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Last post Wed, May 02 2007 by Angelo Clematide, 62 replies.
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Posted on Fri, Apr 20 2007 02:44
by ColinThomson
Joined on Sun, Mar 25 2007, Posts 242
Could some of you describe your workflow for COMPOSING a piece, up to finnishing it. Do you write it out on paper, and then try it with VI, or do you always have VI at your fingertips while writing? At what point do you add effects like reverb? When you are recording it, do you usually play the melody, or harmony first? Just trying to get a discussion going on this topic. Thanks.
Colin Thomson
Posted on Sat, Apr 21 2007 18:51
by flashman
Joined on Sun, Mar 20 2005, Posts 141
big question.....


quick answer is no I don't write it out first and I think most of my colleagues in film adn tv don't normally either. We sketch it out using very simple samples, go to pencil and paper when the harmony requires it, and only when the piece seems to hang together prety well start "orchestrating" the samples. But it depends if the samples are the end product or whether you have a live orchestra at the end of the line.
Posted on Sat, Apr 21 2007 20:36
by Guy Bacos
Joined on Sun, Jan 16 2005, Quebec, Canada, Posts 1986
Personally I never write the music down either, not because I'm lazy but because it's time consuming and I'd rarely have any use for it, but in certain cases as it was in my "Orchestral Variations on a Theme by Schumann" I had a 3 part fugue which I had to notate precisely. However, there is a very big danger in not notating your music, if ever someone wants to perform it you may have a problem puzzling your sequence back into a score especially if you have 10 tracks working on one melody....
This happened to me... Surpriseops:
Posted on Sun, Apr 22 2007 01:00
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5493
Quite true, Guy.

I am very concerned about this in fact, being lazy myself, and generating frightening quantities of midi tracks...

The "Correct Way" I suppose would be to put everything into notation, and then begin the midi transcription. Somehow, these days, I never get to that level of "correct." In the past (Pre-Cambrian Era) I wrote out everything, but now, I take the Path of Least Resistance...
Posted on Sun, Apr 22 2007 01:06
by ColinThomson
Joined on Sun, Mar 25 2007, Posts 242
Guy, I have wondered the same thing about if I ever had to have a real orchestra play my music. Because I agree that to write it all out seems very time consuming. But it is pretty cool to have stuff down on paper. I don't have very much experiance in this, but I think that maybe writing it out might help with really understanding what is going on, instead of having it all in your head.
Colin Thomson
Posted on Sun, Apr 22 2007 05:13
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5493
Though of course coming from a background before there was neither midi nor samples at all, my natural inclination is to write everything out on suitably yellowed parchment, stained with wine, tears and blood, under a feebly flickering candelabra, surrounded by the glowering visages of my busts of Beethoven and Bach, my ears assailed by the howling of the cold winds of fate as I strive desperately to finish the last movement... to scrawl with my remaining strength the last tortured notes of a masterpiece no one but the Gods may ever hear...
Posted on Sun, Apr 22 2007 19:18
by clarkcontrol
Joined on Mon, May 03 2004, The Pagan Underground, Posts 315
Big Smile
I love it!!

Seriously, I don't use paper either; I do remember that caligraphy pens were fun...

If your system is fast, it makes a lot of sense, though. Guy rips through quality material pretty quickly.

The danger is that it can make you lazy.

Clark
Clark
Posted on Mon, Apr 23 2007 04:14
by Guy Bacos
Joined on Sun, Jan 16 2005, Quebec, Canada, Posts 1986
The thing is, we have to play every one of our instruments and although it's not as difficult as playing the real instrument it is a serious job, so if we have to do that and write a nice neat big orchestral score we'll be spending 6 month for 1 piece. I'd rather take my chance and enjoy composing straight from the computer.
Posted on Mon, Apr 23 2007 19:07
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5493
Yes, it can be done either way. I have found no really good way to first write out in notation, then into sequencing, as so much has to be done with the sequencing you might as well do it first. However, I have a sense of guilt about it I admit, not having a notated version.
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 12:12
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
I'm with the majority...it's straight into the computer most of the time. But on those rare occasions when the deadline is not staring me right in the face, I still enjoy going to the piano with pencil and score paper like I did some (cough...cough) years ago.

