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Posts tagged “Xylophone

魔古 ~ to Saw a Tree

(First of all, here’s an interesting music-related Touhou video (in three parts) – where ZUN stole/pirated/ripped off/did bad things to people’s music :P Anywho, it seems Scarborough Fair x Lullaby of Deserted Hell and Piano Sonata No. 8 in C minor, Op. 13 x Septette for the Dead Princess aren’t arranged yet, so there’s my next two projects (I’d do more, but those are the only songs I actually know orz) :)

Happy Birthday, Muffin~

(Note: zshare doesn’t support Chinese characters so it’ll be named “______ _ to Saw a Tree” or something :V)

.mp3 (Compressed music; just music, no images, compressed so smaller file size)

.wmv (Movie; downloadable YouTube movie (why would you download something available on youtube?!))

.wav (Music; just music, no images (really really large size))

.pdf (Adobe Acrobat document; sheet music for composition)

.mus (Finale File; editable sheet music (or what I used to write the piece :V))

–Boring Part Starts Here–

I think you all know who Masha is by now.

Anyhow, cause she’s a mushroom youkai, she has to have her own theme, right?

The music’s split into four-ish themes; check the .txt file for details.

The first theme is the one at the very start, that sorta calming theme. In reality, it was the last theme I came up with as I was at my piano one day, bashing out random melodies. The theme sorta invokes that ‘beginning’ feel, or that things are just proceeding quite smoothly.

Then, you get to the second theme. I was walking with my family along this harbour place one day, when I heard some guy playing a random dance tune on his fiddle. Really fast. It sounded nice (basically a melody constantly alternating with a bottom note), so I made a different melody but with the same rhythm and out came the second theme.
Has that really ‘oh crap what’s going to happen now’ feel, and seems really fast, but it isn’t, because the melody’s still quite slow. Used this theme for the ‘wind’ effect (not really an effect, but let’s just say the wind images), because… that’s what wind does :P

The fourth theme isn’t really a theme. I wanted this to be 16 x 8 measures (with a Finale where it’s modulated up to E-flat, which is sorta an ‘extra’ instead of part of the piece), so I had 16 measures of ‘intermission’ in between. Just a constant IV – V – vi without any real pull.
Sorta like a tree growing? :V I don’t know.

Finally, the third theme was the theme I came up with first, and is probably the ‘main’ theme of the piece. It wasn’t actually thought of for Masha; our school had a contest to see who could compose a school anthem, and I thought of that.. but didn’t have time to compose it.
Seems like nobody else composed anything either so our school still has no anthem. OH WELL (I changed schools anywho :V)
A triumphant feel was what I was aiming for, directly contrasting the calmness of Theme One and the fevered urgency of Theme Two. Did I achieve that? Hopefully so. All of the most dramatic parts start when this theme starts playing.

Before composing, I needed to create an instrument set, because as some of you know, my previous composition had a horribly large set of instruments.

This time, I kept the number of instruments down to the bare minimum (note: my minimum =/= your minimum). From least to most important:

- Xylophone. I could take this out, but it adds that ‘ZUN-like’ feel (cause he overuses xylophones, I think). Also, this is an instrument with a comparatively high pitch, so some of that ‘twinkle’ effect comes out too. Notice that this never takes the main line, as at the end, it’s just decoration.

- Flute. I do use this a lot during the beginning and end, and generally soft sections, as all the other instruments are just WTF-loud. Unfortunately, it’s drowned out incessantly when any other instrument is playing, save the xylophone. Anyhow, wanting to add an instrument of every traditional family (modern families are different and confusing), flute represents the woodwinds here.

- Acoustic Guitar. To add that ‘country’ feel, also to keep a steady beat and as ground bass. All it is is a supporting role; guitars are stupidly hard to have playing any melody, because they really aren’t suited to that. But when it comes to harmony, guitars are quite good at their role.

- Cello. Nevertheless, the guitar has two main elements to it – bass accompaniment and rhythm. The cello can then substitute for the bass accompaniment, as it definitely has a more somber, dramatic, and… just such a /bass/ sound.

- Percussion. Here’s the bass component that could substitute for guitar. If you ripped out everything but this and the things below it, the music’d still sound reasonable, as long as you modulate either the trumpet or violin. Anyways, some compositions focus heavily on beat and wouldn’t be the same without it; but this one doesn’t, as I just smacked around some random swing notes :V

- Trumpet. It’s not the bass representative, it’s the brass representative. Crucial for the start of Theme Three, or else it’d sound completely different. For most of my compositions (I only have two what do I mean most) I generally do things in a traditional quartet style; two violins playing the same thing as two trumpets, a viola playing the same thing as a trombone, and a cello playing the same thing as a tuba. Obviously, you can’t do intervals on trumpets, so that’s probably why it’s not as important as the…

- Violin. The main part of this composition is completely the violin. The violin takes center stage whenever it appears. I’ve spent the most time composing for the violin (well, if you discount guitar because I probably spent twice as long just finding out the fingerings for that… that /thing/ ._.), and next to the piano, it’s probably the most common instrument played out there.

If anyone plays these instruments, could you check the .pdf to see whether playing it is possible or not? Don’t want to create an impossible piece here :V

So then I had to actually compose. While composing (something like 10 – 15 minutes a day :/ ), I had to think of some witty name. Thus, this pun actually stretches across three languages.

Firstly, the 魔古 is supposed to be 蘑菇, which means mushroom in Chinese. However, 魔古 has similar sounds (the last one isn’t the same), and roughly translates to ‘Old Magic’ (but it’s actually ‘Magic Old’, which is improper grammar >_>;;). Next, the 木 (wood) is ‘ki’ in Japanese, and 鋸 (saw) is ‘noko’. Ki. Noko. Kinoko. Mushroom.

We then have some old magic (which brought Masha to life), and a story of Sawing a Tree. In a little strange field.

Symbolic enough, I’d say.

Finally, the actual pictures were just thought up – I needed two separate storylines, that of the tree and that of Masha. The first 8 x 16 measures were dedicated to the tree, with the intermission ‘intermissioning’ the tree growing to a really really big tree. Then, the final 6 x 16 measures were dedicated to the mushrooms and how they grew around the tree.

That should’ve been the ending, but then with the E flat, Masha’s introduced and the arguably ‘real’ plot starts. People want to cut trees, Masha tries to stop them, fails, the trees all die, but at the end, new trees will grow and the cycle should repeat itself.

Everything’s done in Aviary’s Raven Vector Editor in one day (not 24 hours, but like in one day). I was completely new to the program too, so it was quite a tiring day =_=

Don’t question what species the trees or the mushrooms are, and why the seeds looks so horrible. They’re a stylistic symbolism of the eternal cycle of life, OK? >_> And I realize mycelia don’t grow like that, roots don’t look like that either, and mushrooms don’t even send out seeds in the first places. Just… just DEAL WITH IT, alright?!

Anyways, I’m droning on now.

Thanks, SpiritOfKensei, for help on making the actual movie and Jeffdoute, for unintentionally offering me encouragement with a simple comment.

And a very special thanks to Muffin, for actually ‘creating’ Masha in the first place.

Hope you have a very happy birthday.

:D