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Looking for muiscal feedback and career advice

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Hey everyone, new here. I've always dreamed to work in the film or gaming music industry as a composer.

I've been playing guitar for 17 years and got into composing about 10 years ago. I'm trying to get my first "job" in the industry and heard many that recommend working for free just to get my foot in the door. I thought about sending my materials via emails to producers in the industry but I hate the idea of spamming someones inbox and generally think that this approach will have no results. I don't have any connections in the industry and I am not sure what should be my next steps to get my first project.

My portfolio is rather short, I wrote 3 pieces that could be used as TV series intro, or as games menu music:




I also downloaded a trailer for the movie "Interstellar" and wrote new music for it (including recording and directing a voice actress and sound FX):


I'd love to hear your feedback! and any advice on how to take the next steps in this path...


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Caveat I'm a programmer, not a musician, but I have dabbled, and I do on occasion need to choose pieces of music (have spent this afternoon sifting through soundcloud). You sound like you have some playing skills however I will dive into criticism because I think it's how you are most likely to get to 'production quality':

Overall biggest non-professional thing was the timing - it didn't sound 'tight' enough. In the 70s you might have got away with it, but modern production standards are so high you are expected to cheat. When we don't hear bang on timing, it's either got to be deliberate, or there's 'something wrong'. Having said that piece 1 wasn't bad for timing, 2 was bad, 3 the timing wasn't so important to the piece, 4 was pretty awful.

A possible way around this if you are using live recordings, may be to make a loop in your sequencer, and record a number of takes of each section (e.g. play a 20 second section in a loop for 20 mins straight) then pick the best versions, and if necessary alter the timing manually in your audio editor / use some splicing method for this.

I would say piece 3 was the strongest to me, most likely I would use in a game (you could target the RPG audience), although I would lose the snare drum because it limits the adaptability of the piece. Piece 4 production stood out as really needing work. Piece 1 the drums was interesting although the composition not so much. Piece 2 was a no, unless you are scoring late night cheesy low budget euro police dramas.

I think to make progress you should really study some production tricks / mixing / effects / compressors etc because until you can get 'that sound' that pops, you will be unlikely to have success. That is before we even get to the music contents.

If you haven't already I would make some pieces that are entirely electronic, i.e. throw away your instruments and concentrate on learning this side. Then gradually bring the real instruments back in and consider them as producing short samples for you to integrate into your tracks. Then gradually expand the real instrument sections as you get more used to it.

Last thing to mention is the concept of 'musical space', something I never really was good at myself. When you pick up an instrument for say a guitar part .. don't play it continuously. Play it for a bit in a section, then stop, let the other instruments take over. Then come back again, ebb and flow between the different parts. This is much more interesting to listen to. And tends to be more rhythmic too, and adds drama.

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Thank you for your feedback lawnjelly! All the instruments are virtual instruments programed and quantized in midi (except for the slide lead guitar in piece 2). Which means they were placed precisly on the rythmic grid in order to be in time. Piece 4 (the trailer) was inetntionaly not in a 4/4 rythm which does give the odd timing feeling. But its still in time. If I remeber correctly it was written in 9/8, because I thought that rythm added more suspense to the melody. 

Maybe you can share with me an example of what you would refer as an industry standard in your eyes? 




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Haha don't I feel stupid now :D .. I had assumed you were playing some on real instruments. If it's virtual instruments and samples then that might explain what I was perceiving as lack of tightness... I've had the same problem with getting a rhythmic feel from samples in the past.

One thing is real instruments have attack phases which can be a little bit tricky to get right. In my mind a real player will start playing BEFORE the b of the bang (consider a violin player) .. and often time it so that the loudest part of the attack is on the note time. Sample players aren't always so good at this so you may have to compensate.

 A way around this sometimes is to combine some tight instruments (e.g. drums, synth bass, synth arpeggio) with some more wishy washy real instruments like strings.

But I'm getting away with myself, music is very much in the eye of the beholder. Hopefully you will get some more feedback / tricks from musicians.

Industry standard in games is aiming for much the same technically as in movies, tv series, dance pop etc.

An oldie example of RPG type (real instruments albeit virtual I believe), Baldur's gate 2 soundtrack is fantastic:

An example of real instruments and tightness, with the type of drums you were going for:

And for electronic music, most dance music can be studied for production techniques.

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Great examples thanks! I see what you mean more clearly now. Yes, the attack and envelope of the sample generated in most of the VST's I use can be manipulated, I'll mess around with that on my next composition to emphasize the rhythmic feel. 


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