=== TRANSITION [2011-2016] ===
A lot of the music I'd been working on in 2011 didn't make it to Newgrounds. Some of which were submitted later on, such as Between Nightmare And Dreams and Breaking Free. At the time, I felt like this was the pinacle of what I was capable of; A lot of it was made using fresh samples, personal presets and recordings (fieldrecordings, but also snippets and vocal pieces). Furthermore, most of it had hints of dubstep, ambient, electronic music and I guess jazz too. Maybe I should go and finish whatever pieces I'd been working on. "Imaginary Heroes" for example, or "If You Could See What I Can See", "Memories of Pokémon", "Sinister", "22:22" and "Eyecontact". With the year of 2011 coming to and end, I felt incredibly inspired by my delusions as a 16-year old and wanted to write an album, wanting to keep all of this stuff private until my release on Bandcamp. By 2012 I had moved out of my parents' home, and mainly worked on songs for this album, which explains why I barely spent any time uploading songs to Newgrounds. The saddest part of it all is this album is STILL in progress. I ascribe this to my complicated musical process where I try my best to set an atmosphere by looking at pictures and listening to songs, so as to "become" whoever I was in those days and work from there.
Irrelevant to the surface, I watched the movie Scott Pilgrim in 2012. I thought it was awesome and later learned it was based off a comic. I got online and started reading the thing. After finishing each volume, I found a list of songs Bryan Lee o'Malley had been listening to while working on the pages. Figuring the man had a fantastic taste in music, I started listening to (alternative) rock more than ever, eventually stumbling upon a band that changed my life in a way; The Pixies. I thought their album Surfer Rosa was weird on my first listen, but their songs slowly crept into my brain. I began to fall for the crude charm and hispanic influences. I believe it was David Bowie who once compared the Pixies to The Velvet Underground; "Not many people bought their music, but those who did started a band." I was very self-aware about my music when I first heard the Pixies for myself, so I didn't have the confidence to start a band. Instead, it opened my mind to unlimited possibilities I hadn't thought possible before. Their happy, straightforwards post-punk rhythms, alternating time signatures, fuzz-induced guitar wails with unconventional amelodic riffs, yowling vocals and attention-grabbing lyrics in one way or another all inspired me to do something similar. It definitely fueled my inspiration to write lyrics and - who knows? Maybe do more vocals. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could scream like Black Francis does haha.
2013 was an interesting year. Being a computer repairsman at the time, by some stroke of luck I rolled into a smalltime radio business. Can't say I learned many new things about music there but it has taught me something else about education: Ideally, college grants knowledge, experience, skills and social connections. But all of these things are more important than papers of approval, and ironically they can all be attained without going to college (although the turnout of autodidacticism can be very lopsided). I don't think I would recommend the same mindset to anyone without a creative vision (Go to a university if you want to be a doctor or something). My path in life has been an unconventional one however, so this realisation was very reassuring.
A piece of outstanding criticism from 2013 came from my best friend. It wouldn't be the first time someone pointed out my biggest composition flaw is the bass, but through all this time it was somehow quite difficult to pinpoint the exact reason why it sucked. Nowadays I've realized there's a number of reasons for it (most of which have made it into my notebook of pointers): One such reason is the bass instrument I pick always sounds basic, harsh, electronic and oftentimes distorted. This gives your song an aggressive undertone, which isn't always suited for the type of song you're doing. Prodigy, Daft Punk and Dubstep in general definitely steered me in that direction. The next reason was all about melodical prowess. My basslines had the melodic implication of lead melodies - sometimes even utilizing over 2 octaves of melodic span - which made them too distracting. On top of that, many of the notes were sustained, barely leaving any space for rhythmical purposes. I'm pretty sure this happened partly because I enjoyed the smooth sound of sine basslines commonly found in drum&bass. I also really love Röyksopp's Vision One which uses sustained bass notes. The other reason would be my discomfort with staccato 8/8 basslines. Even though they befit a composition sometimes, I started avoiding them years ago as I found they were lazy (they're one of the key characteristics of my old work). At some point I started observing songs with excellent basslines and found out something really useful, (although this is genre-dependent); It may be no secret that basslines are accompanied by different instruments but if you listen closely, sometimes there's different instruments that help assist the bass by making it "groove". I like to call this a "supporting melody." A great example would be the funky guitar chucks on Daft Punk's Voyager, or the electric piano on School by Calvin Harris. It pretty much serves as backup; It doesn't really matter what the bass is doing as long as something's there to groove along with it. Then again I would not advice myself to use this method too often. Bass instruments excel at their monophonicity and I much prefer to have a polyphonic instrument leading the composition. Chords, you see?
Anyway, ever since I had moved into my own place, I had trouble thinking of where to put either of my synthesizers. After my Juno-D and Microkorg had been collecting dust for two full years, in 2014 I finally decided to build a little cabinet for them to sit on. This allowed me to use them as midi-controllers again. Later that year, I bought an audio interface after much deliberation: The AKAI EIE Pro. I was now able to do what I've been wanting to do since I first got my Juno-D, which is to record myself playing the thing. It gave my songs an interesting turn! All these years I'd been using VST and soundfonts to simulate (electric) pianos. They were of shitty quality, had a stiff quantized feel about them and were very Fortisimo/staccato as well. Recording from a synthesizer felt way more dynamic! I especially enjoy the charm of their slightly flawed dynamics. They add character and organity which makes music pop!
At this point it may seem that things were looking up for me, having come such a long way. Yet it took me very long to get here, and I nearly experienced a breakdown early in 2015 when I found out my guitarist friend (yes, the very same) had seemingly surpassed my skills at playing the piano. This in turn led me to reflect upon my musical road - eventually feeling conflicted about the keyboard lessons I took 17 years ago. I beat myself up about the fact that I should have learned the piano instead, but keyboard lessons were also the main reason I've gotten into actual music production at all. Discontinueing my lessons all those years ago, I've assimilated skills from experimentation, did very little research and barely practiced proper technique. I was good at chords for instance, but didn't realize the importance of scales. As such I didn't see myself improve at all and even felt like I deteriorated until I could not bear to call myself as a musician any longer. Despite the fact that this was an obvious lie, my attention shifted to other passions, such as animation. It was somewhere in October of that same year when I attended a small band-fest with one my colleagues from the radio. If anything, it made me very restless... I realized I wanted to be up on that stage! It took me a few days to realize what reason I had to squander my talents; I was bored - the instrument I played bored me. I kept dreaming of playing the guitar, ukelele, saxophone, violin, trumpet... anything to spice it up a bit! It also crossed my mind that bands often have no need for keys! After that I promised myself to do either of these things: A) Get piano lessons or B) Learn to play guitar.
The year ended. With the coming of 2016 I moved into a new place. One of the first things I did was backup my projects and work on a new way to organize my files. This included a new naming system for my samples and a quality evaluation on top of that, so this took a very long time for me to do. I also deleted/added new VST. More importantly though, I read up a lot on guitars. Wood types, body types, string types, bridge types, neck lengths, pickups, whammy bars... One website accurately described how each individual piece of the guitar influenced a guitar's destinctive sound, which helped me pinpoint what I wanted, eventually assembling the exact guitar that I wanted in my mind. Of course, hearing is believing. I went to a music store where a couple of guitars were demonstrated. After hearing the clean single coils of the strat and telecasters, the raging squeals of an SG, and the slightly warm reverb of an open body guitar (which I would really love to own), I went with a model that seemed like a winner from the very beginning: The affordable Epiphone Les Paul 100. I've made a habit of playing it everyday since I got it, which is approximately 8 months now.
