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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 12:07 pm 
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I've never collaborated with a musician, so I was wondering, what is the process of collaborating with a musician you've hired to make an original soundtrack for your visual novel?

This question is aimed at people who are either musicians, or have experience with collaborating with musicians. Writing music is a wonderful mystery to me; I don't know how to write music, but I have a great appreciation for people who can. But as someone who hasn't made her own songs, how do I properly direct a hired musician and give them feedback on first drafts? What is the usual process? How do you give the musician enough direction, yet enough creative freedom? Any tips?

So far, I have this:
- Explain the premise of the visual novel (setting, time period, genre, etc).
- Describe the feeling you want the listener to be feeling when they hear the song.
- List anything you specifically want in the soundtrack (instruments, period style, genre, etc)
- If the planned song is character theme/leitmotif, describe the character the song is about.
- Show the musician temp music, and explain what you like about that music.

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 14, 2017 1:36 pm 
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Completed: Seasons Of The Wolf, Roommates, Nicole and many more
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questions to discuss creatively:
Do you like the musician's previous work in their portfolio?
Is the musician passionate about your project?
Do you know how much content you're looking for?
What type of music? Reference examples?

business questions:
Is the musician capable of following directions and meeting deadlines?
What is payment structure like?
Who owns what? (Prior to release? After release? Other use like soundtrack / licensing, etc.)

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PostPosted: Fri Jan 27, 2017 7:56 pm 
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LeetMusic wrote:
questions to discuss creatively:
Do you like the musician's previous work in their portfolio?
Is the musician passionate about your project?
Do you know how much content you're looking for?
What type of music? Reference examples?

business questions:
Is the musician capable of following directions and meeting deadlines?
What is payment structure like?
Who owns what? (Prior to release? After release? Other use like soundtrack / licensing, etc.)

Thank you for your suggestions, but I'm more specifically asking for the process of giving information (what type of music I'm looking for) and giving feedback to a musician, not questions to ask myself for hiring a musician.

For the sake of this discussion, let's presume that I've picked a musician I trust who I know can make the type of music I need. But now I have to figure out how to ask for what music I'm looking for, as well as how to give feedback on the first draft of music.

Any suggestions?

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PostPosted: Sat Jan 28, 2017 3:58 am 
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IMO, references tracks are a great way to communicate what you want from a musician. It’s something I always ask for when composing an OST or a song for any type of multimedia. But specifically for games, it takes a lot of the guess work out. Simply pick out a song that you feel delivers the emotion you would like for your game, and hand it over to the musician as an example of what you would like. Just be sure to specify how similar you want the song to be.

Usually, you can choose from very similar, to somewhat similar, to almost handing complete creative control to the musician with the key exception of delivering a certain emotion or style you want.

If you can’t provide reference tracks, than at the very least you want to be sure you communicate what certain tracks have to convey. From that point on, you can get as specific as you want.

Other things that can help with the compositions is providing certain art, or texts for certain scenes. I know that’s not always possible, but it can be super inspiring, since it’s possible to score the scene almost like a movie.

As far as providing feedback, I think it’s good to be honest with the composer. If a track is not what you had in mind, say so. Unless you had very bad communication, you shouldn’t have to make the composer scrap an entire song. If a song is not exciting enough, relay that you want more excitement, if you feel it could be more emotional, again, relay that message. Likewise, if you would like certain instrument or instruments to have a more prominent role or cooler parts say so.

Most composers have a good communication skills and can translate what the client wants even if it’s in non musical terms. Of course that’s not always the case, and you may run into some musicians who struggle with this, but that’s what vetting is for.

It may seem like communicating with a composer is challenging if you are unfamiliar with music's inner workings or it’s terminology. However with what I’ve outlined above, and with what you have already mentioned, the process is very possible and not as daunting as it may seem.


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PostPosted: Sun Jan 29, 2017 4:29 pm 
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You're on the right track, OP. :) Sharing the gist of what you want should be sufficient, and specifics are generally better in my experience (e.g. I've been asked for something spooky with lots of ambience and a drum that echoes a little, or a gentle melody with piano at the core and a soft cello in the background). Reference images that capture the theme of the song are also quite helpful, although it's possible for the composer to search for these independently (unless I'm the only one who uses visual stimulation in this manner).


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 13, 2017 12:37 am 
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Completed: Perceptions of the Dead, Embers of Magic
Katy133 wrote:
So far, I have this:
- Explain the premise of the visual novel (setting, time period, genre, etc).
- Describe the feeling you want the listener to be feeling when they hear the song.
- List anything you specifically want in the soundtrack (instruments, period style, genre, etc)
- If the planned song is character theme/leitmotif, describe the character the song is about.
- Show the musician temp music, and explain what you like about that music.


As a composer, this is pretty much ideal if you can describe everything you listed and I'd love it if more people checked all those boxes. Especially - Describe the feeling you want the listener to be feeling when they hear the song. most people would overlook this one but in the end it's one of the most important things.

