Update on my current professional focus for Licensing my music, and related thoughts on moral values & personal integrity.

For a while, I had plans to start focusing my blog on technical advice and music theory for songwriters and musicians. (as you might have guessed from old blog posts)
But since that would take so much time, I will put those thoughts on hold for now, and save it for private convos with my co-writers mainly.
If I’d pick it up later or even create some online course about it, I’d def give a heads-up here and elsewhere.

Instead, I will focus as much I can primarily on Music for Licensing for a longer while probably.

This might sound like selling out to some, and I do think it could be a valid point to a degree, especially if not considering at all what one’s music is used for. More about that at the end of this post.

I also wish to release a highly personal full solo-piano album, along with a concept album for Licensing for Media. My personal compositions offer a lot of reflections and attention to details, not very commonly achieved today, I’d think. But to fit a fixed context created by others, those like me have to make it more accessible and within the expected formats and cohesiveness, etc.

But as a composer, co-writer and producer, I noticed there are also lots of different kinds of diversity, awesome talents and great people to enjoy working with!
I will also continue to do commissioned work, producing other artists.
Again, at least for a longer period to come, I believe.

Really looking forward to keep working with more songwriters, singers and musicians. And I still need to finish some old collabs with great potential too.

I still don’t rule out doing commissioned film scoring or game music in the future either though.

On a slightly more personal level, I really feel I can enjoy even my own personal works even better, with the ever improving production quality I gain.

So I feel very positive about all this!

“…And in that silence… MUSIC! A DIVINE music Burst over them all” (F. Murray Abraham as the envious Salieri. From the movie “Amadeus”, 1984)


On a more thoughtful and serious note:

The future feels exciting on that personal level, even though there always seem to be lots of sadness, grief and corruption in the World, which also can affect us on personal levels too… It’s harder to stay sensible to all of that if being within a state of narrow-mindedness, perhaps being stuck in a sense of envy, or trying to remove natural human instincts of belonging etc. to achieve goals?

So I always wish to consider multiple possibilities and perspectives, like I’ve mentioned before in my blog.

So will I ever risk losing myself or my sense of personal integrity, claimed open-mindedness or compassion for others, while turning my music and my art into a business & work for hires more?

I believe that risk is less because of being aware of not only the most obvious atrocities out there, but also having researched and contemplated on different possible motives for influencing public opinions and starting commercial trends etc. etc. These things are related to discussing any products or media, and how it can affect us, being the consumers.

Although I think the World and people in it are wonderful, and offering so much diversity if looking or bothering,
I don’t like certain ways the World seem to work, or certain ways it seems to being run.

On a similar note, I’ve been noticing how easy it seems to influence the opinions and emotions of individuals, both for good and bad intentions I believe, but I don’t turn away from looking at it either, at least not so far.

Being overly busy can diminish that awareness or sense of individuality or personal moral values if not allowing oneself to take a step back from the canvas and take a moment of contemplation, so to speak.

Otherwise one will not be able to see the forest because of the trees, like we say here in Sweden,
or focusing on details, perhaps compartmentalized details and not seeing a wider perspective, and how different things affect each other in this World and people.

I feel I must always keep maintaining my personal identity and moral values, no matter if I get more business-focused and/or accomplished and staying overly busy with projects.

It seems it could become a challenge at times, especially if working with media or products who wouldn’t necessarily resonate with one’s own beliefs of what’s beneficial or healthy to use or a narrow-minded way to view things.

We will see. Wish me… not luck, because I believe luck has nothing to do with what each and everyone can at least strive to improve or achieve.
Wish me whatever YOU wish to wish me, lol.

I wish that you all stay mentally strong, no matter what color, orientation, nationality, or political or religious belief system you chose to belong to.
As long as you can see value in others and not only being “takers” but at least also consider being “givers” for others to benefit from.

It can start with the inner dialogue and contemplation, and then… silence… aaaaaand ACTION!

(Not the most intuitive traditional choice of word by film directors, I feel… How about aaaaaand MUSIC!)

Wishing you all the best in your personal strives, struggles and dreams to achieve!
hugs / Fredrik

https://soundcloud.com/fredrik-park
https://www.facebook.com/FredrikParkComposer
https://www.youtube.com/user/FredrikPark

(Note: movie screenshot used under the Fair use copyright doctrine.)

I won an “Honorable Mention” award by the acknowledged judges of Embertone Stranger Themes Composing Contest!

The judges this time where a highly accomplished bunch in premium media.
They included an Oscar nominated film score orchestrator, Chris Boardman (one of my favorite film orchestrators too!), and there were also multiple Hollywood movie composers, premium trailers & video games composers, and professional educators!

My award-winning track was a “Stage 2” track, meaning it had to be at least somewhat based on an original theme by someone else (“stage 1”).
(I also submitted six “Stage 1” solo piano themes myself.)

Even though I didn’t win any grand prize this time, the competition was steep, with over 2000 submissions in total.
The “Honorable Mention” awards were granted to me and 20 other participants, so I guess I belong to the 1 percent now(?) ^^

So I’m pretty satisfied with the results, even more so since I didn’t spend a ton of time on it.
Half of the work was research on the title topic combined with the allegorical musical symbolism I put in it, although I think the overall production quality was ok too. And I composed very fast for this.

For my “Age of Methuselah” submission, I know it was a little bit sparse, partly because of the choice to keep the original solo strings, so I didn’t spend as much time with the Embertone Sample library elements as some of the grander prize winners.
Oh, but since it came with a 25% off Embertone’s products award, it’s “Award winning” for the second time in 2017.

