Diary of a project, part 1: Beginning

January 17, 2017


Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by! I'm going to do something a little different, for me at least, over the next few posts. I'll be documenting the creation of a new track from start to finish right here in my blog. At the very least, the exercise will enable me to examine what goes on in my own mind, warts and all, when I'm "engaged in the creative process", as they say. So here goes...


The Idea

In early December I tweeted that I wasn't going to start another project until after the holidays. I really did mean that when I said it, but then I became sort of possessed by the drive to work on an idea that I've had for a long time. I've always been intrigued by the concept of taking a piece of classical music and doing something modern and interesting with it. I'm not talking about the "Fifth of Beethoven" kind of thing (ugh!) but something that, hopefully, the original composer would have approved of. An example of this would be Isao Tomita's electronic reworking of Debussy's music in his recording entitled "Snowflakes Are Dancing". Debussy would have liked what he did, I think. (If you've never heard of that recording, you should definitely check it out!)

One of my favorite composers of classical piano music, besides Debussy, is Frederic Chopin. (By the way, the photo on this post is the man himself!) Two of his preludes are my particular favorites, partly because they're within my technical ability to actually play. You'll forgive me I'm sure if I don't reveal which ones I'm talking about until a later date.



The first order of business is to "audition" my two DAWs (Digital Audio Workstations) and decide which one I'm going to use. The two that I have are Ableton Live 9 Standard and MAGIX Music Maker Premium 2017.

After manually creating a MIDI file of the first 15 or so measures of the 1st prelude, I roamed through Ableton trying to find a beat that would go well with the music. It made me dizzy. This is my biggest complaint about Ableton: it's really hard to find a beat if you're looking for a specific style. Clips and devices just aren't organized or named in a very intuitive way, for this kind of project at least. So I hopped over to MM Premium and took a look.

Ah, much better! MM's loops are grouped into what are called "soundpools", which roughly correspond to Ableton's packs but are organized by genre. This saved me time by letting me skip over styles I don't think would work, such as techno and drum-and-bass. After some trial and slightly hilarious error, I found about six promising beats, including a "mellow" hip-hop loop that sounded surprisingly cool.

I started out with a tempo of 90 bpm, but slowed it down to 75. The tempo of the original piece is "largo", which translates to 40-60 bpm (!) but I think 75 might work.

I'm not sure if I'll keep the piano as the instrument but I'll leave it for now.


Stay tuned for part 2...



Photo downloaded from website www.sheetmusicdirect.com.

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