Looking for constructive feedback on this one!

HarmonyCore

Senior Member
Hope everyone is safe ... !

I'd like to take your opinions, feedback, and critics on my latest track. I usually compose epic orchestral but felt like I needed to change and work on new genres. So, I ended up making a hybrid orchestral rock track like "Rapid". The track is not yet mixed or mastered, just played with leveling, panning, and hall reverb. I discovered most of the times that leveling, panning, and hall reverb change tracks dramatically to an extent that it doesn't need EQing.

 

toddkreuz

Active Member
I get what you're going for. It's a fun ride. Some nice ideas. I think the challenge with
this genre is balance/soundstage/mixing. Everything can't be
gigantic and in your face. You need contrast to make one or two things seem huge
by making other things small. You have to be thoughtful of the samples you're using
for this genre. The close mic'd snare for instance, doesn't fit an"Epic sound stage".
It has early reflections baked into it.

Making each instrument sound glorious and huge by itself, and then slapping them all together
doesnt work.
Even when using synths/ hybrid percs, you still have to abide by rules of soundstage.
All instruments can't be front and center. You have to sacrifice bass, treble, detail in some
instruments to make others bigger and clearer. A good analogy is photography. Depth of field.
You need a background and a foreground. A blurry background makes for a clear foreground.
If everything is in focus, you have no depth, no bouquet. Its boring and looks amateur.

The two absolute hardest things to force yourself to do in mixing are = Don't EQ, compress, apply reverb to instruments in Solo. And, you have to spend most of your time EQ'ing in Mono to achieve
true separation. These are utter nightmares to face in the beginning but it gets easier with time.
 
OP
HarmonyCore

HarmonyCore

Senior Member
I get what you're going for. It's a fun ride. Some nice ideas. I think the challenge with
this genre is balance/soundstage/mixing. Everything can't be
gigantic and in your face. You need contrast to make one or two things seem huge
by making other things small. You have to be thoughtful of the samples you're using
for this genre. The close mic'd snare for instance, doesn't fit an"Epic sound stage".
It has early reflections baked into it.

Making each instrument sound glorious and huge by itself, and then slapping them all together
doesnt work.
Even when using synths/ hybrid percs, you still have to abide by rules of soundstage.
All instruments can't be front and center. You have to sacrifice bass, treble, detail in some
instruments to make others bigger and clearer. A good analogy is photography. Depth of field.
You need a background and a foreground. A blurry background makes for a clear foreground.
If everything is in focus, you have no depth, no bouquet. Its boring and looks amateur.

The two absolute hardest things to force yourself to do in mixing are = Don't EQ, compress, apply reverb to instruments in Solo. And, you have to spend most of your time EQ'ing in Mono to achieve
true separation. These are utter nightmares to face in the beginning but it gets easier with time.
Your feedback is much appreciated, Sir.
I am considering and paying attention to every detail you said. When I started my journey with digital composing and mixing, I used to apply EQ here and there on every track. By time, I learned that it can make things worse (muddy, boxy,..etc you name it). Mixing & Mastering is still my weak point but I keep practicing. Yes, I am practicing my mixing skills always in Mono which is something I learned from many pros. I did my best in balancing the track until it sounds acceptable before any mixing. I keep learning the craft and my ears are my precious tool.

Thanks a lot :)
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
while this is a normal phase I like to call "kitchen sink'ing" where you have a lot if ideas and you just keep stacking them - it ends being too much for too long.

the ideas tend to sound fine isolated but they lack meaningful impact because there is no contrast to make you appreciate it It would be like listening to 2 solid minutes of dubstep with no drops.... you can make a mediocre drop sound massive by having excellent setup, and you can rob a drop by having a weak setup.

likewise, no matter how much you add, it'll never "hit" unless you're conscious of setting it up for the contrast it needs.

try this, using a copy if your project as an example... take the original idea with percussion and guitar, milk that for 8 bars or so, as *little* as you need to add to make it interesting. Then set up 4 or 8 bars of empty space and insert the more developed section like 1:25ish.

think about the major components here, lots of piano, and lots of guitar and percussion. All 3 of these textures are "plucked" or percussive instruments... so have a break that contrasts before you bring the extra piano on top. Opposite of piano like pluck sounds would be smooth longs of any strings, brass, winds, or pads.

