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Topic: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

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  1. #1
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    Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Hi all,

    I've been working on an instrumental jazz album for the past several months.
    I'm mixing at home in Sonar, and while bored with saxes and guitars a couple of days ago, I decided to try my hand at creating an orchestral backdrop to a solo guitar intro for one of the tunes.

    This is a quite conservative record, partly due to the conservative attitudes of my bandmates, one of whom has already expressed considerable disdain for what I've done. We did some non "jazzy" things in the studio like playing to a click, and isolating instruments during live tracking so tracks could be completely separate for purposes of overdubbing and editing (and of course, to make the mixing go smoother). We also used extensive micing on everything during dubbing to offer lots of flexibilty and opportunity for creating perspective with the stereo imaging on the instruments. Even these ways in which I used the tools at hand were greeted with a few groans, and it rots my socks. I'm more rock musician than jazz musician, and I feel no shame in bringing that side of my musical personality to a jazz production. I think it will make for a unique product that is "me". This record will definitely NOT sound overproduced (OK..maybe the orchestra bit will be....), but I still have to listen to groans.....

    I expect to hear the same reactions to the orchestration from other members. In a way I can't deny that this dilutes the purity of the record, but I don't give a damn about purity. I want to use all my skills and remain tasteful. I may be damaging this song by making it an excuse to release something with a fake orchestra in it, but I'm getting less and less objective about it. I'm not trying to fool anyone (as it's done with opus 1, which requires written notice of it's use on the product) Ultimately it's my call, so I thought I'd check with a bunch of cats who don't have their heads up their arses about samples. That's YOU.

    Without Further Ado: The Mark Belbin Quintet-Wyndham Water Intro w/o and w/orchestration


    Please listen to the two examples in this file and post your opinion on which is better! Be it matters of arrangement, mixing...whatever. Mostly I'm interested in a yes or no to the orchestrated version (which boils down to the question of taste), but any and all comments are welcome!

    Looking foreward to hearing your thoughts!
    Belbin

  2. #2
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    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Guitar: Real
    Band: Real
    Flute (Runs): Real, but sampled from the live player licks later in the tune.
    Other flutes: Fake
    Strings: As if you can't tell.

    Mostly just wanted to post this so people wouldn't ask which lib the flute licks came from

    -Belbin

  3. #3

    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Belbin,
    My opinion, for what it's worth (not a lot):
    I liked the idea of the orchestration but felt that it overpowered the guitar. Bringing the guitar up a bit in the mix would have sounded fine to me.

    Tim

  4. #4
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    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    I like the accompaniment idea - the sampled stuff in the beginning - but I'm not too crazy about the arrangement. I dont know what else to say about that because it's really a personal opinion issue.

    The strings, however, sound synthy to me and that's not good unless it's what you're looking for.

    If it were mine, I would go with your basic idea of the prelude but simpllify it in some way. I dont think its right for me to be more specific than that.


    I like the piece and the recording btw.


    Jim

  5. #5
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    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Quote Originally Posted by tim rosvall
    Belbin,
    My opinion, for what it's worth (not a lot):
    I liked the idea of the orchestration but felt that it overpowered the guitar. Bringing the guitar up a bit in the mix would have sounded fine to me.

    Tim
    You're right. Thanks Tim.

    Quote Originally Posted by runamuck
    I like the accompaniment idea - the sampled stuff in the beginning - but I'm not too crazy about the arrangement. I dont know what else to say about that because it's really a personal opinion issue.
    If it were mine, I would go with your basic idea of the prelude but simpllify it in some way. I dont think its right for me to be more specific than that.
    Jim
    I guess exact suggestions as to what to do if it needs to be re-arranged aren't approprate...then I'd have to credit you All the same, I'm at a loss for how to simplify: It's just a pad, barring the flute licks. Other than going with straighter harmonies (not going to happen), I'm not sure how to thin out the texture....


    Quote Originally Posted by runamuck
    The strings, however, sound synthy to me and that's not good unless it's what you're looking for. Jim
    That's probably the nail in the coffin there. The more I work on panning and expression, the less I'm willing to admit to myself that it doesn't sound convincing. Yours is the objectivity that brought me to NS for advice. Wish I had the budget for some more string sounds
    Quote Originally Posted by runamuck
    I like the piece and the recording btw.
    Jim
    'Preciate that, dude. Thanks.

    -Belbin

  6. #6

    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Hi,

    I agree with the folks that it's better with accompaniment as opposed to without. I have some specific suggestions, just based on my own arrangement instincts:

    1) The flute runs are nice, but perhaps wait to introduce the first one until after the guitar has finished a phrase. I think the guitar with the string pad alone for the first phrase would be nice. So I guess that would mean getting rid of the first flute flourish in your present arrangement.

