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Patrick Burns

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  1. Nice song choice. This little track always held a special place for me. Listening to your remix, it's clear that you already know how to make pleasant-sounding instruments and so forth. So I would say arrangement is what you need to focus on. That happens to be my weak spot too. So depending on your perspective that makes me the best (or worst) person to give advice here... in any case... I'll give some pretty broad advice, and maybe the most common kind of advice people need on these boards: the challenge is that most video game songs are tough because they're short tracks that repeat a lot, so sculpting something longer--and giving it a beginning, middle, and end--takes some decision making on your part. Break the song down into various elements... and you can decide what those elements are. Maybe you treat the drum pattern as an element, the bell motif as another element, the string melody as another, the mysterious chord progressions, the increase in textural and rhythmic density across the source tune could be another element, the desolate lack of bass at first, and the increasing intensity of the bass as things go on, that distinctive Golden Sun pan flute with delay on it, or maybe you think of the mysterious water vibe character as one element... there are hundreds of ways of cutting it all apart Make your own list of elements for this song, and then rearrange those elements... eventually into something with a beginning, middle, and end. That's it. That's the game of arranging. But easier said than done. Maybe you could have an instrument by itself at first playing the rhythm that the drums normally play, maybe in a slower tempo, really letting the mystery sink in, maybe they could be going through some of those mysterious chord changes, doing those rapidly wandering V - i cadences into weird new areas, maybe that evolves into a delicate presentation of the bell pattern by themselves, could use actual bells but don't have to, maybe with a slower free form tempo, maybe you make the bell pattern twice as long with some a slight modification of the rhythm and then return to the original rhythm, then maybe you just go back to the introductory instrument playing the drum rhythm, lower this time, ominous, then the drums come in alongside doing their thing, so it's that same rhythm from the intro but less safe now, maybe they start out all drenched in reverb, like they're far away, and the dry signal slowly comes in, maybe the fingered bass makes a quiet/high appearance foreshadowing some later increase in bass texture, then the bells return alongside the drums, fully locked in the normal tempo now... now we're cooking... and you haven't even gotten started on the main string melody yet or the flute part... each element can be strung out, expanded, repeated.... all in different ways Again that's all easier said than done. But it's the main thing your version is lacking. Expanding short tunes into longer, more complete arrangements is tough for me too. For one thing, you're so used to the original that it's hard to hear your way out of it into something different. Rearranging is also infinitely open-ended, and most of the time it feels like you're just trying things that sound bad. But that's how you get better. Good luck.
  2. Nice. Times change, listener standards change. I can understand how the track would feel simple... after a decade or two of amazing EDM tracks getting normalized in mainstream music, that is. But if this was posted 18 years ago on OCR it would be considered a face melter. I have reflected on the uniqueness of the source tune many times. I can't come up with something poetic to say about it right now. But 'coming home' works for me. The source does have a strange weave of rising hopefulness that keeps... rising, then weaving back through minor tonality, then rising again. It keeps revolving seemlessly, and you forget where it starts and end, because it always feels like it's moving forward. Never quite gets home, but seems to be telling you that home exists nonetheless, and we'll all get there eventually. Thanks for sharing.
  3. Nice idea. Really makes me imagine an alternate reality SnesTropics... the overworld exploration bits would probably have been pretty cool... but I'm imagining that the Sub-C parts would have been turned into an annoying f-zero style 3D navigation with obstacles and sea creatures to avoid
  4. Out of curiosity, can you say whether hacking your DS led to certain skills that led to other skills that led to something good? I agree about the in-person practice. Without that practice with all the different kinds of friends and professors... I know my first stint in school would not have been worth the opportunity costs. Just giving me a societally acceptable way of moving a state or two away from home was exactly what my sheltered teenage self needed at the time. There's lots of people that covid sucks for, but... it would suck to be a sheltered kid getting even more sheltering.
  5. I feel bad for university students during covid. Do you feel like remote learning is worth the $ for you personally right now? And how do writing ideas come to you, if I may ask
  6. Yeah, all the new platforms have their utility, but... I also sorta miss the old internet landscape when it felt like an archipelago of forums. It was harder to access any given individual, but communities felt more concrete. (Of course, the same arguments can be made about life before the internet, so...) I wonder how the landscape will evolve from here on out...
