situations. Also, I'm a Mac user... so all of this is on a Mac Pro dual-core with 12 GB of memory.

I used to do quit a bit of live tracking in my home studio, but lately I have been using incredibly talented musicians all around the world that have their own recording setups - I ftp them the tracks and info, they record their parts, and ftp it back where I mix it in. But this is just sort of sweetening to the MIDI session ... using a live violin, trumpet, cello, etc, to bring a section to life a little bit. But when I do record, I use BLUE microphones (I own a Dragonfly, Baby Bottle, and an 8-Ball), Mogami cables, into my audio interface which is an RME Fireface 800, and JBL monitors and subwoofer.

I use the same audio interface, the RME Fireface 800, and same monitors for midi... I used to use Digital Performer, but am now a Logic user. I use Logic in connection with Plogue Bidule to host all my virtual instruments. I mix in Logic, and use BIAS Peak Pro as my 2-track mastering program.

I don't have an external hardware mixing board, and I just use the CD-burner in the Mac Pro. If you are just saying that you have a WAV or AIFF file and want to make a master CD from it... then yes I would just use the burner in your computer. I have done that, and then sent it off to be mass-produced at like DiscMakers or something.

This may have been WAY overkill... but hopefully somewhere in there is an answer to your question!

7  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: New to the forum. My first ever composition! on: March 03, 2010, 07:33:12 PM
Hi Bagelz,

I just listened to your stuff, and I have to agree with Sacrenouille. The instrument samples you are using are going to prevent your music from getting the best possible reception by someone listening to it. I like the compositional ideas, and you have some really nice counterpoint lines and there's a lot to be proud of from a composition standpoint, but from an arranging and "production" standpoint you'll want to try to focus on getting a more realistic sound. It's not easy, and it's an ongoing process to get better and better at it, but it's worth it if you are serious about using MIDI for orchestral mockups or recordings. Here's a good analogy as to why this important... cuz I used to think "Won't people be able to tell that I'm writing good music even if the instruments don't sound that great?" ... but imagine this... if you were a screenwriter and wrote a brilliant screenplay for a film ... then you start making the movie and hire actors to deliver these brilliant lines you've written ... but the problem is your actors either mumble all the time or have an extreme accent that it is very difficult to understand the script you wrote. People would watch the movie and think, "Well, I heard a word here and there - but it was hard to understand - I think there were some good parts, but I'm not sure..." 

It's the same with music... you craft these melodies and these harmonies and you want it to sound amazing... but the instruments are the ones telling the story... so make sure you are using the best storytellers possible. Yes it will cost more (just like hiring a great actor costs more), but it's worth it.

I have lamented about this many times, but unfortunately composers no longer just sit at a piano with pencil and paper and write music... we are required to use computers to bring our music to life more often than not... so it's a skill we need to develop. We need to be composers, arrangers, engineers, mixers, producers, etc.

I don't say all this to discourage you, but rather to let you know the reality of composing orchestral music using MIDI and computers. You should feel encouraged by the fact that you can compose and you have good musical ideas. Taking some time to polish your production skills will really make your music shine and attract a lot of interest. And also be encouraged that everyone starts in a similar boat... no one is born with midi production skills. We are all trying to master it.

Best of luck!
8  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Studio monitors ... on: May 11, 2009, 12:10:11 PM
OK ... I need input.  For those of you that have a home studio setup ... what monitors are you using? And what the pros and cons?  I have a pair of Mackie HR824's (the older models - from 2006) and a setup with JBL LSR's with a 12" JBL subwoofer.  I am toying with the idea of selling the JBL setup and getting a Genelec setup ... but I don't know ... that's why I'm interested in what people are using and what they like ... first hand comments and reviews of what is tickling your eardrums these days. 

9  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: So talk about your first music job! on: May 08, 2009, 07:00:31 PM
My first real job in the music industry was back in 2001.  Prior to that I was living in Green Bay, WI ... where I was born and raised.  After college I knew I wanted to move to LA or NY and pursue music.  In 2001 my wife and I moved to LA ... no job, took our apartment over the phone, and didn't know anyone.  I enrolled in UCLA Extension's Film Music Program (which, by the way, is a great program if you are looking for some hands-on training working with film and recording with live musicians). I needed a job, and called Hans Zimmer's company, Media Ventures... I was willing to sweep floors, or get coffee, or whatever ... I just wanted to start meeting people and get around the business.  Surprised by an opening they had, I took the job as "weekend guy who answers the phone" ... which eventually became a full-time reception position for various buildings on the Media Ventures campus.  This was not even close to a "creative music composition job" ... but I feel like the things I learned there and what I was exposed to was invaluable.  Being around Hans and his team of composers, getting to know some of the guys and getting insight into the industry was really great.

I was able to do some copywork for Hans and his team ... they found out I was a power Finale user and had me do some parts for the live performance of a score at the Cannes Film Festival ... while it didn't put me on the fast track to film scoring fame, it was a good gig and good to be in the industry even on that small level. 

My first REAL creative gig came shortly after getting the job at Media Ventures, I met Jason and we became friends and he contracted me (through Blizzard) to do choir arranging for Warcraft 3. That snowballed into some other arranging and copyist work for Blizzard on Warcraft 3 Expansion Pak and World of Warcraft. 

