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markstyles last won the day on January 30

markstyles had the most liked content!

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About markstyles

  • Rank
    Advanced Composer
  • Birthday 11/24/1948

Profile Information

  • Biography
    Been playing music since the age of 10, writing music since 12.. I took 'church music' lessons for a couple of years, then studied privately for 6 years. But most of my knowledge is self taught, reading, studying, on my own.. My greatest teachers were 16 track recorders from the 70's on. Then jumped on the DAW bandwagon, as soon as they came out. Worked for a few of those software companies.. I took Berklee online music courses. (concise, modular, and expensive). Songwriting, arranging, techniques for various popular styles.

    My experience had always been 3 minute pop tunes, In the last several years, I've aimed at larger ensembles, (using a lot of Virtual instrument synths, Kontakt, and UVI libraries). I inject a fair amount of synth instruments, which don't necessary have any organic instrument equivalent. The Beatles, and Brian Wilson have inspired me a lot. And as I've aged and with the internet, I've searched a wide variety of musical styles, learning what I can from various genres.
  • Gender
  • Location
    New York, NY
  • Occupation
  • Interests
    photography, art
  • Favorite Composers
    Lennon-McCartney, Brian Wilson. Bach
  • My Compositional Styles
    easy listening, quasi pop
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Logic Pro
  • Instruments Played
    kbds, computer

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  1. markstyles

    Lead Guitar - Cold Redemption

    I love the atmosphere and the feeling you created here.. haunting, a sort of musical 'indifference'.. odd mood. good work.
  2. markstyles

    The Blue Forest

    The Blue Forest Welcome to The Blue Forest.. No, it’s not sad. everything is just covered with a sheen of blue. Again, a lot of exploration, and re-doing of parts to make things ‘fit together’.. Once I got it to a certain state, I found it easier to delete a number of tracks, which really weren’t contributing much.. This still carries the essence of what I wanted to do. Actually better, because it is not so cluttered. It might seem strange, but I have been influenced a good amount by some of the postings here, because of the directness, and clarity and brevity of the musical statements. So although this piece apparently has nothing to do with ‘classical music’, I have gleaned some important lessons here. I was trying to create some ‘blue animal sounds’. but alas, ran out of patience, so we only have a few ‘bluebirds’ twittering here and there.. I replayed many of the tracks a few times. As I created more parts, I realized re-doing one of the earlier ones, ‘entertwined’. better.. Also a few times, I condensed 2 parts into 1 by just playing the important part of each.. A lot of thinning of sections, so that the desired motif at the moment wasn’t ‘fighting’ to be heard.. I seem to have to create an atmosphere or territory, before I can get down to the real meat of writing the melodic motifs.. It will be a good lesson for me to do a future piece, with a couple of musical motifs in mind first, and then design and build a chord structure around it, or even just add counterpoint/harmonic lines. Then the chordal structure will become evident. What has been insightful for me, is that the way I make music is kind of the way I have lived my life.. Wandered a round a bit, before, I got real clear about what it is I wanted to do.. My compositional process of late has been the one I read Prince used.. He repeatedly over-dubbed and ‘re-dubbed’ parts.. So that as I added a new part, say a flute, I would go back and re-do other parts to make the flute part ‘fit’ better. Motifs were created, and then re-enforced this way.. These exploratory pieces, start with only a determined and well worked out chord progression. With enough complex chords, to ‘open up’ the harmonic possibilities as the piece develops.. Often later I will remove instruments sticking closely to the original chord structure.. Additional melodies and lines, will then alter the chordal implications. I like the effect, plus it is a great challenge to alter parts to give the piece ‘coherence’.. I think that like life, when we refine, reprocess, things we create complexity (sometimes too much).. Since I am the only one, performing, it is somewhat hard to be ‘spontaneous’. Yet I attempt to by playing sever ad-lib’d parts at the end of session.. The next day. I listen to them, and glean out anything useful, or which moves the piece to new, previously unthought of territory. I was recently in a ‘music workshop therapy group’. Instead of traditional psychiatric talking therapy.. we were a group of eight musicians. There were a large number of percussion instruments available, with some chromatic instruments, including individual pitched tuning fork type hand devices. The beauty of them were they all were notes of the Dorian mode.. (so you could do no harmonic damage). For almost all of us, percussion was not our instrument.. The moderator played guitar, and we were encouraged to use the percussion and our voices. We weren’t trying to create a performance, there was no melodic right of wrong, it was more about expressing emotion. It was very interesting and therapeutic. Being seasoned musicians (all in our 60’s or over). We did listen and respond to each other. I found it challenging to depend and co-operate with 7 other strangers.
  3. markstyles

