Year 4 Semester 1 Portfolio

This portfolio is a summary of the first semester of my final year at ECU/WAAPA.

This semester has been unusually tricky for me, not with regard to the tasks at hand particularly, but with regard to summoning the willpower and creativity needed for both assignments and miscellaneous work, and deadlines have been more or less the sole motivator during a time where for one reason or another, I have found it difficult to stay stimulated and energetic. Occasional onsets of back pain have not helped my mood, nor have technical issues that have prevented me from utilising the software most familiar to me (Cakewalk Express) that I have traditionally used for the last 10+ years to write my music.

All these frustrating mental and physical limitations accounted for, I believe I am still improving certain skills such as my ability to write sheet music, a skill that will prove useful later this year with the arrival of my recital. I have branched out into new harmonic territory, studied the work of numerous composers, and due to the technical issues have not been working in the constrictive paradigm of General MIDI so that I may create pieces entirely in a modern guise of composition. (Nonetheless I have included in this folio two General MIDI-centred projects that I worked on during the break between this semester and the last.)

[Google Drive folder]


James Paddock

4th Year Semester 1 Portfolio

Edith Cowan University / WAAPA

Student Number: 10350995

Contents

  • Music Techniques 5: Twentieth Century Harmony
    • “Unrequited”
    • “Undecided”
  • Realisations EP
  • Work-in-Progress/Other
    • Collaboration with others: Undertale: Romance Route
      • “Fat Controller”
      • “Tea Shop”
      • “Playtime”
    • Collaboration with others: Zoran Cunjak
    • Duke It Out In D.C. MIDI Pack
    • Revolution! MIDI Pack
  • Additional Research (Presentations)
  • Recital Plans

 


Music Techniques 5: Twentieth Century Harmony

“Unrequited”

[Score – PDF] – [Score – SIB] – [MIDI]

This piano-only piece was written for my first Music Techniques assignment. Its tempo, which seesaws between strictness and looseness, is denoted very stringently by the articulation markings, metric modulations and use of fermata. At its heart, it is an extremely “unstable” piece of music, constantly changing its pace and the ideas it chooses to centre on, and helped in being non-static by the occasional irregularity in the rhythm (notes not on the beat are accented to make the rhythm more ambiguous).

Bar 62 utilises a polyrhythm of 15/8 (in the treble) over 7/8 (in the bass). Rhythmic augmentation is used in bar 48 to suddenly speed up what the player is doing in the bass as a lead-in to a metric modulation that speeds the piece up quite dramatically (bar 50 [E]). Cross-bar rhythms were employed after feedback from two lecturers assured me that these would be a useful device, so I utilised them at bar 42, pushing the rhythm of a previously-established phrase and letting it interleave the bar lines. Isorhythm was planned to be used but never employed in the final score.

Non-retrogradable rhythm and melody is employed in bar 70 [F]. The rapid bassline is symmetrical in both its melodic contour and its placement of accents/staccato (dot) markings.

Pedal notes are used, perhaps expectedly since they seem to be a hallmark of my style, but these are especially present with the low B♭s during the section at bar 70 [F], and the Ds through bars 76-81.

Polytonality is employed during the introduction [A] when the whole tone scale in both its possible transpositions are played simultaneously. The whole tone scale is also then utilised for a good portion of the piece.

The melodic passage at bar 34 [C] is modally changed when it is repeated in the whole tone scale at bar 42 [D].

The piece focuses a lot on unusual chordal choices, like 7th, suspended and augmented chords. I make use of chord planing, such as the gradually building non-tertian chords based on the major seventh interval in the introductory passage of the piece, although a more explicit example with suspended chords is found in bar 20 and again at bar 90.

Metric modulation is employed to efficiently transition the tempo from faster to slower. The modulations occur at bars 12, 21, 24, 50 and 90.

I also added some light-hearted articulation notes, such as: “stormily”, “with anger”, and “let this hang almost forever” on the final fermata. Percy Grainger’s employment of such notes in The Warriors served as a cue for me to do so here.

“Undecided”

[Score – PDF] – [Score – SIB] – [MIDI]

My second venture into the paradigm of 20th Century harmony, a piece for piano, plucked cello and violin. I pulled inspiration from two select Schoenberg works to put this piece together. His atonal works have the piano at the center, and the outlying instrumentation serves as a bedrock to harmonically recontextualise the piano’s melodic content in interesting and ever-changing ways.

