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Member Since 22 Feb 2006
Offline Last Active Dec 16 2014 10:11 PM

#5029790 Learning how to compose (better)

Posted by nsmadsen on 07 February 2013 - 12:19 PM

Obviously if you stick to one key you can't go far wrong harmonically, but without some extra sense of purpose or direction you're unlikely to come out with anything compelling in terms of tension and resolution or melodic flow either.


In my opinion, you CAN stick to one key and create a sense of purpose and/or direction. But it does mean you have to be more intention about what chords where, your instrumentation (and it's evolution), as well as the voicings you picked. Then add in articulations and dynamics and you have so much to pull from. Something that Billy Joel does, and he learned it from the masters of classical music I believe, is a inversion chord cadence vs. a root position cadence. Such a simple, small change but it can really make a difference between a somewhat firm and very solid cadence in a song.

#5029789 Learning how to compose (better)

Posted by nsmadsen on 07 February 2013 - 12:13 PM

What he doesn't talk about is how he decides he wants suspended chords, and how he chooses several in a row that work well together without even thinking about it.


This is where an understanding of music theory really comes in handy. It takes much of the guessing work out of how to work out a progression. And it doesn't have to be an extensive, 4 year kind of understanding either.

Listening to plenty of other tracks and studying what is where will help illustrate why certain chords fall in certain places. For me it all comes down to tension and release, which is how a piece of music conveys grow or direction. So, taking the suspended chord as a example, this can often happen right before a cadence because the suspension raises the tension which makes the cadence (release) that much more satisfying. Harmony is just one of many methods to create tension and release.

I really like what Jeff Coffin suggested when discussing critical listening: listen to a full song and zeroing in on only one track at a time. Toggle this with listening to the track as a whole and you'll start to see how everything is combined to make a good track.

#5028703 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 04 February 2013 - 11:29 AM

Composers would be capable of making a 3 minute track in half an hour but I would hope it isn't something they'd be proud to release under their name. This estimation is also assuming that you'll get ideas quickly and you won't have to revise the track too much. Be wary of the quality that comes from a quick job.


Be careful with this kind of thinking. I've had times when cues just came to me and I was literally done in a matter of hours. Both the client and I were very happy with the results and it was well received by the public. The more you do this job, the better and the more proficient you get at it. There's a story (or maybe it's a myth) about Picasso:


Picasso was sitting in a Paris café when an admirer went up to him and asked if he would do a quick sketch for him on a paper napkin.Picasso politely agreed, did a quick sketch  and handed back the napkin — but not before asking for a rather large amount of money.  The admirer was horrified: “How can you ask so much? It only took you a minute to draw this!” “No”, Picasso replied, “It took me 40 years”

And then there's a story I read about Miles Davis, where an audience member complained that she didn't understand what he was doing. Miles griped that he had been working on this approach to music for 20+ years and this woman wanted to understand it in 20 minutes. This is the huge grey area about our industry - about our jobs. These are creative jobs and some can work better or faster than others. It doesn't necessarily mean they're careless or the quality is lacking.

My point - some of the best artists I've worked with are so talented and knowledgible that they can work at high quality, very quickly. In fact, in many circles that's what folks consider being professional. Having said ALL of this - I would tend to agree that most folks cannot create something of AAA quality in half an hour but ya never know. I've worked with some people who were supernaturally talented it seemed and incredibly fast. :)

#5027549 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 31 January 2013 - 08:54 AM

Judging just the music alone, each track works well. And if you and the team feel like each cue fits within the game and it's vision - then you're all set. Strange he wouldn't sign the NDA but that issue aside, the music is nice. Be warned though - liking music is very subjective so some may love these tracks while others dislike them. What matters most (at this stage) is that the team creating the game feels like these tracks align well with the game itself. If you get into play testing later and a large majority of your testers rate the music really low then something's amiss.

#5027436 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 January 2013 - 08:59 PM

Honestly, aside from the original comment where it seemed as though you were attacking the idea of me posting his rate I really had no problem with anything you have said. In retrospect I can agree that I probably took it more personal than I should have since I felt as if you were saying "im an industry guy and the things you are doing are below me and everybody else who is in the industry!", at least that is how I perceived it.


Not at all, that's not how I meant it. There were several points that you completely misread or misunderstood me as well. For example, I was never advocating paying someone brand new to the business the same rate as someone established. But reading your response to me - that's how you understood it. Clearly there was some misunderstanding here and there. Perhaps I wasn't clear enough myself. I think if we were discussing face-to-face things would have gone much better. I was firm with you, however, because in the 7 years I've been on GD.net this was the first time someone tried to publicly post someone's private information. And I simply found that unacceptable and wanted to put a stop to it immediately. It wasn't meant to be personal but I wanted to make sure both you and anyone reading this would know that kind of action wouldn't be tolerated. But enough about that.


All proceeding posts have been more than informative and a joy to read. This thread has been very informative and I hope that it can help other developers who are looking to find information on musical rates. All in all, thanks!