Upholding the format of these musings I was taken all across Newgrounds on the lookout for interesting new quotes to add. Through the myriad of musicians I found a few people discussing the practice of chord theory, which is something I'm only recently experimenting with. So far I have researched a couple of my favorite songs and I find it very useful for personal compositions that have run into a dead end. In a way it's like the lens of truth from Zelda, as it shows new possibilities when before there were none. Other benificial composition methods comprised of disecting songs and labeling their segments with according song structure terminologies. This was a bit of a throwback to my keyboard lesson days. It teaches a lot about how and when to use a verse or chorus, but I was hoping it would reveal more about bridges, intros and outros - save for all the segments I didn't have proper naming for - but alas. Even more recent is my research about instrument timbres. 99% of the instruments I use are synthesized and made to reach pitches otherwise thought to be impossible. Tubas don't play at C6 and violins don't go C2, neither is a piano going to sound great when you play the lower keys with a bass in the mix. Common sense! But admittedly it is easy to overlook when all you see is grids and bars. For future compositions I'll have to keep melodic span in mind and think over my timbres. Not in favor of the mix, but the composition.
Other than that there's many musical techniques I refrain from using nowadays because I have come to think of them as amateurish or clishé, which is a huge shame. Trying to avoid these patterns - I found over time - has not improved my songs, but has only limited my possibilities! I'll try to see if I can list them all: The effects it's had on my choice of instruments isn't all that bad (I find saw basslines and supersaws overdone, refrain from using factory presets and sparsely use portamento. Sidechain compression I only use in moderation and arpeggiators I barely find use for), it has however mildly affected the way I treat soundeffects (I barely use vocoders despite me owning a Microkorg and mostly treat flangers and phasers as deejay toys. Oscillators are only cool in moderation). More worrisome are melodic and rhythmical patterns (Rhythmic chords on the piano are the worst. Raggea skanks are also pretty terrible. Staccato basslines that are more rhythmic than melodic are also a big no) and the steering of my composition (The biggest musical clishé to avoid is the melodic reprise. I also never deliberately follow classic song structure rules which is why none of my recent songs have an actual chorus, and especially dislike to compose songs which use major and minor chords exclusively). Many of these techniques I've used in older songs and they're not necessarily fruitless but frankly I got sick and tired of how they sound and moved on. My bias is unfair though, especially when it comes to rhythmical patterns and composition methods. Subsequently, these are the reasons why so many of my unfinished projects have been reduced to short looping submissions in the past years. Many of my favorite musicians make use of the methods I mentioned before, so I think it's time to bring them back myself!
Speaking of favorite songs, these past 5 years I've made it a mission to broaden my musical horizons and familiarized myself with maybe 50 different albums per year? However, I'm not sure I've found many musicians that I deem influential enough to help evolve my musical style. I mentioned Danger Mouse in my last entry. Other musicians I started listening to around that time were Boards Of Canada and Zoot Woman. Beck may have had a lyrical effect on me. I love how his words can drone and carry a song, allowing for repetitive musical patterns to carry on and on. Even when his songs feel strangely quantized sometimes, they're never stiff and maintain a rugged, band-like appeal. During 2012 I finally started checking out a bunch of Beatles albums. I also found out about Manabu Namiki, who wrote soundtracks for many CAVE bullethell games. Among the speed and urgency, his songs follow great chords and have an overall floaty appeal with soothing pads and synths that seem to wash away your worries. 2013 was by far the best year. I started listening to Frank Zappa, whose music borders on free jazz and is oddly genius. I also took more interest in Ween, a band which is very worthy of praise. They're a strange band, frivolous of nature and dabbling in many different genres which I found off-putting at first. While it's hard to define Ween songs, a playful nature shimmers through each one of their songs and functions as a reminder that music should always be fun. There's also the Pixies (as discussed earlier) of course, and that's about it for this year. I don't think I came across any noteable bands in 2014, except for maybe the J-Pop group Perfume. Their melodic hooks are fantastic! As a final mention I'll give you Mac deMarco whom I gave a proper listen to in 2015. His jangle tunes have a very distinctive omtimistic sound which I like to compare to the mental effects of sunlight (Could very well be because his songs are reminiscent of Here Comes The Sun by the Beatles). Of course I came across many more musicians, but these were the ones I felt most influenced by.
Next I'd like to take a little time to ponder about my future in music. I find this hard to discuss, since I'm a broken musician. Honestly it feels as if I fell all the way to the bottom of the pit. I've neglected my Juno-D (which still works but some keys are unresponsive) ever since I got my guitar, but I'd really like to go back to practicing a daily minimum of 20 minutes, as I have on my strings. It would be nice to get more comfortable with scales, but I'd also like to practice existing songs more seriously. In prior years I've only been interested in playing my own tunes, hence why I barely learned anything new. After all, the thought of it reminded me of music lessons as a kid and it bored me to death. Maybe when I get a little better on the guitar I'll think of entering a band, but we'll see. For now I want to practice while I work on my composition skills and knowledge. If things don't work out I'll think of picking up piano lessons. As for long-term goals, I'm still thinking of releasing an album and to invest in equipment/instruments. I posed myself the question: "If I had the skills to make any type of music in the world, what would I do?" I had a hard time answering that question but I'm fairly certain I would go and do paid commissions, especially for game developers. I would also consider making soundtracks for ambitious indie animations. As a kid I loved to sing and I even performed but I forgot about that passion somehow. The Pixies rekindled that flame, and now I'd love a chance to sing in a band. Furthermore I love improv and developed a taste for jazz and alternating time signatures, so that's something I'd definitely experiment with.
- Reasons To Create: I met a female electronic musician in 2011 who had me listen to some top quality tracks she made. Her songs were instrumental and represented emotions which she wished to convey. There's a handful of other musicians who have the same musical process and I'd love to do this myself. Most albums I know have random tracks on them but I find it way cooler when a compelling story is told.
- Creative Developments: Making music became harder to do. Not only did I strain the composition process by avoiding what I deemed musical clishés, but the outcome needed to contain an overall je-nais-se-quoi. Part of me was pushing to finish my songs, while other parts realized I couldn't rush it. Sometimes I didn't know what to do anymore.
- Outcome: Autodidacticism took its toll on me. I knew my musical methods were wrong in many ways but I was simply blind to the cure. This caused my learning curve to stagnate. The insecurity that followed may be ascribed to the lyrical and personal nature of some songs, but the lack of my expertise seemed much more likely. Either way, I was no longer proud of my musicianship and hoping to revive that spark.
"Also, it's not necessarily just using a ii-V-I prog in music, but building and molding it into something complex and unique, which is also extremely difficult to do. People take pop way too much for granted."
"Mechanical learning, i.e. learning by sight and by ear, can be a faster way of picking up an instrument. A lot of my piano and percussion is done by ear (as is a lot of my instrumentation in general). Picking up something by ear is also advantageous in the sense that you get to hear the expression with which something is played, instead of relying solely on the guidance of the sheet. You can hear the loud and soft, the slow and fast. A lot of contemporary pieces are best picked up by this method, and it is also likely the method by which music is passed on from generation to generation. It’s just… natural, I suppose?"
=== A RIG RUNDOWN [2007 - 2011] ===
Ever since my little accident with FL Studio 6 in 2006, I went back to using the Fruity 7-Band Equalizer in FL Studio 4. Though I had used the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 before, I had no idea how graphic equalizers worked. In the late summer of 2007 I decided to mess around with the original Fruity Parametric EQ. This equalizer is a lot less intuitive for beginning tweakers but I managed to somewhat figure it out during my work on the song Impress. Along with my limited knowledge on compressors, the mix made a huge jump compared to any of my older songs. I was in college at the time, and kind of lost on where to go with my music. On top of that my Alesis speakers gave out on me. I ran a mini-jack to RCA cable from my computer to a Philips FW-C330 stereo at the other end of the room. For the next couple of years, I mixed my songs on earphones and a set of Philips FW-C330 speakers (i found that having the sound control options of the interface set to "jazz" and dynamic bass set to option "2" were the best settings for mixing, as it brought out high frequencies as well as the low without being muddy). I enjoyed working from this angle from what I remember. It trained my ears to listen for flaws on different mediums.
