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Of travels, film stuff and picking up old work

Another month down. Where does all that time go?

I’ve been busy working on film stuff, but Twisted Tales has once again has become my focus….that and the film stuff.

It’s great returning to finally finish up these pieces. It’s been awhile, but I know that going away to learn what I could then coming back to finish up TT has been good for me.

My general thoughts on opening the musty crypt of half processed songs has been…ok what WAS I doing here? Why was this instrumentpart written like that? And that doesn’t even make sense.

But I’m reading these revelations as good things on the tea leaves, I have learnt much in the past year and hear things really differently. As of now, I’m aiming to finish the album this year for a mix and release next year. When I finally do it will be something I’m proud of for sure. It’s taught me heaps. I wish I did somethings earlier but now rather than later. So again…thanks for sticking by spiderlings.

I’ll post up some short drafts at the next update. Till then, I’m off to beautiful Slovenia doing some film things for the week :).

slovenia

 

Love,

Your Royal Madness

Yunyu

 

 

Film Festivals…Upcoming travels

Another month down. Where does all that time go?

This year seems to have evaporated faster than alcohol in Octoberfest.

One of the strangeness of working as a film composer is the discovery that I can’t really talk about what I’m working on until they are well and truly underway. So I’ve been busy, but I can’t yet show what I’ve been working on.

Two of my projects are at the pitching stage. This is nail-biting stuff, and I’m waiting hopefully for a go ahead after doing a whole bunch of research, writing, music and sound design for it. (Yes I will have composer and co-writer credits if this goes ahead).

I wish I could say more… but I swore a blood oath, and I fear the oath monkey’s wrath. Wish me luck, if it all comes through, me gag order will be lifted and I can spill.

 

FESTIVALS FESTIVALS!!

Some films I have done last year are now making their rounds at Festivals. This makes me one excited bean.

 

D R O V E R ‘ S B O Y

 

drovers boy

Drover’s Boy which made it into the 2015 Sydney Film Festival!

It was good fun composing additional music and re-arranging Ted Egan’s very beautiful song Drover’s Boy.

Well done to the very talented cast and crew.

Director: Margaret McHugh; Producer: Lyn Norfor; Cinematography: Benjamin Cotgrove; Editors: Jackson Buhck, Samuel Zubrycki; Music: Yunyu; Sound: Audrey Houssard.

Tickets available here for those who want to see this

http://tix2.sff.org.au/session_sff.asp?sn=The+Drover%27s+Boy&g_cdr=1

 

L E G A C Y– where I co-composed and did additional sound effects for, makes its way into Sci-fi London Film Fest 2015.

 

Legacy

Huge Congrats to the rest of the very awesome possum crew and cast.

Directed by Josh Mawer; Produced by Michael J Knott; Cinematography/Grading by Jarryd Hall; Production design by Rachel Jolly; written by Josh Mawer and Michael Richardson; starring Drew Wilson, Richard Healy, Kenneth Moraleda, Anita Hegh and Stephanie Begg; Edited by Lara Benwell; Original music and music mix by Yunyu and Ellie Cumming; Post sound by Ashleigh Wadebrook; additional foley by Ashleigh Wadebrook and Nick Dracoulis; Additional sound effects by Yunyu; 1st Assistant Directed by John Titley; 2nd AD’s by Taylor Goddard; 1st Camera Assisted and focus pulled by Camille Jaulent; 2nd AC’d by Khoa LE and Hilary Crombie.

 

SLOVENIA

I have trips to look forward to in the next couple of weeks. Slovenia comes first. Isola Film Festival will be showcasing the music for the films I worked on at AFTRS so I’m plenty stoked. I’ll get to show these films here in due time, I think, just not while they are making the festival rounds. I’m really looking forward to meeting the friendly festival organisers in Slovenia and taking in the beautiful sights. There are perks to almost winning the European Union Film award (got shortlisted) and having very friendly festival organisers Tanja Hladnik make contact anyway and want to showcase the music. Special shout out to First Councillor Jana Grilc for making the contacts and sending so much info my way re: Slovenia.

