I hit a milestone last week; after four months of solid learning I’ve finally reached the stage where I’ve begun to compose. I wrote two pieces last week and have started writing a third this week. The first one is a demo for one of the bands that I’m in (we’ve yet to give ourselves a name) and the other two are simple themes for piano. Today I’m going to focus on the band track.
Whilst at band practice a few weeks ago I started to play one of the tunes I’d written for my accordion. The tune was incomplete and felt more like the middle section of bigger piece, but the band liked it and wanted to develop it into a song. I worked out an introduction and thought through some ideas of where I wanted the piece to go. Then the week before last, we started to develop it. I explained the structure of the piece and what instruments should come in where and tried my best to describe what they should play. We spent a good couple of hours working through the song and looping some sections to try and develop them. At the end of the night I recorded the whole song and listened back to it the next day. The song wasn’t quite going in the direction that I wanted, but hearing it had helped me see clearly where I wanted it to go. Therefore I spent the next three days working on a demo of the song. I recorded my accordion part and then played in the other band members parts using my keyboard and the software instruments that come with Logic Pro X. So here it is, the first proper composition I have done since I started my quest to become a film composer.
There are a few things missing from the track, such as the vocals. Our singer wrote some lyrics to the piece but I’ve represented his part in the piece with a flute, since he wasn’t available to record them. I’ve also left out guitar strums as this isn’t something I could simulate very well on my computer. And my EQing, mixing and mastering skills aren’t up to scratch yet so I haven’t optimised the track for the best listening experience, that is something I am yet to learn. But seeing as it’s just a demo, I still have time to learn this.
Once I’d finished the track I sent it to the rest of the band to listen to and we went through it for real at this weeks practice. I’m pretty pleased with the end result. We’ve named the track “Hard to Find” because of the lyrics and we’re going to be playing it live at an open mic night in the middle of May, along with two cover songs. I’m pretty excited to perform it live actually and to see what an audience think of it. And I’ve got plans to write lots more tracks for the band, but for now I need to practice my accordion part to this one and get my playing perfected.
So this was the first week where I feel I actually did some real composition. There was still a lot of arranging involved as we were already given the chord sequence and some of the rhythms, but the teacher had left gaps in the melody to be filled in, therefore my solution was very different to his, but I feel it still fits the brief.
Cadences were the main focus of this weeks assignment. You’ll notice I’ve annotated my score with some text. Where it says HC, DC and PAC are the cadences. HC stands for Half Cadence which means that when that phrase is played by itself, it leaves the listener with a sense that the piece is not finished. PAC stands for Perfect Authentic Cadence and leaves the listener with a sense of conclusion. And finally DC is Deceptive Cadence, as it sounds like it is leading into a Perfect Authentic Cadence and so the listener feels the sense of conclusion is coming, but then the final chord for that cadence is different and instills an inconclusive feel to the phrase.
So week 1 of learning to write like Mozart was really interesting but the music I produced at the end was a bit boring. That’s because everything for week 1 had to be in a major key, use homorhythmic homophony and the chords had to be in root position. This week the tables have turned, everything was in a minor key, chord inversions were introduced, as well as some rhythms.
This week there were two assignments instead of just one. The first was very similar to last week as I was given the melody and the chord sequence and then simply had to write in the parts for the other 3 voices. However, with the introduction of chord inversions it definitely made it a bit trickier, as there were lots of new guidelines to remember, such as when using a 2nd inversion chord you must double the 5th of the chord, instead of the root.
The second assignment introduced some rhythms into the mix. This one was less of a composition though, as I simply had to re-voice the parts for keyboard instead of SATB (Soprano, Alto, Tenor and Bass) but I did then have to apply the given rhythm to it.
So far I’ve been encouraged to double the root of the chord, however that made the melody of the second piece very difficult to craft due to a few 1st inverted chords and it ended up all over the place, so I started again and ended up doubling the fifth on these inverted chords which made for a smoother melody.
So as you can hear, the assignments for the course are slowly progressing towards more complex music. I’m looking forward to the weeks to come.
Welcome to my revived and repurposed blog. This is a blog about my sudden impulsively contemplated decision to switch careers, from filmmaker to film composer. Unfortunately my compositional skills are in their infancy, so this is where I’ve decided to blog about my journey to Hollywood!
In sharing what I learn along the way, I hope to keep track of my progress and push myself to learn more, taking that next step closer to my ultimate goal. As time moves on my posts will undoubtably evolve, so stick with me as I follow my dream, and if you’ve not started, then start following yours!