Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

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Tyler Johnson
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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by Tyler Johnson »

While you're not writing Chopin Scherzo's, your piano doesn't sound "amateur" to me. As long as it's playable, and harmonically correct, I think it works fine depending on the application you use it for.

I like the update, can't wait to hear more!

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by Sapient »

It doesn't feel finished to me (and you didn't say that it was, I know). For an elven sanctuary it needs more "nature" in it. Maybe chirping birds (in the quiet pause at the end) or water/rain effects in the middle. Also, the piano could be an appropriate instrument for this atmosphere but I would expect it at a higher octave.
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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by IoN »

Sapient wrote:It doesn't feel finished to me (and you didn't say that it was, I know). For an elven sanctuary it needs more "nature" in it. Maybe chirping birds (in the quiet pause at the end) or water/rain effects in the middle.
I disagree. Such effects would cheapen the music in my opinion.
Also, the piano could be an appropriate instrument for this atmosphere but I would expect it at a higher octave.
The piano certainly works here, but I think the entrance sounds rather abrupt - too loud compared to the passage it follows. Transposing it up an octave would not be a good idea, though, in my opinion; West seems to be going for a more solid sound here, and the piano's upper register is rather brilliant/tinny sounding depending on the volume.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by PPH »

In general, not bad. I like the melody played by the flute in the beginning. I get the impression that the flute is drowned by the strings in some parts, though. There's something with the strings I don't like. I think its the way they sound a little after the attack, especially near the end (second part of the piece). The piano is perfect.

The transition between the first part and the second, the one that starts at 0:35, doesn't sound smooth to me.

It seems to me the first part would be better if the strings played an octave lower. Also, I'm not convinced by the part in which they double the flute.

I'm sorry if this is a lot of criticism. I know West can make great music and, of course, this is a work in progress.

EDIT: I take back what's in italics. The beginning works fine as it is (but I still don't like the string samples). It's the part in which the high string double the flute I don't like much. But it may be because of the samples of the strings. Or because the strings are higher in pitch than the flute.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

Thanks for your comments everyone.
Tyler Johnson wrote:While you're not writing Chopin Scherzo's, your piano doesn't sound "amateur" to me. As long as it's playable, and harmonically correct, I think it works fine depending on the application you use it for.

I like the update, can't wait to hear more!
Thanks Tyler, that's encouraging to hear. And yes, the piano part is definitely playable, I didn't 'mouse write' it if that's what you mean. :)
Sapient wrote:It doesn't feel finished to me (and you didn't say that it was, I know).
You're right, it isn't. I know the ritardando at the end might give the impression that it is, but it was just a spur of the moment thing.
Sapient wrote:For an elven sanctuary it needs more "nature" in it. Maybe chirping birds (in the quiet pause at the end) or water/rain effects in the middle.
I'm actually working on an intro for it (in a separate project, no need to litter the composition with sound samples when I can easily stitch the two together later) with chirping birds in a forest and the sound of wind chimes way off in the distance.
IoN wrote:I disagree. Such effects would cheapen the music in my opinion.
Heh. :)
IoN wrote:The piano certainly works here, but I think the entrance sounds rather abrupt - too loud compared to the passage it follows.
Valid point. The first notes need to be softer.
IoN wrote:Transposing it up an octave would not be a good idea, though, in my opinion; West seems to be going for a more solid sound here, and the piano's upper register is rather brilliant/tinny sounding depending on the volume.
Yep, I actually tried playing the part an octave higher but it didn't sound good. Might as well use a harp or some chromatic percussion in that case, as the higher octaves on the piano have a very percussive sound. It depends on the sampled piano used of course, but I don't have any super duper pianos with a million velocity layers (nor would it be possible to load one on this old machine).
PPH wrote:I get the impression that the flute is drowned by the strings in some parts, though.
I agree. I'm experimenting with replacing the flute as it clashes to much with the violins. But I can't decide what to use instead.
PPH wrote:There's something with the strings I don't like. I think its the way they sound a little after the attack, especially near the end (second part of the piece).
Yeah, I know what you mean. The violins, 1st in particular, have a sort of synthy timbre. I'll see if I can find something to replace them with, but I doubt I have something better. I really like the expressive vibrato but the attack is too slow and some notes sound odd.

PPH wrote:The piano is perfect.
Wow, thanks. :)
PPH wrote:It's the part in which the high string double the flute I don't like much. But it may be because of the samples of the strings. Or because the strings are higher in pitch than the flute.
Oh. :/ Personally I like the way the violins alternate between playing chords and doubling the melody. That's not to say I can't make it better, the arrangement still needs a lot of work, but I seriously doubt that placing the strings in a different register would be an improvement.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by PPH »

West wrote: Oh. :/ Personally I like the way the violins alternate between playing chords and doubling the melody. That's not to say I can't make it better, the arrangement still needs a lot of work, but I seriously doubt that placing the strings in a different register would be an improvement.
Actually, I should have written "the higher strings", that is, violins (first violins). Anyway, I listened to this piece several times now, and I think maybe the problem is the samples, not the fact that the violins are in a higher pitch. But if you plan to replace the flute, things will change, so, just ignore my comment :D

Yesterday I caught myself whistling the melody of the beginning, which is always a good sign :D

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

Yet another version, this time with only subtle but IMO significant changes. First of all I switched out the 1st violins. The samples are similar, sans the wonky notes. Still having some problems with the attack of the notes, it still sounds like they lag behind in places, but it's better. Secondly, a different reverb. Last time I used Mo Verb, this time it's Glaceverb, a freebie I haven't used much in the past but it really sounds quite good if you spend some time tweaking it. Thirdly, I added some Expression curves to the strings to make them a bit less static and overpowering. I also added a slight high mid/treble boost to the flute.

