Your appreciation of art is similar to what appreciating a mobile phone is to myself. It's a nice thing to have! Nothing more, nothing less. I appreciate it and I take it for granted. But.. I don't have any idea of what kind of efforts have been suffered in order to make the device work. And most days I don't even care. Too busy, too busy..
I live in an illusion that I'm an educated consumer, but, in reality, I don't have any fuckin' way of evaluating the real cost/price of any of these products I'm seeing. But it doesn't stop me from throwing in easy opinions on how much it "should" cost, how much I'm willing to pay, and all kinds of other ignorant bullshit.
My appreciation of a mobile phone is real, but ridiculously shallow. It goes only as deep as my personal needs and preferences are. Which isn't very deep.. As long as my personal needs are fulfilled, I don't give a shit about what's the true potential (or value) of this technology.
What if my needs are false? What if they are ignorant? What if they are destructive to people who I don't even know?
What do I care? As long as I have the option to pay less and get more, I will. That's how I'm wired.
And the same goes with music. If I'd not been so interested in music for the first 32 years of my life, it'd be easy for me to accept that the price of music is indeed 0.00-0.99eur/song, as it nowadays seems to be.
The true price of music? This question has too many answers, because the topic is just too damn complex.. But I'm pretty confident it's not 0.99eur/song. Nor is it 0.00eur/every-song-ever-made-since-the-big-bang-instantly-available-24/7, which is one of the strongest trends right now. Or what do you think?
To the main point...
...All this rambling above was not at all what I was supposed to write this time. I was simply going to tell you that I've been on this really healthy diet for the past two weeks, and it feels GREAT! I've been reducing the intake of processed sugars, alcoholic beverages and red meat. And I've been increasing the intake of all kinds of healthy foods. Here's the recipe of today's super smoothie.
The problem of my music is mostly on the production side. The writing is ok (most of the time), I think. It's frustrating, but what are you going to do? There's no money to throw away and hire a mixing engineer. Or any other personnel (and equipment / facilities) that might come handy when producing a nice sounding music album..
Why not? Well.. You take a look at the pension system of Finland and you'll quickly realize it's not going to work for my generation very well. Especially if you're an entrepreneur.. I just calculated that, if I'm lucky, my pension will be about 1/3 of what's usually considered a minimum wage. I kid you not. And the most pessimistic view about the ongoing and constantly elevating crisis in the EU is that the whole economy will collapse.
I won't go too deep into the details, but, all in all, it seems very likely that the current pension system will be either radically scaled down or wiped out completely before I hit 75-80, which is the likely retirement age for my generation.
So, if I'm going to prepare myself for what's coming, it's better to start now when I'm still in my early thirties. This realization leaves me with two options:
I work (earn money), write music (spend money), go to a refreshing vacation every now and then (spend money) and enjoy my life. I live like a "regular" working person, pretending I'm safe when the retirement age comes.
I work (earn money), write much less music or even quit (save money), skip all vacations (save money) and live under constant pressure of balancing between music and financial realities. It's sad, but I do trade artistic expression for security. Hoping the savings will be at least somewhat safe when the system collapses.. Which comes most probably much earlier than my supposed retirement age is.
With my personality the first option is not going to happen. Surely would be nicer to carry out the second option, if I'd be getting money from making music. But, with my skillset and style, that's unfortunately not happening very often.
Now don't take me wrong. I appreciate my profession as a piano tuner. But I also realize it's not my calling. How big part of your life can you dedicate to doing something that doesn't come from your soul? Without gradually losing something that is part of your soul. That's a big question that touches so many of us every day.
All this leads me to a rather disturbing, yet strangely inspiring, realization. The first years of this decade are a time of awakening, identity crisis, or whatever you like to call it.
I call it reality. And whatever music I'll be writing next is the result of these thoughts. In the meanwhile here is "Chaih Beizii" from two years ago. If I only had that damn mixing engineer...
Okay, here are the fruits of my creativity in April. This is the soundtrack of "Outo tähti -etydejä elämässä" (roughly translated "A Strange Star -Etudes in Life").
The work constituted of songwriting, sound design and some remixing of old c-cassettes. The amount of music is actually not that huge, especially considering the fact that "Omenapuu" is one of my old tunes. But the task was certaily not easy over all.
In fact I tried two different path with the soundtrack. The pieces I wrote first didn't get me where I wanted, so I started the whole thing all the way from the beginning once. Luckily this was an option available! Even though the creative process is always intense, no matter how much flexibility you got, it's just that much easier when you have a possibility to explore at least a couple of different routes.
So, thank you Maija-Liisa for giving me this opportunity to be part of "Outo tähti". And a very special thanks for budgeting the project reasonably!
The premiere was a success. People were very touched by the poetry of L. Onerva performed by Maija-Liisa, and the music sung by Teija. Thank you everyone! Hopefully we'll have an opportunity to make more of these in the future.
The collection below includes almost the whole soundtrack. However, I've omitted some sfx's which play smaller part.
The look of relief. The first rehearsal went fine. I sort of feel sorry for our av-technician though. Only few hours to learn the whole piece.. Lights, sounds, visual elements and everything. But I'm confident we'll do just fine.
The past month has included way too much (the wrong type of) stress, but this is one of those moments that make it worth it. Some good and firm initial steps taken back into the world of music. I'll write more about it next. Along with some audio examples.
My food blog. Not that I've ever understood why people write them and keep posting photos of what they'll be consuming next.
Music-wise, deadline is less than two days from now.. And I'm still composing and building stuff that originally should've been done by last friday (at the latest). No one else to blame for the pain I'm currently in than myself. I'll make it, no question. But this made me learn a good lesson. No more these, please. If not absolutely necessary.
(Notice! I've published this text before on Thaiga's blog, but as I feel it fits in my personal blog too, I'll republish it here.)
"Heaven" is a tune that uses the idea of layering a melodic phrase and harmonic phrase on top of each other asymmetrically. First, let's take a look at an example of a typical symmetric song, "Mary Had a Little Lamb".
A Simple, symmetric song
You can think of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" in two-bar sections. This means that you feel the need to emphasize the first beat of each two-bar section. The "X" shows where the beginning of the two-bar section is. Sing the song and tap your foot on the floor on "X".
"X" Mary had a little lamb, "X" little lamb, little lamb. "X" Mary had a little lamb, its "X" fleece was white as snow. and so on, and so on...
See, it feels very natural to emphasize this nice little song like this. The song is simple and it has a structure that's easy to predict. Hence this song is easy to follow. And once you can follow the song easily and tap your foot along with it, it's probably easy to start dancing to it, too. The enjoyment of music is fulfilled!
This is how our brains work whenever we hear music. We constantly analyze and organize hierarchically the sound we hear. Extracting enough symmetric or constant rhythmic information and patterns from the sound, will eventually lead to the expectation of certain kind of rhythm. How you react to a song is determined by how a composer has decided to fulfill your expectation. By choosing certain notes over others.
Depending on your musical background you may find the structure and patterns of certain type of songs perhaps easier to understand than others. And this is, of course, very much related to your ability to appreciate and enjoy music.