Just to remind myself that I still know how to do it, you know. Smile
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 13:33
by hermitage59
Joined on Fri, Mar 25 2005, The Slavic Cultural Empire, Posts 1050
Fred, no need to be embarrassed. I'm still writing things out most of the time, and thoroughly enjoy it. Doesn't mean we're REALLY old farts.......[Indifferent]

Regards,

Alex.
[i:d09f9c4039][color=blue:d09f9c4039][size=11:d09f9c4039]Orchestration is the art of making your own choice.....
Genius is the art of making the right choice....[/size:d09f9c4039][/color:d09f9c4039][/i:d09f9c4039]
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 14:50
by ColinThomson
Joined on Sun, Mar 25 2007, Posts 242
Um, I try writing things out, but it just doesn't look good. I love looking at a hand-written, flowing manuscript, but when I do it, it just doesn't happen (by the way, do you have any good books on writing notation that you could reccomand?)
Colin Thomson
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 17:47
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5493
Colin, you are in excellent company. Just look at Beethoven's manuscript -he may be the greatest composer but he has the absolute worst penmanship of all time!
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 19:02
by stephank
Joined on Sun, Jan 16 2005, Berlin, Posts 80
Hey you all,

I mostly write my stuff down in the first step. Very old fashioned with pen and paper.

I´m faster in writing this way then "compose" it into the sequencer and (more important) I get more clearnes of what I´m doing.

I think (and I´m scared that nobody will agree with me) that there is a great danger in composing with samples that you loose control about what you are doing.

If I have the sounds on my PC and not only in my had, i am in the danger to use somethings just because they sound good or ok. I dont to say that this is always wrong, and when I do some TV-stuff under big time pressure, I shurely work this way, but I dont like it.

All the best,

Stephan
Posted on Tue, Apr 24 2007 20:47
by clarkcontrol
Joined on Mon, May 03 2004, The Pagan Underground, Posts 315
Good point but remember:

What sounds good in your head will not always sound good with samples (read: fake). In fact, most of the time it won't sound the same. Maybe not worse, but you get the idea.

My beef is that I don't have a big fast rig, so when I sequence I have to limit my orchestration. The part writing is fine but I wish I could afford to have more colours simultaneously.

Clark
Clark
Posted on Fri, Apr 27 2007 10:19
by Nick K-B
Joined on Thu, Jul 22 2004, Los Angeles, USA, Posts 46
Hi folks,

For what it's worth, I find a combination works best. I work out my themes/motifs on paper with a note about what instruments might take them, then do the various inversions, retrogrades etc. and possible alternative harmonies on paper. I also try and hear the orchestra in my head before I actually start putting it into the computer.

As I use Logic, I tend to work in the score window and treat it like a word processor for music. in this way, I may not be using calligraphy, but I'm still using musical notation.

If I remember I put in dynamics and slurring as I go, and can put in automation for the midi tracks to change the articulation at the same time. Once you get the hang of it it becomes quite quick. The advantage is that if you then find you have to print out parts for a real performance, it's not such a slog to edit what you've done. However there are times when it gets impossible because of time constraints and the playing in the lines becomes the best way forward.

It's been really interesting finding out how others work though - glad to see we seem aware of the downside to putting it directly into the computer directly, even if laziness or time constraints still lead us to to do it that way. It's sad that the art of paper writing is on the decline, but so understandable given the nature of the music business. Ho-Hum.

