This piece is very distinct from many of my other pieces in how it was designed. I said it many times on my pages of Music Tech songs from 9th through 10th grade, and I'll say it again here because my style has yet to change- by nature, I write songs with energy, drive and velocity. I am energetic in how I write things.
This song, then, stands out, as this is not meant to be a hyper song that gets you dancing, but is more so hypnotic, and, as the title implies, supposed to be relaxing.
The main influence on this song was that I wanted to write a slow, ballad-like song. Many famous artists have both their slow and emotional songs, alongside their upbeat songs. Elton John wrote Crocodile Rock, but he also wrote Rocketman. Crocodile Rock is super upbeat and exciting, Rocketman is somewhat mellow. Kansas wrote both Carry On Wayward Son and Dust in The Wind. Carry On Wayward Son is extremely energetic, Dust in The Wind is mellow. Billie Eilish wrote both Bad Guy and When the Party's Over. Bad Guy is upbeat (in Billie's... odd way), whereas Party's Over is more mellow.
It's interesting how much I'm only now realizing the strong correlation between percussion and energy. I consider my music to be energetic, and I'm only now noticing that often times the percussion is what leads to that energy. In Middle School band, I was taught that the most important part of a song was the bassline, but now I wonder if the bassline is the second most important.
Rocketman has no percussion at the start, and the percussion is very mellow when it comes in. Dust in The Wind doesn't have percussion at all. When the Party's Over has no percussion, either. And now, in Songs of Relaxation, my new Weebly song, there is no percussion. I originally tried to add in some African drums, but I found that made the song feel less relaxing. I showed it to my mom, and her immediate first criticism was the drums, so I removed them.
I should also bring up that I've really caught a bit of a Music Tech bug recently. As I already said, when I was making The Psychology Psychopathy Song, I realized just how much fun music videos are. This inspired me to work more and more on my music. I currently have a lot of unfinished projects, some of which are years old, that I'd like to work on. Of course, I can't guarantee anything (there's always some uncertainty about the future), but I can tell you there's a good chance I will be uploading music to this portfolio very frequently in the upcoming months.
Back in 9th grade, I made 12 pieces. I made only 6 in 10th grade and only one in 11th grade, when I had piano instead of Music Technology. It seems this year will be just like 9th grade in terms of music- lots of it!
The Psychology Psychopathy Song This is the first time I've ever done an assignment that I consider to double as both a Music Technology and a Psychology assignment. While I'm only receiving a grade for this in Psychology, my inner music tech student demanded that I give as much effort as possible into this.
So, a bit of backstory- this started off as a basic Psychology assignment, in which we had to make some kind of either children's book or music video about the different parts of the brain- specifically, 16 of them. Most groups did covers of songs but with the lyrics replaced Weird-Al Yankovic style (For example, one group did "Levitating" by Dua Lipa), but I knew I wanted to make an original song.
It wasn't until I started updating my portfolio in Music Technology that I remembered Story of a Police Journey. I remembered almost instantly just how much fun I had writing it. I remember, when we were ready to watch, not a 3 minute long music video with creepy music but a 21 minute long short film with an actual storyline, we all sat down and ate popcorn watching The Leader discusses how he's going to break into a Canadian person's house and use their Porsche to brew Shadow Fluid.
It was at this point that I was doing this not just for a grade, but also because making videos in Music Technology might just be one of the most fun experiences imaginable.
At first, I was actually going to make this more serious. I wanted to make a song that uses the brain in a unique way, but the lyrics are instead about something else, just with psychology elements mixed into it. The problem is that writing such lyrics would make the song a bit too long. While the assignment page says that there isn't a limit on how long the song can be, I personally set my own limit at 7 minutes, as I was explicitly told not to make some grand saga about psychology. I may have gotten away with a 21 minute video in Mr. McCready's class, but it seemed that I couldn't do the same for Ms. Irby.
Instead, I went in the polar opposite direction and just made the stupidest lyrics possible. I went with the Sharknado philosophy of "If you know it will be bad, just make it so bad that it loops back around and becomes good again." Everything was intentionally made as low budget as possible, to give an amateur feel to the whole thing, and the music video and song contain various lines that are intentionally nonsensical, such as "Not featuring Eminem and DaBaby," and "This is Wilhelm Wundt's fat mixtape." (Wilhelm Wundt was the first major Psychologist- before Wilhelm, Psychology was classified as Philosophy, and it was Wilhelm who officialy classified Psychology as a form of science.)
That, however, is when we run into an interesting problem- the weekend before this assignment was due (which was the weekend I wanted to spend the most time working on the assignment) was also the same weekend I got my wisdom teeth pulled. I severely underestimated just how much it would hurt. I thought initially the pain would be gone by the next day. NOPE. The pain was still there. In addition, the painkillers I was taking had reduced mental functioning as a side effect due to being an opiate-based medicine (ironically over that same weekend is when I read the fact that opioids/opiates reduce mental function in my psychology textbook), and I ultimately decided against doing any work Friday or Saturday.
There's also the fact that I'm not a great rapper, especially at this fast of a tempo (quarter note equals 120bpm in 4/4), but thankfully Ms. Irby said it didn't have to be perfect since she's more concerned with the actual content of the lyrics. That fact took a LOT of weight off my chest. That said, I do consider uploading this first version important to document progress (and also it puts things in chronological order), but I do plan to release this song and it's corresponding music video again some time in the future, but this time the rapping will be better. (Of course, no guarantees this will happen, but it is a possibility).
