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Author Topic: B Section of doom... v.v  (Read 13373 times)
Asvarduil
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« on: October 14, 2009, 09:16:54 AM »

Hello!  I've been composing for a small project called "Jaegen's Treasure", and I've ran into a little impasse with my title theme:

Title - The Legend of Jaegen

The B section is where you can hear it - I pretty much wind up repeating the same thing a couple of times and it starts to grate (my) ears.  I've never really figured out great ways to segway from a theme that I want to repeat into a new theme...I could use some serious advice on this.
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dannthr
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« Reply #1 on: October 15, 2009, 02:03:41 AM »

usually, the best way to move to the next segment of a work is to actually just commit to the movement full force, create contrast, and really do something with it.

You're problem is that you're too focused on what you've done and not what you can do to vary the work.

So you're going to have a listening exercise:

The following piece of music is an epic work of high adventure that is brilliantly written and orchestrated:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WqSebZKVe70

I want you to take several passes of this particular piece because it's one of those well written pieces that you'll get something new out of almost every time.


First, I want you to listen to the top level of the work, the themes.  First pay attention when Debney moves from one theme to the next, then pay attention to how long he stays on each theme.

Questions you should be able to answer after the first pass are:

How many themes are there?  What is the basic A, B, etc structure of the work--how many sections?


Second, I want you to listen to where the melody goes.  Which instrument has it when--maybe it's the trumpets here and the horns there, etc.  Each theme moves around the orchestra, this keeps things exciting and interesting.

What is the effect of a theme played by trumpets over a theme played by strings?


What are the rhythmic elements at play?  Debney employs more than just drums as a way of keeping the motion of the whole piece.  Which instruments are playing rhythm and when?

How does the movement of instruments effect the mood of any given section?


Third, chords.  How often does he repeat the harmonic parts?  When do they change, when are they repetitive, and what does that do to the piece? 

How does Debney employ the use of harmonic movement to create suspense and to create motion?


Listen a few more times.


Now go back to step one and do it over again, hear anything you missed?

It's a very fast paced piece and there's a lot going on, so take your time.
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Asvarduil
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« Reply #2 on: October 15, 2009, 12:49:48 PM »

First phase of self-refinement: doing your excersize (first pass through all three questions)!

I: Most obvious to my ears, Debney dosen't do what I (almost certainly wrongly) do and stay still on a 4mm-long motive he likes - he uses 4mm-long motives that go somewhere.  His chart has direction; where in the posted piece I rely on a harmonic ostenato, and in some places a snare drum ostenato, Debney will have a progressing musical idea in a section in the form of what instrument has the melody, which evolves the piece as it progresses.

To my ear, I hear an ABCD form - it's not staying still, returning to a particular theme - to be adventurous the song itself is adventuring and finding new melodic and harmonic ground with different sections.

II: A trumpet's usage of a theme is powerful in the sense of its timbre - the trumpet is the King's instrument, it's proud, it's bright, it's courageous!  The strings are elegant, refined, smoother in their character; Horn is rich, deep, but edgy as well - best characterized to my ear by sheer ferocity!  To refine my chart, I need to consider adding more instruments; I don't have enough instrument types to characterize what I say I want my chart to say.  I need to specifically use instruments' timbres more correctly, and not rely on the strings, or a single instrument, to do my dirty work (unless of course I'm composing in a situation where it's necessary.)

Timpani Drums have rhythmic purpose, but Piccolo/Flutes/Trumpets/Trombones/Low Brass in general also keep the rhythm moving forward at times, especially at the beginning of the D section.  To refine my music, I need to, again, rely less on just drums for rhythm - other instruments can achieve similar effects, and with better quality!

Movement of instruments - goes back to the first question you asked me of this section.  Instrumentation matters greatly.  Flute, strings, harp, oboe/cor anglais, and clarinet are capable of being gentle.  Brass is typically more bold.  Human voice can be either, depending on the instruments its interacting with.  To refine my musical techniques, I'd do good to look up that instrumentation book on Google books, and do some experimenting between classes...

III: Debney's harmonic rhythm is significantly slower than what I used in my chart.  He stays on a I for the first eight measures of the A section, before finally moving to a V or v, and then moving the piece in another direction.  Of course, he's also letting the melody drive the piece a great deal, not relying on harmony, except in that it improves the overall effect of the piece.  Learning 4-part harmony was a good touch for my skills, yes, but I've grown to overuse when it's less effective.  All things in moderation.

Debney's harmonic movement is pretty cool, to my ear.  When he's declaring a musical idea, he lets it stay the same.  When he's ready to let the idea begin to evolve, he starts moving his harmonies.  Harmonic movement means the piece moves; harmonic stagnation means the piece dosen't move.  Both have their functions in a piece. 

...I feel smarter already.  Still going to give this a few hundred more passes...

...And it's an UBER song!  Thank you for the link!  Now, to work on some rewriting...
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dannthr
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« Reply #3 on: October 15, 2009, 02:11:12 PM »

What I like about him holding the harmonic movement is that it creates a kind of tension--the melody plays and with the static harmonies, you feel like he's holding the melody in his fist, but when you finally get that mvoement it's extremely satisfying, and you really feel like the melody is flying.

Very good, this piece is definitely worth a lot of passes (there's something more to hear each time), it's a great piece, too bad it went to a really crappy movie.
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Asvarduil
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« Reply #4 on: October 15, 2009, 03:02:00 PM »

Yeah, I was thinking about that during my Data Mining test...

Another quick, and perhaps noobish question.  Since Instrumentation seems to be my Achille's Heel, do you know of any decent online "tutorials" for it? 

I would just break down and take the class at my university, but I'm a) about to graduate and b) don't have $1800+ for the tuition + course fees for it.