The most obvious structures that most of us find easiest are usually the structures that are perfectly symmetrical. Two-bar sections and four-bar sections are easy for most of us. When it gets a bit tricky is when phrases or sections of different lengths are mixed.
Now, the section (from now on I'll use the term "phrase") can live in two distinct elements. The phrase of a melody can be analyzed separately from the phrase of the harmony. To those of you who are not familiar with music theory, this simply means:
When you sing alone "Mary Had a Little Lamb", that's the melody.
When the pianist who you hired to accompany you plays the chords of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" alone on a piano, that's the harmony.
So far we have assumed that both of you have thought the song in two-bar phrases. And it may not make sense to change this approach, if your goal is to perform this song next weekend at your birthday party. Just keep on practicing!
A bit more complex song
But, just for the heck of it... Let's say that your pianist had just taken a couple of jazz-lessons and wants to make your life miserable by experimenting with this song.
For example, she might start to think in three-bar phrases, instead of two. Or five-bar phrases. Depending on the song and the arrangement, this might or might not align well with your singing. But the interesting thing is that whatever path she will try, there will be moments when you both will still emphasize the song at the same time. When your "rhythmic cycles" cross.
This creates a distinct pulse or pattern. It may be more complex to listen to than if both, the melody and the harmony, would be completely symmetrical. But don't get scared. You can look at the new structure another way, too. The pulses of the melody and harmony are independent, BUT they still have one strong pulse together, which creates yet another independent pulse! Your creative possibilities just got much more interesting.
---Please note that this may not make any sense what-so-ever to you now. But if you found "Heaven" an interesting song, and you'd like to learn more about its structure, all this is very relevant. You'll see..---
So, let's take a look at the first two verses of "Mary Had a Little Lamb". As each verse is eight bars long, two of them makes sixteen bars total. If you are thinking in two-bar phrases, you'll emphasize eight times and you'll sing eight full phrases. Right?
Let's say that your pianist thinks in three-bar phrases instead of two. She will emphasize only six times and play five full phrases plus 1/3 of the sixth phrase. See that even though your phrases are asymmetric, your "paths" will cross as follows:
Your first "X" will align with her first "X". Your fourth "X" will align with her third "X". Your seventh "X" will align with her fifth "X". And so on..
If you'd keep on playing the song long enough, it's very likely that eventually you'd start to expect this weird asymmetric behavior and it would gradually start sounding less and less weird.
I know, all this is rather theoretical discussion. And how much mileage you could get out of this particular technique will depend on many things. But this kind of thinking is exactly what composers and arrangers will often do. "What possibilities will open up if I make this structure asymmetric? What happens if I try this and this?"
If you just play the above mentioned experiments now on your piano without planing about it too much, it may not make sense. It may just sound weird or even completely wrong.. But I'm 100% sure that if you have some arranger's skills and you'd spend time arranging the tune, it would end up very different kind of "Mary Had a Little Lamb". Not a weird and wrong, but just different. A bit more complex musical structure that could raise many kinds of emotions and feelings.
Now you ask: What the hell re-arranging "Mary Had a Little Lamb" has to do with Thaiga's song called "Heaven"?
The answer is: Not a lot. But "Heaven" does use an asymmetric structure as its main composition motive.
Welcome to Heaven!
Below is a picture of "Heaven". You can see that the harmonic phrases are built the usual way. Four-bar phrases which make eight bar blocks. You can also see (hear) that the song is made of three sections that are 24 bars long.
What's interesting is that if you take a careful look at the melody, you'll see that it's really only a 23 bar long melody that simply repeats three times. In other words, the melody section is one bar shorter than the harmonic section. This is the important thing to notice! This an asymmetric structure.
You feel that the song flows symmetrically, because the harmonic phrase flows in multiples of two all the time. But what you're also hearing is an unchanging melody cycle that's going out of sync from the harmonic rhythm starting at bar nro. 24.
This opens up the melody in a whole different way! The whole perspective to the melody changes. The feeling of "X" (or the pulse) is a sort of spotlight that makes the melody "visible" from three different angles. You don't feel that anything really repeats, even though the motives will sound very similar throughout the piece.
The vocal melody simply picks out certain notes from the underlying asymmetric structure that the piano is playing.
After the melody has cycled three times, it aligns naturally with the harmonic rhythm. And that's a good point to end the song. You'll get a sort of the feeling "what the hell just happened?", but it all seems fine in the end.
The mathematics of music
Composing this song started the usual way. I played with notes and intervals and they started to sound interesting enough. Next I decided to play with this rather theoretical idea of asymmetric phrases.
Now, I don't like theoretical games just for the sake of "getting the numbers right", as I've never really understood maths anyways.. But as a tool for creativity these mathematical strategies can be sometimes very useful. The main goal has to stay clear, though. If it starts to sound like a mathematical formula, it's not good music. For me, at least it isn't.
"Heaven" came out nicely. Perhaps even a bit nicer than I had expected. When I started to commit to the idea of asymmetric phrases, I first thought that quite a few notes should be taken out of the strict mathematical formula to make the music happen. But that proved not to be the case.
I don't think you can really hear much traces of this mathematical game happening in the background, if you don't know what to look for. There is only one note that I changed from the original formula. Just because it just didn't fit well enough in the final version. But changing only one note is a good enough achievement. (See if you can find that one note... :) )
I guess the main point I'm making with all this is that if you plan your composition well enough, you can hide in there all kinds of stuff that's living sort of its own life without anyone paying attention to it. Surely it can be just an amusing music game that composers play and show to other composers. Without much artistic value.
But at its best this game can lead to great compositional discoveries that simply sound good. If the structure of the song is well made, it becomes that much more difficult to ruin it when playing and recording it. If the substance is there, it will carry the music. This kind of song can be approached on many different levels. Not just on the most obvious level that is "Oh my, that sounds nice!" Not that there's anything wrong with that either..
Hope you enjoy our Heaven! If you didn't already know, you can find us at http://Facebook.Thaiga.net. We'd love to hear what you think about our music!
ps. Thaiga is alive an kicking even though getting our album done seems to get always pushed further and further. But what can you do. Other projects that actually pay the bills have been the top priority for the last six months.
Maybe it's best that we make no promises in regards of the album release any more. It will come when it's possible. It'll take a lot of dedicated time and some money too. So, we'll see. We'll keep you updated, for sure. And remember that you can listen all of our music for free at music.thaiga.net.
I started a music review group on SoundCloud. If you're an indie artist and would like to contribute, follow and/or review music, please join the group.
If you're familiar with SoundCloud you know that the frameworks for building this kind of community are perfect.
If you're not familiar with SoundCloud, please find out more about this wonderful music service/community. Yes, it's quite crowded and confusing at first. But once you understand how it works, it's simply a wonderful place to find music and have a discussion about it.
The box below is a direct link to the group. Every musician and music lover is welcome! As of now I'm the only member of the group. I'd very much not like to be the first to submit a song to the group too.. So, if you have a song you'd like to share, please do! It's free!
The problem with the SoundCloud groups, to me at least, seem to be that if the group is not focused and moderated well, the amount of music can be just too much to handle. A new song is posted every 2 minutes, and eventually nobody will ever get a chance to listen your song. So, let's try to make this group better and more specific in this regard. This group is for "serious" musicians only. You don't have to be an established professional, but you should be serious about what you're doing.
