One thing I think many new composers need to improve on is transitions – and not necessarily transitions to new musical material. Using the same musical material repeatedly can sound very interesting as long as it doesn’t feel like it’s the same thing over and over again. When coming to the end of a musical phrase, it can begin to feel very stagnant and at a constant musical and dynamic level if there is not some sense of excitement or variation that pushes into the next phrase. It’s one of the reasons why drum-fills exist. Without them, there wouldn’t be as much of a sense of completion or momentum at the end of a phrase.
There are lots of different ways this can be achieved, but most techniques involve a swelling of some sort. A drum fill will lead to a cymbal on the next phrase’s downbeat. A cymbal swell will get louder and finally decay once the new phrase begins. Instruments and/or sections will increase in volume or rhythms will be subdivided and subdivided and melodies or textures will have a higher and higher pitch. All this to create a race to the edge of a cliff with the new phrase as the satisfying payoff and result.
Basically, these transitions are important and I thought I’d take a second to talk about one of my go-to plugins for them.
Rise and Hit by Native Instruments has wonderful sounds and textures for every genre. Not only does it play the role of generating the momentum at the end of phrases within larger musical works, but if can stand on it’s own as well. I’ve written cues where large portions of it are just one patch in Rise and Hit! You can edit, modulate and customize every preset patch as well as generate your own. It even allows you to edit lengths of samples by beats and seconds – making it very easy to use in a stand-alone piece of music as well as for scoring to a timecode.
You can check out more information about Rise and Hit from Native Instruments here.
And, here’s a video showing it in action!