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Mid-April Status Update

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The works below are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2013 Gregory Weaver.

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Cat’s out of the bag: I don’t work 24/7 all the time.
Here Jen and I are enjoying the cherry blossoms in our nation’s capital.

Hey everyone,

I haven’t posted in about a week and a half, so I thought I’d better give you an update.

First, the music stuff: I am in the process of both remastering old tunes and writing new ones. In fact, I have a list of two tunes to remaster and nine tunes to finish writing, which is a lot of stuff. You might think that I may have spread myself too thin and to that I say you might be correct, haha.

The dilemma is one that isn’t old; namely, I’m caught between wanting to finish up tunes and churn out new ideas. Finishing is two-dimensional problem that I imagine many of us aspiring artists have: one, I always ask myself, ‘Is this even worth finishing?’, and two, I sometimes feel like I’m spending too much time on one idea rather than creating fresh ones, which makes me think of number one’s question again. The answer to that question, by the way, is ‘YES’ 95% of the time simply because I need to practice finishing writing as well as the whole production gig. I refuse to abandon these tunes even though I get scatterbrained and succumb to writing new ideas instead often. The answer to the second? Simply get better and faster, which is done by finishing tunes, and stay focused. And you may think that have a list of nine tunes to finish would warrant me saying enough is enough, leading me to blast through finishing one or two, but no… no, that doesn’t work; no urge to create new things is assuaged.

But hey, the remastered version of “Fanfare and Jubilee” is coming along. Check out what it sounds like at the end of today. Lots of work still needs to be done, of course, including adjusting dynamics, volume levels, articulations, and more, but I think you’ll like it:

Original: 

Remastered:
As for new stuff, one point of note is that I’m trying to write tunes that are a little longer, have more space, and are less dependent on being driven by one stand-out melody. More

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Sabba4 (Draft 1.0) & Eliminating Emptiness

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The works below are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2013 Gregory Weaver.

space colony

When I’m feeling a little down about new stuff that I’m making on a certain day, sometimes I tell myself to go work on a jazz-influenced piece since that’s the music that I have the most experience performing and listening to.  Sometimes forcing myself to work on a jazz piece produces the beginnings of a new tune that I like and sometimes it doesn’t; but when the results are positive, I end up with tunes like “Mr. A.C. (Keep Your Cool)” and my latest, the tentatively titled “Sabba4” (short for Sabbatical Tune #4, but I’ve also come to like it as a title ‘cause it sounds all space sector-y).

Here’s what I have so far for the first part of it:

Sabba4″ on SoundCloud

I pretty much got the first 30 seconds over and done with one day and then moved on to do the next bit a day or two later.  Using Finale I wrote the vibes melody first and then created the harmony, etc., and when I put it in Logic I noticed something: there was a distinct emptiness in the second part that wasn’t in the first (or so my ears told me—you may disagree).  Take a listen to the parts I’m talking about back-to-back:

OLD CUT: 

NEW CUT: 

Do you hear what I hear?  There is a significant energy to the piece that seems to drop out starting at :10, and it’s not because of the lack of a piano as a whole.  I chalked it up to the bass duplicating the vibes too much, the open feel of the drums, and the downward harmonic movement of the guitar chords leading into the open sound of the line after it (i.e., everything).

The question of whether it sounds fine as a piece of music wasn’t what was bothering me because yeah, I think that the old cut sounds good.  However, I think there is just too much space and the energy suffers due to it.

Writing for a game, that’s a problem.  Or, at the very least, writing a piece like this without a particular situation in mind from the beginning, it’s a problem.  Music for a game needs to continuously add to whatever the player is experiencing because it is tied to and thus affects that experience directly.  If the music somehow shifts the mood to an odd gear in the middle of a situation, it most certainly has the ability to detract from the situation and make it less believable or authentic. More

Sabbatical Tune #1 – A New Horizon (Draft 1.0)

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View of the sunrise from atop Fuji-san (my only "horizon" photo)

Me atop Fuji-san at sunrise

Creative Commons License

The works below are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2013 Gregory Weaver.

This week has already started off better than last in terms of productivity as it pertains to my sabbatical. While last required a lot of housekeeping and getting settled in to my new place, this week should lean a lot more on the music side of things, and to kick this productivity cycle into gear, I’ve decided to share with you an early draft of my first sabbatical tune, “A New Horizon.”

