Studio Session Three: Medieval Music Creation

Studio Session Three: Medieval Music Creation

Jade Melody Composing here. It's a beautiful day, a bit cooler than it has been, but nice, bright, and sunny. I'm starting this session in the early afternoon, and today we're going to focus on creating more medieval stock music projects!

Because of the theme of today's studio session, and because I've got a track that I am going to try with the harp already in my head, I won't be starting with any pads today, though I may add one later in the project. Instead, I'll be building a simple foundation using a single large drum and a harp.

The drum track is relatively easy to put together. It's just a steady single beat for now, but I may add a few other separate tracks using different medieval-style instruments later.

The harp track is also simple. I used plucked notes, three per chord, and I leave it like that for now. Beyond those two tracks, I hadn't thought much further ahead other than the plan to use a dulcimer. I'm going to create the dulcimer track now and see what I can come up with. After a short amount of time of refamiliarizing myself with the dulcimer, I come up with a simple lead track that goes nicely with what I have so far.

With just these three tracks, I am pleased with how the song is forming, and I decide to add a flute track into it, including a simple flute intro for the song. It's a relatively simple track creating more structure for the song holding out two notes for each chord. With the notes used (we're in the key of B flat, by the way), the flute sounds like sweet honey to the ears mixed with the gentleness of the drum, harp, and dulcimer. I didn't have much planned out for this project, and I am pleased with how easily Ive been able to put together these four tracks so far, though I am starting to think of a couple of other percussion instruments that I am going to start working on adding.

After spending some time going through a few different instruments, I ended up with a much simpler single added percussion instrument track featuring a tambourine played every third beat. After experimenting, I found that the song really didn't need much more than this as far as percussion went, and I left it with only the two percussion tracks, the drum hitting every second beat and the tambourine every third.

I am surprised at how full this small number of instruments has made the entire song sound, and because it is a background track, I'm going to pause on this one to take time to consider adding more to it or leaving it as is. Listening to it with fresh ears will help me decide. With the song's theme, it may be better to leave it simple as it is meant to be a background.

Now since it didn't take much time doing the first bit of work on that first track, I am going to start a second one. This one, however, is going to be a more upbeat track with a bit more complexity to it. This first track was a good way to get me into the medieval music mindset for the next song.

I started formulating this track more fully in my head, unlike the first one, so I have good idea of where I want to go with it. I'm going to be starting off differently from my usual style of getting the structural tracks with less movement made first because I want to get the dulcimer track created before I forget it. It's a fast-paced track, and while it is still a part of the song's structure, there is a lot of movement. This one actually takes me some time. After a while of making sure I've got the first part created the way that I meant to and making sure it works for what my plans are, I have it down the way I want it.

Now I'm going to go ahead and get the percussion tracks taken care of. These are an important part of this song's foundation, and it's going to give me a good idea of what parts of my planned out tracks are going to work well with this project.

I start with a fast-paced low sounding drum, though it is on the faster side, it is an easy beat to compose, and it doesn't take long at all as I've already got it planned out in my head, though I do consider one change to it for a while, but I ultimately decide against it. I do make a change from a different sound for the second percussion track to a tambourine. After hearing it in the first song I worked on, I think it works more for the classic medieval-theme.

Now that the percussion tracks are ready, though I may add more later, it's time for a more adventurous sounding orchestra track. It steps outside of the medieval themed instrumentation, but I believe it will add a sense of adventure to the entire song. I will create it and then decide whether to keep it or not after the song is more complete.

For what I have in mind, I need two tracks with the same orchestra sound. I set up chords in one track and single notes in the second track so that I have better volume control over each of these. Since it's the same sound, the single notes will need more volume to stand out as much as I plan for them to from the more powerful sounding chord track. It comes out a little different than how I envisioned it, but I like it.

Next, I add a harp track with simple strummed chords to add a bit more structure and fullness to the song. Now, I'm ready to move on to the next part of the song where the chord progression changes. This second part of the song uses four chords instead of two like the first part, and it takes some time to create all of the instrument parts for this portion of the song. I made use of one of my all time favorite minors, the D minor and I like the way it turned out very much. After I've got it all made, I listen carefully for any places where the song may feel empty.

While I like the song the way it is, I can't help but think it needs a choral part that goes with the orchestra track. I go ahead and create choral tracks for part one and two, and end up with a much fuller sounding song. From here, I decide to call it and leave the song as is, planning to listen to it with fresh ears before I finish it.

This session was a lot of fun! I enjoy creating this kind of stock music and look forward to working on it more. Thank you for reading our blog! We've been having a good time with these and plan to continue!"
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