Set theory analysis was used to compose this piece – I elected to use it instead of Schoenberg-style twelve-tone rows so that I would have access to specific intervals, rather than feel a necessity to cycle through all twelve tones of the chromatic scale with every new development, and therefore dilute any melodic ideas I might have come up with. I do not particularly enjoy much of this fiercely atonal style of music regardless (irrespective of whether Schoenberg would have called it “atonal” or not, it is still a good deal too dissonant and unfocused for my personal tastes), and I feel going with set theory analysis provided some interesting results that still fit the specifications of the assignment. There is a huge amount of dissonance in this piece regardless of my choice, of course, but this type of dissonance seems to me less “clinical”, and like I was able to apply my imagination in more creative ways than twelve-tone rows would have allowed me.

The opening bar of the piece introduce the tone set {0, 1, 6, 7} right off the bat, with the cello playing it in a descending fashion, and the piano playing it in an ascending one. This tone set remains in play for almost the entirety of the piece.

The symmetrical tone set of {0, 1, 6, 7} allowed me in many ways to place the harsh, unsettling intervals of the minor second and the tritone in relation to one another, as well as to make use of ordinary fourths and fifths. (0 and 7 form a fifth, or a fourth if it is inverted.)

The only other tone set employed in the piece is { 0, 1, 4, 5, 8, 9 }, a tone set built on minor seconds, but instead the minor seconds are split up by multiple minor thirds instead of a single tritone, allowing me to be a little more adventurous. This tone sets enters at bar 12 and plays some “solo” runs in the middle of the piano before departing sharply after 4 bars have elapsed. It enters again at bar 20 with the introduction of the violin, playing for another 8 bars before disappearing.

These two tone sets possess somewhat limited transposition, with the larger set having the more limited number of transpositions (four) than the smaller set (six). They occur in all sorts of transpositions throughout the piece, as well as their inverted and retrograded forms (I was in fact not so concerned with keeping the intervals in  their specific preordained order in the set, and in fact certain melodies like the violin line at bar 20 are stepwise in the scale, rather than following the precise order of intervals), and frequently they overlap themselves, using one note as a pivot point for a new transposition of the interval set. These pivot points are annotated on the score with the previous “position” of the tone being bracketed, and placed above the note’s new “position” in the tone set. Octave jumping is also employed  to give the melodies additional verticality (see violin line at bar 30).

I implemented two instances of instrumental doubling where the tone sets overlap, as little “nuggets” for the keen listener to pick out. It occurs first in bar 12 when the cello and piano play two notes (0 and 1 in the smaller tone set) in unison, before the larger tone set is first introduced. In bar 25, steps 4 and 5 of the larger tone set, played by the violin, and steps 6 and 7 of the smaller tone set, played by the piano, for a brief moment again harmonise two notes in unison.

Dense note clusters are used to create unsettling, dissonant block chords, used in bar 28 and then again in bar 30. The chord that plays in the piano in this bar uses every note in the {0, 1, 6, 7} tone set, resulting in two tritone chords played a minor second apart – this is also octave-doubled, resulting in an eight-note chord. I have found that it is very difficult to play.

This piece is short compared to “Unrequited“, clocking in at 1:30, but took quite some time to put together all the same. On reflection, it is perhaps missing the point of set theory analysis by instead having it as the entire basis of the composition – but this approach was nonetheless quite challenging to undertake, and knowing that I ought to allow myself even more freedom with the process for next time comes as some relief. It has a simple ABA arch form, repeating the piece’s first four bars at the end, with an extra decorative F# note in the piano bass clef to bring the piece to a conclusion.

The title of this piece and the above are callbacks to the piece “Unresolved” that I wrote in 2014 for a composers’ concert. This piece also was an exercise in me pushing my usual scope of harmonic and melodic content into new, expansive areas, making extensive use of suspended chords and harmony and melody that refused to resolve in traditional ways.


Realisations EP

On March 4, 2017, I elected to publicly release the EP/album project that I worked on as part of my Sound Production unit the previous semester, for free streaming and download on SoundCloud.

Labelled under the genre of “Instrumental Rock”, this EP features three tracks that are upbeat and diverse, featuring pretty traditional rock instrumentation. Written mostly with assorted keyboard parts front and center, they are relatively simple compositions, and the whole thing shouldn’t take more than 15 minutes of your time to listen to, but the individual pieces very much have my heart and soul in them, each one encompassing a “realisation” of my potential as a music producer and creator – potential that may have yet to be fully unleashed, as my studies of music are still ongoing as of this writing, but all the same I feel are worthy of sharing with the world.