No genre is excluded by default, but high quality "ensemble music" is preferred. It's not a requirement to submit a 100% finalized version of the song. But it should be generally listenable and absolutely good music! Which means that it's music that you can be proud of. This requirement goes far beyond any objective judgements. It's all about being true to yourself. Be it just one note or a whole symphony. Read more about the rules below..
World is a confusing place for an indie artist. Millions of social networks, music services, streaming video/audio services, licensing services, distributors etc. Let's look at the basics at first. What does an indie music project need on the most basic level?
You need to make good music.
People need to find and listen your music.
The rest will follow from this, hopefully..
The goal of this group is to make it possible to introduce your music to at least some people, who might be willing to give you feedback and possibly even spread the word. Now, you have a couple of perspectives you can approach this group from.
The traditional way: You can simply have people listen your song and not care that much about the feedback.
Another way: You can let your listeners know how you'd like people to comment your music. Do you want suggestions and advice on how to go about finishing the song (if you uploaded a demo)? Or do you care more about how people feel about your music in more general way? Lots of possibilities here.
The ultimate goal is to create a community of musicians AND music lovers who not only seek to get something out of the community, but are willing to contribute and give constructive feedback to the people who are making the music.
The guidelines for this forum are as follows. I know, it's a sort of long list. But please read it. This group could be good, if we make the rules clear.
1. You must be an independent artist IF you're going to upload music here. Anyone can follow and review.
2. Jazz, Pop, Rock, Metal? Music genre is sort of free.. However, the emphasis is on"ensemble music". Q: So, I'm playing all the instruments myself. Is this ensemble music? A: Yes it is, if the song sounds like a band.
3. Please upload a song only if you consider yourself a "serious musician". You don't have to an established professional, but making music should be something more than just a hobby to you. You should definitely have at least some ambitions in having your music be heard by someone else than yourself.. Whatever that might mean to you personally.. You get the picture.
4. Don't "spam" the group with your songs. Please observe how much variety there currently is. If there's 20 of your songs and only two from everyone else, that's not an optimal situation.. And that would not happen anyways, since this group is moderated. But still. Don't even try. Post a song, wait a little. Then post the next song.
5. Don't upload a song if you're not willing to listen and comment other people's music. No, you don't have to write a deep analysis on every song that's posted here. No, you don't have to be a music expert. And no, you don't have to be active every week or even every month. But just remember to give a thought or two to your fellow musicians every now and then. Try to be constructive. Mean what you say.
6. If you upload a song, please work on it until the production is at least at "semi-pro / ok demo " quality. It doesn't need to be 100% finished and polished version of the song. But it should be music! Not just sound that you've somehow managed to organize a certain way. Again, think twice before posting to this group. Are you a musician? Or are you a person who simply have been using a soft synth and a sequencer for two months. Nothing wrong with that either! Go for it and enjoy the music! But.. The music in this particular group should be made by musicians who have been crafting their skills actively at least for some years.
7. This group is moderated. Which means that I'll check every song before it'll appear in this group. This is just to make sure that the group will not be filled with material that doesn't belong there. I'll try my best to be objective and use good judgements. However, mistakes are likely to happen sooner or later, and I'll be happy to stand corrected. So, if your song will not appear here in a reasonable timeframe (count days, not hours..), please contact me and try to convince me why your song should appear here.
8. More rules will be made along the way if needed. Now let's try getting some contributors and follower to this group!
I just posted Thaiga's new music video "Usva" (the mist) on YouTube. The video was a clear step forward compared to our earlier videos. We shot the video mostly last summer, but there is some footage from the summer 2010 used, as well. Amazing what you can do only with a pocket camera!
The song "Usva" is from our Thaiga EP that we released in September 2010. However, Usva started its evolution quite a bit earlier. And that's what I'm going to talk about in this blog post. But first, go ahead and watch our latest music video below.
I started composing Usva in winter 2006. (I probably don't remember all details correctly, this is how I remember it right now..) I had just started the first "specialized classes" of my major at Berklee. Jazz Composition 1 was all about composing a tune. We wrote at least one song a week and analyzed them in class.
The class was pretty small. For some reason the only people I can recall were my classmates John and one Korean guy whose name I unfortunately can't remember anymore. Could it be that there was only three of us in the class... Perhaps it's possible.
Our professor was Jeff Friedman. Among students I think he had a reputation of being a bit strict at times. But I never understood what the problem was. If you just did your stuff and were interested in what you were doing, Jeff offered kindly all the support you could ever need. And wasn't it only fair to assume that if you chose Jazz Composition as your major, you should be interested in studying it too? I personally liked and respected his approach to teaching music and composition very much.
So, it was a lot of work. But the classes were great fun. We listened, analyzed and wrote music all winter. (For some reason I start to think now that this class was actually in summer, not winter.. Hmm. Let's say it was winter, though.)
We got a new assignment just before the spring break. The same evening I was on my way back to Finland. Lots of memories come back when I start think about the journeys between Boston and Helsinki I made during these three years. Relationships, expectations, dreams, seemingly endless possibilities etc.. It was truly a learning experience.
Anyways.. I knew that I had to finish this assignment before going back to Boston. So, I spent part of the spring break composing Usva. I remember the exact moment when I got the first motive. There was this nice slow chord progression that I eventually started to fall in love with. I felt that the song just started to compose itself without much effort.
I came up with this rather uninteresting melody. I liked it back then, but now looking from a distance, I certainly see that it was not that sophisticated. Perhaps a nice little melody for a pop song. But not a melody that goes very far if evaluated in musical terms. There was something in "Usva" that spoke to me even though it was still far from finished.
Soon the break was over and I was back in Boston and Berklee. I played Usva to Jeff and the class. I felt pretty confident that this was my best tune this far.. The response, however, was far from what I had expected.
Generally Jeff had liked my tunes this far, but this new one he didn't like that much. I don't remember what the exact feedback was, but the message was clear: He didn't feel that I had given my best. So, I went home and started working on it again.
I tore the melody compositionally apart, which wasn't that difficult, because there wasn't much to tear.. I juggled with ideas and somehow came up with a melody that's very close to what Usva is still today. The next week we listened Usva again. And this time Jeff really liked the tune.
The lesson learned: sometimes you fall in love with a tune for all the wrong reasons. And sometimes you can't even identify these reasons. Sometimes it requires a good and objective feedback to get you back on the right track. You have to find a way of becoming conscious of the blindness that you'll most probably have towards your own work most of the time.
So, the first version of Usva was composed in winter 2006. Below you can find the very first (not so successful) version and the revisited version.
The third version of Usva was just a little refinement here and there and a change of key, if I remember correctly. This was in 2007 when I prepared for my final recital. Until now the tempo and feel of Usva had been medium up. The traditional jazz waltz stuff.
The fourth version of Usva was made in 2008. This was a bit larger evolution. I made this version for a quintet that I had for a while. The quintet had a vocalist, so I had to make lyrics for Usva. The key was changed once again to fit better the vocalist. And the tempo was taken down quite a bit. The B section was radically altered, too.
