Hey! It’s been awhile. I’ve got two tunes for you to check out.
Fanfare and Jubilee (Remastered)
This was actually completed about three weeks ago…
If you compare it to the original versions of the tune you’ll find some changes in the actual composition (as opposed to the sound), but nothing too significant. Mainly, I made the ending shorter so that the listener wouldn’t lose interest. I had thought before that the buildup to the large section that features all of the instruments playing together would be a good idea; however, even I as the composer was fatigued by hearing just one instrument come in at a time. Also, you’ll notice that the trombone starts off the buildup instead of the trumpet, and the percussion doesn’t take extra time to build up either. I think you’ll agree if you compare the two that it was in every listener’s best interest to shorten that section.
While this tune is technically final, having sought out some criticism of it I learned from other composers that they find the mix too dry. While I set out for a drier mix, I am going to run with the suggestions and see how I can improve the sound of the piece by altering the reverb to give it more depth.
This next tune was written for the TIGSource Musical Challenge XXIII. You might recall that I entered one of the challenges a while back with my tune “Mr. AC (Keep Your Cool).” For that tune, the challenge was to make a thirty-second looping battle theme; for this, things were a bit less constricting. The challenge was, simply, to create a love theme. More
Cat’s out of the bag: I don’t work 24/7 all the time. Here Jen and I are enjoying the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital.
I haven’t posted in about a week and a half, so I thought I’d better give you an update.
First, the music stuff: I am in the process of both remastering old tunes and writing new ones. In fact, I have a list of two tunes to remaster and nine tunes to finish writing, which is a lot of stuff. You might think that I may have spread myself too thin and to that I say you might be correct, haha.
The dilemma is one that isn’t old; namely, I’m caught between wanting to finish up tunes and churn out new ideas. Finishing is two-dimensional problem that I imagine many of us aspiring artists have: one, I always ask myself, ‘Is this even worth finishing?’, and two, I sometimes feel like I’m spending too much time on one idea rather than creating fresh ones, which makes me think of number one’s question again. The answer to that question, by the way, is ‘YES’ 95% of the time simply because I need to practice finishing writing as well as the whole production gig. I refuse to abandon these tunes even though I get scatterbrained and succumb to writing new ideas instead often. The answer to the second? Simply get better and faster, which is done by finishing tunes, and stay focused. And you may think that have a list of nine tunes to finish would warrant me saying enough is enough, leading me to blast through finishing one or two, but no… no, that doesn’t work; no urge to create new things is assuaged.
But hey, the remastered version of “Fanfare and Jubilee” is coming along. Check out what it sounds like at the end of today. Lots of work still needs to be done, of course, including adjusting dynamics, volume levels, articulations, and more, but I think you’ll like it:
As for new stuff, one point of note is that I’m trying to write tunes that are a little longer, have more space, and are less dependent on being driven by one stand-out melody. More
It’s been a long time coming, but I finally got around to remastering the first track that I ever did for this blog, “Woods Theme” (or “Theme for the Woods,” as I called it in earlier posts).
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: I usually do my larger-scale compositions in Finale first, which doesn’t have quality sound samples. So, I always aim to go back and remaster the tracks I write in Finale by putting them into Logic and using better samples, as well as by making my own mix instead of using what Finale does automatically.
It feels good to get one under my belt. It’s definitely not my favorite part of the creative process, but it certainly is fulfilling when you finally feel satisfied with a mix. There’s so much to be very meticulous about, and if you don’t have a ton of experience in that world, it can be maddening. Luckily, I have the time right now to stop, let my ears rest, and then resume later, which makes things better on the mental side. Arguably, there’s always that looming “just get it done!” approach that is very effective for the mind and for productivity [which I skimmed right over]; however, at least for this tune, I wanted to make everything perfect. And I kept on learning up until the last bounce as a result.
I even set the remastered version to someone’s walkthrough of The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, below:
While you all have heard some of my other final cuts on tunes that have been produced in Logic, you hadn’t yet heard an orchestral piece. As you might imagine, it can take longer to do the production on a piece the more instruments one has because s/he has to make sure that everything is the right balance in every section of a tune. When conducting, a live orchestra, one has the benefit of the musicians knowing what dynamics to play when. They also know how hard to play notes and how to emote passages in the best manner. Everything melds together well due to a combination of the players’ training, what’s written on the score, and what the conductor is doing. More
Last week, Bastion creator Supergiant Games revealed their upcoming title, Transistor, and over the weekend at PAX East they gave gamers a chance to get their first licks in with it. Having interviewed Darren Korb before regarding his work on Bastion, I wasted no time getting in touch with him to ask him a few questions over e-mail about what his fans can expect from the musical side of the game.
Before we get to the Q&A, though, if you haven’t seen the reveal trailer, you may want to check it out:
What have you worked on musically and/or listened to between Bastion and Transistor and how have you seen those things affect your work on the title so far?
I’ve been listening to a ton of Imogen Heap, Radiohead, and Bjork to get myself in the headspace of the kind of stuff I’m trying to write at the moment, but in addition to that I’ve been listening to a bunch of unrelated stuff: The Darkness, Tenacious D, The Belle Brigade, Nada Surf, Ozma, The Beatles, etc.
That’s quite the unrelated group (that’s being said admirably as a fan of a number of those bands, by the way, haha). Would I be going too far to hope that maybe The D will power you to win more VGM awards for your songwriting prowess?
