Community Composer Challenge – SPITFIRE’S GREAT MUNICIPAL BAND! – May ‘22



  • Ah, thanks, @Londoneye330 , really looking forward to your freedom track, hehehe! Congrats on the gig! I hope, you'll get to share it here. Would love to hear it for sure! 😃

  • oh my god that was epic!

    I absolutely loved it, at 1:16 to before the scene changes, I think this needs some kind of build up, regardless I love it, I'm going to have another take on it, I might see what I can do towards the bird bit, I also loved how you went an octave higher to represent the change of the two swirls, that was really clever, the Hans Zimmer drums just brings it all together, awesome job overall!

    also hahaha to your toddler! she sounds just like my children! who that daddy?

  • Thank you kindly sir: ) I must say I looked at the film about 2 months ago and went "nah, can't see that one working" - your score actually inspired me to go, "ooh, maybe there's something in this"! Thanks muchly! Taron - over to you!

  • Hahaha, yes, yes... I totally loved the dance at the end! It's like everything was gradually building up only for that. And it worked!

    Too bad that it ended just then, hahaha! DANG IT! 😆

    A couple of the percussion, especially in the opening, didn't quite gell with the rest, I found. Be that by their pitch and/or character, but there was some discomfort there. Can't quite name it, is it a harsh gran cassa? Anyway, a little too "extra" to my ears. The mild pulsing during the bird sequence is almost okay, but it still feels tuned unpleasantly to me.

    The grand piano really worked beautifully and you've composed for it with grace. I've enjoyed that a lot.

    Strings sort of went on the mildly "meh"-ish side of things in the violin range for some reason. Felt a bit like synth strings to me and them just sort of laying flat in there without much phrasing only made it more digital. However, eerie enough to support the overall beauty of it.

    After that... everything just ramps up to the awesome dance moment! Gorgeous!

    Altogether: Fantastic take! 👍️

  • Thanks @Taron - well, watch this space - there may yet be an extended cut of the dance that picks up at the end. I think my toddler may demand it- it's very strange - this is possibly the first ever time my daughter's heard that style of celtic/scottish/irish music and it is music I wrote/made on a laptop (I know you've been making digital music for ages, but this is still all quite the novelty to me).

    I think the slightly off percussion was deliberately slightly off - I was trying to sort of suggest that "the lady" was involved in killing someone off screen during the first act where we don't see her, so I didn't want anyone to feel settled by the score there - indeed, the only time I wanted everyone to feel "settled" was during the dance at the end - it was supposed to be a kind of "grand guignol" (albeit without the blood) where the audience, whether they like it or not, are persuaded over to the perspective of the killer (see Thomas Harris, Anne Rice, etc).

    Am afraid the all in one strings were through necessity rather than design - the "voice" and the piano used up nearly all my RAM so I didn't have the room to separately orchestrate the voices🤔

  • Oh, snap... well, I'm pretty thrilled that my new miniPC has 16Gb RAM, which is surprisingly sufficient thus far!

    Hahaha, your daughter, has she started dancing to it, too? I certainly almost did, but definitely on the inside! 😁

    Yeah, it's tricky when you have certain directorial ideas, which may not project understandably right away. There may need to be other hints to help communicate this, be they musically or visually.

    Once upon a time I made an OSC track by the title "Profundo Tana del Peccato" with a wicked synth (Sinnah) of my dear Italian friend Luigi (NuSofting). He was laughing at the title, because in some Italian street slang "Tana" reference to female anatomy, hehe.😆 While the harmless translation goes" Deep Cave of Sin".

    In it I tried to illustrate a cave explorer, who has an accident, hitting his head real hard and in his unconscious state dreams he would encounter some alluring cave dancers, trying to seduce him. No idea, if I had managed to communicate the story, but I had a massive blast making it, guided by that idea! 😄

  • Um, yes, "deep cave of sin" - totally harmless translation there😁

    I always like to have some little story underpinning my stuff - whether or not the listener picks up the actual story, the details hopefully still add a depth/complexity to the music that lets the listener go on their own journey with it - e.g. if I wanted an ABA structure then the temptation (usually arising from a lack of musical ideas) might be to just paste the first A section over, but, if I have a "story" I want to tell, even with an ABA structure, then that just naturally leads me to make changes to the second A section so as to fit the narrative at that point in the story - it keeps me honest anyway (more or less😉)

    Yeh, I'm on 16GB RAM - thinking about upgrading to 32 (which would max out my laptop) - the EW stuff just gobbles it up - but I love that piano!! Spitfire is much more gentle on the system, unless I go mad with the track count. I suppose I could have bounced a few tracks to audio and separated out the strings - but they were so close to what I was going for I just decided I could live with it.