Can’t wait to connect!   🙂

slovenia

 

Yunyu

 

 

Setting up the studio

Hey all!
the year has started with a blur of things to do. I’m working on a pitch for a Children’s series with Palm Beach Pictures and it’s all really fun. More details to follow.

Meanwhile, this is what I spent the end of last year doing after graduating from AFTRS.

I built me a badass studio desk which can host my full sized keyboard.

For a long while I had a line of hard disks balanced precariously off my table. (thus taking up all usable space), and my keyboard placed 90 degrees from the table – all very sensible until I realise I can only hear out of one side of my ear everytime I need to play something on the keyboard.

And the resulting nest of cables …which always irked me, would put the rat king to shame.


Then I found this!

Sitting at $3760 aud (not yet factoring delivery costs) this is way beyond me budget. So a little bit of furniture hacking was in order.

Note this: I am nowhere near a carpenter.

Because of this; reading up on how to install a mega-sized keyboard drawer while factoring in weight distributions for a 15kg keyboard, weight limits etc etc would have broken my very non carpentry brain. Not to mention that I really rather get this done quick smart and get back to music making. So, if one cannot make a keyboard drawer, one can make a table with a movable surface.

The idea was that I wasn’t having to loom over my keyboard when I didn’t need it (which causes hunching…which is bad) , and I could pack the keyboard away quickly when I was programming other bits and pieces/ needing the desk for something else…like blogging to u lot now.

Here’s a very non engineering bit of process notes for u.

I got me some finnvard trestle legs from ikea $100aud
finnvard-trestle-with-shelf__79324_PE202881_S4

I then whacked the biggest heaviest drawer slides I could find at bunnings on the top of them trestles $24
6fcdd79b-4919-4b8e-b62d-113d1f81efa2

like so.

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I got me an old $5 wooden panel to whack the keyboard on.

Then an $80 piece of door.

Then 2 ikea cable management trays $40 all up

signum-cable-trunking-horizontal__0117163_PE272460_S4

All up $249AUD

Then there’s 2 days worth of drilling, swearing, drilling…and much swearing.

IMG_7965

This is the result. I now have a place where my many drives can sit….off the table. Which is nice.

this is me setting the first few drives up. (Death nailed into the table is a firewire hub.)

IMG_7990

Here’s the completed piece. No visible wires in sight.

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And I’m a happy camper.

Back to work I say 🙂

 

 

Yunyu

 

The year 2014

Dear Spiderlings

I’ve been away for a very long time. Hope you’ve all been well.

At the beginning of this year, I had been lucky enough to get accepted into the prestigious Australian Film Television and Radio School to do a post grad in film music this year.

Which means that the year has been spent level upping where I proceed to drown my brain in the ropes and art of music making for films, and the tech…so much tech.

IMG_0714 IMG_0704

I don’t think I’ve ever had so much fun…or slept ever so little. But then I wouldn’t miss it for the world. I’ve had the pleasure of studying under some amazing lecturers and meeting some awesome contemporaries. In short, I don’t ever remember enjoying myself this much in an institution before.

So here’s something to show for…for the year — a showreel of my musical brain babies.

Yunyu Showreel from yunyu on Vimeo.

In other news…I’m now armed with the production skills to finish Twisted Tales, my ever longing album project.(what a meandering journey)

So stay tuned. I’m going to rest for a bit as the year’s been all very challenging and my brain cells have taken out a restraining order against me . See you all in the brand spanking new year.

Till then, me and my clones wish you a merry new year and some general bah humbuggeries.

Love,

Your Royal Madness

Yunyu

 

 

Chapter 6 – Zelda The Edge and The light

Suspense Suspense Suspense….I decided to go all minimalistic on Queenie Chan’s Legend of Zelda Chapter 6 and use only pianos and some percussion.

If you’ve noticed, it’s a piano transcribed version of Chapter 5. Much slower….and with some creepy gong scrappings thrown in for the opening.

