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Topic: Theme secrets?

  1. #1

    Theme secrets?

    Nowadays most people are looking for composers who can compose strong themes that click to mind without a problem. (Williams comes to mind) The problem with me is, I have trouble coming up with an interesting melody that has a strong hook to it. What\'s your fellas insight on coming up with themes so easily?

  2. #2

    Re: Theme secrets?

    Heh, I am not even close to a good theme writer (I am getting better however). I usually just hum things out. Think about it - a theme that you can hum easily and sounds interesting to you, you should try to notate right away (it might turn out great).

  3. #3

    Re: Theme secrets?

    You know when people stutter? Its actually the same trick creating good themes. I will re... re... re... veal no more.

    See. You already remember this posting - and why? Do to the fact that I repeat myself. Re... Re... Re... peat after me...

    : o) Thats the trick...

    Love - Chris

  4. #4

    Re: Theme secrets?

    Personally, I usually get the most inspired when watching a great movie with a great score. I got very inspired when I watched LOTR and the DVD extras, for one example. I think listening to many, many thematic scores can help feed you ideas. Of course you have to try and not accidentally take their themes. Upon occasion I have played something and thought it was the coolest thing ever, then realised it was another movie score.

    I don\'t think creating themes comes easily. In all the interviews I have read from composers I have never read that it came to them easily.

    IMO you have to think about what inspires you the most and then absorb yourself in it.

    Also, if you want to write an action theme watch lots of action movies with good scores you like. if you want to write a romantic cue listen to the appropriate movie/score. Its always better to watch the movie and not just the score on its own as it will show you how the music works with the picture and might spark off ideas of your own as well.

    All of the above is my opinion, and its just what works for me at the moment. Im sure others can offer plently of better advise!

    If you haven\'t listened to it yet, read and listen to the very cool and informative interviews by Bill Brown. www.billbrownmusic.com The radio interviews are particularly enlightening.


  5. #5

    Re: Theme secrets?

    oh and I also think simplicity is quite important. think of all the themes you admire from great composers, more often than not they are quite, well... simple.! or seemingly simple.


  6. #6

    Re: Theme secrets?

    Here is a trick you could use...

    Try working on variations of a \"common\" theme. You just have to compose a very common theme. That should take you about 2 minutes. And then, you work on variations on this theme. I\'m sure you\'ll eventually come with something great that doesn\'t look at all like the original theme you composed.

    Or you can also take an existing theme and modify it. By the end, it should be so modified that no one will ever know where it comes from.

    You can do the same thing with the harmonic structure.

    Just take for instance the Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini by Rachmninoff. The famous 18th variation is so far away from the original theme that it could be a theme by itself. And no one would argue that it is not a great theme!

    Hope this helps,

  7. #7

    Re: Theme secrets?

    Yes good point Martin, I have done that myself (with my own themes). Another thing you could do is use the nifty little Retrograde feature in Cakewalk, which reverses all notation, sometimes you will get lucky and actually have a great theme awaiting you. I wish I would have known about this feature before. Seen as how I reversed one of my pieces entirely note by note, which is very tedious.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    May 2000
    Ojai, California

    Re: Theme secrets?

    I find that I am most successful when I put myself in the emotional state of the theme before I start composing. For example, if its something sad you want to say - bring yourself almost to the point of tears first. For me, if Im emotioanlly involved, the chance is greater that authenticity, depth, and the communication of all that will be greater.

  9. #9

    Re: Theme secrets?

    I believe that silence is the most prolific melody generator. And by that I mean emotional and mental stillness, a state of peace and relaxation from which artistic jewels can emerge... Creating beautiful things is no struggle at all. It is acquiring the discipline which permits to this state of inner silence to exist in ourselves which is the real challenge.

    I noticed that SO MANY PEOPLE have a God-given gift for music but their constant emotional turmoil keeps them from just stay still and focus on their inner melodies. This is unfortunate, because the world would be a better place if all these great harmonies and melodies could come out!

  10. #10

    Re: Theme secrets?

    the way I build melodic themes is really dependant on the end product.

    Take for example a theme I wrote for a boss in the last game I did.

    I worked out a melody I thought was quirky for him, but just focused on the basics of the actual melody, not the underscore, or the tonal arrangement. This allowed me to get a very basic mood out of the music.

    Then I tried different tonal arrangements, dropping from major to minor or throwing in some dimminished chords, just to see how they sounded underneath the melody, trying different tonal characteristics at different points in the \"basic\" melody. This allowed me to tweak parts and add color where needed, and also gave me a lot of variety for the theme, building it into something cool.

    From that I tried arranging it for different instruments. It started on guitar, then I took it to piz strings to see if it inspired me (which it did for a specific level), and then Harpsichord, which was to be the main instrument for this character anyway. I then arranged it to be played on harsichord alone with a couple of different \"feels\" (\"bouncy\"...\"brooding\"...etc), this coaxed even more out of the melody giving me the basic for what I would finally use in the intro movie for the character.

    After all that, I had lots of ideas I could use interspersed with music these ideas would inspire for the game levels themselves.

    thats jsut one way of doing it.

    another way, would be to focus on the mood of the cue I\'m looking for and not worry about the main melody, but think of where I want the mood to go. Focusing on chord movement and overall tone and color, then work in a melody over the top...similar to the way I\'d do a pop song with vocal melody. Except this way i dont have to rush any words...and the vocalist doesn\'t have an ego and jsut *HAVE* to sing every single second.

    other routes too....

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