I'd personally say strings, because you go go soft, and still have brass/choir if you want to "bring out bigger guns" for the last iteration. you could add a small synth riser here if you feel like you need a little boost, but less is more that early in the song. Also try to pick note ranges that are above or below the main piano development you add at 1:25... maybe low pianissimo brass chords and a high mp violin section, or pianissimo chords with celli/bass and a solo violin - again, try to use the bare minimum, and no percussive articulations here - so that when you come back in with drums, piano. and guitar - they have maximum impact. I've had a hard time teaching myself this but less is more - and changing the musical ideas isn't a substitute for contrasting ideas, textures. rhythms - and efficiency of ideas being milked is one if the true masteries of the craft. Heck, Tchaikovsky's 6th has many motifs that are literally going up rundown a scale, just cleverly disguised and dressed.

oddly enough this gives me some melodic doom metal vibes... like morbydia.

And this is criticism mostly from a listener's perspective ofcourse - trying to *think* like a layman.
 
OP
HarmonyCore

HarmonyCore

Senior Member
while this is a normal phase I like to call "kitchen sink'ing" where you have a lot if ideas and you just keep stacking them - it ends being too much for too long.

the ideas tend to sound fine isolated but they lack meaningful impact because there is no contrast to make you appreciate it It would be like listening to 2 solid minutes of dubstep with no drops.... you can make a mediocre drop sound massive by having excellent setup, and you can rob a drop by having a weak setup.

likewise, no matter how much you add, it'll never "hit" unless you're conscious of setting it up for the contrast it needs.

try this, using a copy if your project as an example... take the original idea with percussion and guitar, milk that for 8 bars or so, as *little* as you need to add to make it interesting. Then set up 4 or 8 bars of empty space and insert the more developed section like 1:25ish.

think about the major components here, lots of piano, and lots of guitar and percussion. All 3 of these textures are "plucked" or percussive instruments... so have a break that contrasts before you bring the extra piano on top. Opposite of piano like pluck sounds would be smooth longs of any strings, brass, winds, or pads.

I'd personally say strings, because you go go soft, and still have brass/choir if you want to "bring out bigger guns" for the last iteration. you could add a small synth riser here if you feel like you need a little boost, but less is more that early in the song. Also try to pick note ranges that are above or below the main piano development you add at 1:25... maybe low pianissimo brass chords and a high mp violin section, or pianissimo chords with celli/bass and a solo violin - again, try to use the bare minimum, and no percussive articulations here - so that when you come back in with drums, piano. and guitar - they have maximum impact. I've had a hard time teaching myself this but less is more - and changing the musical ideas isn't a substitute for contrasting ideas, textures. rhythms - and efficiency of ideas being milked is one if the true masteries of the craft. Heck, Tchaikovsky's 6th has many motifs that are literally going up rundown a scale, just cleverly disguised and dressed.

oddly enough this gives me some melodic doom metal vibes... like morbydia.

And this is criticism mostly from a listener's perspective ofcourse - trying to *think* like a layman.
Incredible feedback, thx a ton.
I will put this feedback under the microscope for further analysis and extensive study. :)
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
Incredible feedback, thx a ton.
I will put this feedback under the microscope for further analysis and extensive study. :)
It's weird to think that music should be simpler to be more interesting... but it's true. A great example of contrast issues from even the best of the best - Powells' score to Solo - after a while the action and bombastic brass gets kind of numbing, and the score starts to feel a bit "samey".

Ofcourse this probably has little to do with powell, but more to do with how the movie is structured to be a bit too "non stop" with not much contrast in that regard. Music matches the movie, and powell has demonstrated himself plenty capable, but that's just what he's got to work with.

