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Gustav Johnson

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Gustav Johnson last won the day on December 20 2018

Gustav Johnson had the most liked content!

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35 Excellent


About Gustav Johnson

  • Rank
    Advanced Composer

Contact Methods

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

Profile Information

  • Biography
    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
  • 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
  • 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. Gustav Johnson

    HELP!! Ableton/VST plug-ins...

    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
  2. Gustav Johnson


    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
  3. Gustav Johnson

    Brigands Soundtrack

    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.
  4. Gustav Johnson

    Soliloquy for Clarinet No. 5

    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
  5. Gustav Johnson

    Brigands Soundtrack

    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
  6. 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
  7. Gustav Johnson

    HELP!! Ableton/VST plug-ins...

    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...
  8. Gustav Johnson

    Time Moves Too Fast

    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
  9. Gustav Johnson

    Mixed Modes

    Sweet! Thanks!
  10. Gustav Johnson

    Mixed Modes

    @ComposerMITA wrote a piece a few weeks ago based on a concept of lines which function relatively independent of one another and which also change 1) tonal centers and 2) modes every couple measures. It sounded like an interesting experiment, so I thought I'd give it a whirl. I-dunno, I don't hate it exactly, but it sits with me the same way that free jazz and 12-tone music do. *shrug* It's definitely a good exercise in modes, in part writing, and in trying to make each line work on its own regardless of the others. The original project requirements call for no thought given between the lower two voices and the upper two voices, but I must admit to breaking that a little - if it was possible and convenient to the line, I definitely gravitated towards tones that worked relatively better with the other parts! Viola! - erm, I mean VOILA - c'est mon "chef d'oeuvre". Gustav
  11. Gustav Johnson

    Genus Australis

    Awesome piece!! Mv. 1 The interplay is great, sounds really effortless. Mvt. 2: Might have liked to see this tonal expression worked in a little more if you're going to use it. I liked it, but didn't hear references to it before or after, and because it was a nice unique moment my ear wanted to hear more of it. Mvt. 3 is beautiful, the way everything works together is quite nice. Everything sounds very similar throughout, I'm beginning to lose track of myself and lose focus as I listen. You put so much work into the notes and rhythms, but I'm not sure I'd be able to walk away from that with "something to hum", if that makes sense. The textures are so gorgeous, though, that I enjoy listening even if I won't be able to recall specifics from this movement. Mvt. 4 - Nice! I love works written for live musicians, and if it involves unique aspects like the live synthesized stuff then that's something truly special. Would love to see this performed! Gustav
  12. Ditto to all above. The motion around bar 3 reminds me of things from 1812 overture finale, and I agree about Ode to Joy, but it's more like noticing two people who happen to have brown hair in a similar haircut.
  13. Gustav Johnson


    Thanks you two!! Also, @Monarcheon props for using such an obscure word, I had to look it up to remind myself what it meant. The last time I heard it (Music History) seems like ages ago......
  14. Gustav Johnson


    I took three days making this, please let me know (time-stamp-ish) if/where anything sounds off or clunky! Did my best to make it spiffy, let me know how I can tighten it! (compositonally or producingly) Thanks y'all.
  15. Gustav Johnson

    Demons dancing in my head

    Cool idea, love the sounds you crafted for this! The cymbals seemed a little overpowering to me - I would consider finding moments when you could bring the percussion down into the background more, that way the other sounds have a chance to be featured. I would also consider making at least one phrase have a change in percussion pattern. Good ambient track! Gustav