To all visitors: a few days ago, I had the idea of making a visitors’ book where you can introduce me and other visitors to your blogs, SNS accounts, and music. It was a brilliant idea, if I do say so myself. I have nothing against self-promotion—if you’re visiting my website, please consider reading the rules of the visitors’ book and leaving a comment.
I went to the fourth concert of my life yesterday. I think I’m over the awe of being at a concert now. Throughout the event, criticisms such as ‘Maybe East Asian violinists really are inexpressive’ kept popping into my head.
A quick list of developments in my composing life:
- I have started using reddit, and I am in love.
It’s only been a day since I started using it, but I’m getting so much interaction. On Tuesday night, I posted a question on reddit. When I woke up the next morning, I saw that it had 55 comments (excluding the ones written by myself). I learnt so much from reading the replies. (If you’re curious, the question was about the necessity of conductors in modern orchestras.)
I like the privacy and personalisation that WordPress.com offers, but this isn’t the best place to meet lots of musicians and composers. If you’re hungry for music-related conversations, head over to reddit. There’s a useful guide for musicians new to reddit which I discovered courtesy of Wil Forbis.
- I’ve started using YouTube, too. Before, all I had was a channel, but now I’m actually taking the time to log in, watch videos, like videos, and leave comments. I even got a reply from the uploader of a video to a comment I left. Yay.
- ‘Into Winter’ is finally coming together. I think the arrangement is about 80% done; all that’s left to do is tweaking. I can’t wait to listen to the finished track—it should be available before June.
- I decided against making ‘Into Winter’ longer. I listened to it again and again, and somewhere along the way, my ears started believing that ‘Into Winter’ sounds fine the way it is length-wise. Perhaps I’ve just gotten used to its length. Or maybe I’m more of a conservative composer than I thought was.
- I have a logo now, if anyone’s interested. I made it ages ago and finally got round to uploading it.
I like the design, but I’m thinking of changing the colour. You can see it on the page titled ‘Profile’.
I’m in the middle of a dilemma: I can’t decide whether I should make ‘Into Winter’ longer or not.
At the moment, it’s about 3 minutes long, and it has a clearly-defined introduction, middle, and climax. As always with epic music, though, the middle and climax feel too short—this genre of music is all about giving the listener an energy rush which makes him go hunting for the replay button. It’s why there are one-hour versions of epic-music tracks on YouTube; everyone wants more of the middle and the climax. Epic-music introductions are only functional.
I know that if I was a stranger listening to ‘Into Winter’, I’d listen to it from start to finish the first time and repeat just the middle and climax the second time round. I’m an impatient listener, and I don’t see the point in abstaining from replaying or moving on once the fun part is over. But something—probably the meager composer’s instinct I’ve developed over the past half-year—tells me that ‘Into Winter’ is best left as it is. The three-part structure is in place, and it works; dragging out the piece even further would be in bad taste.
But how much taste do you really need when you’re trying to make musical adrenaline? It seems silly to worry about over-repetition and poor composing when I’m making epic music, yet I know that my favourite epic pieces are the ones that have at least a modicum of structure. I don’t like the under-revised pieces, like the ones by E.S. Posthumus.
Of course, I could just leave my second composition as it is, and if any epic-music fan liked it enough to replay it, they’d make a one-hour version of it and put it on YouTube. That would make the question of adding another minute to ‘Into Winter’ moot, since the one-hour version would be all that people want to listen to, anyway.
In any case, the most important task at hand is to make the arrangement spectacular. Nobody will care if it’s three or four minutes long if it isn’t actually good.
Once again, the main melody is finished, and I am left struggling with the arrangement. I received feedback on ‘Onwards‘ about how I should use a wider range of instruments. At the moment, I’m quite uncomfortable around non-string instruments. Whenever I listen to a section of ‘Into Winter’ and try to come up with some names of non-string instruments which might suit it, I draw a blank. I can only conjure sound ideas with adjectives, like ‘tinkling’ or ‘forlorn’; I can’t yet pick the right tools for the musical job.
I don’t know what it is about non-string instruments that renders them silent to my ears. I thought percussion was the worst of it, but now, I’m trying to understand brass and woodwinds. It’s not that I can’t tell different brass or woodwind instruments apart. I just don’t know how to use them. I don’t know when to include them to make the music sound ‘right’.
Ah well. At least I know my way around my DAW now. Soon, it’ll be six months since I created this website and started practical composing. The only things I have to show for my efforts so far are a despised first-composition and some basic DAW-skills. I’ve been a slow learner, but I’m determined not to rush myself. I think I do enough of that outside of composing.
I don’t know if anyone’s noticed this, but ‘Onwards’, my first piece, is now a private track and is not available for listening. I found it so flawed and crude that I couldn’t stand the idea of people listening to it. I’ll make it available again once I’ve revised it and can honestly say that I’ve given it my best effort. That won’t happen until I’ve at least finished ‘Into Winter’, though.
Last Thursday, I went to the third concert of my life: a full-orchestra game-music concert at the Seoul Arts Centre. It got my composer’s blood pumping, and the strange thing is, I didn’t even like most of the music they played.
I went to the concert determined to enjoy the experience, and for the most part, I did. It was a pleasure just to listen to a live orchestra; no headphones can compare. But then I found my mind wandering off in strange directions while I listened, too, making me think things such as ‘This melody is dull and lacks energy’ or ‘I don’t know what that piece was supposed to make me feel.’ And while I’ve always been critical of music I dislike, this time, I started to unconsciously compare the concert music to that of my own. And many times, I came to the conclusion that—despite my embarrassing lack of experience and finesse as a composer—I liked my music better.
That discovery, more than the concert itself, was what fired me up. It’s very important to me that I be able to make things I like. I think a certain amount of success is guaranteed to those who create to please themselves, but it’s more than that—there are few things that feel better than knowing that I can depend on myself as an artist to enrich my life.
Back to composing, then. Life still tries hard to not give me breaks, but I’ll have to scrounge up time somehow. I need to know what I can make out of ‘Into Winter’.