Rozovian’s Music Log

Posts Tagged ‘composing’

In Defense of Earth Music in Alien Settings

Posted by Ad on August 11, 2011

Okay, we’re talking science fiction speculative fiction stuff here. Just go with it. 😉

First, almost all rhythm is based on math. Indian ragas are really long, polyrhythmic stuff is difficult to quantize, but it’s all based on math. Rhythm is math. Any alien civ would understand math before going into space… unless they were really lucky and domesticated space dragons or something that just so happened to also live on their homeworld.

Second, pitch is based on math. And here’s the kicker – harmony is a physical phenomenon. That C and G sound good together is not arbitrary – it’s science. G is so close to the second harmonic of C that they sound good together. Harmonics are frequencies that are integer multiples of the fundamental frequency. The fundamental can be arbitrary, but its harmonics will be twice, three, four, five etc times the fundamental frequency. In other words, physics – which doesn’t change much between us and aliens – make the harmonics. Harmonics make the circle of fifths. The circle of fifths makes the chromatic scale. The chromatic scale is on our pianos, our guitars, our synths. Sure, they can tune it differently, use different modes and scales (whole tone scale, anyone?), but more likely than not, they’d have the chromatic scale… If they like harmony, thatis.

Third, the vibrating string, the vibrating membrane, the basic waveforms – they’re based on math. Or rather, physics. Again, we’d have this in common. Would they prefer a sitar over a guitar, or a harpsichord over a piano? Do they want their drums tuned? Do they appreciate raw waveforms, or prefer more advanced synthesis techniques? Taste is different, and their instrument constructions and conventions would be different, but the core of the instruments would likely be the same – no matter the kind of instrument.


This doesn’t mean they’ll like four on the floor beats. Maybe they only like rhythms based on prime numbers. Triplet rhythms might work, but if they’re sophisticated, they might want stuff like 11/8, 19/8, or something even higher. And what are the timbres of their rhythm instruments? If they even make that distinction.

This doesn’t mean they’ll necessarily have music in tune with ours. If they pick a fundamental in between two semitones of our chromatic scale, it’ll sound off-key. And it might not conform to any scale or mode we are used to. If they have and appreciate tonal music at all.

And nothing says their instruments need to be remotely like ours, nor do the techniques need to be the same. I can play part of a Chrono Trigger melody on harmonics on guitar, and often do this inadvertently while just playing. Perhaps they don’t have necks on their instruments, maybe they play on separate strings and/or harmonics. Maybe they play on a single string, which they change the tension of, thus changing the pitch with a more pitch-bend-like effect (our guitars are tuned this way, and played by changing the length of the freely vibrating string). Maybe they use advanced synthesis techniques to create ethereal soundscapes where many aspects of music bleed together into… well, something more sound design than music.

That said, I’m still bothered by how Stargate SG-1, Babylon 5, Star Wars, and so many other shows and movies have alien music that sounds like Earth music. Yes, you can use our scales and tunings. No, you can’t just decide that the aliens’ hat is jazz music or whatever. Composers, take heed.

You know, I should just make some examples. 😀

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maybe I need a muse

Posted by Ad on May 25, 2010

Okay so, the last few… ugh, months, really, I’ve been having a hard time finishing any tracks. I’ve got some plans for original albums, small vgm remix albums, and of course finished the project tracks I’ve promised ppl. Ugh, promises.

That got me thinking… I sometimes write better just because someone inspires me. I wrote my Bionic Commando track by listening to Rebecca Mayes’ take on the new Bionic Commando game. Which reminds me, the remix isn’t actually done yet, I was gonna redo the drums. *sigh*

I always thought I was a bit of an asocial person, but I’m generally more energetic and inspired when I’m around ppl a lot. Maybe it’s cuz my mind wants to run away from the impersonal crowd and into something personal, like music. Or maybe I’m motivated ad inspired by ppl.

So, I need a muse. And a job. 😀

Maybe I should just pick some random person that I know or know of and see where that takes me. maybe I can finally finish that memory-hogging process-clogging time signature experiment for the BadAss project. lol. To think I considered finishing it for bLiNd’s tribute album. It’s _still_ not done. I need more memory for Omnisphere.

Also, I made it home from England without much of a problem. It cost my dad a bit to rent cars tho. Fortunately, I’m not paying. Unfortunately, I don’t have that kind of money anyway. Anybody with money and who need music for something interested in hiring me for something? Anyone? Hello?

