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Topic: Sharing methods of working

  1. #1

    Sharing methods of working


    Thanks to all for a very rewarding forum.
    I\'m on the edge of plunging into the world of possibly GPO.

    I\'ve been, like many of you, writing orchestral music on computer for the last 4 years or so.
    I love what I\'m hearing about GPO and it\'s interesting to compare with other products.

    Just one question to you all about how you go about recording your scores.
    Here\'s what I do

    1/Write the music, with good old pencil, paper and piano. (the ppp method!)
    2/ Orchestrate using Sibelius (the programme not the man)
    3/ Play each part of the score live into Sonar. Trying to acheive the expression, balance etc. as much as I can as I go. At the moment I\'m using a whole mix of samples.
    Mostly from EMU Proteus module. (That\'s a whole \'nother post!)
    4/I then mix and add reverb, closely following the score and my original vision.
    5/ Master

    So much for me. But it struck me, is that how others do it?
    Or do most people use more midi play back ( I have occasionally used this especially for percussion, or as a guide track if some rhthym is foxing me)

    I\'d love to hear peoples techniques.

    [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img] I Just Love creating Music!! <font color=\"blue\"> </font>

  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    In the past I would pretty much improvise the parts in. I would write notes and block things out, but mostly play until it sounded right and then record. I’d do each part this way.

    Lately I’ve been using the good old pen, paper and piano method. Sometimes I hear things in my head and work it out at the piano, but mostly I start at the piano with just an idea of what I want to do.

    I then record into Cubase. Lately I’ve been using GPO almost exclusively.

    I record just one track for each sound as I work out the parts.

    I do some correction and improvise some parts in after I hear the sketch on Cubase/GPO.

    When the orchestration seems complete I “make my sections”. Sometimes I am surprised how it sounds with all of the instruments and have to do some correction.

    I have been putting in one short section at a time.

    I only add reverb right before I mix (or export to wave since I’ve been neglecting my mix).

    I haven’t done much mixing, but that is last.

    Export to wave.

  3. #3

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    See, you both work with P and P -- because you are both trained and can work that way.

    To me, the biggest advantage to GPO is it enables even someone like myself, who has zero talent, to create music because we can hear what we are doing while we do it.

    For those of us who are not musically gifted GPO provides the musical \"ear\" that you have.

    So... how I work:

    1) Compose the whole thing in Finale -- sometimes I start with an instrument playing the main melody line and harmonize it there, sometimes I\'ll lay down timpani for a beat, sometimes I\'ll program the string quartet laying down all the different lines as I go... or sometimes a combination of this and many many other techniques. In essence, I\'m writing the entire orchestra score as I go, and best of all, I can hear exactly as it will sound.

    2) Export as midi file and bring into Sonar for final mixing cleanup. Very little is needed.

  4. #4

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    When I started composing music while at Mannes College of Music in N.Y.C. we had no other choice than pencil and paper, and that pencil needed a good eraser. When the pencil draft was completed then came the teadious task of transferring the score to \"onion skin manuscript transparencies.\" These were sheets of staff paper from which a blue print company could reproduce your score. The year was 1964 and there were no photo copy machines avilable to the working musician. If you needed to produce a set of parts you had to copy those as well onto onion skin. It was a huge job and caused many composers to not complete works and loose out on performances. After all of that work you still weren\'t sure of how the work sounded until it went into rehearsal. Sometimes a pleasant surprise and sometime a rude awakening.

    I gave up the pencil and paper in 1987 and have never looked back. Today with such programs as GPO, Sibelius, Finale, Overtue, those of us who were trained in notation based composition have life a lot easier. Even if a composer writes a large orchestral work and never has the opportunity to have it played live, that composer can still have a very accurate idea of how the work actually sounds. What is also quite an advantage is that a composer who writes an orchestral work can present to a prospective orchestra board or conductor a sound recording of the work under consideration.. Conductors love it because it helps them to learn the piece quicker. Quite Remarkable !!!

    Ira Kraemer

  5. #5

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    Interesting to hear about others\' experience.

    My advice to my students is that the number one rule of composing is get something down, whether on paper or computer or tape. The inspiration only then comes as you work with what you already have. Change it, transform it, reject it: but you still need to begin with that block of marble to work with. Then it\'s all chipping away to complete the sculpture.
    Bad metaphor.
    At times composing feels more like finishing a tricky crossword puzzle!

    Most of my work with pencil and paper ( sorry forgot eraser!) is really sketch work, and Sibelius has become a great tool for expanding the sketch.

    For me I have to have it 98% all there in Sibelius before I record when it\'s anything Orchestral. I try to be disciplined in this as I would have to be with a live orchestra.

    It\'s different with a fully improvised work; then Sibelius is bypassed!
    Although improvising is no less than composing without the black dots.

  6. #6

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    1. Mess around with the piano until I\'ve got a good tune going
    2. Start typing it out in Overture SE
    3. Go to sleep or something
    4. Try again a couple weeks later
    5. \"Hey, I came up with a better idea!\" *deletes old one*

    I don\'t get much done.

  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Wilton, NH

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    I want to expand a little bit about why I work the way I do – it’s mostly because I am inexperienced, not the other way around.

    I’ve tried using a few notation programs and have had an awful time – I work twice as fast with pen and paper. I haven’t tried Sibelius, maybe it would help.

    When I use paper I can usually get a little more complex. It makes me think more about the harmonies I am using (I write basic chords above each measure as a guide). It also makes me think about the rhythms – I am awful with rhythm but do a little better getting rhythms right when I read them compared to just playing the notes from my head. I also need paper to insure my performance is the same every time – important with GPO when I might record the same part four times to make my section.

