I had the opportunity this trimester to write some music that I don't usually write, starting with the Drum and Bass track that I wrote for my first project, and now a short piece of music for an animation student. I contacted them after seeing a post on the SAE Interdisciplinary Facebook group as I had honestly put off doing any work with outside disciplines because I wasn't sure of how I would approach that kind of work. Just wanted to sort of lay out my plan for writing a piece of music like this and how I would approach it.
Getting the Details
The most important thing obviously is getting an idea of where the client wants to go with the music and what I'll be writing music to, so I would first need an example of the animation. It's important to maintain an open line of communication about the creative intent of the project as we both need to be on the same page about what the end product should be. If the client and I have different ideas of what the animation is about and what message it conveys then we will both probably have different ideas of what kind of music should accompany it. With this in mind it would be within my best interests to get a brief synopsis of the animation as well as the animation itself. So now I would have an idea of what feeling and emotion the music would need to convey, but still the idea around those emotions is very subjective; the easiest way to get an idea of what the client is expecting from a musical piece is to hear exactly what they're picturing for the piece. Next I would ask them for examples of the kind of music they want to hear in their animation so I can have an exact idea of what I'm going for, and if all else fails in my writing ability I will have some pretty strict guidelines to follow. At the end of this process I should have the animation itself, a synopsis of the animation, a steady idea of what the client wants the music to convey and examples of the kind of music expected.
Preparing Myself Musically
Admittedly I'm not the best at writing music, I've always been a bit outside the box with my kind of writing and don't really follow any kind of musical structure. Depending on the piece I will be writing for of course; if the client wants droning, ambient or otherwise avant-garde music then I might have the freedom to get a bit more creative, but if they are looking for a particular sound and emotion then it might be easier to follow chord structures and musical keys that typically convey a particular emotion. Since I started talking with my client and writing this blog they have shown my the animation and from what I can tell it's a bit of a heartwarming and "sweet" story about a girl and her toy bear that appears to come to life. She was a bit vague on the actually story so I drew this conclusion from the limited information she gave, and will mostly likely rely on the musical examples she gives me to construct my piece. Since the animation is based around what I would presume is friendship and love, I'm going to research a couple of keys and chord progressions that match that emotion. After reading a blog on Ledgernote about this very topic, I came to a conclusion that C Major (which typically conveys "Innocent Happiness") and A Major (which typically conveys Joy and a declaration of love) as my main choices for keys. Major chords are most likely the best choice as I want stick around a happy theme with this piece, but I think it will take some messing around on my keyboard to decide which key I want to write in.
If you haven't guessed yet I've been kind of writing this blog as I gather information about this project, and at this stage I know have some musical examples from the client. As I thought, they very uplifting, melodic, piano and guitar pieces that almost remind me of the music you might hear in a Sims game. As it's a bit hard to share the actual examples she gave me through this platform, here's an example of what I mean by Sims music;
You don't have to listen to the full two and a half hours of this video to get an idea of what kind of emotion the music I was sent conveyed. I generally don't use acoustic instruments or even piano in the typical sense for my own music and I still want to sort of remain in my own comfort zone a little bit for this project just so I can effectively produce a piece of music, so I might incorporate some soft synthesizers into this piece. There isn't a lot of percussion in the examples I have been given and the inspiration I have drawn from, so I will stray away from using an drums for this piece at least in the final product. just to aid my writing process I might load up a basic drum beat as a place holder, just so I have something to write along with but I will delete it once I am done writing. I think my main instrument will be piano, which I emulate using FL Studio's Fruity Keys plugin, with some swelling and subtle synth lines underneath. I will mostly try to stick around making synth patches that make use of sine and triangle waves as they generally sound soft and are easy to listen to, however, if I was to use any saw or square waves, I will most likely pull a lot of the top end out of them to dull their sound, or take out a lot of the bottom end with lots of reverb to make them sound kind of floaty and wistful.
So I now have direction with the piece I'm going to write, with an example of the animation and the kind of music the client wants for the piece, and a general idea from the client themselves regarding the general feel and emotion of the overall artwork. I'm excited to get started on this as it's another piece of music that I don't usually write and I'm always looking to expand my music writing abilities, especially in way musicality.