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jwnicholson78

Elegy - piano and orchestra - version 2

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Update 2 - brought the snare up further, more tweaks to EQ and individual notes.

Updated - tweaks to the overall eq, fine tuning of lot's of individual notes, and brought up the levels of the percussion

I wrote this song for piano and orchestra about a year ago after my father passed away.     I recently got the BBC Symphony Orchestra Core from Spitfire Audio and wanted to use this track as a test run for it.  Comments and suggestions on how to improve the mix are greatly appreciated.

Here's the updated version.

And  here's the original version, which I made using the Kontakt 5 Orchestra from the Factory Library.

 

Edited by jwnicholson78
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It's hard to offer adjustments to a piece of music written with a loved one in mind. For me when my Dad passed I dug a huge hole in the back garden and made a fish pond from it with a waterfall ... that was my way to ease the loss ... I have listened to this twice with that thought in mind to give a balanced opinion, and the only thing I would say, with respect, is that the drums need to inject a grater feeling of, say,  a parade ground, so the listener feels that everlasting rhythm carrying through, while the cellos, oboes and strings along with the piano play their part of sadness ...

There are some tech things with the mix like pinching notes but hey .. it's for your Dad so ..all good.

 

S

 

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4 hours ago, Sabby Brown said:

It's hard to offer adjustments to a piece of music written with a loved one in mind. For me when my Dad passed I dug a huge hole in the back garden and made a fish pond from it with a waterfall ... that was my way to ease the loss ... I have listened to this twice with that thought in mind to give a balanced opinion, and the only thing I would say, with respect, is that the drums need to inject a grater feeling of, say,  a parade ground, so the listener feels that everlasting rhythm carrying through, while the cellos, oboes and strings along with the piano play their part of sadness ...

There are some tech things with the mix like pinching notes but hey .. it's for your Dad so ..all good.

 

S

 

Sabby,

Thanks.  Obviously this is a very personal piecefor me, which is why I let it rest for a year or so.  Now that I've come back to it, I'd like to make it is good as I possibly can, so comments on tech things are welcome.  I've gone through this many times fixing things note by note, but there's a lot of notes, so it's easy to miss something.

I felt like in the original version the drums were up too high.  Maybe I over-corrected now and pulled them back too far.

Really appreciate the feedback.

Jeff

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Very nice piece, I like it alot. Fantastic job.

Technically: Well mixed and balanced. I also have and work with BBC SO Discover and can offer these tips:

- Did you do your own panning (one part sounded like it was going left-right-left-right)? The way BBC SO is recorded, the instruments will already be panned in the stereo sample as to where they are in the orchestra, so you can leave the pan dead center for realism.

- If you don't already know, most orchestral libraries have a built in lag and you'll need to back your MIDI notes up 10-20 ms to get them in time and won't be the same from library to library. Setup (in preferences) and Use Cakewalk's Nudge feature by selecting the clip and "Nudge Left". I didn't notice it in your piece, but it's something to be aware of.

- I think perhaps the "notes pinching" that @Sabby Brown  was hearing is inherent to the BBC library and you can't avoid. Most all the instruments seem to "ramp up" at the start of the sound, more so than other libraries I have (and makes it harder to figure out where to "nudge" to). What you can do, spectacularly in quicker passages, is layer the Long and Stac articulations and copy the MIDI to give the start of the notes more bite. You won't want to do this everywhere, just where you feel it's needed for more realism.

- In passages where you have a combination of long and short notes, you can again layer the long and stac articulations by copying the MIDI clip, then removing the short notes from the long articulation and optionally removing the short notes from the long articulation (as in the previous tip). I learned this tip from Guy Mitchelmore on YouTube (lots of informative and fun videos) that can be applied to all DAWs.

- For more realism, use dynamics (Mod wheel) to introduce natural swells, even if just slightly noticeable. If and/or when you get other orchestral libraries, this will change the timbre  (multiple sampled layers) as the instrument get louder. When you coordinate this with other instruments, you can create overall dynamics as in a real orchestra. Selecting a clip and raising or lowering the modulation (or drawing new modulation, along with velocities for short articulations) helps with texture and makes the mix phase alot easier!

- If you quantize, same rules apply as with other "human"-ish soft synths - quantize with a slight random variation (then nudge).

Sorry, rambling on with tips not necessarily what I heard in your piece.

Keep up the good work and please post more!

 

Edited by Fred's Gratis Scores
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Fred,  thanks so much listening and for the suggestions.  I really appreciate the detailed tips. 

I had watched a couple of videos on the Spitfire Audio Youtube channel on working with orchestral VSTs, so I was already aware of things like pushing the samples forward to take into account the lag of the samples.  I spent quite a bit of time recording and fine-tuning the expression and volumes to get dynamic swells and changes in timbre.

The suggeestions on layering synths to fine tune the attack and on panning are new to me though, and greatly appreciated.  Thanks again!

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It's a very good composition, I would have remarked that it's themes have a kind of stately, formal, reverent quality . . . but knowing that you wrote it in honor of your father, that totally makes sense. Well done.

 

Mixwise, you might look at the snare tippy taps, it's a great part for this song! but are mixed  too low? they should come up about 2 db and join the party!

