GSO

I'm not that great at doing transitions between melodic ideas. and I'm having trouble making songs fit together

6 posts in this topic

when writing orchestrally(that's a Word? lol)I'm not that great at doing transitions between melodic ideas. and I'm having trouble making songs fit together for this grand epic, I need some help(some one who can think on a grand orchestral level: @BenEmberley , @Chad Seiter @Archangel & @Garpocalypse

track list and order 

  1. somnus ff15
  2. edgar and sabin ff6
  3. in the light of the crystal ff15
  4. kefka's tower ff6
  5. dancing mad(tier 1, 3 & end of kefka battle) ff6
  6. magna insomnia(phase 1 & 3) ff15
  7. coin song ff6

Midi folder: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1-i6ZfROFDw0L2JSTsX_RODjJzSNiBR1d

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hard to say what to improve without a WIP to listen to. Having just done a 13 minute, 7 track orchestral remix myself, all I can recommend is to place your songs in an order that help you (e.g. putting songs in the same time signature together, be smart about preventing massive tempo jumps, etc.) and take the time in the arrangement to ease the listener into the various sections. The latter can sometimes be achieved by dropping out elements of track 1 and slowly introducing elements of track 2 (e.g. hints of the melody) before fully transitioning into it, and sometimes you can go for a dramatic stop or fadeout and transition the listener into the new section with a drum fill or a transitionary element like a held string note or the like. Again, hard to recommend anything if I can't hear anything.

Anyway, your best bet is to carefully listen at other tracks and get some ideas on how others do it. Something like Sam Dillard's stuff might help, or if you really wanna go pro something like Final Symphony (a suite of Final Fantasy music performed by the London Symphony Orchestra) might do the trick. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Take elements of the things you are transitioning to and from and mix them together.
If you're transitioning from something that is slow and legato to something that is a little faster and more detached, start altering some of the things near the end of the slow section to be more detached, so that the style change doesn't seem to come out of nowhere.

Take themes from the later sections and introduce them as secondary themes in the current section.

Essentially, it's just a matter of introducing stuff in little bits before you get there so that it doesn't seem like you suddenly arrived out of nowhere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

A few basic tips:

  • Listen to songs that carry out the style you are looking for, and try to make sense of what the structure is. You can even put it into your DAW to try to tempo-match, and then break it down into how many bars until each section is over. Where's the intro? Where's the outtro? Bridge? How are the dynamics changing over the course of the track?
     
  • Common transitions make use of cymbals and other transition sounds, or perhaps drum fills, but good transitions tend to connect both texture and contour (especially when writing orchestral, which has "only" organic instruments). Not just the density of the elements present, but also, the elements should feel like they're working together. Make yourself write a melodic transition sometime, and with time you'll hopefully develop that (voice-leading) as simply a core skill. You can do a simple melodic transition by writing a melody that sustains through into the next section, but later on, you could improve it by making all the little elements around the lead work together to lead up to that new section. For an example, I tend to share this, since it's what I consider my personal best arrangement. Maybe it'll help.
     
  • Have your friends listen to what you have and give you advice... including us. That means post a WIP, not just "help me".

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Transitions", as in, an independent little section or fill that bridges the gap between 2 distinct sections is honestly more of a thing in rock and electronic music. 

This is something that was always a big topic around here back when I joined, but I actually think a lot of music is made worse by having these little 1 bar phrases and such between two different sections because it creates an odd (or even, depending on song) # of bars in a phrase and feels like it "resets" the tune to my ears rather than creates a flow into the next section.

Like listen to these examples of orchestral or cinematic tunes:

None of these pieces have anything I would specifically call a "transition". It just goes one section into another. They do however pay attention to two things:

Anacrusis, and voice leading.

An anacrusis is a few notes before the first measure of a phrase that "lead-in" to it. A very common variant is that, in a minor key, you might have played the 5th and the minor 7th before playing the root on the downbeat of the first measure of the phrase. 

Voice-leading refers to how the voices (instruments) or lines move to another pitch. You want to avoid creating too many "leaps", that is: movement larger than a major third. You want stepwise motion as much as possible.

So let's say that: Sections A and B are both 8 measures long. The melody note in the last bar of section A ends on the root, an octave below where you started.

This means that section B should ideally start in the new, lower octave rather than having the melody jump all the way back up. If I do go back up into that higher register for the beginning of section B, than I would create an anacrusis leading into that pitch, with a different instrument(s) above the previous melody in the last bar of section A. Also, if you come back to the tonic chord in the last bar before a new phrase, have a quick chord change on the last beat or couple of beats in the last bar so that it will smoothly lead back to the tonic, or whatever chord begins the new phrase.

You can use percussion like timpani and cymbals rolls to accent this or ramp the tempo a bit, but basically: There is nothing terribly special you should have to do to make two sections, even very different ones, flow into each other well if your voice-leading is strong.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
22 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

This is something that was always a big topic around here back when I joined, but I actually think a lot of music is made worse by having these little 1 bar phrases and such between two different sections because it creates an odd (or even, depending on song) # of bars in a phrase and feels like it "resets" the tune to my ears rather than creates a flow into the next section.

While all the other points are really good, in my opinion this is the most important thing to consider when making transitions. I would personally stretch the point even further and say: "Why transition at all?" I think that there's a merit to having a transition between two (or more) songs if there's a justifiable reason to have multiple source material in the first place. And I'd assume that if there is a good reason to have multiple source materials, then it'll probably be because of a good link between the songs which makes the question kind of obsolete. I think that rather than searching for a "transition" it makes more sense to look for a "cohesion". 

Of course there are some scenarios where you might be assigned to, or could even get paid to combine "contextually preferably uncombinable" things, and in that case I would definitely read the points made above a few times and really think about them because they're all very expertly made and elaborated on. This summer I got a job to write a big band arrangement for someone and she had some very specific form structure in mind that I personally would never use. But since I got paid to do the job, and she didn't really listen to my suggestions to change it to something more effective I just had to roll with it. It happens, and in such cases it's good to be able to do it. But these situations are outside of the point that I'm trying to make at the moment.

To be honest, when remixing I think it's better to ask yourself: "How do I get more out of my source material so that I don't need to transition to a different song halfway". And when you really want to add another source tune, think to yourself: "What does this add to the music?: "How is this related to the rest?" "Where do I want to go?" "What do I want to say?" And when you're able to answer those questions with justifiable reasons, then the proper way to transition between songs will naturally come out of that. It's a very context specific thing, and the answer can be many things. In my experience, shifting too many times in one song between different genre's, source material, writing styles and all that good stuff takes away more than that it adds, and it's often a better idea to just write multiple tunes. 

It might not be the answer you're looking for, but i did want to add my two cents, since I feel that many remixers and writers often overlook these kind of things and tend to jump into quantity rather than quality. Not saying that that's necessarily what you're doing since, as many have already pointed out, you didn't give any examples of your music, but it's something to always keep in mind when writing. And asking some of the questions in the previous alinea might also solve other problems you could be dealing with, such as problems with flow, dynamics, instrumentation, motivic development, style, diversity and musical coherence among many things. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now