Composing in New Genres

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mmucklow
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Composing in New Genres

Post by mmucklow » Mon Feb 04, 2019 7:20 pm

Hi All,

Been a TAXI member for quite a while, have had a number of forwards, all of which have been for my primary genre of solo Fingerstyle guitar.

This year I have started learning cue/trailer orchestration and I'm really enjoying it. I've always composed outside my primary genre but not to any serious extent since I earn some decent royalties on the guitar stuff.

Submitting for your review two cues for a couple of TAXI listings; one for a Tension cue and another for an Experimental Electronic cue.

Both can be heard here:
https://www.mucklowproductions.com/taxi-compositions/

Thank you for any and all feedback.

~Michael
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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by ComposerLDG » Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:16 am

Hear hear! I've always said that one of the biggest benefits of being a Taxi member is the opportunity to write outside of what comes naturally. Keeps the creative juices flowing and gives you something to always strive for. I never wrote a tension cue in my life before I was a member. Anyway, gonna go check out your tracks.

Ok, my humble opinion. The drama tension cue is instantly tense right out of the gate with that rhythmic electronic "ticking." The slow ascending scale adds to the building tension. About 3/4 through the string melody switches from 8th notes to 16ths, further building the tension. Volume stays constant with no dynamic swells, so it would work good under dialog. Nice!

The experimental electronic: I'm thinking of submitting to this one too, since electronic is a genre I've yet to be forward on. I like how the first part is polytonal with the bass playing one key and the melody playing in another. Love how it momentarily shifts into the slightly jazzy break and then comes back. Again, sounds good to me.

Anyway, that's my review. Take that and add another $2, and you can buy a cup of coffee with it. :)

Hope you get forwarded.

-Loren
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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by andygabrys » Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:28 am

here's 2 cents to add to Lorens 2.

Some things I have noticed about tension (and this actually applies to much of production music):

1) They are usually structured A, A, A, A with each repeating A adding elements to make the composition have a dynamic arc. Chord changes are common, key changes are not. Usually the cue starts and ends in the same key (for editing ease).
2) Dynamics are often realized by adding and subtracting layers. It kind of fools you into thinking that the cue is getting louder, but due to the way that most cues are compressed and limited to be commercially competitive, they are actually the same apparent volume throughout.

Its hard to find strict references that A/B your compositions against but here are some things I would look for:

1) Google some big, major label production music catalogs and listen to what they have in their catalogs back to back with yours. Listen to the style of composition, mood, changes during the cue, loudness, brightness, punch, ambience.

2) find tracks on youtube actually placed in scenes under tv shows like CSI, NCIS, Catfish and others that use the kind of music. Like this one: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R9qjdUlRs7Y Listen to all of the above things.

NOTE: YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music and various other streaming sources have apparent volume equalization - so that the volume might seem pretty quiet. When comparing it against your cue they might seem quiet. Big name music library music will likely seem very loud in comparison to Youtube and to your cue.

To make adequate comparisons its best to flip your volume knob so the loudness at your ear seems about the same in each case - but when you finalize your cues I would err on the side of making them louder rather than softer. I.e. more compression, more limiting on the master.

First impressions count for a lot and you are selling your music!

Good luck!

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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by mmucklow » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:15 am

Hi Loren,
ComposerLDG wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 5:16 am
Ok, my humble opinion. The drama tension cue is instantly tense right out of the gate with that rhythmic electronic "ticking." The slow ascending scale adds to the building tension. About 3/4 through the string melody switches from 8th notes to 16ths, further building the tension. Volume stays constant with no dynamic swells, so it would work good under dialog. Nice!

The experimental electronic: I'm thinking of submitting to this one too, since electronic is a genre I've yet to be forward on. I like how the first part is polytonal with the bass playing one key and the melody playing in another. Love how it momentarily shifts into the slightly jazzy break and then comes back. Again, sounds good to me.
Thank you for the feedback! I appreciate you taking the time to listen. The polytonal thing on the Electronic track just happened, wasn't even thinking about it since the two parts sounded good to my ears - glad it sounds okay to someone else too. And the "jazzy" part is meant to hopefully give it some of that experimental vibe they're wanting.

Hope we both get forwards!

BTW...I really like your piano compositions. Wish piano had been my main instrument; it's so expressive all by itself.

~Michael
Last edited by mmucklow on Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by mmucklow » Wed Feb 06, 2019 8:25 am

Hi Andy,
andygabrys wrote:
Tue Feb 05, 2019 11:28 am
1) They are usually structured A, A, A, A with each repeating A adding elements to make the composition have a dynamic arc. Chord changes are common, key changes are not. Usually the cue starts and ends in the same key (for editing ease).
2) Dynamics are often realized by adding and subtracting layers. It kind of fools you into thinking that the cue is getting louder, but due to the way that most cues are compressed and limited to be commercially competitive, they are actually the same apparent volume throughout.

To make adequate comparisons its best to flip your volume knob so the loudness at your ear seems about the same in each case - but when you finalize your cues I would err on the side of making them louder rather than softer. I.e. more compression, more limiting on the master.
First, thank you for taking the time to listen. And thank you very much for the excellent input. I'm thankful that the TAXI community helps me grow.

