Final Reflection for Passion Project Semester

This semester I worked on writing music. A completely new skill which I have always wanted to approach because of my familiarity with music and love for music.

I play guitar so I wrote a lot of ideas just with a guitar and singing. But I soon realized I need more instrument, layers and variety. That’s when I found digital musical software. My friend gave me logic pro x, a software where I can easily add in midi or recorded instruments and layer them together. It’s a great software, such a good way to record and put together ideas.

Logic Pro X is my platform for writing music, I’ve tried to make different types of music, electronic, rock, pop, even some orchestral. I’m still dabbling in different genres of music, even now, I’m still making different types of music. Unsure if I will settle into one genre.

Throughout this semester, I was never sure if I was making progress. It became common that I would make something, not like it, and throw it away. The first moment where I felt like I was making progress was when I made this

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/playing-with-logic-pro

This was the first ever song I was satisfied with. I was unsure why I liked it even though it was so easy to make. I also knew I don’t want to be a producer. I tried to make something I liked but couldn’t, so why this song is “good” remained a mystery for me.

Until I asked Mr Long about music, where he told me that electronic music was very minimalistic, which is why my easy song was good. He also talked more to me about tonality and central idea. I realized around this time that I was getting better.

Even though I was more busy with schoolwork after this time, I became more able to put together full songs and actually make things. I was quite satisfied with this one, which is literally just random ideas that fit together.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/ideas/s-e1NuU

 

My final Project is here,

This song was written to be performed.

I structured the song based on this, I wanted a Cello and I knew my friend would play Cello for me. So I wrote the song so that it would be performed solely with cello, guitar and vocals. I was satisfied with the song itself, even if I hated the lyrics. The Cello part I wrote fit well with the guitar and vocals, although I felt like an actual composer would have done much better.

After my performance, the feedback from Mr. Long and Mr. Redman were very positive. Mr Long also commented on how an actual three track recording would be very nice to have. I agree with Mr Long, during the performance, my tempo was not very well controlled, some mistakes were made. If I were to do this again, I would have more practice and make less mistakes.

Overall, I believe my final project was good. With more improvement and practice, I might be able to make actual music. This final product shows my improvement from the first day of passion project until now.

Throughout this semester, I became better at making music and gained a better understanding of music. In the future, I will continue to explore, experiment and make music. I will also work towards developing my own style of music. I will also try to work with other musicians more.

 

Week 10 of Passion Project

During the long break, I had time to write a full song. This is a song I plan to perform so I used three instruments, guitar, cello and vocals. (I have a friend who plays the Cello who is willing to perform)

Here is the song in its midi form, all the clarinet is representative of the vocals part.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/09876a/s-vvXPu

Blue = Verse               Red = Chorus             Purple = Bridge

I wrote down the vocal part of my song by keying in notes with clarinet because I never had time recording vocals. I spent all the time I had practising for the performance instead.

Here are the lyrics

Oh leaves that fall and stay

Oh the rooftops that turn gray

Tell me where the creatures go

Go when winter falls

Oh who knows 

Oh the ravens come and play

Oh the clouds that fade away

What lies after this long road

Walk until we grow old

The doors of stone

Oh   leaves that fall and stay

Oh the rooftops that turn gray

Tell me where the creatures go

Go when winter falls

Oh who knows 

Leave and then end up where

Do we walk up the stairs

Or just stay right here instead

Well it doesn’t feel complete

And just falling asleep

Sinking down to the sea

Even though it’s supposed to retain the theme of questioning what is after death, my lyrics are mostly nonsense. I figured nonsense is fine because lyrics are often nonsense anyways.

The above is the Cello sheet music sent to my Cello player Curtis Wong, I’m very thankful of him helping me out on this because he had to skip swimming to perform.

Our performance on open mic night was pretty successful because we didn’t mess up and not many people came to watch. I made a few little mistakes but the end result was good and received positive feedback.

Here is the video of the performance.

https://youtu.be/YNU6fnPEU_0

The audio and video quality is not the best so in the future, we might do a three-track recording which put together is something very good for me to have.

 

Week 9 of Passion Project

This week I realized that I have too many abandoned ideas,

Scrapped beats, abandoned loops, melodies I couldn’t put together with anything else… I got tired of not being able to finish something completely, so I abandoned the structure and just put together a song with some ideas.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/ideas

This song has one recurring loop, and I just added some ideas on to it. The song has no chorus or verse, it is just ideas that fit.

