Jump to content
Search In
  • More options...
Find results that contain...
Find results in...
Cell

Problem overspoken - Cell trying to compose something fancy from scratch

Recommended Posts

I haven't told anyone yet, but - since I've been thinking about anything and also have been playing games, such as Doom - I'm coping with a nearly unexplicable problem that has to do something with composing.

Indeed, I'm able to imagine entire musictracks in mind. Sometimes I even do perform them "by mouth" (seriously) as long as I'm convinced that nobody can hear me. It wouldn't be such a huge problem that I'm a great "mind-composer" if I wasn't able to forget them maybe just a minute later, and I'm always feeling sorry about wasting talent.

Now comes that that annoys me the most. The more I'm good at this "self-composition", the more rubbish I am in realising them... I might have an enthusiasm for quite awhile, but then it just wears off and then fades away without saying goodbye, especially by the demotivation of various unsuccessful attempts. To make things worse, I tried it composing in Anvil Studio, where I couldn't even find a "normal" drum or beat or what-is-that-frickin'-thing that is used in 80% to make a soundtrack's rhythm, how shall I put it; neither a "normal" cymbal, just the reverse one (which is featured in, for example, Suspense).

It's terrible how fate had punished me in such a way. What shall I do a part from killing myself in confusion?


[EDIT]Problem overspoken, now I'm trying to produce something listenable.[/EDIT]

Share this post


Link to post

For the forgetting part, you could get yourself a recorder.

Share this post


Link to post
Cell said:

I tried it composing in Anvil Studio, where I couldn't even find a "normal" drum or beat or what-is-that-frickin'-thing that is used in 80% to make a soundtrack's rhythm, how shall I put it; neither a "normal" cymbal, just the reverse one (which is featured in, for example, Suspense).

To get cymbals and basic drums in Anvil Studio, you have to change the track type from "Instrument" to "Rhythm".

Then from the composition screen there should be an "add sounds..." button that'll let you pick the ones you want to use.

Share this post


Link to post

Well, as an artist myself I can tell you that there is not a single artist in the history of mankind that has been able to render an image exactly the way he envisioned it. The image in your mind may seem fantastic and perfect but the entire rendering process involves constant mistakes that lead the artist to a path which may or may not be acceptable. Imagination is not what makes a great artist. It is the ability to cope with the mistakes and turn them into something recognizable. The only way for you to do something with your hidden talent is to dive in and start creating.

Share this post


Link to post

This used to be a massive problem for me, particularly in my earlier days of composing. Here's what advice I can offer you:

  • Get good. As much as I hate to dredge up an old cliché, you really have to practise and practise until you get good enough - then you'll find it much easier to translate what you hear in your head into sounds in a composer. For most people, it's not an automatic process - although those who have "perfect pitch" probably do find composition from scratch a whole lot easier. :S Once you get skilled enough with composition, you'll be able to get what you hear in your head down in a matter of minutes, possibly seconds. For me, it takes only a couple of seconds to decide if a song is in a major or minor key (and it's nearly always minor), then a few more seconds to decide which key I'll be using (and I often go with G minor) and from there I can use my knowledge of that key to determine which notes the sequence in my head will be using and in what order.

  • Start simple. I can say from personal experience that working in just basic MIDI teaches you nearly all the ins and outs of music theory without you even having to pick up a book. It supports all twelve of the different keys, customizable time signatures, and introduces you to the various controllers such as volume sliding, pitchbending and patch changes, which nearly every audio editor out there also supports. The MIDI soundbank also has virtually every timbre you could possibly want (though admittedly, it's extremely limited compared to the infinite number of sounds you can make with softsynths), so experiment with it and see which instrument(s) best fit your ideas. I mean REALLY experiment. Set a track to an organ sound and try and make it sound like a TR-303. :P (That has actually been done already.)

  • Use any experience you have with playing an instrument to your advantage. If you have a tune you've made up which you can't get out of your head, then try and play it on an actual instrument, and write down exactly what you played. Obviously, if you are already a fairly skilled composer you can just write down the tune on a bit of paper, either using the traditional method of music notation, or by writing a bunch of letters in a somewhat shoddy fashion that vaguely resembles the traditional method. :P (The latter is what I do. Yay for ignoring age-old conventions!)

