Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

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Rain
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Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 12th, 2008, 10:04 pm

New music for harp and orchestra! I wanted to write something that fit in a bit better with the style of wesnoth. (Some of my other compositions are odd ducks. :p)

This is more of a emotional theme or 'scene cue'. I wanted to express the importance and simplicity of the melodic phrase in the music.

http://www.allacrost.org/staff/user/rain/CelticTune.mp3

I had a feeling this could fit as either a LOVE theme or as a LEGEND theme.


What do you guys think?

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West
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by West » April 12th, 2008, 11:10 pm

Well, this is just a spontaneous reaction from having listened to it a couple of times... but I like it. That harp sound is glorious! The piece has a very nice fairy tale feel, cute but still dramatic enough not to be silly. Very atmospheric, in other words. And yes, this does feel more Wesnothy. :)

Just like some of your other work, though, it lacks in the realism department. The harp strums and runs sound mechanical and the flute sound is synthy. The basses are a bit too pronounced as well, they suffer from SBS (Synth Bass Syndrome), i.e. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. IMO this piece doesn't need massive low end, try accentuating the root notes with pizz basses instead, or at least make the bass notes softer -- maybe even barely audible.

Aside from that I see no problems with it -- I would very much like to hear another revision. I strongly suggest reworking the flute parts so that they sound less synthy, however. The harp is mainly accompaniment so it's no big deal if it isn't 100% realistic, but as the flute plays the lead melody, the whole tune would benefit from it sounding more real. I think the main problem I have with the flute is that it sounds chorused and lacks logical breathing rests. Is it a solo flute or a flute section? I can't tell.

Rain
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 12th, 2008, 11:53 pm

West wrote:Well, this is just a spontaneous reaction from having listened to it a couple of times... but I like it. That harp sound is glorious! The piece has a very nice fairy tale feel, cute but still dramatic enough not to be silly. Very atmospheric, in other words. And yes, this does feel more Wesnothy. :)
Cool! Good to know I am on the right track.
West wrote:Just like some of your other work, though, it lacks in the realism department. The harp strums and runs sound mechanical and the flute sound is synthy. The basses are a bit too pronounced as well, they suffer from SBS (Synth Bass Syndrome), i.e. BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA. IMO this piece doesn't need massive low end, try accentuating the root notes with pizz basses instead, or at least make the bass notes softer -- maybe even barely audible.
BAAAAAAAAAAH. HAHA. I know what you mean. What can I say? I LOVE flatulent basses. I'll see about toning that down in future installments... I am not sure what I could do with the harp to make it sound more <live>, but I did alter velocity volumes every so often to try to give the feeling of a live player.

The flute indeed sounds unrealistic. I could add some breath marks in there... Actually this would be a golden opportunity for me to start dicking around with the CC 11 patch. Wish me luck! (I might need to choose another sample patch as well... )
West wrote:Aside from that I see no problems with it -- I would very much like to hear another revision. I strongly suggest reworking the flute parts so that they sound less synthy, however. The harp is mainly accompaniment so it's no big deal if it isn't 100% realistic, but as the flute plays the lead melody, the whole tune would benefit from it sounding more real. I think the main problem I have with the flute is that it sounds chorused and lacks logical breathing rests. Is it a solo flute or a flute section? I can't tell.
I believe the flute is a solo patch but it certainly doesn't sound like it's by itself. It sounds extremely full for one flute. I might tinker with different patches before I do too much expression changing.

There are some definite things for me to clean up and refine before this sucker is done but I am happy that you find it agreeable at the moment. :)

Thanks for your input.

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by yobbo » April 13th, 2008, 1:18 am

Why is the harp sliding all over the place? It's really annoying :?.

The whole piece is a bit over-the-top.

The simple melody gets repetitive extremely quickly.

Nonetheless I thought the explosion of sound at 1:16 was awesome :). Hehe

Rain
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 13th, 2008, 1:43 am

yobbo wrote:Why is the harp sliding all over the place? It's really annoying :?.

The whole piece is a bit over-the-top.

The simple melody gets repetitive extremely quickly.
The harp is 'panning' because I wanted to put a subtle pan on the harp to enhance the stereo field. I knew I wouldn't be working with a lot of instrumentation and wanted to give the harp a way to stand out. I could've just left the harp where it was, but the flow of the energy is far more effective as is. Trust me, I didn't put the effect in with the intention to annoy! It creates better mixing dynamics and decreases the capacity for ear fatigue.