I wasn't very active on the Newgrounds forums prior to 2008. Sometimes I would visit the audio forums to cast a look on what's going on. One time I was lurking and found the Castle Crashers music contest. I was far too late to enter and really bummed out about that. The winners had already been announced and I had no chance of getting my own music up in that game. I learned my lesson. Curious about the next big thing, I stuck around. When I found the Continue The Song Game I didn't hesitate to enter. I'm happy I was around for that! During my work on the CTSG Flash Collab, I worked alongside of Rig and got familiar with his music. In particular his song Stardust Crazy caught my attention. I left him a review and really got the fever for virtual instruments the moment I read his response. VoltKitchen's minimogue was one of the earliest plugins I installed and it's hands down my favorite virtual synthesizer to this day. I've been using it for 8 years I think! FL Studio 4 needed all the help it could get, so I also download a few effect plugins. They weren't nearly as good. The thing with VST plugins is you've got to filter out the good from the bad. A lot of them look or sound like shit, are annoying to work with, are limited demos versions, and worst of all - some appear great until you realize they contain bugs. Worst case scenario, they crash. Just recently I decided to keep track of all VST's I've ever used, along with a rating system to see which ones I value the most.
I spent the year 2008 making loops, as I didn't know how to finish any of my songs for some reason. Instead I used my new knowledge of VST's to keep experimenting. I took this knowledge into the next year, where a big portion of my songs were either requested by - or inspired by people I knew. I am not sure how significant this detail is in the big picture, but I thought it to be interesting. One of the more interesting projects was a game I was doing sound effects for. There were still a lot of loops this year but I managed to finish 3 songs as well. In terms of uploaded songs this has to be one of my favorite years, but it's not that interesting otherwise. Oh, except for the fact that I bought a Roland SP-404 (which I came to regret buying as it only has midi-in but no midi-out) and a Korg Microkorg. At the time I really wanted to get back in a band again, so I decided to get more live instruments. I also kept a notebook with tips and observations about other music that would help me produce better songs (maybe I should digitalize it?). These tips mainly help to further a composition or figure out how to mix something. I still have the thing and sometimes add new things to it. That's about it for 2009. There's a lot more to be said about 2010.
Over the years I got fed up with losing my samples and became a lot more conscious about my data. I started burning dvd's, my earliest backup dating to the year 2008. So my methods as an electronic musician were improving then, but I still had ways to go. This I learned when I started reading the Remixer's Bible in 2010. I found the book by chance at a record store in Amsterdam and bought it right away. One of the first chapters urges the reader to get their shit together. Having a structured (portable) library is 101 to being a successful electronic musician. This involves setting up folders and incorporating a proper naming system. It was from this moment forward I learned the importance of crediting source material within my library. Later that year I came up with the idea to divide my hard disk into several different partitions. All my projects were then moved to the "Projects" partition. Around this time I got into the habit of saving personal presets for effects and synths, as well as entire mixer track settings. I threw out a lot of old samples and replaced them with new ones. At this point Fruityloops proved so versatile, I lost all interest in working with Reason 4.0. When I finally decided to give it a try I found it very limiting to work with.
I wasn't that much into remixing music when I first bought the Remixer's Bible, although I really looked up to some remixers I had discovered on youtube. Dj Steve Porter was a great inspiration to me. I still remember how amazed I was by the wideness of Steve Porter's Scrubs remix when I finally decided to get myself 2 brand new Rokit KRK RP5 monitors. It's an experience best described as 3d glasses for your ears. Later on I became a big fan of Schmoyoho too. Remixing had one big limitation for me though: Samples were copyrighted and uploading to newgrounds was therefore not an option. Uploading to youtube was the only other option I had, since I didn't know about Soundcloud at the time. I did this once or twice but it just so happened this wasn't my thing. It was around this time my lookout on music changed, as musical freedom - more and more - started to look like a big illusion to me: One may be able to break the rules of modern music in the privates of their studio, but trouble may brew if one were to share a copyrighted sample with with the rest of the world... It's a rather disheartening awareness, restricting even. It definitely took away some of the fun for me. I think it's the main reason I started uploading less and less to Newgrounds.
Though loyal to Newgrounds, I barely made an effort to upload any songs in 2010. Six songs made it to the audio portal, two of which were contest entries. I did fairly well on those! The first contest I joined was a ringtone contest. I ended up in the top 10 at a draw for the 9th place, nobody got to be 10th. The other contest was FL Core 2010. This was the first song I made using my microkorg as a midi controller. It landed me 3rd place in the competition and rewarded me a spot on frontpage. Somewhere along the same year I found a video on youtube which explained how to make beats sound more real and organic, possibly explaining why I did so well. My songs made a big leap in their quality, but the mixing process was a lot longer as well. I've always found it particularly difficult to progress on a song when I've been listening to it over and over. The longer mixing process is quite possibly the biggest culprit when it comes to unfinished songs. Anyway, I entered another contest in 2011 which required a zombie apocalype soundtrack. I placed that one 4th in the competition. All these prizes got me pretty confident about my production skills. My sense of direction started to dwindle though, and slowly but surely I started making less tunes...
Sure enough I came to realize I've squandered my talents over the past couple of years. The guitarist from the band I was in kept on praising my piano skills. I knew better than to embarrass myself though. In 2010 my finger technique was still terrible and I knew it! I guess my inferiority complex took over when I felt a need to best him. I heard his band was doing really good, so for his birthday I remixed a song by his band - putting in joke samples from a youtube video he appeared in - and gave it to him on a cd. I never uploaded it anywhere for copyright reasons. It's one of the first songs I ever tried to master so the mix isn't all that great, and since timestretching was not an available option in FL Studio 4, all my remixes made use of granular synthesis. It's definitely noticable sometimes. Granular stuff is fun though, especially when working with vocals or guitar samples.
This commenced a time of shame. Although I try not to nowadays, I've always compared myself to the people around me. Failing to comply to their level has always given me something of a breakdown. At this point I had been a musician for 12 years or so, and I was still pretty much a beginner when it came to the keys (possibly because I composed most of my stuff digitally). I became terribly self-aware about this and slowly but surely avoided the topic of music altogether. Since I could barely play with two hands, I decided to look up some youtube videos. I learned how to play the harp arpeggio from Daft Punk's Voyager and kind of started to understand how to use both hands to their full potential. I was still ways off from being an awesome pianist, but learning this little melody already really helped in terms of composing.
Back to my guitarist friend, who shall have a few more mentions from this moment onward - he and I knew eachother since middle school. I played keyboard for about 7 years before he first picked up a guitar in Highschool. From early visits I could tell he grew up with a refined taste in music. I don't mean jazz or classical music but other types of classics: David Bowie, The Beastie Boys, Daft Punk, Peter Gabriel and so forth. He once bought me a Brian Eno album, possibly hinting that I should try dabbling in the ambient genre (and I did). I had never heard of him before at that point. My parents didn't have great taste in music at all. My father used to own a bunch of old records but I never once heard them in all my years. According to him he had everything by the Police and Abbey Road by the Beatles is the only other album he remembered, albeit vaguely. My mother was really into Italian pop music. In particular I remember Riccardo Cocciante, Eros Ramazzotti, Zucchero and Ricchi e Poveri being her favorites. The radio was blaring from the moment I was conceived in the early 90's. Most notably I grew up with Dutch songs, new wave, an assortment of rock genres, (synth-) pop, (power-) ballads and a bunch of reggae (influenced) songs. I can't help but wonder whether any of this affects me as a musician today.
I'm not sure if it was genuine interest or deliberate self-education, but I started acquiring an actual "good" taste in music since 2010. I went out of my way to listen to a variety of different jazz musicians and expanded my knowledge on bands. I've actually kept record of every album I ever intentfully listened to over the years (hurray for OCD!), which is nearing the 500 mark now. Toward the beginning of 2011, dubstep started to intrigue me as well. Experimenting with the genre, I finally made myself a soundcloud. You could say I used it as a garbage disposal. I didn't hate soundcloud but it just wasn't my thing.
