Fantasy Novel

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

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Atmospheric Conditions

Music's Aura

Every music piece has a certain mood or feel to it. Just like every great novel we've ever read had at least one underlying theme to it, every music piece needs to convey a certain mood or atmosphere. Some moods are weaker than others, some are forcefully powerful, and some may even be hard to define, but the moods are still there.

It seems best to me, when starting work on a song, to come up with both the mood and the name for it. If you can do these two things, composing the song should come much easier. However, if you are the type of person that just makes the music and then comes up with a name, that's great as well.

1. Emotional

Do you desire to make people sad when they hear your music? Often sad music is very beautiful, so this is a very good choice. Listen to The Call by Regina Spektor, and you'll see an example of this type of music. Certainly, the lyrics add to the emotional feeling of this music, but even just the instruments, the chords, and how the song is sung gives off a sad feeling.

2. Epic

Maybe you feel like writing a piece of music that inspires people and leaves them with a feeling of grandeur. If such is the case, keep your song's mood in the triumphant/epic genre. He's a Pirate by Hans Zimmer, showcases this mood perfectly. 

3. Mystery

Ever wanted to make a song which leaves your listeners with a sense of mystery and wonder. Give this mood a shot. With the added touch of solemnity, this Gregorian Chant song perfectly fits this genre.

4. Scary

Perhaps you always wanted to scare people with your music. If so, try this mood. Nazgul Theme from Lord of the Rings is a great example of this. Probably not a good idea to listen to this before going to bed though, unless you don't value your sleep.

5. Peaceful

Maybe you want to create a piece of beauty and relaxation. Try this mood. A River Flows In You by Yiruma captures this atmosphere perfectly. 
6. Magical

Have you ever wanted to transport your listeners to another world, another place. It's time to make use of this mood. This musical piece from World of Warcraft about night elves fits this mood with precision.

7. Happy

If you want to make happy music that's not annoying it might be sort of a challenge, but if you're a classical composer, you have a good chance at making this happen. Listen to The Prince of Denmark's March by Jeremiah Clarke and you'll understand this mood.

I know that's not nearly all the moods, but this covers some of the basics. Also, I know that moods can be combined to create some interesting complex combinations. Experiment with it to see what you can come up with. I'll be back with a post about themes & motifs sometime soon. Good luck composing!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Unlocking the Secret

Key Changes 

The world of composition really opens up when you begin to expand your horizons from simply playing in one key the entire piece to switching keys. Whether briefly, or lasting the rest of the song, key changes have a dramatic effect on your music. A carefully placed key change can bring your piece up to the next level. Do not overlook this composition secret!

1. Key Change (+1)

Changing the key up 1 half step (or 1 note) is a powerful technique to use. It's usually a dramatic change, because the new notes you'll be playing will mostly be completely different from the ones in the previous key. This key change is very useful for giving your piece of music that extra touch at the end.

For an example of this, go to this link to a musical piece I composed called Two Moons Inn. Go to about 2:08 and listen for the majestic key change. 

2. Key Change (+2)

By far the most common, the whole step transition gives your music a beautiful, epic sound. Works great in almost any case. The only problem with this could arise if your instruments or voices cannot reach the new notes because they're so high. Be careful of this. Otherwise, use this key change to add more power to a final chorus, bridge, or ending of your song.

3. Key Change (+3)

Think Lord of the Rings when you think of this key change. This is the key change used in the beginning of the song called the The Fellowship Theme. If you want to make your musical piece way more epic and triumphant sounding, use this key change. 

4. Key Change (+5)

Chronicles of Narnia uses this chord progression masterfully. Go to the following link and listen to this song called The Battle at about 37 seconds in. See if you can catch the key change. It's hard to catch due to the fact that this new key uses many of the same notes as the previous key. 

This key change which, like the previous one, is great for making great soundtrack music, is particularly powerful and effective when going from major to minor. Start with major and then, once you key change up, go to minor. See the amazing results!

5. Key Change (-2)

Very interesting key change. May have the effect of making your music feel like its sinking and that you're traveling deeper underground. Also, can have the effect of giving your piece a Celtic feel due to the fact that it's similar to using the Mixolydian mode. 