This EP was produced throughout the second semester of my third year at the WA Academy of Performing Arts, as part of my Sound Production unit. With the support of lecturer Lee Buddle, and that of family and friends, I was able to put this instrumental EP together in a relatively short span of time, as well as complete the mixing and mastering more or less on my own. I pulled most of this off in about 2 weeks, am relatively happy with the result, as I largely had to explore territory that I wasn’t familiar with, and planning for my recital also got in the way for the majority of the time I had to put this together. If I’d had more time to spend on the mastering phase, I would have done so.

These will be songs that no one has heard before, although they are a few years old now. They started life in the form of General MIDI songs which I then souped up with Propellerhead Reason and the help of my father Neil and his friend Steve – both play guitar on this album in tracks 1 and 3. This is, in other words, the first official release I’ve made to feature live recorded instruments, aside from the human voice.

Personnel:

  • James Paddock – Writing, programming, mixing, mastering, all keyboard parts
  • Neil Paddock – Guitar, bass and vocal recording (track 3)
  • Steve Webb – Guitar recording (track 1)

Gear:

  • Asus F550L laptop, Windows 10
  • Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 interface
  • RME Fireface 800
  • Line6 POD v2
  • Focusrite Saffire USB 6 external soundcard
  • BOSS BX-600 six-channel stereo mixer
  • Vantage VM-10 signal booster
  • Korg Krome keyboard (61-key)
  • AKG 190 ES vocal mic
  • Shure SM-57
  • Gibson Les Paul electric guitar
  • Fender Telecaster electric guitar
  • Fender Stratocaster
  • Squier Precision bass guitar

Software:

  • Propellerhead Reason 8.3.2
  • Logic Pro X
  • ProTools 11

Work-In-Progress/Other

Collaboration with others: Undertale: Romance Route

This project, a not-for-profit fan product, is a “dating simulator” spin-off of the highly popular adventure game Undertale released in 2015.

I was offered a position on the project through a Facebook message from Josh Sam Nich, a WAAPA student in the jazz guitar course, who had seen my recital posters and was seemingly interested in the video game aesthetic of my music, and had apparently also been recommended me by former composition student Pippa Lester. I had to fill out an online application form, giving Josh and the team a few details about myself, including ways to contact me like my Skype ID. I was accepted onto the team shortly after submitting my application.

The project is a non-profit fan creation – I initially negotiated towards receiving commission of some kind, due to anticipating that I’d be preoccupied with other things this semester, particularly recital preparation, but eventually settled on contributing to the project purely for fun and to stretch my creative muscles, as well as having an extra something creative to my name to include in this folio.

I liaised with the musicians on the project through a series of Skype groups (one for the main body of talk on the project, one specifically for the musicians of the project, and one for “out-of-context” chat), who gave me tips and feedback on the drafts I sent through to them. The existing pieces for the project all pull inspiration from the work of Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale and all its assets (music, graphics, writing, etc.), so I listened to the soundtrack of the game to gain musical prompts of my own. Currently I’m still refining the following tracks, and they may not be my final contributions to the project.

Josh and I met in the campus café for lunch and talks about where the project currently was and what our contributions to it should look like. He also gave me a playable demo of the game to give me an idea of what it actually was like to play – like most other “dating simulators”, the game world is conveyed through static background images, with mostly-static cutouts of characters overlaid, with the conversations and the scene narrative being divulged through paragraphs of text printed onto the lower half of the screen. I was told that the music tracks should ideally last anywhere between 1:30 and 2:30 in duration, or longer if need be, and should loop seamlessly.

Note: Everything below is still very much a draft – expect dry/unrefined mixes, unfinished melodies, etc. These tracks were all created with Propellerhead Reason and many of its preset patches.

“Fat Controller”

This piece was written in preparation for a meeting with Josh. The piece was written quickly, primarily using Reason’s Electronic MIDI Instrument feature – a way of routing the currently loaded patch on a MIDI keyboard through to an audio track – to place everything in. This included the drums at first, which like everything else were recorded in manually, before I exchanged them for sequenced MIDI drums, due to their timing being a little offbeat. As I continued work on this and the other two pieces, I decided that quantizing the material resulted in a much more rhythmically sound piece of music than if I simply left it unquantized or only partially-quantized. Whether this leaves the music feeling more robotic or “sanitized” I suppose is up for debate. With these pieces I want to preserve a certain “human” quality about them, due to other pieces on this project by the other musicians actually featuring live instrumentation recorded at WAAPA’s studio.

The specification for this piece was unique in this case because (a) it was to accompany a specific character from the game rather than a particular scene, (b) the character that this piece was meant to accompany did not yet have a solid design. It was specified to me that I should imagine the mayor to be similar in appearance and demeanor to the character of Sir Topham Hatt (aka the “Fat Controller”) from Thomas the Tank Engine. Instruments like the tuba with its low and large sounds, are used to emphasise this.

“Tea Shop”

This piece uses elements from Toby Fox’s tracks “Shop“, “Bergentruckung” and “Determination“. Scenic inspiration was found through the background art elements in the project’s shared Google Drive folder, which had various tea shop scenes and even schematics.

The specification for this piece was that a harp should be used to impart the regality of the shop owner (the former king of the underground world, before he moved to the above-ground human world to open a tea shop), and that his deep voice should be emulated by a bassoon or contrabass. Additionally it was suggested that the aesthetic of the shop could be echoed by way of Asian instrumentation. Orchestral percussion such as cymbals and gongs were used to convey the regal background of the setting, while wind chimes and crotales were used to create a temperate, welcoming atmosphere with a vaguely meditative edge.

While this track was met with excitement from the rest of the project members, as it was the first piece to use motivic material from the original game, the composition of it has so far proven a little taxing – I was unsure about the precise nature of the melodic lines, especially at first reckoning that they sounded too grounded in rock or metal “riff”, even going far as to think they sounded “Metallica-ish”. However I persevered with the traditional instrumentation and ended up with something quite pleasing to the ears and more or less meeting the specification. The percussion in this piece was virtually an accident, but all the same it lifted the music up in ways that have probably salvaged the piece for me on a personal level.

“Playtime”

This piece was written using Toby Fox’s track “Home” as inspiration, with its simple guitar-driven leitmotif at the centre of the composition.

Like the above track, it was specified that I should work in a harp, or some other kind of regal instrument, and a flute should be used for the sweeter voice of the library owner (like above, this character was formerly Queen of the underground world).

Initially this piece was quite heavy on high legato strings, making it sound too “dramatic” and “high-class”, as the atmosphere needed to be conveyed was that of a pleasant, kid-friendly, “backwater” library. I was encouraged to change this, and I removed the strings almost entirely, using a flute ensemble instead to convey more or less the same “fading” chordal line that I had before.

It was also suggested that I slow the track down dramatically (by 50% – which would put it from 120 down to 60bpm), although I conceded and discovered that slowing it down from 120 to 90bpm gave the piece a much more placid character and less of an urgent edge.

Again, coming up with specific melodies of my own was a little troublesome for one reason or another, and my use of the bass guitar in this piece was an off-the-cuff decision that I elected to keep. I am sure there are timing and mixing issues with it, perhaps made more obvious by the often rhythmic nature of the bass guitar as an instrument, but these and many other details will be sorted out once I have received feedback from the team.

Collaboration with others: Zoran Cunjak

Towards the end of the previous semester, I received a Facebook message from Zoran Cunjak, an affilitate of Sean Bernard who had been teaching me for Principal Studies – a WAAPA graduate and skilled opera vocalist with a background in heavy and progressive rock and metal (formerly vocalist for Sean’s band Kripke’s Illusion) who in recent months has graduated from his opera studies and is looking for new projects. He and I met at Hillary’s Boat Harbour on November 20, 2016.

Both of us discovered that we share many of the same preferences and philosophies when it comes to music. We both enjoy Nightwish‘s music, and agreed that we should aim to take the music we write together in this general direction. He also mentioned that his favorite band are an alternative rock group called Siddharta, hailing from Slovenia, his home country. I also volunteered some albums I had bought and shared them with him.

He is a busy man who despite his attachment to Australia, has familial ties in Slovenia, so his time to put focus on composing his own music is relatively little, but he is nonetheless highly keen to collaborate and produce an album with me.

I have hopes that this project is the start of a sustainable friendship and collaboration, resulting in performing original heavy metal music infused with electronics at live venues.

Note: As with the Undertale: Romance Route tracks above, all of the below is heavily work-in-progress.

“Minefield”

Version 1:

Version 2:

Note: Version 2 of this is an improved rendition, done with the assistance of composer friend Sarah “esselfortium” Mancuso.

This track is one I initially had lying around unfinished. During Zoran’s visit to my home, we had been discussing the Nightwish track “Bye Bye Beautiful“, and in the midst of this discussion, I found this track on my computer – one that happened to take inspiration directly from the same track. Zoran was highly enthusiastic and we both agreed this should be one of the candidates for our eventual album.

