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It's Easier to Buy Stuff than to Learn Stuff

Discussion in 'UNIT M3' started by Mike Verta, Jul 6, 2017.

  1. I swear if we spent as much energy on learning to compose as we do on acquiring new libraries, we might be drowning in Mozarts by this point.

    I'm super-grateful for the tools and the developers, but I'm equally saddened about the number of young composers especially who think that libraries will make them good, and they must constantly spend money they barely have trying to "keep up."

    In all the years I've been reviewing pieces, the "otherwise great composition that is being let-down by samples" probably accounts for .5%. If Draco decides he wants to start doing composition, I'm going to make him start just on piano, and then perhaps one library a year or something. Limitations are so good for creatives; they help us focus and get creative.

  2. Informative.....I know for a fact that there are things in libraries that I haven't even touched (Heavyocity), and I've barely started.

    I'm grabbing The Orchestra tomorrow, and told myself that there are no more until I can come up with a decent track using it.

    I'm also gonna hit your Comp 1 class tomorrow night, so that should help.
  3. This is exactly why I have joined your forum. To learn and get better at music.
  4. I know, I know. My template is groaning (not to mention the elderly Mac Pro) with libraries, yet where do I turn for writing? 99 percent of the time it is piano or Sacconi quartet. Or maybe an Arturia vintage. Keep it simple, eh?
    Andre Lefebvre likes this.
  5. I've put music on the back-burner for about 12 years for my (defunct) marriage. With all the technological advancements in terms of computers and virtual instruments, both reproducing analog era synths and meticulously sampling acoustic instruments, along with granular madness at every corner, it's like I'm waking up after being cryogenically frozen for 50 years. Still, the one instrument I long after the most is a good acoustic piano. Preferably, a well-reconditioned one (Heintzman, Steinway, etc). Good times... :)

    For my needs, all the other elements are mostly spices, exotic color palettes, and I'm still dealing with the man-to-machine buffer, which I don't experience with an acoustic piano, all machine that it is.
  6. Frighteningly accurate. But, I'm not young.
  7. I am with you Mike, totally agree. Though I think that that we are living in times where soundeffects based music is dominating the market, and so a lot of composers out there spent their time not in improving their craft instead of finding the latest fancy libraries because they believe that with that one library they will get the sound what they are after. But the craft is not in the library, but depends on the hands of the composer, and so the market is flooded with so much mediocre music which has often good sounds but means unfortunately nothing and is total forgettable. There are even examples where people just collect gigabytes of virtual instruments just to have them. Actually I see that on vi control more and more. So, at least I try to spent much more time in playing piano and learning to compose ideas, instead of banging one after the next song out because I know it is not working that way. Less is more.
    Michael Antrum likes this.
  8. #8 Luke Johnson, Jul 7, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
    I agree with all this but it's important to remember all of these modern tools are essential for a Professional Media composer that needs to keep up with the competition. It entirely depends on what somebody is doing obviously. I'm very aware that my Orchestral libraries are only as good as my composition and Orchestration chops and therefore I'm not very good yet in this area but at least I am aware of this and desperate to get better. Buying library after library is definitely not the answer and I can't wait till I finally have some time to start transcribing stuff (ironically swamped in commercial deadlines dependent on using tools to get specific stuff done quickly but hey it's good to be busy right) of which this is one fundamental reason I have joined here because I think it's such an important aspect (how do we get better at playing Guitar? We learn other people's stuff - scales alone do nothing other than increase dexterity and increase muscle memory unless those scales are in a context) and Alex, your posts are definitely appreciated in regards to transcription and your mock up breakdowns etc. Slightly digressing here, that AI conversation on VI-C! Good god! I had to bow out of that.
    Rick Hill likes this.
  9. You've peaked my interest now. Just off to have another read and update myself.

    Also the "busy thing" can be a two edged sword. Sometimes you need space and time to see clearly the best way forward. However, I completely understand the need to eat etc. and sometimes the jobs just need to be done.
  10. Couldn't agree more Mike! I haven't bought a 'major library for about 4 years (Hollywood Strings) and don't really see the need to upgrade anything in my template.
    Some of the best mock-ups I've heard were done with the older EWQL Symphonic Orchestra and Spitfire Audio's Legacy libs.
    Mike Worth likes this.
  11. Too much choice makes me unhappy and disoriented. Having that vague feeling of "missing out" pushes me to keep an eye out on the newer developments in the fear/concern that there is a paradigm shift in the way that scores are done that I might be missing out on.
    I've sure used the hell out of what I have, but there's no worse feeling then taking a flyer on a new product and feeling let down once you get your head around it and find out what you own is as good or better.