I think 2011 was an interesting year for me. Among some of the dubstep and drum&bass albums was a lot of jazz, classic rock and ambient, pulling me from all directions. I started off the year by buying a Zoom H2 field-recorder, although I don't remember wanting to have one specifically. I might have been urged into buying this thing subliminally, by listening to Kingbastard's "Beautiful Isolation", Brian Eno's "Land", Radiohead's "How Am I driving?" and Tycho's "Past Is Prologue". I also got addicted to the concept of midi controllers and bought myself a Korg Nanopad after watching some great videos on Youtube. I was pretty interested in the Kaossilator-esque X&Y Controller and seeing as my Roland SP-404 sampler didn't provide Midi-Out, nothing could beat a €40 Nanopad! Not surprisingly, it was of terrible quality. One of the internal chips stopped working after 2 months or so... I missed it dearly but knew better than to buy another one.
I started buying a lot of albums since 2007 and in early 2008 I finally delved into Pink Floyd's music. I also discovered Hideki Naganuma and the French electrical duo Air. Other influential musicians from around this time were Calvin Harris, whose tunes had a playful familiarity about them and reminded me of stuff I myself composed. It had a reassuring effect on me. In 2009 I discovered one of my guilty pleasures, Owl City. The arrangements of his songs were inexplicably inspiring to me. Later that year I found myself obsessing over Röyksopp and Tycho. I also started listening to Fatboy Slim, Susumu Hirasawa and Electric Light Orchestra a lot more. During the next year I discovered royalty free music by mAf464 through a game here on Newgrounds. I went to check him out and ended up downloading all of his songs from his website. He supposedly had a demoscene history and that inspired me even more. Finally there's Danger Mouse, a producer whose solo carreer consists of collaborations with great musicians like Jack White, Iggy Pop and Norah Jones to name a few. I also looked up to youtube remixers like Schmoyoho and Dj Steve Porter. And then watching Jack Conte's videos subconsciously made me aware that I wanted to play more than just keys. It's worth noting this period of time also started my synthesizer obsession.
- Reasons To Create: Starting 2007 I became more and more private about my thoughts. At some point I felt like I had nothing more to say and my music reflected this more than anything. For the longest of times I've pondered whether the more I learn about making music, the less fun it becomes for me. This assumption I'm sure is incorrect.
- Creative Developments: I upgraded my work environment by rearranging my folder structures and downloaded a bunch of VST's. I also got rid of old samples and brought in some new ones. On top of that I bought a bunch of new hardware without actually focusing on improving technique, which is kind of stupid but whatever.
- Outcome: There's a couple of contests I joined and did fairly well on. I visited the forums and came across the Continue The Song Game. Also, I had the opportunity to make some custom songs for flash games. Besides automation, midi-controllers became my best friends and I got much better at mixing songs - I even started mastering my songs at some point. While I learned a lot of useful things, I neglected my technique and got scared of ever doing another live performance.
"you may not shine in one area, but you'll shine in another when it comes to music production. Never take yourself for granted, and don't let others do the same to you."
"Music without a doubt plays a role as an important voice for people to express, communicate, and convey their ideas and emotions. In order to maintain success though, an artist must not alienate his audience with songs that only satisfy himself. Finding the moderation to please as many people as possible serves as the key to success in the music industry. Whether a composer writes music for a videogame, film, television or any media outlet, they will always find themselves at a crossroad when to sell their artistic integrity for a check to keep their lives stable."
"This site is shit for music, the sooner people realise that the better. It isnt about music at all, it's about flash movies and animations"
"Those who think that the Audio Portal will ever have as much success as the Flash Portal are going to be bitterly disappointed with this next sentence. That is never going to happen! That isn't why people visit the site and isn't what keeps the majority coming here. It doesn't matter how much publicity we throw at it, it's still not going to happen. The sooner that is realised, the better. That's not to say that it can't be an integral part of the site, because I think that it already is. We just need to find more ways of hooking up Audio Artists with Flash Artists."
"My suggestion- limit yourself. This will bring out your creative side."
=== IMPROV [2005 - 2007] ===
Something about having a Juno-D synthesizer made the principles of ASDR a lot more intuitive. Not to mention cut, resonance and lfo possibilities. During some experimenting with the live recording button I tweaked some knobs and taught myself automation by the making of this song. Thus far I experimented a lot with Fruity Loops 4 and continued to do so, but there were a few distinct things I grew increasingly tired of, even in times of using FL Studio 3: The standard samples and VST presets. The phase of individuality commences!
Though I was taught all synths start with basic wave forms, I had very little knowledge of oscilators and how synths were shaped. No matter what I did, I felt like there wasn't a lot I could do to get rid of that "FL Studio" feel it had (especially the TS-404, Slayer and Simsynth). Instead I decided to create my own custom waveforms in Soundforge 6 which I would loop through the Fruity Sampler (because: individuality, lol). They were crappy, out of tune but still useable. It certainly gave my music a distinctive sound: most of my songs were like a badly strung guitar.
One fateful day in December 2004 I received a review from @Kingbastard. When I went to return the favor, I stumbled upon a goldmine of tunes which changed my thoughts on music forever. It was hard to keep a grasp on the sheer definition of his music, as his songs had such experimental splendor that I could hardly conceive it as music to begin with. That is, in the confines of my shallow perception, anyway. Never before had I listened to a mix of Lo-fi, IDM, Ambient, Field Recordings and Indie Rock. It opened my eyes and blew my mind. He's been a great inspiration to me for the years to come. Even on the forums he seemed like a breeze of fresh air. Many of his old songs have since been taken down, sadly. He was the first reason I ever wanted to pick up a guitar. My attempts have been futile, however.
I also went on the lookout for new drum samples. I didn't care much for the quality or where these files might have come from. None of that seemed important to me at the time. As a result my sample library was a disaster. The soundfonts I started using were okay, but I also sampled instruments and they weren't much better. Oftentimes they were too short to be properly looped for sustenance, horribly recorded and sometimes out of tune. Songs made as a results of my field-recording adventures include What's In My Glass?, Experiment 005 and Experiment 006. Some of these samples - believe it or not - proved really versatile throughout all these years, as I still use them from time to time!
I'll discuss some of these samples since they're so much fun. One of them was a recording of me going "ohh" for a while in C-pitch. I layered that with a (slightly out of tune) sinewave and looped it. It became a pretty interesting chorus sample that I've first used on In Outer Space (1:48) and later on A Place Where We Will Go (3:35) where I used it in the outro with a decay applied to it. Attitude (1:20) used it for a subtle reverbing stereo echo and it even appeared in the original CTSG (2:42) where I used it for a bell-like transition. I think it was also layered with the bass in B-Day Beat (0:00) and for background melodies in Active Days (2:01). The melodic hooks on Bangs (1:00) used this sample in combination with bells.
Another sample I really love was created during the same days I think. Probably made using the same crappy microphone, I held it close to a lenticular pokemon collectable. Next I used my nail to scratch across the ribs, sampled the high-pitched noise, and the rest is history. It has a nice raw industrial sound that I like to use every now and then. The sample made its first appearance in Experiment 001 (0:00). It was later used as a transitional effect in Attitude (2:08) and the outro of D-Tastic (1:38). Industrial Detour (0:28) uses it for rhythmic/melodic purposes.
Like I said earlier, file management wasn't my strongest asset back in the day. In 2006 a buddy of mine hooked me up with a cracked version of FL Studio 6. This piece of software helped me create some of my proudest compositions to date. Titles include There's A Place Where We Will Go and Do You Say? I especially liked the Fruity Parametric EQ 2 as it was easy to use and made my songs sound great. I might have started using compressors around this time as well. Although I had little knowledge of how they worked. Eventually the software crack expired, leaving me with a mere demo version of FL Studio. I had no choice but to go back to version 4. Since this version couldn't open my FL6 files, I rendered these save files completely useless and threw them off my computer. Needless to say I really regret doing this, now that I'm working with version 9... Especially since I love these songs.