    I use pen because it is easier for me to read than pencil. Also I don’t have to worry about sharpening it. If there are some mistakes on the page I just read right over them without a problem.

    Actually, most of my paper work is closer to what sistermusic does – it’s mostly sketch work. I fill in a lot of the parts in Cubase once I have the basics in.

  8. #8

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    My method changes from piece to piece, but this is pretty typical of what I do:

    1- Begin AWAY from computer or piano. Usually a park bench, driving aimlessly in my car, or sitting in my \"shrine\" (a comfortable chair in my bedroom facing the bay windows, surrounded by 8x10 photrographs of Stravinsky, Tom Waits, Beethoven, Gil Evans, Bartok, Charles Mingus, Arvo Paert, and Maria Schneider). No instrument, no singing, just hear whatever I can in my head. Write what I hear without using notes (sometimes I\'ll notate basic melodic contours, rhythms, textures, etc, but I usually try to keep my notations to text, pictures, etc). I may do this a number of times until I have a general sense of the piece.

    2- Depending on the requirements of the piece, I\'ll move to a piano to sketch things out. If it\'s well beyond my piano chops or too dense to make sense at a piano, I\'ll move straight to SONAR (now using GPO, if the piece requires orchestral instruments). In SONAR I\'m essentially \"coloring in\" the piece I\'ve already developed--I already have a sense of the rhythms, contour, stucture, etc--I\'m basically just choosing the notes! Almost invariably I do some brainstorming in SONAR--trying out different textures, instrumentation, harmonizations, cutting and pasting sections, etc.

    3- Usually I write about a minute of music in a feverish spurt, then I lose interest and work on something else or don\'t write any music at all for a month or so.

    4- Much later, I get curious as to what this SONAR file on my computer is. I listen to it and say \"oh yeah, that.\" Then I add another minute or so to it.

    5- A year or so later, I find out that an ensemble wants to perform my music and they need it a week from now.

    6- I spend 5 days thinking \"wow, I really should finish that piece\" and whining about how I\'m not inspired.

    7- I spend 2 days finishing the piece and remember that waiting for \"inspiration\" isn\'t half as effective as just doing it.

    8- I call the ensemble and say \"The piece is done, but I haven\'t scored it out yet--can I bring it to you tomorrow?\"

    9- I save the SONAR file as a MIDI file, import it into Finale, and stay up all night fixing all the stupid little errors Finale has made transcribing my rhythms. Then I add dynamics, articulations, performance instructions, etc. etc. etc. until the score is complete. I extract the parts and spend another few hours tweaking them until they are presentable.

    [10a - In the past, I would run to Kinkos to copy and bind the scores. Now I own a binding machine and 11x17 printer, so I can do it all myself]

    10b- 15 minutes before the ensemble\'s rehearsal, my printer jams while printing the last few pages. I curse and run about, then re-print the part and sprint to my car.

    11- I show up at the rehearsal 5 minutes late, unshaven, unshowered, out of breath, and hand the scores/parts over to the performers.

    12- Mid-rehearsal, I decide that I want to change one little section, which means I\'ll have to re-print everything next time someone performs the piece. For now, they\'ll just have to pencil it in.

    Sadly, this is fairly accurate.



  9. #9
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    After seven years of music college, five at a university and 20 years playing, I still find myself just sitting at the keyboard and playing in whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I\'ll record a beat at the drumset and then play (record) other instruments with it later. Most of the time I plan, prepare, exicute, then evaluate. Lately I find myself using the three p\'s and then playing it into Home Studio XL where it seems to write more acutate than Cubasis.
    If I may add, you can see (hear) from the Demos of all the users hear that however they compose the outcome has been awesome! (present company excluded). Up until a month ago I always use an external sequencer and sound module. Still do for some projects but GPO is slowly changing this.

    \"I\'m on the edge of plunging into the world of possibly GPO.\"
    What are you waiting for? Do it! We want to hear your music!!

  10. #10

    Re: Sharing methods of working

    I can\'t do this yet, but I always wanted to just be able to sit and write, [2 p\'s, no piano]. I even remember hearing a quote either bach or someone said that the piano is a distraction. I know that\'s true with me [well any instrument]. If I hear something in my head, I will play it. Once in a while Ill play something different or not quite what was in my head and my musical idea takes on a new form, either better or worse, and I can\'t get back that orginal idea. It\'s kind of like counting at high numbers and someone comes in saying \"14, 5, 256, 2, 756, 325\", you kind of get mixed up in your head. This can be a good or bad thing, so like I said, SOMETIMES, I would like to just sit down and jot down ideas and write so that anything I hear, is what is in my head and only in my head [and hopefully on paper].

    this book has helped me get on my way [I got far into it but I never finished though, but am trying to pick it back up, it\'s been one of the best music books Ive read, just been falling into some stressful and busy times]


    Also, the David Lucas Burge ear training for perfect pitch has also helped. I only got half way through that as well but I have noticed a difference for what ever reason. I was very skeptical about that as well, but it has done things for me. I am no where near perfect pitch, but I can tell you I am a lot closer than what I was before starting this.


    PS. I know I know, I mentiond and praised two things I said I never finished, but it\'s just hard to find time these days, but things are getting better and Im getting back on track [and besides, if I see positive effects by only completing half of it, that\'s a good sign [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/wink.gif[/img]] =P

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