  7. Jesus. I don't know you personally but obviously I've seen your name around for maybe 15 years now. (And have one of your songs in my library, which my sister and I bonded over in the car one day.) Obviously, I hope you can turn things around. But with all the shit you're describing, that's a pretty shallow suggestion. It's sorta like telling people that they should learn to sing. It's good advice, but it might take 10 years. But still, I hope you can turn things around. I just finished dental school, and the patient-base is very interesting. It's a cheap place to get dental care, and we tend to seek out people with a lot of problems that need fixing. So a very common kind of patient you encounter is someone who has been through some shit in their life, and is now trying to turn things around and pull shit together. They've divorced someone, they've gotten off drugs, they're recovering from some major disease... and now they're trying to work on their health, lose weight, get a new job, and get on a good streak (and getting some teeth pulled and some cavities fixed is on their checklist). I'm not much of a humanitarian, but it feels good to get to know those people. It's usually a pretty bumpy road they're on, with lots of regression. And for everyone one of them you meet, there's probably 2 other people moving in the opposite direction in life. But still... it's nice to see those people. Hope you can level things off, and regain some altitude some day. (Might take 10 years, but... you know.)
  8. I was about to post those words verbatim. I think John makes a lot of important points. They're the same points I've made in conversations over the years. If I could grossly paraphrase some of what John said: the further away music theory gets from talking about specific songs and musical phrases, the less useful it becomes. But I do have one small point of disagreement. I think that music theory, even when taught as described above, can hinder creativity for some people if the person is learning music theory before they learn to play by ear. (Which is how most of us mere mortals have to learn music theory, unfortunately, so it's kind of a moot point.) How does it hinder creativity? Well, this is going to be a very academic point, but I'll make it anyway: music theory comes with a lot of assumptions that don't line up exactly with our cognition of music. So when we try to learn by ear, after having absorbed the lens of music theory, we're searching for certain "things" in the music that our ear would not otherwise have sought out on its own to form its own intuitive understanding. This doesn't prevent us from learning by ear, but it really slows things down, in my experience of seeing different musicians and finding out their history of learning. Not because there's anything wrong or totalitarian about music theory, but only because of human psychology. Let me draw a comparison to language learning. Language learning has a lot of parallels. We all know they share some areas of the brain. But more importantly language and music also share a dual life. We have certain intuitive abilities surrounding both language and music, and we also have the more analytical, grammatical understanding surrounding them. Let's take a sentence. One that a child may learn very early on in life. "Do you want some food?" If you look at that sentence from a grammatical perspective (the music theory perspective), you've got an interrogative verb order with the helping verb coming early, you've got a second person singular pronoun, the verb, an indefinite pronoun, the direct (?) object. Etc. Etc. All of those things are true and are merely a neutral understanding, just like music theory's analysis can be true and neutral. But the child learning its first language is not building their intuitive sense of language that way. They hear "dooyoowansum food." And their brain absorbs that, comparing it with similar sounds like "dooyoowanna" or "arrweegonna" or "izzhegonna" until a library of sounds is built by use, comparison, and contrasts. It's not an incrementally accumulated index of words and ideas, it's a network of compare and contrast through use. Now, when we get older, we might learn a second language. Maybe in high school or college. And maybe then we actually do begin with the grammatical approach, the music theory understanding. In other words, we begin by learning the individual vocab words, the parts of speech, the conjugations. But it's important to remember that this is only the loading program for our intuitive language abilities. We are hyperconscious of the grammar at first (the music theory) until the intuitive abilities of our mother language expand their capacity to this new language. Then the grammar becomes secondary. Still true and useful, but a secondary understanding. The problem with music is that some people never develop that initial intuitive relationship to music, and they get music theory instead. It's like a child trying to think through learning their first language while simultaneously thinking about the parts of speech they're hearing and using. Not wrong, per se, but not right either. The trap is that there is an initial burst of satisfaction when music theory starts to make sense. But in the long run, if you haven't learned to play by ear first, you're slowing down your eventual ability to play and write by ear, in my opinion. It just makes you start searching for the wrong 'things' in music. Unfortunately, the reality is that most kids will never have the obsession or support system to learn music by ear in early childhood. So we all grow up with what I consider a cognitive disabilities in music, just like a child underexposed to language activities would have speech/language pathologies. So we have to adapt education to that reality. And music theory is one of the main compensatory avenues we have. Humans are chatterboxes and sometimes we just need things to be legible so we can get by. (Speaking as someone who started with classical piano/guitar, and went to college on a full music scholarship to study film composition, guitar, and ethnomusicology. But now I'm a dentist, so...)
