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1  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: New to the forum. My first ever composition! on: October 26, 2010, 11:04:44 AM
MIDI production is a skill unto itself--in fact, I've been hired just for that purpose alone.

Making your way into composition and production as a job will be extremely daunting.  There will be a period of time that will be like a trial, not like a court trial, but something more like a Herculean Trial.  Most people will not survive this trial because they will be disheartened by the extreme challenge, but the industry likes it that way.  They want to know you're serious about this business before they even bat an eye in your direction.

So, it's important to UNDERSTAND that this isn't going to be easy and you not only have to want to do this bad enough to take it, but you have to demand it.

Jeff's analogy is very kind.  As musicians, we can understand what's happening in your piece and it is a great piece, but as mentioned earlier, most composers are freelance.  What that means is that they are hired to provide the full product.

Product is the key word here as it is what a producer creates.  That means that PRODUCTion is HIGHLY important in creating a distinction between yourself and your competition (and believe me, there are MANY competitors all clamouring for the same work).

2  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: How to write music on command? on: October 26, 2010, 10:52:14 AM
In my completely honest opinion I believe this to be one of the most distinguishing features of the professional composer versus the amateur composer.

And when all your inspiration is gone and you're banging your head against the keyboard in hopes that something comes out of it because you have a deadline and minutes left are piling up and all of your life's stressors start coming down on you at once--sometimes you just hope it doesn't sound like total ass.

The idea is that a professional has built up his/her craft to the point of being able to dive into a tool-box, so to speak, to make up for the lack of inspiration.

That said, the most creative mind is playful and rested, bottom line.

Anyone who says they work great under pressure of deadline is lying--what they mean to say is that they only complete stuff when they're obliged to a deadline.  Nonetheless, if you're interested in composing professionally, this is a skill you will need to develop, and believe me, it's not like... it will just come to you.  Everyone gets frustrated with what they've written from time to time and everyone wants to tear their music up and burn it and hope that whatever divine muse the universe holds in store will look kindly upon you and pity you.

Sometimes you just do your best and hope it's good enough.
3  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Making the Dawntide Theme and the rest of the OST on: August 29, 2010, 04:33:44 PM
Hey guys,

As some of you know, I worked on a still-in-development MMOG being produced by a Danish company by the name of Working-As-Intended and while the game is still in Beta, most of the soundtrack has been cleared for promotional use.

I always look forward to the opportunity to share something I've worked on and I thought it'd be interesting to expose a little bit about the process I went through in developing the work.

There is also a bit of a story here...

When I was first hired by WAI Soft, they wanted to set me to work on a main theme right away.  Of course, that's fine with me, the longer I get to work on the main theme the better it will be.  So I started out asking them questions about the vision they have for the game's soundtrack and the kind of music that inspired the design and development.

Without hesitation, the director pointed his finger to Jeremy Soule's opening music for Oblivion.

This is always dangerous territory for a composer--when a client asks for a sound-a-like, you have to dance a pretty fine line.  On the one hand, you want to make sure your client is absolutely happy with your work, especially since they're paying, but on the other hand, as a composer you have the responsibility to provide a unique musical experience to the game and for the players and also the integrity to fulfill the artistic need to express yourself uniquely (afterall that's why you're hacking an uneasy liivng in music to begin with--to write the music you want to write).

So I say "sure, no problem, that's a cinch." Wink

Now, I put together a sketch of a main theme I had already started brainstorming on during contract negotiations, before I was actually hired.

When I sketch, I sketch on the piano (I'm not a great pianist) and really for my own purposes it doesn't matter: I hear a piano key and my brain already has assigned an instrument, I hear a chord, and my brain has already assigned a motif or other orchestrational concept.  So what most hear as piano mumblings, I hear a full orchestra exploring directions.

Dawntide Initial Piano Sketch

For me, the purpose of that piano sketch is to hear how the theme would play out in different emotional contexts.

Unfortunately, sending them my brainstorm was a misfire and my first step with the client out of the box was a flop.  They felt it was nice, but weak sounding.

