Demonic Campaign Music

Create music and sound effects for mainline or user-made content.

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jdsampayo
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Demonic Campaign Music

Post by jdsampayo » June 14th, 2007, 7:57 pm

Hello, first a question, this thread must be here in Music & Sound or in Faction & Era?, please move it if I posted it wrong, thanks.

Well, I'm making a theme for the Demonic Faction, you can check some sprites here and some portraits here.

The song must sund demonic and war-like, but I need a lot of feedback, cause I don't know how to make it to sound demonic.

I think the intro suits, but when I tried to make it war-like it sounds more orcish than demonic.

Here it is.

What do you think?
Any suggestions?
Last edited by jdsampayo on June 21st, 2007, 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by Drake Blademaster » June 14th, 2007, 9:34 pm

Not bad, but it sounds a lot like music from Halo: Combat Evolved / Halo 2

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Post by Blarumyrran » June 14th, 2007, 9:34 pm

its kind of a cliche to use it more, but demonic music usually = lots of brass + strange vocal part.

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West
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Post by West » June 14th, 2007, 11:27 pm

Those drums are VERY annoying. They make me want press stop and never listen to the song again. If you're going to use a GM drumkit [which I think you shouldn't, try some percussion sounds instead], get a better one. Also, you need to look into drum programming. Patterns, dynamics... no drummer would ever play like that. Do you have a midi keyboard or do you just draw the notes in your sequencer with the mouse? I'm guessing on the latter.

As for the... uh, string pad or whatever it is that's playing in the background, it sounds very low-fi. It's grainy and ugly and reminds me more of some retro 8-bit electronica music rather than music for a fantasy game.

Also, the song clips. Watch your levels, digital clipping is not pretty.

All in all I think you should get yourself some better sounds to work with. I can't really be more constructive than that. This "song" is basically just a few bass notes on a bad string pad sound and a machine-like drum pattern. It generally sounds like you threw it together in five minutes. Try to put some effort in your music, the end result will be so much better.

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Post by jdsampayo » June 15th, 2007, 4:53 am

An update.

-removed the VERY annoying drums :P
-added a little brass

Anyway it is not a complete song, just the idea, I need to ask if it is sounding demonic or not.

check it in the same link.

@west: Sincerely, I have never studied music, I started playing music the hard way, of empirical way, and then compose some songs in my guitar. Eventually I learned what was a sequencer and start using one to save in the computer my songs. Then I start playing with the instruments that are in GM, and there it is. So, I don't know anything about drum programming or technical things. I will be gratefully if you could help me or explain me to be able to make a good piece for this campaign.
And I must use the standard soft-synthesizers cause I don't have the $$$ to buy better sounds. Well I have the YAMAHA XG50 and at least it sound better that the standard wavetable that comes with M$ Windows. And my slow computer don't play MIDIs in the correct time using Timidity to get better sounds in Linux :(

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West
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Post by West » June 15th, 2007, 6:17 am

jdsampayo wrote:An update.

-removed the VERY annoying drums :P
-added a little brass

Anyway it is not a complete song, just the idea, I need to ask if it is sounding demonic or not.
This version sounds much better. And yes, I guess it has a threatening, evil feel. I must say that using percussion instuments instead of a drum kit helped a lot. Some remarks though:

- The timpani sound sounds very dry and up front. Try adding some reverb to it (a lot even) and lowering the level slightly. Timpani needs room to breathe; without reverb they tend to sound like big wobbly plastic buckets, especially when the samples are not of high quality.

- Overall, don't be afraid to use more effects. Even a very crude-sounding sample can come to life if you add a decent amount of reverb to it. I'm not saying you should swamp everything in a big, woooshy reverb; just play around with it more.

- I realised now that the grainy retro sound I noticed earlier is some kind of choir pad, right? Try playing it in a higher octave. The graininess that can be heard is the result of a sample being played waaay below it's natural range.

- This version has even more clipping! Make sure to keep the signal below 0 dB when mixing down to audio, distortion should NEVER EVER occur in the digital domain. If you want your downmixes hotter, get a mastering plugin that will compress the audio at the same time as making it louder.

- Arrangement-wise, this piece doesn't make sense to me (yet). It needs... more. Not necessarily tons of additional instruments playing (though a few more would definitely not hurt), but more things need to happen to make it interesting. It sounds empty and sort of random right now. You know, like

[low synth note] BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

[another low synth note] BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

[percussion] BAM!................... BAM-BAM! ......................... BAM!

[low synth note] BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

And so on. A musical piece needs melody, rhythm, harmony and movement to capture the interest of the listener. Not just a few random notes and beats.

