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## Is it the Warrior, or their Weapon?

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9 replies to this topic

### #1M4uesviecr  Members

Posted 25 June 2013 - 10:46 AM

So, I have a question for the Dev. community.

As of recently, I have begun planning on updating my virtual studio. I've started feeling as though I am hindering myself as a composer because of my current set.

For example, I limit certain practices because I know that, based on my instruments, it wouldn't sound great, despite how it sounds compositionally.

In addition, I have noticed myself struggling with balancing certain pieces, and I am putting the blame on my instruments.

Then, I started to wonder if I was simply making excuses for myself.

As a composer, can the quality seriously diminish your skill?

I'm starting to believe that if I am a good digital composer, I should be able to make anything sound good.

Now I am wondering if it isn't what I am using, but more so my skill. Maybe I am lacking and haven't realized it til now.

Then again, I have been wondering if I am struggling because I have a particular sound in mind that I can't seem to acquire. The reason I can't acquire that sound in particular is because in reality, I won't acquire it based on my soundset.

For example:

I am currently working on an Afro-Cuban battle piece for a project.

No matter how I rearrange instrument positions, drop out certain textures, or change melodies/harmonies, everything sounds muddied, clustered, and pushed back.

Here are two versions (rough demos), that I am not at all content with (they are both roughly a minute in length): :/

https://www.box.com/s/eh38dks05lapnwnm2n4w

https://www.box.com/s/bqbluw8u9mdm3msldtna

I love the feel and drive of the piece, it's the presentation that kills me.

I blame it on the instruments, but I'm wondering if I simply haven't mastered (or come close to) the skill yet of balance.

I'd like to know if it is the latter so I can spend more time building and focusing on that particular skill rather than assuming it is the first, when that isn't the case. I don't want to create an illusion that once I get million dollar samples, all my pieces will sound great because it's not me, it's them.

Edited by M4uesviecr, 25 June 2013 - 10:51 AM.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob

### #2bschmidt1962  Members

Posted 25 June 2013 - 11:37 AM

Here's my take on this subject in general..

Professional equipment (including samples) is necessary but not sufficient to create professional sounding, competitive, polished music these days.

While it is true that a great composer should be able to make tin cans sound musical, the unfortunate truth is that without decent production values, music can sound somewhat cheezy.

At this point, I'd say that your composition skills have exceeded the quality of your tools, so it's time to invest in some real samples.  I also really like the drive, and I think you have great stuff to work with.

That said, there are areas of your pieces where you could make the use of existing samples sound better (and make pro samples sound fantastic).  It sounds pretty quantized, in both timing and velocity, which also takes away some of the production value.   When doing virtual pieces, really think about how each specific player of the instruments would phrase, accent and shape their own performances.  Just to pick on the bass, it sounds like a typical keyboard entered bass line.  But a real bass has specific accent and silence patterns (the durations of the notes are affected by fingers on the strings, etc.).  On a similar note, think about where your brass players would breathe.  Your trombone near the end of the second piece plays that line, but never seems to come up for air .. .You'd be surprised at how something as simple as making sure all the air-driven parts (winds, brass, etc.) have breath spaces can "breath" new life into a track.  Another trick.. if you have, for example, brass chords, don't play them as chords.  Separate them out into specific trumpet parts, and perform them separately each with a monophonic trumpet line.  That's a better simulation of 3 different trumpet players than playing them on one track with one hand.

So my 0.02 is that you're correct in that the professionalism of your pieces are currently limited by your sound sets.  But just getting a new sound set won't get you all the way where you can be, I think.

Thanks for sharing!

Brian Schmidt

Executive Director, GameSoundCon:

GameSoundCon 2016:September  27-28, Los Angeles, CA

Founder, Brian Schmidt Studios, LLC

Music Composition & Sound Design

Audio Technology Consultant

### #3M4uesviecr  Members

Posted 25 June 2013 - 01:45 PM

Really good point! I'm glad that you brought to light the performance aspects of the music.

I know for me, being used to digital music, you forget the authenticity that comes when making music mimic the real thing.

Phrases, breathes, accents - I completely understand what you mean.

The music is there, but the musicality isn't as much.