The idea behind the tune’s a bit corny: I wanted to sit down and write the first thing that came to mind while thinking about this new adventure that I’ve set out on. Not only was it the easiest thing to think about at the time to get myself simply to write (after all, I’m in a brand new place living a completely different lifestyle), but  that situation is often relatable to video game characters. The way it’s come out, I think that this particular tune could be used situationally (e.g., the main character makes his or her first step in their new quest) or even possibly as a “world map” sort of theme.

Per usual, please excuse the poor instrument samples, as I am writing this first in Finale. There’re also bits of dynamics and articulations added here and there, but they’re not really to be taken seriously at this point. Sometimes when working in Finale you have to force yourself to add the details before you’re done with your first complete sketch to make up for the muddiness of the samples, etc.


And if you prefer, here’s a link to it on SoundCloud.

As is the idea, the theme’s a bit cheesy, too. If you don’t think that, then awesome, but as I was sketching it out in a reduced piano form, I was honestly a bit uneasy about releasing the idea to the public, haha. I wanted to stick with it, though, because not only did I just want to practice my orchestration, I thought that maybe I could orchestrate the piece in a way that enhanced it to the point where the listener would forget or become unaware of the cheese. As a result, I’m happy with what I have so far and am eager to continue working on it. More

Interludes: Three for August

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.

I’ve decided to birth a new post prefix – “Interludes” – which will represent blips of ideas that may or may not make it to “draft” status for the purpose of this blog.  I have a ton of ideas jotted down, but I don’t necessarily want to focus on completely fleshing them out right now.  That being said, I don’t want it to seem like I’m not producing anything relevant by not posting!  And, of course, I love sharing what I write with you, my readers and listeners, and leaving you with nothing for relatively long stretches of time just kind of, for lack of a better word, sucks (for us both!).  By the way, if you like a particular tune and want to hear more, the best way to get me to keep working on it faster than anything else is simply to comment—keep that in mind!

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The first up out of my piddling is “Streets of L.A.”:

“Streets of L.A.” (SoundCloud)

When starting something new with no immediate ideas floating around, I trend towards messing around with a particular instrument.  Typically that instrument is of the orchestral variety, but on the day I wrote this tune I wanted to go for something different.  I thought to make something electronic and played around with a bunch of synth pads first—clearly, I didn’t stick to that road.  Instead, I wound up wanting to play with an electric bass and came up with the bass line that you hear.

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Fanfare and Jubilee (Draft 2.5)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.

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.

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Fanfare and Jubilee (Draft 1.0)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been so long since I’d posted my preview draft of this tune, but alas, it has.  The good news is that I was able to buckle down for a couple of hours yesterday and shell out a draft that I deem worthy of the “v1.0” label.  Check it, if you will:

 You may also listen on SoundCloud.

I don’t know what the deal was, but when I started to work on this tune again I couldn’t shake the notion of having the bridge go minor.  It was my intention to keep everything light and super major when I started, yet when I sat down all of my ideas were shying away from that goal.  I blame the fact that in my description of the scene last post I wrote something about an assassination attempt—at one point while writing something I ended up scrapping I had even thought that if I just slowed down what I wrote it could be some kind of sinister theme that would be great if the dignitary introduced by the fanfare was actually a tyrant!  Then I snapped back to reality and remembered that wasn’t really the point of this tune.  In any case, I think that the mood stays rather jubilant, despite it taking a different turn.

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Fanfare and Jubilee (Draft 0.5)

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2012 Gregory Weaver.


Before I begin, no, this new tune is not based on the picture to the right.  I thought it would be nice to have a graphic on the post, so I did an image search for “fanfare” on Google and, lo and behold, there was the white rabbit from Alice in Wonderland with my initials on his chest (it might be a bib) blowing a trumpet on the top row.  What are the odds??

Shortly after I finished up my latest draft of “Gumshoes” I quickly inputed a few new ideas into Logic and Finale.  “Fanfare and Jubilee” is one of those.  It actually started off solely as a fanfare – I wanted to do a brass quintet-like piece – but something made me veer off into a different territory, namely the jubilee part, which now is the focus of the tune.

Take a listen to my first minute and a quarter or so–it’ll give you a good idea of the piece’s flavour:

(or, as always, you can listen on SoundCloud)

Imagine: A player walks around a city and triggers an FMV of a procession.  A king or hero or what have you is announced by the brass at the start of a festival and the crowd is snapped to attention.  Following the appearance of the figure, shenanigans ensue–it’s a party!  Woo!  Everyone go have fun!

That’s the idea.  Then you go and try to assassinate the figure amidst the parading and festivaling or something.  Sorry, thems the dregs of some video games; your character just can’t stop and have fun playing minigames or anything–what do you think this is, 1996?

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