Thanks again, Embertone, and all the highly accomplished judges & staff members of the Stranger Themes contest!

http://embertone.com/strangerthemes/

My “Age of Methuselah” submission on Soundcloud (stage 2)

My “Stage 1” submissions on Soundcloud (solo piano tracks)

Thank you for your interest in my art!

On improvising and composing, part 4

Does Instrumental/Vocal practice affect your Composing & Songwriting and vice versa?
In the long run, or even after long breaks?

(I got a blog post reply from Lee Lucas for part 2, which inspired me to write a new blog post of my own. I initially was writing a reply, but decided to put it here instead.)

Link to part 2:
http://fredrikpark.com/2015/10/29/on-improvising-and-composing-part-2/

When it comes to long past periods of somewhat intense instrument/vocals practicing and improvising in the past, I think it mostly can translate into the songwriting or composing aspects of making music later on.

The one thing that I think gets diminished the fastest is the precision while performing. (or any relentless aims for improving further with it)

Although I am not as precise with virtuoso performances in recent years, due to lack of time put into practice, I do feel I have a lot better intuitive understanding for full picture composing, and also for the details in various musical elements.

It also came from all the improvisations I’ve done, both during the piano studies years, and after.

However, composing kinds of skill also takes time to develop usually.
It depends on what aims one has with personal goals.
One doesn’t exclude the other, but different skills would be improved more, depending on choices made of course.

When it comes to those who take breaks from practicing or playing/singing, I did notice that taste and awareness for familiar genres often still are there, also when doing covers.
And because of that, I also assume that one’s own composing & songwriting can benefit from it, if decided to focus on it again. Even if it’s way later on.

“This is easy… Just like riding a bike!” *

And like a guitarist & songwriter once said to me:
“I don’t need to improve my guitar technique anymore for the genres I’m into.
Now I should work on my personal character to fit those playing styles.”(paraphrasing)

This was about blues and bluegrass, and I think he proved his point while performing in diverse manners too.

In general, maintaining one’s base skills or at least musical understanding is a good thing for composing & songwriting, I feel.

For instance, I think there’s usually a huge difference if an instrumentalist would click notes in a DAW for a solo piece, compared to if a computer wiz with no instrumental practice would do it, (or at least having extensive musical studies or meticulous listening experience under the belt)

I still haven’t seen computer software, which could fully replace the human ear and brain for musical and emotional creations, btw.

We are all human, with everything that comes with it, but like tech stuff we too can improve what we choose to improve…
Peace, love and an individual mindset to you! / Fredrik

* Blind Fury (1989)
Rutger Hauer portraying Nick Parker, “the blind Zorro” / Modern day Zatoichi.
In this scene, he starts out a bit shaky behind the wheels, being blind and rusty.
But in the end, he proves his point, e.g. hitting the breaks like second nature, see… Yeah, it’s a movie, I know!  ^^
I feel the wisdom offered in the scene is there though.
Despite some outdated aspects and some cliche characters, I still feel think it’s a surprisingly good movie, with some good points about assumptions.
Deliberate ones, it seems…

(Note: movie screenshot used under the Fair use copyright doctrine.)

So now I am an “Award winning Composer!”.

Yay, I won a Short-film scoring competition recently!

It was for Versilian Studios VSCO2, so only that sample library could be used.
I also mastered it in a very dynamic way, not boosting the volumes for this one. It’s supposed to be very soft & mysterious, and not like modern mastering volume levels.

Other submissions were mastered way louder than mine, and I offered to master mine louder too.

However we agreed that the soft characteristic in my submission not only fitted my composition & concept, but also shows the diversity of the product.

The composition itself is a modified and updated version of an old composition of mine, which already was partly based on the seasons, although I think I never revealed it before.

The original version also had additional subtle references, and I kept the ones that fitted the short film, and added new ones.
I like the samples in VSCO2 better btw.

Thanks for a very fun initiative, Sam and everyone at Versilian Studios. (I was a beta tester for VSCO2 too btw.)

I will update this post when the music video is uploaded, either on their site/Youtube channel or my own.
For now, check these links for more info:

https://soundcloud.com/samulis/pro-ed-winner-seasons-the
http://vis.versilstudios.net/contest.html

You can listen to the other winners here:
https://soundcloud.com/samulis/sets/vsco-2-scoring-contest

Also check my Soundcloud page for more recent music of mine!
https://soundcloud.com/fredrik-park

I plan to make more music videos or at least to upload more music on my Youtube channel as well. So far I only have a few ones.
https://www.youtube.com/user/FredrikPark

Thank you for your interest in my Music art!
Have a great Week / Fredrik

Time for contemplation! Appreciate yourself & your individual mind!

A new Full HD, Full motion Music Video for a recent Piano composition of mine.
This one has a strong message, including words of advice in end video-text!

Been a while since last post. Hopefully this one will keep your interest.
This one is not only about Wishing you Merry Xmas and a Happy New Year.

[edit: updated link. removed some video editing glitches in my re-upload]

The new Music video that I just uploaded on my Youtube channel is a way to suggest attempting to see things from different Xmas perspectives than just the traditional rush for the perfect Xmas celebration or the perfect gift.

More specifically, it is aimed at the ones of you hurting, to start change perspectives of how you relate to yourself and your emotions!
I noticed several friends over at Facebook pour their heart out in grief and sorrow, specifically during the Holiday season.

This all inspired me to make a visual concept and also put words of advice for those of you who are devastated with grief, sad memories,
and/or feel like you are worth nothing and that your future will always feel the same.

(I also wrote Facebook posts about the subject, but I elaborate a bit further in this blog text.)