  9. Your thoughts remind me of the lifecycle of businesses and how it compares/contrasts to musicians. Stick with me. The general guidance for startups is to not immediately go out and compete on the largest scales. Rather, start with a small group of specific customers and please them greatly. In other words: don't try to start by making an Apple Watch competitor. Maybe start with something like a smart watch dispatch radio for police officers, and nail that market space. Then slowly expand your target customers from there. Specific to general. Niche to mass appeal. Musicians often follow a similar route, to varying degrees. Coldplay evolving from a Radiohead sound towards the most cliche pop sounds of today. Taylor swift from country to pop. We can all probably think of examples from our favorite bands. It's not just evolution, because everyone evolves. It's evolution from narrow appeal to broad appeal. The difference is that in business, that kind of growth in customer base is (by and large) applauded. Whereas in art, it's often feels like a watering down of the message. Sure you have a larger community of fans, but the connection is less specific, and thus less strong. I guess that's just a slightly different way of expressing the same things you're thinking about. The tools for broad reach are so strong these days that it really tempts artists to try moving from specific appeal to mass appeal. Or to skip the specific phase entirely. And I don't mean just successful acts. Even the people making music in their bedroom may be producing and judging their own work through that broad lens, perhaps crowding out some more niche expression that would otherwise have found welcoming ears somewhere.
  10. I was thinking about this thread last night, and started playing guitar. This is the degree of production and arrangement I have the energy for these days:
  11. I wish I were doing more remixing right now. I'm feeling some nostalgia for it right now---weird because I think nostalgia was the reason most of us started it in the first place. So I'm in a weird meta-nostalgia place right now. But I'm not a fast remixer. I'm slow and obsessive and it doesn't fit into my busy schedule these days. I do hold arranging in high regard, as far as its creative merits go. I think it's a very strong relationship between the arranger and the listener. You're working with something that's usually already baked into the listener's memory, so you're starting with a strong common core of experience with the audience. You've already bonded with the listener over your love of the tune, but more importantly your creative decisions to alter the original material stand out strongly. The listener has greater vision into your creative process than if they were listening to your original material. Furthermore, the listener has an equally enhanced relationship to other listeners, given the shared histories listeners probably have with the tunes. Of course, original material has different strengths. But I do think arranging has objectively unique strengths too.
  12. Here are a few small ideas I've gathered over the years... It's natural to be anxious when revisiting an old piece. It's like 'massaging a corpse' to borrow someone's description. Or like trying to rekindle a fizzled relationship. The fire/ideas won't restart most of the time. Said in a different way, the old well-worn ruts and dead ends will be too strong to break free from. The silence and lack of ideas is also natural. Different people have different degrees of difficulty here and different ways to push through. You have to find your own way. But whatever way you chose, it will probably require some degree of vulnerability and anxiety, but also love and enjoyment. It will also require practice. Because of these natural barriers, certain personality qualities will serve you well. The ability to keep trying, to forgive yourself to the point of ego-mania, to not be a perfectionist, and maybe the need to prove yourself continually to others... lots of qualities like that, good and bad, will help a person not avoid the creative task, so you can keep coming back, learn, improve, etc. It all comes back to practice at the end of the day. Lastly, I've spent large stretches of my life trying to practice hearing music in my dreams. It's never comfortable, especially when trying to control it. At least for a brief moment, you have to be open to stupid/disturbing/anxious/embarrassing/sudden things, like certain kinds of imagined thoughts/feelings/movements, etc. It's like a starter system, and once you break through, a different engine takes over and it can create something beautiful.
  13. Nice. Just the right amount of re-harmonizing to me. 1:44 Reelin' in the Years?
  14. Proves there was no collusion
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