  • Good Afternoon. This is my entry for the Competition. A few words of explanation:

    Men of a certain age - and its nearly all men - who went to one of the illustrious (or less illustrious) public schools of England as I did would be very familiar with the repertoire of Anglican Hymns from their morning Assemblies in School Hall or Chapel. Many of these were excellent tunes which formed part of my musical education. I always eagerly looked forward to seeing ones by Vaughan Williams or Holst on the Hymn board. The singing of the hymns at my school was to the accompaniment of organ and school orchestra. I've tried to capture some of those tunes - or the ghosts of them - wandering through my head woven in with organ and orchestra. It uses Spitfires Abbey Road One and the wonderful Spitfire Union Chapel Organ. I hope you enjoy it.


  • Hey Keith- many thanks for the piece- if Abbey Road One is even close to your memories of school then your school orchestra was some ways above mine😀 Some very nice moments in there and some gorgeous suspensions and building of tension- loved the organ work!

    I had a couple of thoughts which may be helpful:

    The general aim with counterpoint is that the "voices" should sound like they move independently of each other, but they still I think need to "check in" with each other now and again and generally move towards the first beat of the bar in the overall rhythm - so, for example, if you had a treble line going "dah-dah-diddle-dah-DUM" then the bass might go "diddle-diddle-dah-diddle-DUM" at the same time but they would both move towards the "DUM" and would "check in" at that point- if the lines move completely independently then there's a danger that the piece can lose it's overall sense of pulse.

    Where the orchestra first comes in it sounded a bit like you had expression and dynamics all the way up on the trumpets - I'd maybe dial both parameters back to about 50%.

    I thought some of your note endings were a bit abrupt- a real player would maybe "bevel" the ending slightly - I've done a very crude drawing below - the black lines are the midi notes and the red and blue line is more or less what I would go for with the expression/dynamics curves - note the blue "bevel" at the end - I usually try and do something like that so that the notes "dissolve" rather than stop dead.

  • Render your midi into audio brother once your happy with it, this will enable you to have infinite possibilities, my computer can only handle 1 plugin at a time, it's a pain in the arse when I need to change something, I have to either be lazy and stretch the audio file or delete it and unmute then redo then render again, it takes longer but it will be crisp because your machine doesn't need to work out what's happening as its already done it :)

    The Hans Zimmer plugin takes 10 minutes to load, I can't do anything else with his powerful plugin in use.

    I was thinking do I make the ending sinister to insinuate it wasn't what you thought it was or should I keep it peaceful angel ending?

  • Sounds like you are in worse straits than me - yeh - I used to do loads of bouncing once I started using vsts but I managed (by having an insane buffer size and purging everything but the legato patches) to more or less get a full BBCSO core orchestra running. I have now been spoiled by that and so get most miffed when things start clicking and popping with one instrument!

    I think you can project what you want on to our heroine - the video is very sparse with the clues (but I think the black veil is a big one) - to be fair though, her "angelic sin" might just have been eating all the spicy chicken wings at the funeral buffet😁

  • What a nice surprise! Exciting to see more compositions finding their way here! The organ work is really nice and massive. Everything @Retroblueman wrote is wonderful advice I couldn't give any better. I would only reinforce it by saying: Even the greatest libraries still need you to work them with your own authority and care. Especially the dynamics, but on every section. Clearly you are feeling them as you compose, but you have to give even more aspects of your feeling into them, namely via dynamics, rising and falling of intensities, both compositional, but also for the sake of natural behavior, like how string players would work their notes. Also consider that each player is playing one note at the time, ultimately asking for you to consider the individual phrasing of lines, even if combined they may build a chord, but every one of them has to follow his sheet, so to say. Thus, when you have any chord progression, consider the players of each line. Don't rely on the library to do any more for you than provide samples!

