My Writing Style Through The Years
Recently, I decided to take a look through all my past compositions to listen closely and discover what patterns there are in my writing style and whether there have been any developments in the past decade.
In previous blogs, I've written about how I tend to write quite minimal and progressive pieces of music but I've never actually sat down and listened to my music in one sitting and analysed it. Furthermore, I realised I had not properly back-dated my music. By doing these, I learned a few things about my writing style.
I've mentioned before how I take old ideas that I've written and then left, sticking them together to make a complete song at a later date. I had not realised how often I leave half-finished works though... it's a lot. When I finish a song, I make the shorter edits and the loop, I register it for royalties with the PRS, upload it to the music libraries, then make a note of the metadata in a word document and add a number to the song's title so that I know where it sits in order of my finished works.
Here's the thing though; in Logic Pro, when you create a new song, the file itself will save this date, the date it was last modified, and the date it was last opened. I decided to go back through the logic files and see whether the order of finished works correlates with the dates these were created. You can guess what I found but I was actually quite surprised just how different the order was. For example, the first song I uploaded to a music library, back in 2017, is called 'Funk The Slap Down'. While it's number one on my finished works uploaded, it's actually the 24th song I created in Logic, back in 2011. A more extreme example is a song called 'Upbeat Saxophone Fusion', which sits at 168 on the 'finished works uploaded' list. This was actually the first song I ever created in Logic, way back in 2008, while I was still at college. It had taken me until 2018 to re-discover the song, remaster it, and upload it to the libraries.
WORKS OVER TIME
Having made these discoveries, I set about writing a new document with the chronological order of music created (we're in lockdown so why not). I've made some tracks that have 15 second examples of 10 songs that I'd like to share with you. Each track is from a different year. Let's see if there are any developments in my writing style and whether I come back to the same ideas...
These first tracks feature a use of synthesisers and drum beats; jazz, funk, and pop styles; and the use of recorded saxophone. At this time, I had just started my first year at Huddersfield university, where there were composition modules for explaining and using Logic Pro.
In this second set, there's still a use of synthesisers and drum beats, some modern styles of music, and the use of recorded saxophone but there's also more variety in genre. Now in my final year at Huddersfield, I am studying a module that focuses on how to score music to film. This influence can be heard in the classical and film score styles used in a few of these examples. There also seems to be a heavy influence of 80s music in the electronic pop examples. This would make sense as I had started listening to 'wave' styles of music at this point.
Now halfway through my Masters course in composition for film and media, I'm beginning to get a lot of work for video game music, as well as a few student films. The use of more realistic sounding instruments allowed me to better fit the music to the requirements of the directors and developers I was commissioning for. There's always space for synthesisers though!
A year after finishing my Masters, I'm still receiving work for a mixture of video games and films but am now finding time to write music for myself as well, which can be heard in the use of saxophone and the more ambient examples here. Again, I'm still enjoying the use of synthesisers.
This year, partly due to the pandemic, hasn't led to much compositional work and has had more of a lean towards teaching. Most of these examples, therefore, were written with no real purpose. I'm still in the habit of using a lot of synthesisers, recording my saxophone, and I enjoy writing funky music but there are also more retro/electronic tracks, as well as the choral track at the end.
IT'S A HABIT
It's pretty obvious I have a favourite style I always return to when I don't have a commission. I like to use my synthesisers and my saxophone. I enjoy writing jazz, funk, and electronic pop music with a heavy 80s influence but, having had the chance to learn how to, I can write a choral piece, an ambient film score, or a driving action piece fit for a trailer or video game when commissioned to.
I would love to be able to create richer, more textured pieces of music with differing sections and, with a little patience, I know I could but, for now, I'm still content with my progressive and, often cheesy, synthesised sound. If my music didn't sell, I would force myself to write differently more often but I'm glad to know that my style works for some people, is listened to, and enjoyed.
Do you have a style you tend to write in more often than others?