That's how it started for me... but I would say the most valuable piece of advice came from a teacher at the UCLA Extension program... they said "Who you know will get you in the door, what you know will keep you there."  And as much as I hate the "it's who you know" philosophy ... it is a big part of the industry... but I would say the most important part is how you prepare yourself to knock it out of the park when you get the gig... If someone agrees to give you a chance, and you can't deliver, it will be tough convincing them you deserve another chance.  So that's why forums like these are good... people talking about studios, and samples, and midi, and tech stuff... it's all great to be sharpening our tools... and don't think it stops when you get your first gig ... even after years of doing this, I still feel pressure to knock it out of the park when I get a gig in order to ensure that the client is happy and that they'd want to use me again.  So what I think we all want is a growing cycle of becoming better composers and getting better gigs... cheers to that!
10  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: EWQL symphonic orchestra gold complete on: May 08, 2009, 06:38:48 PM
I use EWQLSO Gold XP as well ... I'm using it natively in Logic using East West's relatively new PLAY host plugin.  I really enjoy using PLAY and having it natively in the Mac is working out great so far.  I used to use a dedicated PC running GigaStudio (among others) and that worked out well too, but I like the flexibility of PLAY. I am running an intel Mac Pro system with 12 GB of memory.  That was the trick for me.  Before I had 4GB ... which thought would be plenty.  Then I got BFD2 ... one kit loaded up at full res made it chug ... so I upgraded to 12GB and just did a project last night with 3 instances of StormDrum 2, 4 instances of VSL, and 2 instances of EWQLSO Gold and it ran smooth.  So for me, if you're going to spend the money to run libraries natively in your session, it's best to spend the little extra to rock out the memory to make sure USING the library is an enjoyable experience.

Just to chime in on the sequencer debate as well... I have to agree with Dan... you may go thru trial and error and see what you like and don't like.  I used Digital Performer for a LONG time ... heard good things about Logic, made the switch, and while I still miss some of the cool things DP could do, I'm happy with Logic.  I also use Pro Tools and Nuendo to use for different scenarios... and while there's always a bit of a learning curve, I am finding they all have great things about them, and it just really matters what you're looking for in a sequencer... which will depend on what kind of projects you're going to be doing.

Just my two cents on the subject... I would say that EWQLSO makes solid stuff.. but if you can, the key will be blending libraries to really create depth in your arrangements.  I actually like the Kirk Hunter strings to blend in with VSL and EWQLSO strings... I think they add a nice richness ... but by themselves they are just OK.
11  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: User Groups/Labels (Postcount) on: April 10, 2009, 01:43:20 PM
Some other suggestions:

Tempo terms (stars could be notes or whatever symbols)

* = Largo
** = Adagio
*** = Andante
**** = Allegro
***** = Presto

Or the "climbing the career latter" approach:

* = Studio Gopher
** = Studio Assistant
*** = Team Composer
**** = Lead Composer
***** = Rock Star

Or Career Musician terms:

* = Sit-In Gig
** = Freelancer
*** = Regular Session Player
**** = Concert Master (or 1st Chair, or Session Leader)
***** = Maestro (or Conductor)

Just some more ideas to toss out there!

12  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: Where is everyone? on: April 08, 2009, 04:15:34 PM
EDDIE!! Nice, man! Yeah, myspace got out of control ... that place is insane.  I'm on Facebook if you want to join up there, otherwise we can connect here too.  Good to see you on here.  Hope to hear more of your stuff soon.
13  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: Where is everyone? on: April 08, 2009, 03:45:44 PM
Whew ... my login still worked!  It has been a while for me as well ... but talking to Melda and Jason and it sounds like we are excited about getting more involved and taking on more active rolls in this awesome community Jason has on his site.  Count me in and I'll work on doing my part to help this community however I can!

- Tom Servo

14  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Feedback for a newbie please :-) on: March 26, 2008, 10:16:42 AM
Hey Max,

Well, you already know that I like the way you write, and this is no exception.  I think it works great for what it is, and your harmonic changes with slight melodic hints make it very ambient and captures the vibe of what you're going for.

All that being said, again, we come back to comments on the production of the music.  I know you are using limited resources.... but some things that can really help you, especially in a piece like this, is using MIDI Controller 11 (or 7).  This cue needs some more fading in and out ... some slight swells and .... a little ebb and flow ... what I'm saying is that with all held chords you have (by strings or brass or whoever), they are just being triggered and they stay at that velocity and volume for the duration of the note.  If a real orchestra played this, you would most likely have them sneak in on the chord, then grow a little bit, and fade back out, as the next chord fades in.  Not TOO much, otherwise it would get too much up and down and give us musical seasickness.  But a little bit of natural swell on each of these long notes. People use controller 11 or controller 7 to accomplish this in MIDI.  I use controller 11 ... some people just draw in the volume controls in the audio file too, which is OK, although I think it's a little less natural.  If you're not sure what controller 11 or 7 are .... or where to find them or how to use them ... then let's get in touch and I can tell you about it... but I don't want to write about it if you already know what it is. 

Better sounds would help for sure, but a little bit of attention to making your MIDI more "live" goes a long way as well.

Max, or anyone else who wants to know, contact me with what program you're using to record your MIDI and we can get you using these controls that will help shape your music.

Well done!
15  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: "American Guernica", Adolphus Hailstork on: March 26, 2008, 10:01:47 AM
Hey ASP,

thanks for the info and the link .... It's always nice to hear good new wind ensemble music.  I can't wait to check it out!

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