    Compositionally, I believe, I understand where you're coming from with this. I mean, you've explained it beautifully, too. One can feel the reigning of your memories throughout the whole piece. Again, dynamics will help you to marry the components more to each other, but Retro (Rob) was explaining nicely the guiding qualities of counterpoint already, which are probably most important to be aware of. If you wish to isolate "thoughts" dramatically, you place a massive challenge for yourself, because there has to be a stronger commonality than just the scales of harmony. One has to sense that the individual "thoughts" relate to each other in some more ways. Connecting points in time (rhythm) are crucial not to let things derail completely, which is happening with the orchestration when it comes in and pretty much throughout. Only when the organ comes back in, it has enough authority to act a bit more as binding element, but just a bit.

    Again, I believe, with proper dynamics you might have already a way to solve that "problem". Right now the isolation of the sections also showcases their technical weaknesses in terms of their digital nature, if you know what I mean. Abbey Roads has no legato patches, if I remember correctly, right? Thus, you can't quite get any extra help from it that way. But you also don't need to, as long as you- well- work the dynamics.

    But enough of all this: You've done a track and it's wonderful to find it here, thank you very much and I hope there are many more to come!!! 😃

  • I loved it, I feel like it needed tiny bit of legato and a touch more reverb before the transitions, apart from that I really enjoyed it thank you 😊

  • I own Abbey Road One and there isn't a legato patch I could see, but I did download the template that spitfire provided for Cubase and they have used built in plugins on Cubase to make it work like a legato, to be honest it isn't as good as the legato patches on Albion One, but if you combine the sounds of both Abbey and Albion one, it sounds epic, but I can't do anything because my computer burps and trumps when they are on, when my new machine is here I'll try again, I'm also going to invest in a SSD because this will help things run quickly

  • Thank you! Will definitely keep this on my mind. They are only 20 second cues, but I'll see if I can connect them somehow when I have time.

    Really nice. The percussion adds a little bit of something - I can't describe it. But it is so much better with it. Also it sounds so nice hearing the percussion hitting the scene change cues. Like mentioned above - there's that build-up that can be much more exaggerated - but I think that's really something that's "season to taste" depending on the composer. Well done!

    The piece sounds very interesting. Really liked that strings and that organ there. I thought I was listening to something from a play I had to compose for there for a second. But the organ, I really want to buy it now 😭

    I would say that the trumpets coming in seems like it popped out slightly a bit too much, but it could just be a timbre issue... I'm listening through my laptop speakers right now - not the best quality -

  • Hey [email protected] - really glad you liked the piece - I've found the percussion doesn't "travel" well for some reason - e.g. it sounds different on my two pairs of headphones, different again on my monitoring set up and then different yet again on the big surround sound system. So I will just agree with you that it was a good idea on the basis of my best sounding pieces of listening kit: )

    All - just spotted the following:

    Now I appreciate one of the reasons this thread came into being was that Jason said that metapop wasn't really working out for him, but thought I'd flag to you guys that they are doing a short scoring competition with 9 days to score a 40 odd second film - looks quite fun without any massive tempo issues likely to arise.

  • Hi @Retroblueman @Taron @Jason_Webster32 @Londoneye330 Thanks all for your thoughtful and insightful comments. Lots of learning for me there. Yes, I wondered about the entry of the Trumpets and almost toned it down before I posted but I will now do that. The rest of your comments are really helpful to me and I will enjoy playing around with the ideas!! There is indeed no Legato in AR1 and I can see how it would be of use. I wonder if Spitfire plan a strings legato addition to AR foundations as they have done for other ensembles.This is a really enjoyable forum to be part of. Very best wishes. Keith

  • Ok, here is my offering for this month's challenge.

    For the 'free' theme, I went with a free film from The Cuetube titled "Shades of Time." For this production, the samples I used are: BBCSO Core, Cinematic Frozen Strings, Intimate Strings, Cinematic Percussion, and Cinematic Soft Piano. I also recorded and manipulated many many tracks of guitar. I'm pretty happy with how this came out, and I hope everyone that listens to this may find something that resonates with them.

    Thank you again @Retroblueman for organizing this.

  • This sounds amazing! Now that I'm back on my slightly better quality headphones, I really liked the beginning. The gradual buildup and adding more instruments make it sound amazing. Then that moment of silence where the cannon goes boom, and the strings, all sound really nice. It's very subtle but the effect is very well executed.

    I'm not sure, but when there are the machine guns firing, I think it felt a little empty on that part there. Maybe it was the intended effect, but personally I would add something more intense there, then when they cut to the painting scene again, make it completely silent.

    That section where the paint spills was well done. That little 'beat drop'-ish part is really nice.


