The works below are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2013 Gregory Weaver.
The day that I started writing “A New Horizon” was a day that bore more fruit than just that tune. In fact, I ended up producing skeletons of two other tunes, each with its own, different feel. Throughout the week I’ve been touching up those tunes and today I finished up my work with them; plus, I wound up mixing one other tune that I had started a while back but never got around to revisiting. Let’s take a look!
As you probably have read before, I enjoy exploring new instruments and sounds by loading up the samples on Logic and just playing around with them using my MIDI controller. “Kalimba” was birthed that way; I established the groove of the piece by using none other than a kalimba sample and cruised from there.
The tune was built the same way that you hear it develop. One groove was made, then I thought of what should go atop that, etc. I really like the Logic sample “South African Singers” and it seemed to fit right into the sound of the kalimba, so I wrote that vocal part (though, it’s more of a different texture than a ‘vocal part’). Really, this was one of those tunes that just fell together. If you get the chance, listen to it with headphones–I had a good time playing with the panning, and I think it adds more to the atmosphere if you can experience that element of the piece.
The only thing that took some time was mixing it and getting it to sound the way I want it to. Interestingly enough, I’m still not sure if I like how it’s mixed, and the reason for that is I’m not really sure how the tune sounds on the ‘general device.’ I know what it sounds like through my Sennheiser HD598s, I know what it sounds like through my Apple display, and I know what it sounds like through my MacBook Pro speakers. The issue is that my headphones are fantastic and the Apple products’ speakers are horrible; therefore, while the mix may sound great for stereo headphones, I don’t really know what it sounds like in the open air on normal speakers. I’m especially worried about the volume levels… If the mix sounds crazy or terrible on your device, definitely let me know what you’re hearing!
“Hypothesis 209” (Sabbatical Tune #2)
Back in middle and high school, I really liked to play “Dance Dance Revolution,” and that resulted in me having a sort of ‘techno phase.’ Flash forward to now, I finally have written my first techno tune, and I had a blast doing it. Again, “Hypothesis 209” began with me playing around with the synth sounds in Logic. The difference from this instance and “Kalimba” is, however, that I wanted to play with the synth sounds because I wanted to make an electronic piece, not just because I wanted to play around with a new sound.
The challenge with writing electronic tunes is that their production value is such a huge part of their overall sound. I felt like the tune needed to sound immersive and so I took a lot of care to place each sample used in its own place sonically–if I’m in a club to dance (…’cause I, uh, do that a lot… yup…) I want to feel completely enveloped in the sound of the music, so of course I’m going to do my best to make my listeners feel the same way. To that extent, this is another ‘best with headphones’ piece, unless you have a nice set of stereo speakers.
One other thing that I was sure to do with this piece is to go back afterwards and edit my drum part so that the beat isn’t one static line. Yes, I could have done much more to vary it, but I wanted more focus to be on the melodic lines, leaving the drums to pulse along. For this tune, the beat’s infectious enough to me as it is, though I will constantly keep in mind the need to switch things up for future pieces.
PS: My favorite part was writing in the organ. I really wanted to find a place for it!
“Lullaby” (Sabbatical Tune #3)
“Lullaby” was more like a nightmare to me (har). It started off with an improvisation using the “Blues Acoustic” guitar sample on Logic, and I pretty much had the whole tune written after a bit of doing that. However, I don’t read piano rolls well, so I really felt the need to input the tune into Finale before continuing in order to see a score in front of me. Problem number one was that the improvisation was extremely messy, and to make any sense of it I had to listen to the mess a lot more than I would have liked, pick out what was good, and then shape that good stuff into something that makes sense.
You know what’s painful? Shifting from Logic to Finale and back to Logic and then back to Finale to write a score. I wound up buying another USB connector so that I could use my old M-Audio controller with one computer to write on Finale while using my main setup to use Logic. This made things only a little easier at the time (though it will make other things a lot easier in the future).
It still was a painful process because of what I mentioned above. Clearly, this wasn’t supposed to be a big undertaking–it was only meant to be a simple rubato solo guitar melody, which made working with it all the more frustrating. Yet, even after I fished out the good stuff and manipulated my Finale score to make things more cohesive, I had to input more new stuff and edit more old stuff even more in Logic. Then, I had to fix the velocities of most of the notes in the tune so that the dynamics sounded smooth and natural.
Okay, I’m done complaining. This piece is very simple, but it required a lot of work. All in all, I’m glad I put the time into it because I learned a few Logic functions along the way and I think I improved my understanding of how to best edit note velocities, not to mention I’m glad I wrote for solo guitar. If you would like the sheet music, I’d be happy to supply you with it!
Thanks for listening! Let me know what you think in the comments section below!