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 In making this I was attempting to show much variety in the music without it sounding like a totally different piece. From a theory perspective I wanted it to go into some slightly unusual territory. Playing at the edges of abstract but maintaining a structure.

I made two copies. One for my Soundcloud and one for YouTube. My YouTube audio quality took the larger hit on upload. The SC Version seems a bit closer to the master. They both suffered as a result of audio compression.The YT version has notation posted although the violas are showing treble clef. If I were serious about moving this forward i would refine the notation presentation.

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Saul, Thank you for your comments here. I have been attempting to branch out tonally in my music so this was admittedly an experiment of sorts. This isn't the kind of thing I typically do. The focus is left up to the listener here. The music doesn't have strong melody or resolution, like say a movie theme or romantic song. I doubt my next thing will be anything like this. 

Here seems to be a conundrum of composers in general, Take things too far away from western ears and you loose the listener. Keep things too close to theme and melody and we are then sometimes called "simple" composers. Or our ideas simply copy the ideas of others.. Western, diatonic, a key change or two , hold interest, resolve...a person must do what they feel is the thing they want to do I suppose. This was probably my first foray into anything that didn't sound like anything else lol.

Hi Timothy,

I'm completely unfamiliar with the equipment used to create this music. Could you elaborate a bit more for those of us who are newbies to the modern world of music making through the miracle of electronics? Are the instruments synthesized or are these played on actual instruments and then mixed electronically?

I enjoyed the piece by the way. Very atmospheric. I had a strong sense of a structure taking shape early on, then I sort of lost that, but it might be my fault. You avoid monotony very nicely though, by varying the texture in interesting ways.

I look forward to hearing more of your work.

Liz

Hi Liz, Nice to meet you here! Thank you for your comments on the song.

I was posting info here and there over on the technology area. Probably not enough yet to help a person who is trying to pick this up.

I will do my best to tell you enough to help you begin. DAWs have been around for quite awhile now. They keep getting better and better. A DAW (digital audio workstation) is simply a computer loaded with software dedicated to making music. The first thing to do is determine if your computer has the minimum spec necessary to load DAW software. If you use Mac computers you will have different selections than someone who uses a PC...this is an ongoing debate which is best all depending on who you talk to. One of my favorite music making software programs is Cakewalk for the PC. It's free. No that's not a typo. Has lots of support. You could potentially have it in your computer tonight and if you had any questions someone on the forum will be helpful. You would still need to learn it and set it all up. Not as difficult as it may seem. It comes with some basic music tools to get you started.

You asked if the instruments are synthesized. This is both a yes and no answer. When making sample libraries for programs like Cakewalk, real instrumentalists are called into the studio and their instruments are meticulously sampled. These samples can then be played by a pianist with realism and layerd in the music software so that entire arrangements can be built up from it using multiple takes of different instruments. The instruments are REAL takes of those instruments in most cases which are then mapped to a keyboard with keys similar to a piano . These sounds can be manipulated by synthesis if desired, though often they are as original as they can be. Some composers purchase large sample libraries which can be expensive. Some here use a library called Vienna. I have Kirk Hunter, Spitfire Albion One and others, though I have some Vienna libraries....these are simply libraries that your music software loads so that you can use the sounds to create realistic works.

 The DAW can also be used to capture recordings of real acoustic instruments with the right hardware.

Thanks, Tim, for the explanation. Your description of "samples" sounds like the way soundfonts work in notation software like MuseScore. The  instruments aren't synthesized directly, but the notes are derived from samples played on actual instruments. As I understand it, the timbre is determined by the samples, but the pitches are in effect synthesized. The result is only as good as the original samples, and for some instruments (standard string instruments for example) the result leaves much to be desired. Your mix sounds generally pretty realistic though.

It sounds as if the samples are used differently on a DAW, though, compared to notation o=software. I'll have to take a look at the technology area...

 Soundfonts were an earlier technology still in use today. The main contrast between them and modern sample libraries is as you say, the sound was sampled and then mapped to a key in pitches corresponding to the keys. Back when computers were less powerful soundfonts were a great way to make instrument sounds using the limited resources of older computers.Some soundfonts actually sound quite good when you consider how little the programmers had to work with back then. Sample libraries are exponentially larger and often require more than one hard drive for larger libraries. 

To give one brief example, a soundfont piano might be 3mb in size, while a sample libarary piano could be 10gigabytes. There is a notable difference in sound quality too between the libraries and the soundfonts. Soundfont players are often called "romplers" because the sounds were all stored in a single ROM chip. 

In a DAW a keyboard plays midi> midi goes into computer and into music recording software> the selected track to be recorded has a sample library attached to it> the midi calls the library up and the sounds are streamed live off of disk.Usually SSDs( solid state drives) are used. They are faster. No moving parts.Speed is everything when you're pulling samples off of a drive in real time by the thousands.

Hope this helped a little:)

Tim this is very interesting and I did enjoy it. You have a nice variety of sounds and effects coming from a simple structure..  And stylistically it goes from being romantic to impressionist to a modal sort of folk music all mixed and nicely done. I think you could easily add in some more drama to give more of an arc to this but it works as is to my ear.

