Special Guest: CRX

Being an indie doesn’t mean doing everything yourself. Sure, it feels like it, and, in many cases, everything that ‘happens’ is a direct result of you, but there are times when you need to ask for help and, importantly, accept help offered.

Midi Magic

One of the biggest areas of improvement that came out of the animation for The Bullet was the sound and the music.

I am avoiding using sound effects in this trailer, not because I’m scared of them or anything, but they don’t really apply. So that mitigates that side of things. As for the music, well, I think it’s hard to go wrong with Midi.

In my previous posts I’ve written about using Anvil Studio, getting the tune laid down, adding in bass and beats, then crying as I discovered just how utterly awful the standard Windows Midi Renderer is.

Virtual Midi Synth coupled with downloadable SoundFonts eases the pain: drums sound like drums. The honky-tonk piano sounds like a honky-tonk. But there’s still more that can be done.

What kind of more?

When in doubt, ask a pro

Introducing CRX. What’s CRX? Not what, who.

Who is CRX?

https://soundcloud.com/CRX_au

 

CRX

That’s who. He’s a music fiend. He’s a DJ. He’s all about making stuff sound shmick. Go to soundcloud, have a listen. I’ll wait right here.

So here’s me dabbling with a one minute score, like a child stoked that he made a bridge out of Lego, and there’s CRX building monolithic skyscrapers with cranes and pre-fabricated concrete slabs: “Hey, uh… any chance you could take a listen and help a brother out?”

And this is just one of the fantastic things about MIDI – “Hey, I got a band together to record a minute long score and we practiced all week to get this recording… We can re-write, and I’ll get the band back together in a few weeks and we’ll rehearse for another week and then you can listen and we’ll repeat the process. Can you help me out?”

versus:

“Here’s the MIDI file, here’s a wav of the current rendering. If you can tweak the notes and give me some pointers, that’d be grand. Can you help me out?”

I know which one I’d prefer.

To give you an idea, I’m going to include the initial tune with Windows General Midi Rendering, then with the Fluid soundfont, then… the score as it has been CRXified (coined that term just then). It’ll have to be a drop box or google drive thing. You know what? Just ask and I’ll post some links in the comments.

Anyway, all thanks to CRX and his amazing skillz at the deck, I’ve now got a score that outclasses any animation that I could dredge up. Kind of like dressing a chimp in a tuxedo.

Guess that means I’m to work harder on the animation.Mini Jeztyr Logo

First the Powder, then the Shot

Frustration. That was the key experience to take away from that exercise. Oh, I think I got there in the end, but, clearly, making up tunes is not my strong point.

I think the problem lies in that for every tune, there’s a an established tune that sounds very similar to it. Don’t know if there’s a term for that. Should be if there’s not: “The tendency for a new pattern to align itself with an existing pattern.”

The Beat or the Bass?

I tried a few approaches to getting something going. First I thought about a march, one-two, one-two, bump-ba-bum, bump-ba-bum, tiddly-tiddly-tum. Yeah. Nah. Why not? Everything ends up as the Liberty Bell March. Or the William Tell Overture.

So then I tried laying down some bass, trying combinations of chords to give me something to work with, and that helped a little. I could hear how the tune might change as I adjusted the interstitial notes (A, A, D#, G | G, D#, D#, G). It was tempting to add in accidentals and staccato and whatnot, because, hey, it’s a boring patch of what, really, is a combination of four notes.

Besides, does the bass drive the melody? Does the beat? No, not it doesn’t. Nor the accompaniment, nor the harmonics. These things support the melody. No point laying down foundation if one doesn’t know what the house looks like, right? Right? Ah, I dunno, it sounds good so I’ll run with it.

Back to the Melody

I came full circle, then. As a plan: First I shall work up a couple of tunes, then I shall refine one or two of them, then I shall place these choice few into Anvil Studio to tweak, add a beat and listen.

Let me just… almost… going to… bear with…

FirstPowder
Putting it into Anvil Studio, adding some drums and bass, and an accompaniment

Annnnd there. I think I’ve settled on a ditty. It’s simple, which isn’t altogether a bad thing, and it was inspired from a tune I remember from when I was first learning how to play the piano. Playing it over a few times, I think it needs a couple of rests, but, all in all, it’s workable.

I’ll not throw the other ditties out. May as well put them into Anvil and store them in midi format for next time. Anyway, let me add a quick beat and bass to make it a bit more solid.

Now, I did get an invite from a certain muso with a certain flair for musical advice to give me a helping hand. Let this be a lesson to you indies out there: If someone who knows what they’re talking about offers you help in relation to something you know nothing about, you’ll do well to accept.Mini Jeztyr Logo