Now it's my turn! :) Westworld Scoring "Competition"

Huhu,

it’s me again. I hope you guys are doing well and you had a great and productive week!

I definitely had, so now I can share my score to the Westworld Scoring Contest hold by Spitfire Audio.

I already have shared some insights into my project, although only theory. But now I can show you some more practical stuff, as I finally finished composing this huge scene. In the end, I had well over 100 tracks in the mixing stage, so I had to start focusing on the important things & instruments. I know that I could spend far more time finalizing this cue, however, if you know the 80/20 rule by now, at some point you ask yourself if you really need to spend more time “improving” something.

I do believe that I could do far more detailed things, but yet again, if you are really satisfied with your 80%, it’s totally fine for me, as my personal 80% are already kind of “picky”, meaning that even if I am not finished to 100%, I don’t need to feel embarrassed or uncomfortable even in front of other professionals.

I still think that I did more than 80% because I have spend 7 days on that one. I know that there are people who have spent only 2 days, however, it really depends on your music choice (how complex your score and orchestration is) and of course how fast your workflow in general is.

For my orchestration, I have chosen to do something hybrid, so I have used the orchestra as my guidance (rhythm section) and in between, I have added sound design elements like risers, hits & whooshes to support the orchestral elements.

Indeed I had to readjust the tempo in the middle of the score, so my current timeline doesn’t look the same as I have shared in my article, however, it still feels the same, and there is not a lot of difference compared the original one. I am talking about the scene before she gives him the gun (view going into the car), and I wanted to speed up the music a little bit before so, it really ends with his head going down.

Again, sometimes you need to adjust the tempo, and sometimes you need to adjust the bars. And sometimes you need to do both, whatever works best for you and makes musical sense.

Harmonically the cue is kind of special, as I didn’t change the tonality all the time. I stuck with F Phrygian, meaning in most cases I have used these notes:

F - Gb - Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - (F)

If you ask me why I have used this scale, I would say this:

When you have a key that has a lower 2nd in it, you already create “tension”. And if you even have a second halftone step after it (lower sixth), you create even more tension. If you play phrygian-mode, you already create darkness in a kind of sense, I guess it makes sense, as the scene is dark, chaotic and violent. So why not take advantage of that mode? :slight_smile:

If you have more questions, drop them here. I’ll be happy to answer them for you! :slight_smile:

PS: Yeah, yeah, the thumbnail is click-baity, but whatever, as long as people get what they have asked for, why not :smiley: Enjoy guys! I mean, I hope you will :sweat_smile:

Sincerely,
Alexey :slight_smile:

5 Likes

How did you get all the sounds mixed and balanced this well? Nice, intro and how you set the tone of the music , you did a lot of cool transitions and didn’t use a lot of repetition. Sounds great.

1 Like

Thank you @que10musx for your kind words! :slight_smile:

Well, there are a couple of things to tell of course, but I try to make it as clear and short as possible for you…

I have spent more than one-day re-mixing and re-balancing the cue, as when I have exported my instruments track as audio-files, due to the groups I had already in my compositional template, the balance wasn’t the same anymore. But of course, I wanted the same sound from my original idea.

My main focus, when doing mixing is first to go for the sound, and only then trying to fix EQ or Compression issues. The most important aspect of a great mix is not how much you have EQ-ed all instruments, but how well you have set the balance between them, as it is the color of your music in first place.

The overall balance is done with two big steps: (1) What is the main instrument in each section that needs more attention, and (2) balancing all other instruments to that. It’s similar to the common principle of setting the foundation with vocals in a pop-song. But here we have other instruments and sounds. If you know what instruments are important to you, then it becomes really easy to adjust everything else, as the main focus is always the most important sound.

The “tone” I have already mentioned before in mixing, but music-wise it’s really about what does the scene gives me as a reference: If I see darkness, I start to collect ideas of what instruments could represent that darkness the best way (the traditional way). One of the first instruments I have used for that was “Action Strikes” by NI. They have some great taiko drums that really fit well in that kind of scenario. (We feel darkness if we hear low-end, less high-end stuff. Just a psychological fact.)

Transitions are always a special aspect of music, as they can ruin your musical flow throughout a piece. I find that two ways always work best for me: (1) A musical transition, meaning that I choose an instrument that guides the music into the next cue. Example: I have used the guitar-slide (0:56-0:58), as the transitional instrument to the next section. Or (3:28) when I use the cymbals to slide into the last cue. There are far more examples, like snares & timpani rolls or just risers, but the question always stays the same: “How can I make two parts melt together in a more musical way?” And (2) hard transitions like (2:33-2:35) when I let the trailer hits “air” drop-in volume until you can barely hear it and start with a big punch with the drums. Of course, it needs to be musical too, in the way that these sections need to be in the same key or at least going to another key that makes sense musical-wise.