The distorted guitars in this song are a result of me applying a new Reason patch, “Shreddage“, to melody lines I had already written months previous. The result varies in quality across the majority of the track.

The middle section of this piece features a dramatic tempo change, something I have not used much in my traditional compositions, although I think it befits the aesthetic of “progressive” heavy metal music.

A friend of mine has assisted me with some preliminary mixing and compositional clean-up, although whether I will incorporate her changes into the final mix is something I have yet to decide or raise with Zoran. You can hear the changes in Version 2 of the track, linked above.

Lyrics have been penned for this song, and a version of this song with guide vocals exists, but here I have chosen to omit it for clarity.

“Substitute Sunlight”

This piece I began writing for Zoran shortly after our meeting at my home. We had discussed various important musical staples and exchanged views on what our sound should be – melody-driven, with little emphasis on embellishing the music beyond reasonable standards, and stirringly emotive in its overall simplicity – using electronics to aid the compositional process, rather than make it and the resulting music needlessly complex – we should aim to be able to reproduce this music live.

I took inspiration from another Nightwish track, “Meadows of Heaven“, in order to write this. It, like the Nightwish piece, is midtempo, ballad-like, and in the key of Gm, with guitar embellishing the piano at the forefront.

At the 3:12 mark there is a sudden and dramatic melodic/rhythmic change-up. Zoran and I briefly exchanged the idea of either omitting the idea or splitting it off into its own composition – one where I can freely exercise my creative habits in a kind of “solo” performance, should I get the chance to play with Zoran live. I am not sure what will come of this passage just at the moment, but I would definitely like to expand on it.

Lyrics have been written for this piece but, as with everything else, not yet finalised.

Duke It Out In D.C. MIDI Pack

[Full YouTube playlist] – [BandCamp page] – [Project ZIP file]

A project quite some time in the making, having seen its official release this May. This project was posited to me back in 2013 by a fellow online forumgoer named Robin “NightFright” Reisinger, whose name I recognised from his fanmade work for Duke Nukem 3D (DN3D). I was certainly keen to write some material for another iconic set of levels that was lacking in original music of its own – the “Plutonia MIDI Pack” and “Revolution! MIDI Pack” community projects I had previously headed sought to achieve the same thing – fill the musical void in a famous levelset with creative input from composers who had played the levels, and furthermore to establish a resource of musical material for future modders to work with. It was not discussed whether composition for this MIDI Pack for “Duke It Out In D.C.” should be outsourced to the Doom or Duke communities, as only a handful of tracks were needed, and NightFright cited my Harmony MIDI Pack project – one involving just my own musical work – as what I should strive for regarding this project’s structure and quality.

Some time elapsed, during which I began my Bachelor’s Degree of Composition and Music Technology at WAAPA. The project remained on my “to-do” list, but of course projects and commitments at university stalled it and quite a few of my other personal projects, particularly where working with the Doom community, and of course the stringently limiting General MIDI format of composition was concerned.

In 2016 I set up commissions for my MIDI compositions. When NightFright approached me again to ask about the status of the “DCmidi” project and whether I would be on board with the idea of getting it out before the year’s end, I agreed to giving it my best shot, given that a few years had passed since the original project’s proposition, and I had only a handful of tracks to show for it. I introduced the concept of my commissions, telling him that due to university commitments, I could not really afford to be spending a huge amount of time on MIDI-related projects unless I was getting paid for them, although I was willing to make an exception for this project given that he’d proposed it no fewer than 3 years prior to the arrangement of my commissions. Nonetheless, NightFright very selflessly provided me with his patronage, so he has my eternal thanks for his graciousness. Not what I was expecting!

The final month of the year, in which I pushed to get this project out the door, was however fraught with some creative difficulty. Not all the tracks were “resonating” with me in the way that they might usually do. The trial-and-error nature of setting the MIDI loop points was tough to endure. It didn’t help that a creative dry spell was besetting me around this time, and I’d just come from a particularly demanding year at university. Despite this, I powered through, working on the project almost every day and completing as much as I could manage using what creativity I could muster. Perhaps
dialling back my inclination to fill the songs with complex melodies and solos, as many may attest is my traditional compositional approach, was a bit of a shock to the system. Not that I don’t enjoy composing largely ambient or subdued tunes, but all the same something was different, more demanding about this project, than many of the others I’ve been a part of.

