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Dark_Calamity

Looking for Mentor

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Ive been working with digital music for a bout two years now. My end goal is to compose music for video games. I would prefer the RPG genra. I would absolutly love if someone with some composition experience could take a look at my music page and give me some pointers as far as the actual essence its self. All of it so far is done by software and so far it sounds pretty decent but i know no were near professional probably. I just need to know what i should be improving on musicly and the best way to get the best sounds out of my music when looking at it from and engineering aspect. My music page is www.myspace.com/sanctusbellow. You can reach me there or www.myspace.com/godz_warrior, elyons_zyor2@yahoo.com. Thanks :)

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I'm in now way qualified to be a mentor, but I listened to a little bit of your music and I can give you a few pointers.

If you're looking to become a professional musician, you will need to learn theory and compositional skills (if you haven't already). Although technically not essential to composition, keyboarding skills are always a big plus as well, and I would even argue that they are critical.

Beside these two things, you should learn how an orchestra works (as you will be composing RPG music, which is primarily orchestral), and how to write music for one. The only online source I know of for this is the Principles Of Orchestration, presented by Garritan:

http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=77




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Hey,

While listening to The Well of Sychar I get the impression that you have the orchestra doing too much of the same thing across the sections a.k.a tutti. This composition method can be very effective, but when over used it can cheapen or detract from the piece's impact. There are periods in this piece that you have some really nice contrasting ideas (like when the xylophone comes in and plays against what is happening in the other sections). I also don't hear very much dynamic variance in this piece. Even when the full orchestra is playing- it sounds very much like the same volume as when only a few sections are playing. I hear a bit of performance style (i.e. having certain notes more accented than others) but I feel you could really take this to the next level.

Your samples are not bad, but you're not using them to their full extent. I'd study up on velocity settings and also experiment with having some more dynamics in the music.

In By the Blood of a Carpenter you're over using the ostinati again. Ostinati are great for building and growing tension, but your piece doesn't do that. The two reasons why are: There isn't enough motion (that isn't related to the ostinato) to build tension and there are practically no dynamics. Don't forget tension in music, as in so many other things in life, comes from opposing forces. You're giving us one force but not enough of the opposing force. There is not struggle, therefore the sense of tension rising is lost. Also the same exact figure is played exactly the same way over and over and always by the same groupings of instruments. An ostinato doesn't have to be the same exact notes either. You can have one or two notes change over the progression each time to give a bit more change as well. In this piece I'm asking myself: what is the melody here? Is it the long notes held by the string-flute patches? If so, then I urge you to experiment with changing it a bit. Make it something that the listener can attach to and hum later. Also the production (mixing and orchestration) might be getting in the way of making your message of this piece clear to the listener. Also the piece just ends and feels like you didn't finish it. If this was a finished ending, then I suggest rewriting it to make it more effective. For a piece that has a high level of intensity throughout, the ending comes off as very anti-climatic.

Those are my thoughts to some of your music. I did listen to the other tracks as well, but much of my feedback would be the same. Take some time to really listen and understand melodies. They're the star of your composition. They can be simply or complex, but your music will benefit from having a clear melody (or message) instead of just being ostinati layered on top of each other. A good example of an orchestral piece that uses a great deal of ostinato is:

">The Chase from the Steamboy OST

Take a listen to this track and take note of how the composer uses the rhythm but changes the notes to create an ostinato with diversity. He also uses the outlining sections (brass, high strings, etc) to build up tension. The ostinato changes harmonies as well. All of this help propel the piece forward. Then there is a brief pause with a held chord then the piece begins to return to an ostinato. While much of the rhythm is there throughout the piece, there is enough harmonic, tempo and orchestration changes to keep things interesting. Also the piece has several sections that also help keep the listener's interest. There are some styles where direct repetition isn't so offensive and can work. Trance and some electronica music comes to mind, but generally orchestral music needs to have a bit more depth.

Regarding form: I suggest you study how the masters did it. Just because section A is structured a certain way the first time, doesn't mean it always has to be that way. For example: I'll have piano and chimes play the motif at section A then in section B the horns and high winds take a contrary idea. Later when I restate section A in the piece's conclusion I might combine section A and B together. Or I might have the piano and horns play the motif instead of direct repetition. Direct repetition doesn't have much effect if repeated too often. Direct repetition doesn't have much effect if repeated too often. Direct repetition doesn't have much effect if repeated too often. Get my point? :) Most readers either gloss over or skip repeated sections in text or feel that it is a mistake. Listeners can do the same thing when music has too many direct repetitions.

I hope you take my comments as constructive criticism because that is how I mean them to come off. Thanks for sharing!

Nathan

[Edited by - nsmadsen on January 8, 2009 10:12:10 PM]

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That was exactly what i was looking for!!! Thank you Thank you! I now understand what you mean by the use of volume for dynamics. To be honest i feel like a lost child in all of this, ive had pretty much nothing but a rock and metal background sense i was a child until i came across the final fantasy scores, which absolutely mesmerized me. So I definitely need all of the criticism i can get. This is a real blessing, thank you from the bottom of my heart :)


God bless

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No prob bob. :)

I suggest you get a freshman theory book and start learning more about classical music theory (especially if you're looking to write orchestral based music). After then I'd grab an orchestration text book that will show you all of the various methods and "tricks" to writing for an orchestra. Finally, I'd listen, listen, listen to as much music as you can. Try different styles but also focus on orchestral music. Music from ballets, film scores, master pieces of the different periods of classical music. The more you expose yourself to, the more you'll have to draw from.

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Will it be possible for me to accomplish the true art of orchestral music with out a degree? I mean, if i have to walk through hell to learn what i can on my own by independently studying i will. Music is my life and this is what i want to do come hell or high water, lol. but i dont have any money to go to school. So will independently studying suffice for me to make it in the industry?

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It all depends on your drive and level of ability, so I cannot say for sure you'll reach your goal(s) or not because I don't know you well enough. However, I can say that I know several guys that don't have college degrees in music and write excellent music. It is possible! It will just take some discipline and determination to teach yourself all of this. Another option: contact a music theory professor at a local college and ask if he'll take you on as a student. I know many professors that teach privately as well and this could be a cheaper but still effective way to learn.

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Well once again thank you for your guidance. Its good to finally get some direction rather than stumbling all over the keyboard trying to find what fits. Ill definitely be posting here on a regular basis. Hope to hear from you again
By the way i checked out your page and listened to that piano piece that you have up there, ABSOLUTELY moving.


Thanks again

Jake

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I have a few rules. First I'll start with composing:

1. Learn Counterpoint. At least understand the principles. It aids in writing multiple moving lines.


That was easy. Next, programming tracks with a computer:

2. Dis-align voices: Nobody plays precisely on the beat. Shift each voice left/right/early/behind by a few ticks so that it makes an audible difference, but not a rhythmic difference. This will reduce the 'keyboard' feel.

3. Reverbs are your friend. Don't overdo. But accept them with open arms.

4. Treat every voice/track as if you were the player of the line - go through and decide how you would play the instrument, emotionally, and adjust the programming options as available. The more differences you can apply to each note, the better. Repetitive playing sounds synthetic.

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