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    moog
  Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:24 pm
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Hola forums! Moog here, your friendly neighborhood darkie. Ever want to create your OWN original music? Ever want to just create sounds that you can use for yourself and save money? Well, in this workshop, I will teach you:

-How to build a basic song in various genres
-Basic instrumentation
-Some Music Theory and chord progression
-How to build chords

For starters, this is all in GRAND STAFF NOTATION, by that I mean treble and bass clefs, so if you dont want to learn music building with this I suggest you use a tutorial on sequencers, but I guarantee that if you learn basic music that any sequencer will be easy for you.

Also, I am not here to judge and fix your songs you write! this is basically for those who want extra help, but anything you create is fine. Music, although initially is taught about rules, shouldnt be, because it is expressive.

First off, I would recommend downloading a music notation software. I currently use Finale 2009 for everything, but you can download a demo here: http://www.finalemusic.com/PrintMusic/Demo.aspx for free. There are also programs like Sibelius (http://www.sibelius.com/home/index_flash.html) and Noteworthy Composer (http://www.noteworthysoftware.com/) that you can get.

Ok, lets start making a SWEET TRACK PEOPLE'S

1) Instrumentation

Before the track can start of course, you gotta pick your instruments. The short and sweet way, if you are writing music for your game, is just to make the underlying instruments a voice that can be easily changed, like a piano or a choral voice.

Also, add an underlying percussion voice for your rhythm. In Finale, I find it easy to just use a Drum Set voice, so for now, I'll that.

So, as you can see below, I have 2 Piano voices and 1 Percussion Voice.
Image

Now, on to picking the key/time signature. The key can be however you want it to sound. The time signature is the amount of beats/time the music is in. For now, let's stick with C Major (No Sharps, No flats) and 4/4 Time (4 Quarter Notes per measure).

Image

Now that the instruments, key, and basic time are done, lets build some chords!

2) Chord Building

Before we start lets look at how to read notes on a grand staff.

Image

Basically, chord building is pretty simple, and you can learn some basic music theory from it. Since we are in C Major it shouldnt be that hard. So, lets talk about basic chords: Triads and 7th chords.

Basically, Triads are made up for 3 notes, where as 7th's are made of 4. Both chords are made with thirds, so if you wanted to make CM (C Major Triad) or CM7 (C Major 7th), lets look below...

Image

So, the CM is composed of notes, C, E, and G, and the CM7 is C, E, G, and B.

For any major scale, however, the triads progress in major and minor keys (M being major, m being minor, dim being diminshed):
M, m, m, M, M, m, dim.

For now, we wont worry about 7th chord progressions, just remember that they roughly progress the same as triads.

So, if you went from CM to the next note D and tried to build a chord, you would go from CM to Dm, and if you continued to E, it would be Em. Pretty simple right?

Remember; no sharps, no flats in C major, so no black keys!

Ok, now that we have our basic chord building, its time to work on some progressions!

3) Progressions

Ok, we're like 75% there guys, now to talk about some basic chord progressions that millions of musicians have and still use that you can use as a basis for your song.

Lets take a look back at our triad progression:

M, m, m, M, M, m, dim.

Lets make these numerical, with capital roman numerals representing Major and small numbers representing minor and the seventh being diminished.

So,

I, ii, iii, IV, V, vi, vii(dim)

And now, lets apply it to C Major.

I-CM
ii-dm
iii-em
IV-FM
V-GM
vi-am
vii(dim)-b dim

Now numerically, we are on the right track, but what does this all mean? Well, all or most music starts on the tonic triad, aka the key's I, in this case CM. The I can go to any other number, ii, iii, IV etc. However, certain numbers can only go to other ones. BUT this isnt the classical age and we arent writing under rules, just freewriting!

There are basic progressions though we can use that many other musicians have used, such as:

Three Tone: I, IV, V, IV or I, IV, I, V
Basic tonic to dominant: I, V, I, V
Deceptive: I, V, VI, ii, IV, V, I

For now, lets use a basic three tone in our bass clef as our progression.

Lets put this to use and write a progression!

4) Basic Writing and Rhythm

Before we go on, I suggest you check this http://bandnotes.info/rhythm/intro.htm <-- site out for basic rhythm. Writing rhythms isnt that hard, but if you arent sure, check it out, but I will be explaining as we go along.

Ok guys! LETS WRITE SOME SHIT

Progression wise lets try a three tone (I, IV,V,IV)

Lets start with the bass clef for our triads. Remember, we are in 4/4 so it is only 4 quarter notes per measure. For now, lets write with 2 half notes per measure. (Half note=2 quarter notes)

We will start on C Major, which is the tonic. For the bass clef, we will have our triads and in the treble will be the melody, which you can create in anyway you'd like. So, if we are doing a I IV V IV, we would have 4 measures, and each measure would start with a new chord.

Check it out:
Image


Now that that is done, you can continue with this same progression, or just make your own!

Lets check out the percussion part now.

I like to write a basic three part drumset: a cymbal, a snare drum, and a bass. For the bass, its much easier to just write a quarter note on beat 1 and 3, and the cymbal can be constant 8th notes. The snare can chime in on beats 2 and 4.

