In this video I concentrate on the third storyline out of the orchestral composition Seven. I named it “Floaty and mystical sky”. How did I write this? What were my thoughts? My process? Which pointers can I give you to write something similar? All topics in this video which I will address. So let’s start!
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Timestamps of the video
- 00:00 – Introduction
- 00:58 – Tip 1: Lydian is your mode for floatiness and mystique
- 02:34 – Tip 2: create a basic layer for a fast quick start
- 04:00 – Tip 3: know how our brains processes music
- 05:21 – Tip 4: bring in new orchestral colours on a regular basis
- 06:56 – Next week: storyline 4 which is melancholic
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Tip 1: Lydian is your mode for an air of mystique and floatiness
In the video from last week I showed you that I used the mode Phrygian for the music of a dark scene. And I wrote the friendly opening of Seven for a great part in myxolydian. So we have five modes left to use: ionian, dorian, lydian, aeolian and locrian.
For this third storyline I was again looking for a great contrast with the darkness of the second storyline. I pictured myself a fragile scene. The big black angry cat left the garden and life in it began to restore. An air of mystique and floatiness took over.
The choice for a fragile scene with an air of mystique and floatiness led me towards the mode Lydian. This mode uses the formula of semitones and tones like: T – T – T – S – T – T – S. Or in half and whole steps: W – W – W – H – W – W – H.
When we have a look at the score of the third storyline and the notes I have used, you will see one sharp: the F#. That means I wrote this storyline in C Lydian.
Tip 2: create a basic layer for a fast kick start
I’m not sure if you recognise yourself in this picture. You have a blank music sheet. Or a blank midi piano roll if you work from out a DAW. And that can be a bit intimidating. You don’t know how to start and where to start. So you just stare it and nothing musically satisfying comes to you.
One way to force you out of this situation, is to write a basic layer fast. This could be a simple chord progression or a broken chord progression like the Alberti Bass line or just a couple of individual notes out of the mode that sound good. A simple rhythm will do too.
I would stay away from writing a melody line, a theme or a motif. You can totally lose yourself in these aspects. So keep it simple. First a basic layer, the rest will come later.
In this scene I wrote the line for the bassoons very quickly. It’s a repetitive line. Two bars with the same pattern. And again two bars with the same pattern. Very simple, but yet an effective basic layer that I started to extend more and more with other elements and instruments.
Listen to the full mockup of Seven
Tip 3: know how our brain processes music
Did you know that our brain processes or analyses (if you will) music from out different angles. For instance, focus on rhythm. Or focus on pitch and tone.
That our brain anticipates on what is coming. Research shows that our brain creates expectations when listening to music. For example, it would figure out if a beat is steady or if the melody makes sense. And the we human especially like it when music surprises us with smart, quirky changes.
Knowing this gives us composers a vast toolbox that we can use. That we can play with.
Now when we translate all of this to the music of this floaty and mystical scene, you will notice a predictable pattern or let’s say a rhythm in the woodwinds and brass section.
A repetitive predictable pattern in the celeste. I’m not accidentally repeating the high celeste tone. No, I want our brain to hunger for it. Knowing that it will come and giving the satisfaction of it when it comes.
So when you compose a next work, tingle the brain!
Tip 4: bring in new orchestral colours on a regular basis
I guess this tip is connected with tip number 3 about how our brain processes music. Just like our stomach, our brain needs food too. And it likes to eat different food. So don’t feed it the same fuel over and over again. Differentiate!
So bring in new orchestral colours on a regular basis. And when you do this, pick the ones that tell the story the best! That is orchestration all about!
This scene needed to be floaty and mystical. A perfect instrument for that vibe is a vibraphone. And the harp of course too!
Play around with small accents and specific detailed sounds to tickle the brain even more. A xylophone or a triangle. Notice how well your brain picks up these sounds and translate them to a story.
And last but not least, bring in another orchestral section that didn’t take part in the scene yet. In my case, the string section. But this also means, dare not to use an entire orchestral section. Leave it out for a while and bring it in later. It will sound fresh and yet familiar cause our brain will connect it with the memories it has. So it surprises us, but it is comfortable too.
Next week: storyline 4 which is melancholic
That’s it for this week. Hopefully I gave you some valuable insights and pointers to start writing your own floaty and mystical sounding scene.
Next week I will continue with the fourth storyline which I named “Losing the memories”. The mood swing brings us again in different vibe. One that is melancholic and a bit sad you could say. Already looking forward to that! I hope you do too!
[…] for the friendly opening. Phrygian was my mode for a dark sounding scene. I used lydian for a floaty and mystical sound in the third storyline. And last week I used the mode Dorian for the creation of a melancholic […]
[…] at this storyline, you will notice something familiar. I based the bassoon line on the one from storyline 3. Staccato notes on the quarter notes. Starting on the A, then the Eb, again an A and it ends on the […]