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Music-lover friends, perhaps you wonder how one goes about composing music for a project such as Wakfu. Don’t worry, we won't get into counterpoints and harmonies, so forget about music theory, let's simplify a bit! In fact, there are several steps to the creative process, with 3 separate parts. Since I work in the "traditional way", the first part is the conception on the piano, then comes the orchestration and finally the mixing. Here's a little example with a one minute excerpt, created for a Wakfusian forest.

1. Piano Why the piano? Because the piano, with the way it's played, has the advantage of "restraining" the ear, of preventing us from having "too many notes" so that the overall composition can be heard. Before diving in, I decide on the movement(s), the measure and the tonality (the general mood of the piece). Next, I take care of the main melodies (the counterpoint). Just like Beethoven, we need a catchy tune, THE melody we'll whistle along. After a bit of jamming (2-3 hours, in truth...) and a good twenty melodies that aren't too pleasing, I keep at least three that can be strung together:

Next, we need to harmonize this musical phrase. We choose a mood and a rhythm. I design my chords according to the score of the melody, then I number them (in other words, I encode them so that they're easier to read). Following this is the first draft of the harmony, and then correction of errors. After 2 or 3 hours we get this (without the melody, as all parts must work together, but every part should stand on its own also)

I mix the lot and apply some last corrections to the piano version. Sometimes it can take a while before the music sounds good in its entirety! Here's the result:

2. Orchestration Orchestration is what sets the general atmosphere, even more than the melody. For example, as soon as one hears pan flutes it sounds peruvian, as soon as one hears shamisen it sounds like a bamboo forest with pandas!!! In this instance, I went for the kalimba, the irish flute, the oboe and the violin, since those four instruments have, I feel, a very woodsy vibe to them.

For the accompaniment, I first choose the instruments according to the symbolism in the piece (here, woods and forest). So for this piece, I've chosen amongst others the violin, didgeridoo, harp and some "elven" voices. Next come the corrections to the harmony, with all its constraining rules. This is the hardest part, since the number of those rules is very large. The principle of harmony is that the very nature of a note is three-fold (in one tone, you can hear three). So we end up with a lot of redundant notes, and we must erase some, add others, without losing the color of the sometimes complex overall harmony. When we're done with this, we can say to ourselves: "phew, at last!"

To conclude the "pure composition" part, I add the percussion. These must spice up the melody and its harmony without taking too much importance, an all too common mistake.

3. Mixing The last step!!! I take each part in *.wav, and I mix the lot. This final task allows me to balance the sound levels of the piece so that we can perceive the essential part on first hearing it, it allows me to avoid feedback, amplify some parts, eliminate others, etc. This is the final result:

The last excerpt is, if you will, an evolution from the simple melody to the fully orchestrated and balanced piece. We start simply with the piano, a single melody, then the piano harmony fades into the background, and finally we hear a sort of musical "morphing", from the piano version to the orchestral version. This "musical morphing" will occur another two times in this last excerpt:

I hope I’ve given you an idea of how music can be composed, because in actual fact I don’t always compose in this way. There are no absolute rules in musical composition!!! Note to Fibojo: Thanks for your help with the translation.

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