Sign in to follow this  
tonechild

New Track, Uncertain Hero

Recommended Posts

Well, this is my first attempt at symphonic orchestra! It's definitely not as good as I wish it were, but I am going to continue working on this style of music in hopes of getting better. Please check it out and let me know what you think! Link

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
What it needs more than anything is rhythmic and melodic variation and stronger harmony.

The snare rhythm gets the piece going, but having it play what sounds like two measures on an endless loop grates on the ear rather quickly. At some point you should switch that rhythm between sections. Maybe let the strings play it marcato style for a few measures, then let the timpani have a go at it. And at some point, drop that rhythm entirely, either in favor of another driving beat or simply have the orchestra switch into a slightly more lyrical mode.

The melody can picked out with some effort, but it doesn't stand out as much as it should. Also try to incorporate several versions of the main melody. These could be simple variations in rhythm. Or you could keep the same rhythm but plug different notes into it. As an experiment, take your melody by itself and simply change the last note. Maybe a half step, maybe third, fourth, or fifth. Now listen to it. It wants to go somewhere else now, so just run with it and see where it takes you.

Harmonically, it's kind of a mess. Don't be afraid to explore different key areas. This keeps the piece sounding fresh, and it can help create clear divisions between different parts of the song. At some point, you should play the main melody (or its variation) in either a relative key or the dominant key to the original, then finish in your original key signature.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Very good ideas! I think you made perfect sense until your last paragraph. are you talking about the transitions? What do you mean by "key areas" and "key signature" etc? Sorry I am very new to composing symphonic orchestra and have no formal education on composing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's some starter links. If you're going to write orchestral music, you should read up on harmony as much as you can. Then if you get a good grasp on that, start reading about orchestration.

(EDITED TO ADD: Actually, a good grounding in harmony will improve ANY kind of music you write, and not just the classical styled stuff. It doesn't matter whether you end up leaning towards rock, electronic, jazz, classical, etc. Western music has deep roots going back centuries, and being able to break it down into analytical structures will deepen your appreciation. Even if you end up writing unconventional or atonal music, you should at least be well versed enough in "The Rules" to know when and how you're breaking them.)

Key signatures
Harmony

There's also a boatload of instructional videos for music theory on Youtube. Also, are you in school? Consider taking an intro to music theory course to see if it sticks. I recommend the classroom setting for starters, because at least that way you have someone in a dedicated position of answering questions, and the other people in your class may ask questions that you wouldn't think of.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Man if I could take a class in music I would be all about it. But I can't, as I'm not in school, and not going to school any time soon. So with that in mind, I can only teach myself or find a tutor somehow. I understand key signatures are like scores, like the first note in a score right? Pretty much anyway, and certain instruments are designed for certain keys no?

As far as Harmony goes, I have a basic understanding of it, although sometimes I stray from the formulas and use accidentals too much, etc. For example, you said I was harmonically a mess but as I listen to my own song I don't find anything wrong with it. Perhaps it's not harmonical as far as theory goes but to my own human ear it sounds fine. I do think if I had a better understanding of chords, scores, keys, etc I'd make better stuff though; but because there's no way I'm going to school I have no clue as to how I can get started. Wikipedia doesn't seem that helpful in this regard. I'm using FL. I'd rather take a tutorial in FL on this stuff, that would make more sense to me anyway.

Really I do fine when it comes to writing techno, but I don't want to make techno my whole life ;p - I want to learn to write symphonic orchestra, damnit.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, there's nothing wrong with dissonance in music, in principle. I rather enjoy it if it's done well. But what your piece lacks is a feeling of strong movement *forward*. I think a better grasp of chords and part writing would help this.

You say that you have a basic understanding of harmony, yet you're unfamiliar with key signatures. Thing is, harmony is a much more advanced field of music theory than key signatures. Key signatures are one of the very first things you learn in music theory. And if you don't have a rock solid concept of how keys work, then any harmony lessons won't stick. It would be like someone who hasn't passed college algebra trying to do astrophysics. (OK, music theory isn't quite as dense as astrophysics, but the analogy still works.)

