Useful Learning Resources / Didactica Update
I had all sorts of plans for Didactica over the holiday break. Unfortunately, The Day Job had other plans and I ended up working pretty much everyday except Christmas and New Year. Total sh*t situation, but maybe the experience will provide more incentive toward change...
I did manage to work in some time for self-directed studies. There are a couple of resources on YouTube that I have found really helpful for learning about "Epic" Orchestration:
- Daniel James - Young composer specializing in sound design and music for film, video games, and trailers. He runs a website (HybridTwo) and has a commercially available sample library called 'Project Alpha'. I would love to be able to use similar words to describe myself in a few years! (Minus the 'young' bit of course.)
Daniel's YouTube videos are extremely useful. First of all, he walks through many orchestral sample libraries, so if you want an in-depth look at using CineSamples' CineBrass, or Spitfire's Albion series (and many others), this is the place to go. Even better, for each walkthrough he composes a small (usually Epic) orchestral piece and then walks through how he put it together, how it layers with other libraries, etc. I've learned a lot just by listening to him describe his compositional approach, production techniques, etc. He gives a lot back to the community, and I hope he continues to find the time to do so. (And a shout out to his Project Alpha. The Hybrid Scoring Instrument market has a lot of big names in it. I wish him luck with this.)
- Alex Pfeffer - Young composer, arranger and sound designer. Alex is a very recent find and doesn't offer as many tutorial videos as Daniel. However, I have found what's there to be quite helpful in a very practical sense. His website gives a nice overview of his work.
Based on the above, I tried a technique Alex covers in one of his videos for setting up interesting staccato string patterns. I'll be damned if it didn't make sense! I quickly set something up, and I have decided to develop it further.
Couple of things: This is definitely a Work in Progress. I also uploaded only Strings. (I have a version with some Brass in it now, but it sounds simply awful.) Lastly, it's only 45 seconds structured as A-B-B-A, no real variation yet. Anyway, enough chatter, here is the rough draft:
Things I want to the piece include:
- Add brass.
- Double the length, develop another distinct section
- Add percussion or some sort of percussive rhythmic element.
- Decompose this to distinct instrument parts to eliminate the "problem" described below.
(My wife thinks I should leave it alone and move on...that I tend to make things a bit too complicated given where I am at in my learning and my time constraints. Then I don't finish it and get frustrated. Given this list, she may have a point...)
One other thing to note: I used ensemble patches for this quick mock-up, so chords "stack" unnaturally. For example, every note of the strings is a full ensemble (depending on the octave: 6 double basses, 7 cellos, 7 violas, 8 second violins and 12 first violins). Therefore a sufficiently open five note chord could theoretically "stack" to create 120 separate stringed instruments playing simultaneously. (Impactful, but not too realistic.) If the lines were spread among individual string patches, an open five note chord would sound like 5 strings playing, not 120 (and you could work in more nuance with pan, timing and expression variations between each instrument further adding to realism). Neither approach is "right" or "wrong" per se; It just depends on what you are after.
In any case, more on this later...much later in all likelihood as the next few weeks at The Day Job promise to be a bear...