This week I repeated my earlier experiment. I composed this piece in Sibelius, and later imported it into my DAW. Let me explain a few details.
I started up Sibelius, my notation program. Teamed with it, is a plugin program called NotePerformer. I began by composing a sketch for the entire piece on piano. At this stage, I did not think much at all about the orchestration, that is, which instruments would be playing which lines of music. This allowed me to concentrate on the rhythms, the melodies and harmonies. First I concentrated on the harmonies, avoiding simple triadic, diatonic chords. Instead, I used rather complex chords that have quite a bit of dissonance. I made a point, however, to use voice leading that avoids frequent jumps in pitch. I then added a set of melodies with rather wide interval jumps. The harmony and melody are entirely tonal, but the tonality is rather ambiguous.
The piece is primarily in 4/4 time, but at periodic intervals there are measures in 2/4 time, to interrupt the regular rhythm. This puts the listener a bit off-balance, and makes the piece more interesting (in my opinion!).
The piano sketch consisted of three piano staves. After finishing it, I started to assign various instruments to the different parts.
Only after I completed the piano part did I begin to orchestrate the piece in Sibelius. While NotePerformer does a great job overall, it seems to lack realism in the percussion instruments. So, I exported audio files from Sibelius, including the woodwind, brass, and string instruments. I also exported the first violin separately, as it plays an important role with the melody. I wanted to mix it separately from the other instruments. I turned off the reverb in Sibelius, in order to export a completely dry rendition. In addition, I exported a MIDI file, and imported it into my DAW. I use Cakewalk by Bandlab as my DAW.
In the DAW, I imported the MIDI file, and added the two audio files. I brought in VST instrument libraries for the percussion instruments; piano, harp, glockenspiel, and timpani. I adjusted the relative volume for all the tracks, and added reverb to the mix. I played with it quite a while, and noticed that the audio files did not have a steady tempo. This is because Sibelius had been adding some rubato. Once I figured this out, I had to adjust the tempo at several places, to make sure that the MIDI and audio were in sync.
When I sit back and listen to the piece, it sounds like it could be an excellent cinematic introduction to a suspenseful movie; hence the title!