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Gustav Johnson

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Gustav Johnson last won the day on February 10

Gustav Johnson had the most liked content!

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About Gustav Johnson

  • Rank
    Advanced Composer

Contact Methods

  • Website URL
    https://transcendaudio.weebly.com/ https://soundcloud.com/transcend_audio
  • Yahoo
    gusjohnson15@Gmail.com

Profile Information

  • Biography
    Hi!
    I teach 5-12 grade band in El Paso-Gridley school district in Central Illinois. I've been "composing" on and off since my first music theory class in college (Illinois State University!). I enjoy writing in many genres and for many ensemble types, and have even been recognized as the winner of the Urbana Pops Orchestra composition contest in 2010. I'm on this forum to help myself improve, as teaching takes the bulk of my time and I have little left to take lessons or courses in composition.
    Please visit my website or soundcloud to see my recent work, and feel free to message me!
  • Gender
    Male
  • Location
    Minonk, IL
  • Occupation
    Band Teacher
  • Interests
    hiking, fishing, teaching, church band, drawing, reading, composing (obviously!)
  • Favorite Composers
    Most modern film composers, and anybody from the dawn of time to present day.
  • My Compositional Styles
    various
  • Notation Software/Sequencers
    Sibelius 7, Ableton Live 9 Lite
  • Instruments Played
    Bass Clarinet & Woodwind guru, although I'm well versed in all concert band & jazz band instruments for teaching purposes