HAH… The D does possess great power…
What’s the musical direction that you’re taking for Transistor and how has it been evolving during the development process? Any bleed over from Bastion? More
Being that I’m a little over two weeks away from entering into the third month of my sabbatical (crazy to think about that), I decided that I need to get serious about finishing and mastering some of my older ideas. I’ve got a couple of new tunes in the oven, but cranking out tunes in Finale that sound synthy doesn’t do me very much good in terms of marketing myself in this day and age. Here are two tunes that I recently finished, both of which might be a bit uplifting:
I wrote most of “Happy-Go-Lucky” a while back, but had a lot of cleaning up to do with it. Originally it didn’t include drums and it sounded very bare. There was just too much space! I thought that I needed some chordal textures at first because the bass sound was holding down a rhythmic base, but I was completely wrong–drums were the answer, and I knew it immediately after I put them in. Gotta give a shout-out to my old professor, Robert Jospe, since I knew what rhythm I wanted to use. Thanks for teaching me how to groove, Jos!
This tune is meant to be the title screen of a racer, and while I was thinking more “F-Zero” at first, David Graey commented on my SoundCloud, saying that the tune reminds his of the Mario 64 race theme (though he’s not sure why, and I’m not totally sure why either, to be honest, haha). I decided to make the picture that of a Mario Kart title screen as a happy medium between his interpretation and my own.
Back in mid-November, after finishing part 2 of my review of the various versions of “Nate’s Theme,” I decided to send an e-mail to its composer, Greg Edmonson, because I really wanted to talk to him about his works. I hadn’t heard from him and followed up, but still found no response in my inbox.
A month after my first inquiry, having given up on the interview, I found myself randomly wondering whether or not spam message get forwarded to one’s main e-mail account from his or her secondary ones (I have many e-mail addresses that route to a singular one). So, I logged into one of those accounts and looked in the spam box. Sure enough, spam messages don’t get forwarded. Sure enough, there was an e-mail from Greg the day after I sent him my first inquirythat read: ”Hi Greg, I would be honored to do this… Let me know… I will put it in my book!!”
Yes, he even used two exclamation points. Talk about facepalm.
I frantically typed up an apology letter and added him to my safe-senders list. Not too long after that, I got another e-mail from him and we both agreed to get back in touch after the start of the new year, yadda yadda, then I interviewed him on Valentine’s Day. Now that I’m finally done doing a basic clean-up of the audio of the interview, I present it to you, dear readers! But first, a post-preface preface:
I knew that Greg would be great to interview because I had already heard an interview of him a couple of years back. From the get-go, Greg was just as I had expected him to be: someone who is very amicable, passionate about his work, and someone who has a lot to say and naturally goes into a lot of detail while speaking. You’ll notice in the interview that I really don’t ask too many questions, and some of the questions I do ask are just me reacting to his narrative.
He is also someone who is very gracious, thankful for what being a composer has afforded him. He gives credit where credit is due, and when he talks about having opportunities that seem to come with the territory of being in the position that he is as a film and game composer, you can tell that he has not lost the sense of wonderment that one might have when they first get to do the things that he has been able to do and accomplish.
Because of Greg’s great personality, I think that you’ll enjoy listening to the interview as much as I enjoyed giving it. It’s certainly a long one, but Greg makes it sail by easily. Sorry ahead of time for the random noises of my chair creaking, my loud laughter, and the technical malfunctions that you might hear. Also, we jump around a bit during the interview, but I tried my best to break it down below: More
When I’m feeling a little down about new stuff that I’m making on a certain day, sometimes I tell myself to go work on a jazz-influenced piece since that’s the music that I have the most experience performing and listening to. Sometimes forcing myself to work on a jazz piece produces the beginnings of a new tune that I like and sometimes it doesn’t; but when the results are positive, I end up with tunes like “Mr. A.C. (Keep Your Cool)” and my latest, the tentatively titled “Sabba4” (short for Sabbatical Tune #4, but I’ve also come to like it as a title ‘cause it sounds all space sector-y).
Here’s what I have so far for the first part of it:
I pretty much got the first 30 seconds over and done with one day and then moved on to do the next bit a day or two later. Using Finale I wrote the vibes melody first and then created the harmony, etc., and when I put it in Logic I noticed something: there was a distinct emptiness in the second part that wasn’t in the first (or so my ears told me—you may disagree). Take a listen to the parts I’m talking about back-to-back:
Do you hear what I hear? There is a significant energy to the piece that seems to drop out starting at :10, and it’s not because of the lack of a piano as a whole. I chalked it up to the bass duplicating the vibes too much, the open feel of the drums, and the downward harmonic movement of the guitar chords leading into the open sound of the line after it (i.e., everything).
The question of whether it sounds fine as a piece of music wasn’t what was bothering me because yeah, I think that the old cut sounds good. However, I think there is just too much space and the energy suffers due to it.
Writing for a game, that’s a problem. Or, at the very least, writing a piece like this without a particular situation in mind from the beginning, it’s a problem. Music for a game needs to continuously add to whatever the player is experiencing because it is tied to and thus affects that experience directly. If the music somehow shifts the mood to an odd gear in the middle of a situation, it most certainly has the ability to detract from the situation and make it less believable or authentic. More