With that tension cue I did not plan to go with the same chord progression throughout but as I went along it just seemed to make sense to stay with it. This must be where you're referring to A, A, A, A. However, I think you may also be saying that the way I progressed the chord changes, long in the beginning and shorter near the end, might be better if the changes were consistent throughout. ???

I did hold off a bit on the compression in the final mix, thinking about the track being behind dialog. But I see your point about making it louder - perhaps so the tension is "felt" by the listener.

~Michael
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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by andygabrys » Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:31 pm

HI Michael,

What I mean by A,A,A,A is just a format that can be easily edited and used under picture.

Most placements are not 2 minutes long. They are often 0:05 to 0:30 and occasionally longer. The more malleable your piece is, the greater chance it will be used (a lot). Smaller motifs can help in this way. Shorter sections. Most placements depend in some fashion on the kind of emotional / dynamic arc that your piece has. If its building thats a good way to help it support a picture where things are moving, or where the story is developing.

Your last question about volume:

You need to have your piece compete on a pure listening level - compete against other pieces out there that are considered for the same use.

When its put under picture, its rare that any piece of music gets used at 0.0 dB (full volume). its always pulled down radically under the dialogue and other on camera sounds.

So you don't have to worry about leaving off compression or limiting so that its closer to the level where it actually gets used in the picture, as leaving off those typical music production steps might mean it gets viewed as not making the grade when A/B'd against other candidates.

HTH

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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by DannyWeber » Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:41 pm

andygabrys wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:31 pm
Your last question about volume:

You need to have your piece compete on a pure listening level - compete against other pieces out there that are considered for the same use.

Hey Michael,

I agree with Andy on loudness being a competitive edge against the comp out there! Your two tracks need to be louder!

Given that.. I liked the Experimental Electronic cue the best because it maintains my interest throughout.

Overall..
Great writing and concept but I think making both tracks louder would help more than anything. Once you make them as loud as possible.. then you can focus on the other nuances and subtleties such as dynamic gear changes, builds and edit points etc.. etc..

If you need a referral for a good loudness plugin.. I use KClip from Kazrog. It's not a compressor or limiter but a soft clip device. It very musically, takes any clipping from over-driving the master bus and turns it into transparent saturation. Very useful for the Hard Rock I do and might be useful for you too! Reasonably priced as well!

Not an advertisement, just my suggestions and good luck with these, Michael!

Dan
https://taxi.com/dannyweber
https://soundcloud.com/dannyweber

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It's not what goes into your music that's important, it's what comes out the speakers

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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by mmucklow » Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:06 pm

Hi Andy,
andygabrys wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 1:31 pm
Most placements are not 2 minutes long. They are often 0:05 to 0:30 and occasionally longer. The more malleable your piece is, the greater chance it will be used (a lot). Smaller motifs can help in this way. Shorter sections. Most placements depend in some fashion on the kind of emotional / dynamic arc that your piece has. If its building thats a good way to help it support a picture where things are moving, or where the story is developing.
Such good advice, thank you! I do seem to almost always include an intro in a composition, then move into the sections that can be broken out. I need to get away from doing this when it is not called for. I've been so used to writing in A-B-A-B-C-B mode that it has carried over into writing these more condensed production music type pieces.

Hi Dan,
DannyWeber wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 2:41 pm
I agree with Andy on loudness being a competitive edge against the comp out there! Your two tracks need to be louder!
I too agree (now) with you and Andy on the loudness aspect. I was staying away from that, thinking the music would be compressed when added to the show, like how a radio station does, and therefore I would not want my piece of music then being overdriven to distortion. I will make this a normal habit.

Thank you for taking the time to listen, provide feedback, and the nice comments. :)

BTW, Brutal Beat Down is freakin' awesomely brutal! Okay, so is Chasing Flames and Badass Walking and... (I'm a metalhead from the 70's - and still love it to this day)

~Michael
Michael Mucklow
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Michael @ TAXI | Michael's Website | Shadows Of Clouds | Rushingwind & Mucklow | Ant Hill Brothers

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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by DannyWeber » Thu Feb 07, 2019 7:41 pm

mmucklow wrote:
Wed Feb 06, 2019 10:06 pm
BTW, Brutal Beat Down is freakin' awesomely brutal! Okay, so is Chasing Flames and Badass Walking and... (I'm a metalhead from the 70's - and still love it to this day)

~Michael
I appreciate the hell out of those comments Michael... You will get these electronic tracks right, I'm sure and I hope we helped you to do that!!!!

Dan
https://taxi.com/dannyweber
https://soundcloud.com/dannyweber

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It's not what goes into your music that's important, it's what comes out the speakers

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Re: Composing in New Genres

Post by mmucklow » Sun Feb 10, 2019 3:46 pm

Hey Danny,

Listening to your High Energy Hard Rock Package. Love the low end on your tracks. The kick and bass combo is really crushing. Thick but not muddy.

At what frequency did you apply the HPF?

~Michael
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