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Thursday, May 23, 2013

Namco Taiko Blog (23 May 2013): Etou on How to Make Music

Half a year ago Etou shared a talk with us on how he makes his crazy Taiko notecharts. Today he's sharing with us a lengthy lesson on how he composes his songs! It's a long wall of text so I'll just try to get to the gist of it. Let's see what Etou has to teach us this time!

Now to make a song, what would Etou do? Planning is the first step!

Figure out the genre, atmosphere and tempo of the song. Genres like rock, metal, pop, techno...all of them have distinct rhythm s to them and the resulting notechart that comes out of it are also distinctly different. The song atmosphere would be whether it sounds gloomy, bright, hopeful, cheerful, energetic..as well as making changes in the notecharts depending on the mood of the song, it also gives players a different energy when they play with a different song atmosphere each time. Tempo is BPM, or how fast the song plays.

Two examples are given: the first is Tokoyami no Mori, a slow-paced, gloomy song, not too hard, but gives off that sense of difficulty with its threatening mood. On the other end of the scale is a fast-paced, super difficult song like mint tears, which has an upbeat mood to it. The difficulty of the performance and the emotions that the song gives the player will ultimately decide what type of notechart you go for! Trust your instinct!

Secondly, song structure.

If you've ever been to a karaoke joint before, you know how song structure works without needing any explanation; the stanzas, chorus and bridge are parts that make up a full song, each differing in function.

The usual flow of a song would be intro > stanza A > stanza B > chorus > outro. Because Taiko songs are usually about 1 1/2 minutes long on average, it follows this structure without needing a bridge or a stanza C, much like the opening theme song of an anime. Structure is what makes each song special! The example given is Zero no Nocturne, one of the new Namco Originals from Sorairo. Think of the parts that make up the song. They're all different, right? Imagine if a song has no structure and has the same tune from beginning to the end! That wouldn't be very fun to play. There needs to be different levels of tension to different parts of the song, ending in a climax and resolution, like a good story.

Next is whether the song needs vocals or not.

If the song is meant to be an instrumental it's straightforward, but adding vocals is a much bigger challenge. Once again, the song's mood dictates the need for vocals and what words should be sung at which points. It's a whole lot of planning, and the right voice has to be chosen otherwise the whole composition is ruined. Taiko notes aren't laid down by percussions alone; sometimes vocals provide sense to the chart and help make highlight points for notes and stuff.

To some extent, vocals restrict difficulty, at least for Etou, who mentioned that songs with no vocals are easier to make tougher notecharts for, which is actually true in certain cases.

Finally, with the song done, the final step is to make a chart that matches the song perfectly! The three basics are:

-Understanding the song's genre, mood and tempo
-Understanding the song's structure and highlights
-Understanding the song and the instruments that play behind it

It's kind of like....um, how do I put it into an example...

-Approach a person you like
-Understanding this person and become friends with him/her
-Understanding him/her in a much deeper way, almost to the point of becoming lovers

And then! Make notes that suit the song. Give it the 'boom' factor!

There will be yet another notechart talk by Etou in the future, and continuing the analogy, this step is akin to :

-Becoming lovers, and setting up a plan for a date

See you next time!

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