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valkir

Looking for critique

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Hi! I'm an amateur composer, and I was just looking for somment comments on some of my work and what I can do to improve. Thanks These were all for a middle-eastern themed mod for Oblivion: Overture Arabesco Battle theme City Theme (unfinished) Serenade (slow and boring--not particularly proud of this one) Misc Theme I actually have a finished version of this but I dont have access to it right now. Ill post it later. Untitled I realize most games dont need music in this style but its just to show some variation in my style I guess. Unfinished.

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valkir- first off, glad to have you on the forums and thanks for sharing some of your material.

I listened to the overture and had some comments for you. Overall, I think you're on the right track. Your samples (particularly the strings) are not the greatest but there might be some ways to soften them up a bit. Also, the string samples have a slow attack, which makes one of the faster sections where the strings are playing short, staccato notes awkward. I'd give you a time, but since it played in QuickTime, I haven't a clue! :)

I do like your pacing and usage of the Arabian-like scale (with the flat second). Very appropriate. I would suggest you fill in some of the transitions between major sections. Right now it feels like the piece does section "a" then goes right into "b" and then into a short "c" section. I don't think you need to change the lengths of these sections, but it would work better to prepare the sections more. For example when the first loud cymbal crash comes in (again, sorry for no times) it is out of the blue. Now, that effect works but only when used in moderation. The two later transitions just happen- that quickly.

Why not have the drums slowly build into the ostinato pattern you have towards the end of the piece. With more preparation, you'll find that your climatic parts have more impact.

Also, and this might be the speaker I'm having to use right now, I didn't notice much depth to the overall sound. Everything was in the mid to high range. If it is the speakers, then don't worry about it. However, if there isn't any deep bass to this piece it will sound hollow and top heavy. You'll need to add some lower tones to give the piece more warmth, but don't over do it or it will become muddy.

Last part: give each line some dynamics. Have the parts crescendo and decrescendo to further help the momentum and pace of your work. Even though your using a computer to play your music, it doesn't have to sound that way. Try your best to make it as realistic as possible.

I hope that helps!

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Thank you very much for all the comments; they're really helpful! As for the transitions, I completely agree. This occurs in most of my pieces as I have lots of ideas, but they're usually disconnected. I'm going to work on this.

I understand about what you're talking about with the attacks on the strings and everything too. I think my biggest problem right now is that I'm using Sibelius 4--great for notation... but not so much for creating decent digital music. It also causes a big problems with dynamics as crescendos and dimenuendos are pretty much non-existant.

I've been thinking aobut trying to learn Cubase. Is this a good idea? I'm using EastWest QL Silver samples (pretty much every piece in that post uses it), and I don't think Sibelius is bringing out the best in them. What do you reccommend?

Thanks for your time!

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I use Sonar Producer 6 at home and Logic 6 at work. I enjoy Sonar more. Many of my composer friends use Digital Performer, but I have yet to try that program out.

I agree- Sibelius is excellent for notation, but to program and edit the VSTi instruments to the max you'd be better served with a DAW program.

Good thing about these programs as they often offer various levels that can fit different kinds of bugdets. There are also academic versions of many of these programs if you are a student.

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As a matter of fact, I am a student. What is a DAW program? I assume Logic, Sonar, and Cubase all fall into these categories, but Im actually not quit sure how you use any of these programs to create music. I understand trackers, as I've worked with ModTracker before (and breifly). Ive tried a demo version of Fruity Loops, but didn't spend much time with it. In short I'm mostly just familiar with traditional notation and prefer that, but I'm not computer illiterate, and I can learn something different. When working with music I usually just prefer notation though. Doesnt Cubase utilize traditional notation?

Ill look into these programs some more.

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Most DAWs (Digital Audio Workstation) can use standard musical notation. I know that Logic and Sonar do. They also have other views:

event lists- a list of what notes play and for how long, etc
step or piano roll editor- a view of the keyboard with blocks that you can fill in to make the note plays

I've noticed DAWs are not quite as good at notation as Finale or Sibelius, but they serve other purposes. There have been times I've taken a piece I created in Finale, import it as a MIDI file into Sonar and then edit things using higher quality samples.

The great thing about DAWs is once you learn one, you can basically learn all of them. Sure things are labeled differently or you might have to add (or take away) some steps but the basic concept is there.

Check out musiciansfriend.com or ebay for some good deals on these programs.

I hope that helps!

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Quote:
Original post by valkirI think my biggest problem right now is that I'm using Sibelius 4--great for notation... but not so much for creating decent digital music. It also causes a big problems with dynamics as crescendos and dimenuendos are pretty much non-existant.


More than anything, it's a huge advantage that you're using Sibelius. Many people find it a difficult program to use and much too bothersome to learn. Heck, I one spent 10 minutes trying to insert a crotchet rest in the right place. My main point is that using professional notation software as part of your composition process is something I wouldn't advise you forego. It'll aid you immensely if you're aiming to apply for a university degree in music, and could even come in handy in jobs. I've heard of a person being paid $400 for copying a few pieces out in Finale. Whether this applies to you or not, it's extremely good practice to notate what you compose. This of course is generally not relevant to electronica.

A process that works for me, which I know can achieve high results if done correctly, is to write out a piece using a notation program and export it as a MIDI when it's complete. The MIDI file can then be imported into FL Studio or a similar program, where you can assign soundfonts and tweak velocities. In this way, the majority of composition may be completed in Sibelius, and Cubase or Sonar is more of a polishing tool.

Oh, and yes, learning Cubase would be a very good idea. Don't restrict yourself, though; trial additional software such as FL Studio, Reason and Sonar.

Finally, if you're averse to manually editing volume, you can play into a MIDI keyboard for more realistic velocities.

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