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Topic: Orchestral advice

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  1. #1

    Red face Orchestral advice

    Here's my first real attempt at an orchestral piece. It's in a fantasy style, or at least started that way.

    www.mseaudio.com/fantasy1.mp3

    It was supposed to be about twice this long and more filled out but I'm burned out on tweaking midi data at the moment and figured i'd ask for advice before finishing it. I'm a total noob at this so any advice related to mixing, composition, orchestration would be much appreciated

    Thanks guys!
    -Matt Emery

  2. #2
    Senior Member
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    Re: Orchestral advice

    THis is a pretty cool piece. I liked it, and i dont really see anything wrong with it. Finish it and i think itll be good.

  3. #3

    Re: Orchestral advice

    I think percussion needs different mixing. It sounds like it is in another hall.
    Blur it. Cut some high freq from samples and rev response so it will blend with other stuff better. And place it closer or other stuff farther.
    "Boom" sounds needs some stereo spread to be more impressive (tip: delay on such things does good job).
    I like the piece, actually.

  4. #4

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Hey Matt,

    It's a cool piece. I can't say much about the production because I was listening to it on some rubbishy speakers which probably didn't do it justice.

    There's a lot of life in the performances, and I really like the way you handled the expression in the sustained strings.

    As far as the composition goes, don't feel you have to make it twice the length because you decided that beforehand. Just end the piece when you feel like it has nothing more to say.

    Steve

  5. #5

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Very rich in orchestration ideas. One thing you might consider as a way to keep it moving musically, and to extend it, is to actually write down some of the rhythms and motives -- on music paper, with a pencil or pen. (Maybe you already do this?) Then you can begin to say to yourself which are important to the piece, and which are only momentary -- and reuse, vary, extend, the important ones.

  6. #6

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Quote Originally Posted by gugliel
    Very rich in orchestration ideas. One thing you might consider as a way to keep it moving musically, and to extend it, is to actually write down some of the rhythms and motives -- on music paper, with a pencil or pen. (Maybe you already do this?) Then you can begin to say to yourself which are important to the piece, and which are only momentary -- and reuse, vary, extend, the important ones.
    Yeah I agree with Gugliel. It's very good for a first orchestral try. It just seems like you loose your direction about 1/2 way then you come back with a pretty strong ending.

    Also, while it's okay to write in another's style when your first learning, I'd like to hear more of your own personality in the piece. There are a few places that I think sound more original especially the ending. The first 2/3 of the piece sounded to me like you're trying to emulate a sound from somebody else.

    As a rule of thumb, we all are asked to write like somebody else on occasion. I try to get to the bottom of the technique of how the music was constructed, then I make those techniques my own techniques and then write the music as my own. That way I'm just not listen to the CD and trying to copy the sound, but rather I'm building the piece up from the ground using the same techniques but it's still original music.

    I don't know if that makes sense but I can talk about it further if you're interested.

    Cheers,


    Jose

  7. #7

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Wow! Thanks for all the great feedback guys. I very much agree with the mixing on the percussion, i wasn't satisfied with it either - that timpani sound really annoys me in the mix.

    As far as the composition, i do have difficulty taking themes and really juicing them. Part of the problem is that at this early stage I have to spend so much time teaking and experimenting and listening I get so sick of these ideas after hearing them a million times, when obviously a listener would only get to hear it for a handful of seconds. Even knowing that, it's hard not to want to move onto some new material and ideas after finally "finishing" a phrase.

    I do have a tendency to jump from idea to idea without really establishing a structure with repeated elements. Does anyone have advice on embellishing themes and ideas? beyond the normal "change the orchestration...change the harmony," change the rhythm stuff (not that these aren't valid).

    Jose I do understand what you mean by it sounding like an imitation of someone else's sound. What exactly did you notice that tipped you off to this? I was attempting to do something through composed like Jeremy Soule's music, then for the last third I kind of went off on a tangent which I ended up liking more than the rest of the piece.