One point I’d like to make is that you don’t know everything about yourself conclusively.
You don’t fully know everything worth knowing about the future of others, let alone your own future, you hear!?

If you have lost all your hope in any stage of your life, I’d say it could be an indication that you have been stuck with tunnel-vision.
At least for certain aspects of your view of yourself, others or your current & future situation.

I have touched upon this way of self-reflecting in earlier posts, and I believe it does indeed connect to both creating art and rational problem solving.

Reason I say this as bluntly as I am here, is NOT for the sake of gloating, or putting salt in your wounds, even though it might feel like it.

More like a suggestion for getting a different perspective than your current one, for your own benefits.

There are consequences to all your actions, and what you choose to focus on.
Good and bad consequences, even if you don’t see it right away. I am not talking about Karma per se.

Yourself and others are always affected by actions, interactions, and that it stems from mindsets in individuals, and individual thoughts as well as collectivism kinds of mindsets.

So perhaps you don’t think you can change things?

Well I’d say there are overarching things that are close to impossible for an individual to change in the modern society, at least in the short term sense, that many depressed people seem to be stuck in.

There are however significant things that you CAN change or at least influence for the better. Both short term and long term.
Your mind is still your own, if you allow it!

(Hmm, that also reminds me of a phrase in a certain contemporary Xmas related song, come to think of it.)

But it can take time with personal contemplations to hone individual and skeptic skill set, in case you feel you are too easily influenced,
or perhaps too easily pushed around by other people or powers that be.

A thing about contemplations: I noticed it’s easier to make that when everything is silent, or at least when there aren’t an ever changing flow of distractions.

I also believe it can be important to work hard with contemplation and an alert mindset to avoid being too easily influenced, or manipulated etc.

And in case you compare your seemingly miserable situation with the picture-perfect families around you, and in media, do give this a thought:

Many parents, successful people etc. probably also try their best to keep up a nice window dressing, which would be additional work, with fear and worries still as a co-motivator.

I am not a parent, but like many other, I have heard this directly from the horse’s mouth in multiple cases.
So next time you perceive that ultimate happiness of others, know that they are human too, just like you. Not super-human.
See, different life styles also fit different people.

Perhaps you don’t know what you’re missing, but equally important, Perhaps you don’t know what you current have? AND Perhaps you don’t know what the things you feel you’re missing would do for you, if you had it.

So realistically, how would you want to change your life, or yourself, and WHY, and into what ?

Wouldn’t you at least wanna keep certain aspects of your current self, realistically speaking?
I recently watched a documentary about methods for removing alcoholic addictions, and it seemed extremely brutal.
(not only because I don’t drink myself)

I wouldn’t want anyone having to go so far that they’d willingly(?) choose to break down their personality completely, to at all being able to build it up from scratch.
I assume there are still similar methods for depression treatments.

I want to believe that there are other preemptive measures that anybody can take to avoid that, especially if being able to identify the original reasons for the emotional struggles etc.

Whether you struggle with any of these things in particular or not, I use to say this:

Depending on your mindset and level of Resolve, things in your life situation, and your personal struggles can always get worse, but it can also always get better!

I think it is depending on your actions, and if you choose to try changing your mindset or not.

I personally don’t do New Year’s Resolutions by the way.
The aim can be the same as I talk about here, but the method is probably very different.

I don’t believe in making hasty or impulsive hard promises based on the calendar.

I personally think it takes more resolve than that, and in a way, we need to earn our Resolve…
…By Contemplation(!)

So there you have it. 🙂
(Wow, who said that Music licensing must necessarily always be the death of personal contemplation and moral values… I still wish to maintain my moral and musical values as much as I can .)

Hope I won’t disappoint with my Video production or the music itself.
The composition is not as complex as some of my other solo instrument works, see.

But in this context, I am beginning to be way more happy with it than I initially was.
And Wait for it… I deliberately made changes in emotions and also put Easter eggs in the Music video, playing on your presumed assumptions, in multiple ways.

Here’s the Video link again:
Resolve By Contemplation – Meditative Piano Composition with a strong message

It is probably important to connect emotionally with you to get my point across better.
And it was important to picture adversity in this case.

But as usual, things are not 100% black or white, or what it initially seems to be here.
Connecting emotionally with audiences (and customers and voters etc. etc.) have been done successfully countless times through media and more, but I always wish to ask myself:
What is the motive and the promoted message for the occasion?

Life as a human is a weird but curious thing, whether your are religious, atheist, politically involved or couldn’t care less about such.
No matter which gender, race, sex-orientation, class, personal flavor, I made the conclusion that we share the similar worries, appreciations and sources for happiness more often than not.

You should of course make your own conscious conclusion about everything.
But did you notice I tried to encourage becoming curious about more thing than the personal situation alone through all this?

Either way, I strongly wish for the well being of all of you reading this.
Thank you so much for your time and interest in my contemplations and my music.

Let’s see what 2017 will bring us, AND what WE will bring for 2017! ^^
More update posts to come sooner this time!
big hugs / Fredrik

Advice on making your own Music videos with Stock video clips – part 2

Part 2 of 2

Downloading files

Although offering numerous short high quality video footage, one thing that I disliked about the search function on Videoblocks was that the same clips come up multiple times, during searches.

I realized there could be some problems with remembering everything while saving to the website “folders” or whatever they are called.
So I dodged that problem by going directly for the download kill.
Worst case, I’d download the same clip to two different hard drive folders, but that rarely happened.
Usually, I got the overwrite question and simply cancelled downloading.