Of course, if only they heard all the instruments I heard, I knew they'd dig it.  So I resigned myself to defend my concept by fleshing out a mock-up.

Dawntide Theme Mock-Up Pitch

I didn't bother doing any mixing or articulation programming and I mocked it up in a different key because I wanted it to go faster.  This was same-day, first-day-on-the-job kind of stuff.

I went for the throat with the copy-cat of the Oblivion track, I did the slow cymbal ride and everything.

This eased their concerns a bit.  But for me, I realized that my main theme sounded too close to Lord of the Rings' fellowship theme, so I decided to invert the melody in the beginning.

Dawntide Theme Mock-Up Pitch Edited

Everyone being satisfied with my first day of work, they started putting me to work on sound design while I slowly cooked on the main theme in the background.

Since it was a quick sketch the original template for the track was very messy and ad hoc, so I started up a new template in my DAW and decided to very slowly push away from Oblivion and toward influences I thought would bring a little something more unique to the blend.

There were three film soundtracks I thought would be great supplimental influences considering that the MMOG featured heavily on seafaring: Cutthroat Island, Master and Commander: Far Side of the World, and Hook (for that sprinkle of John Williams magic).

I slowed the theme down a bit, as I felt it gave it a larger feel and threw around some BIG DRUM HITS!

Dawntide Main Theme Version A

I still liked the B section from the pitch, so I cut it into the current version and worked it out a bit further, at this point I think they had me focusing on weapon sound effects and I was finding background time to develop the theme between foley sessions and field recording and so much editing.

Dawntide Main Theme Version B

Then I went back to that John Williams magic thing--to me, the player hears this when they're entering another world, we're trying to bring them in and as cheesy as it is, I wanted to sprinkle a little fairy dust in their eyes.  So I went back to rework the beginning and give a little more orchestration color to the main melody (especially the splashes of ocean with the crash cymbal).

Dawntide Main Theme Version C

The WAI Soft crew really liked it and decided to start using it in a sneak trailer for the game--the players seemed to like it too.

Then something bad happened.

The Danish economy kinda hit some rough water and WAISoft had to suspend development for everyone but their core team.  Which meant I was essentially laid-off.


But to keep things on good terms, I proposed that they hire me contract freelance just for music and put things together piece by piece.  That sounded fine to them, but they weren't sure when that would be.

That's life, I guessed, and I moved on to other projects, went back to a regular job as the economy here fell into raging tumult.

6 months passed...

Finally, they emailed me, they had secured some new investors and they wanted a dozen or so brand new tracks.  Cheesy

Since I was constantly irked by what I felt was the incomplete main theme, I said, sure, but on the condition that I can redux the main theme.

I redid everything from the ground-up, new template, new articulations, orchestrations, arrangements.  And the main theme had a focus, it was to introduce the players to the game, then segway into the menu music.  I added sticks/bones to emphasize the wooden-ness of the ships and to give it that triple feel of sailing music (which is long built upon jigs), I added an irish flute to give it some character and atmosphere, and tightened the string arrangement:

Dawntide Main Theme Final

And with that I felt like I had given it a more unique focus while still incorporating all the various elements and influences.

And the rest of the OST:

02 - The Tilled Earth (feat. Jeff Ball on Violin)
03 - Down in the Square
04 - The Howling Wind
05 - Through the Twisted Branches
06 - Otherworld
07 - The Breeze in Our Sails (feat Hannes Frischat on Cello)
08 - A Flower in the Sand
09 - Only Seen by Torchlight
10 - To Trek in the Footsteps of Giants
11 - Of Fire and Stone
12 - As the Sea Runs Red (Epic Battle)

Gotta end with the epic battle track! Cheesy

Wellp, I hope you liked my shameless exhibitionism.  As always, comments of the good, the bad, and the ugly are welcome and encouraged!

4  Music By Jason Forums / My Projects / Re: Diablo 3 soundtrack on: June 28, 2010, 08:55:28 AM
The Mixing and Mastering process is not a chore, it's just an essential link in the chain between recording and listening.

Of course if you want a live feel, by all means, don't do anything, but that's not always the best way things can turn out.

