New stuff, new methods, new music (6/3)

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

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Dveman115
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Post by Dveman115 » January 19th, 2008, 9:20 pm

I personally like it. The only thing that I don't really like is when it gets all majestic and ready to blast and.....it ends.

[PA] NotUncleDave
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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » January 20th, 2008, 3:44 pm

I've hit a couple of problems.

The first is that my laptop and the program I'm using have decided that the piece is getting too broad with regards to number of parts, and won't playback.

The second is that my very nice expensive headphones broke, so now I can't even hear the exported .wavs.

I don't like making excuses, but this is going to move kinda slow until I've managed to get new headphones and rewire the entire thing in Reason to make it run smoother. It's seeming a little backward to me too at the moment- building a piece around the first part (which was just a brainfart, really) is a lot harder that I thought. I know exactly what's wrong with the voices- they're too nasal-sounding, so I'll get on to fixing that.

As for the transitions... this isn't anywhere near done. The last few bars with the brass in are just tacked on to the end, that's not where they're going in the finished piece- and it will get "all majestic and ready to blast" and blast it will. :P

At least I hope it will.

I'm majorly out of my depth with this, and to say it's a learning process would be an understatement...

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Espreon
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Post by Espreon » February 10th, 2008, 5:06 am

I really like it. In fact I like it so much I want it to be part of my campaign. So is it ok if I use it? I would use it as boss battle music...

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West
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Post by West » February 11th, 2008, 10:35 am

Sorry 'bout not commenting on your tune earlier, I've just been insanely busy the latest weeks.

Anyhow, your piece shows promise. It's dramatic and has some nice melodies and general musical ideas; I particularly like that ethnic flute and the little brass theme at the end. I also like the part where the harp comes in at 2:20.

However, it also has a couple of major problems, the first one being the performance in itself.

Everything sounds very stiff and programmed, particularly the percussion. How do you enter the notes into your sequencer? I would guess you're using your mouse, or possibly (if you do use a keyboard) you're quantizing all notes. Please don't do that! ;) In order to make virtual orchestrations sound as live and real as possible, it is good practice stay the heck away from your DAW's quantize function. Record everything live, if possible, and if some notes are way off just adjust them in the piano roll editor -- with snapping turned off! If you're stuck with just a mouse it's a bit harder as you'll have to move notes around and keep them slightly "off the grid" to make the timing more loose and human-like. Nonetheless it should be possible. Depending on what DAW you're running, there might be some humanize plugin/function that you can use in addition to tweaking the notes by hand. Optimally you should use a keyboard though. Basic midi keyboards are quite inexpensive and I really, really, really recommend getting one. If nothing else, it makes recording a lot faster and more painless. Also, don't copy and paste repeating parts -- re-record them instead. Right now your piece is very machine-like and fake-sounding, and you're going to have to do something about that.

Secondly: your samples aren't stellar (Edirol orchestral?), but with a little work you should be able to make them sound much better. For one thing, you should tweak the reverb settings. The strings sound pretty good but some other sections -- the brass and percussion in particular -- sound too dry. Remember that in a real orchestra, the brass players and percussionists are positioned behind the strings and thus there should be more reverb on those sections. The panning is also a bit ambigous. Google up an orchestra seating plan and use this as a base for positioning the instruments in the mix. Left to right (panning), and front to back (amount of reverb). Also, some of your instrument samples are honestly no good and you should try to find replacements. For example, there's a melody that comes in a 0:44 and I can't for the life of me figure out what instrument it's supposed to be. It sounds chorused and synthetic, like an analog lead sound. At 1:54 there is something that I think is supposed to be a choir, but it's not multisampled so the formants are all screwy.

As mentioned the strings are quite passable, as is the brass, but at this point I can't really tell if you're using different strings and brass sections or just typical full brass/full strings patches. The strings are a little too buried in the mix for me to tell, and the brass isn't used much. At any rate, avoid "full sections" and use individual instrument groups to form a whole. I.e. trombone section, horn section, trumpet section etc. You might already be doing this; if so you need to separate the instruments a bit more in the mix. One should be able to tell that, for example, there's a trumpet and trombone section playing in unison and not just a generic brass patch with a lot of different instruments sandwiched together. I hope that made sense.

Musically I see no big problems with the piece. It could use more variation and maybe a more memorable theme here and there, but then again it's obviously not finished. I look forward to hearing a new revision.