Here is a very important reminder for that site though: You must NOT accidentally or deliberately download multiple files from the site at the same time!! This is not clearly enough stated on the website, IMO, and I had my account locked until communication finally was established. But if you can avoid this issue all together, you’d most likely be fine.
Moving on…

Reminder about Categorizing or indexing your clips (recap)

This is done for the similar reason to why sections in a library are organized the way they are. Imagine trying to find a specific book fast, if all the books where simply thrown into the corners…

This is why it’s important to create custom folders on the hard drive and with sub folders as well, to reduce the search for clips later on. Or you could make sub folders later, and use large thumbnails to decide where to put each clip.
Normally, I prefer to use the detailed list view in Windows Explorer, so this would be an exception for me.
See part 1 for more detailed advice in file viewing for importing clips into your video editing software.

The ever present risk of popular clips being overused

You should be aware that certain clips on any popular video service like Videoblocks can – and will be overused. If not already then sooner or later.
(This is similar to the use of text templates, transition effects, or brand new premium music loops, sound effects & popular sample libraries with certain instruments.)

For instance, the same frigging Week as I uploaded my Nocturne no.1 Music video to Youtube, I then spotted the very opening video clip in a new official Music video for a big label Metal band!

Here is that very moment:
Equilibrium – Prey (Official Lyrics video), uploaded by their label, Nuclear Blast Records, on Youtube
(I’m not into that band much myself, but I checked these videos since a good friend, Gaby Koss sang on their first albums.)

Here is a soft song where another video clip that I used can be found in the official Music video:
Amber Run – “I found” (official VEVO channel on Youtube)
(note: Other parts of the the Music video context could be a bit uncomfortable to watch perhaps)

Yet another example of a few video clips that might become overused later on was already put very skillfully by another good friend, Steve Brookfield. I have no proof of that, only my personal theory, since I too had downloaded multiple video clips that were used in this awesome Dracula Music video of his.
Steve Brookfield – “I’m not alone” (Dracula Soundtrack)

 

Your personal conclusion for risk of overuse?

However, if putting close attention to editing details, the creativity and the correlation with your personal music might still be unique enough even so.
Or what do you think about different music for my piano composition and that Equilibrium Metal song (“Prey”)? Too similar usage and delivered feeling and context or not?
Two matches might not be the full picture, there might or might not be tons of other Youtube videos with the same clips. I haven’t checked that in depth…

hand picked video clips correlating with the music

In general, the feel of the music video should reflect the musical context and vice versa, (unless you’re making a deliberate point with paradoxes etc. that would overrule that advice.)

In my piano music video, you could find that the direction of the music, even pitch-wise sometimes follows the direction of the visuals.
It might sound cartoon-ish or childish when I describe this in text perhaps, but if done subtle enough, I believe it would work well even for serious and emotional music.
You’d be the judge there though.


Video clips quality correlating with each other

Also, it’s good if the clips you use are of similar quality.
Imagine having all those professional full HD 1080p clips, and all of the sudden throw in a shaky or blurry 480p clip with saturated colors, filmed with an old shaky cell phone cam? Just because you couldn’t find that particular footage elsewhere?

Well, sometimes it might be unavoidable, but in general I think it would do more harm than good, at least in the eyes of the viewers. As always, there might be exceptions, for instance whenever you’d wish to create strong contrasts by change of visual qualities.

Equally important if not more, is to use clips with the same original frame rate! I always prefer 30 fps (or 29.790) over 24 or 25, because to me, it looks a lot smoother and professional if filmed correctly. Fps means “Frames per second” in the videos.

But even the 30 fps clips can start to lag if you combine with 24 / 25 fps clips !
This has to do with the rendering/encoding process, although some video editors might have built-in functions to prevent that. The cheapest ones most likely don’t though.


Timing of the video clip editing

The timing of each clip is also important, to go with the flow of the music, and even timing it to the tempo and beat, or to accents in music with more free tempo. You see this quality in just about every professional Music video, and also for film music in movies.

Think of a Music video where the lip sync or instrument performance is horribly out of sync.
Those might be the most obvious cases when people would react negatively from it.

But what about correlating evolving moods, or peaks & valleys in musical phrases
To me, that is important to create the stronger emotional result, and it would be perceived as more polished too, I feel.


Transitions between video clips

This is an interesting topic too, and might often be an underrated one.
In music, I think attention to this often can be the difference between good music and great timeless work of art.
I’d say that it’s way more common to pay attention to this in video editing for media than in composing for media. though.
There are a few reasons for that, but I won’t go into that discussion just now, but it’s good to keep this aspect of editing in mind nevertheless.

For my own Music video, there are one or two transitions that I wasn’t as happy with, and especially one of them.
Perhaps you could tell which one?


Text editing

The correlation in style between video context and music has been mentioned already.
But the style of the text fonts also affect the perceived quality of the whole package.
Choosing fonts and editing size, placement and timing can be a pain, I feel.
It depends on the video editing software, and how well you can use this feature intuitively and with accuracy.

If you wish that the text should be clearly readable on cell phones etc. then have that in mind if you work on a bigger screen. I probably could have chosen a bigger font size for my own piano music video there… So perhaps a lesson learned.

Closing comment

All things said and done, I think creating your own music videos can be very fun, opening up for new perspectives and even inspire you to approach your music in new ways, if you allow it.

Video editing can be time consuming, and requires attention to details and precise timing in general for the best results, even if you have expensive software and video clips.
(But having it will most likely save you lots of editing time spent.)
Also, don’t forget to make conscious considerations for how to make the visuals correlate with your music, whether it’s timing of phrases, footage with the right moods, or if you wish to tell obvious and/or subtle stories through connecting your musical motifs with the visual ones.

