Updated: Aug 15, 2018
These 3 EDM (electronic dance music) tips for composers will give your compositions for film or video games more life, motion and interest. These are super easy and quick to do and can be well worth the time to learn. Nothing is stopping you from applying this to sound design either!
Standalone music such as rock, rap, or electronic music has the added pressure of being an experience all on its own. When you look at music for video games, film or other media, it has the support of visuals to enhance the adventure.
What I'm getting at is that if you make music for films or games with the same intent that a music producer might have when making their next hit, you'll have a soundtrack in your hands that can be much more interesting on its own, not to mention in-game or on screen.
Sure, keeping a balance of power between what you see and what you hear is important, and that's exactly what you should keep in mind as you read through these tips.
An element in a piece of music that tends to have a dominant role is percussion. This governs the rhythm, keeps the tempo and highlights the BPM. This next bit is about a variation tip I learned from making EDM (Electronic Dance Music).
Having drum loops in music keeps things consistent and predictable (in a good way). With electronic music, how can people dance with a rhythm that's all over the place?
For music scores that are used in film or video games, it's about aligning the pace of the experience with what you're listening to in an immersive way
That's where variation comes in.
Listening to the same old loop of anything for an extended period of time is less immersive and more distractive.
Once you have a solid 4-8 bar loop of percussion it's time to duplicate and rearrange.
Doing this with subtlety is key as you want to keep it uniform with the rest of the track.
I like to go with a 1-2-1-3 pattern placement as it switches it up, keeps it on-topic and adds some spice to melody loops. The 4 unique drum patterns should add up to the length of the melody for the percussion variation to have its full effect. This leads to our next tip about melodies.
You'll notice the most catchy songs have a melody and/or a chorus that is:
Get it? E.D.M! Look, I couldn't pass up on this opportunity to use that acronym!
Okay, back to my point.
The problem with long, drawn-out melodies without any form of repetition is that they can be hard to memorize. And that's the key to establishing memories of a good movie or game with their musical counterpart... Repetition!
All while not overdoing it, make modified copies of your melody/chords if you plan on playing them back to back or even as they recur throughout the song.
When diving into a session to smash out your greatest composition ever you'll need to stay focused.
Splitting sound design and arrangement/writing into two separate sessions will help your workflow and keep things moving.
Abruptly stopping all the time to select instruments or create specific sounds for you to compose with will slow you down.
Getting back on track and finding out where you left off is time-consuming and sometimes confusing.
Entering into a session with a well-defined plan for what the objectives are will keep you organized and streamlined. Keep in mind that this may not be the go-to solution for every project, it all comes down to figuring out how advanced a piece of music will be and how much detail it may require.
I would say take all of this EDM advice with a grain of salt but please, take it with the three I've sprinkled on this article (at least for one of your projects)!
If you think these 3 composition tips were complete nonsense or if you found them interesting, let me know in the comments below! Whatever your thoughts are, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed.