Music to your ears?
Shed a tear, ladies and gentlemen, because we’ve almost reached the end of our Block of the Week series. Over the last year or two, we’ve gone through almost every block in the game, identifying its natural habitat, useful qualities, fun facts – and, in many cases, the closest thing to that block in real life.
You’ll notice that we didn’t cover every block in the game. We didn’t include individual colours of wool and other dyeable blocks, for example, or differentiate between the raw and polished versions of rocks like diorite. That would have got boring fast. Nor did we include blocks-that-aren’t-reeeeally-blocks, like Enchantment Tables, Cake and Minecarts.
But there’s one block that we we know you’ve been clamouring for us to feature almost since the start of the series. One block that has inspired you lot to send us hundreds of tweets, fanart and memes (so many memes). One block that we don’t quite see what all the fuss is about but is clearly popular, and who are we to argue with that. Is it time? Is it happening? It’s time. It’s happening. It’s note block. Note block is our block of the week. Oh. My. Block. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!
Today, Kristina’s process for composing with note blocks is very similar to composing other music, you just have to get the parameters right. “I usually start composing by letting the metronome tick at 150 BPM so I get a feel for how fast it needs to go, then pick an instrument to record a bassline, then I just keep adding to that,” she said.
“It’s all layers, really – starting with a simple melody that determines the feel and then adding other melodies and instruments that work well with the previous ones. Most of it is subconscious, I can hear potential melodies inside my mind at the same time I’m recording and go mainly on instinct. I never know exactly how a song will sound from the start, it grows and takes form as I add more melodies. It’s more like discovering potential music than composing, it’s all about chasing the sound.”
Once the sound is caught, she records it. “I record in the same speed as redstone ticks, 150 BPM, and export the MIDI file of each instrument – a MIDI file is just code of when a note starts and stops and which note it is, it’s like sheet music,” she told me. “Note Block Composer lets me import MIDI tracks so I can just export from Ableton and import there, and then use Note Block Studio to export as a schematic. I can use MCEdit to remove all the blocks that aren’t note blocks and instrument blocks, and move that on to my own structures. I like using different materials for the build, MCEdit helps a lot when you want to swap between types of blocks.”
Her note block builds don’t stop there, though. “Composing the songs is the fast part, it usually only takes one hour to record the bulk of the song, a few more for getting everything exactly how I want it. The build takes a ton of time. I don’t just want to have a note block song, I want things to happen and to create a story.
“The most recent build I did took over 100+ hours, I had a redstone fireworks show attached to the note blocks, I built scenery, made pixel art using beacon beams and for the video I added dialogue that looked like chat to keep it interesting. I kept adding more and more details and it took a lot of time, but I’m really happy with how it turned out! The difference in time between creating the music and doing the build is the hardest part for me because by the time that I’m done with a build I’ll have written ten more songs. There’s too many songs, not enough time!”
But brilliantly, she did take the time to make us a Block of the Week theme song! Play the video below to hear it!Written By Duncan Geere Published