Don't worry I'll be back to composing 'Rhythm' and 'Melody' shortly, I just need to get my timetable steady with my new class.
The day after posting 'Harmony' I started a class called Music Production for Media. It's a project based course where I for the most part practice writing jingles and sonic brands for imaginary companies. Now this isn't an area I excel in nor have had an interest in previously, but because school is school and I want to get better, I've been pouring myself into the class. While currently I don't see a reason to share most of what I've done for the class, I have posted both my submitted file and a scrapped composition for a movie trailer assignment. The assignment was simply to write a 1 minute (exact) composition that could be used in a movie trailer with the genre of action, suspense, or horror. My final product was a track titled "Redemption". I'll embed the file at the bottom of this post. Prior to creating Redemption, my first attempt at the assignment resulted in the scrapped track I have also posted on my SoundCloud. The main reason I scrapped the composition was simply because it was developing too slowly as you can see with the track being 49 seconds long without having a climax.
Don't worry I'll be back to composing 'Rhythm' and 'Melody' shortly, I just need to get my timetable steady with my new class.
New Daily Compositions
To get back into the swing of composing, I constructed a series of daily compositions for me to do. These compositions are designed to help me expand on my knowledge of the basic elements of composing music. My hope is to do 5 compositions a week until I feel like I've covered much of the composition basics.
Each composition will consist of 1 hour of research followed by 2 hours of actual composing. The research period will be me learning and refreshing on as much as I can about the topic, getting the building blocks set up, allowing for a faster transition to creating music. The 2 hours after can contain me doing anything from me sitting at a piano to dropping pots on a floor, all in the name of inspiration.
Currently the series consists of composing around the building blocks of music. I will start out with Harmony, Rhythm, and Melody. After those three are done I will move on to Time Signature, and Tempo. Followed by those will be instrument groups (woodwinds, percussion, synthesizers, etc.) and music genres. Anything after these will be whatever area I want to explore next.
I began the series today with "Harmony". To stay true to composing for the concept of harmony, I gave myself restrictions on what I was allowed to include in the composition. I decided to make the focus the chords by only using whole notes. This put more emphasis on the chord progression and voice leading rather than any rhythmic aspect.
I started the research period with a simple listening and analysis of the E3 trailer for the game "Ori and the Blind Forest". While the music for the trailer has a relatively simple harmony and chord progression, it actually uses the harmony to create a cohesive melody.
The music for Ori is what provided the inspiration for "Harmony". I picked a key, D Dorian for those who are interested, and immediately began picking out the different directions I could go while keeping a common tone between chords. Examples of different progressions I came up with include i - v - VII - IV - i and i - IIImaj7 - VII - i.
I started composing in Cubase with a cello. I wanted the piece to build slowly, and used a round robin style of instrument introduction to help keep the music from being stagnant. About an hour and a half in, I had the full chord progression done and voiced in violins, cellos, and double basses. I could have ended there, since I had met the requirements I set at the beginning of the session, but I opted to try and add to what was essentially the base of a song and come up with something that while had the focus of harmony, had other elements in it too.
The following 30 minutes consisted of adding in percussion to give it some rhythmic drive and writing two simple 8-bar parts for a soprano duet. I tried keeping the percussion rhythms simple to not bring focus to rhythm, and kept the soprano harmonies to using longer notes when I could help myself. It proved a challenge to not write a more interesting part for the sopranos, since I had a well constructed harmony begging for a melody, as you can hear from the few quarter notes I kept in.
In my two hour window, I had forgotten to give the song some ebb and flow with volume through crescendos. Despite this though, I know that this isn't a complete piece, and it's not supposed to be. This is more of my answer to the question, "What is harmony?"
So a lot has gone on in the past several months. After composing the music for Lucian's lore, I received a couple offers from directors and producers looking for either a composer or someone to do arrangement. While I did decline the arrangement offers due to my own lack of confidence in the area, I accepted the composition positions and spent the next several months working with a few other composers for the project.
Outside of those odd-jobs, I attempted to compose music for Jinx. Let's just say that the composition didn't go quite as planned. After an initial outline for the music, I found that I lacked the knowledge to continue composing for the project. I made an attempt to write a piece that draws from elements in both metal and punk rock music, but didn't know enough about the genre's chord progressions or melodic lines to compose something I thought sounded clean and well thought out. After about a month of trying to pull something together, I placed Jinx on the metaphorical shelf to try and attempt on a later date.
I started writing basic melodic lines for Lucian about a week ago, beginning what is looking like the second installment of my League of Legends Lore series. I had thoughts of composing for Lucian when Riot first posted his lore online, but opted out due having other jobs that needed my attention. Here's a link to a preview of what I've put together for Yasuo's introduction. Very bare bones right now, but think of it as a tease of what is to come.
