The idea behind this project was to create a piece that slowly evolves over an extended period of time. I originally meant for the loops to be in measures of 8, but I accidentally found a melody that only really worked when it was 6 measures long. Woe is me, for my European brain rejects anything not directly divisible by 4. But I since I liked it so much, I decided to stick with it. Everything else had to have the same length, which was a bit of a ball-ache, but I managed. The tempo I was using made the original melody sound gave it the potential to sound solemn, so the following loop was made in a low octave. I used violins to produce chords, which solidified the somber tone. Next, I made vocals using the top of the violin chords transposed down a few octaves. The vocals made it sound less somber and slightly more serious (Kinda like from someone furrowing their brow? idk what emotion that would be. A hint of anger, or newfound resolve perhaps?). The next track was made using tubular bells. I took inspiration from Japan on this one. Japan sometimes uses tubular bells to indicate the arrival of a grave event, brought about by silent determination or an inevitable clash between two powerful opposites. The intent is to bring about suspense; and that was exactly my intent. Finally, I made a loop using plucked string, I wasn't entirely sure what it was meant to lead to, but hey, every piece is a work in progress. I decided to repeat the whole of the piece up until this point until I can find a better ending. The more updated one is below, or at elast should be
Cycles The goal of this project was to work in cycles, rather than bars. In other words, use units aside from 4. I chose nine, which threw me for quite the curve. After a few corrections, I did manage. A few additional issues that sprang up included my lack of knowledge on bass lines, chords, and scales. Whether I learned enough to make it through or managed through shear luck, I'm not sure, but I'm going to be an optimist and assume the former. The issues mentioned beforehand were matters of logic- I got over them. However, I will be the first to admit that the mixing and mastering proved to be a challenge. Even now, there is still clipping, a problem I hope to resolve soon. On a more positive note, I was successful in using a darker theme, something I tend to struggle with.
Atmospheres Since I chose a dojo as my environment, I figured I needed something Japanese-sounding. I went with a chime as the main, and an arped ambient sound for the chords. I put on a bit of reverb for the chimes so that the would fill the space a bit more, and messed with the balance on the ambient so that it would sound more smooth. I intended to give the chime a slightly wooden sound to sound more Japanese, but was unable to manipulate the instrument enough. I chose the slides before making the music, so that I would have a firm idea of what I was going for. Because some of the images I chose had people actively being thrown, I put in some sounds that were supposed to be reminiscent of people falling. Whether I succeeded or not is still in the air, but some of my classmates figured it out, so I have high hopes. I also put it a bit of space on everything to sound empty- like a dojo. I made the falling buildup a bit more linear, at Neal’s suggestion, which I must suggest, sounds a bit better. Julia suggested I try using a marimba for a wooden chime, but I was unable to replicate the echo from the original chime. Looking back, I should have put on an echo effect, but I will need to do that later.
Schoolhouse Beats This project was pretty much a product of unmedicated insanity. As a result, a large portion of my decisions were relatively unlike my usual. I kept everything in a major scale, and the school house beats were far more energetic than I thought they would be. So be it. In regards to the other tracks, I just plunked in notes till it started to sound somewhat sensible and went from there. I wanted to use my favorite chiffy sinusoid, but it didn't fit. As such, I used the hard picked distant thing and the hammer dulcimer. It just kinda worked so I went with it. The mixing was a bit difficult. I haven't EQed or compressed for a while, so I couldn't remember the strategies I normally use. I will probably need to look up the math to do better, but that's for later. Continuing on with my mixing decisions, I found that some tracks had a wide range of pitches, which caused clipping. Plus, most of the notes were too loud, making it hard to hear. I ended up needing to turn a few things down, and screwing with the compressor until it sounded acceptable. Overall, the process frustrated me, both because of my loss of ability, and because of the amount of time it took me to reach a mediocre level of satisfaction. I learned that it is imperative that one eq and compress in the correct order- and one track at a time. Furthermore, I found sometimes, keeping calm can actually prevent me from being creative.