Finally, I'm not really sure what style you are amining for with this piece. Do you want to write something (semi) orchestral or something more electronic/ambient-like? It's hard to give any more clear suggestions without knowing what you have in mind.
jdsampayo wrote:I will be gratefully if you could help me or explain me to be able to make a good piece for this campaign.
And I must use the standard soft-synthesizers cause I don't have the $$$ to buy better sounds. Well I have the YAMAHA XG50 and at least it sound better that the standard wavetable that comes with M$ Windows. And my slow computer don't play MIDIs in the correct time using Timidity to get better sounds in Linux :(
XG50? You mean the S-YXG50 softsynth? If that's what you have, you certainly have come to the right person :D

Let me tell you, I have used the S-YXG50 a lot. I got it with a Yamaha WF192XG soundcard I bought in the late nineties and I actually used it (both the card and the softsynth) up until only a couple of years ago. I really tweaked the hell out of that little synth and got some decent mileage out of it, especially considering its modest sound quality (but as you say, it's much better than most standard GM banks).

This and this are two old demos of mine that both use the S-YXG50. By no means pro-quality sound, but you can clearly hear how versatile that old softsynth can be.

One big downside of the S-YXG50 is that it has such a small waveset. IIRC it uses the 5MB MU50 waveset, which isn't much. Which means short, ugly loops and no multisamples, even though I seem to remember that some sounds actually have velocity layers. In other words, it's not possible to get some truly great sounds out of it, but with the right amount of tweaking, layering and post-processing it can sound decent. Another downside is the latency: you can't play it in realtime since it has a fixed ~300ms latency. I was lucky enough to have a soundcard that had the exact same XG sounds in hardware, only with lower quality and polyphony. So I recorded everything with the h/w synth, then switched the output to S-YXG50 and mixed it down. This is harder to do in GM since XG has so many more different patches. It's hard to know what it will eventually sound like without switching to the softsynth every other minute.

Now, the BIG upside of the S-YXG50 is that it can be tweaked a great deal. All sounds have ADSR envelopes, cutoff/resonance, portamento controls etc; there's three effetc buses and lots, lots more. If you didn't know this already, you're in for a pleasant surprise. Only problem is that you will need some program to access all these features as you can't normally do it from your sequencer (not easily at any rate, you'd have to mess around with SYSEX and NRPM messages and such). In my XG days I used the excellent XGEdit95, but there are other similar programs. XGEdit is unfortunately commercial, but there might be other free editors. Just google around a bit.

To finish off: I'd be happy to help you get the most out of your S-YXG50. Just let me know what you need help with.

And sorry for the long post :)

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Post by jdsampayo » June 15th, 2007, 5:58 pm

Woa! Finally someone that knows the XG50, your demos are great, come on, tell me, how do you obtain that guitar in the XG50?! it is possible? damn I have lost a lot!

I have already XGEdit95 (don't ask me how do I obtain it :P) but don't know how to use it, I tried a year ago I think, but dont know what to do with it. I must edit an already created MIDI file, or I can sequence in XGEdit?

Well, as sequencer I have Guitar Pro, but I'm not happy with it, cause it doesn't have access to all the XG instruments, I have telled them here to add support for XG but they don't seem like they are going to do it. So, what sequencer do you recommend me?

I have another app, it's named XGWizard, but I think that one is only for hardware, but tell me if I can use it to do something via software.

SYSEX and NRPM? actually I remember to have tried to do something to be able to access an instrument don't available in the sequencer, but, no luck at all.

Please tell me how to be able to access all the instruments and effects of XG, cause I think my sequencer drops the quality of XG, I have checked it with the tubular bells, it's the instrument that shows more how the sequencer drops the quality, In the XG-Player, a MIDI using tubular bells sound fantastic, they sound very very realistic, but in the sequencer they sound dry, no matter how much reverb and chorus I put to them they sound cheap...

As for the song, well actually I don't put a melody cause it is really difficult to me to do it without a guitar. As they are very different instruments, I tried only to create an atmosphere of "evil" :P

The BAAA.. its supposed to be like a specie of horn calling for battle, for that it sounds repetitive and a simple note. Anyway all of this is like an intro of the song. For that I wanted to make it sounds like "prepare to battle" with a touch of evil. :twisted:

As for the choir pad you are right, its played below it's natural range. But actually I did this intentionally, cause it sounds (well for me :P ) like the breath of a demon :twisted: , haha, but maybe I can up it a little. The idea is that it must sound ugly.

cheers!

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Post by West » June 15th, 2007, 7:02 pm

jdsampayo wrote:Woa! Finally someone that knows the XG50, your demos are great, come on, tell me, how do you obtain that guitar in the XG50?! it is possible?
Hehe, no. That's a real guitar. :)

As for helping you out with XGEdit95, I can give you some suggestions, but I don't have the time to do so right now. I'll post a lenghtier reply later.

