A question about composing

A question about composing

Hello Sorry if it seems like I am flooding the session with discussions, but again I’m still a beginner and have a lot
of questions. Anyway are there any specific notes I should use to give a tune a scary or mysterious tone.
Thanks πŸ™‚

Re: A question about composing

If you’re a fiddler who can dondoubke stops, minor 2nds. Also, anything in C minor will get the effect you want. I’m
told by a composer friend it’s considered the syicide key.

Re: A question about composing

If you’re looking for scary, or an ominous feel, minor keys are probably the best way to go. Especially a true minor (three flats) as opposed to dorian mode (two flats). Cminor especially has that dark quality about it.

Re: A question about composing

Sorry should have specified I’m a whistler.

Re: A question about composing

Kellie, I would suggest learning some musical theory. You need to understand the different keys, and the notes that each key has. Learn your scales, learn arpeggios. You need to understand music before you compose, so that you’re not asking people how to write your tunes.

Re: A question about composing

Your probably right but I am in a choir and I do understand some music theory. However learning more would probably be better that just throwing a bunch of notes into an ABC program and tweaking as I go.

Re: A question about composing

Here is the Reel I was working on.

X:1
T:Cricket in the choir room
M:4/4
C:Austin Mitchell
K:D
GA|:BEED EGFG | EGAB AGED | BEED EDEG | GABA GEGA |
|BEED EDFG | EGBd AGEG| BEED EGFG | BAFD EFE2:|
|:Bdfa edab | agfd geef | Bdfa dBgf |agef ede2 |
|Bdfg edba | edfe dfga | gded BFAE | DFAB GFG2:|

Re: A question about composing

If your goal is to compose music that traditional musicians will want to play, you need to spend more time playing and listening to traditional music. Most traditional music is composed of the same few short melodic fragments, building blocks if you will and you need to be well versed in those before you can write music that sounds like traditional music. The melody you posted above is definitely a diatonic melody in 4/4, but it doesn’t sound like a reel when played. The B part is especially awkward, particularly the ending.

Posted .

Re: A question about composing

I did realize that the B part is very awkward and I also realize I still need to Iron out a few kinks but thank you.

Re: A question about composing

Question for you, what is your purpose in writing these tunes?

Posted .

Re: A question about composing

The scary and mysterious stuff lies between the notes; listen to some travelling pipers, flute, or early recordings of fiddle players [shields ON].

Re: A question about composing

I just want to write a reel that sounds like a reel because I was inspired enough to write a tune about it, so mostly just for fun. πŸ™‚

Re: A question about composing

I was inspired by the Cricket

Re: A question about composing

X:2
T:Cricket in the choir room
M:4/4
C:Kellie
K:D
GA|:BEED EGFG | EGAB AGED | BEED EDEG | BAFD EFE2 |
|BEED EDFG | EGAB AGED| BEED EGFG | BAFD EFE2:|
|:Bdfa egab | agef geef | Bdfg BFAE |BAFD EGAB |
|Bdfg egab | agef geef | Bdfd BFAE | BAFD EFE2:|

Simplified it quite a bit

Re: A question about composing

Ah! Cricket! A fine sport and inspiration for a lot of people. Are you best with the leather or the willow?

Re: A question about composing

Try these E minor key tunes and song. Michael Gorman uses E minor frequently to achieve a somewhat eire feeling to the tune. For example, Strayaway Child and King of the Fairies (Sligo Champion CD). His fiddle solos on "Leprechaun" (Margaret Barry CD, Queen of the Gypsies) is a very good example of same and is perhaps the most "scary" of above sited examples. I find tunes in E minor somewhat haunting myself and am drawn to them.

So check it out.

Re: A question about composing

I suppose I should have phrased that question a little more clearly. My experience with composers both in and out of the traditional idiom is that they generally write tunes for on of two reasons. Either they are payed to compose something for someone and the customer will give them some guidelines about what to write, or they have an idea for something already in mind and just spend some time fleshing it out. As far as traditional music goes this means that they already have some well developed ideas for the melody before they start.

From what I’ve seen of your tunes, what I can guess is that you have something that you want to name a tune, then you get the whistle out, noodle through some notes, write them down and then post the result here for critique. There’s nothing inherently wrong with doing that I suppose, it just seems inefficient. It’s also why your tunes, to me, feel like they aren’t going anywhere. They just noodle around until they end.

It’s great that you want to write tunes but it will pay dividends in the future if you learn more about the style you are trying to write in, as well as some basic music theory.

Posted .