Nursery Dreams I worked with Julia Swanner on this project (A pleasure as always) using the Novation Circuit. Out of all the projects I have worked on, this one has been the most interesting. When we first began messing around, we started out in aeolian (probably), and started with a more serious melody. While experimenting with instruments, we changed to C major. I expected the notes the clash, but instead, they became a cheerful tune, reminiscent of what one would expect in a nursery. And so, we built off of that, transitioning into a more exciting, grandiose feel, while still keeping the same motif. The idea for that was perhaps a child had started to daydream. Eventually, the imaginary child begins to doze off, finishing with a music box like ending.
The Novation Circuit was quite an experience. Unlike Ableton Push, the Circuit can easily transition between sessions, although the sessions themselves were much smaller. However, the Circuit is much smaller allowing relative ease of use, and does not require an alternative speaker system. Automation was a bit clunky, but for the purpose it is meant to serve, it performs wonderfully.
Chariots of Fire remix I was quite lazy with this project; instead of recording and timing each scene individually, I made each scene as long as the whole of the piece. I did this because I do not have the coordination to otherwise. Plus, I had spent a majority of the project trying to get timing right(I was getting the triplets wrong) so I was tired of trying to place everything where it went by ear. Once I had my scenes, it was time to move on to instruments. I wanted a vocal(Kinda like a 'Waaaahh' sound, y'know?) to glide with the beat, but I couldn't figure out how to change the timbre of any of the instruments to fit. Since the goal of the vocals was to fill any silent gaps, I decided to increase the glide on a chiffy sinusoid. That ended up clipping with the beat and the lead, so I moved it up to c3 and to the right.
I learned that keeping things on the same beat and in different octaves keeps things pleasant and clear.
4x4: This is the first project I made using Ableton Live+Push. Some of the biggest differences from Protools that I had to overcome was the session-track format and the time notation. The session-track format caused a bit of trouble because I would keep accidentally recording clips to the tracks. In regards to the time notation, the counter starts at 1.1.1, whereas in other programs, it starts at 0.0.0. I continually got confused, and miscalculated the length of many clips. I eventually figured it out, although it did consume a fair amount of time. As a whole, the Ableton system was different, but it was quite intuitive. It was rather enjoyable, and overall, was easy to use.
Rust: To make this composition, I played around in Vacuum until I had metallic sounds. These would be my instruments. I then recorded my voice, which initially went wrong, so I had to re-record. Once I got the recordings I needed, I added a discordant series of notes to match the theme of the composition. To finish up the piece, I placed a recording of a rotary cabinet at the end.
I learned that sometimes, disorder, rather than order, is the best type of structure for music. Furthermore, I learned the importance in be timely; I had waited to record, and when I finally did, I found that I recorded incorrectly. This left me very little time to mix and compose.
Day the Earth Stood Still For this composition, I focused on the mixing, editing and the reporter's voice, while my partner, Julia Swaner focused on the music, background noises, and the alien voices. The instruments used in the music were generated with Vacuum. Once we had all the recordings and instruments we needed, I started by placing the recordings in what we found to be the appropriate places. Once I finished that, Julia began composing, placing eerie rhythms to accentuate the mood of the scene. After all composing and placement was done, I started on the mixing. I brought speech to the front, sound effects slightly beneath, and finally, the music in the back.
The most difficult part was almost certainly getting over the sound of my own voice. While I am aware that other people hear my voice differently, I still could not help but recoil at how nasally and high-pitched it sounded. Admittedly, I spent too much time trying to alter it to sound better.
AOI: In this composition, I used loops from Protools. While doing so, I had two main issues. The first was that finding loops that flowed smoothly was near impossible; the other was that I had not composed for a long period of time. I had to learn to throw myself into composing so I wouldn't get held up, and to edit loops so that they transition well.