Don't try to over-analyze why it's doing what it is. FEEL it.

I think you'll get used to it if you hear the song a few times. Panning is actually just a little creative trick employed to keep the ears from getting bored more quickly. ;) It really broadens the sound of the instrumentation. Since the harp is predominately a back up instrument, it doesn't really take away from the melody by having it pan like that.

The piece isn't really over-the-top. What does that mean exactly? :hmm: Musically, I wanted the melody to be engaging, and accessible. I think I have trying over-complexify music sometimes. The melody is simple, yes, but I don't see a need to make any large changes to the piece based upon that. Simple is sometimes good. :)

I am pretty happy with the dynamics of the song and the mix, overall.
yobbo wrote:Nonetheless I thought the explosion of sound at 1:16 was awesome :). Hehe
Thanks!

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 13th, 2008, 1:47 am

Okay West. I used the CC 11 a bit for this latest mix. On both the flute and strings... and harp! A lot more subtler usage than I was expecting, but I didn't want to get too crazy with it. (Let me know if you even realize the changes!) I think the melody stands out a little better with this current mix. The flute speaks a LOT better and the strings breathe a little bit between phrasing.

http://www.allacrost.org/staff/user/rai ... REFINE.mp3

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by yobbo » April 13th, 2008, 2:13 am

Rain wrote: Don't try to over-analyze why it's doing what it is. FEEL it.
Oh I feel it. It gave me a splitting headache panning back and forth like that :?.

You don't need to move the individual instruments to move the music around. You just need to make sure the instruments are placed separately, and that the music itself moves across the different instruments. To get the same effect of movement with just the harp, it would sound better to have two static harps playing the same tune, and vary their individual strength by hand.

By "over the top" I mean mainly that it sounds a bit... cheesy. Big. Full-on. Too much. The opposite would be "toned down". It's like everything's playing full-on all the time. The feeling isn't itself a bad thing, especially used in individual passages it's quite effective. But if the whole piece sounds like that it's just too much.

I think it might help to see what I mean if you crank the volume up and listen to it through a pair of headphones.

The simple melody isn't so bad. But it would sound nicer with a little variety in the rhythm and the expression.

Incidentally, the dynamics and the mix are probably the things I have the biggest problem with...

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 13th, 2008, 2:34 am

yobbo wrote:Oh I feel it. It gave me a splitting headache panning back and forth like that :?.
...Pity. REALLY. :mrgreen:
yobbo wrote:You don't need to move the individual instruments to move the music around. You just need to make sure the instruments are placed separately, and that the music itself moves across the different instruments.


No. I appreciate the concern, but I really don't think you need to tell me what I NEED to do. There was a very definite and perfectly logical reason I included the panning with the harp - to keep the instrumentation from becoming too static. If I had felt there was a problem with it, I wouldn't have included it.
yobbo wrote:To get the same effect of movement with just the harp, it would sound better to have two static harps playing the same tune, and vary their individual strength by hand.
Would it really sound 'better'? Don't take this the wrong way, but I trust my ears. I have to. If I didn't, what kind of sound engineer would I be? I can't simply change the piece because you happen to have a heachache... Now if we start seeing a trend, then I'll be much more likely to look into it!

By "over the top" I mean mainly that it sounds a bit... cheesy. Big. Full-on. Too much. The opposite would be "toned down". It's like everything's playing full-on all the time. The feeling isn't itself a bad thing, especially used in individual passages it's quite effective. But if the whole piece sounds like that it's just too much.
lmfao. I understand what you mean. I don't agree, but I see how you might think that way.
I think it might help to see what I mean if you crank the volume up and listen to it through a pair of headphones.
What, you mean like I've been doing for the past hour and a half? ;) I actually think the piece is more effective with headphones. (It plays with the ears more.) The harp movement between the left and right stereo field is actually growing on me, if anything.
The simple melody isn't so bad. But it would sound nicer with a little variety in the rhythm and the expression.
For sure. I made some alterations to the expression in the most recent mix. It's going to take a bit of work to make the instruments sing their parts convincingly, but it's good just to test the water at this point. :)

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by [PA] NotUncleDave » April 14th, 2008, 7:17 am

What I'm about to say is most likely going to make no sense.

