Jamuary 4 Remaster

During January I took on a challenge to write 31 songs in 31 days. Each day I started with a concept and just jumped in. It was fast and crazy for a whole month with little time to plan things out, so I usually worked with a small pallete of mostly randomly picked sounds and a small set of chords. Some days things just worked but on others I wondered around for hours trying to find a connection within the sounds. There were a few days when nothing would connect but then with a particular group of notes or even a "bad" note everything changed and fell into place. There was only one day when the first idea collapsed and I had to start over. 

As you might have guessed that because of the time constraints I didn't have much time to get everything done the way I may have wanted, so now I am going through my favorite compositions and cleaning them up and remastering them. 

I learned a lot this month about myself and about creating music but I am going to stop right here for now. I will talk more about the experience in other posts as time goes on. 

I look forward to hearing your critiques of this music.

So here is a link to the first one: Jamuary 4 Remaster 


Leslie Norton (Electronic Symphonic)

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  • Hi

    An interesting piece, wouldn't be out of place as theme music to a skandi crime drama. Not much in the way of variation other than the introduction of a electric piano(?) around the 5 minute mark. What's your instrumentation? I'm a fan of electronic music - radio 3 in the UK plays some decent stuff later at night.

    Thanks, Colin

    • Thank you for listening...   I appreciate your comments and welcome critiques with open arms. Yes, there was not much variation. I have many conflicting loves of in music, from the very complex with a lot of variation to the minimalist being just two. Composers like Johann Johannsson and Erick Satie are two of my favorites. In this case, the Jamuary Challenge of 31 songs in 31 days, I created a constraint that the music needed to be created within just a few hours so that I had time to create the video and post it each day. I tried to keep a limited pallet of instruments and minimal amount variation of theme to all the pieces in order to make the the time constraint work.

      I am a huge fan of synthesizers and many, but not all, types of electronic music. I just joined the Composers forum a few days ago and I look forward to long discussions with people that have interests in electronic and all types of music. This brings up an interesting point, I went over to the Electronic Music Forum and only found a few entries and the latest post was in 2018. I am surprised there isn't more interest there???

      Instrumentation:  (Short Story) In December I decided to rise enough money to get a Moog One, so I sold 12 synths out of my collection. I had a Moog One in my studio for the first 3 months of 2021 and really liked it, but it had a few issues that really disappointed me. I figured that after a year had gone by Moog would have fixed these issues (one being the preponderance of notes hanging (being stuck on). So while I was raising the money contacted many of the Youtubers that had reviewed it to see what they thought. All of them thought it was an amazing instrument but all were having issues that Moog were not addressing. Anyway, I didn't get it and instead purchased some other synths, but more about that at another time. The result of this month long process was that it completely destroyed my studio setup when I removed all those synths.  I had to completely rearrange and rewire everything and this all happened just before the "challenge".

      OK, about the instrumentation... For the first week or so I only had my (backup) computer, which is another story, and a midi controller, so all the instruments are Plugins.

      Here is the list and order of appearance that I used for this piece:

      Omnisphere - Castillia

      Ethereal Earth 2.0 - Jupiters Organ 

      Absynth - Step Up The Harmony

      East West Platinum - Solo Cello

      Keyscape - Rhodes / LA Custom Lush

  • Hi Leslie, welcome to CF.  I listened to your Jamuary Remaster and I think it is a well conceived and produced as well as enjoyable work. I like minimalist music when I encounter it but I tend to follow more aggressive and abstract styles.  I have always been interested in electronics but I only own Omnisphere and the EW composer cloud thing so I have only a midi keyboard and some guitars for hardware.

    We get a variety of composers here and it seems as if most only drop in occasionally but some of us are interested in electronics. The availability of 'in the box' options kind of blurs the boundaries between samples and synthesis I think. I see that the modular synth approach is becoming quite popular though and I wondered if you had any interest in that?


    • Hi Ingo, thanks for listening.  You bring up a lot of things that I have thought about a lot. As far as working in the box I think you have chosen two of the best to work with and depending on your DAW you probably have enough to keep you busy for years. Omnisphere is a very deep synth and I know I have only scratched the surface of it. Seamlessly mixing hardware synths with in the box Orchestral and other instruments is my ultimate sound canvas, but over the years I began to loose sight of the goal to compose music and ended with a huge collection of synths and very little actual music. I had gridlock in my creativity with more than 24 synthesizers and having way too many choices. During December and January I sold 13 synths and rearranged and rewired my studio. That is when started with this 31 songs in 31 days challenge. I forced myself to work with a limited pallete each day and pushed hard to get songs out every day. During that time was also rebuilding my studio and trying to find the best work flow to get back to my real love of composing. 

