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Topic: My Challenge 29 entry summary

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  1. #1

    Challenge 29 entry summary for all participants

    This thread is here to give all challenge writers a chance to explain there project and how it was done, as Randy had suggested in the Final outcome announcement thread.

    Here is a description on my entry into the Challenge 29.

    I got a real chuckle out of the narrative that englishgent provided as the basis for the musical challenge. The idea of a commercial ad with narrative was an excellent twist on the challenges we have had in the past and his voice-over was excellent in quality (thank you englishgent).

    With the narrative in mind, I decided that "God Save the Queen" had to be in the musical background some how and I didn't want to detract from its honored status in England as the National Anthem. I made sure that when the Queen was mentioned, the music "God Save the Queen" was obvious. What probably wasn't obvious was the opening and closing fanfares in the brass were developed from melodic motives in the the Anthem. The quiet section in the woodwinds and strings was the opening section of "God Save the Queen" in retrograde.

    After developing the musical score. I put the music into Sonar and made sure (cut and paste) that the narrative was moved into places that fit the texture of the musical score. I also EQ'ed and changed the length of some of the narrative to make sure the piece of the narrative fit the spot in the musical score it was intended for. For that matter, I extended some of the note lengths in the score to make things fit better to the narrative.

    All of my instruments were from GPO4. The musical score was done in Finale and the production was finished in Sonar X2.

    This was fun to do and I had a good time listening to all the contestants approach to the challenge. I hope we get even more participants (and voters) in a new challenge. It would be nice to keep this going. I don't think prizes are necessary but they were nice to have this time and I thank Ted Vanya, Randy Bowser and englishgent for offering them.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  2. #2

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    You did a wonderful job, Rich. I enjoyed yours very much. I felt the music was very appropriate, and I completely understood your intent as soon as I heard the main theme. Congratulations once again.

  3. #3

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Hey, Rodney - How about using this thread for posting some info on your entry too? We could all add our bits in this one location. In the next new few days, I'll write up a few things about my entry and was thinking I'd add it here - I think that would be better than 10 different threads.

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hey, Rodney - How about using this thread for posting some info on your entry too? We could all add our bits in this one location. In the next new few days, I'll write up a few things about my entry and was thinking I'd add it here - I think that would be better than 10 different threads.

    Randy
    Alright Randy, I'll bite. I will be honest with y'all, I almost feel as though I did not work as hard as other people did. I did not use samples since mine was live players. The audio came from a piece I wrote for a university that was performed by members of their brass students and faculty. I took the audio, added reverb, and then added a chorus effect for a layered, bigger effect. I edited the voice audio, deleting some parts only to add it back to the soundtrack later, making the end softer, and then started with the balancing of the music and voice. I sliced up the audio adding fade ins and fade outs for smoother transitions. I made sure that the voice was prominent and the music was simply the background unless it needed to accent words and phrases of importance. I also boosted the sound towards the end for a rousing fanfare finale. My main concern was thinking that the music sounded too American and not very British at all.
    Rod

  5. #5

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Quote Originally Posted by RichR View Post
    ...I put the music into Sonar and made sure (cut and paste) that the narrative was moved into places that fit the texture of the musical score. I also EQ'ed and changed the length of some of the narrative to make sure the piece of the narrative fit the spot in the musical score it was intended for. For that matter, I extended some of the note lengths in the score to make things fit better to the narrative...
    Great! Thanks for starting the "How I did it" thread, Rich. I hope the rest of the participants add to this thread. Maybe you could edit your post, with an invitation to the others to ahead and place their notes on this same thread instead of starting new ones?

    I pulled out that quote from you above because I was glad to see that you, and probably others, also did some editing of the voice over track's timing. When I did my entry, I knew I'd have to work with the timing of both that track and my music track to make it all come out cohesively - But as I started moving the voice clips around, I wondered at first if that would be thought of as somehow "cheating." I decided that wouldn't be fair, since these kinds of things are produced in a way that optimizes both the voice and music into a solid final product, so edited as I saw fit. Glad you did the same thing. Your entry was great fun!