I'm very thankful for all that take part in this forum and most of the threads have been very positive. This is a minor blemish and I don't want it to tarnish your impression of GD.net and it certainly doesn't tarnish my impression of you. It was just a minor thing that we've already worked out. We have a great mix of seasoned pros (Brian's a great example) as well as experienced folks active in the indie field on top of industry noobs. The discussions and sharing of thoughts and approaches is awesome!

Would me linking my current work, via dropbox link, here and asking what people thought the rate/quality be allowed?


If you wanted to share the work to get an overall impression of quality and feedback, that's fine! No problem! I think it would cross the line if you said something akin to "This artist [insert artist's name here] charged me $50 per animation. Is it worth it?" That would be too much because it's not your business or role to publicly share another's rate. That's their business. And that's the distinction I've been trying to make repeatedly. The contact shared his rates, which are not shared publicly on his website. Sharing this information publicly is very different than a "isn't Nathan Madsen a jerk." thread. smile.png Besides, you're 100% right - I would shut down a thread that was bashing you (or anyone else here) as well. I want this forum to be a positive and encouraging place - and for the most part, it is!

Everything else I've been saying is mainly look for the best crew you can in your given budget and be careful when taking on free work because it can backfire. That's about it. But we're at the high risk of beating a dead horse here. smile.png No harm, no foul. I'm glad to have you here and as I said in my first response to you - I applaud you looking for more info!! I just want to respect other's right to privacy as well. Make sense?

#5027400 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 January 2013 - 06:56 PM

I've tried to use plenty of emoticons (of the smiling sort) and haven't called you anything. I've called the action inappropriate and then tried to explain why it was so. Perhaps you took offense to this - because I've noticed you were agreeing with comments from others that either aligned or echoed what I was saying (at least in part). So I would agree - my tone wasn't meant to be harsh but rather firm while explaining what the offense was. After all, I've left everything else you posted up and intact - I just removed the direct link to the composer to protect his right to privacy while allowing you to further discuss the matter.


I think that's about as fair as I could handle it. I've also taken your suggestion and updated the forum rules to make things more clear for everyone.




#5027341 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 January 2013 - 04:21 PM

All in all, how about I link you his work and you guys suggest to me if you think it is valued at 150 a min or not? tongue.png

That's a horrible idea and is completely inappropriate. You're calling this guy out and publicly announcing his rate. I doubt he'd appreciate that if he were to know you were doing so. As such, I've removed the link. This sort of behavior is hardly professional too so I'd caution you against doing it again (both here on GD.net and elsewhere so you don't hurt your reputation in the industry).

I am well aware of this fact. Our current guy is busy with other things and this is the delay in the music. That said, we do not have a direct need for music at this current point but will in the near future. I certainly do not expect the most epic soundtrack possible so paying 1,500 per min of a song seems silly.

You're ignoring the composer's credentials and what it might do for your game. For example what if you got Jason Graves, the composer for Dead Space, to work on your game? That would provide a selling point and likely generate some buzz. Besides you've stated numerous times that you're not after epic or high quality music but I must point out - I want the best for anything I work on. Sure there's a reality between what's affordable and what's not. You probably cannot spend $40,000 and get some of the composers for WoW to work on your game... but shouldnt' you still strive for the best quality you can get in your budget range?

Finally, there's something to be said about hiring the best you can find (and they're not always the most expensive). Time is money and most developers would rather pay a bit more for someone they know is going to deliver than waste more time with someone who is a variable. This is why going to EA and such with really cheap rate sheets doesn't work. Those audio directors are so busy that they need to be able to hand off tasks and not worry about them again. If the project misses deadlines or has to go back and re-record live music parts... that can be quite costly.


Someone just starting out may not have the chops nor the gear to deliver under that kind of stress and THAT is worth something. smile.png

#5027324 Music Costs

Posted by nsmadsen on 30 January 2013 - 03:47 PM

The old saying "you get what you pay for" rings true more often than not. I once lost out on a paying job at the very last minute to a guy offering to do it for free. Later the client came back to me, explaining how things had been horrible and the free guy would either refuse to do iterations or just vanish for long periods of time. This client learned a hard lesson and wanted to pay me for my work and time moving forward. Something happens when a working relationship is built on a fair, agreed exchanged. But when someone is working for free, either the freelancer can flake out or the client can begin to abuse the situation. I've seen it many times.

I agree with Brian, $150 is not high when considering the going rate for even indie game audio, especially if that was $150 per minute of music for exclusive rights. I wouldn't even call it average for exclusive rights at the indie level. When doing indie work I've been paid several hundred dollars to several thousand dollars based on the project's specs and terms. (That's not thousands per minute mind you, but thousands for the total body of work. I'm not to that level... yet :P)


I DO want to applaud you for reaching out to the community and doing some research!! smile.png It's too bad when game developers don't do that and then want to offer drastically low costs. In fact, this very morning a guy wanted to pay me $3 per SFX asset and $25 per song. Mind you that's for a full song. At this point in my career, that pretty far below what I can afford to accept given my business and personal costs as well as credentials.