First, I LIKE the piece.

I think it flows TOO well. It has too much drive- the harp never lets up for a breath, it just keeps flowing, and flowing. It has a romanticism to it that means it can't work in the "past" or "legend" or whatever. For me, story music is more bare in its harmony and instrumentation than this.

It's too epic for love. It doesn't have the intimacy you'd expect from a close bond- if it were a theme to a campaign based around a grand love story, that could work, but as general-purpose, it doesn't fit. You're going to hate me for saying this, but I think it IS over-the-top for the role it wants. It has to let up (yeah, I know, pot, kettle :wink:)

edit: i just thought of the 2 examples that stand out for me- the opening sequence track- "legendary hero" of the wind waker (the prologue), and celes' theme from FFVI

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by hiro hito » April 14th, 2008, 7:55 am

I like it!

About the pan harp, i think it should be less loud from the middle until the end of the piece...
Although, the pan is really nice, we need to forget it a bit when all orchestra appears....
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Smashworth » April 14th, 2008, 9:41 am

The disconnect comes from using a well-known instrument sound, a harp, and then having it move. People know what harps look like, they're BIG and they are HEAVY. Even a lap harp, like a Celtic harp, isn't played by someone who is moving around.

So if you like the idea of panning the background strum (in general this is going to bother listeners, but there are specific exceptions like Leslie Hammond organs), use a sound which is not so "realistic". Use something clearly artificial or at least more clearly mobile.

It all comes down to "credibility". Listeners might not know why their head hurts, but they know something is "wrong" in a real-world modelling sense. So you can take away the real-world model, or you can take away the panning.

I agree with the previous critic that moving things in the stereo field is not a substitute for a wealth of musical ideas and arranging.

The best part of the peice is where the strings burst in - that's your best arranging element in this piece. Simple things like letting instruments drop out of sections, then return, or using different instruments, changing the harmony feel, etc.

There's some kind of weird clashing harmony in the vey last section. I think you have the melody in parallel fifths, but whatever it is, it sounds "off". It starts with a very dissonant single note.

Rain
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 15th, 2008, 12:06 am

Smashworth wrote:The disconnect comes from using a well-known instrument sound, a harp, and then having it move. People know what harps look like, they're BIG and they are HEAVY. Even a lap harp, like a Celtic harp, isn't played by someone who is moving around.
To be honest, I am not as worried about that. True, a harp is usually situated in one spot for a performance. However, my approach to the harp in this piece isn't purely academic. I like trying new things and experimenting to see what effect it has. I think we can get away with that in a game play situation as most listeners and game players probably will be too drawn in to the game to really be scrutinizing where each instrument in the orchestra SHOULD be playing.

That being said, the spread of a harp in a live situation just seems wider in real life than the natural room setting in east west. That is why I added a bit more sweep from left to right. For sure, it's really exaggerated. if i do change it, I will maybe add a soft delay to play with room acoustics a bit more to create a similar, less noticeable panning effect. However, I still really like the part at the moment and am a bit obstinate in changing it up.

It all comes down to "credibility". Listeners might not know why their head hurts, but they know something is "wrong" in a real-world modelling sense. So you can take away the real-world model, or you can take away the panning.
Again, most game players are not going to care if each orchestral instrument is in the CORRECT posture. The chances of the game player being analytical with the music, let alone the logistics of instrumentation, seems very remote.
I agree with the previous critic that moving things in the stereo field is not a substitute for a wealth of musical ideas and arranging.
I agree... However, Maybe I argued my point incorrectly. I wasn't arguing that this piece is weak musically which necessitated a sweeping harp to fill the gaps of a sub-par piece, but rather that the simplicity of the instrument design in the piece allows for other possibilities to open up.
The best part of the peice is where the strings burst in - that's your best arranging element in this piece. Simple things like letting instruments drop out of sections, then return, or using different instruments, changing the harmony feel, etc.
For sure. I agree with you there.
Smashworth wrote:There's some kind of weird clashing harmony in the vey last section. I think you have the melody in parallel fifths, but whatever it is, it sounds "off". It starts with a very dissonant single note.
There are two flutes playing at once, and the top flute plays a note which isn't in the normal scale. heh, I wanted to add a bit of drama in that last few measures with the 'off note' to bring the harmony and phrasing from short-lived dissonance into consonance to finish the piece. Just an experiment. However, it might not really be characteristic of the piece's sense of key. I'll have to think about changing it...

