Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Composing a Musical Score for SHADOWS OF VALOR Book Trailer

I mentioned some months ago that my publisher asked if I would take some of the music in my story, Shadows of Valor, and compile a 2-minute musical score for my book trailer. I had never done anything beyond writing music for piano, so I was in for an education about other instruments and how well they went together (or how they didn’t go together in some instances). Thank goodness my Finale Print Music computer program had the option to add different instruments to the score and to separate them out into different staffs, keeping everything in order. I fiddled with the violin, cello, contra bass strings, several drums, flute, recorder, piano of course, and the acoustic guitar.

Through the help of my way awesome and very patient brother-in-law, Michael Park, I learned how to save my files into “midi” form so he could easily transfer them into his amazing program that contained hundreds of instruments and great mixing capabilities. Through many hours of work and using up Mike and his wife’s free time, we got the first version ready for approval, sending it off to Christopher Loke at Jolly Fish Press (my publisher). Well, he had some issues with a few notes, the speed and instrument choices not being quite right and not synchronizing with what Chris had in mind.

Soooo, back to the drawing board.

We slowed things down a bit, took out some instruments, added others, even put in some choir voices, a tambourine and jazzed up the drums a bit. We sent it to Chris and . . . yeah . . . not a go this time either. We’d added TOO MUCH “fluff” and needed to drastically simply it. The problem with having a TON of instruments at your fingertips is that it’s too easy to go crazy and use too many of them *smile*.

To make sure we caught the vision this time, Chris played music for me over the phone and sent me samples on my e-mail, allowing me hear the particular sounds he envisioned in his head. He even hummed, awed, and sang samples until I finally felt we were on the same page.

With renewed confidence that I hadn’t gotten in over my head in this new venture, my brother-in-law and I began working on the third version. We cut the instruments down to the bare minimum, abridging to the point of the music sounding uncomplicated and almost raw in its simplicity. The 2-minute arrangement had two parts, the first representing my female heroine in a melodic tune taken from my song “May’s Good Day” and brought out by only right treble clef piano and bass clef cello. The second part, taken from my song “One Brave Knight” represents my male hero with a darker, almost war-like refrain that’s beat out with the cello, contra bass strings, bass drum and timpani drum.

With bated breath, I sent this third version to Chris and waited on his phone call, which, with the previous versions, had come within minutes of his receiving it. But this time, no call, no e-mail response . . . nothing! CRAP! Was he completely fed up with my incompetence that he didn’t call back because he didn’t know what to tell me this time? Had he not received the e-mail with attached mp3? Was he just at lunch? Was he super busy and didn’t have time to respond yet (the most likely of all the possibilities). I tried doing other things, checking my e-mail for a response every 30 seconds, but when four hours or so went by without anything, I decided to call, Chris. I HAD TO KNOW what he thought of this version.

Well, turned out he was way busy and even in a meeting at the time I called, but awesome boss that he is, he answered my call instead of making me wait until later when he actually had the time to talk *smile*.

And the verdict . . . THE ARRANGEMENT WAS JUST WHAT HE WANTED!!! YEA!!! Aside from a few minor mixing issues to clean up, it was a go. I WAS SO RELIEVED!!! We cleaned up the score and saved it to a “wav” format before sending the final version to Chris.

I can’t WAIT to see how my music goes with the visual trailer.

Shadows of Valor will be released and also be available on e-readers September 7, 2013!

This is the simple piano version of my score (click to enlarge):



16 comments:

  1. This is sooo cool, Elsie! You are incredibly talented. I'm exited to hear it on the trailer.

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    1. I'm excited too! Thanks so much, Teri!

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  2. Composing, arranging, and performing?! Amazing. But you knew that already. Quick idea--at book signings see if the store can play your music over their speakers. If not, at least have it playing at your table. Music sets the mood.

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    1. Thanks, Lehua! You flatter me. I really don't deserve that - but it sure makes me feel good :). And great idea. The only problem is that the trailer is only 2-minutes long and playing it over and over could get monotonous. My songs in the book are on paper, but I haven't recorded them with any neat instruments. I could talk to Chris Loke and get his opinion, though. If he thinks it's good idea, maybe I could mix my other songs to have them done before the book launch.

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  3. Listening to the music (had my wife play it for me) makes me excited for your book! Got to meet these characters that inspire such music. Way to go, Elsie.

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    1. Thanks Berk! That's awesome that your wife plays piano too! The piano version sounds so simple compared to the orchestral mix we did for the trailer, so if you liked the "piano only" version, you'll really enjoy the score with cello and drums added to it :). I'm excited, too!!!

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  4. So now I know where to turn should I need a musical score. ;-)

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    1. HA HA - A two-minute score is a far cry from a full-blown musical or movie score. I'd be happy to throw in my two cents, though - LOL!

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  5. We are excited for you too. What an intersting process that you are going through, and what fun! I don't play or read music but the black dots and lines sure look pretty! :) Looking forward to the trailer.

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    1. Hee hee, you crack me up, Keri! I'll send you the link to the trailer when it's released. :)

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  6. You’ve been tagged for the Liebster Award! Check out the details here: http://fjrtitchenell.weebly.com/1/post/2013/04/liebster-award-11-fun-facts-about-me-and-the-next-nominees.html

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    1. Awesome, Fiona! Thanks. I'll try to get to the questions, but it may take me a while.

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  7. Good job Elsie! I think it's wonderful that this has turned out so well for you. I can't wait to see your trailer--better yet, I'm SO excited to read your book!

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    1. You mean read it again - hee hee :) - though it's certainly changed a bit from when you read one of my first versions. I'd love to hear your opinion on the final when it's released, though. You're such an awesome friend and writing buddy, Rachel. I can't wait to read more of your writing!

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  8. Great job Elsie! I played it on the piano. Very exciting for you!

    Rebekah

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    1. That's awesome, Rebekah! Didn't know you played piano. Too cool! Glad you liked it too :). Yes, I'm WAAAY EXCITED!

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