Writing thorough reviews is one of the best things you can do as a starting musician: It develops listening skills, teaches you new musical terms, allows you to question about tricks the composer used and possibly creates new friendships. Still in 2006, I found Kingbastard's Mixposure page and decided to create a profile of my own. For a while this was one of my favorite places on the web. They had a system that allowed you to upload one new song for every 5 constructive reviews you left on people's songs. On top of that there were many assortments of genres and people creating music for it. Hell, I even found an assortment of cherokee music on there! The site was very aestethically pleasing too, but alas, it disappeared from the internet at some point. I found a couple of great artists on there, most of which I've forgotten by now. The same can be said for a couple of Myspace musicians I enjoyed.
Probably a way more interesting story from 2006 was when a buddy of mine told me of a site called djbroadcast. This was an online deejay magazine with its own internet radio station. What's so interesting about this website is they had their own record lable. By submitting music to their website, home producers got a good chance to get signed with the company. Promotion would be a nobrainer. Winners got to sell their songs on beatport with a 50% profit. I joined the race just to show off to my friend, who tricked their system by letting all of his friends vote for him. I beat the system too but not through voting; Apparently the men upstairs took notice of me and thought I was pretty good. I got a mail with the opportunity to sign with them around the same time as him.
I'm not sure what happened all of a sudden, but I got really self-aware. First and foremost, I was not really a Deejay (neither am I now), so why was I here? Neither was I very knowledgeable or skilled. My methods of making music were all wrong! Even though I was oblivious to all of this up to now, reality must have kicked in or whatever. I didn't know much about contracts at the time, but somehow convinced myself it would be full of downsides and obligations that would make my hobby a hell. And what if I were to be interviewed or something? I wasn't ready for that sort of stuff! The whole ordeal made me nervous, especially since it was my mother's hobby to visit fortune tellers, and one them had the audacity to predict someone would screw me over in the music business. In the end I never even read the contract or visited their office. I politely returned their mail by saying I wasn't ready for it. In a way I felt like Icarus, who flew too close to the sun. It was nothing like that though; I never got off the ground to begin with!
This moment definitely marked a decline in motivation for me as a musician, although I may have been too stubborn to realize it at the time. I had grown content with certain aspects of my life and while I was still very passionate music, it wasn't my salvation any longer. At the time I was pretty interested by spiritual stuff, and I made a friend who told me she found her "Soul Song". It supposedly refers to music that resonates with the very core of your being. I'm pretty sure I haven't found mine to this day, and I wonder if I will ever find it. The concept is still pretty amazing to me. Especially the thought that I might someday create someone's soul song, which would be a great honor. Towards the end of 2006 I moved to a new place with my parents. Somewhere along the way I lost a lot of samples on my computer. Early in 2007 I took something of a break, only to get active again in Spring. As I was recovering from a scarring event (I won't go into details), I had picked up a book which motivated me to take life into my own hands. Around this time I got into a band, fully convinced I was an amazing musician (spoiler: I wasn't).
I'll have you know, band practice was a disaster for me. My Juno-D was too big to lug around with a bicycle and I didn't have a driver's licence. I had no one else to rely on but my father, who did not have all the time in the world. I thought it would be easier and somewhat cool to use a keytar, so I bought a Yamaha SHS-10. Little did I know that thing is laughably bad (it's still pretty cool to own though). Even so, it was a lot easier to carry around. This is what I usually practiced on.
Most of my time as a bandmember was spent jamming without making any actual results. I developed a strong affinity for organs and electric pianos around this time, which became another aspect of my sound. Especially EP's with a long release time were my type of thing. Another thing I started to like were improvs, solos and compact monologue synthesizers. Anyway, I went to a lot of the band's gigs without even playing along. The band already had like 3 or 4 songs they could play. So I tried my best to come up with fitting background melodies but they were all declined. I played only one gig together with the band (with the Juno-D, mind you). Little did I know, the band decided on some last-minute enhancements to the song. I screwed up my part because there was some confusion about how it needed to be played. I played it off as if nothing happened though.
A few sessions later I brought my Juno-D to band practice and we were jamming. I tried hard but nothing I played seemed to match with what the rest of the band was playing. Maybe their gear was improperly tuned. I can't remember, I only remember the song was rather fast-paced. On top of that the rest of the band wanted to do a Killing In The Name Of cover by Rage Against The Machine. I was fairly certain I didn't fit in with them at all at this point, being the third wheel and all. That's when I had something of a break down and went ouside for a breather. When the band eventually stepped outside we had a short conversation. Since this wasn't working out, I left the band. It had already come to their attention that I took music far too serious. Their advice for me was to start a solo carreer of sorts. Gee, thanks.
It's quite tricky to pinpoint which musicians managed to influence me during this time. When it came to being in a band, Keane, Coldplay, Radiohead and Muse were quite important to me. System Of A Down was a great inspiration when it came to lyrics. In the studio however, I was heavily inspired by The Prodigy, Daft Punk and Pendulum. Also DE/VISION now that I think about it. These years were also quite interesting in terms of club music. From my trips to Myspace I learned of Kingbastard's friend Yogi. He goes by the name of @Matchstickman on Newgrounds but sadly didn't upload much. I loved his songs to death, it's unfortunate barely any of his work survived the harsh conditions of the internet.
- Reasons To Create: Underneath my humble exterior was an eager desire to overcome my peers. More than once I told people "I use jealousy as a means to motivate myself to surpass the person I envy". It took quite a while for me to realize I was making a contest out of everything. This continued to burn me up even further.
- Creative Developments: Besides upgrading to better software, the pointers I received were of great help leveling up. One could argue whether I experimented too much or too little. Personally I think I explored too much and learned too little. This is why I didn't understand virtual instruments and barely even touched them. I also improved very little on the keys. The mix of my songs became somewhat better, though oftentimes muddy. The samples I used during these days certainly gave my songs an individual style.
- Outcome: I tried out as many samples, effects and genres I could possibly think of but never quite got into synth design for some reason. Even effect presets were oftentimes left untweaked. I seeked exposure outside of Newgrounds and almost got signed to a record label in the process. I had developed a sound of my own and my compositions were definitely improving.
"Brand yourself, be yourself. Don't imitate or emulate your favorite composers, other else people would rather just hire the original. I found the most work in my career because I made a sound that was unique to myself, and people approached me because of what I can produce."
"Human brain is hardwired to pick up patterns, that's why pop music has "chorus" sections. Finding the right balance between repetition and new material makes the difference between 'boring' and 'that feels familiar'."
"'Simple' and 'complex' music is subjective. To that point, they are not better than one another. Something that is deemed, 'good' is based off the unanimous majority. Everything in music is based off the opinion of what is right or wrong. To that point as well, there is no right or wrong."
"The way I understand it, when musicians release teasers, they are either looking for feedback, stuck, or unwilling to share the full version of a track that is going to bring them earnings as the result of its use in a game. Or, shall we say, unwilling to spoil the fun. It keeps listeners anticipating more."
"On a more serious note, it doesn't matter how long something takes, or how much effort you put in. If people like it, I deem it a success. Of course I still want to put in as much effort as I can, to increase my chances of people liking something. While people don't like to hear me say this, 'music is a business'."
=== THE BRIDGE [2003 - 2005] ===
Lets ignore the fact that E-Jay was my favorite music software before I found any decent music software. By the time I uploaded my first songs to Newgrounds I had been messing around with my illegally acquired copy of Fruityloops Studio 3 for about a year. Yes, I said FL Studio 3. It was my keyboard teacher who had burned the software on a cd and handed out copies to his students (I still own mine to this day). He once showed up at our house to instal cubase and connected my keyboard to the computer for midi purposes. He was the best music teacher I had by far! Thanks to him me and the other students were learning songs by Nirvana, the Red Hot Chilli Peppers and anything remotely popular at the time. None of it was boring!
