As my creative thesis project this semester, I have composed music for student videos using an electric piano on campus. I have grown a lot musically through this project since I hadn’t created music for any student videos before. Each composition taught me how to work with musical elements I had only read or researched about, as well as allowed me to further develop the skills I already had.
My first music project was about building a snowman. Based on the original music track that was on the video, I knew that I wanted to make my music high-energy. My version of the audio was pulled from music concepts that I had already used in my college projects, whether in previous written assignments or piano improv sessions. For this composition, which was also an improv, I used the piano sound function. I’ve been playing the piano from the time I was little, so that was the sound that I was most familiar with. If I could redo this video, I would have made the music a bit more interesting with different sound functions or varying the piece musically, instead of relying mostly on the video to make things interesting. I would also have tweaked the audio a bit to get rid of the room noise. I didn’t learn how to use audio effects in Premiere until later in the semester.
My second project was about a graveyard. This project taught me some new skills because of both the voiceover and the pace of the video. The added element of speech challenged me since the voice part was interfering with the live piano recording on my phone. The pace of the music was also a challenge since I tend to play pretty quickly and this deserved a slow pace. I adapted to these challenges by using headphones to hear the voiceover and by slowing down the music to match the video. If I could redo this music, there are a few parts that I would change to make it less busy so the voiceover could be more easily understood. I would have also gotten rid of the room noise on my piano audio in Premiere.
My third project was a Covid dream that was centered around the idea of stress. For the initial video, there were non-musical scratching, growling, and keyboard clicking sounds, but I scrapped them completely in favor of creating my own music. This music of mine was the first time I had worked with multiple layers of music in one project. It was also the first time I utilized a few of the functions on the electric piano and created something that sounded like an orchestra. I also used headphones each time I recorded something new so that the existing music did not interfere with the new music. If I could redo this one, I would have tweaked the sound of the audio a bit more than I did. I was able to tune out some of the room noise, but there are a few parts where both the room noise and the piano bench squeaks can be heard. This was the first of these student projects that I had considered to be of semi-professional skill level and not just a student video. I will probably fix the audio after the semester ends so I can add this to my portfolio.
My fourth project was another Covid dream, and this one was centered around the idea of dreams being mysterious. I also experimented musically with this one, since I used another sound function on the electric piano, the vibraphone setting. I also used the same recording techniques as both the graveyard video and the first Covid dream, since I used headphones to hear the existing audio on the videos. This is one of my favorite projects so far, and especially since I didn’t have any major challenges for this project. If I could redo anything, I would turn up the volume on only the music audio in Premiere (and keep the voiceover at the same level), since there are times when I feel that the music is too quiet to be heard. I also would have played more on the beat, since there are times when I hesitated to emphasize the words; as a result, this meant that the music wasn’t as even as it could have been. Visually, I also wanted to add a transition to the end of the video to make it feel like it was fading out, but my Premiere wasn’t working right.
My fifth project was about social media. In the video, the voiceover stated the effects of harmful messages within social media, while the student whose video it was did her own makeup for the first time. It was very clear to me that there were two different themes, one of sadness (with a voiceover that needed an ambiance) and the other of joy (primarily instrumental with a small bit of dialogue). I reflected this musically using the piano and strings settings on the electric piano to create two different pieces of music for this video. This added challenge for me of creating both an ambiance and an orchestral piece, each conveying different emotions, was why I wanted to create music for it: I used all of the skills that I learned over the course of this project. If I could redo anything about this video, I would have given myself more time. Looming deadlines forced me to rush to get it done, and there are places where I would have loved to re record. However, due to time constraints, I had to work with the audio I had, even though it doesn’t sound the way I had wished it could sound.
From this project as a whole, I have learned a lot about audio recording and mixing. My favorite projects are definitely the third and fifth videos, in which I created music that sounded like an orchestra. Through all of these music projects, I have realized that I want to pursue a career in music composition. This project has awakened my creativity, and there’s nothing like that feeling of finally bringing the sound in my head to life.