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  • Real Name
    Samulis Augustus
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    3. Very Interested
  • Software - Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
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    Arrangement & Orchestration
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  1. Yes, it is possible, likely via a composite key signature or a bit of extra notation on your part (and a solid measure of rest for the harpist to mute the strings and set the pedals at the least). I use the term Diatonic more to express the fact that a chromatic scale is impossible unless the harpist is playing slow enough to change pedals than to say that they can't play in a key other than the one written. I once had the "pleasure" of glancing at a piece for harp with composite key signature of something like three sharps and four flats and a time signature that I believe was something like 2 1/2 over 4 and then see the thing played live without a hitch, so I'm not going to say it's impossible to do it. Do note that notating such a gliss would be a bit interesting, as you would have to denote that those notes should be played with those accidentals or have a compound key signature. Honestly the sound of a gliss not in the key signature isn't very pleasant anyway, unless you're writing some sort of horror soundtrack (which harps can pull off great). Remember that this is just a basic guideline... I didn't make those to tell you that a harpist can absolutely never ever play a passage with pedal changes every measure to account for some off-key 'thriller' glisses (which probably sounds really epic in a computer, honestly), but if you asked one, they would probably tell you they wouldn't like you very much after that. While I dated a harpist (the one who played the aforementioned insane piece), I did a bit of self-education regarding notation for harp and the mechanics of playing, in case you want sources. Garritan Tutorial on Harps in General Felice Pomeranz on Harp Notation
  2. Perhaps you should try a Piano Roll. It's all MIDI, and generally you just click in notes with a mouse instead of playing it in real time. When I first started, that's how I composed since I really have never been good at piano. The plus is that everything is locked in the right place so that it's impossible to make a "mistake" (if you believe in musical mistakes, that is). Most DAWs offer both a piano roll and a stave system. Formal composition in the "I'm writing a symphony, hur hur!" manner is something that takes a lot of studying honestly. I rarely bother with proper forms when I write- if it ends up a ABACA versus a ABCBA, I worry not; if it ends up bad versus good, however, I do try to pay attention. It's okay when you're composing to ignore "rules"; that's how music has always evolved. However, sticking to some of the rules (cadences, progressions, "acceptable" non-chordal tones, relative key changes, etc.) is a good way to get going if you've been arranging or melody writing for a long time... besides, a lot of modern music (pop, rock, rap, etc.) is based on various forms. If you're going to hand-write something, do small ensembles and make a rough draft of the score where you can scribble in chords easily and all that before you tackle a final score. I once did a 40-measure hand written score for Band for Music Theory, and it took forever. I would honestly recommend keeping within the realm of digital music via DAWs that have a scoring ability (most do). But hey, I've only made the full score for maybe five or six of my pieces... most of my "scores" are hardly readable jumbles of "block chords" and untransposed instruments. If you're composing for a small game or for fun, you don't need to make a score (unless you want to have something to wave in the faces of friends or toss in front of future clients). All that matters in most cases is the sound. When writing for an orchestra, epic music or not, you're doing a lot more work than you assume at first. Even with a rough score, it takes me a good few hours to make sure it's all notated right. If you want to try your hand at scoring full things, you have to be ready to spend a heck of a lot of time thinking things through and looking at ranges of instruments online and such.
  3. Well, music runs in my family for generations, and I have been exposed to it in many forms since as long as I can remember like most folks, attending local concerts, listening to CDs, even listening to friends and family play at recitals for piano and voice. I learned to play an instrument (trombone) in Elementary School and have continued to play it since, and it has provided a good foundation. A few months after I began experimenting with composing, I enrolled in Music Theory I and subsequently took II. Knowing Theory is not a necessity to be a composer (there are indeed some who simply write by ear), but it helps significantly with understanding your ideas and also with instrumentation and orchestrating if you ever have music performed. Formal composition isn't a mystical thing, although for many including myself it always seems to have a mystical side. If you want to try composing stuff, start by writing very simple pieces for an instrument you play- guitar, piano... even stuff in a tracker or whatnot. Try various free programs/DAWs- Anvil, LMMS, and dozens others. Some help you convert your work into notation. How much Theory do you know? I know of some excellent sites and books for both beginners and advanced composers if you want me to link you to them... some of which I regularly glance over at.
  4. Howdy there, all. Figured I'd jump right in with something helpful. I made these sheets up for some fellow composers a while back who were looking at writing more "epic" orchestral music. The advice offered on these two sheets are what I have gathered from my own experience and are not in any way standard formulas for success. While these are rather simplistic, I hope to add more eventually. [larger image here] [larger image here] A little Background (on me and the sheets) if you don't trust me on things- I first began composing music about two and a half years ago. While this is a very short time, I have loved every moment of it and been consistently composing for nearly the entire duration... in fact, I am near Opus 160 if I were to bother counting all of the pieces. About a year ago, I started looking more into game and film scoring, having done a lot of work with what most people would call 'Program Music'. Since then, I have been working on scoring my own film as well as several flash games on sites such as Newgrounds. When one fellow composer on Newgrounds approached me asking for advice on writing 'that epic stuff', I made these up in order to give him some material to chew on. The melody fragments are from my own scores and projects and I whipped up the little piece in about ten minutes, so it's certainly not very good (and over uses dissonance intentionally). While these sheets may give you some ideas with motifs and instrumentation, an epic piece also needs some epic sounds. There are plenty of great Soundfonts and free VSTs to explore around the web... a while back I made the choice to save up and purchase some stuff from EWQL, but I have heard some great sounds from some other free banks which some fellow Newgrounders use. If you're using MIDI sounds, you'll have a heck of a hard time making a good sound, especially if the final form is a track in a game or film (unless you have one of those full orchestras in your closet... wouldn't that be nice!). If you have any questions on this style or if you write epic stuff and want to share your own motifs and advice, feel free to add on below... I am only one man with only a few years of experience... I am sure there are others with far more.
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