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Need Advise on articulating myself musically

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Michael Lückgen, Feb 27, 2021.

  1. #1 Michael Lückgen, Feb 27, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
    Hey guys,

    I am working on a piece where I try to tell a stroy about a couple discussing, arguing, having a fight and finally resolving it.
    But I have problem to get the 'fight part' right. I am okay with everything except bar 31 til 36. It feels wrong to me, but I have no idea how to solve it.

    I want a bit of tension but not too much, and I am struggling with the modulation at the end there, which feels out of place.

    Basically I was trying to say something like "saying something mean, and immediately regretting what was said" in bar 34 and 35, but I don't think it comes across at all.
    It's like trying to say something but having no words for it, really frustrating.

    Has anyone any advice?

    Another note:
    Some notes are painfully long here, it's suppossed to be mainly strings and I want to add counterpoint lines in it later. For now I started with what I could play on the piano.

    Thanks :)
  2. #2 Michael Lückgen, Feb 27, 2021
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2021
    Okay after taking a break, I fiddled around a bit more and have a version with which I am more satisfied.

    Still I would like to know what you think. Am I communcating the desired story here?

    Also, since I think the answer to my main problem is transcribing: Does anyone have recommendations for pieces to transcribe, with which I can increase my vocabulary? simple pop tunes would not achieve the goal here right?
  3. Hey Michael, it's saying we need to request access to the file just now.
  4. Thanks Duncan, I just updated the links. Does it work now?
  5. Yep, works now, I'll take a listen and get back to you
  6. Thought I would try and do a video. Hope it helps, though it didn't go quite as smooth as I had hoped haha. Anything that I didn't make clear let me know and I'll try and rephrase.

    Michael Lückgen likes this.
  7. Hey Duncan,

    Thanks for this great feedback and thank you for taking the time and making a video!
    This is really helping me a lot!

    To your points:
    - The sus chord at the beginning is intentional, because of the story and the unsureness of the character
    - repeating the patterns at the beginning two more times sounds like a good idea. For me the idea was not done, since I thought for myself that the idea is the step from D to E (or simply a whole step), and I keep that going and developing (didn't want it to get boring, hence the many ideas probably). I could probably milk it way more
    - I actually have a detailed story for this piece and mapped it out to the bars, so I knew when to arrive the main points.

    It's about a couple who are living together. But the girl has and job offer, for which she needs to move far away. And now she wants to tell her boyfriend. This is where the piece starts.
    So I thought, she wants to tell him, but she knows that it means they can't be/live together anymore. So she is unsure about it and tells him.
    At bar 10 he realizes that the job offer means they can't be together, and he doesn't like the idea (hence the change to A minor at some point).
    At bar 19 (yeah the pause is weird. I thought I would just hold the strings here, but it's probably a bad idea), a slight arguments begins. She says, he could move with her, but then he has to give up his job, which he does not want. But he expects of her that she gives up her job opportunity for both of them...
    So at bar 28 (or maybe 2 bars earlier) the fight begins. I was wondering, if I am going too far out. And I am really struggling with this when to go where. This is what I meant, that I am struggling with articulating myself.
    So they fight and accusing each other of things. Then at bar 34/35 I wanted the feeling of saying something mean and immediately regretting it. Then they realize they have gone too far with fighting.
    from bar 37 onwards they realize they still love each other and want to be together. But also they want that they can be happy and pursue their dream jobs. So they come to an agreement that they travel each weekend to see each other. Both are happy and thats the end.

    Maybe a dumb little story, but it helped me getting ideas for the music.

    Looking forward to the reference piece you mentioned. I had a hard time thinking of something which is similar and I could transcribe from (but I am sure there are tons of things which would fit).

    This is really valuable feedback Duncan. Thanks a lot!
    I think I will do the whole thing over again and try to keep an idea going for way longer, maybe recycling a few ideas from this piece. And then not go that far out this time, after all it's just a dumb little argument.
  8. I'm glad you found it useful! I was worried I rambled too much.

    Okay, so after thinking I had a load of examples of scenes that had a score during an argument, turns out most of them don't have music at all. I did however remember this scene from Back to the Future 3 which might be helpful to you.

    With film

    The things of note in this piece is the use of themes I think. You have the Doc and Claras love theme as she opens the door, as far as Clara is aware this is just a nice surpirse visit from someone she loves and that's represented in the music. Then when Doc mentions he's from the future the main Back to the Future theme plays (which as far as I remember only plays when something time travel related is going on)

    So you have two themes talking to each other like the characters are, the love theme asks "where are you going? take me with you!" and the response is "from the future."

