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Lephina

Music Taking my first step in storytelling-like composing, would appreciate feedback and advice~

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Posted (edited)

Hello, newcomer here. I am very happy to have found this place - there's so much to learn!

Recently I have started making music for my own enjoyment. I've long been in love with Japanese anime/video games (fantasy genre in particular) and my dream is to compose soundtracks for similar works or even produce my own games someday... though I am not currently studying anything related to music or programming at uni.

But still, I feel extremely fortunate to be able to !finally! squeeze out some spare time for expressing myself through the soul-touching magic of music.

 

So here are my latest works... I did not want to share my music to people I know. I thought I would rather seek opinions in a professional place like this >_<;.

I have not received formal music education, so all I know is stitching together melodies and sounds that make me feel satisfactory and heart-warming. I sincerely apologise if there's anything that hurts your ears. Please kindly advise me on how to improve!

 

As of now, what I care most about when approaching music composition is - there has to be some sort of 'meaning' in my songs. I want my instruments/SFX ornaments to convey thoughts and feelings in a story-like style, as if they take up vivid roles of 'changing colours', 'personalities', 'wishes and blessings' etc., not just emotions or images alone. If someone comes to me and tells me that my music conjure up 'descriptive and varying experiences', real or ethereal, in his/her mind, it would be the most wonderful thing I could hope for. Sorry if this is too metaphoric but I find it difficult to put it in a better way... And thus, I named my composing project 'Twining Tales'.

( There two more songs on my YouTube Channel at the moment, timidly hoping for listeners... https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCIW6MSTqofpSGnvVJ3gowVQ/about )

 

I would also be very grateful if anyone could provide me with generous insights on the following, too:

- When I write music, I nearly always go with 'do as I think', following whatever ideas that suddenly flow and appear without planning any kind of structures beforehand. This sometimes makes me agonisingly stuck at certain turning points of my songs, especially before climax, often resulting in a piece of work which seems inconsistent or disconnected at some places. Is it because I am only a beginner that is not skilled enough to take control of my mental processes, or does planning really has a significant impact on how I do? If the latter is true, I'd like to learn some ways to properly construct my songs!

- How would you know if you are ready to take up real composing opportunities? I understand that music creation has boundless freedom, but there should be, in a general sense of standards, a borderline between 'yes you can write for games/anime/films now' and 'no your works sound too noobish', shouldn't it? When will you realise you can really do something and how can you reach out to people who need you...?

 

 

Thank you for reading my post! ♪ヽ( ´▽)ノ

May your never-ending journeys of music be blessed with light.

Edited by Lephina

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Hey Lephina, I really like the soft and untroubled feeling of your music. 
I think you are really on the right path to the style you are looking for ☺️


Some thoughts about "your journey" - some of them may apply also to your second piece 🙂 

The composition itself is structural understandable and clear and the selection of instruments fitting, I´d say.

There are some little parts that probably are depending on the taste - for example:

- 0:42 you are starting a pretty nice question-answer motif here, maybe it would be even clearer if it would be featured in two Instruments of rather different frequencies/timbre/range. 

- I dont have frequency measurement tool with me right now, but I feel, most of the used instruments are fighting for the same higher frequencies. It would be nice, to have maybe some low cello/doublebass notes also after 0:50, deeper percussion, otherwise it gets maybe a bit flat in total.

When it comes to the production side, there are some things, that came to my mind during listening:

- In general I would put even more effort into the volume/expression dynamics. Imagine the movements of the cello bow, the breath of the flutist, even the hand of the percussionist. Nothing of that is really static, and since you are imitating real instruments, their liveliness could be your reverence 🙂  Often singing the melodies helps me a lot with that. 

