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Topic: Improving the Lament

  1. #1

    Improving the Lament

    Hello folks I wanted to share a current battle I'm underway with regarding the very first GPO piece I did and how I'm attempting to make it better.

    The piece is A King's Lament, which I posted when I first came to the boards a few months ago. It's a tone poem through the emotions of a king having to tell his people to evacuate the city, that war is coming.

    The original version is here. It was recorded all through Sibelius section-by-section and then compiled in Digital Performer.

    Now, what I did with it is here. I took it into SONAR and added a ton of mod wheel data variation for expression, did a few instrument changes. Added some additional percussion from Gtown, as well as varying ammounts of reverb for each section. Tried to make the choir sound like they were coming from a loft somewhere in the performance space... Which I wanted very live and fantasy-esque.

    Now, something still bugs me about the updated version. I have absolutely no idea what it is, since I've spent so long together with the piece. I want it to sound the best it possibly can, but I need some help pinpointing what exactly is troublesome about it. Any feedback into this is definately very helpful

    Edit: I've pinpointed the first thing: during the first up-beat section, I forgot to put keyswitch on the strings for agressive short bows.


  2. #2

    Re: Improving the Lament

    Darned if I can find anything wrong with that mix -- also, really fine piece, Leif. (I couldn't connect to the original version, by the way, to compare.)

    The brass handling in this is superb; and don't worry about that choir, it came off perfectly.

    I think maybe I might tinker with tempi and dynamic variation a little in a few places -- the softer sections, especially the opening -- but as everyone knows, I'm a little nutty in that regard, anyway... lol.

    Great job on this!


  3. #3

    Re: Improving the Lament

    Thanks, David! It's probably just having spent too much time with the piece ringing in my ears. After backing off for a few days, I certainly have a bit of a fresh stance on it. I agree with the tempi and dynamic tweaking, that's still something I'm working on mastering as a whole, but I think it'll come in time. A lot of what I've been doing is just looking at the score and humming the leading line to myself while I pretend to conduct, seeing where I might alter things a bit. That's easy enough, it's just realistically getting that data into the tempo track that's the tough spot.

  4. #4

    Re: Improving the Lament

    Quote Originally Posted by Cobalt Katze
    Thanks, David! It's probably just having spent too much time with the piece ringing in my ears.
    I'm going to give you some really excellent advice -- that I find completely impossible to follow myself... lol.

    Put it down for a week, and come to back to it.

    Maybe seasoned studio pros can handle being jacked in eight or twelve hours at a shot -- but most us of start getting deaf to what we're doing after three or four.


  5. #5

    Re: Improving the Lament

    The link to the original is not working ...

  6. #6

    Re: Improving the Lament

    OH! Wow, sorry guys, it took me this long to notice that the link's address - my own name! - was spelled wrong... Added the extra 'e' in there, and it should work perfectly now.

  7. #7

    Re: Improving the Lament

    I didn't hear your original, but I like what you have done here...a lot! I like the contrasts that you achieve. I agree with David's comment about tinkering a little more with dynamics. It sounds almost like it has be compressed to me in places. If not, then it means that you could open up the overall dynamic spectrum more and gain a lot.
    The choir sounds great. What is it?

    Great work.

    Mac Pro 2X2.8 Ghz Quad-Core Intel Xenon, 10Gb 800 MHz DDR2 FB-DIMM, OS10.6.4, Finale 2011, Digital Performer 7.1, Altiverb 6, Yamaha S90, Built-in audio, GPO, JABB, Garritan Authorized Steinway (Pro), Reason 3, M-Audio Ozone, Giovani, Symphonic Choirs, Kontakt 2, Vienna Symphonic Library. Website:http://www.paulread.ca

  8. #8
    Senior Member valhalx's Avatar
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    May 2005
    Wine Country, Colorado

    Re: Improving the Lament

    I listened to this yesterday and again today. You'll be happy to know its just as good today. LOL. This is excellent! The choir is superb. I can't find anything that would need improving other than what David pointed out. Your music is always great.
    Never look at the trombones. It only encourages them. Richard Strauss

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  9. #9

    Re: Improving the Lament

    Thanks for the comments, Paul & Bill Hearing the original isn't entirely necissary, but I wanted to place it there as a bit of a mile marker I suppose. It was my first attempt at using GPO, and now my latest attempt several months later to recreate it and improve it.

    Paul, the choir is surprisingly Sibelius' Kontakt Silver generic "Ah" choir. I recorded it dry directly from Sibelius and put the wav file to my mix and applied a generous dose of reverb to it. I certainly want to invest in a more extensive choir library once my funds can afford it, as I do love voices~

  10. #10

    Re: Improving the Lament

    The second version is much imnproved. The note-note transitions are smoother, the individual instrument expressions are more pronounced (especially in the solo violin), dynamics a little better.

    Things to improve:

    The details of the tempo changes could be improved (but at great cost in time, not really worth it). Mozart always ranted that performers always fell into the hated-cliche that loud passages are played faster, but I find that it sounds really good.

    What reverb do you use? The problem with GPO is it is a smaller orchestra, so compositions that are supposed to sound "big" end up sounding like a classical-era orchestra. Not much to do about it. I have not tried it, but I suppose one could double or triple up every instrument line (one flute gets played by two flutes, etc.) but that would double or triple the number of tracks that have to be INDEPENDENT (played in or tweaked separately). I am uncertain of the outcome, and the time involved seems prohibitive, at least until someone creates a program to automatically "ensemblize" one track (Markelford has talked about it).

    I do not like the reverb in this piece, but that may be down to personal preference. The brass, in particular, (but also the woodwinds), sound like tinsel instruments (the strings sound nice though). This almost always is because of the use of algorithmic reverb as apposed to convolution. In addition, this kind of reverb does not separate the instruments well and the sound does not expand (in depth) when tutti passages are played. I highly recommend, if you are on PC, to start using the free SIR with the free impulses at noisevault.com (350seat and 1800seat). Any time learning that you spend with them will be useful for when Real Spaces comes out. You do not need to give a separate impulse for each instrument, but I typically use 6-8 impulses to separate left-right and front-back. Then here is a trick, repeat the the impulse process with FAR mics (rear-facing, but avoid the back rows) and mix in a little of this. This addictively gives slightly more depth. Convolution takes huge amounts of CPU so one has to bounce to audio. The whole process (once it is set up) takes me 1 hour to do. While many of my mock-ups and compositions use this process in some form, I do not have a good example for this kind of music. But if you PM with your email address I can send you an mp3 that I did for someone else.

    I have loved your unique and expressive compositions thus far, but I feel you are striving to get to yet an even higher level ...

    GPO and Synful experiments; chaos-more chaos compositions

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