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Full Version: Ride! (An early try in fantasy video game soundtracks)
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Crom!

So I've just (sort of) finished an orchestral track, this is the biggest amount of instruments and articulations I've ever worked with, so I still need to handle a lot of mixing hurdles.

https://soundcloud.com/bkemeny92/ride

Any feedback would be much appreciated.

Cheers,
Bálint
Lots of good stuff in there. At about 30 seconds in I was expecting to see dwarven armies marching through the living room.

I'm not advanced enough to be really helpful, hopefully the better composers (which would be everyone and anyone) will chime in. Some of the transitions seemed a bit abrupt to me. There is a lady singer at about 1:30 who just seems to die mid vowel for instance. The percussion at roughly 0:45 to 0:55 seemed a bit off to me.
(09-15-2017, 06:25 PM)bigcat1969 Wrote: [ -> ]Lots of good stuff in there. At about 30 seconds in I was expecting to see dwarven armies marching through the living room.

I'm not advanced enough to be really helpful, hopefully the better composers (which would be everyone and anyone) will chime in. Some of the transitions seemed a bit abrupt to me. There is a lady singer at about 1:30 who just seems to die mid vowel for instance. The percussion at roughly 0:45 to 0:55 seemed a bit off to me.

Thank you for listening to the track and for your feedback!

Ha, dwarven armies are great, it seems I somewhat managed to evoke the fantasy spirit then. Smile

Yes, I definitely need to work a lot on the transitions in all of my compositions, and after a generous amount of listening, I found the playful middle piano (dynamically) part too weak compared to the rest of the song.

I should probably reorchestrate the track using simpler samples as well (the Kontakt Factory Library that came with Kontakt will suit me fine I guess), also these will be easier to practice panning and reverb use on. I will do this probably soon.
Good stuff. Overall, I like it.

I noticed that the balance between sections of the orchestra seems a bit off, with horns being quieter than woodwinds, and strings also being pretty quiet in the beginning (quieter than quiet actually). It is true that this can be done intentionally, these instruments can be quiet, but it seemed too unbalanced to me. So basically, a mixing issue.

Was there any reverb? What reverb did you use and how?

The part starting at around 1 minute sounds much like you played the instruments on a  keyboard, so there is a lack of realism there, at least to me. It's not bad, just doesn't sound as if a composer had written it on paper and a full orchestra had played it. More like samples played on a  keyboard. Slightly artificial, like "typical video game music" (older Final Fantasy titles come to mind). This can be fixed by spending a lot more time manually editing notes in the piano roll editor, as if you were actually editing a score on paper.

There is structure in the piece, which is great, but there could be MORE structure. Especially, there could be slight pauses, or quiet moments, between the parts of the composition. You could be more decisive with the structure. Percussion could be used for some more accents - you do have some, but there could be more.

In the part starting at 0:54, the strings could be more prominent. They kinda drown in the other stuff (choir?) right when they're trying to be all epic. And they die off too quickly.  This sounds a bit unnatural. You got vocals falling off a cliff at 1:29 as well (quick fade out). This stuff doesn't tend to happen in a real orchestra. Sound like pulling down a fader. A human choir can't do that.

At 1:37, I'd support the melody with more strings to make it sound fatter.

Fundamentally, if you want to imitate an orchestra, ask yourself, "can this instrument actually do that? Would the players be comfortable playing that part?" If this doesn't matter to you or you see it as a restriction, don't bother.

-> Silence can be used as a tool

-> Be more decisive about pauses and about what instrument dominates each part

-> think about realism (if you want)

-> keep it up Smile
Thank you for the feedback Kneedeep, it is a gold mine!

Thanks for reminding me of the balance issue, I was afraid the melody would get lost, and the string section was already full so I was a bit lost at the arrangements here and there.
I've only used the built-in hall reverb of my sample library, but that did not glue the whole thing together as well as expected, so I'll be experimenting with the reverb sends next time. I'm planning to get ValhallaRoom next month though.

My goal is to learn how to orchestrate as realistically and believably as possible, so thank you for pointing out the realism issues.

I'm going to try to remedy all these issues, I'm excited how it will turn out.
This stuff is incredibly fun, but getting it to sound real is the hardest part. I'm down to editing individual note velocities and midi volume swells in my pieces. I live in the piano roll editor :-s

Valhalla seems to be a top pick for reverb, you probably can't go wrong with it.

If a string section is already full, double and triple it up if you need to, using whatever instruments are free. Or increase the focus - have other instruments come to aid the strings and drop whatever else they'd been doing. Pay attention to the frequency spectrum, try to avoid mashing up the same frequency as your melody instruments. Spread it out for clarity, or come together for mutual support, as needed. You can use a frequency monitor (spectrum analyzer) plugin to help with this (on the stereo bus).
I experimented with a spectrum analyzer (Voxengo SPAN) and eq on the strings this week, and it can get overwhelming very quickly, so I'll try to remedy frequency problems with the arrangement for now.
I figured to do a checklist on what I'd like to change, hopefully I'll finish it the next week.

- rewrite melody parts with correct instrument doubling
- rearrange the sustain strings for more movement (the pizzicato and cor legno parts are fine in my opinion, but I plan to add textural arpeggios on the celli)
- rewrite the middle part and implement breaks / silence between parts
- ditch the choir for the most parts, only leaving it in at the end
- rewrite the percussion parts to sound more unified
- pay attention to balance and panning
- use reverb with the 3 channel reverb bus method

Thanks for all the help so far, hopefully this track will turn out to be listenable at the end. Smile