    Just Gettin' Started

    OH... I LOVE THIS>> Sorry I didn't get to hear it yet.. The composition and orchestration are GREAT.. brilliant transitions.. Your sense of composition, theory, harmony, variety, orchestration, is ADVANCED.. The choice of instrument patch, could take a step up to match the total EXCELLENCE overything else. Eventually I would like to hear some more subtlety/sophistication in the synth sounds themselves.. That is my taste however- by no means a requisite.. Others might not consider my comments valid at all. in one spot, the drums might use a bit more variety, mellowing down more, You're already doing it. perhaps a bit more.. But all these pieces are examples of a lot of knowledge and talents. KEEP UP THE GREAT WORK..
  4. Yeah sounds like some clashing walking bass notes, with guitar. and guitar clashes. A few dissonances in the music can be gotten away with, but too many and the brain, doesn't like it.. I've founding moving clashing note up an octave changes the chordal structure. Also some clashing notes, if soft and short enough, can be gotten away with.. It's good to experiment with it. it can be a very useful tool in future compositions.. Still good work.
  5. markstyles

    Where once Poe walked (SATB)

    It's quite beautiful and profound sounding.. I didn't hear the first version; but reverb now seems fine to me. Dynamics great.. I hear a distortion twice on some higher voices on the right side. But the composition, arrangement, and continuity are excellent.. Great work.
  6. markstyles

    when ive fallen

    I LOVE it.. The freedom to explore the 'edges of music boundaries'.. It seems so abstract, yes has sense of coherency to it.. I think also I am intrigued by the emotional quality of it. I'm finding the 'emotional intent' of an instrument, or a motif it plays, directs the mind to a certain degree of a particular emotion..
  7. markstyles

    Ode to Something

    Wow.. this QUITE GOOD.. it also has a quality akin to Steely Dan.. Excellent movement. I like the simplicity of the drums in beginning. Would have been an easy temptation, for him to go too far out. and the occasional 'stuttering' of synth brings a bit of 'glitch' into it, which I'm getting increasingly drawn too.. Smooth 'hand-overs' from one instrument being in the spotlight to another taking it's place.. Love the drop down to electric piano.. Keep up the great work.
  8. markstyles

    The Prodigy

    like walking (jogging) bass line.. The sax is working.. very nice.
  9. markstyles

    My Rose

    It is a great piece. Rabbival507 brings up good points. But I have no expertise in that area. Relaxing and friendly, yes
  10. markstyles

    Annibelle Lee

    This song was an expirement, I did a while ago. The lyrics are directly from an Edgar Allen Poe poem, of the same title. I wanted to infuse the music with the darkness of Poe's life (opium addict, alcoholic, troubled man. Also a mysterious, and out of worldly atmosphere.. The quasi sitar, adds to the flavor. Sorry no score for this one
  11. markstyles

    Sea of Tranquility

    Thanx guys.. I don’t really ‘hear parts’ in my head as some claim to do.. Not at first anyways.. Lately I start with a chord progression/structure, I work that out, then lay that down in Logic Pro as legato blocked chords. After that I start to improvise on it, until I find something decent, then proceed to make that the melody, laying it in here, and there, sliding it around, and modifying notes to fit the current chords or mode. I usually don’t compose in a linear fashion.. That is I might have a melody interweaved thru piece. but then I just explore, Often the sound of the patch I am using inspires me to play for that. Or I realize this particular patch has qualities, I like and I write using that patch.. I often add small things here and there. Then listen to it repeatedly, and then I grasp what I was ‘subconsciously’ trying to do and I consciously go in, and add, modify, correct things. Often I will just put Logic on record/mute/loop. and do several takes.. If I start to get a good idea, I try to perfect it in the next pass. Often my improvisations take place at the end of the session. And I’ll just record a bunch of them fast. Next day, I listen more objective, cut out the garbage, and message the good parts into something. Often I seem find a good riff, but play it in the wrong place. Later on I slide it to the right place, sometimes correcting notes, other times not. letting them be a bit ‘blue’.. But I do seem to getting a feel for the ‘sound quality’ of the patch.. So for me, creating is like first walking around the garden in a fog.. I start to find the boundaries of the garden, I keep walking as I keep walking, (playing, listening) the fog starts to lift, then it becomes pretty apparent what I need to do next.. This process has slowly ‘come to the surface’ in the last 4 or so years.. I find now, I can edit or add notes with either the score or piano roll editor, and don’t have to constantly check that is right.. It seems my eyes are starting to know where the notes belong.. Logic displays midi notes on the score page. But for some instruments, I make custom staffs, so that low or high octave notes, (which trigger articulations) are not displayed. or sometimes I make a ‘dummy track’ for display only. to make the score more readable.. If I assigned it to a virtual instrument, it would sound wrong. I think the orchestral score is a piece of art in itself. As I work on getting the piece to display properly, I get very concise new ideas from hearing the audio and reading the score; for additional instruments, and what I have to cut out to let these new instruments play.. Regarding the beginning of the piece. I use UVI Falcon, and have almost all their libraries. They are very good and Falcon is an amazing Synth/sample player. It is really a synthesizer module, you can add oscillators, samples, LFO's, ADSR's etc. Much more powerful than Kontakt. A lot of their libraries are synth flavored, and and already manipulatedl. If you want real sounding instruments, Kontakt is still the way to go with the huge amount of 3rd party libraries. The sounds at the beginning are from different UVI libraries, some Virtual Instruments, LOOM by Air Music Technology, U-he stuff, Diva, Zebra, ACE. I had bought an expensive Ircam ‘prepared piano’ instrument, I used that also at the beginning.
  12. markstyles