Three different parts that don’t even feel exactly the same, they just simply fit under the same loop. To my surprise, this actually ended up as a satisfactory song. I still believe that individually, these three ideas could be fully developed into songs that are better apart. In the future, I will first study and see how other musicians develop a central melody in their song. Songs like Walk like an Egyptian or Darude sandstorm, I want to see how others change from verse to chorus. I will also try to go back to my pile of abandoned ideas and see if I can shape them into something complete.

This video I found is interesting.

I also realized that because this song ended up somewhat fine, maybe it is fine to ditch the song structure sometimes. Songs like Bohemian Rhapsody also don’t have that concrete of a structure so I will keep in mind in the future that I don’t always have to stick to the books.

I’ve realized that my goal has not been clearly stated in my reflections. My goal has always to make music.

Songwriting is quite a new skill for me so, during this semester, I have been trying different ways to create music and is better each week, I will eventually create a song to demonstrate my grown competence in songwriting and present it. Even though my goal is not that concrete, I believe I am making progress in becoming a better song writer.

IMPRESSIVE IMPROVEMENT

(Sorry this is not posted earlier, I misread the instructions and thought I only had to submit on dx)

 

My goal is to improve my tone quality.

 

I was unsure what kind of music to pick. I figured the best type of music for improving are long tones and scales. I also remembered that in middle school, we often used warm-ups to practice. So I went online to search for clarinet warm-ups, this is the one I decided to use.

Clarinet Warmups

Specifically, I used the long tones on page three, and the Klose scales on page four.

My first recording for the

Klose Scales        https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/c-major-klose-scales-p123-80-bpm/s-rvZBp

Lone Tones         https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/long-tones-chromatic-100-bpm/s-YVHXZ

 

I realized though recording this that my tone quality actually is better for the higher notes (B natural and above) than the lower C to Bb. I will especially focus on practising long tones for these lower notes. I will also improve my embouchure as much as possible.

 

I will practice

Two hours on Tuesday

Two hours on Thursday

Two hours on Saturday

(If any of these fail to happen, makeup on Wednesday)

Week 8 of Passion Project

This week was quite an unproductive week. Many school projects were due, and I had a talent show on Friday.

However, I did spend some time at home fooling around with my guitar, and I made a little riff I like with it.

The loop can be found here:

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/idea-2398/s-nkTKF

I tried to make this rock-ish, I was too lazy to make a drumbeat with the software instruments, so I made used my pick to strum muted strings to create a percussive rhythm. I liked this better than an actual beat because it adds a unique feel to the song. The bass part is meant to be done with vocals, like the beginning of an AC/DC concert, but this chaotic week didn’t allow me to get a proper recording.

In the next week, I need to work harder to make up for this week. I plan to do some studying about melody; I keep having some problems with writing melody after getting some other part.

I mentioned earlier that a reason this week was unproductive was that of my talent show performance. I sang “Let Her Go” by Passenger, the singing I guess is somewhat related to my project.

Here is my performance:

 

Week 7 of Passion Project

I needed to talk to a music “expert” this week so I went to Mr. Long. I had a conversation with him and here are the main questions I asked him.

What is your process for writing music?

He answered instinctually to start with a bassline, then build chord progressions from there. Upon further discussion, he elaborated that with different songs and different artists, the “process” for songwriting varies. When a song is a dependant on the melody, the melody comes first, when a song is reliant on the background other parts come first. I also thought that the rhythm or drums are the starting point for any music, but Mr. Long convinced me that rhythm should come later. Mr. Long also helped me understand why EDM music is so easy to write. EDM is constructed of several layered loops, this is similar to minimalist music, a genre of music created not by complex melodies but simple limited parts put together. Nonetheless, Mr. Long advised me to always have a central idea with me when constructing a song.

I’ve learned that it is ok to change my process when writing music, and everyone is different in this respect.

What and How is Key used?

Key again is involved in the tonality of a song and the central mood or genre. Of course, when a singer is involved the range of the singer must be taken into account, but the key should be generally decided in the planning phase of a song. A key often used in popular music is the key of E.

How Do You Write Lyrics?

Although Mr. Long said that he does not write a lot of lyrics, he explained that writing lyrics again goes back to a determined main idea of a song. By having a central idea it is much easier to know where to go with your song.