    2) Another idea relating to the flute flourishes, perhaps put some longer reverb on those runs in the beginning there, like 3.5 seconds or so. Right now the flourishes sound like they're ending abruptly, and I think it might be nice to let them linger in our ears a little longer with some verb. Of course once you get into the song, the current reverb is great, since it's out front as the melody instrument.

    3) Your high flute sounds bare and the synthiness is a little noticable. Perhaps double down the octave softly with something, like a string patch or another woodwind.

    4) Maybe throw in some ambient cascading sound effect in addition to the flute flourishes and string pad accompanying the guitar. Go searching through what you have in your synth bag of tricks and see what fits, I think you might find that, at the right volume and position in the mix, it could be the icing on the cake of your currently very nice intro.

    5) This isn't an arrangement suggestion, but the guitar sounds a little harsh to my ears, perhaps roll off some of the mid-high or high, or however you think is best to soften it up a bit to better fit into the mood of your music.

    6) This may just be me, but the crash cymbal when the drums come in just totally takes me out of the mood and seems both inappropriate and too loud. If it were me I'd either take it down or axe it all together, as well as keeping the snare out of the groove in favor of a rim click. Maybe throw a shaker in there and mix the hi-hat down to create a nice melange. Note my use of the word, melange, here.

    Very nice music, thanks for sharing.

    Dan

  7. #7
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    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    1) The flute runs are nice, but perhaps wait to introduce the first one until after the guitar has finished a phrase. I think the guitar with the string pad alone for the first phrase would be nice. So I guess that would mean getting rid of the first flute flourish in your present arrangement.
    Good idea. The placement of the flourishes was somewhat arbitrary, and I guess it's time to consider the finer points of their timing. Your suggestion, for example, makes sense.
    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    2) Another idea relating to the flute flourishes, perhaps put some longer reverb on those runs in the beginning there, like 3.5 seconds or so. Right now the flourishes sound like they're ending abruptly, and I think it might be nice to let them linger in our ears a little longer with some verb. Of course once you get into the song, the current reverb is great, since it's out front as the melody instrument.
    True, but I've aleady gone in the opposite direction: The flourishes being sampled from the live player, I want it to sound like a common thread to the rest of the song (reasonablly dry), along with the guitar. The orchestra is fed through two gigapulse instances: near and far. Originally the whole thing was a lot wetter, and all 3 flutes were sent to the far impulse. The wetness of the whole, along with the considerable wetness of the lead flute made the whole thing sound a little too Yanni. that's why I brought it out front, as well as to make the samples sound more consistent with the live track. Your instinct is consistent with my original intent, though. I just found it a bit too soundscap-ish, so I decided to go without.

    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    3) Your high flute sounds bare and the synthiness is a little noticable. Perhaps double down the octave softly with something, like a string patch or another woodwind.
    Can do! I've been wanting an oboe in there somewhere anyways. Oboe will be my first attempt anyway. Perhaps swapping the high flute for a picc would make sense color/blend-wise....
    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    4) Maybe throw in some ambient cascading sound effect in addition to the flute flourishes and string pad accompanying the guitar. Go searching through what you have in your synth bag of tricks and see what fits, I think you might find that, at the right volume and position in the mix, it could be the icing on the cake of your currently very nice intro.
    My intention is to minimize synthiness, but hey...that's kind of futile, so why not try going the other way....I'll mess with that and see.
    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    5) This isn't an arrangement suggestion, but the guitar sounds a little harsh to my ears, perhaps roll off some of the mid-high or high, or however you think is best to soften it up a bit to better fit into the mood of your music.
    True. I regret the way in which that guitar was recorded. It's mostly a performance issue, which is sad, but a little eq tweaking might help.
    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    6) This may just be me, but the crash cymbal when the drums come in just totally takes me out of the mood and seems both inappropriate and too loud. If it were me I'd either take it down or axe it all together, as well as keeping the snare out of the groove in favor of a rim click. Maybe throw a shaker in there and mix the hi-hat down to create a nice melange. Note my use of the word, melange, here. .
    Can't do much about the kit playing. It's all real. Although it's set up to be edit-able, I'm keeping the drummer's playing as original as possible. I agree with you, however, that the crash is a bit overbearing. As for the snare vs. Cross-stick choice, that was his to make, and I respect his decision...though I probably would''ve gone more in the direction you advised were it a sequenced part.
    Quote Originally Posted by danring
    Very nice music, thanks for sharing.
    Thanks for your kind words and advice, Dan.

    Belbin

  8. #8

    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Very nice Belbin. A small suggestion for the strings. Try either using the mod wheel for expression - if that's an option with your samples - or ride the volume to give more swells and dynamics. It can really help to make it more authentic.

    Good luck and good music!

  9. #9

    Re: Guitar intro: Solo or Accompanied?

    Well, personally, I think I liked with the version without the orchestra as an intro better. It makes the band coming in more interesting. That being said, I think the version with the orchestra would work great for a repeat, if your piece is structured like that. But if its strictly an intro, I guess that wouldn't work.

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