  • I didn't actually try this myself, but if you have a portable recording device available to you, just hum the tune in your head as clearly as you can into it. It should help you out loads. xP
NiuHaka: If you're working within very strict confines, and with which you are familiar (like General MIDI), you can by all means produce something exactly how you imagined it. :P

Share this post


Link to post
Cell said:

<long post>


I get that problem a lot... at night while I'm trying to get to sleep, I often compose music in my head, and it sounds great, but then when I get to the computer the next day and I realise how much work will be involved I just lose interest.
I find that most of my completed pieces are created just from one very short/simple idea, one that is very easy to put into the computer. Once that's in, it's much easier to write the rest of the piece.

Jimmy: I have perfect pitch but it doesn't make things wildly easier. Maybe I skip a few steps that you have to go through to start, but once I start it can still be a real slog to finish a piece. Lately my midis have taken several short 'sessions' to complete, each one adding between 5 and 30 seconds to the piece. Basically, I spend ten minutes adding a few bars, lose interest, go play a game for an hour, then return and add another few bars.

Share this post


Link to post
stewboy said:

Jimmy: I have perfect pitch but it doesn't make things wildly easier. Maybe I skip a few steps that you have to go through to start, but once I start it can still be a real slog to finish a piece. Lately my midis have taken several short 'sessions' to complete, each one adding between 5 and 30 seconds to the piece. Basically, I spend ten minutes adding a few bars, lose interest, go play a game for an hour, then return and add another few bars.

I'm much the same. I get pretty lazy if I don't focus my attention like a laser beam on a certain piece. :P

I'd love to have perfect pitch. I often MIDIfy already-existing tracks (such as this one) and it does take me a while to get it sounding accurate because I usually have no idea what key a track is playing in just by listening to it. I have a keyboard beside me while I work, so I put on the track and fumble about with the keyboard pseudorandomly until I get a combination of keys that sounds right. Luckily, once I get the key the track is playing in, I'm more or less sorted. :P Unless the track is almost all chromatic - like the opening of Iconoclast. Mother of God... x_x

Bizarrely, F minor seems to be the only chord I can detect just by hearing it. I guess that's because I've listened to more tracks in this key than any other - mostly DnB and dubstep. See Pendulum's "Watercolour" and "Witchcraft", Shock One's "Crucify Me Part 1" and Sub Focus's "Rock It".

Share this post


Link to post
Jimmy91 said:

NiuHaka: If you're working within very strict confines, and with which you are familiar (like General MIDI), you can by all means produce something exactly how you imagined it. :P


Hah! Ok good point.

Share this post


Link to post

Here I could come with some good news.

Finally I was able to compose a song and claim that it is done - at least for instance.
It wouldn't sound like a masterpiece, it wouldn't even suit anyone's taste, but at least I've finally done something I would listen to without any serious complaint about my lame composing abilities. As for relativity and being beginner amateur, I would say that it is listenable at least.

Tell me if my abilities would enable me upgrade composing to a higher niveau.

Title: Static Riddle
Author: Cell
Future usage: Going Cellistics MAP04: Filtration Caverns
Note: The soundtrack ain't finished yet, because one day after I've done it to the state it is in, my system crashed and I've hardly managed to save my stuff from my computer to another; here I could build GC MAP04 and here came as a problem that the master volume of Static Riddle was low related to the other soundtracks ingame.

Share this post


Link to post

That's interesting because its like you said; I hear imaginative stirrings but they weren't translated from brain to music data perfectly (then again I never know if I'm hearing midis the same way that the author heard them due to not knowing if I have the same sound 'fonts' or whatever stored on my computer that they have) probably.
For example, some of the notes sound a bit off of what they 'should' be (some sound good), whatever that means since there's no truly 'correct' way to compose. And one of the main drums was like "PA-DUNK!.... PA-DUNK!"... repeat, not sure if that's how you heard it. And some sounds too quiet relative to the rest.

