As I continue to experiment with writing orchestrally, drums is always the hardest part, mostly because writing for percussion is new to me. The hardest thing is not to yield to the temptation to cut and paste a repeated rhythm too much, which I see in a lot of classical music that includes drums, and which I find dull. Score: Tulip - Score.pdf, comments as always invited >


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  •  This is a light and catchy tune and arrangement that is very enjoyable I think Gav.  I'm assuming that this is aimed at a pop market as opposed to something more artsy so I'm basing my comments on that.

    There are two basic arranging rules that everyone ignores and violates a lot which is fine but it is still useful to keep them in mind.

    1) Your audience wants to tap their feet and hum along. Encourage that.

    2) There is a limited amout of energy that a speaker can push into our ears and lower notes take up much more room than higher notes. When there is too much sound energy in a lower frequency things start to blur and distort and unless you are Stravinsky or Black Sabbath you want to limit that effect, it doesn't fit with light and catchy.

    So the general idea is to have wide open harmonic intervals (roots and octaves) in the lower ranges and simpler rhythm patterns (half notes and quarter notes) in the lower ranges. This gives us clarity so that we can emphasize the important parts wherever they might be in the frequency spectrum.

    We all enjoy splashy drum parts but those are fills that only happen occasionally when they don't interfere with any one else, other wise kick on one and three and snare on two and four so we can tap our feet. Same with the bass, no eight notes please. Like children, basses are to be seen and not heard.

    Tell the piano player to save the fancy left hand stuff for his solo recital, he needs to share the sound spectrum with everyone else.

    Of course I'm being tongue-in-cheek and pedantic here but you get the idea.  Nice tune by the way!

    • Hi Ingo,

      These are all good points. To answer sporadically to some of them:

      1) It's pop music

      2) About the distribution of sounds - wider simpler in the bass sounds right to me, and parallels my own way of working. I often start out with more complex sounds in the bass than I end up with after stripping down the rhythm to bare essentials. And the focus of the listener should be on the upper sounds, I agree there also, that's where melody and harmony should shiine through. 

      3) Drums is always the hardest thing to write for, because I don't want a metronomic monotonous beat, but I also recognize you can overdo on the fills. So a delicate balance between repetition and interestingness must be sought.

      4) Symphonic writing iz hard!

      Thanks for your thoughts!


  • "So a delicate balance between repetition and interestingness must be sought."

    You've hit the nail on the head with that Gav.  When I listen to drum masters I hear them working in subtle variations in volume, tone and beat placement that make a simple repetitive pattern come alive. NotePerformer is not good at that but you can do it with midi programming if you are willing to spend the time.

    Symphonic writing is hard but NP is very helpful in giving basic sounds and instrument limitations to experiment with; and also the necessary instrument transpostions. Arranging would be way harder without that.  Copying scores from well known arrangers and composers is useful too.  I think you're doing just fine.

  • Ok, before I start, here's something that NING needs to do something about. I set the music off, just before it got to the end I reset it back to the start. It played on while I was typing. When it finished, it shut down my reply altogether and kicked me off to the thread title.

    Let's try again - no music this time.

    A very nice light, easy tune and some good jazz piano. Otherwise I go along with Ingo. The bass, going as it does at a heck of a crack is too diffused. Perhaps because it entangles with a bass drum. The notes needs to be far more sec to give them definition. I quite like outbursts of 1/16 notes (assuming) here and there but perhaps generally make them 1/8 notes.

    I'm listening through (Beyerdynamic) headphones and it could be them or me.

    So apart from the blurr down in the depths, the instrumentation seemed just the right density and compass.

    All good. 

    • Thanks Dane, I'm going to work on a revision and if I can clear out the bass to my satisfaction, will post an MP3 here. Appreciate you taking the time to listen!


      p.s. Ning comment copied over to troubleshooting thread

      • Tulip-a-bass-simplify.mp3 new version, based on Ingo's and Dane's comments.
        • Must say the alterations you've made work well, giving the piece a little more bounce and (peculiarly) giving the strings phrases a chance. The aniphonal play between strings and winds becomes more apparent without being intrusive (like "oh, we're suddenly changing to strings here." No. It all sounds very natural.

          I won't make further comment on the bass. This is your work and if you're happy with it as it is, that's all that counts.


    • I am unable to duplicate the odd Ning behavior you describe

  • captures the feeling of Spring and tulips


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