Nick
Mac Pro - 2.66 GHz Quad-Core Xeon 28GB, and an Octo 3GHz 32Gig RAM, Logic Studio Pro 10.0.7, OSX Mavericks

To progress forwards, one must simply take a step...
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2007 13:56
by PoppaJOL
Joined on Thu, Nov 17 2005, Las Vegas, Nevada USA, Posts 153
Hello All:

This brings up a question I've had since starting in on the virtual orchestra path. Do you think that, by not writing down your pieces first, the music is affected either positively or negatively or at all? Does it make it more clear to hear it "live" as you go rather than in your head the way you would if you wrote it down? Or do you think the form and structure might be stronger if written first? Also, by writing direct to sequencer, how much do you write to the samples rather than to the music in your head?

Of course, when you have Film/TV deadlines (I don't) speed is of the essence. I have no idea whether, with serious, non-commercial pieces, one or the other way would be better. Likely, it depends on the person

I've only been involved the sample library/virtual orchestra world for about 18 months now and I've still got an incredible amount to learn. At the same time as I started with it, I also started learning Sibelius which I use a lot now.

The large part of my music is going to be played live so, I have to notate it. This has forced me into the habit of putting everything down first and making sample mock ups afterward (if I have time).

I'm afraid that, if I ever want to work on my own serious music, I might not be so industrious about it. So, I wonder whether people think it really makes any difference.

Be Well,

Poppa
Any tone or group of tones can preceed, succeed or sound simultaneously with any other... inspired by V. Persichetti - 20th Century Harmony
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2007 16:11
by William
Joined on Sun, Nov 24 2002, USA, Posts 5493
I think about that at times. Of course people can work in different ways, but I wonder if composing for samples directly makes you weaker as a composer. Because you do not have to imagine the sound - it is all right in front of you. And so your musical mind becomes lazier, with all those wonderful sounds distracting you from the fact that what you just wrote is a piece of shit.
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2007 16:30
by DG
Joined on Wed, May 12 2004, Posts 8608
William wrote:
I think about that at times. Of course people can work in different ways, but I wonder if composing for samples directly makes you weaker as a composer. Because you do not have to imagine the sound - it is all right in front of you. And so your musical mind becomes lazier, with all those wonderful sounds distracting you from the fact that what you just wrote is a piece of shit.

I think that this is a direct result from people improvising and thinking that this is the same as composing. Sure the "greats" used to do this, but they could actually play the instruments that they were improvising on. I try very hard not to compose this way, because if I do, I tend to write what my hands find easy to play, rather than what actually is good and even a tad original. [Indifferent]

DG
Nuendo 6.03, 4.3
2 x Intel Xeon x5675 3.07GHz Hex Core
48GB RAM
Windows 7 (x64)Pro
RME Multiface II
Intensity
ATI HD5400 series graphics card
Posted on Sat, Apr 28 2007 18:11
by Fred Story
Joined on Tue, Jul 08 2003, Charlotte, North Carolina, USA, Posts 257
William wrote:
I think about that at times. Of course people can work in different ways, but I wonder if composing for samples directly makes you weaker as a composer. Because you do not have to imagine the sound - it is all right in front of you. And so your musical mind becomes lazier, with all those wonderful sounds distracting you from the fact that what you just wrote is a piece of shit.


Absolutely! I discovered this years ago when I first started working with MIDI gear. Prior to that, it was just the piano, pencil and score paper. I got excited about being able to play all my parts into the computer and have it spit out written parts. Fast, easy and no writer's cramp.

But it didn't take long to realize that my music was not benefitting...in fact it was suffering. I wondered why. Then it hit me. I was trying to arrange and orchestrate before I composed anything! I got so distracted by all those cool sounds, I was putting the cart before the horse. I resolved then...and I stick by it to this day...I don't go to the computer until I know where I'm going compositionally. Even though I don't always write the parts down first, I pretty much hear them all before I start sequencing. That's not to say that I don't occasionally noodle around when I want to try out some things. But that usually happens when I'm a good way into a piece and am experimenting with different doubles and such.

So most of the time, I need to hear it in my head fully realized before the computer comes into the equation. The exceptions would be electronic/textural things where sounds or rhythms are the conceptual anchor point. Playing around with different colors can inspire compositional ideas.

But like I said...when the deadline looms - you tend to do whatever it takes! Smile

Fred Story
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