PIANO, SWEET!

The second piece I have composed for the Suite for Piano and Orchestra sounds sweet! Pardon the pun. I have avoided naming the piece as 2nd movement, for a variety of reasons, one being that game music is non-linear and to call something a name with 2nd in its title gives a feeling of placement within a whole, and hints at a progression that may not be heard by the end-user.

What I have found in my experience in composing is that naming conventions that are common place in classical music may not work so well with games, and while there are many classical music names that suit game music and express the characteristic of the music, I feel that having the naming convention of 1st movement, 2nd movement etc. is flawed in game music because of the very nature of games (the fact they are non-linear). I will therefore eventually give this piece a name more like the title of a song, but because I was so exited to share this with you, I have left the title as Suite for Piano and Orchestra 2. Once again, giving this piece a temporary name should not imply that this should be the second movement or suggest that the listener adhere to a strict order for the whole body of work that is becoming the sum of this creative cycle.

I have once again used short score in the form of a condensed piano part and then orchestrated. One important note on this topic is that I have changed my workflow when orchestrating and now use what I call an additive method, rather that a subtraction method. To clarify on this, let me explain the concept of additive and subtractive MIDI orchestration in further detail.

SUBTRACTIVE MIDI ORCHESTRATION

When using subtractive orchestration, a copy of the short score is made and sent to the instrument you desire. Once the copy is made, you can start to delete the notes that are unnecessary to the part. For an example think of a violin melody, the violin doesn’t need the accompaniment that is present in the short score because we only need the melody. By highlighting the unwanted MIDI notes and deleting them we are left with the violin melody and this is an example of what I call subtractive orchestration.

Subtractive Method – Unwanted notes highlighted and removed

ADDITIVE MIDI ORCHESTRATION

Instead of taking a copy of the short score and deleting notes, additive orchestration is a process of adding to the existing information found in the short score. By adding to the short score, I don’t mean adding information that was not found in the original, rather it is a process of using the short score as something to trace off. An analogy that may be useful is to think of when an artist works on a piece of art, if the artist has a drawing they believe in, they may decide to trace over the original and find lines that are most appealing visually. By tracing over the original, the artist is left with a solid work that is the outcome of revisions and artistic judgement.

Additive Method – Wanted notes traced over to produce the line

When I make use of additive orchestration, I will listen to piece and trace the notes of the short score onto the instruments I hear in my head when listening to the condensed piano version. This is a matter of taste and foresight, trial and error. Additive MIDI orchestration is the best for melodies, and the subtractive method is suited best to when you have rhythmic figures and chord movement (especially if you are using a brass section or string ensemble instead of individual instruments).

Thanks for reading and listening and until next post, stay creative!

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