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This Music Writing Thing Is Hard

Hey, this is keviniskool. I'm one of the new musicians on Missing Stars, and I mean that in more than one way. While I am new to the team, I'm also new to writing music in a formal, organized manner as part of a group effort. For me, this meant no more random genre changes, no more stealing from other bits of songs, and no more waiting around for ideas to happen while the rest of the project moves along. I haven't quite gotten all of these things down yet, but one song in particular has been quite the experience in rewriting and revising, as well as adjusting expectations along the way.

One of the first songs I started working on after my acceptance was a little something called "Recollections". I originally intended it to be a theme for the title menu. This small intention already caused problems for me; I started work on another piece shortly after that I also intended to be the title theme, and both pieces sounded completely different. How was I supposed to reconcile the differences between these two ideas? One was a piece based on a sustained piano sound, and the other was based on slow acoustic guitar.

Of course, being the genius I thought I was, I figured I would implement both parts together. For anyone with a modicum of sense, you probably already figured out how this went: poorly. This lead to my first lesson: don't be afraid to throw away ideas. Before Missing Stars, I never really had to commit to ideas to begin with, so I never had to make the hard choice of throwing out things that didn't work.

So I finally settled on a piano sound, and it sounded pretty good in my opinion. However, one person pointed out that it sounded too repetitive, and that it needed something more. I agreed, and so I added more. And more. And more. What I got didn't sound bad, per se, but it ended up being the opposite of what a menu title theme should be. It ended up featuring a chorus, glockenspiel, three simultaneous piano parts, and a few other sounds I didn't quite understand and still don't. This lead to my second lesson: don't lose sight of what you are trying to accomplish. "Recollections" actually sounded good at this moment in time, but it didn't fit in anywhere, so what was the point? At this point, I had to restart with the instrumentation, and in the process I learned a third lesson:

The first two lessons aren't hard rules, but mere suggestions for learning more lessons.

Sometimes things don't need to be thrown out, but rather reworked to better fit in a new format. There was probably a reason it was thought of to begin with, so there has to be some value to it, regardless of how small it is.

Sometimes losing sight of what you started on can bring you to brand new places you never thought of before, giving you new ideas I wouldn't have thought of other wise. Sure, you might have to restart your train of thought, but now you have a new train to follow later!

That's what all of this is about for me: learning lessons and hopefully becoming a better musician along the way. If you asked me two years ago if I was going to be a musician on a visual novel, I wouldn't have even known what a visual novel was, let alone had the musical knowledge to write for it. Yet here I am.

I'm still learning. I'm not even sure if "Recollections" will make it into the game, let alone what it will sound like. Only one of the instruments I used in the original composition are still in the song, and the revision I am currently on probably won't be the one we use. But I have learned so much from one small song, and I think everyone can learn from it as well.

This is a piano arrangement of "Recollections". I usually don't write sheet music for piano, and I have never had to concern myself much with what's playable before this. It has been an interesting experiment in simplifying a song down to it's most notable elements, and to be honest, I'm not entirely sure I succeeded. However, I always believe that if someone learns something from an experience, it was worth the time. Missing Stars, for me, has been the epitome of this idea, and I hope it continues to represent this idea, not only for me, but for the whole team as well.