Full Orchestral Arrangement Project Update

Last week I wrote about the action orchestration piece that I’ve been working on with the help of my music teacher. We’d laid out most of the ideas that we wanted to have and wanted to start incorporating more and more instruments. As of this week, pretty much all of our instruments have something to do, and in this post I’ll be writing about how we did it.

Starting from where we had left off last week, we were still missing the entirety of the winds section, horns, trumpets, and needed to write in the melody for the violins. Those were the elements that we thought were essential, so we wanted to get them sorted out before starting on anything else. We started by copying in the piano midi into the first violins track and adjusted the expression, modulation, and midi notes in order to make sure that the violins didn’t sound too fake.

Our next step was to figure out how we were going to harmonize the melody because the first violins sounded pretty bland on their own. We figured that the most obvious choice was to use the second violins by having them play the same melody in a different interval. It took some time getting the notes to fit with the key and chords, but eventually things worked out.

After writing out the main melody for the violins, we wanted to use the horns for a sweeping countermelody that would fill the gaps in between the violins. I found it pretty difficult to find the right timings and notes, but my teacher was able to guide me along with the process. The end result fits really well with the violins and adds a second layer of interest.

At this point, the piece hasn’t had too much going on, so we wanted to introduce the big climax next. It started by having all of our percussion working together at once but with a more urgent feeling to them. The strings were doing the same thing they’ve doing before except our first violins jumped the melody up an octave and the second violins using a different interval for harmony. We then, brought in the winds by having some of them layering the melody in different octaves and the rest of them playing fast runs in between. The horns also stopped playing their counter melody, and instead were used to be another layer to our melody. Lastly, I thought that this would be the best time to bring in the timpani for those powerful hits.

Overall, I think that we’ve done a lot in the past week, but I still need to write out a part for the trumpets when the big climax hits. I also want to see whether or not adding in some tuned percussion like a glockenspiel and a choir could be viable to intensify the moment. Other than that, the piece has been coming along pretty well, but there’s still some more work to do.

Full Orchestral Arrangement Project

Around two weeks ago, my music teacher suggested that we start and try to write full orchestral arrangements since I had just gotten the BBC Symphony Orchestra samples. We started laying down the foundation of the project and got a few ideas down. As of now, I think it’s coming along pretty well, but I wouldn’t say that we’ll finish anytime soon. Regardless, this week I’ll be sharing my experience so far with full orchestration.

I’ve actually tried doing something similar for a school project, but I was using some pretty bad samples and I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing. However, this time I was able to get some help on the things I should focus on and where to start. Before we actually created the project file we worked out a template with all the instruments that we might use for the project as well as any other projects we’d make in the future. This helped to organize different groups of instruments and figure out what the purpose of each instrument is within the orchestra.

After creating our project from the template we made my music teacher gave me a short piano bit to start with. It was only a few bars long and had an up beat sort of action feel, so that was the theme we were going for. My music teacher sent me an example that he’d written a few months ago so I could get an idea of how each instrument can be used before we got started.

For our composition, we decided to start with mostly strings and some light percussion and slowly build up the rest of the piece by adding more instruments. We started with the cellos and double basses playing short eighth note octaves of the chord progression for a pulsing sort of rhythm with violas playing an ostinato that mostly followed the chords as well. Instead of incorporating the violins from the beginning, we decided to save them in order to play our melody in harmony.

The next thing that we started working on was the percussion. Instead of building up our percussion as we went, it was easier to just write out all the percussion that we would want for the climax of the piece. Then, we just took out most of the elements and slowly added them in. This made things easier for me since I was able to listen to all of the different percussive instruments working together.

After working out the percussion we decided that we should have some of the brass section come in before the melody started. Since we mostly had some rhythmic action going on, we used the trombones and tubas to accentuate some of the notes that the strings were already playing. The trumpets and horns were a bit too blaring to write into the start, so we haven’t used them just yet.

Overall, that’s what we have written down for now, but we’re definitely working on incorporating more of the orchestra because we still haven’t even touched the woodwinds yet. The addition of horns later on should also change up the feel of the piece significantly. Right now, we’re just working on incorporating the melody into what we already have using the violins, and there’s still more to come after that.

Valorant’s New Map & Agent

Earlier this week, Riot Games did a full release for Valorant which just came out of closed beta. With its release came a new map called Ascent and an eleventh agent called Reyna. A new gamemode was also introduced with the ranked gamemode being taken out. There have been a few changes since the closed beta, and this week I’ll be writing about my thoughts on them.

First, the most anticipated addition of the new agent Reyna. She’s classified as a duelist agent which means that she’s meant to be played with a more aggressive playstyle, and I think it really shows with her abilities. Some people would say she’s overpowered, but I would say that she’s in a pretty good spot right now.

The first ability Reyna has is called Leer. It costs 200 credits and can hold a maximum of two charges. With Leer, Reyna can cast an orb anywhere within a certain radius that will cause players that have the orb in their vision to be nearsighted. Unless it is shot at and destroyed, it will remain in its position for a few seconds. Unlike other vision-impairing abilities, enemies that are nearsighted can still see but just not as far.

Reyna’s second ability and her signature ability are linked together, so things might get a bit complicated. Her second ability is called Devour and her passive is called Dismiss. They share a maximum of four charges that can each be bought for 100 credits although she automatically gets one charge at the start of each round due to the abilities being her signature.

The way these two abilities work is that anytime Reyna kills an enemy player they’ll have a Soul Orb floating over their dead body that lasts for a few seconds. During that time, Reyna can cast either ability on that orb. Devour is an ability that will heal Reyna as long as she remains in a line of sight with the Soul Orb of the player she killed. If Reyna’s HP is already 100 then Devour will overheal her for 50HP.

Dismiss is an ability that allows Reyna to become invulnerable and gains movement speed for a short period of time, however, you can’t use any other abilities or shoot while it is active. Additionally, she takes on an almost invisible appearance although you can still see her. This ability doesn’t require you to stay in the line of sight of the player you killed.

Reyna’s last ability is her ultimate called Empress which increases your firerate, highlights enemies in your vision, and gives you unlimited charges on Devour and Dismiss. There is a timer on the ultimate before it goes away, but any kills you get while in the Empress state will reset the timer.

I wouldn’t say that Reyna’s abilities are too strong. Some people complain that Her Dismiss ability is too strong, but I think it’s fine since you can still see her, and when she becomes visible again you’ll hear an audio cue of her laughing in the direction she is. As long as you’re paying attention I don’t think you should have a harder time countering her than you would with any other agent.

Moving on to the new map Ascent. In my opinion, I don’t think it’s really all that special. There are some spawn timings that I think should be changed, but other than that there’s not much else I’d say in terms of balancing. Supposedly the map is supposed to take place in a Venice like location where a piece of land flew up into the sky. I don’t really care too much about the game’s lore, but some people might find it interesting.

The new gamemode called Spike Rush is meant to played a lot faster than a normal game. In Spike Rush, every player spawns with the same weapons and have all their abilities on one of the normal maps. Orbs can be found around the map that provide the player that picks them up or their team buffs such as a better weapon, extra speed, or reduced HP for the enemy team. Every attacker has a spike although only one can be planted. It’s a pretty simple gamemode that’s not really meant to be taken seriously and is something you’d play if you were waiting for a friend or don’t have time for a normal match.

Overall, Valorant’s full release has been pretty successful. The gameplay at its core hasn’t changed, but there are some new things to explore with the new map Ascent. Some players have taken a liking to the new agent Reyna and others are still awaiting the return of the ranked gamemode. For now, I’ll simply continue on enjoying the game with friends.