In 2009 I arranged Usva for only a piano and vocal duo. This was part of a larger "idea" that's still in my mind developing. That is to re-arrange songs into a duet setup.
The final (6th) version then came in 2010 when I started this "Thaiga" project. I played all the instruments myself and hence had all the freedom to experiment. I took the tempo down quite a bit more, I added the intro and re-arranger the whole thing. In addition to the lead melody, Usva now had two vocal parts, acoustic guitar, electric guitar, piano, strings, bass and percussion. And this is the version you can hear in the video above.
The point I'm making is that the evolution of a song can be quite long process sometimes. And I guess I could still imagine doing yet another version of Usva someday..
It's interesting to balance between different viewpoints you can have towards the composition process. One viewpoint is to keep on changing and developing a song endlessly whenever you feel like it. This way you'll never "let the song go". The other viewpoint is to develop a song only until you're ready to "let it got" and then you more forward composing your next song.
Both viewpoints are valid, and there's no point in arguing which is better. Every composer has to come to her/his own conclusions. How you plan your strategy and keep your creative juices flowing is a very personal thing.
What I've come to realize is that even though I try to keep the "movement" going forward, rather than trying endlessly refine my old work, sometimes it really is a lot of fun going back and revisit a tune.
I just have to be careful and keep an eye on the bigger picture all the time! I constantly have to ask myself these simple questions: Am I still writing new music too? Or have I simply fallen in love with an idea that's never going to work, and lost focus at the same time.
Now I suddenly recall what mr. Friedman once said (quoted freely): "To be a composer requires you to write music. If you don't write music, you're not a composer." Again, I can't recall what the context of this message was. And without the context this may not seem like a very deep conversation. But I do remember that that context was substantial enough that this message got me thinking. It somehow got me thinking what it means to be a composer. And somehow, indirectly, the results of this thinking process can be heard in the final version of Usva, as well.
Hope you enjoyed this blog post! Thanks for following! Have a good one!
I just finished watching a 4-hour long video about the music copyrights, music publishing and how the business is evolving. While I really don't like the idea of advertising any services in my blog, I think this seminar is so valuable to any musician, that I just have to include a link to it here. It's rather complicated stuff. So, I highly recommend watching it two times, if it doesn't make sense. The second time through will be easier. I promise.
The first hour can be seen below. The rest of it can be found at: http://www.tunecore.com/copyright. By the way.. I don't use this service myself. Not that I have anything against it. I just don't use it. Hence I have no financial interest in posting this here.. Just to make my motives clear.
I guess I found this topic particularly interesting for two reasons. First, I recently quit my membership in TEOSTO, the Finnish Composers' Copyright Society. And second, because of the Taper Pro Movie I'm part of. More information about Taper Pro can be found in my previous blogs.
I quit my membership in TEOSTO because I felt that it restricted my opportunities as an independent composer and entrepreneur who is trying to make it happen. In other words I don't have any hit (or other kind of) songs that would yield me shares of the broadcast money etc., yet.
What has happened to me is that I've had some opportunities to get my music out there somehow, but I've basically had to say no because of the TEOSTO's strictly regulated fees. There's been instances when I've had to decide whether I simply say "no, I won't do it", or I've done something under a fake name or incognito. As you may understand, trying to make your name known, but having to do things incognito doesn't add up very well..
I didn't mean to be disloyal to my fellow composers! But it's just that there's been situations when I really would've liked to have my music somewhere, but TEOSTO's fees have been just too much for such a small scale productions.
For more established composers this is not an issue. And for them TEOSTO is very important. And the work they are doing for musicians IS very valuable and good in many ways!
But then there's the flip side of the coin. One of the other big things for me was the amount of bureaucracy overall. For example I don't like at all the idea of having to submit ANY paperwork to anyone if I'm just putting my own music available on my own website. With TEOSTO this was technically not possible.
So I left. And after weighting things I came to the conclusion that when I finally will someday get my music out there, it's good to have some personal experience of how to handle publishing etc. Sure, I'll most probably lose some money along the way, and there will be people who will cheat me to accept very bad deals. But at least I'll be truly independent. And learning to govern your own rights can be only a positive thing.
And who knows, maybe there will be a right moment to join the club once again. I would like to see a very modern and transparent TEOSTO, though. It doesn't make sense that a person who lives in Finland feels that a commercial songwriter service in the US can handle his/her business better and fairer than a songwriter service in Finland.
TAPER PRO MOVIE
That was TEOSTO. So, what about the other reason, Taper Pro Movie,? A little after I had left TEOSTO, I got this Taper Pro Movie film scoring gig. It seemed like peanuts. "Yeah, sure, I'll compose something for it. Let's not worry too much about the details. It'll most likely stay rather small-scale production anyways.."
But as we all know, nothing is as certain as uncertain. Soo..
I can't talk about the details too much, yet. But let's just say that the most recent news from the producer say that Taper Pro Movie is probably not going to be that small-scale after all.. Which is a positive thing, of course! But at the same time I suddenly start to miss TEOSTO's expertise and authority.
How do I negotiate the mechanical royalties, synchronization licenses etc. myself? And is it even possible to get all the money I should be getting if I'm not a member of TEOSTO? After watching those videos about publishing, it seems that I'll most likely never see some of the money I'm owned. It's the EU law that makes it so. A complex thing.. And I hope I'm wrong. We'll see. Not sure yet..
BUT WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT THE MONEY?
Anyways, the main point of this blog is none of the above! The main point is more about the function of money in relation to music. Not the technicalities of how the money moves from your pocket to my pocket.
At first sight, now when my music is finally starting to get fire under it, leaving TEOSTO may seem like a pretty stupid thing to do. Especially when we don't have a service like TuneCore over here in Finland. But, no matter how evolutionary (or revolutionary) this TuneCore's take on music publishing is, it's still rather conventional. It's still all about the money! It's still about the same game, just a little bit different rules.
What if we could stop playing this game? What if there was a better game to play?
I know.. Feel free to go Google something more "down to Earth" for yourself to read once I've said this, but (here it comes) I'm sort of tired of thinking in terms of profits and losses. Sure, It's important and practical to think about these things in terms of money. But is it the only way we can think about our radically evolving music business. And more importantly: Is MONEY the MOST important thing a musician should be thinking when planning her/his career???
What about the ethics? What about making the world a better place? What about the long term missions and commitments which results you are not likely to even see during your lifetime?
It seems that throwing out only few questions of this magnitude will put money considerations in a rather small and unimportant category. Doesn't it? Still, many musicians seem to be mostly concerned about how to make money in the world where you can get music practically for free.
Spotify pays you fractions of a cent per play, YouTube is the same in its own way. And surely all these microscopic streams together are important and will someday pay musician's car, rent and food. This is the music business today, and even more tomorrow.
But what about the bigger questions? Could there be something more valuable than money to reach for?
RESOURCE BASED ECON... YOU KIDDING ME?
Have you ever thought that someday in the future we may not be using money as means of getting what we need? What would the music business be like in such world? The idea of "resource based economy". The idea that technology would eventually give us more or less automatically all the necessities of life. Surely seems a bit far-reaching?
