Theme for the Woods (Draft 3)

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License and ©2011 Gregory Weaver.

  It’s been a long time comin’, but I’ve finally finished a decent draft of my first project for the blog.  The tune has taken a leap from being 1:14 to 4:42, mostly with the help of repeating some sections.  Accompanied with the old sections, though, are a new section, some new transitions, and some additional instrumentation within some of the repeats.

As an added bonus, at the end of the MP3 you’ll hear a couple extra ideas that I have for some further work.  I was originally going to try and incorporate the first part of it into this draft, but thought it was best if I didn’t for time’s sake.   [audio|artists=Gregory Weaver|titles=Theme for the Woods (Draft 3)]

(you can also follow me on SoundCloud now; I posted the draft there, as well)   So there you have it!  For now I’m going to move on to something else because I feel like I’ve been working on this tune for too long.  The funny thing is, though, I’ve only worked on the draft for a maximum of three hours per release, so this is something that should have been done in about two days.  Anyway, that I’m going to stop doesn’t mean, however, that this draft it the final one by any means.  There are a few more steps that I have to take and questions that I have to ask myself, some of which are:

1.  Is it enough?  Is there enough content here to justify putting the track on a demo CD?  My initial reaction is ‘no,’ that there should be more content because the section themselves are just too short.   In a game, this might drive the player crazy if the woods area takes up a good amount of time.  That being said, is it necessary to display such extension on a demo CD?  Would short blasts of multiple genres do the trick instead?  I would reckon that full-length, ready-to-implement tracks would be the way to go, but... does anyone have any good insight on that?  In any case, I have a good idea on where, what, and how I'll need to expand if need be.

2.  Give it some production valueI’ll have to take the tune out of Finale and rewrite it in Logic.  This will bring out some very significant changes, including (but not limited to): the instruments will have better tones due to better samples; I will give the rhythms a more "human" feel by inputting them in real-time; I can focus on achieving quality dynamic contrast and expression; and I can mix the individual instrument tracks to provide clarity to each instrument as necessary.  Tweaking everything in Logic will be the most time-consuming part of the process, especially because I want to make everything sound more human, which is ultimately a very tedious process, especially when I'm entering everything the note data in real-time.  I could just plop the MIDI data from Finale right into Logic and make everything else happen, but the rhythmic feel will stay robotic; if and only if I’m in a time crunch will I resort to that.

3.  Does everything check out?  After converting everything to Logic I will have to critically listen to my piece again and make necessary adjustments.  Sometimes the samples in Finale sound so radically different from their better counterparts in Logic that voicings are heard more clearly, making “unwanted details” pop out.  In the case that those details rear their ugly heads, I’ll have to do some score editing.

Making all of that happen will finalize the track and make it “demo ready,” provided I choose to include this piece on a demo CD.


As for insights to my compositional process for the new sections, I’ll start with the new section (1:09).  As you may have heard in the last draft, I had already worked on the melody before even going in to flesh out another version for the site.  That method has been constant since the beginning of the piece—I primarily composed by melody, not harmony.  Naturally, I had some ideas about the harmony while writing the melody, too, but I tailored everything to fit the melody instead of the other way around.

The melody in the new section was my way of saying, “okay, I’m sick of how major this is; I’m going to write some minor stuff and make it fit the uplifting woods-y vibe of the previous content” (I love minor keys and thus mainly come up with ideas in minor keys).  Creating the harmony was more methodical.  Essentially, I wanted to keep everything moving and not feel entitled to leave everything as being super consonant.  To reach this goal I planned to create a sort of harmonic palindrome.  Though I might have deviated slightly from this progression while writing, I had planned and worked off of:

| C#M7 | G#7 | F#M7 | F#-7 | F#mM7 | F#-7 | G#7 |

… and went from there.  Moving incrementally allowed me to ease into the crunch provided by the mM7 chord and not alarm the listener, as did sticking to a melody that didn’t move around radically.

The other point of note in this draft that might be interesting to the reader lies in the question of why I decided to add arco strings to the second time through the pizzicato section (2:06).  I had planned to just loop it, but when I placed the original version after the full-string version of the main melody, the lines sounded way too empty.  Therefore, I simply gave them some weight with bowed string doublings.  The only part that I was a little picky with was the cello support of the bass—truly doubling the plucked bass proved to be the extreme opposite of having just the pizzicato; but, some shortening and some omissions did the trick and provided the hearty buoyancy that was needed without drowning everything else.


I hope that you enjoyed the latest version of my work.  If you have any questions, comments, or criticism, I welcome you to post below.  Thanks for listening!