This mini-series is from a Music video and composer’s perspective, but there are certainly many tutorials on the video editing subjects, who are way more detailed than this. Let me know if you found some great ones for the most common software, or for video editing in general.

A new track of mine, with correlations to visual storytelling:

I plan to make more music videos later this year, but will keep focusing more on music for licensing onwards.
(Some of those new tracks do have specific storytelling and correlation with visual associations in them, like this new track of mine:
Assassin Hunted (music for licensing)

Either way, best wishes with your music and Music videos, and feel free to let me know if this mini-series have helped or inspired you in any way!
Don’t forget to check my other blog posts and other website sections too!

Update: Here is my second piano music video, using the same video editing software:

/ Fredrik

Advice on making your own Music videos with Stock video clips – part 1

 Part 1 of 2

(note: I will update this post some more soon)

Nocturne no.1 screenshot 1

Nocturne no.1 screenshot 2

If you have your own music and would love to have real video footage for it,
then the advice in this blog post is for you!

 

If you are more into shooting videos yourself, you could read Dirk Radloff’s excellent 2-part blog posts on DIY Music video creations:

https://heartscore.wordpress.com/2016/07/06/music-and-video-part-1-preparations/
https://heartscore.wordpress.com/2016/07/12/music-and-video-part-2-concepts/

 

But if you’re like me, and rather would have a bunch of high quality footage that you hand picked for a track, then the editing can be joyful, and you’d know you got nice chances of making the end results look good.

I have made my first one from stock video clips myself!
Happy with the results overall and had very nice nods from musicians/composing friends! And a few asked for a some directions and where I got the footage from.

Recommending watching it before you read more about my advice on making music videos below.
That way you’d be less biased with your initial perception for certain details. (I will explain further on)

Hopefully it can inspire you!
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSJGCg3ChKI
Nocturne no.1 screenshot 3

I had picked a bunch of full HD videos (1080p), with beautiful nature scenes, then exclusively tailored the clip editing for the evolving dynamic phrases and context in my piano composition.

(note: I’m testing monetizing for the clip, but opted out of the longest ads)

I did a few video editing tryouts a few years ago, but since it was my first attempt with stock video clips, I’d say you can do similar things too, if you have/get sufficient:

  • Video editing software and basic skills in editing with it
  • enough High quality Video clips to choose from
  • emotional and dynamic original music
  • Knowledge and skills in visual media analyzing.
  • Knowledge and skills in analyzing music

I’d say all five aspects are important for your best results, although you probably can get good results even without having assessed your own visual media analyzing skills.

If you have the interest in it since before, then chances are that you have good abilities already.
You don’t need a master degree to have the talent, which of course also goes for analyzing music and creating emotional compositions, (even though I believe educated knowledge and skills often do help)

 

Stock video footage mentions

There are a few websites that share Creative Common clips for collabs, such as Vimeo (not all of the clips), but I went with a Videoblocks subscription for this and some upcoming ones.

There are pros and cons about using a single service as a source however, even if the clips are high quality.
(more about that in next blog part)

To begin with, it’s time consuming to select video clips and also to download them one at the time. (Make damned sure you only download one at the time if you use Videoblocks, or you can run into trouble with your account.)
But once I had hand picked, downloaded and also categorized the video clips meticulously on my hard drive, it was quite easy to put it together. (You could also )

I suppose it’s easier with music you know like your back pocket because you wrote it yourself… Although creating your own footage has some clear advantages as well.

The music videos is something I really have missed having, since much of my music is related to stories, visuals and other contexts in the first place.

 

Categorize your downloaded clips!

This is done for the similar reason to why sections in a library are organized the way they are. Imagine trying to find a specific book fast, if all the books where simply thrown into the corners…

This is why it’s important to create custom folders on the hard drive and with sub folders as well, to reduce the search for clips later on. Or you could make sub folders later, and use large thumbnails to decide where to put each clip.
Normally, I prefer to use the detailed list view in Windows Explorer, so this would be an exception for me.

About obtaining s large number of video clips, it’s important to either categorize on the website interface, or doing it manually on your own hard drive.

The latter is how I wanted it. Any given moment, I want to have quick access to the files, e.g. if getting a sudden urge to just direct away without any further time consuming delays.
It’s time consuming enough to edit the video, if paying attention to details like timing, transitions, text design etc.

For categorizing, you should make up your own mind what works best for you.
For me, I use different kinds of video contexts, like different situations in the clips to decide what category I’d put each clip in.

Also, some clips would fit into multiple categories.
For instance, what if you have downloaded a clip with some people in a beautiful sunset, playing beach volleyball?
Should you put it in NATURE/SKIES, or PEOPLE/LEISURE, or SPORTS/OUTDOORS ?

(movie reference riddle: or “M for Miscellaneous?”
That movie scene highly correlating with this advice, so what’s it gonna be, “Marv”?
That nick name hint was spelled correctly, thank you very much.
So guess the movie? Late 80’s action film…

It can be inspiring to think in terms of film scripts and the visual aspects in films, even for composing inspiration sometimes, I think.)

Back to topic – In general, whenever starting a new video project, you’d want to find what you are looking for FAST, (just like scene in the movie riddle above.)