I never got my midi settings to work after that, as the preferences screen in FL Studio was incomprehensible to me at the time. To make matters worse, I had to connect this thing through a serial port. I didn't mind it that much though. The software allowed me to compose, so - midi controls or not - that's what I did! It took me a while before I learned how to properly make a song. I had no idea how to change pitch on the sequencer and was oblivious to the piano roll. One of my first songs was composed by duplicating one sample at different pitches and alternating between them on the sequencer haha. I uploaded the song a year later. Having signed up to Newgrounds in October 2003, for some reason uploading music didn't work for me until after the first AP overhaul towards the end of 2003. My first NG buddy @42588 used a couple of my songs in his flashes before I got to upload any of my music. These songs in particular never made it to Newgrounds, I'm not sure why. The movies they appear in are Mortal Kombat Quil Flik, Puncher Girl and A Weird Movie.
My first computer came with a set of small speakers, presumably by harman/kardon. The rest of my studio (if you could call it that) consisted of several shitty microphones that broke down over time and a Yamaha PSR-270 lessons keyboard. I composed much of my early stuff on these keys. Sadly I lost most of my earliest songs due to the reformating of my system (this is probably why some of my oldest songs never made it to Newgrounds). I cried over this loss as I had not anticipated this. Many of the songs I had made were inspired by RPG maker, which I played a lot with and wanted to compose my own songs for. I also replicated a couple of songs, with Zelda in particular. Before I got familiar with the NG Audio portal I had found a website called OverClocked Remix. It was of great influence on my music.
My first experiences with the audio portal were rather good. It didn't take long for me to find The Matrix DNB, which inspired me heavily. For a long time I was obsessed with Drum&Bass because of paragonx9, though I had no idea how to make it. When the portal finally allowed me to submit my own songs, I soon figured out how to cheat the top 5 of the weak. I did this by posting music late on a thursday night and voting 5. Oftentimes it would fly under the radar and get one of the best scores. Other than this, scores didn't mean much to me. Zero-bombers became a prominent threat to many creators, but I didn't care at all. Downloads were much more important to me.
My actual life was going through a rough patch at the times. Hard to believe as it may seem, at the end of my first year in high school I was facing a mental breakdown. I had difficulties finishing that year, and it screwed up my second year completely. During my short attendence of the 2nd year I wrote an assignment on what my favorite song was for my philosophy class, which got me an A+. Passion was definitely there. Failing school was a terrible awareness. "But at least I still have music," I thought. Maybe so, but I was shit at making it.
I kept dishing out songs throughout the year. To this day I've never had a more productive year than 2004. I remember wanting to record from my Yamaha directly, but I had no idea how to do this. I ended up recording sustained notes and used those in my songs. Someone I knew at the time invited me to come over to his personal attic studio. I learned that he worked in Reason and from that point I wanted nothing more than to work with the same software (This transfer to propellerhead never really happened for me as I became too comfortable with FL Studio). He taught me about Recycle and how there's software you can use to edit waveforms and turn them into loops. I worked a lot with Soundforge 6.0 before moving on to Cool Edit Pro 2.0.
Eventually @Chronamut took notice of me in November or so, took me under his wing and convinced me to upgrade my software. He took one of my works in progress and worked on the mix, finishing it together, eventually also sharing it on vgmix before it went down under. He gave me a lot of tips which helped improve my music drastically. In no time I was utilizing the FL Studio piano roll, vst's, soundfonts, mixer tracks, and added effect filters. I mostly used presets though. During this time the simple 7-band equalizer became one of my best friends.
I think somewhere in September of that same year I joined one of the many signature making clubs on the forums. I often stayed up late to work on image requests, literally entranced by the dance tracks that would play on the radio during the weekends. I became a big fan of dance music and wanted to become a deejay. I never knew how to get this done though. Somehow I convinced my parents music was my passion and they bought me a bunch of awesome gear: a Roland Juno-D (which I still use), a Behringer Eurorack UB1222 FX-Pro and two Alesis M1 Active MK2 monitors (one of which was damaged). I coined my stage-name D-Yoop, which I discarded a few years later.
My biggest influences from this time are a giant mess to behold. I had a slight obsession with Lord Of The Rings soundtracks early on, but it's Paul van Dyk whose music caused me to aspire being a deejay. I listened to quite a bit of trance at the time, I think. Tiësto was another big inspiration during this period of time. Despite all this, I had trouble labeling my own music and often compared it to that of the Gorillaz for lack of better examples, but I guess they were inspirational too. Keane was another band that captured my heart. On the other hand there's Newgrounds musicians like Paragonx9 whose music introduced me to Drum&Bass. Then Kingbastard fueled my need to explore new sounds and experiment.
- Reasons To Create: I felt horribly guilty about ditching school but I couldn't tell what my reason was. Not only were my intentions misunderstood, but I went down a slippery slope of distrust of my own capabilities. At some points I felt suicidal, but music was something I had faith in.
- Creative Developments: From behind the keys I moved into the studio. I finally had the power to create my own songs but didn't know too much about the theory. Songs were oftentimes repetitive and badly mixed. My inspiration was endless though. I believed my songs were awesome, although I could not attain the quality of my idols.
- Outcome: For some reason my cringeworthy songs got pretty good reviews, eventually even getting gold and platinum stats. Chronamut was one of the bigger names in the audio portal back then, so I was kind of awestruck when I learned he enjoyed my songs. I also befriended RyeGuyHead. Songs involving the keywords "Matrix" and "LOTR" got most of the recognition. Gee, I wonder why that is?
"I'm sure I can speak collectively and say, as music makers reviews are what we are after, especially constructive critisism that can really benefit the development of our trx."
"no program is noobish, only the people using it. Good music makers can make good music using any format."
"Newgrounds was a great place to "level up" my music production skills."
"As soon as people realise that the Audio Portal is just a bit of fun the better. It's for musicians to play around in and hopefully find some like-minded people who have the common courtesy to leave reviews if they listen/downlaod a trk. Yes it's not perfect, of course improvements can be made, but take it for what it is and learn to take the good with the bad and in time I'm sure it can grow into something to rival the Flash Portal, either that or it will die on its ass."
"I tend to not even look at the score of tracks anymore, it's irrelevant, all you gotta do is get yourself a bit of a following by reveiwing other artists tunes and the reviews should be returned in kind."
"trying to do something you love will always bring critisism, especially when it's in a creative medium."
It's been 2 years now since I wrote my 5-part story on how I found animation and by what means it developed. These were written by me as a means to introspect. I was lost on where to go next and had to steer myself into a clear new direction. The same thing could be said for my music. These past couple of years I have felt lost. I think I was 8 when I started out. That means I've been a musicians for over 15 years! -Although I say this reluctantly... Over the past couple of years I've lost confidence and direction. For a while I thought the passion was gone, but I have reason to believe it's still here. I want to bring it out again, and that's why I'm writing this.
Each of these blog entries discuss the following topics:
- Reasons To Create (Philosophy, Motivation & Inspiration)
- Creative Developments (Audial Style, Skills & Habits)
- Outcome (Experience, Dedication, Achievements & Continuity)
=== AN EMPTY STAVE [1998 - 2003] ===
As mentioned before, I was 8 when I first picked up an instrument, although I was possibly already interested in playing music at a much earlier age. I am unsure as to why this eventually happened. My earliest memories of music involve a little keyboard I got as a toy (the closest resemblence I found on google was a Starmate 8906) and percussive instruments in kindergarten. There's also faint memories of pianos and guitars at people's homes, both of which interested me greatly (or any instrument for that matter). Of course I wasn't allowed to touch them.