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  1. Nice synth, and appropriate to the visuals. Everything was centered around the same area on the keyboard - I was hoping for some more "group motion" upwards and downwards, or something to create another texture or color or feeling within the piece. Maybe cut out the low end at some point and have the high notes carry it, or vice versa, or have more motion from low to high or vice versa. It's all good, just very similar throughout! Gustav
  2. Careful with the timing - you're rhythm isn't always consistently aligned, around 0:15 and 0:28 you got off from yourself. If your DAW allows it, try quantizing your rhythms. Your violin pad is covered up by your synth/guitar. Not a bad theme, plenty of room for development. You might want to give yourself more melody to work with for development than three notes within a small range, but that's a preference thing I suppose. Good work! Gustav
  3. Really nice composition. I love how organic your recent works have been, makes for some good listening. With your "acoustic type" instruments, some of the entrances and releases weren't what I would expect from a human performer - sometimes it drives me nuts to hear sounds that are not human in roles that feel "human/natural". I'm sure there are ways around that, but it's all way more fiddly than I ever get with my stuff!! Anyway, this is good work! Gustav
  4. Nice choice of harmonies/scales/modes! I'm not sure I follow where the melody is, though. I understand the repetition of tri-tones as an idea, but I never picked up on a clear intervallic or rhythmic motif otherwise. The closest I felt to hearing something like that was around 1:50. Keep working! 🙂 Gustav
  5. Where'd you shoot this at? Pretty nice setup video/audio wise. I might toy with clarifying the audio a bit, though, I think some spectrums came out more clearly than others. Anyway, down to the composition! Really interesting bass riff in the faster section, and I love the harmonies you're exploring. Great exploration at 1:50 - careful about how much you let the pedal sustain notes, to avoid muddiness. When you return to the original style/motifs, consider throwing one out of every four repetitions in at a new octave to help outline the phrasing? I lost sense of time during this, felt sort of suspended abruptly. Whoa - holy piano percussion Batman! That's a nifty idea! I think I may have considered putting it after the following section, or maybe introducing it with the bass riff or something - it was pretty out of left field. If it wasn't so cool I'm not sure I'd feel it belonged. Really tight ending, but I'd check out some of the technical stuff near the end - clarity counts! A REALLY good composition, and a strong performance 🙂 Gustav
  6. I love jazz, it's nice to hear people working on new material for this genre. It's a nice groove. Nothing earth-shakingly new, but things don't have to be earth-shakingly new to be good. A lot of the original literature is full of quotes and such. Good composers steal, great composers steal and make it their own. OOh, new drum groove around 2:20, works well with the accompanying textures/etc. That section was definitely refreshing 🙂 Cool horn break at 3:20 ish. Overall some really nice texture and line work here, I'm beginning to wonder what would happen if you explored a new tonal center in a section of the piece - it feels super stable. You might gain some interest to take one of the sections and modulate it into a new key for a phrase or three, then return back to the original for your closing statements. Not a must, just wondering. Great piece! Gustav P.S. I love hearing "the lick" at 1:40 ish. 😄
  7. Love this, it's a nice sound painting. All the "color percussion" was used to great effect - did you use electronic instruments for those sounds, or were any of them recorded acoustically? Some of them (i.e. the wind chimes, shaker), feel very natural. I really enjoyed this - I'd love to see more people exploring creative styles like this one! Gustav
  8. Thanks for replying, a friend of mine helped me in person after a rehearsal. I've got the plug-ins showing up and running, have any recommendations for VST's I should look into downloading? Gustav
  9. Thanks Mark! Haven't had time to re-work this one, but I'll add your comments to the others and my own 🙂 I haven't heard anything from you lately, I'll need to look and see what you've been up to
  10. Sorry it took longer than I hoped, but here are my thoughts!! (I gave thoughts overall and for each specific piece, sorry if you weren't looking for that kind of detail...) OVERALL COMMENTS: Great compositions and orchestrations, and very well produced. Sometimes your writing is a little busy and may benefit from some reductive editing, but technically speaking everything you wrote worked well together. In my opinion – some of your instruments (your percussion especially) could go to a whole new level if you brought in one or two live musicians for a session to record some of the stuff on an acoustic instrument. Hans Zimmer does this all the time, as do other great composers and producers. The mingling of live and computer music helps to bring some humanity to the crazy-good sounds a DAW can produce. A small group of live performers may set you back a couple hundred dollars, but would make the soundtrack stand out compared to other soundtracks. Otherwise this is a really good soundtrack and you should be pleased with how it turned out! SPECIFIC COMMENTS: The Horizon: Sweet, love the electric guitar sounds especially. Everything here really sets the stage for a game in this style. The rhythmic guitar at 1:25 ish could maybe have been introduced more subtly, and then built up in a crescendo. The orchestra at 1:40 was also kind of unexpected, almost abrupt. Nice transition into 2:15 ish, this is an interesting section. 2:30 is definitely really working well, the parts speak well with each other and create an interesting overall picture/texture/idea. Good sound production at the end. Airships: Good use of ostinatos to compliment the melodic material. I’d consider bringing them down, either reducing the instrumentation or giving them a quieter dynamic. Seems a little cluttered, is all, with all the sustained sounds and with everybody playing in such a similar range. Never be afraid to listen for reductive editing opportunities. Your countermelodies are super strong and add a lot to the piece. Dogfight: Whoa, cool. I LOVE the Celtic sounds (flute, guitars) in this one. Again, good use of ostinatos. Really good electric guitar melody, I feel like I have to search for it through all the other sounds happening, though. 