Sad Music Contest Entry as a Cinematic Piece

I just started taking the Epic Music course and then found out abut this contest. I’ve loved movie soundtracks ever since I was kid and always dreamed of being able to do something along those lines. Since I was already taking the Epic Class I wanted to do something cienmatic and make my piece sound like it belonged in a sad scene in a movie. I chose some pretty somber sounding instruments like brass, harp, staccato violins, some deep tympany and tried to make use of some dynamics and sad sounding motifs. I just started writing symphonic/orchestral music like this month so this is all really new to me but I love working with these acoustic samples as opposed to all the synthesizer stuff. I used a chord progression I found on a Udemy piano class and modified it to have more minor chords to bring out a really melancholy feeling. I just imagine a person sitting alone in a room, looking back at all the mistakes they made in life and grieving over it. The picture I found online really captured the feeling of the music. I have not had a chance to do a proper intro but I am basically a guy who jams on the guitar and has a smattering of jazz theory picked up over the years. I figured since I am a pretty good improviser I should be able to write a half decent melody around some kind of interesting chord progression and hopefully people will find it interesting.I am glad to just have a piece to enter and good luck to everybody who enters!! I am including a bandcamp link because I think it will give you the best sound. Thanks for listening and I look forward to getting some comments, which are highly appreciated.


Hey Gary, welcome! I’m sure you’ll enjoy your time here, it’s a great community. I really like the tone and feel of this piece; it had a rather melancholy Gothic vibe to it that I enjoyed (I’m a bit Gothy myself😁). It definitely fit well with the Victorian-esque picture you used.

If I were to make some critiques, be careful how you use the timpani. In a typical orchestral setting, you usually only have 4, maybe 5 at max and each timpano has a certain size and therefore only a certain range of notes and each one is tuned to a one specific pitch you want to be played. If you want to change pitch on one or more, you need to give time for the timpanist to change it.

Also, I’d recommend reading/studying orchestration and learning about the different ranges, techniques and standard usages for each of the orchestral instruments. Not that you really did anything wrong here, just stuff you want to really keep in mind when writing in order to make your pieces as realistic as possible. I’m pretty sure @Mikael has a course on that stuff as well!

1 Like

Thanks! Those are great suggestions and I really appreciate your comments.

1 Like

Great piece! Definitely sad vibes. I would say look into the mix more, you can bring up some of those chord elements. Also, look into automation (either while recording the sounds or after the fact). That helps to bring the piece to life.

Some great free resources on YouTube are Christopher Siu and Guy Michelmore (2 separate pages). There are hundreds (if not thousands) more out there.

However, this is far better than my first attempts at scoring/film music.

Welcome to the community!

Thanks for your message! Yes, I know I need help mixing and thanks for those suggestions.

Welcome Gary. Your song is something mysterious because it is difficult to understand. There are lots of notes, counter melodies, and harmonies that don’t seem to fit. Improvising is good, but developing is better. :wink:
For me, a piece must be a journey that takes you to somewhere for some reason.
Having said that, you have put a work on it and it deserves a :clap: :clap: :clap:
Thank you for sharing, and keep on working

thanks for taking the time to listen to my song and I really appreciate that. I think some of the things you don’t like are actually the strong points of the song. I’ve dabbled in ambient music and like Miles Davis says there is music that “hangs like a cloud.” This is one of those pieces, it is meant to convey the feelings of someone who is stuck, sad, and feeling like they are going nowhere in life and it is my fault for not spelling that out. It’s not supposed to go anywhere, it is supposed to convey the feeling of not going anywhere so it is successful in that. As someone who comes from the jazz world i like dissonance, unusual and ambiguous harmonies with flat 9s, minor seconds and flatted fifths. I feel those harmonies are in the category of blue tones and really convey sadness. I took a fairly conventional progression and made it unconventional. That’s something I like to do and it is part of my jazz influence. there is nothing improvisational about the work, improv is generally streams of 8th or 16th notes played stream of consciousness using chromaticisms to connect chords and adheres usually to playing chord tones on strong beats and the various types of passing tones on the weak beats. None of that was employed, instead I tried to build motifs that implied sadness. Maybe those were not the best motifs and I am an improviser at heart so maybe that came out a bit. When I was a kid I loved the 20 minute Cream jams with Eric Clapton and maybe or maybe not those went anywhere but I loved that stuff plus the live version of the Mahavishnu Orchestra songs. I think we just approach songwriting from two different schools and both are valid. Anyway, I thought you might be interested in more detailed discussion of what I was trying to accomplish. Your insights were extremely valuable and really a help and I will incorporate those suggestions as they are very applicable to a certain style of writing. Thanks again for your comments.

1 Like

Thanks Gary for your explanation about your idea. Now, I see what you were trying to evoque :+1:.
By your inial description I urderstood that you just jam over some chords in a natural flow. That’s why I thought your song had some parts catched “on the fly”, in a more emotional than accademical way to compose. And that’s brilliant :ok_hand:. Personally, I only found hard to follow the song message.
Thanks again fellow for your nice attitude. :palms_up_together:

Well, sure I know you are trying to help me free of charge so who can argue with that. I do know that if I can write a song that appeals to you that it will be a really good song no doubt. I hope I can always count on you for feedback! Thanks again.

1 Like