When I was 8 years old, my parents let me partake in a musical orientation course. I'm not sure if anyone heard of these things but they are great! Basically I was grouped up with a bunch of kids for a weekly instrument tryout. Every week they showed us different instruments until eventually we all made a choice and signed up for lessons. Apparently I had a talent for many of these instruments but I remember I really wanted to be a drummer. My parents did not allow this so I decided on playing keyboard, by logic that this was the most versatile instrument and allowed me to play any instrument there is.
Next came lessons. They came attached with stuffy teachers and were overal a weird mix of boring yet interesting. Learning to read notes and timing them accordingly wasn't that hard, but getting used to clefs, time signatures, key signatures, terms and notations was very tricky. Then again, I was in keyboard classes. It took me years to realize they were very different from actual piano classes. Most of these things I did not have to worry about that much; half of the work was getting to know the chords and getting the keyboard to do things automatically for me. I tried to compose stuff of my own, but I remember I didn't write it down correctly. Too bad I lost these short "compositions".
When I was a young teen, the school started organizing small performances. This meant I had to get up the stage on my own, playing a song I had learnt earlier that year. I also performed for my classroom in middleschool a couple of times. At some point I was going to perform a song which my father then expressed disdain for. It made me panic and I tried everything in my power to bail the idea. I was overfilled with guilt towards my teacher, who had copied a bunch of lyrics for the whole class to sing along to... Another case of stage fright occurred to me during band lessons when I was about 12 years old. These lessons were a lot of fun, until I heard there was going to be a performance at the end. I did not realize this and felt deceived upon hearing the news. The performance went flawless and yet I wasn't happy. Everything that had been leading up this moment caused me stress. My joy was gone. I decided to quit.
My mother caught up with me to tell that I was some sort of prodigy and the school offered me free lessons for an entire year. This information completely fucked me over as a teen and I started to think of myself as some sort of musical genius in the making. Maybe I just misinterpreted the information, as I found out years later; it was merely my teacher who was interested in doing private sessions at our home for free. I think I would have felt easier with that, but I don't know. He was the coolest teacher I had by far, but I was pretty much through with it all.
There's definitely been some songs that managed to influence my compositions this early in my musical carreer. Though learning to play songs by the Red Hot Chilli Peppers definitely influenced the way I composed my music, Coldplay was the first band that actually touched me on a deep level (with Trouble in particular) and made me want to start a band of my own. I was really into videogame music as well, with Koji Kondo (Ocarina Of Time), Motoi Sakuraba (Golden Sun), Nobuo Uematsu (Chrono Trigger), Jun Ishikawa (Kirby Super Star) and Kozue Ishikawa (Link's Awakening) in particular. It is no wonder I occasionally found myself on OverClocked Remix. Another great influence was Gigi d'Agostino's italohouse.
- Reasons To Create: As a kid I was open to learn new things so maybe I just went with the flow. Playing the keys wasn't something I particularly hated so I went with it. I could tell it made my parents proud, and maybe that was enough? There was the occasional jealousy towards other keyplayers. I don't think I deemed myself particularly good.
- Creative Developments: Very little. Hitting chords with my left hand while playing melodies with the right isn't exactly difficult. These were the usual lessons for 5 years. While I developed a knack for chords, sheet music went way over my head as I played most of everything by memorizing it. I guess it's been pretty useful though, as I've noticed some self-taught musicians don't really understand the logic behind chords.
- Outcome: In relation to piano, keyboard might have been a pretty bad choice. Then again, in relation to a drumkit, keyboard was a very good choice! Maybe I wasn't set up for playing piano concerts, but at least I learned some basic tricks and theory. Plus I found my way into music software! In the end I didn't do much keyboard drumming but I'm glad I made my way into music at some point.
"i would strongly advise taking lessons, its always good to have a mentor to guide you along with your learning, if you teach yourself, you have higher chances of forming bad habits, and bad habits are hard to unlearn"
"It means if you practice something a certain way for a long time, it will be stuck with you. If you practice proper technique all the time, then you'll have proper technique. If you practice improper technique, then you'll be stuck using improper technique until you practice proper technique, which involves unlearning and relearning."
"You are also extremely ignorant to think that you don't need music theory to write music, because you use it even when you don't realize it."
"If notation is chain and ball, then chord and harmonies are cage and prison. Locking yourselves in the prison of sound, and fooling yourselves to think that you're free to choose whatever."
"Personally, I find that theory has helped with my appreciation of music."
"To an anarchist, statism is a threat to the people. To a music anarchist, theory is the threat to creativity."
My last post was like 6 months ago, right after the Anniversary Collab was launched. Time surely flies... I was going to post some gems I found but the submit button kept bugging out on me. Honestly, I didn't want to write about anything elaborate but I was getting a bit sick of looking at the old thing. This post just kind of happened lol.
Yeah, so admittedly it is weird how as a creator you can feel incredibly detached from your work. Many of my big inspirers seem to have doubts about their projects before releasing their creations into the world for everyone to see - I usually feel that way myself. While I was passionate about this thing, it's been rather stressful too. Most importantly though, I'm glad to see the Anniversary Collab touched the hearts of so many fellow Newgrounders. I never imagined making it into the top of all time someday.
As for my personal life, I moved into a new place since January, where I now live with a good friend of mine. It's a bigger place and the rent is overall cheaper, which is good. Moving went paired with a bunch of drama which I won't get into. It took some getting used to the fact that things are further away from me now. Also, a lot of rooms still need to be painted, a lot of the electric sockets are apparently way outdated and possibly unsafe. So far the association we rent from hasn't been too helpful so I fear it's going to cost me. And there's a bunch of other things that need to be removed/made that should or shouldn't be there. Some rooms don't even have lighting as it is. Things are moving rather slow but the bare necesities are all there.
While I've learned a bit about electricity, I feel like my knowledge is still rather limited. Many of the sockets on the top floor of the house don't even have a ground. Seeing as I'm using a lot of electrical extensions to get my studio up and running, this thought is kind of scary. There's a desktop and a lot of expensive musical equipment as well. If something were to go wrong is it all going to be toast? I wonder if the output channels on my mixer broke because of this. As a work-around I have to run audio from the auxiliary tracks now... For fear that anything else may give out I haven't been on my desktop in a while, and creating stuff from my laptop is a bit of a drag.
But there's been good things too. Apart from Newgrounds, I've discoved more of Twitch during February and noticed how great and inspiring the "Creative" community is. I feel like Newgrounds is missing part of the action. While I'm not sure where I'm going with this, I feel that NG could utilize this medium. Grey areas such as speedpaintings, tutorials and camera/animation crossovers are already here on newgrounds. But what if we made it an option to watch these streams on Newgrounds? A lot of streamers already advertise themselves going live from the news post section, but it's easy to miss that. Maybe there should be a list of approved Newgrounds "Creative" streamers or something? A Newgrounds hashtag on Twitch might be a good idea too. It would also be cool to see picoday being livestreamed on the frontpage in a pod at the top of frontpage this year. Speaking of Picoday, I'd really like to attend again but I'm not going to be there this year... The past months have been rather expensive on me ):
I am suddenly reminded that I've been doing a lot of writing these past couple of months. There's a couple of big news posts I've been meaning to post, but each of them consists of several entries. One of them discusses the process of creating a "super-collab", but I'm not so sure if anyone's interested so I might not even finish that. The other one is a self-reflecting entry on how I got into making music. I finished 4 out of 5 of those so far, but they're on my desktop. Go figure... The main reason I wanted to write about my music is because I've been stuck in a rut for years. I did the same thing for animation 2 years ago, which ultimately led me to create the Anniversary Project. For the past few years, I didn't even dare calling myself a musician. I finally got sick of this in October last year, when I attended a small gig fest. I realized I still wanted to be a musician and suddenly wanted to play electric guitar right there and then. Seeing as I still felt that way in March, I decided to get on with it. I've been self-teaching and practicing my Les Paul every day for about a month now.
