Tuesday, March 28, 2017

March Music - Musescore 2 Experiments

Over the past few weeks, I've been getting quite a lot of interesting melodic snippets popping up at random times (and much more frequently than in the past). So, I've taken to firing up Musescore and jotting them down while they're fresh (and also, since a lot of these just sound so neat when done this way). Plus, earlier in the month, I finally upgraded to version 2.0 at last, which has brought with it a lovely new Soundfont (based on Fluid; I especially love the Piano and Marimba sounds on this; the Flute could still be better on long notes, and I still don't dare to touch any of the Strings as they typically sound dreadful XD); that and the awesome "Continous Mode".

Here are two of the more "complete" pieces I managed to bash out using this (today's one is first, followed by an older one from week or two ago).

Maybe it's because it's still fresh from today, but I'm currently still quite addicted to listening to the first one (the second one too still; but that one was more of a thing last week). It's got this "classic Thomas Newman" sound to it (American Beauty perhaps?) - I suspect that maybe it's just the combination of the winding oboe tune with the percussive marimba stuff?

Speaking of the Marimba, damn, that's an awesome instrument! I remember attending the National Concerto semis/finals a few years ago, and seeing an amazing Japanese girl playing a concerto for marimba. That thing was captivating and spellbinding: there are just so many rich tone colours your can get out of that thing - often by just varying the mallets used, plus, it's just very interesting seeing the performer clutching multiple sticks in their hands spreading and waving them over the keys.

But, what impressed and has stuck with me the most has been how it can be used to create the "trembling, stationary-but-resonant air" effect that I first heard in Thomas Newman's work, and had spent years trying to imitate/recreate. Naturally, many of those attempts failed miserably. My closest attempt, in the opening to one of my Year 12 music assignments, still fell well short of the mark - unfortunately, my pianist friend never really managed to nail the non-orthodox technique, resulting in the sound coming out more like an oppressive "Jaws"-like ostinato; naturally, our teacher really didn't like that very much haha ;)

Regarding the non-orthodox technique I was referring to:  Basically, instead of hitting each note with a hammer-like precision, you take a "string-player" approach (since that's my experience/expertise and training), and start doing vibrato on the keys, right at the pressure point where you feel the key start to push back against you, which is where it starts touching the strings (AFAIK). Once you identify that point, the idea is that you just gently apply a sort of pulsing movement to the key in the rhythm specified, powered by the joint between the fingertip and the big joint in each finger. That said, I've come to realise that perhaps this technique ends up damaging the piano, as the corresponding key on the upright at home doesn't work anymore, since I've been doing this a bit on it lol XD

Anyway, I find it quite surprising how sometimes you can get insane bursts of creativity (or a need to create art in some form other than what you're constantly dealing with day in, day out). It particularly seems to happen the most when you're most busy working hard on some soul sapping, dull, or otherwise tedious projects... That's certainly been the case for me over the past few weeks as I've been working on writing up my thesis (I'm getting there, but still so much to do :(

Finally, here's one other example of a little piece a bashed out quickly one day. In fact, it's the first thing I made after installing the new version, while trying to get a feel for whatever changes had been made to the note input workflow (I can't put my finger on it, but it's a bit smoother now - not perfect, but a lot less clunky than it was). This little piece is certainly quite a stylistic departure from most of the stuff I usually do, but it was just so much fun deliberately and purposefully clobbering notes together in ways that traditional western music theory says you "shouldn't" (Yeah right! :P  It sounds perfectly fine to my ears! ;)


  1. I did listen to your first and second melody. And to be honest I was very surprised since I was felt transport to some kind of ancient world while listening the first one. I was like living at the same era of Aladdin.... Interesting

    Nicely done both Aligorith