朝草画花 ~ Gorgeous Sweet Clover
“And lo, I returned, and saw that the race may be to the swift, and the battle to the strong; but the victory is left to chance, and may happen to them all.”
The gist of my esoteric video description (the italicized paragraph above) was in how this composition was created. The two instruments (sheet music here) are the Alto Flute and Trumpet in D. If you look closely at the sheet, you’ll realize – everything the trumpet plays (sans ending) has already been played by the flute. In fact, the trumpet plays exactly what the flute plays, but eight measures behind.
So, in the description, the ‘swift’ is the flute – it plays its tune before everything else, everything it plays has never been played before. The ‘strong’ is the trumpet – although everything it plays has already been played, it is far louder than the flute. The ‘victory’ is a question as to which one is more prominent – the flute, which outlines the melody, or the trumpet, which projects it? That’s a question left to you to answer (after you’ve listened to the composition!).
As for the video… I’m not sure what I meant by infusing everything with colour. I hope the composition did feel more ‘colourful’ at the end than it did at the beginning. There’s also that little bit at the end, where there are only two flowers without colour – whether it’s a flower with colour in a field without or a flower without colour in a colourful field does not matter, as both flowers still stand out. Finally, the ending – I originally added a Meiji 17 run after the SWR melody, but it didn’t fit at all, so I deleted both. However, the composition felt like its ending wasn’t… conclusive enough, so I just left the SWR part in. For reference, it’s the title theme of SWR, aptly named 緋想天, and it’s probably my favourite theme from Touhou, ever – this won’t be my last composition to include it.
Originally, I was hoping to create a sort of ‘Oriental’ composition, one that heavily used the minor pentatonic scale. You’ll notice that there are only three Cs and a few F-sharps. Another aspect are the very frequent leaps of a third, as well as the general ‘up-down-up-down’ shape of the melody. I’m not actually sure if that’s an aspect of Oriental music – it’s probably only an aspect of Touhou music, but I guess I derived this composition more from Touhou than anything else.
And that’s where the title comes in – I wanted this composition to sound very Meiling-ish. Gorgeous Sweet Flower is her first spellcard in easy modo, and… well, truth be told, clovers don’t actually have anything to do with the music.
The 朝草画花 part is Chinese, and literally means ‘facing the grass, drawing a flower’. It’s a comment on things that are heralded as good because others say it’s good, instead of by its own merits. When one person looks at grass but draws a flower instead, others who see his drawing will agree that it is a flower, instead of just mere grass. I’m not sure whom the comment was supposed to be made to, but oh well.
So what does 朝草画花 have to do with clovers? Well, 草花 is what some Chinese colloquially call clubs, the suit in cards (at least, it’s what I call it). The clubs suit is just a clover, right? (I remember, as a child, I would keep on calling that suit ‘Cloverse’, and my teacher would keep on saying ‘It’s Clubs, not Cloverse!’ I never really did understand what ‘Cloverse’ was until I realized the suit looked like a clover.)
Since all my compositions should be filled with puns, a last note on the title: 朝 (cháo) and 草 (cǎo) are almost phonetically equivalent, while 画 (huà) and 花 (huā) differ only in tone. Also, they use all four Chinese tone marks! Woohoo.
The rest of this post will be ranting about why it took me more than 11 months after the composition was first composed to finally upload its video. I don’t know why, all of my compositions are accompanied by huge rants. I wonder if all composers feel like this… feel free to skip it – if you actually read the whole thing, you are an idiot and incredibly stupid.
Does anybody even remember this week, the second last week of March? I was going to upload a ton of musical stuff and finish writing a bunch of HSRs, but never got to it. Heck, I almost forgot about this week.
Anyways, I’ll probably be rewriting the posts in this week gradually over the next month.
The main problem I had with this week, and finishing this video, was inspiration. I just couldn’t get myself to work on it – add in a reinstalled computer (having to install Finale and all that again) and Aviary refusing to save my frames because of some bug, and I just dropped the project completely.
However, there was still that folder in my computer there, begging to be completed, so I finally took up the reins to finish the video this weekend, although there were still some hitches.
Firstly – Aviary still refused to export my images to my computer. I was about to abandon all hope when I realized something very stupid – why didn’t I just take a screenshot of the image I was editing in Aviary, and copy it into a new Paint file? So that’s what I did, and that’s what I did for eleven more frames for an afternoon (making one frame took about fifteen minutes for the earlier frames, and two hours for the third-to-last frame). However, flash player suddenly crashed, and I didn’t save any of my files (because all I needed was to screenshot it into Paint, and I expected to finish in that afternoon).
Thankfully, I did copy all of my frames to Paint, so I had eleven frames to use. After some thought, I decided ‘why the heck not’, and added a twelfth frame – the frame that was fully coloured besides the two flowers in the centre. The thirteenth frame was simply the original picture that I used, courtesy of Timberlee Thoroughbreds. Yet, the ending frames feel a bit rushed – the colour was being added in too quickly.
Secondly, Finale. I happened to have created the .pdf all the way back in March (remember, I’m writing this post in October now), when I still had Finale 2011a or 2010b. Somehow, I managed to insert Chinese text into the text fields, even though Finale didn’t support Unicode. After upgrading to Finale 2011b, I found out that I couldn’t add Chinese text anymore, which gave me quite a few hours of frustration trying to get a workaround. I guess that means I’m not going to make any more compositions with non-Latin characters until I get Finale 2012. Why Finale 2012? Because it was just released, literally days before this post, and it supports Unicode.
Thirdly, Windows Movie Maker, again. I swear, that vile creation is the bane of my life. The transitions completely screw up my timing, so that even now the frame transitions aren’t properly timed to the music. I have absolutely no idea how the transitions work – as far as I can tell, it seems to chop off time from both frames, but if you extend the length of a frame it somehow chops off more even though you didn’t alter its duration. What’s more, the transition can only go for a maximum of ten seconds, or to half of the time the frame is on-screen – which makes some sense when you realize that Windows Movie Maker was made for idiots and/or school principals who wanted to simply showcase some photos (protip: there’s something called a slideshow, and it’s installed on every Windows computer) with fancy transition effects like it would matter.
Then again, transition effects really don’t matter on my video either. I tried playing the video on 1920 x 1080 on my computer, but it got all choppy, which is absolutely hilarious because all the video onscreen are some still frames and 5-second transitions. It’s also not that hilarious because my computer’s only, what, three years old? :( I’ll have to get a new computer soon.
Finally, a few notes that didn’t really infuriate me that much. I had to upload the video twice because YouTube borked on me midway, which would’ve infuriated me if my internet was slower, but it’s moderately fast. I tried to access the zShare files from November, but they were deleted, so I’ve officially switched to Mediafire, which is really an amazing file hosting server in all aspects. Finale’s volume is always as low as a fugitive criminal (because they… lie low), so just turn your volume up a bit if you can’t hear the video.