  • Thank you for listening, and thank you for the kind comments! The silence during the machine gun fire was intentional. There was originally some music for that part, but it felt like it actually took away from the intense fear and panic, almost giving it a 'campy' and over-the-top feel. The restrained silence, for me, added to the uncertainty of the situation. It was also the most 'emotive' scene for the actor, and I felt the silence allowed his facial expressions and reactions to be the utmost focal point. All of that, I felt, really led up to the paint spill 'beat drop.'

    Again, thank you so very much for taking the time to listen and offer constructive feedback.

  • Hey Jonathan - that was some gorgeous work there - I love how the tone shifted when the big gun went off - Many thanks for sharing - and no need to thank me for organising - I'm having a complete blast this month - and I hope we go again for many months to come😀

    Those originals libraries are brilliant aren't they - they are like the sample library equivalent of having a cheeky pint (and that is high praise indeed from me!).

    Do also feel very free to suggest a theme for next month - or else we'll be stuck with my "quintet" idea🙄

  • Oh, very nice, Jonathan, and welcome aboard! 😀

    What a beautiful, contemplative score. But even more so, what a nice composition to allow drifting off to.

    If it was for a score to this clip alone, I'd say you might want to split the difference between any "campy" attempt and the almost purely removed observative approach. It really somehow detaches eventually from the picture, at the latest after the second gun break. But before then it worked very well and as a whole, as I said, it is full of beautiful composition and very pleasant and appropriate arrangement and mix.

    No matter what, GREAT JOB! 😎👍️

    Yeah, this little gathering here is quickly becoming quite a big treat! 😃

  • Thank you so very much for the kind words! So very glad you enjoyed the score.

    It seems that the consensus is for me to revisit the 'silent' bit. I am so thankful for the genuine and sincere feedback from the group. I believe this is a case for me to weigh logic over emotion. Emotionally, I felt that it was the correct impactful decision to serve the film. However, the feedback illustrates that I simply missed the mark on this part. So, I will approach this much like a chess tactics puzzle - there is a 'best move' that I overlooked. There is a saying in chess, "When you find a good move, look for a better one." I believe in this case, musically, I found a good move but didn't look for a better one.

    Thank you, everyone, for such valuable feedback. I am looking forward to posting a revised version!

  • Jason_Webster32
    edited May 2022

  • Hi Jonathan, welcome aboard!

    I just wrote a long comment and it has literally just vanished!

    Your score is absolutely amazing and your choice of instruments from start to finish really did enhance the story, I really did enjoy this score and I look forward to hearing more of your work!

  • Hi Jonathan, I really liked your piece. I thought it kept pace and mood with the visuals. I liked the silence and felt it added a lot to the empathy with the mood of the soldier in that moment. Thanks for doing this. Keith

  • Alright here is what I got for this month.

    I had the chance to play around with the idea of free, and I decided to make a piece about dreams: the land where everything and nothing exists at the same time. Where chaos meets order. Dreams are a place where strange things can happen, but suddenly jump to somewhere. It can evolve, it can build up (or not), it can turn happy, it can turn sad. you can jump onto the moon, maybe fly above the clouds, it can go so well until something can feel a little out of place...

    Then your dreams can jump again, to a place where there's just simple emptiness going down...

    And you woke up.

    • LABS Electric Piano
    • Aperture the Stack (Free version)
    • OT Helix
    • OT Strand
    • Kia Instrument
    • Evolution Devastator Warzone

    By the way, all of the instruments mentioned above are free!

    Hope y'all like it!

  • Lovely work @Londoneye330 - that electric piano is really nice- off to download that - I listened once with my critical hat on and a few more times just to enjoy it.

    If I had a thought, it was that, in the middle, the I-vi-IV-V sort of idea, even with the altered last chord, possibly stood out as being a bit too simple compared to the far more interesting harmonic work you were doing in the first section, but maybe that's the idea - dreams don't necessarily have to flow seamlessly in to each other. Maybe actually my thought was that you should have "embraced" the inherent sort of cheesiness of the progression and stuck with a V for the last chord... - it only really bothered me the first listen so don't put too much stock in this thought!!

    I laughed out loud at the ending - I definitely get a feeling of simple emptiness going down every time I hear that sound😄Although in this day and age I am lucky to get enough sleep to hear that sound - it's usually pre-empted about half an hour earlier by a toddler kicking me in the face and asking for milk!