    Sea of Tranquility

    On this piece I started with a rather long complex key shifting chord progression.. I created clarinet melody first. Because the chord progression was so complex, I cut and pasted two sections to repeat, to add continuity to the piece. In the repeat sections, I replayed some instruments, so you wouldn’t notice that it was a cut and paste job. I started with playing improvisations for the length of the piece. I eventually keep carving the improvisation lines into smaller sections. Replacing with other instruments and motifs. After a while I totaled removed the blocked piano chords I started with. I focused on finding interesting sounds (to me anyways), and worked out parts for them. As many keyboardists discover; when they come across an interesting patch on a synth keyboard, it inspires them to write a song using that patch. I searched thru my Kontakt and UVI libraries, found some unique sounds, and used them for individual parts. The bass part actually consists of three instruments. I found this wonderful contra Balaika library, and made it share bass duties with an electric bass, and an acoustic staccato Double Bass. Since the bulk of sounds are ‘imaginary instruments’.. I am struggle with the layout of them in the orchestral score. Melodies it seems obvious should be first, Then supporting lines, with bass and percussion parts at the bottom. To add to the confusion, I often kept the name of the patch, rather than try to categorize it to a traditional instrument name.. So to others, the terms of instruments are not very helpful I’m afraid. All the one stave instruments don’t have well defined pitch centers, many of these are more like sound design effects, rather than an instrument. (and also couldn’t fit all on page, with regular clef. Since the chord progression is constantly transposing, The Key Signature changes, but I don’t have the patience to analyze that. I wanted the chord progression to be kind of changing, striving to find something, hence changing it’s mind. At first it was just too wandering, the brain couldn’t find enough coherency in it to stay interested. So I copied a large section (rewriting individual parts, so not so noticeable), then here and there I copied/pasted a few chunks to bring it closer to (not so far out. I did make use of the same melodic curve (motif) with some climbing variations of later notes, a recognizable pattern (to give continuity,) and a sense of stability (not just mindless wandering). The last track added was the mute trumpet solo, which I am very surprised and pleased with, in one take. I did a quick edit to remove note smudges.
  13. markstyles

    Why do you compose?