With the new reverb, the more dynamic strings and the EQ tweak, I think the flute sits a lot better with the strings so I don't think I'm going to replace it after all. I might double it with a harp to make the melody more distinct.

Composition wise, I'm still not sure where to go. At first I thought the piano part sounded a bit too sad and neoclassical to really fit the mood, but it's grown on me. I'm actually thinking of keeping it more or less like that, just piano and violins, and then bring more instruments in for the following part (whatever that may be).

PPH wrote:Yesterday I caught myself whistling the melody of the beginning, which is always a good sign :D
Definitely a good sign! I take pride in coming up with memorable melodies, so it makes me happy to hear that I've succeeded. :)

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by IoN »

I was listening in anticipation as it loaded and buffered, but the beginning really caught me by surprise; it is really too abrupt. Maybe make a little crescendo for the string entrance. At the part when the timpani or whatever the percussive instrument a little over halfway through the piece comes in, it feels like the bottom suddenly droops out, which I don't think is a good thing. Otherwise, a nice update.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by PPH »

This one is much better, although I don't like the chimes that appear in the beginning. That might be a matter of taste, though.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

IoN wrote:I was listening in anticipation as it loaded and buffered, but the beginning really caught me by surprise; it is really too abrupt. Maybe make a little crescendo for the string entrance.
Funny you should say that, because the beginning in this version is actually less abrupt than the previous one. There *is* a quick crescendo, but yeah, it probably needs to be longer.
IoN wrote:At the part when the timpani or whatever the percussive instrument a little over halfway through the piece comes in, it feels like the bottom suddenly droops out, which I don't think is a good thing.
I don't think I've changed anything in the low register in that spot, it's identical to the previous version. Though it may be that the previous reverb was more boomy and created the illusion of more bottom end. However I still haven't added the basses, and the celli are playing in a fairly high register, so there isn't any low stuff happening yet.
IoN wrote:Otherwise, a nice update.
Thanks!
PPH wrote:This one is much better, although I don't like the chimes that appear in the beginning. That might be a matter of taste, though.
Yeah, well, I think you might be right. I think chimes fit the style of the piece, but maybe not for the intro. Perhaps a soft cymbal swell would be better.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by IoN »

I think the reason it sounded abrupt is the chimes - the chimes to me signify the beginning of something pretty quiet and subdued, which the sudden medium-loud chord at the beginning isn't.

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

Not making a lot of progress, mostly just refining what's already there. Do you know how hard it is getting in the right mood to write a summery forest tune like this when it's been snowing and -15c for days?

Anyway, it's xmas now so it'll probably be a couple of days before I have time to work on this. So happy holidays to you all!

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

Yay, progress!

As usual when writing a piece, I'm never 100% sure where I'm going until I get there, so things might yet change radically. There's stuff that bothers me, like the instrumentation during the piano part (too much solo flute overall, maybe?), it feels like I'm changing keys every other measure, and I'm not sure if the elvish theme at the end really works in major and 6/4. Is it still easily recognizable?

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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by CheeseLord »

Hi West!!! I've been waiting to comment once there was a little more progress :)

For the first part, not much to say but AWESOME!!! Memorable, Sweet, awesome. The quality of this section compared to the WIP1 is huge

The piano section next is also impressive. Flute a little much, but still, reasonable. Overall extremely pleasant!

Then the last section. WOW :shock: Epic film style there. How did you do that?? The only tiny nitpick here is IMHO, the second to last note should be extended a little, so that the listener can bask a little longer on the climax. Also, I'm not sure what effect you're trying to achieve, but if you are trying for the *epic* effect of looking over the forest, maybe a louder french horn in the middle register would help???

Anyway, look forward to seeing how this turns out, and I've said this before but Awesome Composition!!!! :mrgreen: :mrgreen:

P.S. Any chance of saying what samples were used?? :roll:
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Re: Silvan Sanctuary (possible replacement for "Elf land")

Post by West »

Thanks for your comments CheeseLord, I'm glad you like it!
CheeseLord wrote:Then the last section. WOW :shock: Epic film style there. How did you do that??
It's really a very basic thing in terms of arrangement. The celli and basses provide the root notes, in octaves. 1st and 2nd violins play the melody, also in octaves. The violas are used to glue the two parts together by playing harmonies (thirds mostly, IIRC).
CheeseLord wrote:The only tiny nitpick here is IMHO, the second to last note should be extended a little, so that the listener can bask a little longer on the climax.
I think I see what you mean. It should be noted though that the elf theme part is far from finished, I added it yesterday and it's still very rough, not to mention that it just stops abruptly in the middle of a phrase:)
CheeseLord wrote:Also, I'm not sure what effect you're trying to achieve, but if you are trying for the *epic* effect of looking over the forest, maybe a louder french horn in the middle register would help???
That might be a good idea, yeah. As mentioned earlier in this thread I wasn't planning on using any brass, but some horns in there might actually work well.
CheeseLord wrote:P.S. Any chance of saying what samples were used?? :roll:
Um, let's see. From the top of my head: Edirol Orchestral violins (sampled from EO and converted to sf2 though, the EO plug is a PITA), Sounds Good Session Strings violins, ProSessions violas, Celli 0.0.1 soundfont... can't really remember what basses I used, possibly Advanced Orchestra. The flute is from the free MIS samples. Then there's U220 Clarinet, KBH Choir, Mystified timpani, Westgate and ProjectSAM percussion. The piano is the Steinway Concert Grand soundfont IIRC, though that one is mostly a placeholder. I'm going to replace it with a higher quality piano later on, but I need to conserve RAM usage and CPU load while I'm still writing the tune. I have probably forgotten something, but that ought to be most of it. An unholy mix of free and commercial samples IOW, I basically just chose the stuff that works best together for this particular purpose.

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