So for choosing where to save video files, I look at the strongest feature or most likely usage, and put it there, then put a shortcut link to other secondary choices of folders, where it also would fit.
Using shortcuts in multiple secondary folders also saves time later, or you’d risk having trouble finding what you look for. Shortcut links saves a lot of space, compared to copying files over and over again, so if doing this, I recommend using the Windows Explorer file viewer, or whatever file viewer you use on your device.
Either that, or “view all file formats” if available in your video editor software, or the shortcuts wouldn’t show up.
It works if you use the File explorer and open the shortcut files. Then it takes you right to the original folder for the video clips. Now you can easily select those clips to be imported into the video editor.
I have just about everything on my hard drives categorized like that, by the way.

Whenever you have lots of files, you truly find them quicker this way.
Also, don’t download big files of any kind directly to your desktop folder!
It would just takes up unnecessary space on your OS hard drive (which often is a small SSD disk)
Your desktop space is for shortcut links to programs, files and some functions! Not for the actual files!

 

Decide what you’re looking for, and choose search words wisely!

Videoblocks has many useable video clips, and Video effect templates like After Effects files.
It’s fairly easy to search for clips that you look for.

The search functions and it’s categorizes can always be better, but works for the most time. Finding all clips that would be of interest or even all clips within a certain category can be time consuming though.

It depends on how the clips are titled, and what tag words they use.
For instance, while looking for Nature footage, you could miss out on some, who might be named/tagged being from a certain country or area, etc.

Enough for today, but there is more specific advice coming up! (aiming for end of August)

Included in next blog part:

  • The ever present risk of popular clips being overused, and some workaround advice
  • Hand picked video clips correlating with the music and with each other
  • Important advice on Frame rates
  • editing timing and transition
  • Text editing for the video

    Thank you for reading! Let me know your thoughts on this.

    Link to Part 2/2

On Overthinking AKA Contemplating vs. Narrow-mindness AKA Focused mindset (and how it may affect the quality & speed of creativity)

“Over-thinking/Contemplating” vs. “Narrow-mindedness/Focused mindset”
(and different ways it may affect both quality & quantity of your creative work, and the production value for it)

by Fredrik Park – Composer, Music Producer, Musician & Music teacher

Here are some aspects of finding balance between over-thinking and when to stop looking into a subject further.
What do you choose to spend your time with, attempting to improve more efficiently? (if that’s even your aim)

This very blog post is addressing perspectives of improving quality & skills for Music Production a little bit more than the composing-songwriting improvements aspects.

 

But to start with, what if you pin the two general kinds of mindsets against each other?
Here’s a way to look at these two, addressing both some pros and cons:

“Over-thinking/Contemplating” can be time consuming at the expense of productivity, and often perceived as less social.
I believe it often can offer a deeper kind of storytelling and creativity though.
Often more personally fulfilling, and perhaps also emotionally connecting stronger with your listeners, by delivering a deeper message in your work, that might seem more significant to the listener.
But don’t forget, to get things done, you also need to consider when you’d benefit more from moving on, whether it is for an unforeseen period of time, or for a shorter while before returning to it.
This goes for creative tasks, and might be applicable to lifestyle and relationship topics in general too, I believe.

“Narrow-mindedness/Focused mindsets” on the other hand can limit your perspectives or making you regret wasting lots of time on choices that turns out to be non-efficient, or maybe you are emptying the wallet on badly fitting investments or bad quality, if you failed to do sufficient research into the matter.
(e.g. expensive instrument samples or plugins that you end up have little or no real use for, regretting you didn’t pick a better alternative instead.)

So a different cause for not being efficient with your time.
However, sticking to a single aim at the time of course should help you get particular tasks done quicker.
And perhaps also being able to successfully juggle a higher amount of different projects etc. at the same time. Or being able to successfully finish off each full project one at the time faster.

It can often depend on what kinds of improvements you aim to achieve at the time, and long term speaking as well.
It might also depend on the kind of audience or employers that you aim for.
I’ve probably spent too much time on doing research, but in this context, making good software purchase choices for music production surely speed things up in the end.
At least if aiming high with the production quality. And I might spend less time with research ahead…

One other route for higher productivity quantity-wise would be to make more music with less attractive sounds & samples libraries or recording quality. And with less attention to details.

This way would require less research and investments, and less time per song.
But if aiming high, it would either require spending tons of time with post-editing and tweaking, damage-control even, or simply not caring at the moment.
Maybe fixing it with future purchases, or letting someone else fix it.
Again, focusing on songwriting or productivity with the current audio quality might be preferred by some.

I’ve done all the above, but lately leaned towards that research is worth my time, generally speaking.
I can spot and avoid bad quality & aim for high quality way easier and faster lately, thanks to my past research and choices for music production investments.

Plus, my knowledge and ears for music production qualities has increased from it. Even the versatile kind of creativity. But the sheer number of tracks I’ve made the last years are far less because of it. Question is if I should regret that, or if I should be content in gradually increasing quantity productivity ahead?

I do believe in a using a combination of at least both these kinds of mindsets. (I’d say there may be other kinds of mindsets too)
At one point however, it’s probably time to be content with the current level of audio quality or amount of Mixing & Mastering studies, or your Music theory studies etc.
At least for the time being.

 

Try your wings again and see if you can speed up the composing or mixing process with a quality that you are happy with. Without getting stuck on minor details too much.

On a similar note, I’m personally not a fan of making “one song each day” regardless of quality though.
At least not if the process is rushed in any way.
Even though focused work with strong time limits can get things going quicker and easier, but I’d still suggest allowing yourself to elaborate, at least for a little while on initial ideas.

Even if it would breach the time limit that you might have set for yourself slightly.