#5026386 Global Game Jam 2013

Posted by nsmadsen on 28 January 2013 - 09:07 AM

Did anyone else here take part in the Game Jam this past weekend?


Here's the music I came up: http://soundcloud.com/nathan-madsen/global-game-jam-2013-cues


Tried writing music with only Logic, my laptop and the caps lock MIDI controller that Logic features. It was interesting and a unique challenge! Really reminded me how important it is to ocassionally put yourself out in new and different situations to challenge your workflow and process.


Please feel free to share any Game Jam tunes, videos, etc below! I'd love to see what you all came up with!





#5025760 Electronic Music/Sound FX/Sound Design for games for FREE (Offer)

Posted by nsmadsen on 26 January 2013 - 08:39 AM

Hi Vikt0r,


The spot for advertising and trying to land work is in the Classifieds section. The Music and Sound forum is for discussion and sharing ones work for feedback. 





#5025527 Attending GDC

Posted by nsmadsen on 25 January 2013 - 02:11 PM

The expo pass only is good for getting your face and resume in front of hiring managers and company reps. The only problem is you're in music and it's very hard to land gigs in a loud, crowded room where only your resume (and not your audio) represents you. (Edit - many of the larger companies have lines of people wanting to drop off resumes and you'll only get a few minutes with the company rep... just trying to paint a realistic picture of what you'll be facing). It's possible to land work in the expo room but you're going to have to really be unique, to stand out from the thousands of people there, and try and get a bit more time with the person.


I still think it's worth it to go and get a feel for what GDC is like, even just at the expo level! This is especially true if you're already going to be near it so some of your costs are covered. Then the following year you can go out on an audio pass (or something similar) to where you can actually attend talks, classes and do much more learning. GDC is a great event and I'm going back for my 3rd San Fran and have been to 3 Austin GDC events (back when they had an audio track).


I could usually walk the expo floor within one day, maybe two so since that's the only kind of pass you'd have - I wouldn't stay longer than 1-2 days. I don't recall, off the top of my head, if the expo pass gets you into any parties where major networking and hanging happens.

#5025525 Hello

Posted by nsmadsen on 25 January 2013 - 02:06 PM

Yes, I think it might be a networking issue, in retrospect, though I don't know how I can promote myself any further without risking spamming people.


This is the tricky thing about networking, and something that I had to learn over several years. It's so much less about the "hire me!" approach and so much more about getting to know people. This takes more time and effort. I've gotten more work by getting to know people when discussing food, games, sports, books and movies than I ever got by cold emailing or spamming. Take part in local and major conferences and events. Put a face to your name and be more concerned with getting to know people right now. Then when they need audio, they'll reach out to you.


Networking isn't an overnight or even over one-year kind of deal. It's a slow pressure cooker but once it gets going, it almost maintains itself (so as long as you do great work and are a pleasure to work with. :))

Best of luck!



#5025488 Hello

Posted by nsmadsen on 25 January 2013 - 11:22 AM

Hey - welcome!


From the one track I've heard of yours, I don't think it's a quality issue. So if you're not landing any work in a number of years, I would reevaluate how and where you're networking. So much of being successful in this job isn't actual audio creation but interacting with fellow devs, creating a good rep and being able to promote yourself, and landing work. With any kind of freelancing job, there's going to be dry spells. It happens to everyone. But if it's been multiple years, then it is a sign that something is wrong.


I enjoyed your loop and definitely felt it could work well within a surivival horror video game.


Best of luck to you,



#5025432 How to choose music and audio software

Posted by nsmadsen on 25 January 2013 - 08:48 AM

The best advice I can offer is to try out a few DAWs (almost all of them offer some kind of demo/trial period at no cost). See which one(s) seem to click more than others. As stated above there's a learning curve with any of them but it's like different brands of cars. All of them basically do the same thing although the names and steps may differ (sometimes only slightly). My point is learn one and you can more easily pick up others.


In my own experience, I started on Cakewalk's Sonar and played around with it exclusively for five years. Then I added in Reason and those were my only two DAWs for the next five years in my home studio. Due to a work studio setup, I had to learn Pro Tools and Logic (as well as Mac). Now my home studio runs Logic, Reason and Pro Tools (although I rarely use it now). And while the stance that all DAWs are pretty much equal do note that some platforms such as Reaper, come with very little bundled instruments so you'd need to have a decent 3rd party collection to produce music.


Edit: Also beware that some don't work with video post production. Reason's a good example and it also doesn't support 3rd party libraries like Native Instruments or East West. Instead they have their own format called Refills which they support. So take a look at what kinds of things you might want to do and see which DAWs support that.

#5024784 Composer Demo

Posted by nsmadsen on 23 January 2013 - 11:34 AM

Welcome! We're glad to have you here. Just one thing - please remove any and all parts of your post trying to recruit for work. This forum is for discussion and sharing only. The spot to advertise for work is in the Classifieds section. I'll check back in a bit for those edits. Otherwise I'd have to remove this post, which I don't wanna do.