My advice is to pick up some books on basic music theory. Sometimes you can find great stuff in local used book stores, but the big box stores always have good stuff for beginners. And this is NOT a reflection on my estimation of your intelligence, but I thumbed through those "Complete Idiots" and "For Dummies" guides to music theory, and they were actually quite good. They had all the basic stuff you need as a springboard to start from, but they aren't too dense either.

Music theory can be insufferably cut and dried at first, but in any profession you have to pay your dues. Your music will improve the more you write, so keep writing! But if you don't understand your own music from a theoretical and technical point of view, then your music can take on the quality of a happy accident, and your capacity to make art *deliberately* will be elusive at best.

EDITED TO ADD: I almost forgot to mention it, but yes, some key signatures are harder or easier depending on what instrument you play. Any pianist worth their salt can plow through any key you put in front of them. However, woodwind and brass have a harder time playing keys with lots of sharps, and an easy time playing keys with flats. String instruments like the violin family (including the violin, viola, cello, and bass) have some difficulty with keys that have a lot of sharps OR flats. This is simply due to the mechanics of the instruments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, I have to break free from the usual techno, that's for sure! I am only capable of creating decent harmony when I stay in the same key. For instance, if I have a lead synth in C, everything else starts with C. All instruments end up having to play the same melody(in different octaves etc) , or very similar, because if not the song breaks apart. I have been experimenting with music for many years, but have been unable to crack apart the concept of harmony at it's full potential.

Symphonic Orchestra has been an elusive mystery to me. I have searched the net for free lessons or tutorials on writing Orchestra but have found nothing I can understand. I suppose reading a book for dummies on music theory can only help, so I may take you up on that!

I think what I fail at the most is understand how each instrument is used, as some don't play the same notes the same. Like you said, some flats some sharps, etc.

I really like making music, but if it keeps being techno I'm going to go nuts! I have received praise for my techno/industrial minimalism so it's easy for me to continue that route. Every time I try to make something different I end up refeiving a criticism that is around the same "The harmony is a mess, there's not enough changes"

Harmony being a mess (doesn't sound too bad to me, but alas there is some mess ups that are there and easy to spot by an experienced composer) and of course, not enough changes (me being stuck with the same stuff because when I try creating rhythm changes it usually destroys the song)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Learning to write for an orchestra is a long road, and one that never really ends. Don't expect an experience where the sky rips apart, angels sing, and the grand mystery of the Universe is suddenly revealed to you. However, there will be lots of seemingly insignificant "aha!" moments when things click in your head. It's the culmination of those tiny revelations that give you good experience to draw on as a composer. Just don't get discouraged. A bad day composing is better than an otherwise good day doing nothing. And just because there's a daunting amount of information to absorb doesn't mean that you have to get it all at once.

Start looking around the web for intros to harmony. In particular, find something that explains how SATB (Soprano Alto Tenor Bass) part writing works. If I find a good resource I may post it later.

While you're brushing up on basic music theory, start training your ears to listen for how things are orchestrated. There's a very good introduction to the subject I found on the website for the Garritan Personal Orchestra. That's the package I use for my sound library, and it comes bundled with a sequencer called Overture. It's a fairly cheap way to start learning, and I definitely recommend it. No, I don't work for them. :)

Intro to Orchestration

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Check this out. It's a free online resource that's put together pretty well. Use the pulldown "Lessons" box for starters. After key signatures, intervals, and scales, it gets into the trickier bits like chords and analysis by Roman numerals. Understanding this kind of stuff gives you a better grasp of what's going on "under the hood", so to speak. This can then be applied to your own pieces.

Musictheory.net

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'm a programmer not a musician. However I like the underlying music. If it some day evolves to its full potential, its the sort of thing I'd want as background mood music in my game, which is war and vehicle-combat-oriented. I think that if you keep at it and continue to refine the piece, eventually you'll have something ear-catching here.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this