Anyway, I have absolutely terrible 'imperfect pitch' like I can barely recognize 3 separate notes, let alone 12, so here was my strategy that helped me a lot:

I use modplug tracker and I recorded a wav file of my own voice humming in note C. (like press a c piano key or whatever then record yourself humming the same note). Since this is in your own voice, it is much easier to hum aloud and find the right notes to match what's in your head.
Another thing is 12 notes were too many for me, so I limited them to 7, the white keys. I figure this ultimately does not matter or limit me, as I can select them all in modplug and raise/lower them to whatever I want at the end if I desire. White keys simplifies the whole thing into either 'sad' melodies starting on key A, or 'happy' melodies starting on key C. I've done this a lot, and by now all the 'humming' I do in my head matches to white piano keys only.

As for music theory, I really don't know. Every time someone explains it to me I don't understand but this is what *I* tend to do:
method 1) probably best: just trust the hummming in your head to be 'accurate' and don't worry about chords really. Only loosely think about them, not making them a big deal.
method 2) this often ends up sounding soulless but can also be good to make more beat-oriented chords to hum on top of later: basically be chord oriented and choose 3 white keys that have a white key space between (example C E G), and also slightly less frequently add left and right key from the first (so B C D E G all together, then basically only use those notes until the chord changes. And mostly use chords C E G/ F A C and G B D (1, 4 and 5 chords with C starting on 1), though sometimes using others. (unless you're in key A, then do chords ACE/DFA/EGB, again 1/4/5).

I might try a quick 'remix' of yours using cheesy modplug sounds.

Share this post


Link to post

I have a slightly different issue. I get a lot of ideas and am able to translate them into basic themes but then I feel like I am rubbish at trying to tie them altogether.

http://eternity.mancubus.net/les_sons/

This is my "magnum opus", or would be if I ever finished it. "Les sons de l'été", a story told in music and poetry about the eschatology of a fantasy world in which seven chosen individuals are destined by blood to gain a sacred attachment to corresponding elemental forces of the universe and, through their powerful bonds, destroy all evil.

I started it when I was in 8th grade and it's still unfinished >_> My perfectionism leads me to continually rewrite or extend or just be generally unhappy with various parts of it.

Share this post


Link to post

ha ha, cute melodies quasar. The midi sounds make them seem fitting for adventures of lolo or something.
I just added some polyphony for the 2 main parts of static riddle:
(deleted, it sucked)
Didn't really listen to it fresh much so don't know how good it is and its not really a finished song and has cheese sounds. The only chords were ACE and EGB.

Share this post


Link to post
gggmork said:

*DA LONG POST*

That's quite too long for me to even understand! o.O
Anyway, "PA-DUNK!" is actually timpani, and yes, I was willing to do it other way (gunshot seemed to be the way to go).

gggmork said:

I just added some polyphony for the 2 main parts of static riddle:
http://speedy.sh/YswHG/staticriddleRemix.mp3
Didn't really listen to it fresh much so don't know how good it is and its not really a finished song and has cheese sounds. The only chords were ACE and EGB.

It sounds like a Super Mario soundtrack :D

Share this post


Link to post
Jimmy91 said:

Get good. As much as I hate to dredge up an old cliché, you really have to practise and practise until you get good enough - then you'll find it much easier to translate what you hear in your head into sounds in a composer.


That's it. Take it from another composer, pursuing composition for media as a career. It's not just an art, it's a craft, and you CAN learn to put your head down and create music.

When you work on commercial projects with deadlines, you build this skill up, and would die without it. With enough practice and study you can compose on demand, in the demanded style. It won't always be the best of your work, but you can constantly improve.

EDIT: Added "show signature" to this post so my music is linked. Mostly everything in the demo reel was created for on-demand projects, sitting down and planning out tracks and executing them for hours a day before a deadline.

Share this post


Link to post

I recognized myself from the starting post.

In fact the forgetting dilemma is not at all uncommon. Me and most of my friends that compose music for their leizure-time bands or other projects have tons of audio files in their phones and mp3 players of themselves humming a melody or a rhythm. I recommend this myself, too.

A decent recording device would be nice, of course, but now that most cell phones and other pocket-size electric devices have a recorded built in them, who cares? It does the trick and the you are going to record or produce the thing again anyway with better sound quality.