Come Sunday, and I finally go back to work. I was off painkillers by Saturday, but I still didn't feel well enough to do much of anything until Sunday. It's not until Tuesday, though, that I spend almost my entire time at home after school working on the assignment. Usually I wouldn't be all too happy if I was going to spend 6 hours on one assignment, but not this time. I genuinely found those 6 hours to be a lot of fun! I genuinely remember now just how much creativity and self-expression these music video assignments allow for. I even looked back and found this quote basically asking if we could do this more often from Story of a Police Journey:
"Wow. I must say, I am very hopeful that we can do an assignment like this again. Instead of trying to be spooky, though, we should do medieval fantasy instead. Or Science Fiction. Or Western. Honestly, anything goes. Better yet, just let us do any genre we'd like! Let us have a choice in what the theme is."
This assignment has inspired me to potentially consider making even more stuff like this.
So, what did I learn? It's custom in Music Technology class to mention the primary thing we learned, but in this case there's a lot I learned: -How to make a low-budget film essentially on your own. This video has even fewer people involved than Story of a Police Journey (SoaPJ was me and both my parents, whereas this assignment was just me and my mom holding the camera, and even then in some scenes I was the cameraman as well). That said, I would like to potentially integrate more special effects next time, use more actors, and more props, giving the illusion of a higher budget.
-Rapping is difficult. Do not underestimate 32nd notes at 120bpm.
-Speaking of which, don't go overboard when writing rap lyrics. Every verse should contain only a few words, and words should preferably be no more than 3 syllables. Add too many syllables and you'll be unintelligible.
-How to use WeVideo better. This is my first time making something with multiple video tracks and messing around with transparency. In many previous videos I've made, there's awkward cutoffs, and there's still a few in this one, too, but I did finally learn how to make a proper fadeout. Whether or not this is better, though, is ultimately for you, the viewer, to decide.
(Edit: This assignment was graded in psychology class, and Ms. Irby said it was great! I got a 19 out of 20. The only missing point is because there was one part of the song that was a bit too quiet.)
Perhaps my most interesting challenge came from Cave Song. For this assignment, I was tasked with creating a song based on a series of preexisting samples. From there, we had to pan the music around and change it's volume.
If this sounds familiar, it's because I had this exact same assignment 2 years ago, which resulted in what I consider my first real Music Tech song, Binary Parallel. (I don't consider Incredibox songs to be as important as my other songs, since Incredibox is so easy to use.)
Here's the interesting thing; when we were choosing our sample packs, Mr. McCready had us choose a random number and assigned sample packs based on our number chosen (you get what you get and you don't get upset.) I somehow managed to get the exact same set of samples that I chose 2 years ago. This presented an interesting challenge, as I wanted to make something that sounded distinct from Binary Parallel.
The fact that Binary Parallel uses these same samples as well means that I can look back at what went well in that song, and what I could improve on, so I can make something even better than before. One of my friends told me that Binary Parallel sounds like a ringtone. Now I can't unhear it!
Thankfully, there were more than enough samples to choose from to make a unique song. Some basslines and percussions in Cave Song also come from Binary Parallel, but everything else is new.
Perhaps more distinct, though, is the use of effects and alterations other than volume and panning in the song. While volume and panning are used in this song (it's required), the samples have also been altered by boosting the tempo up slightly, clipping one sample and making it shorter (at the very end of the piece), and most importantly, tons and tons of effects. Compressors and saturators in particular are used in this piece to make anything and everything sounds louder, boomier and more velocitied. The electric guitar also uses flanger and automatic panning.
The main thing I learned from this piece is how one musical concept can be utilized in many different fashions. With everything that I have learned over the last 2 years, I was able to take an identical sample pack from 2 years ago and still make something brand new. Binary Parallel and Cave Song have identical key signatures, use the same basslines and percussion samples, and have the exact same grading requirements and are supposed to teach Music Tech students the exact same lessons, but one could still easily listen to Binary Parallel or Cave Song and tell the two apart.
Don't Ask Who Joe Is When writing this song, I tried to create repetition amidst the chaos of constantly introducing new things. This came in the form of many different instruments playing the same melody- specifically, four different types of piano. From there, I worked on making as many distinct patterns in the music as possible. As time passes, more and more brand new instruments are included, and there is usually more new instruments added vs old ones removed. At the end, every single loop is playing all at once for a grand finale.
Creating the actual song was somewhat of a challenge, since, truth be told, I don't know what key this song is in. It's some variaiton of E, but it uses weird chromatic scaling in such a way that discerning a mode is difficult for me. Rather than sticking to any specific key, I wrote what I thought sounded the best.
Trying to get everything right with the EQ was difficult. I sometimes would overdo the EQ and make one thing so loud that it was the only loop audible. There are some loops that are notably louder, but all loops should be discernible, and the loops that are louder are intentionally so.
From this, I learned how to make music from simple loops over and over again. Advanced melodies in music are a great thing, but repetition is good since it makes sure the listener isn't too overwhelmed by the music constantly shifting. A song that never repeated anything would simply be unpleasant to listen to, as it would constantly catch you off guard.