But is that so bad if we spend a little time thinking about what could be possible? Especially if the utopian scenario would seem rather realistic after giving it a thought or two. For me this "resource based economy" is not too familiar. I heard about it from the documentary (Zeitgeist) that many of you have probably seen as well. Now, this is not a place to argue about the ideologies and politics. The never-ending argument that we could easily start.
However, my point is simple: What opportunities would there be (right now and in the future) for a musician if she/he doesn't have the energy, wit or skill to think about publishing, mechanical royalties, synchronization licenses etc.? What could it mean to musicians if we'd live in the world where you'd never put a price tag on your music? Now, this is already the case for countless of musicians. And who knows what'll happen in the future.
THE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS RIGHT NOW. NOT IN THE FUTURE.
My take on this in short is:
I think, the mindset of "how do I make a lot of money" has to change to something like "how do I make enough money to provide myself and the people I'm responsible of a good life". Most of the musicians don't make a lot of money anyways. So why spend energy even thinking about it? The focus of your energy can really make the difference. What if you could focus only on the core of your creativity and not much anything else?
And why would you like to have a lot of money anyways? C'mon!
To have a nice McLaren MP4-12C in my garage!
Oh really. I sort of get that. I'm a racing fan myself. But I'm still asking WHY?! Buy a used Cadillac Seville instead..
Too much of the ice cold music business is about who is owing to who? Who's cheating who? How do you make sure that nobody will betray you? As you can see, all this is a part of a vicious circle:
You want more, from your example other people will think it's okay to want more too, everyone will try their best to pay less or nothing, and eventually you'll get just what you ordered: you'll get paid less or nothing for your songs.
In other words everyone will have access to plenty of things, but only few will understand what amount of energy and thinking was required to make the things. Only few will understand the core of creativity. This is most clearly demonstrated in any arts. People who have not been educated to understand the value that creative freedom has to humanity overall, are the first to violate or take away this freedom. No, I'm not going to give you more concrete example..
The ethics of music making has to have a strong backbone. I mean.. Why would you really use "Copyright" rather than "Creative Commons"? How do you make a living as a musicians, if nobody is paying you voluntarily for what you do? The problem might be your music. But it might be also the people who are uninformed and have been taught to be unethical. They simply use your music for free if they get the chance to do so. The copyright law protects you from this kind of people. So, "Copyright" might work as a good Band-Aid..
But you should really look at the bigger picture: Should there be perhaps a goal in your actions that go beyond your own lifetime? If we can see in so many different ways that greed, stupidity and lack of ethics and education causes a lot of people's suffering, isn't it only logical to assume that education and good example are really the most powerful ways to make things better? If you as a musician can't find way to be a good example in the world that's full of bad example, who can blame you? Perhaps nobody else can, but yourself.
The focus should be on education, not on money.
UPDATE 26.11.2011! Funny that only during the past two days I've learned so much about copyrights, PRO's in general and Teosto. I realized that I haven't understood even the basics very well. Which is quite surprising, since I've been a member for many years now.. I blame both, myself for not seeing the trouble to find the answers, and Teosto for making the rules so freaking complex.
This morning I made this video blog about this topic. I don't know when I'll have time to translate it in English.. But to summarize: There's a bit more room for negotiation in the fees etc. than I thought. Still not optimal. But it's a bit better than I thought.
If you know Finnish, go on and watch the video. If you don't know Finnish, you'll just have to wait a bit until I get the Closed Captions done. Can't promise anything right now, though.
It's done! I just finished composing my first full length movie.
Step 1: Bring it on!
You get all excited of the new project. Lot's of preparation done. Both mentally and in practice. These I've discussed about in my previous blogs.
Step 2: Back to Earth.. The mid-project depression.
The mid-project depression is not fun. You start composing, you jam a bit and have fun with the music. Then you start to do the final takes. Which means that you should essentially keep on doing whatever you've been doing, BUT all the unnecessary notes should be left out.
You play take after another and gradually you start to doubt if your music is good at all. It's part of fatiguing your ears, part just losing some of the emotion when trying to make the perfect take happen. Eventually the doubt will take over and lead you to the conclusion that you should really get rid of the original idea all together and start jamming with something else.
The vicious circle is ready. Soon you get bored of the new idea too and start with something new again.. You get the picture..
However, the frustration is much easier to handle when you understand that tomorrow the exact same idea you just got bored with, will probably look much better once you give your brain little time to recover. You should keep reminding yourself what you're really doing. Think about how many times you'd be willing to listen someone else playing their raw ideas to you.. Probably not that many..
Giving you ears some time to recover before making drastic decisions about whether or not to dump any ideas, is very important. Some problems that may seem impossible to get over with after a long day(s) of composing may well seem quite different the next morning.
And quite often I find that it was just a matter of changing my perspective just a little and suddenly the pieces start to fall together the right way. Step 3: Tempos will start to feel faster when you're tired. Brains can't keep up with all the information that comes in. Hence you perceive everything's going past faster.
So, you don't want to leave to late hours anything that needs an uncompromised judgement call.. But rest assured, sleepless nights will often be required to get the job done in time.
Why? Because deadlines are sometimes strict. And many times they are truly useful creative aids, too.
Even if there really isn't need to have a deadline, it can often push you (in a good way) to get the project done. In Taper Pro movie film score, the deadline was very real, though. And this time I really would've liked a couple of weeks more to work with.
I know, deadlines sound a bit unexciting. They seem like restrictive things that artists shouldn't really have to worry about.. But the real life is quite different. Deadlines are great tools for creativity, indeed! That means IF you take them seriously. If you just set yourself a deadline, but are not willing to give the project all-nighters (if needed), having deadlines is not going to do the trick.. No need to say that that's sometimes happened to me, too. But luckily not in projects that were "financially serious".
If you respect the deadline, it's a great tool in finding the balance between endless choices and reality. It's all about when to decide that "now it's enough". And it's also very much about how to plan your schedule and organize yourself. An example
Suppose that you had three days and three nights to get two songs composed, recorded, mixed and delivered to the producer. Let's suppose that you do need at least two nights of sleep. And let's say that you do all the work yourself.
First you have to evaluate what kind of resources you have and what kind of end result you can realistically expect to produce.
You'll soon realize that coming up with two hit songs in three days is not likely to happen.
Not necessarily because you can't come up with two great songs. Sure you can IF you're very skillful and you have also a bit of good luck. The main obstacle is not necessarily going to be the recording or mixing sessions either. If you keep your arrangement very simple and know exactly what you're doing, again with a little help from lady luck, you just might pull it through.
But! At this point you're relying pretty heavily not only on you exceptional skill (which you could have), but also on luck.. (Which you'll almost surely not have that much.)
So, when you put the odds of succeeding in all the different aspects of production together.. Well, let's just say that it needs a very large scoop of optimism to envision this as something that might be doable.
That is.. IF you don't lower your quality requirements somehow.
Why? Because composing and arranging a good song "usually" takes several days alone. Sometimes weeks.. Because setting up and going through a recording session can easily take more than one day. Because it's common that if a song is to be mixed really top notch, it can very well take another one full day or even more.
Now think about producing two songs.. It's going to be twice as much work. You're easily talking about weeks, maybe even months of work. Definitely not three days and three nights.
