Fantasy Novel

Fantasy Novel
Read a fantasy novel written by me and my brother!

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Enter the Cathedral

Church Modes in Composition

The church modes, which became very popular in the medieval ages, were actually borrowed from ancient Greece. Each one of these modes have a unique feel to them. If you are completely lost and wondering what I'm talking about, read this site for information about the modes:

Each one of these modes has a common version, which is the most popular one to play, or perhaps the easiest to memorize. These versions are followed by a letter which signifies the chord they are supposed to resolve to. These modes can be transposed and played on different notes, but once again, there's no point in making it too complicated, unless of course, that's what you want. Anyway, here are the seven modes.

1. Ionian Mode (C)

This is perhaps the easiest mode to play and the most common. There are countless songs that use this mode, such that it doesn't really even seem like a mode at all. Another name for this mode is the major scale. Jingle Bells, Mary had a Little Lamb, and Hot Cross Buns, plus many other children's songs, are in this mode. That's not to say that this mode's good for only kid's songs. No, it's great for many different types of songs. Although this mode is often thought of as major and happy, that's not always the case. Composers can also make very sad songs using this mode, though it does take more skill to pull off.

2. Dorian Mode (D)

Greensleeves is the classic example of a song in Dorian mode. In fact, many medieval songs use this mode. If you want to make a song which will take your listeners back to the age of castles and monks, employ this mode in your compositions.

3. Phrygian Mode (E)

The most mysterious of all the modes and often the most depressing and sad. It has a minor sound to it, but it also has a suspenseful quality to it as well. This mode works as great background music for rainy, dreary days. It also has a solemn feel to it, reminiscent of stone temples and ancient ruins.
4. Lydian Mode (F)

Don't fall asleep. This mode can be used to create dreamy ethereal songs which will make you feel like you're floating on clouds. Like the previous mode, it also has a sort of suspenseful feel to it, though not a scary or sad one. This mode never seems to resolve itself and thus it can be quite nebulous-sounding. It really is sort of happy-sounding, though.

5. Mixolydian Mode (G)

Not to be confused with its younger sister, Lydian, this mode has a Celtic flair to it and is completely different, not having the suspenseful feel to it at all. If you've always wanted to compose an Irish jig, make a song which will sound like an inn from your favorite rpg, or simply create a happy tune, this is the mode for you.

6. Aeolian Mode (A)

This is the second easiest mode to utilize and the second most common. Like the Ionian mode, this one doesn't really seem like a mode. Another name for this mode is the natural minor scale. Many popular dark-sounding songs, sad songs, and scary songs use this mode. Mastery of this mode is essential for composers as it is so powerful and can be used in so many ways.

7. Locrian Mode (B)

I think of clowns, circuses, and barren wastelands whenever I play in this mode. Overall, it doesn't have a very pretty sound, and as such doesn't have much of a place in the music world. It is by far the most rare of all the modes, and hardly any modern songs use it. Still, if you're feeling brave, and can withstand the ugly sound of it, try your hand at composing in this mode. Who knows, you might just come up with the next hit song.

Well, that was certainly a longer post than usual. I hope you didn't grow too tired reading it. I hope to come up with another one shortly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Epic Chord Progressions

  Lord of the Ring's Chord Progressions 

1. Gandalf Falls

This first chord progression is one I'll name after one of my favorite songs from the Lord of the Rings. In case you haven't guessed which part of the movie it's from, it's from the first movie, the part when Gandalf falls off of the bridge in the Mines of Moria. Let's do this chord progression in 4/4 time signature, each chord taking up a whole measure. The chords are as follows a minor, F major, C major, and G major. This chord progression is not only very useful, it is also very common and popular. It can definitely be used to make sad songs, but, if used properly, it can also be used to make epic and triumphant songs. This song is used in the beginning of Enya's song May It Be.

2. The Shire

This chord progression is from the first movie of the Lord of the Rings, near the beginning. It's focused on the hobbits. There are different chords used in this theme, as it develops throughout the movies, but we will just focus on the simplest one found near the start of the movie. Using 4/4 time signature, these are the chords used as well as how many measures they take up. Here they are: F major (4 measures). B flat major (2 measures), F major (1 measure), C major (1 measure). If you want to make melancholy and beautiful compositions, this is definitely a good one to use.

That's all for now. Come back later for more music tips.


Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Composing Haunting Music

Haunting Music Tips

1. Octave of Terror

One way to create a song which has a scary mood is to hit an octave with your left hand. As octaves by themselves don't really sound minor or major (your brain usually just choose whichever one you're more comfortable with), you need to establish the minor sound with your right hand. I hope you agree that a major sound doesn't really work for creepy music.

Ok, now that that's out of the way, let's get to work. Let's start by hitting both A notes. Try to hit a low A octave if possible. Probably avoid the very lowest of any minor octave as they really stop sounding scary at that point and just start sounding ugly. That's all for this technique.

2. Chilling Suspense

Now, pressing the right pedal, hit the A octave with your left hand and keep holding it down. Now's where the melody comes in. Create a melody (with your right hand) which uses the notes found in an A minor chord. Try to hit different notes. No double-hitting any notes. Listen for the cold sound which comes from executing this tip perfectly.

3. Ethereal Vapors

When creating the melody with your right hand, use the high notes on the piano. The contrast between the low bass in the left hand and the high notes in the right hand makes for a really eerie sound. Last note--maybe avoid the very highest octave as this doesn't really sound that good.

That's all for now. Come back later with more piano composition advice!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Composition Secrets

There are at least five ways to compose songs on the piano

1. Envisioning

Look at a picture and imagine creating a musical piece which fits with it. For example, you could stare at a beautiful picture of a reddish sunset over the ocean and try to make a song which fits with it. This technique is highly important when composing music for films or games.

2. Blank Slate

Compose a song by just playing around the piano, hoping to come across a good melody. Probably the most commonly used technique and although it might not be the most effective, you can still compose decent songs using it.

3. Imitation

Listen to a favorite song of yours and try to copy it, making your own song which sounds similar but yet different. This is a very useful technique, and, if you are feeling defeating while composing, a good one to start trying. 

4. Royal Decree

Someone tells you to make a song that has a certain style, quality, or feel to it and you follow their advice. This technique has the advantage of being unambiguous. You know what you are going for, you just have to get to it. However, getting to the goal is not always easy, and trying to reach that elusive quality which fits the demanded specifications is often very challenging.

5. Telescope

Choose a style of music and try to compose a song that sounds like it. By narrowing your focus to a particular style, you definitely don't waste as much time as trying to start with a blank slate. Also, if you have your own particular genre of music, you probably use this technique without even thinking about it.

That's all for now. Come back soon for more composition secrets.