Few themes are repeated loosely at the pensive scenes for Zelda before ending it all with a piano trio.

More news re: Twisted Tales soon

till then

Love

Your Royal Madness

Legend of Zelda Chapter 5 – The blood of the beast

Hey spiderlings

This is the instrument I was waging sonic wars on for Queenie Chan’s Chapter 5 of Zelda’s fanfic.



Suona sounds like this!

I wanted to experiment with some Suona lines this time round. (Suona is a Chinese trumpet with middle eastern origins and amazing for war tunes)Suona is tricky to write for mostly because the piercing sound it makes makes most people run for the trees and further still. The Chinese use this instrument for funerals and marriages mostly…I suspect it’s the best musical instrument to employ when you have to cut through the festive clanging of the chinese clashes. It’s Chinese New Year…and if you are anywhere near Chinatown and see a lion dance you’ll see how liberally the Chinese use their clashes, Suona’s just great for cutting through the cacaphony of noise.

This is a typical soundscape for liondance…see how liberal they are with clashes.

Liondance

When I was playing in the Chinese Orchestra in high school I remember feeling a little sorry for the suona players…mostly because they get packed right to the back of the orchestra with quite a radius about them…and when they do play it’s usually to a bunch of scrunched faces and covered ears…for that reason, amongst many I always wanted to write for suona players because I think they are actually beautiful instruments easily misused and misunderstood. Although…I do concede that they cause ear bleeds at close range

This time round, as a draft, I’ve temporarily used the viola players instead
(which is the work in progress version u heard). The viola played most of the suona lines then…

Work in progress version (chpt 5)

This is the final work

and I’ll leave you with an interesting vid of suona vs bagpipes

Legend of Zelda continues

My next single is a mix and master away slated for mid march so whilst we wait…the composing of Queenie Chan’s amazing Zelda fanfic continues!

War Music

I’ve been hankering Queenie to draw some frames that let me write some war music. It’s legend of Zelda after all….and I was really hoping to put all that Taiko learning into practice…again…if only virtually.

So this is the near finished result.

I’m not far from done though.(I’m in the middle of making an unusual instrument sit well in the piece and shall reveal this early next wk)

Chapter 4 Zelda work in progress

Like I said last year, I’ve taken to learning me musical arrangements because it will help in my musical journeys…this includes creating better and better tunes too.

So first Here’s chpt 4 of Queenie Chan’s amazing Legend of Zelda fanfic, and my sounds for it. It’s work in progress but ready for a sneaky peaky. I will talk more about the previous chapters when I get a little bit of a breather but ONWARD my spiderlings! for now…

Overall sounds for Zelda

Queenie basically gave me (almost) free reign in the drafting of Zelda’s sounds.

My first approach was to try and mind-meld with readers and do a reading soundtrack..which Queenie liked but wanted to try a more “Location loop” soundbyte approach.

For those of you who are gamers, this would be a familiar concept.

The original Zelda’s theme by Nobuo Uemetsu is largely divided written for different locations. Zora’s domain, Gerudo Valley etc. You get the idea…so when players enter a world they immediately associate a musical soundbyte with an event.

This gave way to my interpretation of Zora’s Domain, which, to me, was good enough for chapter  1 since it was largely based in…Zora’s domain  but proved a little challenging for subsequent chapters which had a wider emotional landscape with multiple location switches.

Looped “event based” soundbytes vs “film” soundtracks

There were a few problems with using the location music approach that made us eventually do manga trailers with more film like soundtracks instead. Here are my theories on why it didn’t work.

  1. Reader speed – Since I cannot yet mind meld with you, the listener, I can’t make music with adjustable speeds tailored to your reading speed…yet. As such, I cannot predict when you are moving from one location/ emotional landscape to another in Queenie’s tale.
  2. Interactive vs non-interactive landscapes- Looped music without event triggers = boring= irritating. In games, one uses event triggers to make musical variety so gamers don’t get bored, in this case Queenie’s ff is a tale where the main triggers are the emotions and the events in the story  are non-interactive so a more film soundtrack approach was used for later chapters but as trailers (see reader speed…at least now I control it)

Sounds in Zelda

The original legend of Zelda theme always feels east-western to me.  I wanted to keep that sentiment so I kept the largely western ensemble, but used quite a bit of eastern percussion with the western style drums. So, Taikos, Mu yu ((木魚) , you name it…I probably whacked it in at some point.