Oh, did I mention that after your songs are composed, recorded and mixed, they should be also properly mastered in a dedicated mastering studio. Mastering is pretty technical thing and difficult to explain to someone who doesn't know much about the stages of music production. But I guarantee you that mastering is very important. Especially if your music is going to be played for large audience and in different venues.
Let's just say that mastering is essentially the process where you make your music compatible with as wide range of music equipment and listening environments as possible. You make sure that the music really sounds as it should in real life. If your music is not properly mastered, it's very likely that although it may sound great in you living room, it may very well sound crap elsewhere.
Which brings me to the point that's also more than valid: Do you have the equipment and skill to do the whole project from start to finish by yourself, if you're trying to sound like the "big guys"? You may.. But the most likely answer is: no, you can't do it.
There's a reason why some people get paid big bucks for certain tasks of the production. There's a reason why renting a quality studio and equipment costs a lot. And there's a reason why producing a high quality song, almost without exception, is an effort of many people.
But what do you do, if you had only those three days and three nights to work with?
1. You simply decide that it's not a "two hit songs" you're after. It can still be good. It can still be artistically very impressive. It can be very functional. But if you have a narrow goal of producing "two broadcast ready hit songs", it's very likely not going to happen. 2. Once you've set your goal, you simply decide that you compose only for one day. And whatever comes out the first day, is your two songs. No time for rewrites! Period. 3. Then you get one full night of sleep. 4. The second day you record the stuff the best you can and with the equipment you have. 5. Then you sleep half a night. 6. The next half day you mix like there's no tomorrow and hope you don't lose too much of objectivity.. 7. Then you sleep another half a night 8. Then you put on your "mixing-/mastering engineer's hat" and prepare and refine the song for delivery. This takes whatever time you have left. In this case half day and one full night.
Look at it another way
After finishing a project, no matter of what your resources are, you may very well feel that the project still could need some work. But that kind of thinking will hardly go away if your goal is to develop as a composer throughout your life. Think of it another way. What if you'd be perfectly happy with every project you've ever done? That would not be very good for creativity..
It's much better to appreciate you work. But with a grain of salt. It's precious and valuable, perhaps even wonderful. But it's never perfect! Never. It can't and it shouldn't be.
Because if it was, we'd not be talking about the representation and study of humanity anymore. I don't know if robots can ever make art. But I know that humans do. And that's what being a human being is all about. Tell your story or feeling in you own way.
So, just accept that this is how this particular project came out. And with the experience you just gathered, in the next project you'll perhaps make some thing differently and hopefully in some ways better. Whatever that "better" might mean to you..
Composing Taper Pro movie was no different. The time limit was less that optimal. And now when the music is ready, I already see what I could've done differently and probably better. BUT. The beauty of this particular project is exactly in the shape it has right now. As it is. The beauty of it is not really about how any single aspect of it looks or sounds. The beauty of it is really about in what conditions and in what context it came to be just as it is right now!
It didn't come as a surprise that I met the deadline with only minutes of margin. The deadline was on Oct 5th at 13.00. At 12.45 my computer was still burning a dvd. But at 13.15 Kalle walked out with a DVD full of audio files in his pocket.
Reaching the deadline required 13 long days of work. From the last 32 hours I slept only 1 hour.
I think I succeeded in what was my primary goal. The music I composed enhances the drama in those scenes that it was supposed to. And it sounds like myself. It's not just some music playing here and there.. Instead it's absolutely functional part of the movie.
The functionality, or whatever you like to call it, is what I appreciate in art anyways. Because "how it feels" depends too much of the subjective perspective. Everyone will always "like" and "feel" different things. That's great. But it also makes it too easy to say things like "that sucks" or "that's cool". These statements tell something, for sure. But there really should be deeper way to approach art, too.
If you learn to appreciate and enjoy the functionality of art, not only "how it feels", it becomes easier to make really useful quality judgements, if needed. Then the art suddenly has a lot more power. It's more concrete, more colorful, even more democratic. If you just want to open you eyes and ears and look at it that way.
And by this I really don't mean to say that art should be always analyzed. And it should definitely never be over- or misanalyzed in a way that leads you to the conclusion that "there's no functionality to be found, it's useless".
This is not what I mean! No! Just for the record for all of those people who like to classify art as "acceptable" or "unacceptable", "right" or "wrong" etc.:
Even though you don't understand a piece of art or it doesn't make you feel a certain way, it still can be valuable. Feels stupid to write this explicitly, but for some people this seems to be impossible to comprehend. And this closed-mindedness has (and will) lead to many tragedies. But that's a different story..
Now the movie is out of my hands. And I think it really looks like a collaboration of different kind talents. There's something unique from all its makers in it. It's more than the sum of the parts. I'm proud of my very first film score.
The last 7 days I've used for composing 13min 30sec of music. That's almost 2 minutes of music written each day. I also wrote about 3 additional minutes of music that I later decided not to use. It just didn't cut the grass..
Working without assistants and with very limited time, making decisions has to be pretty much right on target. There's simply not time to play around with ideas for a day or two just to realize that it's never going to work. There's some elaboration on this in my previous blogs. But what kind of decisions I really made because of the time limits etc.? And how did I make them work?
The instrumentation is: piano, synth pad, electric guitar. Yep, no percussion or a drum set.. The less instruments, the less hassle.
I chose one of the simples harmonic motives: Moving down with thirds. In analytical terms, lots of i-VI and some elaboration on that idea.. Perhaps not the most sophisticated and definitely not the rarest approach you could find. But it works every time, doesn't it.
Generally speaking I tried to be very focused all the time. And I managed to play only with my strengths. This was of most importance. If I knew that making a certain kind of sound or music style would require a lot of time, then I simply wasn't going to waste any of my time thinking about it any further.
Lot's of "myself" in the sound. No time for reviews and rewrites anyways. It's going to be the sounds that I can produce most naturally myself. I'm lucky that the producers didn't give me hard time. Instead they gave me basically free hands to do whatever I saw necessary. Big thanks to Kalle and Joni for that! Hope you like what you'll hear next Monday...
I didn't get a lot of suggestions from the producers, but I did try to capture some of that "Miami Vice" feel that I had heard some chattering about. This led to especially one cue that comes very close in imitating the sounds you could find in Miami Vice. But then again, a lot of this movie is about the various kinds of parody. So, in this case it's okay. In more serious contexts I probably wouldn't have gone this far (you'll see what I mean..).
See, there are certain legal aspects in the music business and copyright considerations that makes it possible to imitate already existing music to some degree. The key terms here are "similar" and "same". There's no clear written law that gives a bullet proof description of what is "too similar" so that it's considered as "same".
By this I mean a composition or a song as an somewhat abstract collection of sounds that are organized in certain way. I mean the idea of a song or composition. I do not mean the copyright of a performance or a track on a cd.
Is it so that when you organize a bunch of notes in a certain way, that'll give you the legal right to use that particular combination of notes exclusively? Or is it the physical shape of the sound waves that your song makes that gives you that right?
Or what if three people happen to "invent" exactly the same combination of notes completely unaware of each other? Can many people own a copyright to the same combination of notes that make up essentially the same song?
