Justin

The Composer's Thread

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2 hours ago, KK said:

Here's something I worked on last summer that's finally up! The film is pretty out there, so I got the chance to try some neat things with a small ensemble. Quite enjoyed the process and would love to hear your thoughts!

 

 

I really liked it!  I liked how organic it felt in its development rather than disjunct as many film scores might feel.  It would be nice to see the film but definitely another solid work from you.  Was this the one that you had a budget for a live session?  I really like that you didn't try to go big but stayed within the framework you set out for yourself right from the start.  Sometimes it is easier to go big.  You have a natural talent and have reinforced my opinion that this is one of my favorite threads on jwfan.

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Thanks Karelm! That means a lot! Tried to score most of the film as one long musical sequence, and that hopefully gave that organic quality you mentioned. And I wanted to work with a small ensemble (a woodwind sextet of sorts, give or take some other colours) and see what I could get with just that. And yes, we had a little money for a session again! Which really helps, because you just have a lot more variables to work with using live musicians over a computer.

 

And the film is doing the whole festival circuit right now (with some good buzz, if I may add). But here's a teaser, if you were curious!

 

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22 hours ago, KK said:

Here's something I worked on last summer that's finally up! The film is pretty out there, so I got the chance to try some neat things with a small ensemble. Quite enjoyed the process and would love to hear your thoughts!

 

Very nice! The music has a well-balanced structure and it kept me genuinely interested throughout.

 

If I were to give one critical comment, it would be that the vibraphone from 4:52 has a weird placement of "non-harmonic tones" which obscure the rest of the layers for a short while. There is nothing wrong with non-harmonic tones in the right context, but in this particular case I struggle to hear the logic behind them.

 

But that is me being very harsh! 

 

My favourite part was the clarinet+violin(?) glissandi from about 3:18 onwards...which sound amazing.

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4 hours ago, Loert said:

 

Very nice! The music has a well-balanced structure and it kept me genuinely interested throughout.

 

If I were to give one critical comment, it would be that the vibraphone from 4:52 has a weird placement of "non-harmonic tones" which obscure the rest of the layers for a short while. There is nothing wrong with non-harmonic tones in the right context, but in this particular case I struggle to hear the logic behind them.

 

But that is me being very harsh! 

 

My favourite part was the clarinet+violin(?) glissandi from about 3:18 onwards...which sound amazing.

 

But since this is actually a film score, you don't know if that non-harmonic tone is warranted.  That might actually be a subtle dramatic tension or hit.

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7 hours ago, TGP said:

Why is this not one of the best original score nominees this year?

 

bc7.png

 

5 hours ago, Loert said:

 

Very nice! The music has a well-balanced structure and it kept me genuinely interested throughout.

 

If I were to give one critical comment, it would be that the vibraphone from 4:52 has a weird placement of "non-harmonic tones" which obscure the rest of the layers for a short while. There is nothing wrong with non-harmonic tones in the right context, but in this particular case I struggle to hear the logic behind them.

 

But that is me being very harsh! 

 

My favourite part was the clarinet+violin(?) glissandi from about 3:18 onwards...which sound amazing.

 

Cheers Loert!! Appreciate the feedback! And good point about the non-harmonic tones, though in this case, as karelm pointed out, I was trying to hit a certain beat at that point.

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Putting this here because I don't know where else:

 

so, since I'm reading the Wagner Ring scores currently, a technical question concerning notation. There are times in the score, where sections are written in different meters. It makes sense in most cases, but sometimes, I don't know what to make of it. Like there is a passage in the final act of Götterdämmerung, where violins are notated in 2/2, but for each bar of the violins, the bar for woodwinds and brass is notated in two separate bars with what seems to be 3/4 or 9/8. 

Even If you assume triplets (which are not notated), it would still mean that bars of 4/4 (2/2) are written on top of bars with a total value of 6/4.

How does that gel with each other?

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Interesting observation! If I'm thinking of the right part that you mean, he's bringing together several themes/leitmotifs there, stacked in top of each other, and while the faster lines the woodwinds somewhat necessitate the quicker 9/8 bar, I'm guessing he didn't want to subdivide the long held notes in the strings or change the meter of that theme (16ths vs triplets accentuating the coexistence of the themes there rather than making them "work together" by locking up where the short note values are). By the vertical alignment it is clear for the conductor how to organize this with the orchestra (though I'm guessing he'll have to rehearse that specific thing, if the orchestra isn't familiar with it). A Musical intention vs notational practicality thing basically, different composers have very different approaches to things like this.