I'm currently going through my own "kitchen sinking" phase as I try to navigate the vast world of orchestration... I can come up with a lot of interesting ideas but it left alone with a few bars I can end up with 1 oboe away from a tutti section with nowhere left to build into.
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
@ProfoundSilence: That was a great way of explaining something that I've been struggling with myself. I need to try taking a part that I like and then constructing the build-up towards it from the perspective of what would give a satisfying contrast. Thanks a lot!
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
@ProfoundSilence: That was a great way of explaining something that I've been struggling with myself. I need to try taking a part that I like and then constructing the build-up towards it from the perspective of what would give a satisfying contrast. Thanks a lot!
Oddest part, is even though I'm not expert at it - or anything for that matter(although I'm quite good at listening) One of the activities that taught me the most about this was back when I toyed with dubstep when I was still mostly a metal musician. Then I started noticing when bands were "heavier" and the tactics they employed - then you realize this process of effective impact is all about build up, maximum contrast - so that impact is massive.

I mean, it's most obvious in a genre I never really got into - but in deathcore, it's often time open power chords(or raunchy dissonant chords) that lead to feedback(high pitched) with some talking and some tom fills(constant rhythm, very little cymbals and snare) - then it stops for a second to have like 1 sound(either a scream - a sound clip, or a zilbel 'ding') before the breakdown hits. - which consists of the exact opposite of all of that stuff... it's choppy, low end(sometimes with an 808 sub on transition) with just kicks following the choppy guitar rhythm, with the cymbals and snare keeping rhythm(contrast to the tom pattern before it)

This seems more and more and more and more obvious once you're aware of it and listen to music that focuses on impact.

Heck, heres' a really cliche example from that genre, which consists of a short drum fill silence(or a single snare/reversed snare). The section that proceeds isn't particularly loud, and isn't any more or less "heavy" than the riffs played before - but the perception is that it's louder and heavier only because of again - the silence that preceded it.


another example of why contrast is sometimes more important than what you're actually playing in terms of perception - this time from a brutal death/tech death band.


listen for about 15-20 seconds... you'll notice the drums are fast and aggressive, but they mainly feel relentless. Guitars are all over the place - and then when there's a pause - and they come back in there is LESS drums, more space between cymbal accents - and the guitars are slower.... and even though there is no loudness automation or anything, it impacts much different on your perception. The rest of the sound turns into death metal soup because there's still very little contrast in the overall gist of what they are playing.

I would still wear my decrepit birth shirts if they didn't fall apart long ago - and their work isn't unlike the genre it fits in, but it's more or less just from a more objective PoV - lack of contrast hurts the perceived heaviness, and the moments that seem the most heavy aren't mechanically any faster, heavier, or more aggressive - just preceded by effectively placed contrast.
 
OP
HarmonyCore

HarmonyCore

Senior Member
It's weird to think that music should be simpler to be more interesting... but it's true. A great example of contrast issues from even the best of the best - Powells' score to Solo - after a while the action and bombastic brass gets kind of numbing, and the score starts to feel a bit "samey".

Ofcourse this probably has little to do with powell, but more to do with how the movie is structured to be a bit too "non stop" with not much contrast in that regard. Music matches the movie, and powell has demonstrated himself plenty capable, but that's just what he's got to work with.

I'm currently going through my own "kitchen sinking" phase as I try to navigate the vast world of orchestration... I can come up with a lot of interesting ideas but it left alone with a few bars I can end up with 1 oboe away from a tutti section with nowhere left to build into.
I've been practicing with less to sound more but it never sounded more haha. I know exactly what you mean but it's damn hard to use less organized instruments to deliver big impact. It just needs at least a year of continuous practice.

Appreciate the time taken to write these lengthy feedbacks. I actually study these feedbacks and use them to my advantage. You also recorded a video specifically for me on YouTube to show me strings voicing and arrangement. I will never forget that.
 

ProfoundSilence

Senior Member
I've been practicing with less to sound more but it never sounded more haha. I know exactly what you mean but it's damn hard to use less organized instruments to deliver big impact. It just needs at least a year of continuous practice.

Appreciate the time taken to write these lengthy feedbacks. I actually study these feedbacks and use them to my advantage. You also recorded a video specifically for me on YouTube to show me strings voicing and arrangement. I will never forget that.
One of these days I'll do some proper tuts.