The answers to legal questions are often complex. And many times the best answer is: "It depends".
But the main principle is that you own the copyright to all of your musical inventions (and other inventions to that matter) no matter how original they actually sound (or don't sound...)! So, if you just happened to compose a song that sounds like "Let It Be" completely unaware that this song was already written by the Beatles, then you could at least theoretically make a case that you have a copyright to it, as well. You just have to prove it somehow, should you ever end up in a courtroom defending yourself...
The fine line is not always clear. And especially when we start talking about the big money, these questions will be evaluated ultimately in the courtrooms. The judges will evaluate all the evidence and decide if it's probable or not that you really composed this tune that sounds exactly like "Let It Be" made famous by the Beatles. In other words, they decide if you have the right to make money out of that song, too.
Yet there are some principles that you can follow, make your music sound similar to you favorite song, and still not likely ever find yourself in a courtroom.
Copyright is not a right that you have to apply for. At least in Finland and in the USA having a copyright as such does not require you to fill out any papers, forms etc. None! When you create something, you instantly have a copyright to your work. That's written in the law. It's that simple! All these copyright associations etc. simply administer copyrights only IF you want to give them that mandate in writing. Should you end up in a courtroom defending your copyright, it's all about the evidence. So, if you just made a song, get yourself covered somehow. Print the music out on paper, burn it on cd or put the file on a usb drive. And then put it in an envelope and send it to yourself by mail. This way you'll have somewhat credible proof of when you made this song. Just remember NOT to open the letter before you absolutely must use it as a proof. And please note that this approach still doesn't help you explain how it's possible that you really invented "Let It Be", and not simply copied it... But if you just finished composing a melody that's "not yet so very famous", this method is good for proving that you were the first who did it.
ChordsARE NOT copyrightable. This is true. This means that you can write all you favorite chord changes from any of your favorite artists down and write a unique melody on them. No problem. That's still your tune.
Melody (especially when played in a certain rhythm) MAY WELL BE copyrightable. So, make sure that the melody you write on you favorite chord changes is not also the melody that goes with the song already...
Very few melodies today are truly original. Remember that we are essentially talking about (usually) only 12 notes that people have been playing with for thousands of years now. It's a common understanding that at least for the last couple of centuries all of the possible combinations for these 12 notes has been discovered already. So, it's more than likely that you are not the first one who finds this particular melody from those 12 notes.. No matter how much you think that you are inventing something truly new. No matter how deep from your soul these notes come from. This is a mathematical fact.
You can still make songs that are original enough. Despite of what I just told you, it's surely possible to make music that has the spirit of originality. On emotional level (and I think this really matters the most) it's YOUR unique story every time you compose something. The spirit of your song is unique if it paints a story or a feeling directly from your life. No matter how similar to any other song it sounds. And yes, in the end it's also a question of listener's perspective. Some people think that a song is original, if it's just mixed in a little bit different way. Even if the song would be essentially the same. And some other people can make a well argumented point that IF we'd start to analyze songs more deeply, Bach and other masters would rightfully sue everybody! Although that's a different discussion, the important point is that as a musicians we really are standing on many people's shoulders whether or not we like to realize and admit it..
The word "similar" does not mean "same". When you compose an original melody that's influenced by your favorite song, that's okay. But if you copy the song's melody and claim it to be yours, you may get yourself in a lot of trouble..
The written music law is probably one of the most complicated laws there is. So, if you don't know exactly what you're doing, don't play on the edge if you happen to be playing against the big guys. Don't intentionally re-compose "Let It Be" and try convince them that you didn't have a clue that the Beatles had already done it before you..
The moral law of music is a bit more simple. If you feel that you just spent countless of hours composing your heart out, and while doing so you didn't actively think of your favorite song, that's your song. Even better if it didn't end up (for any reasons) sounding exactly like you favorite song, too... Again, flavors and inspiration from here and there is good. And most often inavoidable and even sought after.
Take some harmony lessons and analyze variety of songs. Then you'll be able to see more clearly why it sounds the way it does. You'll be able to pick the notes that make up the song's character. Then just use those notes in a little bit different way. This way it becomes possible to come up with a song that arises similar feelings in people as does "Let It Be" by the Beatles, yet it truly is your own original tune. If that's what you want to do..
The last point above is exactly what a lot of composers get paid for. The mastery of music analysis and other techniques that are involved in music-making are skills that require a lot of practice. But it's a lot of fun, too. It's amazing and very satisfying to see how you'll eventually find sounds from inside of you that you never knew were there!
And dont't forget this (Part 1): A lot of imitation is always required when you learn any skill. No matter how simple or advanced the skill is. Everyone will have different way and different motives of learning. And that's okay. Learning is all about the tradition, the collective consciousness of a humankind. Making music is never just one man's show, if you think it through! You could well decide to do your music solo and in isolation. Perhaps you try to make your music random and intentionally avoid all similarities with all the music you know. But still you'd be essentially continuing the music tradition that the very first of our ancestors started hundreds of thousands years ago. There's no way around it.
And dont't forget this (Part 2): Regardless of all the tradition, imitation and constant learning, truly beautiful moments will happen when you let go of the idea of imitation. The moment when you're not thinking: Oh, I should sound like this or that. You can rest assured that you'll always be tied to the particular time in history anyways. You'll always stand on the shoulders of others. Of whom you practically know no one at all. Think about it. In a way or another YOUR MUSIC is the result of ALL music that's happened before you. So, no need to worry about that that much. Your music is the proof that our existence in the universe is all about the interaction of pieces and particles that we don't really understand much about. How could you not respect that?
Just let the music come out of you as it is! Let it be heard as a collective song of human kind that just happens to come through you at this time. That's art. That's freedom. That's appreciation of life. That's responsibility and respect towards our surroundings. That's what being alive is all about.
Next up... Now I'm in process of collecting music from various sources to the Taper Pro movie. Then a couple of days of mixing and putting it all together. Then... Well, then there's really not that much left to do from my part. It's amazing starting to realize that a 4 month of intense work is almost finished!
But new projects and thoughts will come. And blogging will continue. So, keep following! You can find me also on Facebook and Twitter. Go check out my website at www.EliaPatrick.com for more information.
As I mentioned in my last blog post, one of the most important things I need to do first is to draw very clear frameworks for the task ahead. The less choices I make available to myself, the easier it'll become to make the right ones.
Although I firmly think that it's possible to create something meaningful from very limited material, if you're creative, I also think that this notion is very easily misunderstood.
Being able to make art and deliver a message that has a substance is a challenge. No matter how vast or limited your resources are.
It's easy to produce crap if you have too many tools to work with. But it's also easy to start to believe that just because you managed to get something done with limited resources, it's automatically good.
Generally it's very easy to fall in love with anything you do. Be it music, writing, driving a car, or anything. We often get blind to what we do. And this is where a good routine and experience will help you out.
The spirit of Teippaaja Pro
So, what are we essentially talking about when we talk about a potential movie score of Teippaaja Pro? First you have to understand that although this movie has a script, it's still essentially an improvisation. It's a solo improvisation act of a stand up comedian Joni Koivuniemi. Believe ir or now, no written lines, almost 100% pure improvisation.