Each track in this set was born from my close listening to and memorisation of the musical stylings of Lee Jackson, that is, his work from the beginning in DN3D‘s original 4 episodes, plus the recent (and awesome) Alien World Order episode for which he also composed. Some inspiration was also taken from the works of J. M. Ramsey, composer for Duke: Caribbean, and whose darkly orchestral style seen in The Gate‘s soundtrack also shows up in a few select spots here. The result is my approach to the music of Jackson and Ramsey almost in equal measure (Jackson took precedence, I would definitely say), capturing as much of the “feel” from those composers’ works as was possible. A lot of the tracks are gloomy and understated, many having a menacing, military feel to them, and gone are the complex melodies and noodly synth and guitar solos that make up a good portion of my earlier work, like in the Back to Saturn X trilogy. There’s even a couple of “ambient” tracks in here – no hard-hitting rock or metal as such, but all the same I hope there is an adequate amount of catchiness and moodiness to be heard in the tunes, and that they don’t grate on the eardrums given the repetition that will occur through casually playing through Duke It Out In DC‘s arguably lengthy levels.

I tested all the MIDIs extensively in-game to get a feel for them and to establish what needed changing, whether it was instrument volume/panning, the point of looping being too abrupt, or whether the music itself was simply too overstated for a DN3D level. Generally I found I had to greatly dial back the number of complex melodies and rhythms I used in order to convey the mood of the levels efficiently – with music composition for Doom I generally have much freer rein to do what I want creatively. Perhaps the monsters being slightly tougher and the levels being somewhat larger and more exploration-focused that means the conveyance of the proper atmosphere is absolutely paramount in DN3D, whereas in Doom, a game which featured a diverse set of musical genres, from heavy metal to spooky ambience to even salsa, the levels are more about blasting through a more abstract landscape and enjoying the mindless slaughter along the way. Composing for DN3D, therefore, requires more thought to be put into the tracks, such that they can provoke deeper thought and focus in the player while they explore more believably real locales infested with a sinister alien presence.

I implemented loop point events for each track (every one contains an “initbar” of 1 beat, as per Lee Jackson’s “extended MIDI” specification) – which was a pretty painstaking process. Looping MIDIs can be extremely fickle in their behavior where the smoothness of the loop point is concerned – notes will hang even if they terminate quite a few ticks before the loop point, and of course patch changes had to be instated for tracks that looped repeatedly past a patch change event. And of course there is no real way to “test” the looping point of a MIDI (that I know of) without literally just listening to the whole track in-game. Hours were spent just listening to my work, which I tend not to do for fear of getting sick of it, especially before the end product is done.

The OGG versions of the tracks were rendered using the Arachno soundfont and the registered version of MIDI Converter Studio by ManiacTools. Markers were then added to the OGG renders using Audacity‘s metadata editor, in order to establish the loop points in these renders of the song. This process was arduous and my method to it could easily have been much more refined if I had opted to look up the software and precision measurements needed to establish effective loop points, rather than relying on crude guesswork and rudimentary calculations to convert timestamps to samples.

Track Listing:

  1. The Bar-Strangled Spanner (Title) – 4:16
  2. Liberty or Duke – 1:51
  3. Samurai Pizzicato – 2:42
  4. Unknown Data – 3:20
  5. Night Watch – 3:50
  6. Burning Flag – 2:25
  7. Sneak Peek – 2:41
  8. Sluice Gate – 4:11
  9. Wrecked ‘Em – 3:24
  10. One Bad Dude – 2:38
  11. A Secret Place – 3:34
  12. Roads to Nowhere (Bonus) – 3:10

Revolution! MIDI Pack

[Project ZIP file] – [Info] – [Wiki page]

Acknowledgement: The below text has been appropriated from Tristan “Eris Falling” Clark’s doomwiki.org entry on this project – he has my many thanks for painstakingly documenting my work for the Doom-playing community, and for being a part of my musical projects on many occasions.

The Revolution! MIDI Pack is a project started by me in December 2015 – a full soundtrack created by various musicians of Doomworld.com community musicians in 2016 for Thomas van der Velden‘s fanmade levelset for Doom (1993), named Revolution!. Like its predecessor, the Plutonia MIDI Pack, the project was spearheaded by myself (under the online forum nickname Jimmy), who was also the sole author of the Harmony MIDI Pack for another of van der Velden’s WADs. The project file comes with two add-ons to the game, one which adds all of the custom music written by the community members who enlisted in the project, and one which displays the track name and its respective author at the start of each level. The original MIDI files are also included in the project ZIP file, as well as some unused tracks.

