The Sound and Music

So far with this coursework, sound is still an aspect which has pretty much taken a back seat, simply because I have very few resources at my hand to produce my own music. However, I have decided to take the initiative and find a way to come up with my own music. Most of this initiative was largely experimentational, which is why I was yet to make a post about it. Below are the stages I am going through in researching and producing sound for my production.

Research

  • I started off with fairly basic research. This mostly consisted of listening carefully to popular Christmas songs, and the versions of them without lyrics in order to build up a vague structure in my mind as to how Christmas music is constructed.
  • I then moved onto more specific research. I trawled various copyright-free music websites in order to find out how modern producers were making Christmas songs. This is because I felt that many popular Christmas songs are out of date, and by listenging to amateur songs, I could allow for a for contemporary viewpoint that could infulence my own work.

MP3 Unsinged is an example of website used to research contemporary examples of Christmas music.

  • I also listened briefly to the music found on Christmas movies. Not so much to listen to the structure, but just to see how it interacted with on-screen action.

Below are some examples of the types of Christmas music and movie scenes I listened to, and what I was able to obtain from each of them:

When it came to Christmas songs, I looked to the list of Christmas songs that are played most annually in the Uk, to try and deduce from them if there are any elements which appeal to younger audiences (such as my target audience) in particular, or simply to see if the themes and ideas of Christmas are the most essential part of  a Christmas songs popularity. Belwo are the two most popular Christmas songs in the UK:

It can generally be said that both of these songs, although suitable for all ages, are aimed at youth. For example, both Mariah Carey and the members of Wham! are young in these videos, reflecting their audience. Furthermore, the content of the videos is also for younger audiences. Mariah Carey takes part in numerous child-like actives in her video, from sledging to snowball fights to sitting on Santa’s knee. The members of Wham! and the other actors in the video are all relatively young, and at an age when it is most acceptable to holiday with friends as opposed to family, reflecting a youth ideal.

The two most dominant themes of the songs are love and Christmas, although the type of love varies with each song. Much modern youth culture, especially that aimed at girls, involves a heavily romanticised idea of romance. An interesting aspect of Carey’s song is the idea of interplay between the concept of gift giving and the desire to start a romance, comparing them under the umbrella of ‘Christmas’. I enjoy this idea the most, as I think it would be particularly appealing to my audience.

It was more difficult to find aspects of ‘Last Christmas’ which would directly appeal to my audience. Whilst generally it is a highly popular and suitable song, I felt that the pace of the song and the instruments used would not be typical of muisc found in a Christmas film aimed at a younger audience. Carey’s piece is more rock-inspired, something I think I am more inclined to consider for my own piece.

Looking at Christmas scenes from films was also really important to me, so that I could understand the subtlety in which music is used to create an effect. This is especially true of Christmas, where something as simple of the sound of bells can be used to imply the theme.

 

 

Production

I always figured that I would have to find someone with more musical talent and means of production than myself, so any of my own production was purely experimental. I used any software available to me, but most notable would be GarageBand. 

GarageBand was my primary software for experimental production

  • I mostly just played around with various sound structures which I thought sounded ‘Christmassy’.
  • Unfortunately, for this effect to be achieved, often I would have to involve a lot of sound effects, or the same sounds.
  • As a result, most of what I produced only sounded cheesy or horrifically amateur, only leading me to confirm that I would have to enquire into help from the outside.

Calling for help

In order to find help from the outisde, I asked the most musical person who is personally close to me, my friend and fellow Media Studies student Susannah Bradley. I was aware that both her older brother and sister had once been in their own bands and Susannah herself has extnsiv musical knowledge, leading me to believe thaty she would be my best bet. She informed me that her sister had recorded her own Christmas Song a few years ago, adn that asking for her help would be the most sensible and plausible option. She doesn’t live with Susannah, meaning anything we could produce would have to be completed upon her next visit, which is apparently soon.

Next Steps

I think the best thing to do will be to enquire with Susannah’s sister, Sasha, and see what can be produced in the time available. If it is possible to tweak and re-record a version similar to Sasha’s original, I think this would be more than suitable. The key will be to ensure that the music produced is suitable for my audience and the overall tone of the film. Given the short space of time, I am as yet unsure if there will be a chance to put this aspect up for modification according to audience opinion.

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