Archive for the ‘orchestra’ Category

Travelers of Tyme present “Music for Lovers!”

February 14, 2011


Travelers of Tyme engineer music precisely for holidays such as St. Valentine’s Day, a complex and contradictory day. For some, it is a day of romance, of flowers, sweet kisses, and nostalgic, warm conversation. For others, it is a day of heartache, of loneliness, and perhaps dark fantasies involving the Hallmark company and the calling of robotic minions to do biddings against the makers of cards. Regardless of where you find yourself this February 14th, we encourage you to lower the lights, pour a snifter of wine or whiskey for yourself and your special friend, if you have one, and switch on “Music for Lovers.” The Travelers cannot guarantee you will enjoy all of your experiences on this planet — but we CAN guarantee that we will make them sound better!

So go ahead, talk softly over “Music for Lovers.” Clink your glasses, kiss your kisses, whisper your sweet nothings into real or imagined ears. “Music for Lovers” is music meant to sway softly in the background, like a silhouetted palm tree in a warm, sea breeze. It is music to live to and, of course, music to love by!

(Note: listen at work and watch your productivity increase by 40%!)

Thank you, as always, for choosing Travelers of Tyme for all of your musical wallpaper needs. And Happy Valentine’s Day to you and your beloved, whether in flesh or fantasy.

Professor Yaya & Doctor Klem
The Travelers of Tyme

Jim Cooper score – “BUNNY OF DEATH”

January 30, 2008

Welcome to Detholz! Blog Episode XXIV!

Today, a departure from the norm… at least if you don’t consider the narcissistic blathering about one’s own compositions the “norm.” Doughty readers: I need your help.

I have polished up my conquistador’s helmet, hefted a makeshift lance under my arm, and am preparing to storm a few windmills After that, I’m diving back into the world of– bom bom BOMMM! Orchestral composition!

So, this week, a practice score: BUNNY OF DEATH

Bear in mind before you listen that this is a soundtrack to an animated film short done by a friend of mine– so what you’re hearing is cartoon music without the cartoon. (I haven’t gotten my friend’s permission yet to post a link to the video, but when I do, I’ll post it here. )

Objective: working to improve not only my compositional chops, but the recording/mixing of convincing orchestra music. Comments/critiques on either “score” are welcome! Here, I used the “East-West Gold” orchestral plugin, which is my current favorite.


Regressing back to my music school days, this is a loose “cell” composition, based on the intervallic progression: minor 2nd, major 2nd, minor 2nd. Sometimes it ascends or descends, is broken across octaves or instruments, and at other times I gave myself the liberty to diverge from the constraint if it made sense melodically. When composing, I’ve found it useful to limit myself to 3-4 note cells, even if I don’t adhere too strictly to them.

It ain’t exactly serialism, but after having been a pop musician for so long, it’s difficult for me to write music that is completely atonal (meaning ALL gesture and no harmonic/melodic content).

Arnold Schoenberg (the inventor of 12-tone serialism, arguably) calls this approach “developing variation,” and though there is a lot of debate in theoretical circles as to what “developing variation” actually means– Schoenberg himself vacillates on its precise definition– it’s application in this piece is best described this way:

“Whatever happens in a piece of music is nothing but the endless reshaping of a basic shape. Or, in other words, there is nothing in a piece of music but what comes from the theme, springs from it, and can be traced back to it; to put it still more severely, nothing but the theme itself.” -A. Schoenberg, 1931, “Linear Counterpoint”

Bear in mind that Schoenberg equates a “theme” with a “shape,” (at least in the context of the 1931 article) so in the case of my little practice score, the intervallic cell could be seen as a “theme” of sorts, shaped and reshaped as the piece develops. You can hear it at the very beginning in the “Jaws”-like flourishes in the low strings, and in most of the descending lines in the strings towards the end of the piece, to name a few occurrences.

I think Schoenberg is absolutely right in his above quote. The older I get, the more I am interested in presenting more unified musical “ideas.” Oh, and speaking of “ideas, here’s dear old Arnold again:

“In its most common meaning, the term ‘idea’ is used as a synonym for theme, melody, phrase or motive. I myself consider the totality of a piece as the ‘idea’: the idea which its creator wanted to present.” -from a 1930 article entitled “New Music, Outmoded Music, Style and Idea”

I think this is a universal compositional technique. Those of us who aspire to compose music — in whatever genre– would do well to think “wholistically” before sitting down with pen and paper (or with mouse and keyboard). Rather than thinking of barlines, scraps of melody or little chord changes… why not conceive of something in its totality? How will a given piece develop? How can your “scrap” transmogrify into an entire piece? What will that piece sound like?  Or, more simply, what do you wish to communicate?

This is a mistake I hear in my own earlier pieces and with those of many music school students– too many ideas are crammed into too small a space! Because one HAS the chops for a pyrotechnical idea doesn’t mean that every one of those should be slopped into one stew… if you do, you almost always end up with a foul-smelling gruel.

Okay, back down to Earth from the Ivory Tower– a few things I need help on here:

1. To you non-classical types, are these orchestral sounds convincing? Or does it sound too “canned?”

2. To you mixologists, what do you think of the mix here? Clear or muddled? Weak or strong?

3. To you composers/songwriters: does this form work? Does it hold your interest? Or is it a mess?

Thanks for visiting, earthlings! Tune in next Wednesday for another Tune of Surprise!

(Tuna Surprise?)