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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » February 11th, 2008, 7:40 pm

it did, thanks. :)

i haven't abandoned it, but i've had to cut the harp. there is no way my computer can process it along with 25-odd other sample sets, it's a dear little thing and it does what it can, but sometimes it's all too much, g'bless. but the piece has undergone a whole lot of plastic surgery, and it's shaping up- i'll post a revision when i've got the arrangement mostly done, because... well, the way i compose stuff, you get blocks here, bits there, and nothing resembling an actual piece until it's all been strung together. i've done enough work on it that the revision i posted earlier sounds to me somewhat like an abortion.

the samples im using are all reason 2.0's stock Orkester soundbank, and on the whole, they're actually not too bad- but as you said, the percussion and wind are... lacking. i'm not sure how to remedy it other than by playing down the importance of wind, but the percussion i can tweak to make it unnoticeable. as for quantization, i don't have much of a choice- i have no midi keyboard, so i'm putting in the blocks by hand. it's not a case of simply not quantising so much, i have to manually UN-quantise bits and start fiddling with velocities and such until it stops sounding so artificial. naturally, then, i'm leaving the tough bit till the end :?

but i'm working more to the limits of what i have, now, and the piece will be better for it.

edit: espreon, you can use the finished version of course! but i'd greatly prefer you not using anything i post until it's done ;)

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West
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Post by West » February 12th, 2008, 11:41 am

[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:i haven't abandoned it, but i've had to cut the harp. there is no way my computer can process it along with 25-odd other sample sets, it's a dear little thing and it does what it can, but sometimes it's all too much, g'bless.
What about freezing/bouncing the finished parts?
[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:the samples im using are all reason 2.0's stock Orkester soundbank, and on the whole, they're actually not too bad- but as you said, the percussion and wind are... lacking. i'm not sure how to remedy it other than by playing down the importance of wind, but the percussion i can tweak to make it unnoticeable.
I have never used Reason so I don't know how it works, but wouldn't it be possible to use other samples along with those in Reason? I mean, couldn't you just remove the not-so good samples and replace them with (for example) soundfonts?
[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:as for quantization, i don't have much of a choice- i have no midi keyboard, so i'm putting in the blocks by hand. it's not a case of simply not quantising so much, i have to manually UN-quantise bits and start fiddling with velocities and such until it stops sounding so artificial. naturally, then, i'm leaving the tough bit till the end :?


Ah, I see. I used to work like that myself a long time ago and it's frightfully frustrating and time-consuming, so you have my sympathy. Anyway, it's good to hear that you're aware of the flaws and working on them.

[PA] NotUncleDave
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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » February 12th, 2008, 2:50 pm

yeah, um. the thing about Reason is it lends itself far better to the half-arsed trance on the newgrounds portal than anything orchestral- it only works in midi, so you can't just record the harp separately then play back as an audio file alongside the rest.

the *only* way to do it is to export the whole thing and listen to it then...

also, as a sidenote, is that picture in your avatar you? because you seem to have been separated at birth from your friend and mine,

Image

kane

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West
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Post by West » February 12th, 2008, 8:14 pm

[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:yeah, um. the thing about Reason is it lends itself far better to the half-arsed trance on the newgrounds portal than anything orchestral- it only works in midi, so you can't just record the harp separately then play back as an audio file alongside the rest.

the *only* way to do it is to export the whole thing and listen to it then...
That's kind of inconvenient. What sequencer are you using?

And speaking of sequencer, if you happen to be a Cubase user there is a little trick you can use work around that "un-quantizing" notes problem.
[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:also, as a sidenote, is that picture in your avatar you? because you seem to have been separated at birth from your friend and mine,

Image

kane
hehe, yep that's me in the avatar. But who the heck is Kane? He looks like Cypher's twin brother.

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Post by AI » February 12th, 2008, 8:17 pm

You mean you don't know about the Command&Conquer series? Kane is the personification of evil awesomeness.

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West
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Post by West » February 12th, 2008, 8:20 pm

AI wrote:You mean you don't know about the Command&Conquer series? Kane is the personification of evil awesomeness.
Oh, I do know of it. But "know of" isn't the same thing as "interested in" or "have played". :)

[PA] NotUncleDave
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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » February 22nd, 2008, 11:12 am

update in first post, link at the bottom of it

awaiting any input. i need some now, because i'm a humongous amateur at this stuff, and become desensitized to things i work on too long- i'm hitting "the wall" over and over, in other words, and i need fresh advice

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Post by West » February 22nd, 2008, 3:09 pm

[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:update in first post, link at the bottom of it

awaiting any input. i need some now, because i'm a humongous amateur at this stuff, and become desensitized to things i work on too long- i'm hitting "the wall" over and over, in other words, and i need fresh advice
Cool, I'm looking forward to hearing it. Expect some comments later tonight.

And oh, I know what you mean about becoming desensitized, same thing happens to me as well.

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Post by zookeeper » February 22nd, 2008, 3:20 pm

Layman's opinion: sounds awesome. My only wish would be that the great part at 3:10-3:35 would have a bit more...punch (like the part at 4:30-4:40 does), at least when the theme repeats the second time (starting from 3:23). I'm not sure if I'm referring to simply the loudness of that section or the instrument selection (which is currently very "soft") as well.