Because of this, and this is only my personal opinion, I feel that the script of Teippaaja Pro never was a "real script". Sure it provided some guidelines and ideas for the production (and frameworks for the improvisation), but it wasn't a script (with the capital S) in a way that you could read it and then understand what the movie is really about. It wasn't a script in a way that you could lean on it and follow it throughout the production stages and in the end find yourself with a good movie.
In many ways the script was all but a good script. It was so flexible that I still haven't received the final version of it. And the picture of the movie is already locked... This has caused some troubles along the way, BUT also made some great discoveries possible! The movie is all about the improvisational character of Joni (original idea and the script) and the interaction between Joni and Kalle (the main camera operator and the script).
So the role of the music is two-fold. It should enhance what's already good. It should enhance the drama. This is what I feel most excited about! But there are also places where the role of the music (and sound design) is merely to create at least some kind of unity between pieces that are somewhat scattered otherwise. This I'm not that excited of.. Not because of the challenge, but because as an editor I know the underlying reasons for these problems. The way we now have to use music at times is result of some (unavoidable and avoidable) problems in the pre-production and production stages.
It's not that I don't like the challenge. I do! But of course the best case would be if every step we take in the process adds something good to the whole picture. This way every collaborator could work fully on his/her own level and give their absolute best to the production.
It should never be the case that the main function of the music (for example) is to hide under it some quality issues in other aspects of the production.
But don't get me wrong. There are not too many of these problems present in Teippaaja Pro. For two reasons. First, there are only few places where this kind of approach would be necessary. And second, there'll likely not be that much of music overall, because it's all about Joni doing his thing improvising. This improvisation is truly amazing. You'll see..
Of course this kind of analysis is merely a conversation that happens in the scenes between the collaborators. The audience will hopefully be completely unaware of what's been hidden, how it's done, and why.
Good planning and Lady Luck
Making a movie is a collaboration of many people. It's the kind of art form that you can plan and envision only to a certain degree. The result is always dependent of so many thing. Part of it is the budget and planning. Part of it is the quality of production. And part of it is simply luck! And there's the beauty of it! The magic of movie making!
What we are doing right now is very exciting and challenging. The genre of our movie is probably one of the toughest there is. First, it's a comedy. Second, it's a fictional documentary. Third, it's an improvisational act. And fourth, for the 2/3 of our core production team, this is our movie debut!
Now that the picture is locked and sent to the colorist it's time to start working on the music. Only two weeks to get the score finished... Would be "nice" to have more time. But I don't. So..
Actually I don't even have full two weeks. Preparing all the project files for the colorist took two extra days. And since I'm the editor of the movie, there was no other way than using those two extra days to get the job done.
I know.. It might seem like things are starting to fall apart already. But that's not going to happen. It's the spirit of this project. We met our most important deadline already. Locking the picture was the most important milestone. It was close, but we made it! Now let's just keep on working on the edge, and we just might see this movie on DVD before December 2011..
The 2nd day of the film scoring was all about thinking about the concept and function of the music in Teippaaja Pro. I also started to listen to and organize the music that's available for free from other artists. No reason to reinvent wheel, if not necessary!
I've also started to use the voice recorder of my mobile phone a lot more. Whenever I've had time to sit down on my piano for a couple of minutes, I've turned the recorder on and just let the ideas flow.
Who knows, perhaps some of these ideas will find their way to the Teippaaja Pro score. Next Monday I'll "officially" start composing. Keep following this blog and I'll keep you updated!
For the past two months I've been working as the editor for the Teippaaja Pro movie. But one thing led to another.. And now I find myself as the music director and the composer of the movie, as well.
It's quite a challenge. We are still several weeks from finishing the movie, the cut is not yet locked etc. Lots of work still ahead! The current deadline (November 2011?) is approaching fast..
All in all, I predict that I'll probably have about two weeks total to plan, compose, record and mix the whole thing. That's not a whole lot! After all, I'm not John Williams or Danny Elfman..
In fact.. This is my very first film scoring gig.
So, the key to being able to get the job done lies in planning that's absolutely well made. The tighter I can get the frames built for the task ahead, the less work it's going to be to get the picture drawn. Sure, this is somewhat vague analogy, and many will find it inadequate describing the composition process. Nevertheless, it works for me.
My main questions right now are:
What's the absolutely minimum amount of music the film can't live without?
What are the most important cues?
What are the cues that are most likely to get thrown out if the time is just not going to be enough and the hell will break loose?
How much music is it possible to compose in such short time?
How much, what kind of and at what price can I get music from online libraries etc.
What kind of arrangements can I realistically expect to produce and mix with the available resources?
And the answers seem to be:
About 20min. As an editor of the film I'd very much like to have at least 30min of music. But we can live with 20min if needed.
The scenes where the characters or the plot needs some more flesh. At least six scenes.
Various kinds of source music. Cars, rooms, trains etc.
Hmm.. Don't know yet. I'll definitely aim for 15min or so.
5min shouldn't be a huge problem. But more than that is probably going to be painful (with our budget, anyways). What we need is a solid element that unifies the scenes that may otherwise be a bit chaotic at times.. Finding this kind of material from online libraries is like trying to find water in the Kalahari Desert.
Big Band or orchestral music is likely not going to happen.. Nor the kind of music that will require even moderately complex recording sessions or mixing..
So, what are the options?
Very simple instrumentations, solo instruments and some synthetized setup. The kind of music that's simple enough that I don't need to write it down and rehearse first. Complex arrangements should be avoided.
I really need to find a concept that'll enable me to pretty much produce and even mix the music along the way while I compose. So, let's try to keep it in Logic's arrange window as much as possible.
It really boils down to a simple principle: Try to keep the number of moving parts in as few as possible.
The very first step: Importing the 4th rough cut of Teippaaja Pro into Logic. Notice that this is not yet the "locked cut". We simply don't have it yet.. So let's start with playing with some ideas and themes first.
Bachelor of Music in Jazz Composition. Berklee College of Music, Boston, USA (2007).
I received my degree with the highest honors Summa Cum Laude. I also received the Carla Bley Award from the faculty of the Professional Writing Division.
Piano Tuner. The Arla Institute, Espoo, Finland (2003).
The name I like to use of my business is Patrik Music. It's an auxiliary business name for Patrik Pianonviritys Tmi (ID-nro: 1791108-9). It is registered in the Finnish Register of Companies as a "Sole Trader".
This website is essentially my music portfolio. The titles are in Finnish, but navigation should be easy to enough for everyone.
Musiikki ja muuta = Music and the rest of it
Videot = Videos
Nuotit = Sheet music
There's also three videos that you can find below. The first one is a collection of short music examples created mostly with only one synthesizer.
The second one is my main music project Thaiga. You can find Thaiga's videos elsewhere on this website as well.
The third one is the music I composed for "Teippaaja Pro movie". It's a indie movie project that I edited and composed on a very limited resources.
YHTEYSTIEDOT / CONTACT
YHTEYSTIEDOT / CONTACT
Ota yhteyttä! Katsotaan, millä tavalla sävellykseni täydentäisi projektiasi!