Re: A question about composing

@kellie:

"A scary or mysterious tone…." I don’t know how much you know about the modal scales (‘modes’) used in Irish music, but the one known as the Mixolydian mode has a slightly spooky element effectively built into it. I’ll elaborate (though it would help here if you can actually read sheet music):

I’ll start by mentioning the well-known jigs The Kesh ( https://thesession.org/tunes/55 ) and The Irish Washerwoman ( https://thesession.org/tunes/92 ). On sheet music, these tunes are written with one sharp (#). They are straightforward tunes in G Major. Importantly, they end on the note G: they are, so to speak, in orbit ‘about’ the note G, and are brought eventually to rest on that note as if by gravity. An uncomplicated G Major tune, too, will always be notated on sheet music with one sharp (though not every tune written with one sharp is in G Major). In short - these tunes look like G Major tunes, they sound like G Major tunes, and they *are* G Major tunes, just as would appear on the packet.

Things are rather different with the jig The Blarney Pilgrim ( https://thesession.org/tunes/1811 ). It is written with one sharp; it doesn’t convey the ‘under-the-weather’ feeling that minor scales, including the Dorian and Aeolian modal scales in Irish music, characteristically transmit; the second part of the tune can pretty well be said to be in G Major, and indeed ends on the G; and yet, and yet, there’s something ‘not quite right’ about the tune, if one is trying hard to believe it is a G Major tune. This is because it isn’t one. The last note of the tune is not the G but the bottom D, and one realises that the tune has actually been ‘about’ that note all the time. It is not in fact in G Major, but in D Mixolydian.

Mixolydian tunes routinely give me the impression (personal, possibly very subjective) that they are expressing one thing as camouflage to conceal another thing - this making for feelings of suspense, of something being deliberately withheld or held back, of (again) things being ‘not quite right’. If, by way of example, I were to select or compose a theme tune in the trad vein to accompany a movie clip of a lone ranger/cowboy/lawman going up a crooked gulch where round any corner he might suddenly come face to face with all the Indians or outlaws or whoever, I would probably choose one in the Mixolydian mode to express brooding menace or the chap’s apprehension. There are other tunes that I can imagine would actually be a lot better for such purposes than The Blarney Pilgrim, while sharing the same characteristic Mixolydian elements. These include:

Port Na BPucai ( https://thesession.org/tunes/1811 )
The Blackbird (The Bothy Band, YouTube) ( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=328wZ5jo_G8 )

Idir Deighric ‘gus Breo ( https://thesession.org/tunes/2173 )

(The above does not purport to be a full treatise on the Mixolydian mode, just one particular way in…)

Re: A question about composing

Thanks Wesley I’ll probably get better in the future I’m just trying my best do you have any advice to make it sound more like a reel?πŸ™‚

Re: A question about composing

You are missing the point. If you are trying to write a reel and you don’t know how to make it sound like a reel, then you shouldn’t be writing reels. Or you should experiment until you get it right. I’ve already said my piece. Give it 5 or 6 years of playing and listening to the music, then give composing another shot.

Posted .

Re: A question about composing

It’s not a question of which notes to add/delete/change (or exactly how close your fingers should be to the whistle), but rather that the general reel (or jig) feeling must be present. Compose as many tunes as you want, please do. I have composed a number of tunes myself, and if I’ve come up with something that doesn’t really sound like a proper jig/reel/whatever - well, maybe it wasn’t meant to sound like one in the first place?

If you’re happy with your tune (whatever kind of tune it is), great! Don’t change it because someone else says you should.

Re: A question about composing

Thanks Jeff and Wesley I’ll keep trying and experimenting.

Re: A question about composing

Or just leave it as it is. It’s not the end of the world.

Learn a bunch of other tunes in the meantime. Tunes you like, that seem popular, or that someone else suggests. Don’t forget tunes in same key (Edor) to get an idea of what is generally done on flute/whistle.

Re: A question about composing

Kellie,

I sent you a message about composition tips.

Re: A question about composing

Thanks Jim!

Re: A question about composing

Not a whistle player myself, but quite hard to make any reel sound spooky, I’d think! Much easier if you write a slow air, and get someone to do a bass drone in your main key. Also use "note bending" to advantage, (think "The Lonesome Boatman" for example, tho’ not sure how you can write that into ABC!)
If recording yourself, you can use various settings in, e.g. Garageband, to get special effects: I as a piano player have used what I call "swirly piano" to great spooky effect, tho’ unfortunately you cannot entirely replicate this in a live session.

Re: A question about composing

X: 2
T:Cricket in the Choir Room
R: reel
M: 4/4
L: 1/8
K:D
GA|:BEED EGFG | EGAB AGED | BEED FEDG| AEFD EFGA |
BEED EGFG | EGAB AGED | BEED FEDG | FEGA GFE2 :|
|:edfe fgba | gedB AGAB | edfe dBAB | dega ede2 |
|edfe fgba | gedB AGAB | edfe dBAB | AGFD EDE2 :|

πŸ™‚

Re: A question about composing

I think it’s possible to make a reel sound spooky. For instance if you slow Cooley’s down enough it could be the theme for a horror movie. On the other hand, at that point it doesn’t sound much like a reel.