Development started quickly with an alpha available after a month, however it soon slowed, and the final release appeared on 29 November, 2016, after I’d concluded my studies for the year. It was released simultaneously with the TV1998 MIDI Pack, which contained 24 tracks for TV1998, an earlier levelset also authored by van der Velden.

During the development, the project caught the attention of van der Velden, who in addition to making a custom title screen graphic (seen in the YouTube thumbnail above), also contributed a brand new level, which was included in the project’s final release – along with a custom MIDI track to go along with it, one I created in collaboration with Gus “Alfonzo” Knezevich, who has multiple entries in this compilation and has worked with me before on similar projects.

Track Listing:

  1. Tzimidzi Greets You! (Title) – James Paddock & CWolf – 0:17
  2. Freighthoppers – James Paddock – 3:04
  3. Trash – Gus Knezevich – 2:41
  4. Bystreet – Akse & James Paddock – 3:33
  5. Westopolis – Viscra Maelstrom – 3:12
  6. Last Resort – James Paddock – 2:43
  7. Wasted – Adam Post – 2:26
  8. Forgotten Valley – Henri Vuortenvirta – 3:39
  9. Hangar 7 – James Paddock – 3:24
  10. Phalarope Shuffle – yakfak – 3:04
  11. Mint Petal – Viscra Maelstrom – 3:41
  12. Smooth Infiltrator – Chris Kassap & James Paddock – 4:53
  13. Midnight Dinner – CWolf & James Paddock – 2:38
  14. Haze – Tristan Clark – 3:07
  15. Battle of Chaos – Tristan Clark – 3:04
  16. Sappers & Moles – yakfak – 3:02
  17. The Revenant – KevinHEZ – 5:56
  18. Mining for Paranoia – Akse – 4:58
  19. Acidic Lymph – Vladislav Baymurzin – 2:59
  20. Gargoyles – James Paddock – 4:27
  21. Black Colossus – Hellish Godzilla & James Paddock – 3:27
  22. Unearth – Gus Knezevich – 2:06
  23. Empyrean Shard – Vladislav Baymurzin – 3:08
  24. Ancient Enclosure – Viscra Maelstrom – 2:48
  25. Beneath the Stars – Tristan Clark – 3:31
  26. Keepsake Fever – Gus Knezevich – 3:34
  27. Reach Within – Jame Paddock – 3:17
  28. Clay – James Paddock – 2:57
  29. I Sacrifice – Hellish Godzilla, James Paddock & Gus Knezevich – 4:00
  30. Souls Trapped Between Rotten Bricks – Vladislav Baymurzin – 3:01
  31. The Forgotten God – Tristan Clark – 4:07
  32. Redback – Gus Knezevich & James Paddock – 3:35
  33. King Roo – Gus Knezevich – 3:08
  34. Evil on Tour – Gus Knezevich & James Paddock – 4:01
  35. Imp’s Tradition (Intermission) – James Paddock & DoomLover234 – 0:52
  36. Why Settle For Colonel? (Victory) – yakfak – 2:14

Additional Research (Presentations)

Video Game Music and the work of Winifred Phillips

[Slides]

Winifred Phillips.

This presentation was given during Composition Workshop. I decided against presenting The Adventures of Square again during workshop and instead giving a (somewhat light-hearted) lecture on the aesthetics and limitations of video game music. I am glad I set foot on this course, as it exposed me to a great many resources (which I have outlined in the bibliography below) that proved to be a helpful glimpse into the technical aspect of video game music composition.

I was informed during the semester that the WAAPA Composers and the Game Design unit held on the Mt Lawley ECU campus have split ways, likely due to music no longer being a requirement for the game designers to include in their projects/assignments – indeed I had wondered why we had not met with this department again after first year with intent to find collaborators. This saddens me as the realm of video game music is one I want to continue to work within, and intend to work towards taking it to professional levels.

It is a complex field for sure, whom composers like Mick Gordon have mastered on a technical level to astonishing degrees. The video game composer has to work within an extremely “technically demanding format“, and has to bear in mind such restraints as whether music will be playing one track at a time, whether smooth fades between tracks will take place, whether the vertical aspects of the pieces will need to be brought in or ducked out at specific intervals (requiring every vertical layer of music to stand on in its own), and the aspect of seamless looping (which is crucial to any game for fear of losing the player’s total immersion in a highly interactive piece of multimedia) is one that demanded not one but two slides of content in my presentation. All of these restraints and technicalities will vary completely depending on the game project they are working on, but the best video game composers will “exploit the technology” and this has certainly resulting in some timeless video game soundtracks, that have not only contributed to the artistic quality of the game project in immeasurably fine ways, but become known as masterful collections of compositions in their own right, worthy of standalone, active listening outside of their intended context, as much as any piece of contemporary music is worthy of listening outside of a virtual world.