    Quote Originally Posted by composingatnight View Post
    ...I did not use samples since mine was live players. The audio came from a piece I wrote for a university that was performed by members of their brass students and faculty. I took the audio, added reverb, and then added a chorus effect for a layered, bigger effect. I edited the voice audio...I sliced up the audio adding fade ins and fade outs for smoother transitions. I made sure that the voice was prominent and the music was simply the background...
    Hey, cool! You made it an audio editing project - Clever, Rod, and the results sound really nice.

    Hope we hear from the other 1st place contestant, Ted - and everyone else who put one of these together! I think this post-contest discussion about how things were done is a phase of the event just as interesting as the first phase. So, I'll be back later with notes on what I submitted.

    Randy

  6. #6

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Before starting on music ideas for my entry, #6, I wanted to prep the voice track a bit. I did some work in my audio editing program, Sound Forge, to minimize the plosive pops, re-drawing the peaks that went into the red, and also EQing the bass frequencies on those moments. In Sonar, I used a compressor and a limiter to maintain a strong volume, automating the volume also as needed. Later when I was mixing the voice with the music, I added a bit of reverb to the voice track, - the same room I used for the music.

    My first idea for the music was to get a "Masterpiece Theatre"/BBC kind of sound, so looked around for something to serve as a guide. I quickly discovered the "Processional Fanfares for trumpet and timpani" by Anton Diabelli (1781-1858). He wrote these for "6 natural trumpets in two choirs and timpani." After listening to some of those, I felt in the BBC groove, so started noodling around in Sonar.

    After getting my "Masterpiece Theatre"/Olympics kind of opening, I wrote the rest of the piece. After writing the second part, I knew I wanted wanted a third part, so added that. Then I knew I wanted some string figures and brass chords for the second time through to make the repeat more lively.

    After the arrangement was in place, my first music production challenge was that I had a wimpy trumpet sound, and of course that's a common problem. When I listened to recordings of Diabelli's fanfares, I had a hard time believing I was only hearing trumpets. The sound was so much beefier and trombone-like. Well, brass players tell us that sampled trumpets are often just too thin and tinny, and don't have the ability to be round and warm like real trumpets.

    To get the sound closer to what I wanted, I ended up with 13 layers of trumpets - ! - PLUS 6 horns and trombones, and for the second half, I added a big fat sound from IO called "Big Brass. After setting tracks up for many Garritan instruments, I kept on adding from other sound sources. I felt like I was getting carried away, but I was getting happier with the results, so just kept adding layers until I decided enough was enough!

    So the three brass lines are divided between 19 software instruments. I used a few layers of Garritan string patches for the last part, then chose a reverb that came close to the big room sound in the Diabelli MP3s.

    As always, I bounced each instrument to its own audio track before doing the mix. On the audio tracks, there were touches of EQ here and there to improve the blend, along with improved panning, and a better over-all balance.

    My mixer set up was simpler than usual. I had all the brass at the same reverb level, strings on their own (less than brass) and the timpani with its unique reverb level, with about twice the amount of Send as the brass. All of the instruments went into one Bus, while the voice track went directly to the Master fader. That way, I could control the balance of all of the instruments with that one Bus's fader, while leaving the voice's volume independent of the music's.

    I sliced the vocal track into small bits, moving them as needed to work best with the music. Then I recorded automation on the music Bus's fader, dipping it under the narration as needed - "riding the gain," and hand editing the volume envelope so the music could come up whenever it had an opportunity between vocal phrases. That was a manual way of doing the automatic ducking used professionally. Using a sound gate, the music track is automatically pushed down in volume every time the voice track signal comes in.

    To emulate the way those rapid fire disclaimers sound at the tail of some commercials, I automated the Send on the vocal track so the reverb dropped out for that bit, leaving it dry and also made sure the volume remained full, the way it seems to me those tags are done on commercials.