    Now as Clara starts to get angry and shouts at him Silvestri uses a little snippet of the main theme and modulates it to sound more aggressive and it builds and builds and builds "this is what I think of your future bullshit *slaps*" beat. I think if you want to keep in the pause you have in your piece it should maybe be in your argument section and at a point where it's at it's peak. Just have the tension keep building and let the pause be a moment for us to take a breath and release some of that tension. Also might be worth noting that as she's building up her anger the notes are constantly going up and up until she slaps him. After the slap you have the little gliss up to show she's still angry and aggressive but after the gliss the notes go down the way which maybe represents the argument neary being over and helps transistion to Doc being alone on the doorstep (though I could be overthinking it).

    Here's just the score on it's own

    So at the moment with your piece you have some ideas for her looking around thinking "this is the life I've built and I need to move away from it" and she's being reflective of the good times but also worried how the boyfriend will take it. If you can stick to one and develop it and maybe pick a moment in that theme that you can make sound harsh etc to represent the relationship potentially falling apart during the argument. Then, when they realise they went too far with the fighting go back to the less violent sounding version of their theme and change it up a little somehow, almost as if you are saying "well the people in the relationship are the same people so their theme is the same but something is a little different, they've grown and changed through this experience."

    I think that would be a good challenge, find a theme or two and see where you can take them. Change some notes, change chords, extract one part of the theme and reporpose it, but I think the main thing is once you establish a rhythmic pattern in the theme that's the thing that keeps us locked into what the piece is about. I think Mike said something in one of his classes how if you stablish a melody you can change the notes and keep the rhythm and the audience can follow where they are in the piece. Something like that anyway.

    Hope that helps you a bit more and I hope I explained it all okay.
    Michael Lückgen likes this.
  9. Thats a great scene, it somehow never came to my mind.

    I like your ideas here, I will try to implement them, though that is always the hardest part for me :D

    You've explained it expertly and helped a lot Duncan, thank you!

    I will come back with a new version, once I got it together.
    Duncan Formosa likes this.
  10. #10 Michael Lückgen, Mar 2, 2021
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
    Allright I have a new version now. I started again with an intro, but now I keep the the intro idea going all the way through.
    On the second time of the theme statement I added some simple counterpoint. I thought it would be a great representaion of two people talking.

    What do you think?

  11. Hey Michael! Been meaning to get back to you on this for ages but I'm only just finding time to reply.

    I think your intro is a little stronger here but maybe over stays it's welcome. I'd try to shorten it a bit. Every time I think the melody is just about to start the intro keeps going.

    I think you are kind of getting the right idea but I think you still need a bit of work to make the melody a lot more effective.

    For example, on bar 8 you have those 3 8th notes. I think those can be ditched, just start on the two half notes. I say this because you keep that as the start of your ideas but it's leading to some weird timing thing that I'm finding a little jarring. So I would start the melody on those 2 half notes, keep the second bar as it is with your 7 8th notes and then close the idea with 2 half notes again. It sounds way more satisfying and we can lock onto that idea a lot better. Keep it as simple as possible when your establishing the idea for the first time just so the listener has something to cling onto, then when you switch it all up we can still follow you because you've established a pattern we recognise already and it then gives us the "ooh, wasn't expecting that." John Williams does that a lot.

    I'd also say on bar 10, playing that D note twice in a row doesn't feel particularly satisfying. I think the way you have it in bar 13 sounds much nicer.

    Before I mentioned that rhythmic patterns are what helps us lock onto a melody, but it's dawned on me recently that the note intervals and the motion the notes go in also come into play. If you look here on this other thread I gave some feedback where we were talking about Leia's theme from Star Wars and when you break it down, you notice that the notes move in the same way and have the same rhythm but the notes themselves are different. Same with Beethoven's 5th, the gladiator theme etc, same rhythmic ideas and same note values.

    Here's the link to the forum post I mentioned earlier about Leia's theme.


    Gladiator theme sheet example


    Bethoven's 5th example


    I think you're getting there. Just try and see what you can come up with by doing as little as possible. At least to start with, just so that we can get comfortable with your main idea before you switch it up to the argument part. Also, the simpler your main idea is to start with makes it easier to make counter melodies later, since a lot of the time the counter melody is filling in all the holes left by the main melody.

    Hope this helps a little bit. Kepp up the good work!
    Michael Lückgen likes this.

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