It’s always an issue, as we often fall into the trap of loops. It’s not easy because it’s more a mindset thing and not the disability of the person themselves. Of course, I loop some sections too (harmonies) because if you don’t, you start to feel uncomfortable (at least, it’s what I feel), as I never come back to the roots of the key I am using, but the question I always myself when working on music, no matter what genre: "At what point I start to feel that the music becomes boring, predictable and unexcited. At that point, you MUST do something else!

How can you do that, you might ask? Well, if you have read my guide about music production, you should know, if not, here is your free copy: https://mailchi.mp/243ca47a7785/provenmusicproductionguide

I believe that you will find a lot of useful information in there. Enjoy! :slight_smile:

And here is my cue without sound-design and voice-over:

I hope I could answer all your questions! If there is anything, let me know :wink:

To your success,
Alexey :slight_smile:

4 Likes

Really cool and good score!
Good flow with the tempo to the scenes.
You really nailed a nice mood and enhancement.
Good luck Alexey!

2 Likes

Thanks, for the detailed explanation, keep up the good work!

1 Like

Sounds really good mate. Very different approach to myself, despite taking the hybrid route too. Can tell you had a weeks work on this, it’s very polished. Enjoyed the fanfare elements too. Plus your explaination is very good and detailed, this will help people starting out.

I’d probably point out for people who want to give this style a go, then you’ve mixed multiple sounds together and blended them to become one cohesive sound for some of the elements (mainly risers, braams, hits and other percussion).

To make that huge sound each individual element has to be crafted to s very high standard, which you have definitely shown in the piece.

In this competition the best bit for me has been seeing everyone’s approaches and how they differ. This is really the most enjoyable but for me. Very much enjoyed this!

Also, in reaction to our entertaining Facebook groups rant last night, I may be on the verge of leaving a few of them. The distaste is unreal, which I can totally see why you’ve waited until it’s all over to post this. Definitely a wise move on your part.

2 Likes

Thank you @Geoffers, I truly appreciate your professional point of view!

Well, look, the issue with these groups is always the same: 98% of all people there (most of them, I don’t know the statistics of course) do it because it’s there hobby and they treat it like a hobby, meaning that they take it extremely personal. What happens if you take something personal? Right, you feel you are attacked, no matter if you know that person or not, if he is an expert/pro or not. They don’t see it like that, I would even say that they think they are kind of “untouchable”, like “No, I don’t want that you change me! Go away!”

And that’s the point: They think, that I or someone else want them to change, but that’s not the case. You can’t change people or their opinions, you just can say: “Look, I suggest to try out this, or that…”, or “How about this…? Maybe that would work…”

No, instead they feel attacked instantly and think they need to protect themselves by re-commenting with weird stuff. Sometimes I really feel, that there are people who don’t even care or appreciate anything, no matter if that comes from a professional or not.

One of the strenghts of real professionalism is, no matter if you do it as a hobby or for a living, you collect pieces of advice, information, critiques and feedback to reflect on that and figure out what you can sort out that doesn’t belong there and what you need to re-think, adapt and implement. And unfortunately a lot of those guys can’t do that, because their egos are standing in front of them forever.

And another point is where people mix subjectiveness with objectiveness. Of course it can’t work, as first we deal with music (art in itself), but yet again we deal with experience based on our careers and there are certain things we already have figured out or someone else did it before, and these are pure facts. So of course, when I tell people that from the director’s point of view, I believe he would prefer to have less music during dialogue, it’s based on experience and facts from my life, as I’ve been in those situations before. And of course, who really wants to be “judges” by people they don’t know, never seen before and maybe even don’t know what they are talking about. I would be sceptical as well, as I don’t know with whom I am dealing with, and that’s okay, that’s why I try to be as careful as I possible can be.

But for now, I’m done. If I will post something, it will be pure self-marketing stuff, so people can decide for themselves if they like it or not. Everything else is out of my personal reach, thus I don’t need to pay attention and wasting my time with people who judge me before they know to whom they are talking to. Showing respect in terms of humanity should be the first priority out there, especially the internet. But as we see, it’s not the case…

3 Likes

Yes I agree, those are definitely some contributing factors.

Delving into this a bit deeper would be great. Perhaps if we all pooled our experiences on a thread, it might be useful for the community?

This is obviously something that everyone would have had some dealings with. Either as an antagonist or protagonist in certain situations?

2 Likes

This is incredible Alexey! :stuck_out_tongue:
Loved the dark tension feel (Phrygian rules for that lol) mixed with modern “electro vibe”, great use of “silence” and air to leave room for dialogue. Loved the hybrid pulses just hinting before it starts picking up energy.

The guitars rhythms are your own recorded yourself?

The stingers/one hit cue markers are just so perfect, and really adds to the dramatic feel.

Overall interesting that you went with lots of dark low piano, love that. Usually great for horror/tension, but worked very well here. But the guitar + all the brass stabs etc. really pushes this cue to next level.

Oh, that 4/4 electro beat 2:55 really made me get the XXX feel (Vin Diesel film btw for clarity lol).

Loved the punch hits that comes in every now and then for accent.

