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RPG Music (Part deux)

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A few new submissions for Hero of Allacrost, which has released demo 2.0 as of last night! I've been redefining the mixes for Allacrost. I've been trying to get more sophisticated with mixing techniques. I am not sure if I've succeeded but I feel pretty good that I am heading in a good direction. Just thought I'd share a few pieces that I'm shaping up! Laila's Theme Cave Theme Comments and suggestions are much appreciated. Thanks, Ryan

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I checked out both of your tracks and I enjoyed them. You have a really good melodic sense. The structure and compositional elements work well, but from a production standpoint there are a few things that you could do to improve both tracks. The LFO pan automation in the harp with the first track and the percussion with the second is a little disorienting for extended periods, especially on headphones or in a listening environment with a wide stereo spread. If you want to create more width or movement within the stereo field, I would suggest using stereo imager like an S-1 (if you don't have the waves bundle, chances are your DAW has something similar built in) or using a stereo reverb or convolution engine. The results will be a lot more natural and less distracting.

I would also try to assign different "depths" to the elements in your mix. Most of the individual parts of the tracks seemed to be "placed" at the same depth in the mix making it sound a bit two-dimensional. If you are not using libraries that record natural ambience of the instruments in the typical positions, than you can approximate this with varying amounts of reverb or with mic placement on a convolution reverb. The typical symphonic setup is choir, percussion, brass, woodwinds, strings and soloists from back to front, but this is by no means a rule.

Also, at the end of the second track it sounded like there was a small glitch mostly in the right channel as the track faded out.

These are all pretty easy fixes, the best thing to do is just listen to alot of reference tracks when you are mixing down and make some comparative adjustments.

John Rodriguez
Composer

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I agree with John Rodriguez: the music itself is quite nice, but some of the stereo effects are really annoying (I listened to your music through headphones).


Laila's Theme:

The song is very typical and thus sounds familiar. Easy to the ears, but it won't turn any heads as is.

I'd say: fill it up a bit (put some soft strings in the background, for instance) and add variation by alteration. Replace the harp by woodwinds or a vibraphone at some point and change the percussion and background along.

The percussion works, but is a bit static; percussion can help to build tension or spice things up -- not just keep rhythm.

Just some thoughts :)

To sum it up: nice tune, but static and very irritating stereo effects.


Cave Theme:

I like this one! I wouldn't associate it with a cave, though. It's a very relaxing song which doesn't suffer from stereo artifacts like Lilia's Tune. Also the percussion is much better and the music sounds nice and full.

Keep it up!

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Quote:
Original post by John Rodriguez
I checked out both of your tracks and I enjoyed them. You have a really good melodic sense. The structure and compositional elements work well
Thanks very much!

Quote:
Original post by John Rodriguezbut from a production standpoint there are a few things that you could do to improve both tracks. The LFO pan automation in the harp with the first track and the percussion with the second is a little disorienting for extended periods, especially on headphones or in a listening environment with a wide stereo spread.
I see. I really wanted to 'trick' the mind with the panning and to make the ears tingle. I think that was my main objective, though its no good if its throwing the listener off.

I was hoping that it wouldn't be too disorienting in both cases to have that sense of movement with the panning. I figured there would be enough of a foundation in the other instruments to anchor the mix. It was worth a shot I guess. :) I have some more experimenting to do.

Quote:
Original post by John Rodriguez If you want to create more width or movement within the stereo field, I would suggest using stereo imager like an S-1 (if you don't have the waves bundle, chances are your DAW has something similar built in) or using a stereo reverb or convolution engine. The results will be a lot more natural and less distracting.
(..uh, this is going to sound extremely dumb.) Forewarning aside, how does a stereo imager work in a mix and how can it add a sense of movement/width? Might you also explain a bit more about what you mean when you say 'convolution', in regards to reverb?

Thanks for your explanation!

Quote:
Original post by John RodriguezI would also try to assign different "depths" to the elements in your mix. Most of the individual parts of the tracks seemed to be "placed" at the same depth in the mix making it sound a bit two-dimensional.
Producing-wise, this is what I consider to be my achilles heel at the moment. I haven't developed a methodology for recreating a realistic sense of space.

Quote:
Original post by John RodriguezIf you are not using libraries that record natural ambience of the instruments in the typical positions, than you can approximate this with varying amounts of reverb or with mic placement on a convolution reverb. The typical symphonic setup is choir, percussion, brass, woodwinds, strings and soloists from back to front, but this is by no means a rule
Thanks! I'll definitely try to keep all of this in mind for future orchestral tracks.