6. Key Change (-4)

The one word to describe this key change is eerie. Listen to this music piece I composed called Snow Queen's Palace and you'll see what I mean. Near the very beginning the key changes. See if you can spot it.

If you love to scare people with your music or if you just like composing music for horror films, this key change is certainly one for you to add to your repertoire. 

I know this didn't cover nearly all of the key changes, but, to be honest, I really am not sure what some of the other ones are good for and what they do. I hope to find out more so that I can post a follow up to this. Anyway, thanks for reading. Hope to catch you later with another post!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

When Will It End?

Song Endings 

How do you end a song? Sometimes ending a song can be the most frustrating thing ever. Here's 5 techniques that will help you to complete this task with ease.

1. State of Suspension

Extend the finishing notes to a perfect close. This can also work for songs, with people holding onto the last note longer and then suddenly releasing. Regardless of the type, this is a classic way for ending songs and works really well. When people hear a songs notes holding out longer than usual, they naturally expect the song to end. Don't disappoint them.

2. Loop and Decrease

A popular method when you just can't find out how to get that finishing touch to end a song. Instead of creating a clear ending, just loop the last section of a song over and continue to decrease the volume until nothing can be heard. Soon after that point of nothingness, the song should end. Not a bad technique, and it makes your listeners feel as if your song is not really ending, but rather that they are just moving away from the source of the music. To put it another way, the journey never really ends, but they just aren't a part of it any longer.

3. The Power of Friction

Near the end of your song, slow the tempo down. When people hear the tempo begin to decrease, they know the song is ending. Use this technique and people won't be surprised or mad at you when your song suddenly ends.

4. Clashing Cymbals

End your song with a bang, a clash, or a loud boom. Cymbals, gongs, and timpani crescendos work very well for this. When you use this technique, you are definitely making it easier on yourself. Without much brain power, you just need to find out the right tool that will signal that your song is about to end. It's not too hard, unless of course, you choose to end a really mild or gentle song in this way. Then, you're in trouble. Good luck trying to get a clashing cymbal to finish off your peaceful new age song.

5. Fancy Finale

I'm sure this one is the most well-known. After all, who doesn't want to end a song with a magnificent flourish, showcasing your amazing ability to end songs with style! Almost everybody does. The truth is though, this isn't always the best way to end a song, and, quite frankly, it's definitely one of the hardest, unless you opt for a cliche finale which won't impress anyone. Still, if you manage to create a unique and impressive finale, you will definitely awe your audience. So, keep in mind the other four techniques, but always keep an eye (or perhaps an ear) out for opportunities to implement this one as well.

That was definitely insightful for me. I think I learn more from these posts than even those who read it! Come back soon for another post regarding key changes and how to use them and which ones are the best.

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Stranded on a Desert Island

Movie Composer's Toolbox

Imagine if you were stranded on a desert island and had only one item with you. What would it be? Now imagine you were a film music composer and could only choose one type of instrument for your music. What would it be? 

1. Piano
I'm sure that some of you would pick piano, and this is a very good choice. The piano is one of the most versatile instruments available, and if you need music for a film, this could work--in some situations. The piano is great for suspenseful scenes, romantic scenes, calm, peaceful scenes, and sad scenes. However, if you are making music for a film that's set in Africa or Asia, I don't need to tell you that you probably don't have the right instrument for the job.

2. Violin

Although not quite as versatile as the piano, this instrument should not be overlooked. It can basically capture the same movie scenes as the piano only that it works even better for melancholy moments. If you want people to really be moved by your music, choose the violin. 

3. Drums

I'm not really sure why anyone would choose this, but I'm sure there are some of you who would. And it's not a bad choice. Drums can make great tribal music, suspenseful music, and exotic music. However, by themselves they can't do much more, so this probably isn't the best choice for a solo band to have.

4. Harp
A lot can be done with the harp. It functions similar to the piano, although it has a more dreamy and fantasy feel to it. If you plan on writing music for an enchanted forest, this would be a good choice.

5. Flute

An excellent choice. Can be used in many situations. Flutes can create very sad tunes and also very beautiful ones. Perfect for certain movie scenes.

Though of course this didn't cover nearly all of the selections, this is good enough for now.