The build up with scale runs and energy risers before the impact of the car explosions, and then leaving room for the sound fx there…just EXCELLENT! :stuck_out_tongue:

Wow Alexey, I really think you would have a great chance to win in this competition. I wish you luck in the competition! :smiley:

1 Like

Mikael @Mikael, thank you so much for your feedback! I am glad that you like it, and of course, it is a different feeling being “liked” by a professional composer, then by an average listener. :slight_smile:

I am not skilled in playing the guitar, never really used the time to practice, and I don’t really need to, as I have some awesome people & musicians in my circle who are insanely good at it, so if I need something custom, I’ll grab the phone and let them know. However, this time I didn’t want to bother anyone with this, so just grabbed Shreddage Jupiter and started to play my own riffs, etc.

By the way, it was because of you that I have bought that one, as I was totally happy with my S2, however, Version 3 is insane in my opinion. Of course, it has a certain sound, so you can’t use it everywhere, however, for that type of music, I think it really can add something special. :slight_smile:

I need to find some time to show some things inside my project, so I can show the guys what ideas and what my mindset at that time was (thinking, thoughts, ideas, etc.) Maybe someone will take something useful out of it. :slight_smile:

Okay, we need to be honest with ourselves that winning that kind of contest would be something extraordinary, not only because so many pros are participating, but that the judges are people you don’t show your music or skills every day. So no matter what, it’s special even for professionals like us, that should be clear. However, even if I would win (or Top 5 whatever), I wouldn’t feel like I am the man, superman, or something like that. It just says, that on that day, these people have resonated more with my music than with others. It doesn’t necessarily mean, that I really had the “best” music or production, etc. And it should be clear too, that whoever wins it, had some kind of luck as well, as I have said before, there are already really good scores out there that would 100% deserve the win and attention from above.

I have already said in a post (in my blog too), that in the first place I take the time to work on that project because I want to collect some work samples for me (concentration on really professional ones) that my future clients will have access to, as these are the people who will judge my work and pay for my services. The guy who will win it will have great momentum and social media presence that will give him so clicks and likes, but at the end of the day, it will never pay him his golden ticket to Hollywood, right?

When I have designed my thumbnail I had to laugh about it for sure because no matter how good you think your project is, (1) it’s still very subjective and (2) it doesn’t guarantee your future success in this business. The only guarantee is, how you present yourself in front of other moviemakers, speak and treat them. Often people think that they need to be the best in terms of working in the industry, etc. and we both know that it is not true. Especially the music industry is about real personal connections, people who like and respect each other (in the first place), and no one is really judging you how good or bad you can compose and produce.

You can be the greatest, most talented guy on earth, making the best music, but if you are an idiot and an arrogant asshole, people will never work with you for more than one project and being respectful, kind and acting in a professional way is the golden ticket for longterm success. And my personal experience shows as well, that the more I am open-minded and honest to people, no matter if I need to say something positive or negative I see more and more people start to take me seriously and respect my opinion, as they understand that I care.

2 Likes

Completely true, and very much what we talked about in the other thread! :smiley:
Staying humble and down to earth, and being a nice person, that is what gets you business, professional connections and actual clients and jobs. Which is something sadly perhaps 90% of aspiring composers (or any artist niche really) fail to understand. The golden ticket is YOU, how you treat other people, and how easy and professional you are to work with :slight_smile:

1 Like

Alexey, will you be able to use your cue in any way if you don’t win? Or do they somehow own any rights just from your submission?

By „use“ you mean my music somewhere else? Sure I can! It’s my music and I can do whatever I want, however, because it’s a custom track, I don’t think I need to use it somewhere else. It’s just a perfect ad for my service, it’s more than enough for me. That’s what i have communicated to my email-list, on Facebook and here as well. It’s NOT about this competition, it’s about the main question: „How can I use this cue for my advantage?“

Look, I did all I could, invested 7 days making this, and now it’s about time to start collect impressions from people inside the film :movie_camera: industry. I already have a great contact to one director in south Germany that is already responsible for bigger productions. One contact here, one contract there, and voila you have your first composing gig for a movie.

And don’t forget about the challenge I have talked about in private. I will share it later, when I show some numbers and results with the guys here. But it will take sometime to collect all data, so it’s realistic and believable. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Yes, completely true. Also what Alex Pfeffer, Christopher Siu @ChrisSiuMusic, and many others have said. Being “visible” with you content online, is like a modern business card. The more your content is seen and spread on the Internet, the higher your chances of attracting really good contacts in the industry! :wink:

1 Like

By the way, as you mention it, I haven’t watched it yet. I think the link should be somewhere here, right? Always liked watching this kind of rounds, as you can always grab something out of it, and idea or a thought just to think about. People need to see more of this. I mean, look how great the Pensado’s Place has been so far. Constantly 90+k views, sometimes even much more. That’s great for everyone!

1 Like

Not sure when/where I heard them say it though, but I completely agree with them. Quality content is more important than number of views. Will a client even care if your YouTube videos or SoundCloud profile has tiny views, if the quality is super high? Nope, because they will only care about the end result! :smiley:

There it is:

2 Likes