Leave It Somewhere To Go
For my Gravity Falls piece, ryumarumg brought up an excellent point:
Hm. I like the beginning, builds a bit of suspense. I expected the brass to kick in sooner, but after listening to the whole thing I realized that it would have made the song feel much shorter and less full. Nice use of the strings for the main melody, too!
Here’s my thoughts on that:
Frank Sinatra always told Nelson Riddle to hold back on the brass in his arrangements because his thinking was to “leave the song somewhere to go”. It’s part of why Nelson Riddle is one of my favorite big band arrangers. He knew what he could do, but he teased the listener, push-pulled, and had a full bag of tricks that never got old because he sprinkled them in rather than beat you over the head with it.
To understand my style more, all you have to do is look at Daniel Kahneman’s TED Talk. The way things end matter more than the beginning or the middle. Almost our entire memory and/or rating of something is determined by the emotion that it left us, rather than what we experienced in full. For example, Transformers 5 could be the most boring movie ever, but if the final 20 minutes are amazing then we’ll say the movie was “OK”. However, if the very first 20 minutes were amazing but the rest of the movie was the most boring movie ever then we’ll say “the movie was absolutely horrible.”.
I grew up loving Nelson Riddle and Frank Sinatra’s advice because I apply it to everything I do. Sure, a movie’s first scene should grab your attention, but if it’s all explosions all the time then it gets tiresome. The same with any “art”: a book, a painter’s catalog, a chef’s dish, or even making love. You have to slowly build up on the intensity while making the entirety as perfect as possible. But if the final and last impression isn’t memorable, then anything that came before it is lost.
It’s said that the secret to a memorable piece of art is to make a good beginning, a good middle, and a good ending. But one thing I’ll add to that is to make the ending a lasting impression, because that’s what an audience subconciously weighs their opinions on.
Although some people dislike my arranging style, it’s about tension and release - to the point that you’re anxious to see where the road leads how it will progress.
(I was asked to repost this to make it rebloggable, so here it is again)
Sleepyhollowjacks asks: During your Heart-Shaped Box writing days, how did you divide your time between projects? A few days a week on the occasional short story, the rest on Judas? One of my short stories isn’t so *short* anymore. Has stretched out into something much bigger. But I’m aware I could spend two years working on this potential novel, and then not have it sell. Want to avoid the whole eggs-in-a-basket thing.
The first is to stop thinking about writing a novel that’s going to take you two years. That’s too overwhelming. Instead, just focus on what you’re going to do today, which is write another great scene: a scene that does something unexpected and fun and is going to make people want to read on. Something that explores the characters in a way that’s real but surprising. Don’t write about someone waking up, unless they’re waking up to find a dead body next to them. Don’t write about someone making breakfast unless there’s a head in the fridge… or his wife is going to call halfway through his eggs to tell him she’s leaving his drunk and lazy ass for an alligator wrestler and part-time evangelical preacher. That would be a great scene to write and that’s all the job comes down to. Your job is to write one great scene… and then write another great scene. When you have a whole stack of them, it’s a short story, or a novel.
My second thought is that the only way to learn how to write a novel is to write a novel. You’re afraid you’ll spend two years on a book you can’t sell and it will all be wasted time. Forget that. Whether you sell the book or not, it won’t be wasted time. You will be developing crucial skills for the next book. You will develop ideas you can recycle later. Success comes from the things you learn when you fail. If you can’t bear to fail, it’s hard to grow as an artist.
I was one of the people who asked.
This is true.
Exactly the same with writing music. For me, I try to make it so that if you randomly listen to any 30 second excerpt it should stand on it’s own as an awesome piece.