So I'm quite the League of Legends fanatic. For a while after starting to play the game, I would invest upwards of 5 hours a day strictly to playing the game. This was while I was at Washington State University, so this game would take precedence over studying most of the time, and would at times be more important than attending class. Needless to say I've invested more time in this game than anything else beyond sleeping and eating in my lifetime.
Now I don't invest nearly as much time today as I did then in the game, but the passion for both spectating the game during weekend events and listening to the game's music remains strong. As early as the Summer of 2012, I've had the idea of composing music to the champion lore provided on the game's website, but I never felt that the game needed it until the release of their new website layout, equipped with individual champion pages. The only problem with the page? The lore section is nothing more than a wall of text. Few people will immerse themselves in a champion by reading the four paragraphs provided. Why not give a little life to the lore section? Provide an audible narration for the viewer to listen to? Why not have a small team record a narration, animate a 3 minute sequence to go along with the narration, and compose a piece of music to bring it all together? Simply put, other than potentially money, the only reason I could think of was that Riot (the company that makes League of Legends) simply hadn't thought of it.
It seemed like the perfect opportunity to at least try my hand at composing for something that isn't from my own head. At worst, I get more practice composing music, and at best, my idea gets picked up by the company and I've become a direct factor in improving a video game! After some thought, I committed to composing music for Lucian, the champion that at the time had just been teased by releasing his lore. I had nothing to go on other than the images they provided with the teaser and the wall of text that was his lore.
I began with researching music that was composed with similar topics. Stuff like Devil May Cry and Van Helsing were where I turned. I studied how the songs started, built up, and transitioned to new motifs and ideas. From there I went into Cubase, my current program of choice, and began dabbling with various instrument combinations for the introduction. A simple repetitive building introduction is what I went for. In the final product you can hear just that. A percussive church bell-like sound giving suspense to the build, low strings gaining volume and intensity while bowing quick notes. Everything slowly builds, more and more, getting increasingly rapid until all of a sudden it stops, leaving the listener hanging. There's a definite feeling the piece is not finished, and they want to hear more.
It's this feeling I was wanting to generate at the beginning of the piece, to keep the listener interested in the narrative as it's read to them. The music, while composed before either the visuals were put together or the narrative was recorded, is there to supplement the story, keeping the listener present and engaged.
In the end, I dedicated a few days to research before composing, three weeks to composing the music, and one week to get the narrative and visuals together for the concept to be complete. All the visuals I used were from images and videos posted by Riot, as I do not at this time know an animator who could have done the work. Similarly, I both do not have the income to hire a voice actor, nor have the time to have an adequate recording session, so I brought in a friend to record the narrative and did some editing to the voice to make it as close as I could to what I was wanting the voice to sound like.
Based on the feedback I've received the idea behind the concept has made it through to the cinematic. This could potentially be the beginning of a long term commitment depending on how the video is received by both the public and Riot, if they choose to watch it. My confidence is not necessarily high but it's definitely not weak at this point. I suppose only time will tell where this project is going to take me.
There's no one here, who are you talking to?
I have no plans of advertising this website anywhere except my resume, SoundCloud, and potentially a Youtube channel, so why am I putting together unnecessary things like a Bucket List and Blog? Mostly simply because I work better when I think things out on paper (this is paper right?). Previous to this I've always just opened Notepad and typed away, followed by saving the document in a secluded corner of my hard drive for my personal viewing. After some thought (which is written down on a document somewhere on my computer) I decided that I might as well simply move from using Notepad to using a personal blog to write my thoughts out.
So why use this website?
Initially the goal of this website was simply to pool all my compositions in one place for employers to see; a portfolio website in other words. I export an audio file of either what I'm working on or what I've just finished, upload it to SoundCloud, and embed it here. Employers can navigate a very simple website and explore my works, and can either hire me or not based on what they hear. After some thought about my approach to this website, I found that simply showing someone my work is not enough. Why not just send them a link to my SoundCloud account if all I'm doing is embedding here? SoundCloud gives an 'About Me' section. There's so much more I can utilize here than on any sharing site. So this is turning into simply a website that summarizes me. For the random website viewer, they can learn about what kind of person I am. The employer can look at this as an interview before the interview, giving them prior insight on what kind of a person I am beyond the stale words on my resume. Friends and family will probably already know about what I'm posting and talking about on here, but if they feel like keeping tabs on me, I guess they can... O_o
Now about that bucket list....
The bucket list is probably the first step for me to throw some flavor into my life. I have always been someone who sat down at a computer reading documents on topics like self improvement, sociology, and psychology. While learning about these things are great, they have never inspired me to get up and change anything about myself. Starting July 8th, 2013, I am going to start mixing things up in my life. The bucket list gives me a direction to aim, so I'm not starting something, just to stop halfway because I have no set goal.