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Post by yobbo » February 23rd, 2008, 12:14 am

Hi, I really like the sound of this piece :).

Judging from my first listen through of it, here are some minor suggestions. I'm not really a musician so take anything I say with a grain of salt.

0:29 ex-harp bit: The cymbal at the start of this section seems to fade out very quickly. I think the section would feel fuller if the cymbal was allowed to fade out "naturally" (i.e. over a significantly longer period) in the background.

In the other places where the cymbal is used, this isn't as important, but I do feel more of a decision should be made in each place on whether to let it ring or to mute it on a particular beat.

2:41: I feel like the horn here could use a little more "bite". It feels a bit soft and synthetic.

3:10: I really like the string melody here :)

4:28: I can't tell what the instrument that comes in here is supposed to be. It sounds like a synthesizer, and in the context of music for Wesnoth, it really doesn't fit.

Aside from that, it would sound better if after the first repeat it was joined by another instrument playing the same melody to flesh it out and make it sound more "grand". For example, if the melody is first carried by a trumpet or trombone, then the whole brass section follows after the melody has repeated once.


In general, I think you should heavily increase the dynamics of the piece. The crescendos and decrescendos are very slight and I feel the piece would be much more exciting if they were exaggerated. Right now it feels a little "bored".

In contrast, I quite like the steady rhythm and overall slightly majestic feel of the piece. I think it fits the Drakes quite well. The steady rhythm reminds me of beating wings. It's also easy to imagine flying and looking down from the air while listening to it :).


By the way - I never heard the version with the harp, so I have no idea what the piece sounded like before.

[PA] NotUncleDave
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Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » February 23rd, 2008, 4:21 am

zookeeper wrote:Layman's opinion: sounds awesome. My only wish would be that the great part at 3:10-3:35 would have a bit more...punch (like the part at 4:30-4:40 does), at least when the theme repeats the second time (starting from 3:23). I'm not sure if I'm referring to simply the loudness of that section or the instrument selection (which is currently very "soft") as well.
i dunno about giving that melody more punch straight away, but i'll try it with different instruments and see how it pans out- but yeah, it's going to be reiterated with more force, definitely. the intention was to make it a dream-like section in contrast with the harsher, regimented nature of the rest of the piece, but if it doesnt work when the rest of the arrangement is done, i'll definitely beef it up.

yobbo wrote:Hi, I really like the sound of this piece

Judging from my first listen through of it, here are some minor suggestions. I'm not really a musician so take anything I say with a grain of salt.

0:29 ex-harp bit: The cymbal at the start of this section seems to fade out very quickly. I think the section would feel fuller if the cymbal was allowed to fade out "naturally" (i.e. over a significantly longer period) in the background.

In the other places where the cymbal is used, this isn't as important, but I do feel more of a decision should be made in each place on whether to let it ring or to mute it on a particular beat.

2:41: I feel like the horn here could use a little more "bite". It feels a bit soft and synthetic.

3:10: I really like the string melody here Smile

4:28: I can't tell what the instrument that comes in here is supposed to be. It sounds like a synthesizer, and in the context of music for Wesnoth, it really doesn't fit.

Aside from that, it would sound better if after the first repeat it was joined by another instrument playing the same melody to flesh it out and make it sound more "grand". For example, if the melody is first carried by a trumpet or trombone, then the whole brass section follows after the melody has repeated once.


In general, I think you should heavily increase the dynamics of the piece. The crescendos and decrescendos are very slight and I feel the piece would be much more exciting if they were exaggerated. Right now it feels a little "bored".

In contrast, I quite like the steady rhythm and overall slightly majestic feel of the piece. I think it fits the Drakes quite well. The steady rhythm reminds me of beating wings. It's also easy to imagine flying and looking down from the air while listening to it.


By the way - I never heard the version with the harp, so I have no idea what the piece sounded like before.
i definitely agree with the piece sounding bored and a little flat. that's more than anything because of the amount of work it would take to balance 25-odd parts after recording in dynamics changes for each; i'm considering rewiring the whole thing to get strings on one mixer, woodwind on another, brass on another etc so that i can fade sections more easily, but again, that's going to be a chore... probably has to be done.

i didn't notice how quickly the cymbal was fading out, though... i'm going to split that off away from the percussion set part, so that i can control it better.

er, the horn at 2:41 is supposed to be a tuba; so yeah, it definitely needs more bite if you think that :P although you think the woodwind/horn melody at 3:10 is string, so it might be an issue with what you're listening to it off... i'll experiment with it a bit to try and make the instruments clearer; btw, the 4:28 instrument is supposed to be a trumpet section... this could take a while

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