- 0:28: that strongly filtered action-like hat-pattern doesnt fit in for me so well, since you kept the rest rather natural - also, it seems a bit limping at some points

- you could enhance the stereo width a bit, at the moment it sounds, as if most of the musicians would be sitting at the same spot in the room


To your questions:

If I`m getting you right, you are less focusing on musical structures such as larger orders for classical or popular music. But rather on smaller hints, how to proceed with stuck on certain points - and how to keep one musical thought flowing through the whole structure. For that I would just study and listen to your musical goals as much as you can and always deal with that question in your mind - how does the larger musical context is built up, what role are playing the smaller motifs. How long can you work on one musical idea until it is really worn out and how to already prepare a meaning for the next progression. 

I think the second question is not easy to answer, since there is also not one general standard for what qualifies to be a game /film or any project. As long as you find projects, that you manage to truly enrich with your music, you are good to go, I would say :D 

There are some things, that are less negotiable - like production quality. Id say also here the way is listening your favorite music and converting it into your music, until you cant hear differences anymore


I hope at least some of my thoughts made any sense :D

All the best
Andi 

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On 3/14/2019 at 1:18 PM, WeLoveIndies said:

Hey Lephina, I really like the soft and untroubled feeling of your music. 
I think you are really on the right path to the style you are looking for ☺️


Some thoughts about "your journey" - some of them may apply also to your second piece 🙂 

The composition itself is structural understandable and clear and the selection of instruments fitting, I´d say.

There are some little parts that probably are depending on the taste - for example:

- 0:42 you are starting a pretty nice question-answer motif here, maybe it would be even clearer if it would be featured in two Instruments of rather different frequencies/timbre/range. 

- I dont have frequency measurement tool with me right now, but I feel, most of the used instruments are fighting for the same higher frequencies. It would be nice, to have maybe some low cello/doublebass notes also after 0:50, deeper percussion, otherwise it gets maybe a bit flat in total.

When it comes to the production side, there are some things, that came to my mind during listening:

- In general I would put even more effort into the volume/expression dynamics. Imagine the movements of the cello bow, the breath of the flutist, even the hand of the percussionist. Nothing of that is really static, and since you are imitating real instruments, their liveliness could be your reverence 🙂  Often singing the melodies helps me a lot with that. 

- 0:28: that strongly filtered action-like hat-pattern doesnt fit in for me so well, since you kept the rest rather natural - also, it seems a bit limping at some points

- you could enhance the stereo width a bit, at the moment it sounds, as if most of the musicians would be sitting at the same spot in the room


To your questions:

If I`m getting you right, you are less focusing on musical structures such as larger orders for classical or popular music. But rather on smaller hints, how to proceed with stuck on certain points - and how to keep one musical thought flowing through the whole structure. For that I would just study and listen to your musical goals as much as you can and always deal with that question in your mind - how does the larger musical context is built up, what role are playing the smaller motifs. How long can you work on one musical idea until it is really worn out and how to already prepare a meaning for the next progression. 

I think the second question is not easy to answer, since there is also not one general standard for what qualifies to be a game /film or any project. As long as you find projects, that you manage to truly enrich with your music, you are good to go, I would say :D 

There are some things, that are less negotiable - like production quality. Id say also here the way is listening your favorite music and converting it into your music, until you cant hear differences anymore


I hope at least some of my thoughts made any sense :D

All the best
Andi 

 

Hello Andi! Thank you very very much for such a detailed and constructive reply, I am honoured. This is my first time receiving opinions of this depth, you don't know how encouraged I feel! (*^_^*)

 

 

'Most of the used instruments are fighting for the same higher frequencies' - Yes I thought so too! I did try using some lower strings after that part but it turned out to be a bit disappointing so I abandoned them. Maybe I just wasn't trying hard enough and was too impatient. I often feel that my pieces are lacking some thickness between musical layers, probably because my knowledge of timbre characteristics is not very sufficient yet, so I don't know what instruments to choose as the 'seabeds' of everything else. As you've said, I should listen and listen more. I wasn't even aware of myself making a question-answer motif at 0:42 - hopefully I will begin to notice things like this, blend my instruments better, and be able to further develop my melodies as I keep on listening to others. ☺️

 

As for expression dynamics, I always spend a painful lot of time adjusting them. As a beginner I am still only using cursor-dragging/fingertip-keyboard force control to achieve what I want to hear, rather than turning modulation knobs in Kontakt or playing around with CC values (I don't know how to, at all. I will try teaching myself about them after kicking away my laziness). Thus I struggle. Thank you for the 'singing' advice as well, I have not considered that before. 