Chapter 4 drafting process

Queenie gives me a host of “trailer pics” she wants on the chapter trailer. After reading her full tale, this is usually how I start.  Preview screen open on the mac, one hand on the keyboard, playing the draft and then scrolling through the pics. I do this a few times until I collect a few musical sequences I like.

After which I have an “emo-map” so I know where I am. Where the musical changes are etc then set out to set it in semi stone.

Drafting these soundtracks for Queenie are, in a way, heaps easier than drafting for moving pictures. Afterall, the “hit points” (important visual events specifically scored for with music)  are decided by me…

This… for composers who work to moving pictures will be like composing in god mode since you don’t have to time musical changes to the nano-second for scenes that you want to emphasize sonically.

My drafts have started in different ways for different pieces but for chapter 4, it’s pretty much been a one take on the piano….like so. From nothing to a one track draft…takes me 30mins or so.


At this point I will just be recording one idea after another and then…behold imperfect piano draft exerpt which I will build things on.

Imperfect Piano draft.

Quick arrangement draft

Then I do a quick arrangement draft. All this happens in 1-2hrs on average.

Here’s an excerpt…

Actual arranging

Then comes the painful/ fun part. The actual arranging, where you split the instruments into their respective instruments (dividing string parts into their respective violin, viola, cello, dbl bass etc. Do the same for brass etc etc.

It’s funny, 12 weeks ago I would draft string/brass parts like pad sounds and play the parts like a piano… Since string/brass not equals piano because thinking it is so makes everything murky, voiced wrongly and horrifyingly unconvincing.

This is my long haul…deciding what ranges and sounds are right for which instruments. Making sure the harmonics sit right and aren’t sumo fighting each other etc. This process is taking me about 15-20hrs per track which makes me slightly batty because I still don’t think I know what I’m doing and I’m still really new to all of this and I want to be faster faster faster.

With Chapter 4, strings were the primary culprit. At some point I made the mistake of giving the lead “here comes the calvary” line to an 18 violin ensemble. I thought more people playing = more grand= this line of thinking is very very wrong.

This is the lead line that’s been plaguing me. Imperfectly exported from logic.

<< click for full view>>

Now…the intended effect in my head was something very grand…like reinforecments who had just brought a nuclear desolator along to the rescue and it’s all very grand and moving as such.

But leaving the lead string line with the ensemble makes the strings all lost in la mancha land and the tune simply loses strength after the build. Of course…the hilarious thing was that I attempted to solve this problem by turning the strings way UP. Check out the resulting sonic mess….

Lead line played by 18 violin ensemble. Big Calvary line comes in at 4 secs there abouts. Notice the WEAKNESS? It’s like having a grand looking war elephant with a leaking jagular vein…messy and not very helpful to the clause.

After I had quite literally pulled all my hair out and frothed all over the keyboard in frustration, Lee eventually pointed out that I had actually written a piece that was more for a string quartet. (I’m still in the midst of cleaning all this up so it’s actually a quartet…but simply changing the key string sounds to solo make a universe of a difference in power.)

Lead line given to 1 violin, 1 cello. (largely doubled – the work in progress version you are listening to which still needs cleaning up…but I can already hear the difference in power)


1) This may seem obvious (BUT don’t give lead string lines to string ensembles). The sound just loses power. Save ensemble parts for lines that need “airiness”. For something more powerful and present…solo it is.

2) oh…and string solos get panned right up front. Not at the back with the rest of the ensemble…(eh…no wonder it got losted initially.)