Also knowing any method to preserve your music to any literary or otherwise concretic form is helpful, so if you don't know yet, learn the basics of notation, tabulatures, midi- or other music composing software. Again, the final form of your composition is not key yet, it's just about preserving the material until worked to its final form.

I myself have in my drawers and computer a ton of sheet music, lyrics and single melodies, song stumps and other stuff. Sometimes if I have to compose something and get writer's block, all that material in stock can be used as sources of information or motifs in the piece in the works.

Share this post


Link to post

As I'm using Anvil Studio on semi-advancing level, I haven't explored everything yet, but it is still quite complicated for me. Some of the Memento Mori II soundtracks have used a quite uncommon sound type that sounded mostly like farting - I remembered that it occasionally featured Mark Klem's compositions, such as "Damage Assessment" (MAP13), "Dredge" (MAP21) and "Junkie Smack" (MAP29). Is that a complicated mixture of 2-4 single sounds or just something being distorted?

Share this post


Link to post

Those tracks all open with one of "synth bass" patches (38 and 39). Is that what you mean? It does indeed sound farty and thanks for putting that idea in my head because it's staying there, now. xP

Share this post


Link to post
GhostlyDeath said:

My solution would be one that converts humming into a MIDI files, since I am extremely experienced in Programming.


This functionality exists in existing audio software. For example, Celemony's Melodyne plugin is built as a pitch correction tool, BUT because it analyzes the pitch and duration of recorded notes to allow for effective manipulation, it is also able to export MIDI from the data collected. Therefore, hum a tune into a mic and record it, run it through melodyne, save as MIDI, use MIDI as a guide to remember your tune when sequencing it properly later on.

The simpler way is of course to learn an instrument, and over time you can easily remember the tunes you think of, play them out and record the audio (or MIDI data if using any number of existing MIDI controllers modelled after pianos, drumkits, guitars, wind instruments, guitar hero controllers, etc) directly, as well as harmonize/improvise on the fly.

Share this post


Link to post
Gez said:

For the forgetting part, you could get yourself a recorder.


This is not a bad suggestion.

I'm a musician, and I can tell you that a recorder is very much recommended when you're trying to come up with new stuff.

Share this post


Link to post

Here we go again!

http://www.mediafire.com/?rt5w6r876mcr5i1

Due to boredom, I started to compose again and the result was not even that bad I'd have thought of. However, the problem is that I'm not ready with the soundtrack yet, so I'm asking you what you think of this initial version of Success Delight (which goes for Going Cellistics MAP02 as far as I'm planning).

Share this post


Link to post

Pretty good. The only suggestion that I can make (since I don't know musical lingo) would be to shorten the first three tones of the main tune (which are the same) to two. I hope you understand what I mean by that.

Share this post


Link to post

I see what you mean. Maybe it helps the soundtrack not be so cacophonic.

Share this post


Link to post

I like where your skill is going, Cell. :) This is a fairly simple but very effective song, kind of reminds me of some of pcorf's work, which is great. Keep up the good work. :)

Share this post


Link to post

Thanks ;) I managed to do so due to me not letting this tune escape my mind minutes after I thought of it (as I imagined how Going Cellistics MAP02 should look like, though now I don't think so strongly that this track would fit in an Aztec-style level - sorta based on Duke Nukem 3D: The Gate E1L3), and I had time to spare and exchange minds avec Anvil Studio (c).

Share this post


Link to post

This must be universal to anyone with music in their head.
I tried twice.

First time there was a piano available. Sat at that piano for days hunting for the right keys, putting them on paper. Unfortunately, the piano was badly tuned, and that piece cannot be played on a normally tuned piano.

The second time was a total failure, where I spent an hour fighting with a program.

So:
You have to learn to write music, and practice with an appropriate music tool several times. It does not matter, write junk, but get some practice with the program.
Then when the ideas occur you have the tools and ability to record them, without getting distracted by the process.

Even if your were to try humming it into a tape recorder, it would still require that you have practiced humming into a tape recorder.
Try it once, it sounds awful and the tune is unrecognizable.

Share this post


Link to post

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
×