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Sweet rendition of the Millennial Fair in Minecraft

You know what’s not a good idea?  Busting out a bunch of ideas, having a good idea of what’s coming next, and then not working on your project for a month and a half.  Man, I thought that I’d either continue working on this piece either before my cruise or directly afterwards, but instead I got back and started and completed “Mr. AC,” resulting in completely neglecting this tune.

That’s not to say that I didn’t get back to it until today.  There were a couple nights in the past couple of weeks that I tried to wrench those old ideas out to no avail.  I mostly came up with stuff that was a) not a fit, b) cheesy, or c) a little of both (I’ll admit it: it was mostly the third).  Sometimes I think that you just have to churn something out and move on, but I liked what I had done on this piece enough not to do that.

The crux was waiting until I was in a mood to compose.  The past couple of days have been nice here in Virginia Beach, giving me an extra mood boost and influencing me to do a little writing.  I didn’t start by working on “Fanfare,” either; instead, I spent some time writing ideas for other tunes, and when I felt like I was in a good spot, I went back to “Fanfare” and tried to break the wall.

Here’s the result:

And here it is on SoundCloud.

*Note: The spot where it loops (2:58) and the end has a weird, quick decrescendo—that’s a product of Finale that I couldn’t get around and will not be in the final cut.
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If you recall, 2:15 was where I ended last time.  The plan was to continue the theme of having the brass be at the forefront of the piece as if they had barged into the woodwinds’ party unexpectedly, and then the woodwinds were going to come back in and everyone would be having a good time playing together.  I essentially executed that vision, but not in a way that I was expecting.

The hardest part was deciding how to keep the vibe of the tune with all of brass entering.  Most of my failed attempts were to the tune of trying to transition immediately to the trombones, which were to function as the bass clarinet had been up to that point.  I was to make a kind of dance break that featured the trombones and hand claps.  It seemed like a pretty straightforward and executable idea, but everything that I seemed to come up with made the tune feel very heavy and not very dance-like.

I had been thinking about my approach away from the computer and decided to try going with that which I did for the woodwinds, which was to start with what would function as the clarinet of section: the trumpet.  After fooling around a bit, I came up with half of what you hear in this draft.  The melody is based on the original clarinet in that it is comprised of short, tight notes that are spaced with a little breathing room.

From there I basically built each part as it builds in the tune.  The only exception is that the trumpet part used to be a two-bar phrase, not a four-bar one, and I didn’t add in the second two bars until I was halfway done with this blog (thus the “2.5” label).  It’s amazing what can just randomly pop up in the mind sometimes.

Here are some items that I’m thinking about working on for the next release:

  1. Add in grace notes – I just totally forgot to go back and add grace notes in the new trumpet part.
  2. Manage the volume levels – For a loopable piece, the volume level of the “all-in” part is just too loud.  I don’t think that what you hear now will sound good in a game, nor do I think the difference between that and the return to the bass clarinet line sounds good.  The difference is simply too great.  I’m also very excited to make this part less muddy when I mix it in Logic–it seems like it might be quite challenging.
  3. Review percussion parts – A typical item on my to-do list, I’m going to listen through a few times to see if I can vary the percussion parts up a bit like I did for the last draft.  It’s so easy just to loop those because they serve as really nice-sounding placeholders; but, as I always say, the difference between a good piece and a great one is in the details, and I’m not happy with settling for convenience’s sake (especially on a tune with no real deadline!).
  4. Continue thinking about the transition at 2:15 – I’m not sold on the dropout at 2:15.  I like the build-up and everything, but after having a drop just a handful of measures back, I’m anxious that it doesn’t sound as good as it could.  Sometimes time heals these worries, so we’ll see what I decide to do when I get back to working on it!

As always, thanks for listening—I’d love to hear your feedback in the comments section!

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