Overall mix seems a bit tilted towards the low end. Occasional strings up top but I think the whole mix could be brightened. One trouble spot down low might be the deeper bass noted of piano (which I like) but you might sacrifice some low or low mids from the piano, to achieve a better clarity overall.

 

Lastly, I'd call out the piano itself. What did you use? And in the mix, it seems the reverb or decay on that piano is a lot shorter than the other instruments in the room? If you are envisioning the piece as something live on an entire soundstage, you might lengthen the decay of the piano somehow. If that doesn't matter, then all is good.

 

Kudos on a great, respectful, thoughtful piece of music!

 

cheers,

-Tom

 

 

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This may sound strange but that was a pleasant start to the day.  All ways hard to write for someone close, thanks for sharing.

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On 10/12/2020 at 9:24 PM, emeraldsoul said:

It's a very good composition, I would have remarked that it's themes have a kind of stately, formal, reverent quality . . . but knowing that you wrote it in honor of your father, that totally makes sense. Well done.

 

Mixwise, you might look at the snare tippy taps, it's a great part for this song! but are mixed  too low? they should come up about 2 db and join the party!

Overall mix seems a bit tilted towards the low end. Occasional strings up top but I think the whole mix could be brightened. One trouble spot down low might be the deeper bass noted of piano (which I like) but you might sacrifice some low or low mids from the piano, to achieve a better clarity overall.

 

Lastly, I'd call out the piano itself. What did you use? And in the mix, it seems the reverb or decay on that piano is a lot shorter than the other instruments in the room? If you are envisioning the piece as something live on an entire soundstage, you might lengthen the decay of the piano somehow. If that doesn't matter, then all is good.

 

Kudos on a great, respectful, thoughtful piece of music!

 

cheers,

-Tom

 

 

Tom

Thanks so much for the listen and the suggestions.  Good catch on the piano.  When I did this song originally, all the instruments were from Kontakt and had a similar reverb level.    BBC Core symphony has a single mic with built in reverb, but I forgot to adjust the piano, which is the Grandeur from Kontakt.

I agree with you on the tippy taps.  I brought them up on the most recent version. And I also adjust the low end on the piano.

Really appreciate the feedback!

Jeff

Edited by jwnicholson78

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On 10/13/2020 at 4:22 AM, Wookiee said:

This may sound strange but that was a pleasant start to the day.  All ways hard to write for someone close, thanks for sharing.

This makes me so glad to hear that.   I wanted this to be a sad piece but also happy in all the memories, so I hope that came though  a little bit.

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 I'm on laptop so can't really judge the mix except but as others have said maybe bring up vol. or eq the snare so it cuts through the mix a little more. I enjoyed the composition, very nice.

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I have occasionally gone back and listened to your original version over the past year, it is a very inspiring composition and excellent tribute.   For that reason am kind of partial to the original version.     I think the brighter sound of the new version may be contributing to that, not sure if it is the newer instrumentation or if you have EQ'd brighter, etc...     I guess to my ears the original version sounds like it is all together in a single space where the updated version doesn't have that feel of common space as much.   Would maybe consider a darker common reverb for the updated version.  

 

Regards  

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On 10/16/2020 at 5:08 AM, garybrun said:

Nice. 
I liked it....   

For my taste I think the snare is a little low.

Thanks, Gary for taking time to listen and comment.  I just posted an update with the snare brought up more.

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On 10/16/2020 at 9:48 AM, Hidden Symmetry said:

 I'm on laptop so can't really judge the mix except but as others have said maybe bring up vol. or eq the snare so it cuts through the mix a little more. I enjoyed the composition, very nice.

Thanks so much for the listen and the feedback!

 

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On 10/16/2020 at 4:10 PM, markno999 said:

I have occasionally gone back and listened to your original version over the past year, it is a very inspiring composition and excellent tribute.   For that reason am kind of partial to the original version.     I think the brighter sound of the new version may be contributing to that, not sure if it is the newer instrumentation or if you have EQ'd brighter, etc...     I guess to my ears the original version sounds like it is all together in a single space where the updated version doesn't have that feel of common space as much.   Would maybe consider a darker common reverb for the updated version.  

 

Regards  

I really appreciate the comment and the fact that you have gone back to listen to the original version from time to time.  That means a lot to me.

For what it's worth when I first changed the samples, it took a little getting used to for me, having listened to the original so many times.  However, after reading your comment I went back and took another listen and made some additional adjustments to the EQ.  I just posted the most recent updated version. 

Thanks again for the feedback.

Jeff

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Jeff,

Yes, I think this version is better than the previous version.    Close to the original version EQ but the instrumentation is more defined with the BBC samples than Kontakt instruments.   Sounds good, I'm sure others will chime in as well.     This music really resonates  because, for me,  it embodies the great generation that came before us in  addition to being a really great tribute for you father. 

 

Regards

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On 10/19/2020 at 2:31 PM, markno999 said:

Jeff,

Yes, I think this version is better than the previous version.    Close to the original version EQ but the instrumentation is more defined with the BBC samples than Kontakt instruments.   Sounds good, I'm sure others will chime in as well.     This music really resonates  because, for me,  it embodies the great generation that came before us in  addition to being a really great tribute for you father. 

 

Regards

Thank you..  I truly appreciate your comment.

Jeff

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