Bibliography:

  • Winifred Philips – A Composer’s Guide to Game Music
  • Michael Sweet – Writing Interactive Music for Video Games
  • Tim Summers – Understanding Video Game Music
  • Daniel Ross – Video Game Music (Classic FM Handy Guides)
  • “From Bits to Hits: Video Games Music Changes Its Tune” Karen Collins

Mick Gordon

[Slides] [Essay]

Mick Gordon.

This presentation was given as part of my Australian Music History assignment. Michael John “Mick” Gordon‘s music was extremely fun to research. A composer who is constantly innovating technically, working in the idiom of video game music with a heavy emphasis on heavy electric guitars and obscure synthesizers, he has created some groundbreaking works in recent times with titles such as Need for Speed 2, Wolfenstein: The New Order, and Doom (2016).

He has been described as “one of the gaming world’s rising music-composition stars”, and I went as far as to assert that the repeated success of his soundtracks is, arguably, helping to put Australia on the map in the world of video game composition.

He combines traditional song structures (believing a piece of music to have verse-like structures, chorus-like structures, and buildups and transitions into those structures is “the way music is intended to be treated”) with experimental electronic setups to create incredibly dynamic and versatile soundtracks. His use of extended musical techniques engages with the music technology available in the current time to capture as unique a sound as was heard back in 1993 with the score by Robert Prince  on the original Doom.

He has an endearing sense of larrikinism about his work, that traditionally Australian aura of light-hearted foolishness, able to have “a bit of fun” with his compositions while remaining confined to a strict daily schedule of 18-hour work days for 18 months a time, and having the propensity to end up “giggling like a child” as he embeds Satanic imagery into the spectrograms of his works (with intent to be met with controversy). This is the only overtly “Australian” thing I could find about his compositional approach, although all the same I found it fascinating to discuss his technical abilities and the ways in which he utilises the analogue equipment he collects.

If WAAPA’s composition department is to get more involved with the practice of video games again, which I personally feel it ought to if it intends to stay cosy with the ever-burgeoning entertainment industry of today, I would thoroughly recommend that Mick Gordon be called upon to talk to the composers about his work on Doom (2016), which might be his most groundbreaking achievement to date – winning Best Music and Sound Design at the 2016 Game Awards.

Bibliography:

Recital Plans

[Program Note]

With my recital from the year previous now standing as an example of what kind of event I am capable of organising, I am planning to take it to the next logical step. Rather than diverging too far from my original goals, I am aiming to put on what will essentially be a fully-fledged version of my 2016 recital.

The above program note was written for my Aesthetics and Compositional Practice assignment, written prospectively about the recital I have planned for this year. I have tentatively named the performance “Shapeland“, after the homeworld belonging to the titular character from my videogame “The Adventures of Square“, which two of the works from my 2016 recital were pulled from.

Again I am hoping get percussionists, singers, and other musicians involved – as many as are feasible, and I am currently working on the scores for the recital. I have a programme of sorts, though not a strict playing order at this stage, and whether all nine of these pieces will be played I am also not entirely sure of.

Again, I am primarily seeking to draw from my existing catalogue of music so that the “writing” phase is kept relatively straightforward. The pieces will likely stripped down, perhaps to their basic components, in order to keep preparation and rehearsal of them simple, and to spotlight different instrumentation for each piece during the performance, since the pieces are all quite different in terms of central timbre, melodic development, harmonic content, and rhythmic groove. Certain pieces may only be bass guitar/drum solos, while others will be larger-scale and mainly keyboard-based with perhaps myself and another keyboardist, or two. I will be sure to keep the energy levels of the performance in a generally fluctuating state so as to keep the audience interested and immersed in the fictional world of Shapeland that I hope these pieces will be able to develop.

Programme (tentative)

  • Crapchute (bass and drum groove)
  • Regormortiz (percussion ensemble)
  • Launch Time (keyboard solo)
  • Jet Your Own Pack (bass and drums)
  • LunarTech Fridge (keyboard-driven, percussion ensemble)
  • Trianger (percussion ensemble)
  • Pyramidine (percussion ensemble)
  • Udder Terror (guitar-driven, larger ensemble)
  • Oblongitude (keyboard-driven, larger ensemble)

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