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Not Productive

Posted by Ad on February 24, 2010

I’m not. Well, everything relative, but I need to be more productive. I’m involved in a plethora of different projects, and need to get some of them out of them way.  Here’s my plan:

By the end of the week, I’ll have done:
– one new rap beat, or at least the basis for one
– either all the music or the jingles mixed and converted  for the OST I’m working on
– Blue Haze completely fixed up
– one vgm remix project song out of the way (besides Blue Haze)
– schedule another recording session

5 items on the list, which makes about 8 songs total. And it’s probably just about a third or a quarter of all the projects I’m really on. Depends on how you count tho. Let’s see if I can stick to this plan.

So how many songs am I really working on, total? Let’s see, 3…12…15…18… 18 that I have a need to finish, plus a few dozen more that I want to finish. And that’s counting the aforementioned jingles as a single song. *sigh* How’d I put myself in this position?

edit: make that 19, and probably more still.

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Having a pro moment

Posted by Ad on January 28, 2010

No, nothing big and profitable. Unfortunately. 😀 Just a short student animation that I now saw a clip from with my music. I had scored it to an earlier rendered version with low resolution, so to see it big and shiny was cool.

On one hand, I’m starting to feel I don’t have what it takes for the music industry, at least as a composer. On the other hand… this was easy. Had a short deadline, but made an ok score in time. And it didn’t feel difficult (despite that it was tricky to get the ideas out and to try to time things to the cuts).

If it ends up on youtube I’ll link it. Later. If I remember. Maybe.

Working on one of my secret projects has taught me how important context is. With that project I’m having a hard time making the music really sound right for the setting. Despite Omnisphere’s gazillion sounds I can’t get it right. Must be the arrangement that’s causing trouble. just don’t know how to fix it. Oh well…

Too many projects, not enough profit. Can’t take on a new practice project until I’ve cleared some others, either. Been meaning to rip scenes from various shows and movies and try scoring those, see how it ends up being. Well, once I clear some of the projects out of the way, maybe.

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Assorted music plans…

Posted by Ad on December 28, 2009

The thing is, I have a lot of ideas for albums. I’m just not sure I’m pro enough to really make one. I’m just throwing this out there for the ppl that know this stuff:

Am I good enough yet?

By that I mean, do I have the tools and the skills and the knowledge and discerning enough ears to make a commersial album, be that one intended for licencing or for listening? If, I don’t need to do the mastering myself.  What do you think?

In any case, I’ve also got plans for a website, need a few demos for it. Since I want to compose for games, I want to show I can do different styles. I have a few ideas, but what do you think would make good examples/be good challenges for me?

All this assuming I have readers. 😀

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Make that 3… or 4

Posted by Ad on July 14, 2009

I already mentioned this on my swedish blog, but it’s worth saying here too. I’m now working on music for two games, and then there’s the Seiken Densetsu 3 remix project… Should I count the other remix projects when I’m only contributing one or two tracks there? That makes it 2 more unless I’ve forgotten something.

In any case, I’m considering making an album, but I’m having a hard time deciding if I should make a free release or try to go commersial. I’ve got thousands of tracks saved, many of which could be worth releasing (and many of which aren’t). Free means free publicity, commersial means money. No publicity, no money. Hm…

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Video Game Composer

Posted by Ad on April 2, 2009

Yup, that’s what I am… or rather, what I will be when the games are done. If they get done.

One of my RL friends is involved in one, and I suggested I could make music for it. Yep, I don’t get paid, but that’s fine. Once I’ve made music for a couple of games I’ve got something to show and might get work on paid composing jobs. Maybe.

The other one is an OCR collab composing project. I volunteered to coordinate it _after_ ppl had started to work on their tracks, so my job is now to try to get everything together and turn it more cohesive. That, and to make a track that fits. First thing I did when I got the position of coordinator/director/whatever was to  deem my own track unfit. Still gotta work out how to get the sound right, but I don’t want to abandon my cool, more classic platformer arrangement. 😦 I’m afraid I’ll have to, tho.

That, the Seiken Densetsu 3 remix project (which is progressing nicely, thanks for reading about it), the Pokémon remix project (yep, got a track there), the Mega Man 4 remix project (just joined there too), the Boss Themes project (yep, I’m there), and… where else… 

Well, I’ve got music projects galore, meaning any original works for my planned little tour of freiends’ homes might not get done for a while, so no such tour will be done for a while either… unless I just mix my old tracks better. I’ve got a lot of those.

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