As far as your link, your short piece is not real and the Play! performance sounds terrible.  Mostly due to a lack of mixing, mastering, and proper recording gear (ala camera/phone).
5  Music By Jason Forums / My Projects / Re: Diablo 3 soundtrack on: June 27, 2010, 10:23:40 AM
Are you asking if it is possible for you to get podcast piece recorded by a real orchestra?

Then yes it is:
6  Music By Jason Forums / My Projects / Re: Music from cinematics on: June 26, 2010, 07:07:34 PM
Are you guys talking about the 14-15 minute Warcraft III Cinematics Suite?
7  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: Jason will make his comeback with the Cataclysm? on: April 25, 2010, 05:29:49 AM
Hahahah, awesome.

I think that's the same guy that is trying to get me to send him my bank account number so he can include me on his scheme to embezzle RICH AFGHANI MONEYS!
8  Music By Jason Forums / Q & A / Re: Im a lost soul! Need some guidelines or help!! on: March 01, 2010, 09:10:30 AM
There are a slew of fantastic composers whose primary or principle instrument was guitar.

To name one off the top of my head: Berlioz.

This doesn't stop you from writing, but it does INFLUENCE your writing.  Your personal musicality will determine a lot of how you write.

Should you also pick up the piano? Yes.  It'd be good for you, not to mention that a keyboard is the primary music/midi input used in most studio setups.

You don't need to be a virtuoso.

9  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Seeking advice regarding EWQL libraries on: January 29, 2010, 05:59:17 PM
East West Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra Gold is a GREAT full featured starters package.

By all means get it, but if you want to get work composing for games, TV, or independent films, this will only be your first library.

Here's a list of all the libraries I can think of that I have currently and I am always looking at adding to it:

EastWest QuantumLeap Symphonic Orchestra Gold XP
EastWest QuantumLeap Symphonic Choirs
QuantumLeap Ra
QuantumLeap StormDrum
QuantumLeap Ministry of Rock
Project SAM Horns
Project SAM Trombones
Project SAM Trumpets
Project SAM Solo Sessions
Westgate Studios Flutes Module
Westgate Studios Oboes Module
Westgate Studios Clarinets Module
Westgate Studios Bassoons Module
Westgate Studios Horns Module
Prominy Les Paul Clean
Scarbee Black Bass
9Volt Audio TAIKO
Some old VSL and some that I can't think of off the top of my head, also
various custom libraries and private libraries including anything from production effects to brass instruments that I have collected or created myself.
10  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Seeking advice regarding EWQL libraries on: January 28, 2010, 03:34:47 PM
Let me ask you a question in response:

Are you interested in composing or producing?

For example, as a freelance composer, I compose but am also expected to produce the final track for use in game.  This means that I have to go beyond the score and look at the technical manipulation of the samples/articulations to create a more realistic performance.

This requires me to use something strong in MIDI sequencing and not simply notation based composition.  So instead of Sibelius or Finale, I use SONAR (similar tools are Cubase, Logic, Protools, FL Studio, etc) so I can more realistically combine and manipulate articulations to create realistic performances, render those to audio, and mix and master those into a final product.

If, however, you're just writing for live orchestra, you already have a live orchestra waiting for your piece, and you don't have to deal with the production past arranging, then by all means, just keep using Sibelius.  You'll create a mock-up that's "good enough" to understand the piece without needing it to end up as a final work for presentation to the public.
11  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: My Introduction on: January 06, 2010, 09:25:57 PM
Welcome, Adam.
12  Music By Jason Forums / The Round Table / Re: Hey I'm new on: November 12, 2009, 12:32:03 PM
13  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Now For Something Slightly More Different on: October 20, 2009, 07:44:48 PM
14  Music By Jason Forums / Game Music Discussion / Re: Games sites on: October 20, 2009, 04:21:07 PM
15  Music By Jason Forums / The Composers' Workshop / Re: Feedback for a newbie please :-) on: October 20, 2009, 12:33:18 PM
Man, honestly, you should really look at aiming for some better samples.

It should be a goal of yours.

And a machine to run those samples.

How old are you?
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