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Playing Catch-up

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Aside from my review of Journey, for the past month and a half you all haven’t heard much out of me, and I apologize for that.  My full-time job is running the operations/logistics of a show in Norfolk, VA, called the Virginia International Tattoo, which is essentially an annual international military band and cultural act show that features around 850 performers in groups from various countries (this year we had eight: US, Canada, UK, Australia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Belgium, Albania).  In short, the groups are here for ten days doing rehearsals, education outreach events, and performances, but it takes all year to nail down the details.  Work really starts to get busy in February, exponentially increases from then through their stay at the end of April, and remains busy through May and the beginning of June as we do wrap-up.  Here’s the first eleven minutes of this year’s show on YouTube–try it; thousands like it!

I’d like to relax a bit and plan things out and get going full speed ahead with the blog again, but I think I’ll have to build up before I hit my stride ala three posts a month.  Not only did I lose touch with the blog, I lost touch with the rest of the gaming world, not to mention my musical endeavours.  In fact, it was actually quite a miracle that I was able to focus on and get out the Journey review on time.

That being said, I’m playing catch-up.  I have one of those reading list aps on my browser, so I’ve been going through the links I’ve accrued… lots of the stuff is actually from January, heh.  Here’s what I’ve been checking out:

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Theme for the Woods (Draft 3)

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2011 Gregory Weaver.

 
It’s been a long time comin’, but I’ve finally finished a decent draft of my first project for the blog.  The tune has taken a leap from being 1:14 to 4:42, mostly with the help of repeating some sections.  Accompanied with the old sections, though, are a new section, some new transitions, and some additional instrumentation within some of the repeats.

As an added bonus, at the end of the MP3 you’ll hear a couple extra ideas that I have for some further work.  I was originally going to try and incorporate the first part of it into this draft, but thought it was best if I didn’t for time’s sake.
 

(you can also follow me on SoundCloud now; I posted the draft there, as well)
 
So there you have it!  For now I’m going to move on to something else because I feel like I’ve been working on this tune for too long.  The funny thing is, though, I’ve only worked on the draft for a maximum of three hours per release, so this is something that should have been done in about two days.  Anyway, that I’m going to stop doesn’t mean, however, that this draft it the final one by any means.  There are a few more steps that I have to take and questions that I have to ask myself, some of which are:
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VGM or Not? #2: Merry Christmas!

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Okay.  Right.  I KNOW YOU KNOW.  I just had to put that [ultra killin’] Christmas cheer out there.  I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Festivus, etc., and an exciting New Year!  You’ll likely get a number of posts from me after today (since I have multiple days off from work), so look forward to them.  This year I’m resolving to post at least four times a month (most months).

And to close out the post… one of my all-time favorite Christmas songs…

HIT IT, STEVIE!

SoundRadar Interview with Greg Edmonson

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I just checked out GamesRadar.com’s new VGM podcast, “SoundRadar,” through its WordPress page.  So far there are only two episodes, the first being with Greg Edmonson, who scored the Uncharted games as well as Joss Whedon’s Firefly, and the second with Brian Tyler of Modern Warfare 3 “fame.”   I have my own opinions on the music of each game (reviewing those two for the blog are on my to-do list), but regardless, it’s interesting to hear the composers talk.  Greg Edmonson’s interview was especially excellent because he seemed very excited to talk about his work in detail and give the listener some very interesting inside information.  It was a joy listening to a very passionate and genuine-sounding guy.

Some topics Greg covers:

– How the game industry is treating “ambiance” vs. “melodic content.”  He talks about how at first he wished to write more melodically for Uncharted but was instructed not to do so, and how only later did he have more freedom to write less ambient music.  I can rant about how… “disturbing” I think the trend towards less melodic VGM is, but I’ll save that–Greg luckily was able to liberate his music and create some great melodies after the first game in the series, showing in turn that even with games becoming more cinematic there is still plenty of room for VGM’s trademark: great melodies.

– The differences in the timelines and compositional process within the video game industry and the film industry.

– How he decided to characterize and convey the environments of the Uncharted games musically.  One of most interesting things he says lies in this topic.  He reveals that, while he used ethnic instruments that are native to the environments for which he was writing, he decided to use the native instruments as “colors” rather than trying to make “ethnic music.”  I think this idea of his is very powerful, and it’s something that I certainly will keep in mind as I continue writing.

Enjoy the episode!  I would love to hear what else people found interesting, and if there are any topics that the reader would like to discuss, please feel free to comment and I’ll be happy to share my thoughts.

Theme for the Woods (Draft 2)

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2011 Gregory Weaver.

I know it’s been some time since I worked on this piece, and I apologize!  Between grueling over the other posts I’ve made, trying to finish the “Time’s Scar” analysis, work, and life in general, it was difficult to find time to sit down and work on it.  So, since I was on a train for seven hours or so to get from Charlottesville, VA, to Stamford, CT, last weekend, I decided to bring my whopping 49-key MIDI keyboard along.  Yes, it hung out in the aisle and part of it rested on the lap of the friend with whom I traveled.

My first order of business was to change the title of the tune.  I only got as far as changing the location, however, because I don’t want to christen it until it’s finished.  The reader may recall it being “Forest or Village Theme,” but I changed it to “Theme for the Woods” for a couple of reasons.  First, I got rid of the “village” part because I didn’t want to limit the location.  Can this be a theme for a village in the woods?  Certainly, but I’m not going to focus on what a village atmosphere might sound like so I thought it best to oust that detail.  Secondly, to me, “woods” seems lighter than “forest.”  When I think “forest,” I see large, think pines; darkness; and wolves; when I think “woods,” I imagine squirrels with acorns, camping, bird calls, and sunshine through the trees.  Since my tune is a little on the springy side, it is quite a bit more apt for the latter location.

Below I’ve posted my second draft.  It sounds a little different from the first because it uses Finale’s Garritan instrument library while Draft 1 used Logic Pro’s.  From now on (thanks to a suggestion from my girlfriend), my drafts will be MP3s of my work in Finale until I am satisfied with the score.  After that day comes, I’ll rewrite everything into Logic Pro so that I can take advantage of my superior sound libraries, add expression, and mix and master the track.
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Forest or Village Theme 1 (Draft 1)

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Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2011 Gregory Weaver.

I’ve been kind of wondering when I’d actually get to composing something and, well, tonight was the night.  I wasn’t even planning on it, but I was sitting in bed and a little melody popped into my head and I figured I should just get to it.

After making the decision to go ahead, I immediately realized that it was indeed a good decision.  The melody is exactly what I want in a first tune: it’s simple.  My writing typically isn’t simple, as I consciously constantly try to think of what I can do to develop a part and make it more interesting even if it doesn’t need any more development.  Since that can make things very cluttered, one of the goals I set for myself before I started the blog was to let things stand and not make unnecessary developments.  As I work on these songs, you’ll be able to see what I’m doing, and if I go too far with something, you have my permission to tell me to stop.  Remind me of my goal if things get too crazy!

Without any further ado, here is the first very very rough 21 seconds of my inaugural project for [Score.]!
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