Showing posts with label Russ Suereth. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Russ Suereth. Show all posts

7/17/2014

Get Your Song Ideas from Symphonic and Heavy Metal Music

Russ Suereth

Last week we discussed getting music ideas from new age and ambient music. This week we’ll discuss getting ideas from symphonic music and heavy metal.

It’s hard to find two types of music that are more different from each other than heavy metal and symphonic music. But they are also similar, because both can excel at musical passages that are simple and hard to get out of your head.

Case in point is Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5 in C minor. Written around 1805, this composition starts with the famous ta-ta-ta-daa, ta-ta-ta-daa. These eight notes are part of our ordinary music knowledge, and have been used by modern groups such as the Electric Light Orchestra.

The point here is that these eight simple notes can be used as a basis for your eight-note or ten-note hook. Sometimes it’s the simple things that are memorable and that catch a person’s ear.

The same goes for heavy metal music. There have been a lot of great hooks in heavy metal for years. Black Sabbath’s Paranoid album is full of powerful hooks. For instance, the beginning of the song “Ironman” has a great guitar hook that feels like a giant metallic beast stomping across the countryside. That piece still makes me smile today.

Other heavy metal examples, of course, can be found in Led Zeppelin tunes. The song “Good Times Bad Times” starts off with a great riff from Jimmy Page that is simple and memorable.

Just because Beethoven and Page were, and are, great artists does not mean you should be intimidated. Just focus on the notes, and forget the rest of the song, and everything else. Start playing some notes on the keyboard or the guitar, and find something you like and that sounds catchy. Keep it simple. And then embellish it a little with your style and tone. Or embellish it a lot. It’s your riff!

7/07/2014

Get Your Song Ideas from New Age and Ambient Music

Russ Suereth

I like to listen to different types of music. They provide me with different perspectives, and they fit the different moods that I have. But I also like different music because it gives me different ideas for creating new music.  That’s the topic of this article, borrowing aspects of different music to incorporate into your own music.

When you think about creating a song there are two main areas you can consider.

     
1. The song’s foundation or chord structure

2. The melody

I’ve always felt that a great source of ideas for a song foundation can be found in new age and ambient music. Those styles often focus on the atmosphere of the song. Lush pads and eerie landscapes can last for several minutes. During that time, an occasional string pluck or keyboard tingle helps provide focus.

Of course, you just can’t steal someone’s work. But you can take chord progression ideas and modify them to suit your style and taste.

When I’m listening to new age and ambient music, my mind usually embellishes the sound. It inserts a few notes here and there to fill in where it thinks something is missing. After a while into the song, I’ve created a basic melody. The song provided the foundation and I’ve added a little melody, sometimes without even noticing.

It’s the same with the rhythm. The song may have a distant repeating bell in the background, or a pulsing drone. Many times my mind will add a low bass drum to emphasize a rhythm.  Maybe even add some toms to fill in a transition.

You could even record all of this on your cell phone so you can retain it. Without even realizing it, you can have the start of a new song.


7/02/2014

From Where The Artist Sits: Creating A Music Video

Russ Suereth

There are a lot of processes and a lot of steps to creating a video. 

I just finished a new music video for my song, Portraits from Living. This week’s article is about the process I went through to create that video, how I did it, and why I did it that way. So let’s start.

First, I determined what type of music video I wanted to create. There are all types of music videos out there today. My budget is on the low side. Accordingly I decided to do something minimal like the recent videos from a variety of remix channels. A great example is the Majestic Casual channel on YouTube. These videos simply have a still photograph, the words “Majestic Casual,” and their logo.

I’ve have liked that minimal style lately because those single images are usually better than the moving images I see in music videos. I also think that the minimal style helps me pay attention to the music.

So I took that idea and embellished it. I got a single image and added some minor movement effects to it. Then I added my name, the title, and my logo over the top.

What did I use to make this music video? Here’s a list of the hardware and software I used.
·         Computer:  iMac i5
·         Video Software: Final Cut Pro X
·         Video Software Plugin: PRO16MM from Pixel Film Studios
·         Graphic Software: Adobe Illustrator

And that’s it.

I use Illustrator for the title, my name, and my logo on the video, but you can use the text capabilities within Final Cut Pro to do that instead. Also you can use the effects that come with Final Cut Pro instead of the plugin. Or you could use any tool like iMovie or Adobe After Effects instead of Final Cut Pro.

Here are all the steps I took to complete my video project:

Step 1. Find a photograph, painting, or graphic design that you like. Try to find an image that can somehow connect to the music. Take a picture of a river, or a friend. Or pick something from the many stock photo sites on the internet. Make sure that you have the proper copyright capabilities with any photo you purchase. Just because you purchase an image doesn’t mean you can use that image for your video. Check the small print available on the stock photo web site.

Step 2.  Find a font to use for your name and the title.  The software you use will have many fonts to choose from.  Or you can buy a font that may be a little more unique to your video.

Step 3.  Add some effects to your image. Video software usually comes with a library of effects to enhance the colors and the image. You can go from subtle to aggressive on the effects. Regardless of your choice, I really think you should add some degree of effects to give the video your own personal touch.

Step 4.  Add your name and title to the effected image.  I like adding the text on top of the image and effects, so that the text stands out.

Step 6.  Whether you have a complete movie, a single-image that moves, or a still photo you’ll need to save that in a format that YouTube can handle.  This YouTube link discusses the proper formats and how different formats can be converted.

Step 7.  Upload the video to YouTube.  I normally use Final Cut Pro X to do many of the steps listed above.  Final Cut Pro, as well as other video software programs, enables you to share your video to YouTube by making a few clicks.  Alternatively here’s another link from YouTube about uploading your video.

Step 8. Once your video is on YouTube, go to your Video Manager and choose the thumbnail that people will see before they click your video. Then provide an interesting description of the video. And don’t forget to promote yourself!

6/23/2014

Physical Distribution of Your Music

Last week I discussed an overview of distributing your music online. This week’s article is a discussion about the physical distribution of your music.

Today, physical music is more than just the CD.  The packaging that goes with your music conveys your style and the style of your music.  Make it eye catching, add some images from a stock library, add some effects to the images, and then layer them one on top of the other.

I use these three main software programs to do the graphics on my CD cases.
·         Adobe Illustrator
·         Adobe Photoshop
·         Perfect Photo Suite
·         A variety of effects from Photomorphis

I usually use a photo that I take of myself, and then add a bunch of effects to it, add some text like my name and the album title, and then convert that to a PDF or JPEG for printing.  You can do that for the cover jacket, the back jacket,  and the inside cover. Don’t forget the image for the CD itself. Try something that matches the album cover so that they all tie in together.

Don’t forget liner notes as a possible addition.  These printed pages could engage your listener by telling your story, and you can include your lyrics.  You may even consider a nice 8 x 10 glossy of your face for someone’s wall!

You could distribute physical copies of your music by putting it on a CD and selling it at performances, or you could sell it though Amazon’s warehouse, and a host of other similar warehouse-stores willing to store and ship your CD.

I mentioned CD’s above, but you could also press your music to vinyl.  The record players that are out there today are portable and gorgeous.  Vinyl could be a good way to find a niche audience for your music.

And talking about niche audiences, you could even rip your music to cassette tape or 8-track.

Now that’s cool!


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