Image

So, feel free to create another melody using the same progression or two differant one. See what you can make! Just make sure for the final measure that you return to the tonic triad (C Major).

Also, dont forget that you DONT HAVE TO FOLLOW ANYTHING I WROTE. Its for those who would like help building music tracks. Also, if you understand this, you are basically learning basic music theory! You are becoming a musician!

Post your tracks on what you make, or if you need help, ask questions. Remember that music is very free roam and you can use your imagination to progress your ideas.

heres what i made based on the tutorial
http://bb.ohsk.net/uploads/workshoppoop.mp3

and heres the exact same song but in C minor with a totally differant feel!
http://bb.ohsk.net/uploads/workshoppoop2.mp3

Any questions feel free to ask guys! Hope this helps :D


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    So fist
  Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:25 pm
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Hello there Hbmonsters. Today we're discussing music and sound use for your video games. Music and sound use is often a subtly overlooked detail in the sense that it's rarely capitalized on around here. A lot of folks tend to just grab a random list drawn from their favorite ost's and use things they think sound cool on a rather scattershot as needed basis. This article is meant to help you make more critical choices in your sound in music choices to enhance your storytelling and create ambiance that really immerses your player.

Before you start selecting music you need to ask yourself some critical design questions.

1. What kind of music fits my setting(s)?
2. What music suits the personality and feel of my characters and their design?
3. What kind of story am I telling and how can the music fit into that narrative?
4. How do I want the player to feel when they hear it?
5. When will I use this music and how?
6. What music will fit the style and theme of the game?

These are all difficult questions to answer at first if you don't know what to do with music other than use it as mere background fill to avoid the silence. But music can be used much more effectively if you begin to consider it as part of your narrative rather than as "farm town" bgm. Music can and should be used actively to enhance the dramatics of your story and to control your player's attention and perspective on the details you want them to pay attention to. Before we look at some examples of what I'm talking about I want to list some common amateur design habits to avoid.

1. Avoid overusing your powerful tracks. If every moment of your game is followed by a grave and resounding score it will lose it's impact quick. Seriously, Sephiroth's broken winged angel when we are fighting our first enemy? Be strategic with these sort of tracks. Also try and avoid other people's ost's if possible, or at least choose things way more obscure.

2. Don't choose music on the sole justification of, "'cause I like it." Consider the scene, the characters, the settings, and the style you are going for. Often times problem number two is the reason why you have problem number one.

3. While it's important that you mix up the tracks so players aren't hearing the same song over and over again make sure they fit together in terms of style. Tracks that jarringly don't fit can break up immersion.

4. Make sure your music fits the mood, situation, characters, etc. If it doesn't and it's not purposefully providing some kind of ironic counterpoint like in A Clockwork Orange then you have design problems.

Remember that part of what music is used is to underscore emotional content, emphasize themes and character relationships, and to provide cues for story expectations. There are multiple strategies for making the most out of sound and music and we're going to look at some professional examples to get some ideas.

The first few are examples of typical melodramatic scoring.

Our first one comes from a master of using melodramatic music, Alfred Hitchcock. Just watch and pay close attention to the music in the scene.


It should be obvious that basic melodrama is scoring that is intended to heighten the emotional undertones of the scene. In Hitchcock's case the score is so meticulously designed you could close your eyes and just listen to the music to know what's happening or know the flow of the scene as every high and low point has it's accompaniement that tells that part of the story. The frenetic pace of the violins and the off tune brass section all combine to create tension to tell this story of frailty. Yet aside from the music Hitchcock has chosen to emphasize the sound of Madeline's crash landing to further the shock of her suicide. We hear not only because it's loud but also because it's one of the few sound effects used in the scene. And that's a real key thing to do with sound and scoring. Control it. Don't just loop it. And control it purposefully. Hitchcock wants his audience to identify with James' shock and feelings of powerlessness over his own fears of falling, of death and loss. So he has the music be that inner monologue and that graphic sound be the worst fear realized. Melodramatic scoring is best used for scenes whose subjects and situations warrant intense drama and emotions.

The next is a more modern example of melodramatic scoring from Band of Brothers (warning this is a concentration camp scene)

These guys are using a slightly different strategy. The music is employed more subtly in the sense that it doesn't dominate our attention in the scene, but we can't ignore it just the same. It's also more simple arrangement in comparison to the one from Vertigo. Rather than a whole band it is a small two or three violins playing a slow and sorrowful song. The simplicity of the piece allows the viewer to pay more attention to other things while still gathering the effect from the emotional content of the music. Sound is what draws our attention to the other things. Unlike the Hitchcock scene we are flooded with ambient sounds the rattle of the chainlink fence, the footsteps in the dirt, and the moans and cries of the throng of suffering of humanity waiting at the gates. What the director is doing by flooding us with all this visceral detail is bringing us to the scene, the goal is to make the viewer feel like they're with easy company in this horrible tragic place. And to get there they flooded us with all the visceral details the sights and, as important, the sounds. This is especially an effective strategy when the scene itself tells most of the story as this one does. Where Hitchcock was isolating sound and using a gigantic score to focus us on the turmoil of one character, Band of brothers uses a simple score and inundates us with sound to focus us on the setting that tells the story of the scene.

This next scene is meant to demonstrate why you would choose to have scenes with no musical elements. This comes from the Coen Brothers' opus No Country for Old Men


You'll notice that not only is there no music, but also very little ambient sound. This causes our focus to pay close attention to the characters and become very intimate with them. We hang more onto their words and we pay more attention to their relationship and faces. There is also more tension because we have no cue as to when Anton will shoot Carson if he so decides. And the only significant sound, the phone, comes in jarringly loud. It invades the scene and signals Carson's exit from it. Without musical cues we are held in suspense. We don't know when the scene will have it's climax and what that climax will be. Silence is not only a way to create tension as before it also creates intimacy. It's where characters will reveal themselves briefly, confide secrets, conspire. Silence has a tendency to confer gravity to a situation. It tends to amplify underlying tensions in relationships and provoke characters into confessing monologues.

This next example comes from Goodfellas and demonstrates use of pop music as scoring which is difficult to do effectively.

You'll notice that they dated the establishment shot as 1970 but the song that introduces Billy Batts is a doo wop song from the early sixties. Point being made, Billy is out of touch and he lives and revels in the past. He's a god of old about to drown in the ocean and be forgotten like atlantis. Hey what do you know that's the song they beat him to death to. Anyway the scene starts with the doo wop song up super loud and slowly eases the volume until it dies when Billy and shinebox boy almost goes at it. This establishes mood and the fade out establishes the shift and tension that builds during the party. The music establishes that this is some kind homecoming party for Billy Batts. It's joyous and his spirits match the music until Joe Pesci's character arrives who sucks the music out of the room. The choice of Atlantis for the beating and subsequent murder of Billy Batts is perfect not only because it fits Batts as a falling old god of the Mafia, but it is the moment of Joe Pesci's character's fall as he is doomed to the same fate because of that very act. It is the wrapping of two intertwined storylines in one song. Pop is best suited with modern settings where it can be blended better with the scenery and culture that fits with it.

This next one is an example of very subtle use of music. This is a scene from the dark knight. You'll have to listen closely or you might miss most of the music.


You'll notice the piano keys come in when the joker starts revealing his own thoughts about he and Batman's commonalities and it's clear that the bat shares some identification with the fear that the Joker is peddling him and in that small moment shares an intimate commonality with the joker. The electric guitar bandsaw whatever thing at the end is obvious musical noise to heighten the tension an underscore for the scene shift, and probably the lead in to the powerful score for the next scene. Anyway the point of this sparing use is to try and use music without the viewer realizing it's there to create ambiance.

Anyway hopefully this has been enlightening as to how you can use your music and sound to not just fill content but use it to direct your player to experiences you want them to have with your game.

For further practice try out these strategies in your own cutscenes and post them up for some feedback.


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    So fist
  Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:53 pm
Has fist, will travel.
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Super double music workshop


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    moog
  Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:56 pm
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For glorious medof


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    ShadowMainZERO
  Wed Jul 20, 2011 11:58 pm
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Location: A Little Place I Like to Call Earth.
I'll take a crack at it but I didn't understand any of it. I don't think I'm cut out to be a musician.

_________________
The ultimate power is found in the incorruptible light hidden deep in the darkness. You must delve into the darkest part of your heart and find that light. Once you do, never let go of it. Remember: Your heart is the strongest weapon of all.


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    So fist
  Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:00 am
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tobacco goldfish wrote:
For glorious medof

May our axes be strong


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    moog
  Thu Jul 21, 2011 12:10 am
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ShadowMainZERO wrote:
I'll take a crack at it but I didn't understand any of it. I don't think I'm cut out to be a musician.


look at it more as guidelines. remember that its essentially just there for help.


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    Juan J. Sánchez
  Thu Jul 21, 2011 2:52 am
I'm a doctor in Costa Rica.
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Party Mascot

Location: Costa Rica
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

Here's a short melody I wrote. What do you think? Be honest.



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    moog
  Thu Jul 21, 2011 6:48 pm
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it has a very ambient feel to it, fitting a somewhat sad/mysterious mood? if so I like it. the wind SE is a nice touch, I would increase the dynamics of the strings though, but all in all I like!


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    ZenVirZan
  Sat Jul 23, 2011 1:57 pm
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Inept Evil Stooge

Location: land of the snags 'n tracky-dacks
I agree, increasing the dynamics of the strings would make it stand out as more of a song, rather than an ambient BGS. Me likes :D

Actually, now that I listen to it through my headset (I can hear it now :D),
Perhaps revise some of your chords (some of them sounded a little off), possibly just changing them around a bit with a piano-roll editor (i dunno)
And yes, dynamics may need a bit of an increase.

I think its perfect for sadder, more emotional scenes. I like it :DD

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    ZenVirZan
  Mon Aug 29, 2011 9:52 am
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Inept Evil Stooge

Location: land of the snags 'n tracky-dacks
I've uploaded a piece i wrote a long time ago, and just recently modified a few things
Youtube depreciates the Quality, but oh well :\

Here it is:

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