      But enough of that for now... I do have an opinion on modular synths. Having owned a couple of smaller eurorack systems and currently owning a Synthesizer.com system, I find that they don't fit my work flow and are not very useful. I know a number of people that use them and can make some amazing music with them, but they are fastidious contraptions requiring huge amounts of time to create sounds and sequence. I have taken hours to create a single sound on my big modular, put it into a composition and then take a bunch more time to create the next sound and in the process distroying the first patch which can never be completly recoverd if you want to use it again. It can be frustrating. It is similar on a Moog Matriarch in that there is no patch memory, but with that kind of synth it is easier to come close to a previous patch, unless of course you are a synth wizard like Lisa Belladonna who lives and breaths synths and can patch them blindfolded. This all just my opinion though, I know others will disagree. 

      Enough said for now but look forward to all kinds of conversations about compositions, synthesizers and almost anything musically related.

      BTW I have have been playing, buying, selling and trading synths since the 80's, not saying I know a lot, but I do really like them and have opinions about them and love to talk about them.

      I am interested in hearing new music too so if you point me at what you are doing or want to point me what you are listening to that would be appreciated. 

  • Hi Leslie,

    The beginning of your piece reminded me immediately BAch C min Passacaglia.

    Solemn beginning...Serious.  later the character changes via the timbre and instrument usage.

    And also the use of smaller duration value notes on the guitar.  Also the ostinato

    disappears and a harmonic variations approach comes.

    Throughly well thought work.

    Could it be better? Yes. A look at what Bach had done might help.

    All the best and congratulations.

    Thank you for sharing it.


    • Thank you for listening and for your comments. It means a lot and I learn a lot when I hear how people react to my music.

      The Bach C min Passacaglia... a very interesting observation, I never would have made that connection. I have listened to that piece so many times, but not very recently. My brother, who passed back in the 80's, and I were very passionate about Pipe Organ music, those few notes at the beginning must have been rolling around in my head all these years. I wonder if is because it is his birthday this month and I have been thinking about him... interesting. 

      I must confess that, as a general rule, I don't really plan out where a composition will go, it usually presents itself as I move along in the work. I usually start with a small theme but I never seem to end up where I thought things might go. One thing I find about composition that is so enjoyable is how each note, phrase or sound that I make can spark a new idea that can take me down another path that I didn't even know existed. It's kind of like hiking in the mountains and every turn presents a new vista. So many times I finish a piece and when I go back and listen I wonder where it came from. The good part about that is that I can go back and listen to my own music and enjoy it, but the bad part is that if I want to perform it, I have to go back and actually learn it. 

    • I look forward to checking out the music links you sent me.

      This is one of my favorite Lisa Belladonna Videos: https://youtu.be/1fhF5nXsyJU

      Omnisphere has so many good patches you could go for years without modifying anything but there will come a time when a patch is almost right and with a small tweak you could make it perfect. Changing patches can be scary but first remember if you don't save the patch the original patch doens't change, you just need to reload it. If you do begin to change things the first thing you do is save the patch into a new location then start tweaking it. I admit that when you start changing patches it can be a big time sync but it you just start learning a little at a time eventually it becomes second nature and making changes can be done very quickly, like Lisa... well maybe not, she is so crazy good. Just try this the next time you are messing around looking for a sound: At the bottom center of the main page are 2 sliders, Filter and Cutoff, just push them around and see how they change the sound. Filter and cutoff are probably the main changes most people use to manipulate a sound. 

      There is another very cool feature on Omnisphere that allows you to connect a hardware synth to it and use the controls on the synth to make changes to the sound. If you go to the top of the main screen, just to the left of the file dropdown you will see a little button marked HW with a dropdown arrow. When you push it you will see all the synths that current work. One of the best things about using a synth to give you control is that it become "knob per function" control and you don't have to find things on a menu or use your mouse. The other thing, which might even be more important is that you begin to learn about synthesizers and how they work. The list is fairly big and confussing but on the most accessable end of the spectrum these synths stand out Roland Gaia, Korg Minilog, Behringer Deep Mind because they are all reasonably priced and all great synths to learn on. For many reasons I think the Gaia stands out for being a very good first synth. However it is completely made of plastic and seems flimsy,  but it is pretty rugged, I owned one for many years. I think all 3 are good choices but things that I don't like or are concerns with the other 2 are that the Minilogue has "slim" keys and makes it harder to play if you are used to a full sized keybed and the the Deep Mind is a Behringer, they are getting better and I actually own 3 Behringer synths. But all are less than a year old and one is currently being replaced because it broke. If you ever think of getting a synth and want an opinion on it, let me know, I have played and owned a lot of different synths.


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