Quote:
Original post by John RodriguezAlso, at the end of the second track it sounded like there was a small glitch mostly in the right channel as the track faded out.
It is quite possible that the track is just one big walking glitch. :) I will definitely try to find what you mean.

Thanks for sharing your keen ear.

Cheers

Ryan


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Quote:
Original post by Jan-Lieuwe
I agree with John Rodriguez: the music itself is quite nice
My heart is glad.

Quote:
Original post by Jan-Lieuwebut some of the stereo effects are really annoying (I listened to your music through headphones).
Hmmm, I see. I also listen to them through headphones and it doesn't bother me...I think my headphones are wearing out.

Can I ask you a strange question?

I was curious how you felt after listening to the song. Do you feel annoyed or relaxed? I really didn't intend to create tension with the panning! Its possible that my own sense of calm is actually quite frantic as this is the state that the music puts me in. Thanks for answering honestly. :)


Quote:
Original post by Jan-LieuweThe song is very typical and thus sounds familiar. Easy to the ears, but it won't turn any heads as is.
May I ask what it reminds you of? At any rate, its certainly not my main intent to 'turn heads' when I create music... :) What if someone should turn their head too quickly and strain their neck? I would feel awful! :D

Quote:
Original post by Jan-LieuweI'd say: fill it up a bit (put some soft strings in the background, for instance) and add variation by alteration. Replace the harp by woodwinds or a vibraphone at some point and change the percussion and background along.
Thanks for the suggestion.

Quote:
Original post by Jan-Lieuwepercussion can help to build tension or spice things up -- not just keep rhythm.
I agree. However, LailasTheme is actually a sort of minimilism/theme so I don't aim to build tension and spice but allow the percussion to become an extension of the melody and for melodic propulsion. I was trying to create a piece that flows like water. Too bad it seems that I failed.

Quote:
Original post by Jan-LieuweJust some thoughts :)
They are very much appreciated.

Quote:
Original post by Jan-LieuweTo sum it up: nice tune, but static and very irritating stereo effects.
I shall certainly work to make improvements with the production!

Quote:
Original post by Jan-LieuweCave Theme:

I like this one! I wouldn't associate it with a cave, though. It's a very relaxing song which doesn't suffer from stereo artifacts like Lilia's Tune. Also the percussion is much better and the music sounds nice and full.

Keep it up!
Thanks!

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Here is a link for the Waves S-1. An imager is basically just an enhanced panning module. If you think of a stereo signal with a piano hard left and a guitar hard right, using the typical pan knob on your mixer (hardare or software) will only adjust the volume of each independent signal. Panning hard left will leave you with just the piano on the left channel and silence on the right and vice versa. What an imager has the capabilities to do is control the stereo spread of the signal and actually move the signal within the stereo field. With the above example you could manipulate the width of the stereo signal and then place the whole stereo signal (piano and guitar) anywhere in the stereo field. This is especially important for samples or instruments recorded with alot of stereo information. What DAW are you using? I use Digital Performer and they have something called "Trim" which performs some of the same functions as the S-1, although it isn't as feature-rich. Your DAW probably has something similar to this.

Convolution as I understand it is a method of multiplying 2 (or more) audio signals to create another audio signal. The way this applies to reverb is a good convolution engine will allow you to take an audio signal (a stereo flute phrase for example) and "combine" that signal with what is called an IR (impulse response) signal. IRs are usually created by recording a tone that sweeps the frequency spectrum and the resulting ambience inside of any physical space, a concert hall for example. After the recording is made, the initial tone that was used for the recording is mathematically removed with the recording leaving just the "sound" of the room. These recordings can be made from different locations inside of a space which gives different IRs for different positions in the space. Now you can take the flute phrase and "combine" the audio with an IR for the concert hall to give the impression that the flute sounds like it is coming from a specific location inside of the hall. Most engines allow for much more control over the IR itself as well as multiple mic and source positions. This tends to be a much better solution for something like orchestral music because it gives the user not only control over depth and position, but uses more authentic methods of actually creating ambience. The 2 most popular engines are Gigapulse and Altiverb.

The VSL forum has a mixing and post-production section which has a lot of good info on both these subjects.

Hope this helps

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This is incredibly helpful. I also utilize Digital Performer for all my sequencing so I should be able to utilize the Trim feature...I have tooled with it before, with no perceivable results. I'll do a little experimenting. :)

I appreciate your assistance. Very indepth and easy to follow.

Thanks for being helpful John.

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