    And of course I come from that place where most stuff was intended to get replaced in the final.Somewhere along the way, that changed to midi staying final, and I'm not sure it's an improvement.
  12. Kudos to all of the marketing departments. They are doing a great job of convincing everyone that if we buy their latest vi's, faster computers, bigger monitors etc. etc. etc. we will have the competitive edge and be better composers. As far as the masters of marketing, Apple is the best at this. They create a new product that no one knew they needed but now think that they can't live without. I know, I've drank my share of that kool-Aid.

    Back in the California gold rush days, the people that were getting rich were the ones that were selling the picks and shovels, not the gold miners.
    As Mike said, we probably all have more picks and shovels than we'll ever need or use. This forum has the potential to act as a gateway to help us be better composers. It's really up to us on the direction we take it. Hopefully we'll take it in a direction that focuses on composing and arranging. The tools are here. Mike's Masterclasses coupled with his live broadcasts, real-time chat, and a place to post our work to get honest feedback from other composers who are struggling with the same issues are a way to jump start that master / apprentice model.

    The RedBanned launch party was a great start. Some of us shared a work in progress and got some honest feedback from Mike but why stop there. This should be the first step in the learning process not the end of the conversation. So let's take that feedback, rework those pieces and repost them here in the forum to get additional feedback. Composing and arranging, like anything else you're trying to learn, is an iterative process. You write something, get honest constructive feedback, go back rework and then get additional feedback. That's how we learn.
    Samuel Diaz and Paul Shapiro like this.
  13. I have the same thoughts. I'm convinced that 95% of the orchestral music can be composed using EWQLSO Gold (not even the Diamond or Platinium versions).
    But they require a lot of pre and post processing, and some VST and MIDI magic in order to sound good.

    I think that when buying new libraries you pay for "Out of the Box Experience". Some warm EQ, nice real-life concert hall reverb baked into them, Velocity and Mod wheel dynamics cross-fades. You load the instrument an without any tweaking they sound really good. So you think about all the other libraries where you had to spend hours tweaking EQ and switching between different tracks, apply some strange plugins to get the same quality of sound. So you justify yourself paying few hundred dollars for this library. And you feel good at the end of a day.

    So why we don't put more effort into actual composition? It's very hard to admit, but for me I think that there is psychological factor behind this.
    When composing music I'm very self critical about every single note I put in. I play Dm and I go... No this is "Pirates of the Caribbean" or "The Constant" from "LOST"... Screw that I can't compose music...
    Even when I try to come up with the melody after 3 notes I can easily name few titles with the same notes progression.
    I turn off my DAW thinking I need something to change... And end up listening to demos of VI Libraries...
  14. #14 Noam Levy, Jul 8, 2017
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2017
    It's cool that we all agree on this. Can I add a thought - I also think DAWs make it very, very much easier to write mediocre music than good music.

    It is one of those claims that seems obviously wrong, incendiary, luddite, until you stop to think about the kind of music that's out there today. I don't mean the dumbing down of musical language, harmony & thematic development, although I agree with Mike - I mean how actual parts are written.

    Here is a really quick example of something that opened my eyes a bit. This is an accompaniment in a Williams piece that I am studying. You have Vln I, II and Vla doing arpeggios in thirds (all three parts are shown here).


    This is actually a lot of work to write down! You can't just copy-paste MIDI regions because the harmonic rhythm changes every measure (sometimes inside a measure too). You can't just drag VlnI down to the VlnII track and move it down a major third because of course the thirds and fourths are in different places in the arpeggio. And finally, this isn't the easiest thing in the world to play in using your keyboard if you're a "VI Jockey" like me and not a real pianist.

    I have actually caught TWO errors in the conductor's score of this piece - the official score, published by Hal Leonard! Both of them were due to an absent minded copyist just copy-pasting something in Finale and assuming the next beat or next measure would be the same.

    So if this is hard mode, consider what easy mode would be. It would be so easy to just write steady eighths, or some kind of offbeat pattern (like 8th 4th 4th 4th 8th, or a 3-3-2 eighth note pattern, or anything else), and play it out chordally where each string section just plays one pitch per measure. Just play it in as chords on the Violin I track, then copy the MIDI region down to the other two tracks, then mute or delete the appropriate voices from each track. Better yet, we could have all the strings play some kind of unison bullshit "ostinato" and have trombones in the background holding down chords.

    And so on - you can recognize we are starting to develop the idioms of today's "epic music" - ostinato string rhythms; pad based synth/brass harmonic accompaniment; and whole note french horn lines.

    Now, of course this idiom can be done very well:

    But often not. Often the unifying characteristic of all this is that it's easy to PLAY IN. To be productive fast.

    I think score study is a really good antidote to this. When you study JW scores (or those of any successful film composer from the pencil and paper era) it's so clear how he was really thinking idiomatically for each instrument, considering orchestration, considering the weights of foreground and background material and how to work out voicings. Every note took as much effort to write in as every other. When you have copy paste at your fingertips, it increases the productivity of musical ideas that can be copied across your piece. That's why we have so much ostinato and "Time" type music.


  15. ...yup.

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