Posted by midiguru on December 5, 2010
When my cello is making funny noises, I like to remind myself of the adage, “It’s a poor workman who blames his tools.” On the other hand, when I finally got around to getting my bow rehaired, the squeaky noises stopped. Sometimes it is the tools.
I’ve been contemplating, in a vague, fuzzy sort of way, the possibility of composing some synthesizer music in a more open-ended, less pop-based style. Music that’s shaped more like clouds, or flowers, or the stones in the bed of a mountain stream. My usual impulses, the unconscious promptings that produce bass lines, chord progressions, and alternating verse/chorus/bridge structures, seem to be leading me down a blind alley.
At this point, I confront the stark fact that sequencer software is designed for composing and recording pop music. Whether we’re talking about Cubase, FL Studio, Reason, Live, or some other program, it’s the same deal. These programs make some basic assumptions about your music that, while valid for 99.9% of the folks who use them, are quite limiting should you want to go off in a different direction.
One big assumption is that your music will be Read the rest of this entry »
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Posted by midiguru on August 10, 2010
I could never do an album of ambient or new age music. Often I start a new piece with a quiet, reflective, dreamy intro … and then about two minutes later the drums and bass come piling in. I like contrast, and I like developing my material.
It all goes back to Beethoven, ultimately. In a single movement of a symphony he could move from phrases of delicate beauty to phrases of shattering power. I’m certainly no Beethoven — but why should I limit myself to anything less?
Posted in music | Tagged: composing, electronic music, music | 1 Comment »
Posted by midiguru on August 4, 2009
The creative process is mysterious, but Rule #1 is, follow your nose. Go with the flow. Do the next indicated thing. Sometimes you may have a fairly definite outcome in mind, sometimes not. Even if you think you know where you’re going, you may be surprised.
At one time I did a fair amount of composing in a computer-based home music studio. In recent years, not so much (and that’s a story for another time). This week I wanted to give myself an incentive to get off the dime and actually finish a piece rather than let yet another sketch gather dust on the hard drive. So I thought it might be fun to document the process of turning a sketch into a finished piece. As of today, it isn’t quite finished, but it’s far enough along that I can share the process step by step. I’m not even sure of the title yet, but I may call it “Casual.”
This is not, I hasten to add, a profound or deeply emotional piece of work. My personal view is that it’s just sort of mildly cool. It’s a flexing-my-rusty-muscles sort of piece. I decided up front that I would use nothing but Propellerhead Reason 4. I’ve done a couple of all-you-need-is-Reason pieces in years past, so I knew I wouldn’t be shortchanging myself in the sound resources department. Giving yourself some artificial boundaries for a given piece can help the creative process by reducing the choices to a manageable set.
I launched Reason and soon came up with a modest little groove in 7/4 that I liked. This initial sketch used Read the rest of this entry »
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