It does help some Timothy, thanks. It's all quite new to me though, or rather I'm quite new to all of this. Two months ago I had no idea of what soundfonts were. And yes, as you say, some soundfonts sound quite good. In MuseScore, the bundled flute and piano soundfonts sound quite realistic. So their solo string soundfonts came as quite a disappointment; still better than nothing, though.

I see that Apple's GarageBand is considered a type of DAW software. I wonder how it compares to more professional products.

Timothy Smith said:

 Soundfonts were an earlier technology still in use today. The main contrast between them and modern sample libraries is as you say, the sound was sampled and then mapped to a key in pitches corresponding to the keys. Back when computers were less powerful soundfonts were a great way to make instrument sounds using the limited resources of older computers.Some soundfonts actually sound quite good when you consider how little the programmers had to work with back then. Sample libraries are exponentially larger and often require more than one hard drive for larger libraries. 

To give one brief example, a soundfont piano might be 3mb in size, while a sample libarary piano could be 10gigabytes. There is a notable difference in sound quality too between the libraries and the soundfonts. Soundfont players are often called "romplers" because the sounds were all stored in a single ROM chip. 

In a DAW a keyboard plays midi> midi goes into computer and into music recording software> the selected track to be recorded has a sample library attached to it> the midi calls the library up and the sounds are streamed live off of disk.Usually SSDs( solid state drives) are used. They are faster. No moving parts.Speed is everything when you're pulling samples off of a drive in real time by the thousands.

Hope this helped a little:)

It's been a most interesting read, Tim, and thank you.

I've been able to avoid the inner workings of MIDI for too long. Now I'm having to get involved to get more our of my daw plus the instrument player - both have been huge learnings. I seem no closer to that "light at the end of the tunnel" even if I'm miles from the beginning. Perhaps why I'm reluctant to buy notation software. Sometimes people like you, Tim, have a way of explaining something in simple terms that the jargon-ridden technical texts can't - and that's totally appreciated I can tell you!

Cheers, Dane.

Ingo, Thank you! This is exactly what I was attempting to convey.

Liz, Admittedly this composition is probably not the best to show the capabilities of the larger  sample libraries. I didn't actually use the best sounds I had for some of it. I downloaded Musescore a few weeks back because I needed a program that could import xml files and export midi. Musescore plays soundfont files. I need to watch how I attempt to explain this or it might become confusing. Both larger sample libraries and soundfonts use midi as their input. You could export a midi from Musescroe and import it into my DAW. To make things even more confusing, my DAW has a soundfont player in it.

So you see there is some cross pollination here between programs. Some notation software can play vsti instruments You could for instance, make a song in Musescore and expand on the sound capability by exporting a song from it as midi into a DAW that has a better set of sounds. After our discussion last night I went to my DAW and pulled up some old soundfonts I haven't played in years. I was impressed by them! Had forgotten how good some of them sounded. 

I generally choose a DAW to work in because it has the largest set of tools from start to finish for audio work for me.

Dane, I'm sure you'll get it. Once you've worked in a program long enough it tends to become second nature.I would learn the basic keystrokes first, like rewind, stop, record, learning how to arm tracks. Inputting and using midi and audio the two main tracks in any DAW. I'm still learning and learn every day. Seems a never ending quest! 

Best! Tim

I almost missed this by Liz-

"I see that Apple's GarageBand is considered a type of DAW software. I wonder how it compares to more professional products."

While some bands have made albums from Garageband I would say it is mostly seen as a beginner program.There are included "loops" that can be dropped into tracks. It was free on the Mac. It is capable for beginners.

For more serious work, a few good programs for the Mac are Logic which was only around 200.00 US. That's a pretty good deal for such a good program. Cubase is another good Mac program. Yet another is Studio One 4 professional. Both of those latter programs also can be used on a PC as well as Mac. All of these programs will allow both midi and audio work as well as host software instruments. Cubase requires a hardware dongle to work. The same one you would need if you bought Vienna instruments. The other programs all use serial number registration online. Some people do not like the need for a hardware dongle in order to be able to use the program.

Hello Tim, 

I have listened to this piece several times, with pleasure, and I like it. I especially appreciate its free flowing tonal/modal style, which helps to attain the goal of escaping traditional and outworn harmonic schedules by different means than my own attempts try to do. I would find it very interesting if you could make a piece in this style with a fast tempo, an allegro for example. 

I have a few questions or remarks, though.

(1) When listening I expect the beat-like sounds in the strings at the beginning (mm. 17-24) to return or somehow to be repeated at the end. But they aren't. Since these sounds really stand out, I find it a bit strange that they are nowhere repeated.

(2) I'm a bit ambiguous about the descending semi-tone in the cello in m. 59.

Hi Tim,

I liked this one -- for whatever reason, it evoked some of the music I heard in some of the older, European art-house films I was exposed to in film school (way back in the day, maybe 35 years ago - I can't even remember the names of the films). It has a certain hypnotic quality to it, and I like how it wanders through a series of different flavours. 

To my ears, the title and the ending of the piece did sort of conflict at bit - "The Restitution" sort of suggests something fairly definitive, but I found the ending to be much more uncertain and questioning, like something has not been resolved. That is not a technical/theory comment on the composition, but simply an observation that the tone, texture and movement in the final few bars conveyed an uncertain vibe or a question, rather than a resolution. That might be deliberate, but I just figured I'd mention it. 

Overall, I quite liked it, though.  

Rob

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