Future Thoughts [01. Musical Composition/Sound Design]

So I’ve decided to start a short series of blog posts entitled “Future Thoughts”. I’ll try to get one out once or twice a week.

They’re basically …extremely long freewrite-style posts? I guess you could call them that. I’m honestly not sure how to explain them. It’s just a way for me to get my ideas and inspirations out onto a post so that I don’t forget them later. Also, I’ll probably add in some articles in for reference every now and then whenever I see something interesting or helpful. Or something. …You’ll probably understand better when you read it below (because I’m horrible at explanations).

Bear with me. This post is pretty long. But it’s worth the read since I spent all day writing it.

Why Sound Design/Musical Composition?

The first topic of this series is “music composition/sound design“. Why am I focusing on music when I technically don’t have to bother with it until the end of April? Because I’ll be heading back to New York next Tuesday for a college visit to Skidmore, and when I return to Barbados the following Monday, I’ll (hopefully) be bringing my guitar and amp with me. Music composition is definitely something I need to be thinking about, since it’ll be the most difficult part of my project, and it’s something I have nearly no experience with …well, completing. Minus a few tests with programs like Pro Tools and Audacity (which, by the way, are programs on two totally different levels), I’ve never really completed a song before. When I was younger, I would mess around with GarageBand and mix the preset beats into a tune. Nothing more than that.

…Speaking of which, I might have the audio for some of those songs on my old MacBook. Maybe I’ll upload them onto Soundcloud and share them as examples. …Though that would entail bringing my old MacBook from NY with me to Barbados as well …and would also entail dealing with its faulty monitor. I’ll see what I can do.

Now that the stressful part of the senior college process has come and gone (I still can’t believe applications are over!) I’ve been thinking about what to pursue in college. Lo and behold, sound design was the first thing to come to mind. It’s always something that’s interested me – almost more than illustration and creative writing. Yet, it’s been a while since I’ve ever worked with music before. I …somewhat stepped back into the field when I interned at RocNation last summer (which was an extremely great experience), but other than that, I’ve done nothing.

This senior project is a return to the music world, I’ve concluded. A way for me to learn a bit about sound design on my own in preparation for college.

At least… that’s what one of my goals are with this project.

Part 1: Inspirations/Interesting Reads

Inspirations are a given when it comes to this project. There’s so many things I could reference to that have inspired me to compose music not only for this project, but in general. However, to cut down on the length of this entry, I’ll only mention two of them (though believe me, cutting all my inspirations down to such a small amount is terribly difficult).

First Inspiration: Eureka Seven: Psalms of Planets / Naoki Satō

Eureka Seven, (known as Eureka Seven: Psalms of Planets in Japan), is a mecha (robot) anime series about a 14 year old boy named Renton Thurston, his relationship with the pilot of the Nirvash typeZERO, Eureka, the anti-government group Gekkostate, and the mystery of the scub coral/Coralian life forms. It’s a bit confusing to explain, but believe me, it’s a great anime.

So, why an anime? What does that have to do with musical composition?

WELL THEN, LET ME TELL YOU.

Eureka Seven has two soundtracks. Two exceptional, beautiful, absolutely fantastic soundtracks, produced by Naoki Satō. Naoki Satō (佐藤直紀) is a Japanese composer who has created music for various anime series, dramas, musicals, and movies.

This soundtrack is inspiring to me for a couple of reasons. For one, I love classical music. Classical music has always been inspirational to me, even though I don’t listen to it as much as I used to. But there’s something about this soundtrack that really settles in with the listener. I… honestly don’t know how to explain it! But it’s great. It really is. I love how the soundtrack switches from solemn tunes to upbeat melodies to quirky ones. There’s a great variety of themes in the soundtrack. If you watch the anime, you’ll notice that each song fits in with its respective scene perfectly.

Seriously. It’s just amazing. I’ve managed to pull a lot of ideas for my project from this soundtrack alone.

Here’s four popular songs from the first soundtrack in no particular order if you’re still a bit on edge about how amazing this soundtrack is.

遠い記憶 (A Distant Memory)

絶望の中の温もり、しかし… (There is Warmth in Hoplessness, but…)

Gekko-go

望郷 (Nostalgia)

Second Inspiration: KREVA

“So wait. You’ve gone from an anime soundtrack to… japanese hip hop? What?!”

Yes. Yes I have. And this is why.

KREVA is a Japanese MC and record producer. Simple as that. However, the reason why I draw inspiration from KREVA is because of the fact that he’s a producer that I admire and respect. and I like his music too but lets not get into that

Normally, I distance myself from mainstream, current rap and hip hop. Every so often, i’ll hear something on the radio waves by Kanye or Jay Z or someone and think, “oh, that beat is interesting”. It’s because I focus on beats and the BGM, and distance myself from lyrics. I appreciate the effort producers take in developing a beat, KREVA being one of those producers. I started listening to KREVA through his collaboration with a Japanese guitarist named Miyavi.

…So, what does KREVA have to do with my project? He… doesn’t really relate to my project directly, but relates more to what I want to do after this project, and how sound design ended up in my project in the first place. He’s one of the artists that inspired me to pursue sound design.

Here’s a (somewhat old but still good) song of his, called 瞬間 speechless.

Part 2: Plans

What exactly are my plans for the musical composition portion of this project?

I probably won’t be creating more than 3 songs. Any more would be pushing it. Especially since I have such a short amount of time to record the music in the first place. I’ll be starting towards the end of April, and will pretty much work up until senior project presentations at the beginning of June.

When the songs are finished, they’ll be uploaded in one of two places: 1. the website itself, which, according to wix, is pretty simple, or 2. to SoundCloud, in which I’ll have to make an account for. Honestly, I’ll probably be uploading them to SoundCloud. But we’ll see.

I’ve been listening to a lot of songs from VG (video game) soundtracks like Final Fantasy because those kinds of short (usually 2-3min long) tunes are the kinds of songs I’m aiming to create. Of course, as shown in the Eureka Seven soundtrack, those songs are created with full orchestras, and… I don’t have an orchestra. Of course, not all anime/games have soundtracks that involve huge orchestras. Some soundtracks are made entirely with digital tunes, and some are made with only one instrument. For example, the game Lamento: Beyond the Void has a soundtrack called The World Devoid of Emotion. On that soundtrack, there are several tracks that only utilize the guitar. One example of those tracks is 歌うたいの猫 (A Cat Singing Songs) . It’s really a beautiful track. I highly recommend listening to it.

Since I only have one instrument for this project, that’s the route I’ll be taking. Sadly, I will not be able to use my violin for this project, for it will be difficult to transport both my guitar and violin back and forth internationally, and electric guitar is easier to record. I will only be using my guitar for this project. I feel like it brings up a difficult and exciting challenge, because I have such limited instruments.

So that’s… it really. That’s the plan. I’ll detail it even more as we get closer to the end of April, but for now, this is it.

Next Future Thoughts series: [02. Illustration – Why Manga?]

~vertica

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2 comments
  1. P. Thomas said:

    I can’t wait to hear it all.

    Aren’t there software programs that you can use to recreate sounds from other instruments? Doesn’t Garage Band do something?

    • True! A lot of software programs do have preset instruments like Garage Band and Pro Tools.

      I’m still undecided on whether or not to include digital instruments, to be honest. I really love how “A Cat Singing Songs” is solely made up of guitar, but I guess it wouldn’t hurt to add some digital instruments as well~ It really depends on the theme that the story progresses with… which is something I’m still deciding on, despite nearing the halfway writing mark.

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