I’d agree more with another common advice to “spend time each day on your goals, e.g. improving your performing skills and songwriting, etc.”
To me, that’s the more thoughtful advice, more applicable on different aims and situations.
And to always aim to study, practice, compose, produce etc. in a conscious and mindful manner.
Anyways, I might still fool myself with these conclusions to some extent, in a similar way I suspect people who use the terms “over-thinking” or “narrow-mindedness” in exclusively negative contexts often might fool themselves.

There are always ways to look at these things slightly differently. As long as you’re not clinging onto neither of these two seemingly final mindsets, I think you’re onto something.
As always, I suggest trying to not looking at things 100% black or white, or from a single perspective.
I elaborate more on these things in this blog post of mine:
http://fredrikpark.com/2014/12/31/multi-facetted-perspectives-as-a-personal-philosophy-and-as-a-composer/

And for more specific advice on improving composing and improvisation skills, so far I’ve written a 3 part blog text on that too, and more… Check it out in my blog!

http://fredrikpark.com/blog/
http://fredrikpark.com/
https://soundcloud.com/fredrik-park
note: Music Production can be described as the whole process of Recording, Editing, Mixing and Mastering.
Mixing is probably what most people associate with Music Production.

It’s making any changes in volumes, EQ (changing frequencies like bass, mid, treble in a more precise way), editing audio (e.g. changing pitch, timing, stretching audio, combining parts from multiple recorded takes, (often referred to as “comping”), adding audio effects and such.

“Mastering” is the final adjustments made preferably by a professional Audio Engineer. The mastering process typically involves volume adjustments of the full finalized tracks, unifying the track volumes and character through EQ, compression and limiting (these are separate topics all together, and I won’t elaborate more on these things here. There are plenty of both free and retail material on these subjects already.)

You might have heard of Landr, which is a very cheap, but automated Mastering solution.
Probably the #1 problem with any blind automated decisions, by AI or algorithms, is that although it was initially programmed by people, then the Mastering decisions for your track are not done with concern for any musical directions or details that you might wish to be taken into consideration. A pro Audio engineer would.
To me, automated Mastering can fix a few issues like volume levels correlation, maybe any horrible imbalance of frequencies.
But I assume it doesn’t makes any human fine tuning based on musical context, such as addressing any creative intentions through specific mixing, accents, phrases or other musical details like that. We’ll see how it progresses in the future though…

On improvising and composing, part 3

1-1013tm-cart-concepts

Try avoiding being stuck with narrow-mindedness! (Why not start with losing that tie, it might strangle you…)
This image can be interpreted as becoming a victim of a negative chain-reaction.
(I also put a deeper interpretation last on this text page)


To create positive chain-reactions for your craft and creativity,
allow yourself to start learning new things on a lower level!

Hone your strengths too, but if you ONLY stick to your strengths, and what you’re used to, consider this:

You’re most likely gonna miss out on becoming more intuitively diverse and fluid with your craft.
I’ve read multiple retail tutorials online recently, saying similar things. But I’ve said it for decades offline myself…

Practicing drills doesn’t have to limit you to become a robotic musician/composer/person, ya know. Do you have patience with such?
If you do NOT think about what you’re doing, there’s always a risk of numbing yourself with drills, especially if it’s put upon you without suggesting that you can contemplate about the benefits yourself.
But you’re hopefully not considering yourself a slave under drills and scheduled practice…

If you can see the point and the benefits with it, it can become much easier to justify keep doing it… The motivation could increase tenfold:

When drills have become second nature, you can use it way more effortless even in creative situations!
This is a well known belief, both by music teachers, pro musicians, and also described in many pro athlete fields and much more.

Think of racquet sports champions, the ball/puck control by forwards in team sports like soccer or hockey, Martial Arts professionals, pro dancers, or elite race drivers to name a few.

Whenever you see on the highest level, having full control over their creativity,
think of the amount of drills they’d have to endure during practice, to at all obtain the confidence to try it out when it matters the most.

The drills themselves might be super boring and repetitive till death, yet they can intuitively choose to implement the technique and tactical or artistic benefits from any such drill when needed, and it would be acknowledged as artistry on a high level.
Again, if the individuals understood the meaning of practicing the drills, the motivation of achieving those goals probably boosted their patience and relentlessness with it for longer periods.

For example:
*A tennis drop shot from nowhere, wrong-footing the opponent at a crucial moment;
*A rare kind of deke in NHL resulting in the goalie buying hot dogs at the stands, as we say in Sweden;
*Creating an element of total surprise or higher artistic fluidity with new moves or chain of moves.
Dancing, Martial arts and Pro fights comes to mind;

*A daredevil race track overtake, that nobody expected.
SURPRISED ASIAN WOMANSURPRISED BLACK MANSURPRISED WOMAN

The audience goes ooohhh!!!, and usually salute the athlete as having magic hands/skills or being a true artist.
…Acknowledging the athlete to have a great creative & playful, yet courageous master mindset.

But in most cases, the athlete proved to have practice this very move over and over again before mastering it. Often for several years.
This is a common claim also by professional musicians, coaches, teachers and authors, and it would fit several motivation posters.
Determination, you know…

 

One has to start somewhere!
Even if simply learning some things that you never tried before, chances are you actually can start using it in your new musical ideas pretty soon. Because you already have related skills and understanding that should make most drills easier to execute and understand.
Usually, it wouldn’t take years for that. Also, it’s not like millions of people are watching live while you try it out in your compositions or while improvising.

But don’t forget to always contemplate on WHY you chose to do certain drills etc. Is it only for show-off later on? Or will it help you in other areas as well?