 

Seeing your comment on stereo width makes me feel like my stupid secret has been revealed *laughs*. Yes I did not bother creating a soundstage (is this how people call it?) as I was not sure how to... Moving the pan slides to the right or left maybe?

 

Your answers to my questions are very kind and well-thought, thank you. To me composing is also somewhat similar to drawing, e.g. main melody/theme = line art, arrangement = colouration, apart from being 'language construction' akin to writing passages. I will study hard, with love!

 

 

I am so glad to have met you, Andi. Thanks! 💐

Maybe someday we will meet and work together, in the wonderful world of music.

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Amazing work for someone not too experienced as a composer. You also have a pleasing personality which is very refreshing. Let me try and give my thoughts on your questions:

 

1. Many, many composers go through this worry of the structure of the song. What I personally do is not to think of the exact melodies that will be created, but only the dynamic structure of the song. Before writing a song, I should know going in how long the piece should be and if the song will have a high climax point or not.

 

2. You can write for games/film/media write now, easily. Many people in the trap of "not good enough", but the only way to get commissions for games is to actually work on games. Be confident in the skills you have and offer a helping hand to those developers/directors in need.

 

 

May fortune shine on your path, my creative friend!

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Lephina,

There is.. and always will be room for improvement for all of us. I really like your musical style! With a few minor adjustments, I'd say these songs could easily help an indie game come to life. Left and right stereo panning was the first thing I thought of as well.. 👌🏻Andi.

Maybe thinking of a stage is helpful so that you can place each instrument in the position you would hear it from a seat in the audience. Or you could place you focused instrument in the center and pan most everything else that conflicts with it. But even if you want a very dry sound (less Reverb), it is a best practice to think of your sound space as a box or a room. The center only has so much space, and likewise with every individual frequency up and down the scale. So if you have too many mid-level sounds, you can either switch an instrument to a higher octave or get it more to the side. At first it seems really weird to change instruments to be so subtle and not as distinct, but imagine you're listening to your song for the first time.. it should take several listens through to fully detect each faint part in the background. They come and go and that is sometimes what makes a song magical and intriguing (I think especially important with your dream-like style of writing).

Another point that may help you with overall composing and developing your music, imagine that you are actually composing for a game. Not only can it help you with coming up with ideas but it will also give you practice before actually getting work. Either go on youtube and watch a section of gameplay for a fantasy/adventure game that you have never seen or heard before, and just try to compose a theme for that small section. Know that in that type of game, usually only a couple of minutes of music will loop over and over while the player stays in that level or area. So it doesn't always have to be such a long melody, it can be brief and repetitive. Then, as you want to turn it into a song for your portfolio maybe you want to develop it a bit more to appeal to clients. Try listening to your song, (maybe with your eyes closed), and imagine what is happening in the world you're creating with the song. If it was your game, what would happen next. Sometimes I even stop the song right before the transition and imagine where the melody will go next.

My last suggestion for you is to push yourself to compose a TON of music. You don't need to share it or put it online, but just compose as much as you can. I think these songs are a great start. The only caution I have for you about getting work composing is that you mentioned about getting agonizingly stuck at spots. If you get into a contract and have trouble coming up with creative ideas.. then it becomes even more of a stressful experience. I'm not saying you aren't ready, but huge amounts of composing will help you get tricks to get around creativity slumps. Study composers you look up to, but don't be afraid to hang on to your "instinct" when it comes to composing. If we all studied the same musical form and stuck to the same proper song construction, then we wouldn't ever hear something that makes us say: "Hmm, I wasn't expecting that. What a unique composition."

Keep up the hard work! As composers, we are on a long path of always learning.

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