Ace, I'll do my best to answer all your questions - here goes.
My curiosity comes from the wondering of what it was you were trying to accomplish the moment right before you started writing. Surely you had certain goals in mind and a general form of what was to be. How long did you want the piece to be? Did you go over that time? How many sections did you decide to have and how did you proportion them with one another? Are there any specific tonal relationships between the sections? Any motivic elements common throughout? What was the general feeling you wanted to leave the listener with? At what points did you think the listener would be bored, surprised or excited? Is there a specific climax to the piece? How did you compose the various parts, was it from mind to pen to orchestra or did you first score it for piano or other individual parts? Did you encounter any difficulties with length, form, rhythm, melody or scoring? Why did you pick the key that you did? Why the meter?
I wanted the piece to be roughly a medley more for my guidance than anything else. When I sit down to write a soundtrack I try to keep certain themes the same throughout. I wanted the piece to contain the themes that I planned to use throughout the entire game.
The first section, the Standoff Fanfare, was designed to be the theme of the game. This is the song that governs the entire game. When you think Star Wars you hear a certain theme. This first section is to be that song for Standoff. This is the one that defines the game.
In contrast to UE, Standoff needed a slow, sad, reflective theme just by nature of the plot. I needed a theme to be present for all the times when something, well, less than good happens. This second section was designed to be that theme.
The third section was designed as the military theme. This is the fighting theme. When we have battles, when Confed is fighting back - that's what this theme was about.
These three pretty much cover the main elements of Standoff, so it was important to get them written so that I had something to use throughout the game. The idea of the overture was simply to link them all together into one complete piece.
I didn't think about time, relative durations, none of that. I wrote what I wanted to write for as long as the music took me for it to tell me it was done. I didn't want to restrict myself to a time limit or force myself to write a certain amount. I had no standards for durations of sections or length of the piece. It is and was to be simply as long as it was to be, and is, as confusing as that is. I very strongly believe that the music and ideas will tell me when they're done.
The concepts and motives change at each section, as they are each a different theme unto themselves. They all share a similar general catagory of style, but the only thing linking them together is what influenced and inspired them - they're all written for and about Standoff.
The piece wasn't really written with the listener in mind. It was written for me, as a tool to the composer. These are the things I heard in my head when I thought of certain elements of Standoff. Listening to the complete Overture, the intro was designed to kind of put the listener in the mood of Wing Commander. I treat that intro melody as the theme of Wing Commander in general, and it needed to be there somewhere. The first section is something of an explosion for the listener. The listener hears a melody, but a lot of coloring and icing around it - the idea is to emmerse them in the music. When we get to the second section, its supposed to create that slow, sad, reflective feeling building to a major climax. This then leads us to the third section, which should create a strong, determined feeling. There are a few climaxes throughout, but the biggest would come towards the end of the second section. Standoff is primarily about this false truth and how humanity was decived and hurt badly. The second theme is extremely important, thus the climax here is the greatest. Also programatically this bit has a very significant meaning to anything, not just Standoff (I explained the programmatic meaning in an earlier post).
Generally the way that I write and the way that I wrote the Standoff themes is not a common practice in classical writing. I think I write this way because I'm not really a classical composer. I write a lot more pop-jazz than I do classical music. What I do is I will hear a melody, notate it, then I will harmonize it based on what I heard. From this, I create a lead sheet - melody and chords. I then orchestrate and arrange as I go, again guided by what I'm hearing. If I'm stuck, I might use my theory to guide me as to the 'proper' way to do it, but generally, I ignore theory. I write what I hear and honestly could give a rat's ass about whether or not it was 'correct'. I refuse to acknowledge any possibility of there being a right and wrong in music. My favorite quote comes from saxophonist and innovator Charlie Parker, "Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. If you don’t live it, it won’t come out of your horn... They teach you there's a boundary line to music… but, man, there’s no boundary line to art." I firmly believe that.
Everything I did in terms of key, rhythm, meter form, orchestration - virtually everything is because I heard it that way. I can back it all up theoretically, but honestly who cares. The only justification that I think is necessary is "because that's how I heard it."
I understand the reasons you list for the choices you made, and they make sense, but I still stand by my initial feelings. Certainly that means nothing to anybody but me, but that's the way these things are. When making something that is designed solely for the enjoyment and enrichment of others, sometimes the things that we think are brilliant turn out to have no effect, or quite the opposite effect, on the audience. Likewise, the things we paid little attention to turn out to be treasured. The only way to get around this obstacle is to continue to listen to feedback, as you do, and start to alter your own perceptions of what your music means to people.
Tell me about it... I think that's something that all us musicians deffinately deal with. Probably the best we can do is ask for feedback.
Regarding the conclusion of that section: The suspensions and change of texture is nice and refreshing here, I just think that when it gets back to that melody again it sounds tired. That has more to do with the fact that it was overplayed previously than the way it is presented here. I like that it sounds nice and grand here and tries to evoke a different feeling from the theme, I just think we've heard more than enough of it at that point. Also, some parts of it sound awkward to me, specifically the sudden chromatic movement of the A flat, A, B (not sure how to contextually word that since I’m at work and can’t listen to it) and the trill. Neither of those seem to be bad ideas, they just seem counter to the style that you had established up to that point. The programmatic elements of it may be more obvious when playing the game or understanding the story, but I hope you aren’t assuming that the listener is recognizing such subtlety.
Yes. This is by far the longest section, and I was worried it might be too long. However, I just felt that enough was different towards the end of that section to keep people interested. Just my opinion.
Regarding the final section: I just think the drums are distracting. I understand that they’re important, but since Wedge had a similar reaction, it might be worth considering.
A lot of people have been commenting on that, and over the weekend I listed to a recording of this Overture with a nicer speaker system than I could fit in my dorm room. I hear how the drums can be distracting. I think part of the problem is because I wrote it, I'm very framiliar with what's going on so I hear it, even if its difficult to hear in the recording.
I would always encourage anyone that is writing orchestral music to indeed score it with an actual orchestra in mind; it just plain makes sense. The issue comes from the fact that there’s a frustrating schism between what you will write and what you will hear. Orchestral writing is undoubtedly the most complex and nuanced medium possible, far beyond the reach of the abilities of MIDI, and a lot of things are going to be lost in the translation. I think you have to make a decision about if you’re writing this music for a human orchestra, or you’re writing it for a box beside your computer. If you don’t, you might find that you end up writing music that doesn’t quite work for either.
I'm writing the music for a human orchestra, but as one is unavailable, the box in my computer will have to do
Dealing with synthesizer technology is a pain in the ass, but its the best I can do at present. If an orchestra were available to me I would jump at the chance to use it in a second. I think its better that everything is scored for a real orchestra rather than a box in the computer because I think it sounds better than writing for synth instruments, and it makes it very easy to have the music played by an orchestra if the oppertunity presents itself. I write music for humans that a human can play that works for a human. As humans is unavailable, well... a synthesizer is the next best thing.
I certainly look forward to the opportunity to look at the score; any further comments would probably necessitate such a thing.
I do thank you for all of your comments, and the score will probably be available at some point. Its just too soon right now. However, if you have Sibelius, I could send you the score file, as I trust you with it - just don't show it to anyone without telling me.