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Post by West » June 19th, 2007, 1:09 am

All right, a quick guide to XGEdit95 then.

It should be possible to run this app in conjunction with a sequencer, so you can record filter sweeps and stuff in realtime. I said "should be" as I never had any luck with that; one needs to use some loopback midi driver that lets both XGEdit and the sequencer access the midi ports at the same time. I never got that working properly (and I can't really remember why, it's been a long time since I used XG), but then again the realtime stuff was never a priority for me.

Instead, I simply used XGEdit as a tool to select and tweak patches. I always began by creating a template file with the sounds I needed for the song. If it was an "orchestral" piece, I'd load various string sounds, brass, woodwinds, percussion and so on. The patches are selected from the panel to the right (P1, P2, P3 etc).

Now, all patches have a big number of different settings you can access. First of all, let's have a look at the part right above the on-screen keyboard. You will notice volume to the very left, followed by detune, key shift, pan and much more. I won't go into detail about all these controls, I'll just say that the main ones you should pay attention to are (aside from volume and pan, of course) are res, cutoff and rev. IOW, resonance, cutoff and reverb level. By playing around with res and cutoff you can easily alter the sound quite radically; you can make it softer or brighter, or, at more extreme setting, get a "quacky" filter sound typical of analog synths. This might not be fitting for other instruments of course. Use these controls when you find that a patch needs a bit more -- or less -- bite. The reverb knob controls the amount of reverb on the track; the default 40 is normally a bit too low so don't be afraid to turn it up.

The section in the middle is where you select send and insert/aux effects. Should be pretty straightforward; select which effect you want to access (reverb, chorus or variation), then pick a preset in the panel below. All effects can also be tweaked quite a bit: the White Room reverb is great for simulating a real acoustic space.

See that big display to the left of the patch selector which says AMP EG? With that one you can change the ADSR envelope of the sound, i.e. attack, decay, sustain and release. Drag the second box (from the left) to the left for a faster attack, to the right for a slower attack. For a longer release, so the sound rings out, drag the rightmost box to the right. Or vice versa. PITCH EG can also be fun to play around with. Try it! :)

These are the basics, I think. You can do lots of other things, but once you've familiarized yourself with the app I suggest you have a look in the manual. I seem to remember that it's quite good.

Now, after I had a selection of sounds that I wanted to use, roughly tweaked with the proper panning, FX etc, I would export the setup to a midi file, then import that file into my sequencer. XGEdit inserts all necessary settings at the beginning of the file, all program changes and stuff like that. When the song was finished (or at least taking shape), I would export it as a midi file from my sequencer, open it in XGEdit again and perform any fine tweaks I found necessary.

It's not the most comfortable way of working, but it's the best one I could come up with when using S-YXG50.

Note: XGEdit's midi output should of course be set to S-YXG50!

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Post by jdsampayo » June 21st, 2007, 5:27 pm

A very small update. Also, removed the olders.

@west: I have tryed, but, my secuencer ignores the changes I have made in XGEdit, it loads the instruments changed from the MIDI file, but all the modifications to the instruments are ignored. I think it's cause the secuencer doesn't have events (I think they're called events) for the MIDI importation. Maybe I will change to another secuencer.
Anyway, very thankfull West, I have played a lot with XGEdit and its very cool what one can do with it.

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Post by Temuchin Khan » June 27th, 2007, 1:25 pm

Well, I finally listened to this piece. My initial reaction is that what you have is good, as long as it is used only as accompaniment and not as the main theme. What the main theme should be, I'm not sure, but I feel like there should be another theme coming in overtop what you've already done and accompanied by it.

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Post by ael193 » August 8th, 2007, 11:33 am

soonds cool very simaler to most of the stuff i make, i can sense the demonic feel, i see dark lord plotting in tower more than huge legions of phsyco demons gearing up for war though.

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Post by FireMaster » October 18th, 2007, 10:24 am

No feedback BECAUSE I GOT A 404 NOT FOUND ERROR WHEN I LOADED THE PAGE! :augh:
Just because I'm a master of fire doesn't mean I'll light your "uber candle"

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Post by West » October 18th, 2007, 10:37 am

FireMaster wrote:No feedback BECAUSE I GOT A 404 NOT FOUND ERROR WHEN I LOADED THE PAGE! :augh:
Well the thread is four months old.

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Post by Kestenvarn » October 18th, 2007, 10:46 am

FireMaster wrote:No feedback BECAUSE I GOT A 404 NOT FOUND ERROR WHEN I LOADED THE PAGE! :augh:
You make me sad. Here I thought there was an update...

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