Once I get this whole home-situation figured out, I'm hoping to get back into action. I'm excited to try out 2.5d animation, but I barely have any experience sculpting 3d elements. I downloaded Blender before moving, though I'm not too sure if I like it. I also feel like Toonboom is the best answer in terms of 2.5d animation, but I have yet to learn the ins and outs. I also have this great experimental idea in mind and would really like to bring it to the audio forums, but this'll have to wait. Earlier this year I predicted this was going to be a year of consistancy and exploration. I guess I was right about that. I should remember to have fun sometime.
P.S. I shall try to see if I can post gems again sometime.
NG's 20th Anniversary Collab is finally out!
Go check it!
Huge thanks go out to:
- @TharosTheDragon, for being an amazing programmer, editor and co-organizer.
- @Liljim, for providing an alternative way to link user profiles.
- @TomFulp, for being an inspiration and putting us on Frontpage TWICE. He also put us on the calendar and did a lot of news posts for us!
- @Troisnyx, for coming up with this awesome idea in the first place. And of course for composing the wonderful credits song.
- The CTSG Collab, for being a wonderful concept that proved to be a great foundation for the anniversary collab.
- @EKublai, @Radaketor, @ShiftyHyena, @TharosTheDragon, @TricycleLord and @VicariousE for their meaningful efforts in the sub-collabs.
- @Bit, @Butzbo, @Cyberdevil, @FoAngel, @Kenjum, @LDAF and @Radaketor for their thorough testing.
- Those of you who were crazy enough to join us in this adventure ;)
- Everyone awesome enough to vote 5.
- @P-Bot, for having us.
I hope I didn't forget anyone. You guys are absolutely awesome!
Part 01 - 1995/1996
Some of the earliest songs on NG were oldschool drum&bass type of songs. Seeing as drums are the skeleton of a song, we started off with the bare bones. "This is the remix," refers of course to Newground Remix. Tom was 13 when he coined the name "New Ground" in 1991. At the time New Ground was a fanzine for the Neo Geo (Synomym for New Ground). It wasn't until 1995 that New Ground got its own website on fast.net. Tom created webgames such as Club A Seal and Assassin later on.
Part 02 - 1996/1997
As a university student, Tom had no access to Newground Remix. Having updated his content, he decided to work on a new website and called it Newground Atomix. In musical form we needed to imply some sort of genesis; the birth of the new ground plural. Wanting to preserve the urban feel, Triphop seemed like the best option. Among Tom's newer works were Cat Dynamics and Beep Me Jesus.
Part 03 - 1998
With no way to redirect users from Remix to Atomix, Tom ignored the problem altogether and just kept on building silly websites. Telebubby Fun Land was his next project and it became a hit! The music of course had to be a bit silly here.
Part 04 - 1998/1999
When Tom was contacted by Inside Edition about Telebubby Funland, he bought himself a domain name and decided on Newgrounds.com. This choice led to more exposure, and the website grew exponentially. All of the website content was made by Tom Fulp at the time, but he created a separate page which he decided to call "The Portal". Users who wanted to submit their content, mailed it to Tom and he would upload it manually. Tom's personal works included a couple of games, among which the infamous Pico's School. The website slogan was "The problems of the future, today!" Tom's games were still the most popular attraction of the website, so the audio was inspired by his games.
Part 05 - 1999
Trouble was on the way. Newgrounds' debauchery didn't go unnoticed by the media and a handful of lawsuit threats were aimed at Newgrounds. As a result, Newgrounds had to remove a lot of their content. If that weren't frightening enough, Newgrounds was struggling with the ever-expanding server costs. Luckily Tom was able to partner up with Troma. He even got to star in Toxic Avenger 4. These were scary times. Needless to say, spooky music was the best choice here.
Part 06 - 2000
The overwhelming amount of entries for the Newgrounds Portal started to become a little overwhelming. Admin Ross developed the automated Portal, a leveling system for the users, and a forum which Wade moderated. To top it all off, Newgrounds came up with their iconic tank logo. You could say war was upon NG: P-Bot was blamming flashes, while Wadolf was out there banning users. Turbulent classic music was definitely the way to go. The animation symbolically features P-Bot, Ross, Wade, a tankman and Scrotum the dog; the first submission to ever grace Newgrounds.
Part 07 - 2001
This year was full of action-packed animations. Think epic Xiao Xiao battles, Joe Zombie, and Osama Bin Laden spoofs. Among all this chaos there's Bluebaby's flash games, the Mikey animations and the origin of the Clock Crew. Speaking of which, StrawberryClock joined and animated this sequence, adding a ton of other characters that I missed. Many submissions at the time featured music by Linkin Park. As a homage to that moment, we decided on Alternative Metal. An unexpected silence was requested for a "B" moment.
Part 08 - 2002
Perfect lovemaking music, that's what was requested for this segment. NG used to run a lot of adult ads as a last-resort strategy. Also, the flash portal was flooding with hentai dating sims, which further tainted the image of Newgrounds. Go figure ;)
Part 09 - 2002
There's a reason this segment starts with the sound of a whistle. It signifies the option to "blow your whistle" on material with malicious content. Among some of the most popular submissions this year was Alien Hominid, Chainsaw The Children, Krinkel's Madness, Skullkid, Legendary Frog and Arfenhouse. Progressive house seemed like the way to go.
Part 10 - 2003
Industrial music sets the tone for an era of robots. A-Bot was first introduced to Newgrounds with the launch of the audio portal. The NG servers were hosted in New York, but the admins decided to move it to Philadelphia. Due to the success of their web game Alien Hominid, Tom and Dan Paladin started their company The Behemoth.
Congratulations NG! Today we celebrate a historic moment in time, as some 20 years ago, a handsome man known as Tom Fulp got on the internet, and made it his life mission to create the biggest source of hentai the world has ever seen! He created a website known as Newgrounds dot com; the very website you are visiting today.
A huge collab was scheduled for release today, but it will have to wait, unfortunately. We're still looking for people willing to animate to a 15-second animation to a piece of music. Each music segment is part of a soundtrack made by 24 different musicians from the audioportal. It is a soundtrack specifically made for this project; to tell the history of Newgrounds through animation. That means each part revolves around a specific "era" of the website. Right now there's only 2 parts left to choose:
[ Download ] - Open - [ 23. BattleBlock Theater Inspired Music (2013) ]
Lots of projects this year would befit a sense of adventure: The launch of Battleblock Theatre (X), Cathode Raybots (X), The Reward (X), Jaltoid (X), Dr. Bees (X), Raw Latex (X), and With Animation You can! (X)
[ Download ] - Open - [ 24. Dark Ambient (2013) ]
Somewhat serious or even ominous themes this year include the No Evil (X) series by Warlord-Of-Noodles, BLISS (X), Spacefader's Gamer (X), Tombstone Jumping Devil (X), The Honey Plot (X), Little Merry Ego (X), Breadheads (X) and the Pixel Nightmare (X) series.
If you'd like to parttake in this, feel free to send me a PM and I'll be happy to fill you in on the details.
Have a happy 20th! :D
Hey everyone, there's less than 2 weeks left! Here is my update on the NG 20th Anniversary project. Please join us if you can!
Is doing great! Occasionally new people arrive and other people drop out, but it's progressing very steadily! There's still 2 parts open, however. So if have the time for a 15 second animation, please come and join us!
Just 3 more voices to go. The lines are ready. All we need is for someone to record them! Edd Gould, Crippleboy and Icky are still available. Want to give them a try? Come join us!
There's always room for more game developers. Open an AS3 project, drag in the movieclip with functions we prepared, and get started. It's really easy! Your game doesn't have to be very big or complicated, so please give it a try and join us!
The art section is doing great, but we'd love for more people to join. The objective is simple; draw us a figurine of a well-known Newgrounds character. Come join us!