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Friday, 9 May 2014

Facing the Horde - 20140507_v01_03

Once again, I attempt the 'epic' genre.
This time I try to incorporate little bits of sound-design elements to give it something unique.

I hope you all like it!

Start-end Dates: 20140507 - 20140509
DAW: Cakewalk Sonar
Virtual Instruments Used:
- 8dio requiem Pro
- Heavyocity DAMAGE
- Spitfire Albion1 and Albion3 (brass, woodwinds)
- EastWest Symphonic Orchestra (fr horns)
- Output REV

With epic tracks with full orchestration and blasting percussion tracks, I find that I always have problem with instruments becoming muddy and losing definition in the mix.

From articles on mixing tips, this is known as frequency masking. So this time round I set up high-pass and low-pass filters to roll off top and bottom frequencies that may contribute to frequencies that are vital to other instruments.

I feel that technique helped me to get rid of the typical muddiness that plagued my previous mixes.

As I built my instruments and patches for this piece, I had to make a decision on the size of the instruments used. In the end I used a lot of ensemble and "section" patches. That means "low strings in a patch" and "low brass in a patch", or "6 french horns" in the same patch.

I figured that the goal in an epic track, is to minimalistic, to be on the safe side. The percussion would be the main driving force, and there would be lots of ostinato rhythm patterns going on in the melodic section to drive and weave into the percussive rhythm.

This time round, my goal is to to achieve the feel of epic-ness. I did not feel I was able to get it until this track was done. Therefore when I attempted this, I wanted to keep the rhythmic drive the main thing, and to stay on a safe path, just to achieve that epic feel.

Thus the safe thing to do is to limit the number of distinct and concurrent musical lines going on, so the main melody is reinforced with by it being played in unison, in different octaves.

In the future I may want to try to have more complex arrangement and textures,

Another interesting observation for me, on this piece, is an unforeseen perception of the quality of my virtual instruments.

For those who have been using patches on yester-era synths will remember (fondly or not!) that a common technique in early synthesisers to simulate brass sounds, is to use the saw-tooth waveform to modulate the sampled attack of a brass instrument. Sometimes the sawtooth waveform IS the brass patch.

In the beginning of this track, in my attempt to incorporate sound design elements into the track, I included a sound-design patch that has some kind of rounded percussive attack, and then sustains the note with a sustaining tone that sounds like a saw-tooth wave. This patch was played low, layering and moving on top of the swelling and ebbing brass parts, which also happened to be low in pitch.

The surprising observation from some of my listeners were that the brass sounded electronic / fake or sounded "midi" (this expression is one of my pet peeves, incidentally. I'll write about this in another entry some day).

This was from the president of one of the music libraries that I was submitting to. I figured I shouldn't ask too much without going back to investigate how valid and accurate his observations are.

One of the possible reasons for his perception that the brass sounded synthetic was because of that saw-tooth sounding patch.

If you have any other insights on the quality and realism of the brass samples, please feel free to drop a comment.

Thank you for reading!