Thank you for the feedback! I really appreciate.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob

Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:23 PM

Brian's raised some excellent points! I'd just like to touch on the intellectual/emotional aspect of all of this. Don't beat yourself up too much when evaluating your music. Always strive to better yourself, push the limits and learn but it's painful to see a composer who's really down on himself. Not saying that you are - but just for the sake of the forum. In fact many times, I've fallen into this trap myself. So there's a balance between being critical and pushing yourself versus needlessly beating yourself up.

Perhaps this pep talk wasn't needed for you specifically, because you come off really positive and driven, but I know others have fallen into this trap. The great thing is this industry is small and there are so many awesomely talented people more than willing to help someone else out!

Composer-Sound Designer

Cedar Falls, IA

### #5M4uesviecr  Members

Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:44 PM

It's funny you say that because I actually was feeling rather low. My distress knocked me out of commission for a while.

Then, I realized that the only thing that can hinder my progress is myself. I believe in the statement "There is always going to be someone out there better than you," and I had to understand that I should try to be as good as I possibly can and learn from others, instead of chastising myself for not being where some are at this very moment.

I have a new outlook on how I write, which is fantastic! I have to remember to never lose the drive, and to continue pushing myself.

I'm glad that you gave a bit of perspective on the emotional side Nathan - That was the other facet to my struggle.

I seem to forget that writing is a skill and, like all others, it takes time and practice to improve.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob

### #6Charliea  Members

Posted 25 June 2013 - 05:59 PM

I enjoyed both your compositions, I would say a good track ain't always about making the score complicated. The best tunes that stick with viewers are the ones that don't have a complicated arrangement and for example listen to the Mario soundtrack on both the NES and SNES, they are the tunes that people have in their head(like it or not) and the ones you hum too. I say stick to simple sets and build.

Good stuff keep it up and you'll make it.

### #7M4uesviecr  Members

Posted 09 July 2013 - 01:10 PM

Just to give a shout-out to those who replied, I have been doing some research and I realize that a lot of it has to do with me, and how I mix!

I recently started work on another piece, and I do agree that it sounds much more open, and I am starting to see just how time consuming and challenging mixing can be when you attempt to incorporate musicianship into your piece!

It is frustrating (seeing how little I actually know), but heart-warming knowing that my music will sound much better as I progress.

Thanks a lot, guys.

My Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/jasminecoopermusic

"The moment you cheat for the sake of beauty, you know you are an artist." Max Jacob

Posted 10 July 2013 - 10:28 AM

It is frustrating (seeing how little I actually know), but heart-warming knowing that my music will sound much better as I progress.

We're all learning something along the way - or at least we should be! If you stop learning then you've stopped progressing.

Composer-Sound Designer

Cedar Falls, IA

### #9GroovyOne  Members

Posted 10 July 2013 - 03:46 PM

I've been composing for almost 3 decades!, hell, I'm still learning new stuff almost every day. That's what being creative is, figuring out how to make your craft as best you can. The more you do, the more you learn.

All the areas you can improve on if you're not progressing in any other one area for some reason is.

1. Melodically

2. Harmonically

3. Tonally

4. Texture

5. Style

6. Programming

7. Orchestration

8. Mixing

9. Mastering

10. Implementation

11. Musical Analysis

12. Mimicking

13. Remixing

14. Recording

15. Directing

16. Performing

It's a little like an RPG game, you need to level up all your musical skills to obtain "Epic Composer" title.

I've made music with not very professional sounding sounds to begin with, but knowing how to polish them up to sound good and use them in a mix will instantly increase your quality meta score.

I recently used really old instrument samples taken from all sorts of old equipment back in the day of  SNES, N64, Dreamcast but preformed quite a bit of sound design and mastering on them to make them sound shiny and modern to give the game a retro throwback but with better production.

Edited by GroovyOne, 10 July 2013 - 03:48 PM.

Game Audio Professional
www.GroovyAudio.com

### #10JackMusic  Members

Posted 18 July 2013 - 03:30 PM

Combination of tools and dedication. The British Empire was founded on hard work, intelligence and superior weaponry. If they'd sat around not doing anything then they wouldn't have maintained control and if they didn't have the weapons... well the natives of the countries they colonised were probably equally intelligent and capable of fighting well so it just wouldn't have worked.

Basically exactly the same thing as composing... I think?

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