    I compose music, partly because I love to do it, but also I HAVE to do it.. It just wants to come out of me.. Occasionally when I write music, I get into a 'zone' where I feel the music is coming 'thru me'. I become a 'conduit' for some energy that is a vague feeling, and I translate it into notes.. Keith Richards summed it up very well, when asked, how he could write so many great rock songs. His reply, 'I receive - I transmit'. I was shy and awkward as a kid. My first ambition was I wanted to be a poet at the age of 8.. We got a Hammond Chord organ when i was 10, then two years later a Hammond A100 organ. (like a Hammond B3, with grillwork, instead of the four legs.. That with a Leslie speaker, was and continues to be one of the most addicting sounds I have ever heard. I started modifying my poetry into songs. And at 12, had a local band doing a couple of songs I wrote. At 14 I joined a band, several thru the years. We were very successful, and a lot of opportunities opened up for me.. By age 30 I quit bands, just to work in recording studios, and do my own material. I always did pop, rock music. I bought several 2nd hand instruments, and learned them well enough to play the various parts to my demo tapes. What I loved about composing and recording is I could create my own 'reality' and I was in total control of it. I jumped on the synthesizer craze by late 60's.. Having bought an ARP 2600 synthesizer, made me very in demand at Bostons 3 multi-track studios. I had access to all of them, to use when the studio was not booked. I spent 1000's of hours recording. There is nothing like playing something, then hearing it back immediately to teach you.. Music (and computers has always been my passion).. The first music I did was on Mainframe computers. Bought the first home computer, and wrote some simple melody type generator programs in basic.. Of course they were about useless. But it was fascinating.. In recording studios, I also engineered, head arranged bands, and produced, other peoples material, plus my own. I love creating some music, then jamming on it, exploring all the possibilities, of where it can go.. Then refining it. Creating a mood or atmosphere. Music serves many purposes. it calms, it excites, it creates a mood. it makes a statement. Of course, I go thru the range of emotions when writing.. (what the hell am I doing?, this is garbage, I am brilliant. etc) Mostly I love the process, of exploring, finding a kernel of an idea, and flushing it out, when to jettison a musical idea. I made a decent living doing music, supported myself the majority of my life just doing it music. Didn't get rich or famous, (but that was never my goal.. I did it for the joy of creating.. Like many musicians I've met, I also loved art, writing, poetry and music. I've met a number of musicians who were quite good at art too.. The reward seems to be 'creative expression'.. There is nothing greater, than being in the middle of writing something great, refining it. Then it is done. And you have to start over on a new piece. Like some musicians I've met, music came first, Loves, relationships, always took 2nd place. Most of my Lovers, left me, because they were always going to be 2nd in my life.. As I've aged, I realize that there ae all kinds of musicians, who treat it as a sometimes pastime, to an all addicting activity. Indeed as I've aged. I've realized I had to get a good perspective on it. You have to keep a roof over your head, make sound business decisions, in order to keep making music. Two strokes, lessening my finger dexterity, but that led to a greater thing. focusing on arranging and composition even more.. Which I am very grateful. Music brings great joy to many people, whether they create it, or listen to it. Any form of creative expression is necessary for the human soul.. I continually try to challenge myself and learn new things about music.. You can learn 3 chords on a guitar and be creating music in 15 minutes, and easily spend the rest of your life refining and perfecting it. For a while I went to mental health counseling that focused on playing music live.. 30 minutes of playing and singing Beatles songs (in my barely adequate voice) was a great mood enhancer. Music is one of the greatest, anti-depressesnt anti anxiety tools that exist. I've also come to realize that other non - musicians can be very creative, which makes them artists in their own right. We may never completely understand why music affects us the way it does. There is a free course at Coursera.org. called 'Biology as music".. It is rather dry, but presents a very valid argument, that the human bod seemed designed to crate and use music. It engages more of the brain than many activities. Even though being a musician is not an easy occupation, in many ways, it seems the most suited to me as a person.
  14. markstyles


    Well it's intense for sure. Technically I would bring the drums up level wise.. Playing is very well executed.. With just bass, guitar, drums, it's imperative that each 'player' is a virtuoso. Which you are. Let us hear, how great the drummer really is. I think it's the bass, sounds like you have the bass strings ringing out? Making for a mushiness.. Now this might be exactly what you intended, and 'death metal' lovers might totally love it too. You might go back to the guitar sound used at the beginning, too, your choice. Your guitar work is brilliant, and it's got a fuzzed gutsy sound, but it is very clear what it is playing. The Bass or low guitar strings ringing out creating discord of course is your decision as a composer/performer. Loved the ending.. You might consider putting a complete stop in the piece once or twice more.
  15. I was already in a band (14 years old).. I did get to see the Beatles live in 1966 in Boston. And I met and spoke to John Lennon for 90 seconds in a small restaurant in Boston in the mid 70's. Yes the Beatles were a profound impact on me.. And George Martin's use of orchestra and other instruments to widen the scope of their music, was the path I followed for many years.. Only in the last 8 years did I really begin to closely study how Beatles songs were created. And yes, Ringo's drumming, really changed with Revolver on. He left a lot of space for the brilliance of the rest of music. Beatles rarely ever had any 'wasted' notes in their music. Everything was there for some purpose. Amazing what these untrained musicians did. Of course, years of doing good covers, taught them all they needed to know. Keep up the great work, I will look out for your posts now.