    AND - That's "How I Spent My Vacation." 8-)

    Thanks to peeps who voted for my bit. I didn't vote for my entry, there were two I couldn't decide between, so cast two votes. One ended up in that group of 3 first place winners, and the other ended up as an "also ran." I think everyone did a really fun, creative job with this! I know I appreciated taking a break from my current projects, and spending some enjoyable hours with this thing.

    Thanks again to Owen for putting it all together!

    Here's the list of instruments I used:

    Cornet 1 (COMB)
    Cornet 2 (COMB)
    Trumpet 1 (JABB)
    Trumpet 2 (JABB)
    Sam Trumpet (GPO)
    Sam Picc Trump (GPO)
    Picc trump 2 (GPO)
    Trump attack (IO)
    Snappy brass (IO)
    Trumpet group (COMB)
    *Kore 1-Trump
    *Kore 2-Trump
    *Dimension Pro trump

    Sam Horn (GPO)
    Horn (GPO)
    Trombone 1 (JABB)
    Sam Trombone (GPO)
    Big brass (IO)
    *Kore 3-Trombone

    Timpani (IO)

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Maybe you could edit your post, with an invitation to the others to ahead and place their notes on this same thread instead of starting new ones?
    I am not sure what you mean for me to do. But Most Certainly. This is an excellent thread for all participants to summarize how they developed their entry. I was just taking englishgents suggestion and started this thread. I didn't realize that he was thinking of keeping the summaries all in the Final outcome thread.

    As for the vocal, yes, I did think (like you) that might not be the appropriate move to change the vocal track. After considering it for a while I decided it would be the same problem as with video. One has to sync the music and voice to a video track which means manipulations of the vocal track. So, why not make the vocal fit the music or as in my case, I manipulated both the music and vocal to make them work together.

    That is an engineer/producers options as I see it. But it was great fun to develop this. AND I enjoyed listening to everyone's take on the music and vocal track.

    Rod--

    You used a very interesting approach and I see nothing wrong with working with music you have available. That's what libraries are developed for, right?

    When I listened to yours I thought that you may have been using some live performance a the music. You handled the format well.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  8. #8

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Quote Originally Posted by RichR View Post
    I am not sure what you mean for me to do. But Most Certainly. This is an excellent thread for all participants to summarize how they developed their entry...
    Hi, Rich - I think it's great you started this thread! I think this works better than having the info buried in an already existing thread.

    I just meant that in your opening post of this thread, at the beginning maybe you could add something that invites the other participants to post their "how I did it" message on this same thread. As it is, they could click, just look at your opening post, and assume the topic of the whole thread is just your story. Just an idea - I like the idea of everyone's story being on this one thread instead of separate threads that get scattered around.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Thank you everyone, for sharing your process. This is one of the benefits of the contest - to learn tips from how others approached the same task. I for one was wondering how Randy did the volume dipping - I assumed he used Auto Dip - a feature in Sonar. I was wrong!
    __________________________________________________ _________________
    My website: www.tunespace.net

  10. #10

    Re: My Challenge 29 entry summary

    Quote Originally Posted by englishgent View Post
    Thank you everyone, for sharing your process. This is one of the benefits of the contest - to learn tips from how others approached the same task. I for one was wondering how Randy did the volume dipping - I assumed he used Auto Dip - a feature in Sonar. I was wrong!
    Hope everyone else jumps on this thread - I couldn't agree with you more, Owen. Hearing how people went about work on their Challenge pieces is one of the best parts of having these events.

    I'm such a hands-on guy when I'm working. I tend to avoid auto-devices and methods, except of course, recording the fader moves in the mixer. "Ducking" is a basic automated tool, done with "side chaining" - but I prefer to just ride the gain since that's easy enough to do, especially in something as short as this Challenge 29 cue. Haven't heard of "Auto Dip" though - maybe that's newer than the Sonar 8.5 I still use. Couldn't find reference to it in a Sonar and Google search - but it has to be a side changed compressor set up with everything put in place for you. Cool - but - doing it manually feels good to me.

    Ted - Get on here - And Frank, and Everyone who joined in with a contribution!

    Randy

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