Conclusion(This Week I learned)

Always have a central idea. It’s as simple as that, I realized that by having an idea in mind is much easier as this direction I obtain from the “central idea” allows me to know what I want in my song and how I want it to sound like.

 

My discussion with Mr. Long also led me to ask him whether it is alright to take a bit of someone else’s music and add elements to my own. Mr. Long informed me that it is ok to copy music a little bit, but it is very difficult to determine when exactly are is too much copying that it becomes illegal. I thought about this and found a video discussing a recent case where Ed Sheeran got a Lawsuit because “Thinking Out Loud” sounded much like another song.

 

Week 6 of Passion Project

This week somewhat productive yet not as productive as I wished it was.

I had a sort of new found understanding that music is “good” or “catchy mainly because of repetition. When a listener hears a song, they rarely walk away with your lyrics or “Central Message”. The listener usually remembers the tune. This got me analyzing modern hits and their individual “tunes” and I realized that so many songs depend on their hook or recurring tune, and in many songs this tune is engrained into the song itself. The chorus sometimes is straight up the bassline, examples include “Do I Wanna Know” by the Arctic Monkeys, “Seven Nation Army”, “Another One Bites the Dust”. This understanding made me take a new angle of songwriting, I tried to start by writing a chorus first, and then using the rhythm or melody of the chorus to structure and plan my entire song. However, because this was quite an unproductive week I wasn’t able to produce much.

Now the somewhat productive part of this week

This understanding that songs rely on a singular line or melody told me that although it’s possible to write and perform a good song with just a guitar, I need more instruments, harmonies, and layers. Therefore, I need to master Logic Pro. I also need to brush up on melody writing and understanding of music genres and instruments but I’m putting that aside for now.

I spent most of my time this week doing Logic Pro stuff. I found some interesting videos online where people sampled some day to day sounds like paper ripping or clamoring of pans and made beats out of them. I tried to do this by downloading the audio of an iPhone 4 buzzing. I used and cut this sound to make a short drum loop. I uploaded it to SoundCloud in the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/buzz

I fooled around more with Logic and eventually made a song, check it out in the link below.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/playing-with-logic-pro

The strange thing is that I actually was somewhat satisfied with this song, even though it was very easy to make. I realized that making pure EDM is different to writing full melodies. EDM is made with a combination of loops, I did not go through the pain of making full melodies to write this song, but I still liked it nonetheless.

Even though doing pure EDM is very easy and NOT what I plan to do much in the future. I did make a breakthrough this week; I was satisfied with something I made. I hope this is some sort of trend that continues in the future.

 

Week 5 of Passion Project

In this week I mainly tried just singing and experimenting on my guitar. I wasn’t able to come up with any ideas I was satisfied with but I am definitely getting a better grasp on songwriting.

I searched up some tips and tutorials on lyrics and songwriting. I also found interesting videos where songwriters try writing songs in a very limited time.

I learned that to make a song good it’s important to select specific instruments that fit the style and genre of the song. And I’ve tried to incorporate some of that when producing music using Logic Pro.  (the software I have decided to use I the future)

I uploaded some of my guitar experimentations onto this account I’ve made on SoundCloud. I plan to record progress using this in the future.

https://soundcloud.com/megaphone-man/sets/guitar-patterns

Please tell me if the link works or not.

First Three Weeks of Band

The first few weeks of Band was not too stressful. While it was cool to meet new people from 9th grade, it was also some what annoying to work with irritating freshmen. I was always prepared during these few weeks, I never forgot to bring music, instrument, and a pencil. I also have been able to leave time each week to practice so far, I practiced articulation and long tones. I think the long break has deteriorated my tone and made me rusty. I definitely need more consistent practice.

 

 

I think Mr. long should wear reading glasses during the concerts.

Week 4 Passion Project

For the Monday I spent my time developing a few ideas, I was not satisfied with any of them so I did not record them down. I realized that its easy for me to experiment in the key of C and then capo my guitar after.

On Wednesday I wanted to explore music editing further, so I experimented with the EQ functions and searched up how it is used. I quickly made a short track and tried out equalizing different parts.

There were many preset options already but I wanted to push it to the extreme, here are some examples of me just playing around with the options and EQing to the point where the sound changes completely.

(I can’t upload mp3 on blog neither can I access Soundcloud, so I sent my audio through email)

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