Thanks for the comments!
Last edited by Rain on April 15th, 2008, 12:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

Rain
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 15th, 2008, 12:13 am

[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:What I'm about to say is most likely going to make no sense.
Well then, the chances of me understanding it are quite high!
[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:First, I LIKE the piece.
Thanks Dave!
[PA] NotUncleDave wrote:I think it flows TOO well. It has too much drive- the harp never lets up for a breath, it just keeps flowing, and flowing. It has a romanticism to it that means it can't work in the "past" or "legend" or whatever. For me, story music is more bare in its harmony and instrumentation than this.
Flows too well? First time I've heard that. :D I think I grasp what you are getting at. Some of the instruments are stated a bit too 'proudly' which might be a bit distracting. This might be creating the 'over the top' effect. The piece might be better off being a bit more 'felt and not heard'. I might try softening many of the instruments and add more expression so the piece isn't so forceful.
It's too epic for love. It doesn't have the intimacy you'd expect from a close bond- if it were a theme to a campaign based around a grand love story, that could work, but as general-purpose, it doesn't fit. You're going to hate me for saying this, but I think it IS over-the-top for the role it wants. It has to let up (yeah, I know, pot, kettle :wink:)
Yea. I think you're right.
edit: i just thought of the 2 examples that stand out for me- the opening sequence track- "legendary hero" of the wind waker (the prologue), and celes' theme from FFVI
Stand out in what way?

Rain
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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Rain » April 15th, 2008, 12:15 am

hiro hito wrote:About the pan harp, i think it should be less loud from the middle until the end of the piece...
Although, the pan is really nice, we need to forget it a bit when all orchestra appears....
I should be able to automate effects in EastWest pretty easily. I haven't figured it out yet, but I think this might clear up many of the issues people are having with the harp. I'll check into it when I look into making changes to the piece again.
hiro hito wrote:I like it!
Thank you!

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Re: Wesnoth Theme - Emotion music

Post by Aibohphobia » April 15th, 2008, 3:49 am

Hey Rain, first of all I wanted to say that I like your composition a lot. There are a few things that seem to stick out to me, however. (I'm trying to be as constructive as possible, so please don't be offended)

1) Your melody (flute) begins at a much higher dynamic than the rest of the piece. since all it is doing initially, is establishing the melody, something that might be worth trying is to replace the flute in bars 9-12 (assuming you're in 6/8 and I counted right) with a quieter oboe sample. (try it at pianissimo, instead of forte.)

2) The harp part in bars 4-8 ... is this possible to play? From what I understand it may not be, as one finger has trouble playing the same note repeatedly. Some solutions (if this is a problem) could be to either separate it into two parts, or to jumble the line up a bit so that each note has some time to rest (perhaps octave leaps instead?) having two separate harps play the line, with individual panning, may be exactly the effect you want.

3) At 0:38 and 1:15 (the bass entrances), I agree with West, in the sense that "BWAAAAAA" seems to be the word of the day :)
This seems to be a combination of two things; the first is that it seems that you're playing below the range of the instrument. It is possible to get notes below E with with modified basses (eg: 5 stringed upright basses are made go down to a low B) but these are uncommon and unidiomatic... The other is that it sounds like you're dynamics is simply set to have them play too loud, at least on the first note.

4) It seems that you use a very limited set of instruments and tone colours. Although you have very interesting and creative ideas, by the time the flute duet comes in at 1:53, I feel tired of that sound. Perhaps the instrumentation could be a bit more varied? I feel like this passage would be much better suited to two to four French horns. This would also solve the issue of the awkward flute range. in addition, the lower range of the flute is easily buried by the orchestra in many cases, and having one play so low and loud seems unrealistic to me.

5) Percussion seems to be lacking. A well placed triangle bass drum, cymbal stroke or timpani roll can do wonders :)

Many of my suggestions apply only if realism is important to you, but seeing as this IS a computer game, and these aren't real instruments, its always up to what you hear in your mind, in the end. :D

Sorry for being heavy-handed, and keep up the great work!

-A

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