August 30, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 12: Echo, Echo

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

Audio effects are things which are added to sound with the purpose of warping the sound in some way, and up until this point, I haven’t talked about them very much. This is partially due to the fact that I don’t generally use a lot of audio effects in my recordings, but it’s also because I’m just not very good at using most audio effects properly. However, there’s one category of effects that is vital for a composer to try and understand; the echo.
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August 26, 2011

Wii Game Character

Filed under: Video Games — Screenhog @ 4:01 pm

Two years ago, I made a post about how much I wanted to create a Wii game. Well, I’d still like to make that Wii game some day, and this is the main character:

Wanna see him in a game? Well, you’ll still have to keep waiting. Mech Mice is consuming most of my work hours right now. But I’m warning you, world, some day he’ll be in a game, and it will be awesome.

August 23, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 11: Lessons from a Shark

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

Jaws was a film made in 1975. Directed by Steven Spielberg, it was the story of a shark that terrorized the ocean, and was arguably the first movie to introduce the world to one of the best composers in the film industry, John Williams.

The soundtrack for Jaws is filled with sweeping orchestral arrangements, original themes for the main characters 1, and a high level of musical craftsmanship. However, when you think of the music in Jaws, what is the only thing you remember about it?


You don’t have to know a thing about playing a musical instrument to play the theme to Jaws. Just find a piano, pick a note on the far left-hand side, find the note directly above it, and play those notes alternately, increasing in speed and volume. And yet, it’s one of the most famous movie themes in history. Ridiculous, isn’t it?

But what can we learn from this?
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  1. When a character in a movie or play has a specific theme relating to them, it’s called a “leitmotif”. John Williams uses a lot of these in his movies, and the technique brings a great deal of consistency to his work.

August 16, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 10: Occupational Hazards

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

Composing music is a pretty safe job. We’re not working hundreds of feet above or below the ground, we’re not handling dangerous machinery, and no one will die if we do our job wrong. It is a job with very few hazards… but there are still hazards. Here’s a list of some of them, with some solutions of how to combat them.

Hazard #1: You’ve come up with a great song, but you have no place to record it.

Contrary to what some might think, composers do not just stop composing when they’re away from an instrument. In fact, I come up with some of my best songs when I’m doing pretty random things. Showering, washing dishes, driving, having a picnic… you never know when a great song will strike you, but what do you do when there’s no place to record it?

The solution is to always have some way to record it. Most cell phones have some kind of ability to download applications. I have one myself called “Tape-a-Talk”, which was designed for recording audio like a dictaphone. If I come up with a song, wherever I am, I can take a moment to hum it into my cell phone, recording it for later.

However, a cell phone isn’t the only thing that I’ve used for this purpose. For instance, one day I was walking to a church picnic, when I came up with a great song idea. I didn’t have a cell phone with me, but I did have digital camera that could take short video clips. So, I recorded myself humming into the camera. That melody later became my song Cumulonimbus (which can be heard in the Music Player).
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August 9, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 9: MIDI Trickery

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 1:00 am

For this chapter, I’m assuming that you know the difference between MIDI and wave audio. If you don’t, search online for a refresher of how it works.

MIDI, while quite misunderstood by many, is an extremely powerful tool for recording. Because it only records the data of how an instrument should be played, it’s easy to edit and finetune a recording to your liking. However, you might not realize that certain MIDI tricks can make you a better performer than you actually are.
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August 2, 2011

An Orchestra of One – Chapter 8: Song – Hunt for the Orb

Filed under: Music,Orchestra of One,Writing — Screenhog @ 9:23 am

A few weeks ago, I linked to a video that showed Mech Mice, the project I’m working on for Rocketsnail Games. The background music was part of a larger song I was working on, and here is the finished song 1 (you can also find the song added to the Music Player).

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

Now, I’ve been giving composing advice for the last two months. Would you like to see how I used my own advice to help compose this song? (If not, just enjoy the music… if yes, click the link below.)
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  1. This song is owned by Rocketsnail Games. Used here with permission.

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