I do want to get my template finished and a few pieces out before I go harder in that direction though. It's a really akward thing, because almost since I started buying more expensive VI I have very few finished things to my name, mostly an army of 16 second clips of random stuff as I progressed. So when people ask me for links to my music, I don't have anything relevant to even link unless they want to hear all 13 seconds of "JackSparrowsD***.mp3"
 
OP
HarmonyCore

HarmonyCore

Senior Member
One of these days I'll do some proper tuts.


I do want to get my template finished and a few pieces out before I go harder in that direction though. It's a really akward thing, because almost since I started buying more expensive VI I have very few finished things to my name, mostly an army of 16 second clips of random stuff as I progressed. So when people ask me for links to my music, I don't have anything relevant to even link unless they want to hear all 13 seconds of "JackSparrowsD***.mp3"
It's okay, I can listen to those 13 seconds. Hand it over for a quick listen 😁
 

unclecheeks

Senior Member
Oddest part, is even though I'm not expert at it - or anything for that matter(although I'm quite good at listening) One of the activities that taught me the most about this was back when I toyed with dubstep when I was still mostly a metal musician. Then I started noticing when bands were "heavier" and the tactics they employed - then you realize this process of effective impact is all about build up, maximum contrast - so that impact is massive.

I mean, it's most obvious in a genre I never really got into - but in deathcore, it's often time open power chords(or raunchy dissonant chords) that lead to feedback(high pitched) with some talking and some tom fills(constant rhythm, very little cymbals and snare) - then it stops for a second to have like 1 sound(either a scream - a sound clip, or a zilbel 'ding') before the breakdown hits. - which consists of the exact opposite of all of that stuff... it's choppy, low end(sometimes with an 808 sub on transition) with just kicks following the choppy guitar rhythm, with the cymbals and snare keeping rhythm(contrast to the tom pattern before it)

This seems more and more and more and more obvious once you're aware of it and listen to music that focuses on impact.

Heck, heres' a really cliche example from that genre, which consists of a short drum fill silence(or a single snare/reversed snare). The section that proceeds isn't particularly loud, and isn't any more or less "heavy" than the riffs played before - but the perception is that it's louder and heavier only because of again - the silence that preceded it.


another example of why contrast is sometimes more important than what you're actually playing in terms of perception - this time from a brutal death/tech death band.


listen for about 15-20 seconds... you'll notice the drums are fast and aggressive, but they mainly feel relentless. Guitars are all over the place - and then when there's a pause - and they come back in there is LESS drums, more space between cymbal accents - and the guitars are slower.... and even though there is no loudness automation or anything, it impacts much different on your perception. The rest of the sound turns into death metal soup because there's still very little contrast in the overall gist of what they are playing.

I would still wear my decrepit birth shirts if they didn't fall apart long ago - and their work isn't unlike the genre it fits in, but it's more or less just from a more objective PoV - lack of contrast hurts the perceived heaviness, and the moments that seem the most heavy aren't mechanically any faster, heavier, or more aggressive - just preceded by effectively placed contrast.
Heh, the clips you posted brought back some fond memories of my metal days!... at the tender ages of 8-13. Boy, I guess i was an angsty child!.. Wait, still am. :grin:

Napalm Death was my jam. The switch and riff at 2:44 still get me to this day.


(Sorry to derail the thread!)
 

MartinH.

Senior Member
Oddest part, is even though I'm not expert at it - or anything for that matter(although I'm quite good at listening) One of the activities that taught me the most about this was back when I toyed with dubstep when I was still mostly a metal musician. Then I started noticing when bands were "heavier" and the tactics they employed - then you realize this process of effective impact is all about build up, maximum contrast - so that impact is massive.
Now that you say it, that makes so much sense. Funny you mention dubstep, many years ago I briefly tried making some neurofunk (for those that don't know the genre, "a darker shade of dubstep" is the way I'd describe it), but gave up pretty quickly because it just seemed too hard to do. Today with my Doom OST inspired synth experiments, I'm kind of close working on that kind of music again I feel. I've watched a bunch of tutorials on how to make neuro basses the last couple of days, and it feels again like everything is connected and pieces start falling into place. I'm a big fan of looking at other genres or even creative disciplines to learn some specific aspect of a general skill. Thanks a lot for the new examples too!

One of these days I'll do some proper tuts.
You really should!