I am borrowing a smidge of these ideas for later chapters. Steve Reich is uber fun. Check this piece out. It’s WRINKLING my BRAIN!!.

 

Anyways…coming up in a few weeks…it will be back to TWISTED TALES for us. Stay tuned.

Legend of Zelda fanfic – Chpt 2 and 3 and a year end rant

apocalypse

Ah well…the end to another year and it looks like humanity’s going to survive. The Mayan thing has been pretty underwhelming…despite the Prime Minister’s claim to the contrary…No Zombie Apocalypse, although it humours me to know that America’s CDC has instructions for what to do if it does occur. If you are a fan of the I am Legend (Although I’m more Omega Man) version, then we are on track for a precursor of the Zombie Apocalypse since we have discovered the ultimate cure for viruses.

Having said that… these could be famous last words.  Julia Gillard might be right.We might all have creative and explosive ends in the next couple of days. So before then a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year and all that…just in case it’s all dandy after all.

Now that that’s out of the way and we are ALL feeling optimistic, I have an announcement to make.

I’ve decided to properly learn me a little more of the technical aspects of music. This includes the theory, orchestration, related sequencing stuff. While making Twisted Tales and (as a result) jumping from genre to genre to accomodate the diverse tales, it had become more apparent that I should really know what goes where…not just whack a sound at things…although that does sometimes work…I just like to make things work a little better…and clearer.

Until recently I have ran screaming from the prospect of learning any aspect of music formally like I would the plague. I was taught piano classically in Singapore, and  music then was more about discipline, physical torture and a lot less about enjoyment. As a result, I’ve watched my brain make a habit of shutting down or firing up its internal screensaving mode in protest whenever there is speak of anything technical in music.

This is a bad habit that I will destroy in 2013. Barring Zombies and the apocalypse of course.

Why now then?

Not being able to speak the same language as fellow musicians is proving decidedly inconvenient. All well and good to have my own invented musical language, until I have to communicate what I really want…then I feel martian, and not in a good way.

There’s a limit to the extent I can analyse the more complex music I like. I can usually splice music up quite comfortably for myself just by hearing it…but frankly I think there’s a limit to my musical developments if I keep running away from the technical aspects of things.

This is also going to give me an excuse to bring you through the realms of my musical journeys…which will be Twisted Tales and Queenie Chan’s Zelda Fanfic all while I learn….and I have miles to go in this aspect of things.

Also…I’d like to open the blackbox that is my creative process. There is a process…I don’t just pull things out of a glued hat with cats….(that’s…. only step 1)

So in 2013, more musical drafts online, me learning how to read music again, and getting better at sequencing and programing and more MORE better music for all.

Weaponry (for they are important for level-upping)

To do this

I have now armed me with

1) Don Sebesky – The contemporary arranger

2) Various theory books. ( I have a feeble memory of grade 5 theory, the neurons have sent a search party for it)

3) Logic (the software and the concept)

4) access to East West samples (thanks Lee!) – awesome sounds but insanely expensive samples I cannot afford (so help?)

5) and the ultimate power-up – Lee McIver the co-producer of Twisted Tales will put the aural shiny on the tracks as they finish as well as point the gaping holes in the compositions…which has happened countless times.

The coming days/ weeks shall have more on Chapt 2 and 3 and the various drafts of my music as well as more of the creative processes.

Meanwhile I leave you with sketches of my music to Chapter 2 and 3 of Queenie Chan’s Zelda Fanfic. made SHINY by my manager/producer Lee McIver.

Queenie Chan’s fantastic ZELDA fanfic lives here
http://www.queeniechan.com/2012/11/12/ legend-of-zelda-fanfiction-the-edge-and-the-light-chapter-2/

Love,

Your Royal Madness

Yunyu

Butterflies and Small Shen – The Trailer

Dear Spiderlings,
Kylie Chan and Queenie Chan’s wonderful book Small Shen is finally out and about. Released by Harper Collins. This book also contains a FREE copy of Butterflies (Third single of Twisted Tales) which is available with the book.

Here’s a trailer

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