The worst thing is when the director has NO idea what they want. It makes it hard for the composer, and makes it hard for everyone. If the composer and the director are close, then it's a little more flexible. They would have a relationship where suggesting is open and easy. But for a composer who you are hiring, or someone you aren't close to, there is nothing worse than not knowing what you want and not knowing what direction to put them on.

One thing you need to remember is don't get too attached to the temp music or example music. The composer doesn't want to clone music. Even if they like having it as an idea of what to write, it's not going to sound the same and neither do they want it to sound exactly the same. Make sure you understand their style as well.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:17 pm 
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The collaboration will be different in each case. It's actually a relationship and every relationship is different.

Essentially, what you are doing is co-creating something. There might be some give and take between you, but hopefully at least some of the ideas will be resonating in a mutual way.

I would actually change your focus away from what you should be saying, and towards what you would like to create together. It's actually very simple - listen to the track and ask yourself if it fits for you, what you like / dislike about it.

I'm avoiding saying what I personally value in a collaboration because it doesn't really help you understand anybody but me. All I'll say is that some collaborations work out better than others and that's okay, you just do what you can and along the line you might form a really good relationship or two, maybe more.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 12:07 am 
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Katy133 wrote:
How do you give the musician enough direction, yet enough creative freedom? Any tips?

So far, I have this:
- Explain the premise of the visual novel (setting, time period, genre, etc).
- Describe the feeling you want the listener to be feeling when they hear the song.
- List anything you specifically want in the soundtrack (instruments, period style, genre, etc)
- If the planned song is character theme/leitmotif, describe the character the song is about.
- Show the musician temp music, and explain what you like about that music.


Hi,

From musician's point of view...
<Explain the premise of the visual novel (setting, time period, genre, etc).>
- Looks fine to me and if you could provide a demo or any visual aid it will be even better!
<Describe the feeling you want the listener to be feeling when they hear the song.>
- This is a very important part. Some relevant music examples could help, but not a very direct if you care music to be original.
<List anything you specifically want in the soundtrack (instruments, period style, genre, etc)>
- If you already heard the music that person create and you like it - it'll be better to omit these details and give more trust and freedom to musician.
<If the planned song is character theme/leitmotif, describe the character the song is about.>
- Definetely will help, especially with some visual aid...
<Show the musician temp music, and explain what you like about that music>
- Might be a little bit redundunt to some above...

Assuming you have a complete feeling about what you want and you just need someone to translate it into the language of music... A detaled description of character could help, but in some cases it might be better do not overwhelm composer with details and just give him/her general direction...
Also, it's a good practice to ask to make a little sample (sketch) first and, if you like it, start work on the whole song.

Good luck with that "retro/8-bit music with a Medieval tone" - I'd like to hear it :)

BTW, why have you decided to use 8-bit music at all? The graphic style, you choose for your game should fit very well with medieval-like music, but I'm not sure about 8bit style. Anyway, it's your choice...

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 10:14 pm 
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I've yet to collaborate with any musicians myself, though I've tried my hand at making my own... the issue is that I have virtually no musical training and cannot for the life of me compose a decent melody.

However, I will put some emphasis on "reference tracks". There is one website that I've used to make themes for original characters in the last few years, and most recently (read: last summer) I've made a few themes to serve as "placeholders" for my project. The website in question is musicshake.com. It has a bunch of free-to-use samples that can be looped and placed together, with a variety of different instruments, melodies, cords, and all that stuff. You can't compose anything of your own outside of stringing existing sounds together, but I think it's a good starting point.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 24, 2017 11:01 pm 
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Completed: [redacted] Life, Must Love Jaws, A Tune at the End of the World, Three Guys That Paint, The Journey of Ignorance, Portal 2.5.
Projects: The Butler Detective
Twitter: @JKaty133
Tumblr: katy-133
Deviantart: Katy133
J-Ray wrote:
Good luck with that "retro/8-bit music with a Medieval tone" - I'd like to hear it :)

BTW, why have you decided to use 8-bit music at all? The graphic style, you choose for your game should fit very well with medieval-like music, but I'm not sure about 8bit style. Anyway, it's your choice...
The project I have in mind has an art style that is retro, and the plot is set in the Medieval era. I came up with the art aesthetic before deciding on the soundtrack's style (though I made this post before coming up with the VN project--so this thread is kinda unrelated to it).

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PostPosted: Sat Feb 25, 2017 8:29 pm 
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Katy133 wrote:
J-Ray wrote:
Good luck with that "retro/8-bit music with a Medieval tone" - I'd like to hear it :)

BTW, why have you decided to use 8-bit music at all? The graphic style, you choose for your game should fit very well with medieval-like music, but I'm not sure about 8bit style. Anyway, it's your choice...
The project I have in mind has an art style that is retro, and the plot is set in the Medieval era. I came up with the art aesthetic before deciding on the soundtrack's style (though I made this post before coming up with the VN project--so this thread is kinda unrelated to it).

I can imagine it very easily. Although medieval music would typically be associated with certain instruments, the harmonies, melodies, rhythms etc could easily give away a medieval vibe. In fact it might be an interesting experiment.


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