EDIT: Hmmm.  This all also got me thinking.  Here's a second song, same game soundtrack I'm working on...

The Lunis Tower

I was working on this last night at one of my friend's suggestions.  I hear some of the same things I "messed up" on in my Title theme, but I think I did a better job with this piece.  I could use some C&C between the two, because I personally feel that I just did a better job with The Lunis Tower.  That, plus my impressions from the Cutthroat Island intro, should help me grow at least a little.
« Last Edit: October 15, 2009, 03:11:21 PM by Asvarduil » Logged
MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #5 on: October 16, 2009, 12:07:44 AM »

As for instrumentation, you should check this out: http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=77
It a really good tutorial with lots of examples... I helped me quite a bit Smiley

When I got time this weekend, I might post some feedback on your music... Smiley

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Music is the only art that does not merely copy ideas, but actually embodies the will itself.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Asvarduil
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« Reply #6 on: October 16, 2009, 09:18:00 AM »

Thanks for the link - I'm about halfway through Lesson 1, it's exactly what I needed!

EDIT: The little flash movie at the end of Lesson 1 is most helpful.  When I've been writing more "orchestral" pieces, I've been panning pianos in the center of the sound, which isn't the typical setup.  I'm going to rework the Title this weekend and post it...this is such a wealth of knowledge, it's amazing...
« Last Edit: October 16, 2009, 09:31:07 AM by Asvarduil » Logged
MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #7 on: October 16, 2009, 11:28:03 AM »

Always glad to help.

As I promised, I'm gonna write something about your music. Now - what you need to know is that English is not my first language (which means that you might not understand everything I write, but that happens a lot to me Smiley ) and also that I'm not studying music or composition or anything like that, so my feedback won't be as thorough and professional as Dann's (and not nearly as helpful Wink )

Anyway, here I go:

Title is very nice; it seems that you don't have access to high-end samples, but that's ok. The only problem I see in it is that the music is a bit stale. There are too many points where nothing happens.  As Dann showed you with the link, you need to fill your music with more than a melody and some background. Listening to Debney might help (his music is awesome, be sure to check out the soundtrack to a video game called LAIR). Also, studying orchestration will surely help you.

As for The Lunis Tower, I'm not a big fan of the rhythm sequence that starts at about 20 sec into the piece. Still, if it fits the project it is written for, then I guess it's ok Smiley But again, the piece needs a filling. Try changing the theme or the chord progression or instruments. I usually apply a simple rule - if the music doesn't change in any way in 4 bars, something isn't right. Well, there are points where this rule doesn't fit, but generally, it's a good thing to change instruments, incorporate new ideas into the track and so on...

The thing I'd recommend is to imagine your music in layers. The melodic layer, the rhytm layer etc. You should manipulate each layer separately. That means not only keeping melodic ideas fresh (like stating the melody once and then doing it again but this time enriching it somehow or creating a different version of it) but also creating counter-melodies or working on rhythmic layer so that it doesn't get boring. And that also means to keep shuffling instrument between different layers.

Anyway, good job Smiley



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Music is the only art that does not merely copy ideas, but actually embodies the will itself.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Asvarduil
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« Reply #8 on: October 17, 2009, 06:03:01 PM »

All that makes perfect sense, actually.

That "music in layers" bit, though - I think that's some powerful stuff right there.  I'm working on rewriting the songs for Jaegen's Treasure now, with a little bit of what I've learned from you guys.  I should have revised versions of Lunis Tower and Title up by tomorrow.

Cheesy

My only difficulty is, as you've heard, I'm using Rendered MIDI.  Sure my SoundFont is at least acceptable (you all didn't mention any major ear-bleeding from SoundFont-failure, which gives me some hope.)  I'm using Anvil Studio to create my MIDIs (it's the best I've been able to find that fits my extremely non-existant budget.)  I'm going to use more than five tracks per MIDI for sure, and as another friend of mine, swallowtail, mentioned in this thread in the community for the engine I'm using, I would also do better to control my soundboard more effectively by using panning for all tracks.

Anyways, I need to spew about what I can do in theory less, and make it real more.  Working on it now!

For glory!

EDIT: Oh yeah, I'm UltimaWizard over on Toolkitzone...that might help alleviate any confusion.
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Asvarduil
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« Reply #9 on: October 17, 2009, 09:04:30 PM »

I dislike double-posting, but it's for a good cause!

I have recomposed Title - The Legend of Jaegen.

Your comments have vastly improved this, especially to my ears!
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #10 on: October 20, 2009, 02:08:59 AM »

oh yeah, it was for a good cause Smiley this version of Title really is a nice improvement... At 0:10, I'd like the transition to be a bit smoother... But I don't know if you can do a gradual fade out with your samples. The same applies for 0:42, where majority of the sound just goes away suddenly. But again, that is not a fault of your skills.

Anyway, you really did a good job in improving your track!
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Music is the only art that does not merely copy ideas, but actually embodies the will itself.

Arthur Schopenhauer
Asvarduil
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« Reply #11 on: October 21, 2009, 12:11:48 AM »

Yeah, transitioning gives me trouble.  I've never figured out how to do it great without dynamics, and if you listen to what I've composed, you realize how much I do without recourse to diminuendos or crescendos.  This is mostly because Anvil Studio has a MAJOR weakness - to make a note loud or soft, I have to manually change its volume, unless I put in some Controller effects (which I don't know where to begin with, to be quite honest.)
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #12 on: October 21, 2009, 12:37:36 AM »

eh, don't worry about that... we all have trouble with our sample libraries Smiley
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Music is the only art that does not merely copy ideas, but actually embodies the will itself.

Arthur Schopenhauer
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