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4 hours ago, gkgyver said:

Putting this here because I don't know where else:

 

so, since I'm reading the Wagner Ring scores currently, a technical question concerning notation. There are times in the score, where sections are written in different meters. It makes sense in most cases, but sometimes, I don't know what to make of it. Like there is a passage in the final act of Götterdämmerung, where violins are notated in 2/2, but for each bar of the violins, the bar for woodwinds and brass is notated in two separate bars with what seems to be 3/4 or 9/8. 

Even If you assume triplets (which are not notated), it would still mean that bars of 4/4 (2/2) are written on top of bars with a total value of 6/4.

How does that gel with each other?

Personally, I think this should be in the quick question thread but anyway, this is not very unusual.  Hindemith does this in his popular Symphonic Metamorphosis where the percussion is in different meter from the rest of the orchestra.  Similar in Ravel's orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition, in the great gate of kiev there are multiple meters.  These are tricky but not unusual sections to navigate and do require extra rehearsal time.  Basically, a section is in a different meter than the rest of the orchestra.  In Thomas Ades's Asyla, Marin Alsop commented that she is the only one who is keeping the beat as written because each instrument has its own meter.  Of course, at times the conductor's role is to make sure everyone lands at the same spot.

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9 hours ago, gkgyver said:

But how does that work from a pure tempo perspective, if you have different lengths on top of each other?

You don't have different tempos on top of each other.  You have different meters.  Done often.  Check this excerpt from Goldenthal in Aliens 3 (pay attention to the percussion rhythms) all at the same tempo but different rhythms/meters:

 

This sort of stuff is in Mussorgsky/Ravel, Varese, Stravinsky, Ades, it's common stuff in contemporary music. 

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24 minutes ago, gkgyver said:

There is 4/4 and 6/4 on top of each other, which would result in different lengths if the tempo is the Same.

 

Only if "tempo is the same" is taken to imply "all crotchets have the same duration".

 

But if it is the bars which are understood to have the same duration - which aligned bars surely must - then the crotchets in your 6/4 bar must have only two-thirds of the duration of those in the 4/4 bar.

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2 hours ago, gkgyver said:

I don't think you understand what I mean. There is 4/4 and 6/4 on top of each other, which would result in different lengths if the tempo is the Same.

 

Yes, that is what I was talking about.  Like this example from Pictures at an Exhibition where the top is 2/2 and the bottom is 6/4 so 4 beats at the top and 6 beats at the bottom.  The conductor will conduct this in two:

 

PAE.jpg

 

Here is the accompanying audio and you see the conductor is in two so beat 3 on the top lines up with beat 4 on the bottom:

 

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14 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

How do you work together when composing? Do you both work on the same cues, or do you write separately?

 

On projects like this we work together for sure! We find that having two heads rather than one can help propel some ideas to something beyond what you might have come up with on your own. Of course, it does lead to the occasional moment where you feel like your own idea genuinely is better (!), but on the whole it probably also speeds up the process slightly - anything that may have been weird or on a tangent to the overall music arc has usually already been corrected at the source rather than much further on :)

 

That's of course not to say that you don't occasionally end up with other scenarios though... ;)

 

 

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6 hours ago, The Psycho Pianist said:

 

On projects like this we work together for sure! We find that having two heads rather than one can help propel some ideas to something beyond what you might have come up with on your own. Of course, it does lead to the occasional moment where you feel like your own idea genuinely is better (!), but on the whole it probably also speeds up the process slightly - anything that may have been weird or on a tangent to the overall music arc has usually already been corrected at the source rather than much further on :)

 

That's of course not to say that you don't occasionally end up with other scenarios though... ;)

 

 

 

Interesting. How do you solve disagreements? Do each of you get a set of cues that you're responsible for, and therefore has the right to make final decisions?

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15 hours ago, Jurassic Shark said:

 

Interesting. How do you solve disagreements? Do each of you get a set of cues that you're responsible for, and therefore has the right to make final decisions?

 

We just kind of, work through them - all the decisions are made purely on a give-take basis on the moment. As we both write together we don't usually have that process of being responsible for certain cues etc, although on occasion we have tried delegating "motifs" to be written individually then brought into the joint writing. This didn't really change the process though - usually you end up with something that sounds better than what you came up with originally!

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