March 2014

The Composition Process

March 30, 2014 19:39

Now that the weather is finally improving, I'm able to go for walks again outside. This afternoon at about 1:45pm I went out to a lake trail by my house. It's really nice, as there are usually people out and about, or children playing on playgrounds. While I walked, I could clearly hear the orchestra of birds singing at many various times. The sky was a picturesque blue, and it wasn't too warm or cold. And here is the origin of "The King of the Aliens: Main Title".

Mr. Burck graciously provided me with a book called "The Complete Guide to Film Scoring" from Berklee College of Music in Boston. It's a really nice book that has a very thorough description of the processes I will partake in the future after college. I'm not too worried about all that now, but I did take a look at some of the sections about the music itself, which I am working on with "The King of the Aliens". One thing I didn't have that the book said I should is a "main titles" theme that would play at the beginning of the film and basically represent it. So, on my walk today, I sat down on a bench overlooking the lake, hearing the birds behind me and dogs barking as they scampered across the path, and, pencil in hand, I started to write down some ideas. I weaved in a solo violin part throughout: another piece of music to practice on violin for recording sessions in the summer before releasing the film and its soundtrack. I worked on one page, got up, walked all around the lake, and came back with new ideas. This is one way I like to write my music - outside, with the birds.

The next step is to orchestrate the piece on the computer, so when I got home (it was about 4pm!) I did just that. I spent about two and a half hours working diligently. The solo violin part could be read more easily; the strings chords were broken up into their parts. I also extended the piano part I had, and added a full choir. This piece is built much like some of my others: it starts softer, with less instrumentation, and slowly builds into a full orchestral setting.

I printed out the solo violin part and put it in my binder to practice for later. Basically, I'm going to keep practicing and eventually record it for the film. So when you see the film and hear my violin Amber singing strong... This makes me so excited!! Additionally, if I created a medley of music, I would certainly include this piece at the beginning, and if we were to play the medley as a real orchestra at school or wherever, the piece would be performed on-stage.

And that, in a nutshell, is one of the best processes ever, in my opinion, and is something that really excites me about my life as a composer (both in the present and mostly in the future): that a piece of music that came from a sketch in a notebook I wrote outside could develop into an orchestral thing to be played at a concert hall somewhere. Sure, it's also great to hear it with the context of the film, recorded, as you see the film, but I feel like it also extends to if the piece were played live. (And also, just being able to, no matter where or when I'm playing it, hold my violin in my hands and play this music I composed, thinking of how it started as pencil sketches in a notebook written outside will be a really cool thought when it occurs. I'm not sure why, but that process is just so incredible to me, and is something I will strive to do with the rest of my pieces I have for the score for "The King of the Aliens". One theme I'm planning on doing will basically represent a forest, so that will be a good one to compose one morning in April or May. Anyways, hope you enjoyed! Keep watch for the film around August, as well as future entries discussing it! :)

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"Frozen" (2013) - Original Medley and Film Review

March 22, 2014 19:27

Yesterday I was able to watch the film "Frozen" for the first time on DVD (I mean Blu-Ray, cos it's so much better!), and it has become my favorite film -- all because of the score! Christophe Beck did a wonderful job incorporating the great songs of "Let it Go" and "Do You Want to Build A Snowman" into the actual orchestral score of the piece, and it all builds with that Disney magic an orchestra only produces for a Disney film. I enjoyed it so much, I spent about six hours today writing a short four-minute medley of music from the film for string orchestra, which was a lot of fun. I basically took each song or section of music I liked from the soundtrack and built them into the piece like motives, rather than going through and playing each piece one after the other. It'll be fun to play through one of the violin parts either on my own or possibly with the orchestra at the end of the year after our concerts are over... We'll have to see. Anyways, I would definitely recommend this film to all music-lovers, as I believe the score does live up to its expectations.

I wrote a review on IMDB online, so be sure to check it out! Thanks for reading!

Read my review of Frozen (2013)

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Recording Session - The Shire Theme

March 15, 2014 20:43

I just finished watching Catching Fire today. Overall, I liked the film, although the score, in my opinion, was just average.

I have been sick recently, so I haven't had a ton of time to really play lots of violin like I would have wanted. And I'm starting to look through colleges again. I enjoyed going on visits in the fall and seeing the college's concert hall, where I'd be performing should I go there, probably with my violin, possibly with a composition I wrote... Anyways, that really inspired me today to look through University of Illinois, where I will be heading on March 31st.

Anyways, I just wanted to talk about what I did this morning. From 8:45am-11:20am, I worked on a video for my sister (for her birthday) of me playing "The Shire theme" (she LOVES The Lord of the Rings, so I was thinking of making some sort of medley through videos and pictures of music from the trilogy). I had the solo violin part, the div. triads in the violin (section), and the acoustic guitar part that adds to the whole country feel. I used my iPhone to record me playing and fit it into the video, as well as pictures from the film and me videotaping outside at 10:30am (where, if you listen closely, you can hear birds over the music!). So yeah, it was a fun and relaxing morning, even if I haven't really been up for composing anything. I may post the video on YouTube, but if I do it'll probably be after her birthday, in April sometime.

Which reminds me... We only have a few more months till summer! I have some obstacles to hurtle over (testing and all that) through these few months of spring, and then we'll hopefully begin filming The King of the Aliens! This really excites me, and although I'll be able to compose various themes outside listening to the birds soon, it'll be fun to get the film started and be able to connect the music with the picture. However, I'll talk more about that some other time. Have a nice night!

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Solo and Ensemble Critique

March 2, 2014 17:33

Wow! I have not written here in a while... It's been about a month!

After being sick for a week (and missing out on practice time; it felt so good to hold my violin again and play on Thursday), I was able to prepare for my three performances in Solo and Ensemble clinic on Saturday at 10am and 11am. Basically, you play your solo or duet or whatever piece, and then there are people that critique it and give you advice, amongst three other players and parent listeners. The first performance I gave was Mozart's 21st Piano Concerto, the second movement, and I got some good tips on phrasing and such. Of course, that was piano, so I won't talk too much about it... The second one was a duet with my friend Marissa. I composed a "Nature Suite" in five movements in December 2013, and we played II. Gavotte and III. Air. The judge there said he really liked the fact he could talk to the composer about the piece and really enjoyed the piece; mostly, he gave tips on various double stops I give (having equal pressure between the strings) and also making sure the two of us play the piece together. Finally, for my Hungarian Dance violin solo, while I fully expected him to talk about the chords, yaddayadda, cos I WAS sick and didn't have all the time I wanted to really master them, he focused on having different speeds of vibrato, and gave me some exercises to practice with it. So that'll be something I'll work on this week....
Overall, it was a fun morning, and after we had a great lunch with my grandma (and I had the Mozart concerto in my head for some reason).

I know I have a concert this month, I believe in a couple of weeks, so I'll have to start preparing for that. I had composed a movement of a violin concerto in f minor just a few weeks ago, and I was hoping I could learn that with my teacher in the next few weeks. While Solo and Ensemble (and auditions!) are over, the world of music performance just continues on. Which is good, cos otherwise I'd be bored and probably never pick up my violin again... Just kidding. And since I've been sick and doing virtually nothing except homework and sleeping, I haven't really been doing any composing at all, so probably mid-way through this week as I start to feel better I'll start working on some project. I'm also looking into getting composition lessons, too... So yeah! Sorry for yet ANOTHER update entry, but, you know... That's the way it goes, I guess!

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More entries: February 2014

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