Physical precision or Timing precision? Both?
Physical strength or Stamina? Is it about improving relaxation & reducing tension?
Will it help you Music Theory-wise? Creativity-wise?
Mentally? Emotionally? Seeing big pictures? etc. etc.

For “Periods of time”, focusing on either drills, music theory, improvisations or looking for new influences usually all help.
The lengths of the periods may vary hugely, depending on personality, aim and situation.

 

Early on, my own composing and improvisation individuality expanded a lot more after having spent periods of all the aspects that I’ve mentioned so far.
But also when I stopped spending so much time listening to other composers.

For a period of time, listening relentlessly to favorite composers or artists can certainly help to get started, but I’d say it’s easy to get stuck with it, and it can be difficult to undo. Almost like a detox needed.
Unless you’re happy with where you are right now, you’d want to progress more fluidly and diverse by adding other methods of learning.


So to sum it up:

Having learned from more influences and having more understanding of genres & Music theory will result in having more tools to choose from. Both when creating something specific and something abstract or highly personal.

As long as you are aware of how you can benefit from drills, it might be worth it. Especially if doing it efficiently.
Some need help with understanding it, some figure it out on their own. For me, it was a bit of both to begin with, but more and more the latter, as I gained understanding of composing and improvisation techniques, and as a musician.

Sometimes the aim to create something highly personal requires making specific choices about your musical influences,
as well as the way you choose to practice and study.

 

And if you read my previous blog post, I mentioned that inspiration can come from many other non-musical kinds of sources and mind sets, rather than following a single genre, tradition, belief system or similar.

On the same notion, I suggest that you don’t take anybody’s word for granted blindly!
Neither mine nor the big “authorities” even on certain subjects.
I encourage people to listen to such, but to question them too.

There are plenty of cases where authorities promote ideas or info that you simply won’t be able to grasp/agree with/implement or benefit from… But also plenty of cases when you will benefit from listening in depth to authorities as well. As long as you don’t do it blindly, you should be fine.

Look me up on my Facebook and Soundcloud pages with feedback, questions, suggestions, or go to my Contact info page if you wish to use my services.

In the meantime, best wishes for your creativity and aims! (I avoided to mention luck in that phrase.) 😉

 

PS. About the top image, for the allegory that I referred to there:

It’s all in paying attention to different aspects and details.
Here, all that would be needed to avoid the situation would be to address the seemingly insignificant cog, or “the lesser of evils”, see?
Makes me associate to the Lord of the Rings and the role of the Hobbits. The ones of the Fellowship and Gollum as well.
Like two sides of a similar coin… That book/movie has some serious wisdom in it, I feel.

Also, I recently noticed there’s an organization devoted to educate people about mistreatment of certain exotic animals. Koalas for export?
Tickeling Australian koalas is claimed to make them stretching their arms upwards, just like the teddy dude in the image. Only that the koalas are claimed to do it as a reflex of fear.
(again, perhaps just like the teddy dude in the image) DS.

/Fredrik

On improvising and composing, part 2

Add more tools to your creative palette!

 

If you’re a melodic musician or composer, wishing to improve your tonal creativity:

Try combining things mentioned in “On improvising and composing, part 1”, while testing different performance techniques & musical details. Things like finger positioning, rhythm patterns, progressions etc.

Things that you already learned from practice, and by learning pieces by some of your favorite composers or artists.

Some things you might have learned by ear, some by sight reading. Even if you’re doing seemingly boring technique drills or study Music theory, don’t forget to always try your hardest to really use your ears and mind, to try understanding how you may implement your skills and knowledge in a creative way later on.

And then, try to forget a bit about the exact order of notes & chords in the original compositions that you used to practice.
Practice similar patterns more freely!

An example of this is my “Nocturne no. 1 – The Longing and the Wonders”.
Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – end part

Here, the arpeggio section is a finger technique that I learned by practicing a Rachmaninov prelude, but that was a different key and different context. And it’s not the exact same finger positioning pattern or order of notes either.

In this composition, I wanted to create something unique, specifically the chord progression in combination with the melody in the repeated main motif. Soundcloud link to Nocturne no.1 (The Longing and the Wonders) – main motif

My point is, at least you don’t have to re-invent the wheel from scratch with new techniques all the time.
It would become less accessible, and become tough to appreciate, even if it’s a neo-romanticism piece like this.

You can create highly personal tracks while using similar patterns, rhythms or chord progressions.
Try to avoid copying too many notes from original melodies by others though.

Also, total brainstorming during improvisations could lead to more composing ideas on the other hand. But if you don’t record all of it, chances are higher that you’ll forget it all, I’d say.

 

Try to be or become more open-minded about other kinds of music and performance styles!

When not practicing or resting your ears, searching for impulses from diverse music traditions, eras & genres will offer new perspectives, inspiration and points of view. There are lots of famous examples of blends of styles in modern eras.
(Earlier on as well)

I’d suggest listening to as many different styles and genres as possible, not only solo pieces for your instrument, but other genres and instruments as well.
Orchestral compositions, Film scores, Classical, World music, Folk, all kinds of Pop, Rock & Alternative genres, Electronic music, Rap/Hip Hop, Hybrids, etc. etc.
And don’t forget about Songs with lyrics,

ANYTHING that’s made with quality and emotions can be inspirational and educative if you allow it.
Anything that could bring a different perspective and new ideas without copying too much of specific songs or tracks deliberately.
The last part there is of course important as well, or you could become more of a copy cat, a chameleon or a cover song artist.

Of course it also depends on what your goal is, and what you’d be happy to become.

For the genuine kinds of composing and improvisation individuality, I feel the above advice might be helpful. All of it…

Link to part 3

 

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