    -Matt Emery

  8. #8

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Quote Originally Posted by Anders00
    Jose I do understand what you mean by it sounding like an imitation of someone else's sound. What exactly did you notice that tipped you off to this? I was attempting to do something through composed like Jeremy Soule's music, then for the last third I kind of went off on a tangent which I ended up liking more than the rest of the piece.

    -Matt Emery
    I can always tell. And, I don't know why yet. Even when a composer is sounding like somebody else I can still tell if the composer is really sincere about it or if he's just listening to a CD and trying to copy it.

    Steve Rees sounds a lot like Gerry Goldsmith at times but it's still Steve Rees. I think it's because he loves Gerry Goldsmith. Evan Gamble sounds a lot like Stravinsky and John Williams, but it's still Evan Gamble.

    I guess what I hear is if the composer is truly loving what he's writing or if he's writing from a viewpoint of, "well I think somebody else likes this so I guess I'll write something like it."

    It's that idea that I think makes a thousand John Williams or James Horner or Hans Zimmer imitators of only a few are ever really successful at it.

    To make a long story short, you'll be asked to copy many people in your pro-career. In order to do it successfully I find that you have to find something in it that you love or at least really like, then you have to analyze the heck out of it to find the techniques involved in creating it. Then make those techniques your own. Once you've internalized the techniques then you'll be able to write convincingly in anothers style. I find that just trying to do it by ear only leads to imitation and not really understanding.

    But It's always better to write your own stuff. And, that's what I heard in the last third of the piece. I hear something that obviously came from you. Even though I don't know you. I could still tell. And, I think others will too.

    Cheers,


    Jose

    P.S. There are a lot of composers on this forum that have very unique styles. I study everything I hear and I make it my own. That way I find that I can increase my musicallity. I always find something that I like in just about everybody.

    For example, Bruce Richardson's kind of trance like melodies and very thought out pacing is very good. Steve Rees mixture of Jazz and orchestral is quite stunning; Evan Gamble is really coming along and has a fresh perspective on orchestration. Aaron Sapp's demos on soundsonline show some good development of ideas. Gugliel's music is a great mixture of European aesthetics with contemporary mentallity. Midphase has a way of really evoking the visual sense in music, and the many, many others that I've heard on this forum each have something that they do very, very well. I make mental notes on everything I hear. I do it because it expands my viewpoint on music. But I never just copy somebody else. I try to understand where they are comming from and try to see life from their ears.

    I think this mentality comes from the many years I spent as a performer inturpreting other's music before I began to write my own.

    I don't know if any of this helps you, but I just wanted to share it with you.

  9. #9

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Wow, that ability to summarize and describe pithily such different musics is a rare talent all by itself, Jose!

  10. #10

    Re: Orchestral advice

    Jose,

    Thanks for the positive words!

    Anders,

    One thing I'd say is that for a first piece, you are being really ambitious (not a bad thing in itself of course). If you were planning this piece to extend to 5 minutes long in total, that's a LONG time. Doesn't sound much when you've been listening to classical composers, minimalists, film music and what have you, but for a full orchestral piece, it really is hard to maintain interest for that amount of time. If you have found it hard don't worry, everyone does!

    I've found it far more useful is to write more shorter pieces. I learn far more writing five 1 minute pieces, than by getting bogged down trying to extend ideas to one 5 minute piece. I can try out far more different compositional techniques, instrument blends, arrangements, orchestrations, pastiche other composers etc.

    The more short pieces you write, the quicker you'll find your own voice, and then you'll find it much easier to extend your music to longer pieces.

    There's lots of good books on compositional techniques out there by the likes of Schoenberg and others, but basically you'll be your own best teacher on how to compose the music you want to write through experience. It's like learning to play golf. You can read all the books you want about it, take all the lessons you can get. These will give you some basic technique, but at the end of the day you've just got to get out on the course and swing your clubs. That's when you really learn how to play (or not, in my case ha ha).

    So read books, study harmony, learn to orchestrate, study composers' scores whose music interests you (I do what Jose does studying other composers music too), but don't forget to just keep writing.

    All the best,

    Steve

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