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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Fine Line Between Musician and Magician


There's no shortage of creativity in the KingsIsle community, but sometimes it's expressed in rare forms. Miranda Dreamsong is a composer who creates creates custom music based on Wizard101. Miranda will take you through the process of composing these pieces from start to finish and showcase an impressive set of work.


Hello Starlights ✨ If you have not yet been acquainted with me yet, I am Peyton, a composer within the Wizard101 fandom. Wizard101 and Music have always been my special interests. I've been playing Wizard101 for the past 6 years and been a musician for eight years, beginning composition four years ago.

Part 1: Timeline of Wizard101 Compositions

My composition with Wizard101-based intentions was when I used my Wizard101 YouTube Channel for roleplaying and composed a soundtrack, sided along with in-game themes for my video "The Magic Flute," (which I recreated it live action with my friends, composing more music, and eventually put the soundtrack that I composed into one video)

(YouTube Wizard101 Magic Flute Link) https://youtu.be/U3hd6EuE0MQ

(YouTube Full Soundtrack Link) https://youtu.be/qsHHsJh6Ei4


My first fan-based composition, for ItsAnthony's commercial contest, where I used filmscore techniques with the Wizard101 themes. I use the main Wizard101 theme, The old Ravenwood melody, and The Commons theme. I add techniques that I had recently learned at the time, attempting to get a shock to the mind after the mysterious Commons Theme introduction.


My Second had been for Skarrix and Kyle Icewielder's Steampunk world idea for the Airship Docks zone. With this piece, I choose a classical, elegant sound to compliment the Victorian side of Steampunk and use a repetitive note in the woodwinds and strings to make the whirring sound of propellers alongside a common major seventh arpeggio to give a magical effect that airships are flying in the air. Also note how repetitive the melody is.



Months after that, during this Summer, I used "The Airship Docks" as a basis for my own plans for the land of Albion. Albion is the home of Monstrologist Burke and Bonnie Anne in Pirate101. Upon close inspection of these characters, they seemed very Steampunk to me. So I continued my project and developed the first theme into a over thirty minute soundtrack, though at the moment, my computer that I compose with is having Start-Up issues, so I won't be able to compose electronically or post music for a while, but know an Albion soundtrack will come eventually.

During the middle of creating the Albion soundtrack, Skarrix contacted me to create a Wallaru theme. Wallaru is the home of Jaki Whisperwind, a jackalope (my favorite animal, by the way) and Zander, a Koala. I studied Native American music, and the qualities were surprisingly simple. There was monotonous drumbeat to give tempo as other people sang in their language, or even made up words. Although the drums are a prominent feature, the voices are in the background of the music as I take advantage of its simple style, I layer complex harmonies I felt would match the aesthetic of a happy Jackalope village, such of which Mia and Skarrix had been drawing and animating at the time



Part 2: The Process of Composition

The very first task in creating music, is having an idea. It doesn’t matter how big or small it is, there just needs to be something there to work with. You may be dealing with a lot of ideas, like “The Airship Docks,” or only a few, like in “The Jackalope Village,” but either way, it needs development. This can be done by giving the rhythmic or melodic idea to different instruments, changing the pitch, or changing the rhythm. There are even operatic techniques of playing the melody backwards, or changing its tonality (changing its emotion).

In “The Jackalope Village,” we can see the development through changing the texture. The flute line that plays the fast fluttering line is given to the violin in octaves (Like placing a lamp a shelf higher then you placed it at first). We also see a melody halfway through the piece where the Cellos mimic the Violins two beats after the violin states the melody on the second time that melody is stated. This is how we develop, by repeating what has already been said, and decorating it and giving it flourishments.


I compose my music with MuseScore, a free program using a sheet music interface and I often record my music using screen capture software and a video-mp3 converter program to preserve the sound of the soundfonts I use rather than downloading the mp3 directly. When I compose my music, I often am right besides my synthesizer keyboard, playing the ideas, and testing out ideas and orchestral textures. As it is my fourth year composing music, it may be questionable how I learned so fast. I constantly study music through the internet’s resources, such as articles, videos, and recordings of music (some of the best ways to study music, is to listen to it).

With my own style, when I try to write music intended for our own Wizard101 fandom, I intend to create fantasy landscapes through the harmony of the piece. Sometimes, that means using Melodic Minor (like the Sorcerer’s Apprentice), Harmonic Major (such as the opening titles to Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them), or other unique scales and chords. Composing with the intention of magic is always exciting- and with any work of mine, I always attempt to create the most elegant aspect of it as possible.


The process of making music typically follows a structure, commonly along the lines of: Introduction, Verse, Chorus, Verse, Bridge, Verse or Chorus, or Exposition, Development, Recapitulation. These two are the most popularly used structures for music, and it is quintessential to know the characteristics of differing styles, including Baroque, Romantic, Classical, Jazz, Pop, etc. When we do this, we can take differing ideas of counterpoint, emotion, looping chord progression, fancy notes to add to chords, to create something truly magical, because we all have something to share to make the world better, no matter how different we are.



Thanks to Miranda for this post!

Thanks for reading and see you in the Spiral!

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