1:25, REALLY good break and transition into the next section. I don’t think I’d have the snare drum or high percussion sounds accompany the horns, they didn’t feel well-matched to me. Great melodic ideas and supporting ostinatos. 3:20, the percussion exit was abrupt, maybe a cymbal roll into that release would help me feel less like you pulled the rug out from under me? The Brigands: Is your eighth note subdivision consistent? Some parts are definitely swing eighths and some are straight eighths, which sounds weird to me when they happen at the same time. A very “saucy” track, I like it, and the harmonic tension definitely helps. Bounty Hunters: I’m losing a sense of your melodic and counter melodic writing style in here. Not a bad piece, but next to the others it doesn’t seem to have as much personality. A Million’s Pirates: The first couple times I listened to this something struck me as off about the timing of the articulate, high-frequency percussion lines – like they weren’t evenly subdivided. The most recent listen I gave, I didn’t hear the same thing so maybe I’m crazy! Live performers would be epic for that part (maybe on un-tuned toms or field drums, or on their rims, or something similar). I think there’s a Celtic flute somewhere in here, but it’s getting lost for me. Bomb Run (& Fire at Will): I think with these pieces you have a chance to change styles a bit. Think of this as the “bridge” of the game, you don’t have to adhere so much to what you’ve created in the “verses and choruses”, you can break a little bit more and just focus maybe on a new idea in the same vein. Fire at Will started to do that (especially cool rhythm idea @ 1:35 ish), with some new-ish rhythmic, melodic, and harmonic ideas. At this point, my ear wants something that breaks stylistically from all the previous pieces. They’re good pieces, but I think you missed an opportunity to make these pieces something special. Surrounded: Nice intro, a unique character. Again, when I listened the articulate, high-frequency percussion seemed to be unevenly subdivided. This time I think I may understand the rhythm you’re using, but it still sounds a little off. Listen around 1:31/1:37/1:43/1:49 for examples, though there are more. The legato melodies in this one are a nice break from some of the other melodic styles. Sometimes the intervals felt weird to me, but it’s hard to put my finger on why sorry! Neat sound effects. Change of style at 3:05 is welcome and refreshing. Cool keyboard and oboe stuff at 3:20 ish, the build in this area is quite nice. Any reason this piece is so much longer than most of the rest? There are a couple areas where the momentum seemed to slow down, maybe reworking some of them out of the piece may have helped (or maybe not – who knows). Good legato melody at 4:45 ish. What We Fight For: I like the guitar parts I hear in the background at the beginning (0-0:15). Nice use of choir, reminds me of one of the earlier pieces in a good way. Good chord progression here, really fits the mood, especially with the clear descending line it creates. The chromatic downward motion in the cello/basses around 1:30 is fun J Hey, the guitar stuff has returned (2:35 ish), cool! A good piece overall. Our Finest Hour: SWEET rhythmic stuff in this – the interlocking here is especially good. With the melodic material, be careful to listen for velocity and plan how you want to build tension and relax it. The horn melody didn’t peak on the higher note like I expected it to, while the trumpets may have peaked too much (felt kind of forced, not quite human). Otherwise, all I can say is wow – for me you really nailed this one. We Fly Once More: Again I hear swing and straight eighth notes at the same time. It’s more subtle here and somehow seems to work better in this case than the other time(s) I heard it. Great balance for the drums, I wouldn’t mind hearing more of the cymbals and crashes when they’re emphasizing melodic content.
  11. Not sure about the beaming in this measure. It's definitely not wrong but I would have broken up the beams. In this measure I might have kept things consistent and also had a grace note before the quarter note B - it's the only cadence that felt unusual, probably because I wasn't expecting the grace note on count 2 but I was expecting it on count 3. Personal choice! Reminds me a lot of Bach in some way, I love it! I think it's the way you "rock back and forth" between the arpeggios you're using (B & F#), but it's very effective. Nice to listen to, and would be fun to play I'm sure as well. Good one! Gustav
  12. I've begun listening - so far I like it. I'll get back to you with more thoughts when I finish it (and maybe listen to it a second time). Cheers, Gustav
  13. Inspired by Hans Zimmer's theme to the BBC documentary Planet Earth II. Composed/exported in Sibelius 7, finished in Ableton Live 9 Lite. Happy Sunday all! Gustav
  14. Here's the brief: I"m trying to use VST plug-ins for the first time, and I'm trying to set them up with Ableton Live 9 Lite. I'm running into problems, and any help would be greatly appreciated. See attachment for details (with screen grabs!). Thank you all!! Hashtag technology_problems_rock...
  15. Agreed with Monarcheon about the vocals, think about performing them the way a theatre performer might read lines. When you speak, you naturally add inflection, so when you rap treat it as if you were just speaking - ignore the fact that you're recording. Other than that it was pretty sweet. I liked the message of the vox, I might consider learning about syllable patterns/etc. through tutorials or something. My biggest advice is: Have you used a reference track yet? Play this side by side with some professional songs in a similar vein to what you're going for and listen for the differences in sound. If you can find the areas of your piece that are weaker then you can improve them! Thanks for sharing, keep working! Gustav
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