A New Sound from Deep Space...

Is the new version of the Overture better?

  • No

    Votes: 1 5.0%
  • Yes

    Votes: 7 35.0%
  • Yes, but more improvement would be nice

    Votes: 12 60.0%

  • Total voters
    20

Needaham45

Spaceman
The most criticism that I recieved about my music for Standoff was in reference to the rendering of the MIDIs. Well, with the holiday season over and some money I picked up, this year, I decided that I would invest in a new sound set in order to try to improve the quality of the rendering that you hear. I've looked into a few programs and tried a demo or two, and I did a re-rendering of the Standoff Overture.

The sample of this program didn't come with every sound (as it was a sample), so the pitched percussion (glockenspiel, chimes, and timpani) as well as two guitars (distorted electric and nylon acoustic) are still remaining from the old sound set. However, all other instruments have been replaced by instruments from the new sound set. I did not change any dynamics to accomidate the new sound set either, so some balance things are a little off too (especially the end... the drums are uncontrollable now... I'll fix that if I go with this sound set).

You can get this new version at the following link:

http://standoff.solsector.net/files/theme_v2.mp3

For all of you who are interested, please listen to this new version, and leave a note/vote and tell me what you think so I know whether or not you, as the listeners think this is a worthy investment.

I don't have an infinite budget, so I can't exactly buy all the equipment and programs to make it sound like an orchestra (if I could I would just hire an orchestra), so don't look for 'real', but look for how close to 'real' it is relative to the old version, and whether or not you think it could be better. Thanks
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Wow, this is a huge improvement! :) Now I wish I kept the first version so I could do a better comparison, I don't really have the time to re-download it right now. The first impression I had is that the drum set sounds so much better now, not so 'in-my-face' (ears?) somehow. I understand you haven't tweaked everything to your liking yet, and I think I can sense some of this, but I can really listen to this sort of thing.

The instruments remaining from the old set, I think they're sufficient for the most part. The new strings sound really nice too. A question, though: what is that instrument bringing in the chords from 0:30 onwards? I couldn't really tell what it was supposed to be, but that one I think could be improved a little. Also, what is that hard percussion coming in at 3:05? I think that was too loud in the first version too. But the snare drum riffs from 3:21 sound great.

Um, I hope I've explained myself clearly enough. I'm not a musical analyst, but anyway... This is really encouraging, keep up the improvements. :)
 

Nomad Terror

Rear Admiral
Wedge009 said:
what is that instrument bringing in the chords from 0:30 onwards?

My only guess is an overdriven guitar or a synthesized lead pad.

Wedge009 said:
Also, what is that hard percussion coming in at 3:05? I think that was too loud in the first version too.

That sounds like a tom to me (like on a conventional drum set).


Anyway, I agree completely. Having a new instrument set will do wonders for any electronic composition such as this, even if nothing else is changed.
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
The chords at 0:30 seconds on are a mix of woodwinds, a few brass instruments, some percussive instruments, and distortion guitar. What's too loud and ridiculous is the distortion guitar - left over from the old sound set that needs to get something of a volume change (it's too loud for my taste). Same thing with the drums. There are actually multiple toms. As toms are well, 'pitched' nonpitched percussion I used multiple to give it some extra umph in terms of the sound. The sound gives it the umph... the volume gives it too much umph.

I didn't want to fool with volume between the old version and new one. I really didn't want to fool with anything at all so that you could hear the difference on the exact same piece of music. Because its a different sound set, certain things really do need to change to make it work better.

Thank you for your comments - keep it comming!
 

jammyo2k

Spaceman
Wow, there is a real improvement here, although I think the chords from 0.30 onward let down the rest of the music, especially as the whole piece seems rather more solid now.

Considering that this was created on a home midi setup it does sound pretty amazing. Will you be using the new soundset for the later releases of Standoff? Or will that be too much extra work?

Good work, and thanks to everyone who contributed to such a great mod.
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
Yea - I'm going to go back and fix those eventually (once I get the full version of the new sound set so I have a distortion guitar that isn't from the old setup to overpower everything else... which will fix those chords).

I plan to use this for the rest of Standoff, and included in Episode 2 or 3 (depending on when I can get it done) there will be a patch that will redo the music from Episode 1 with the new sound set.
 

Lynx

Spaceman
It sounds a good deal better, but with the new instrument set the balance between each instrument is now off. For example, the strings in the first part are too loud, and the drums in the last part have a strange effect, it seems as if all the other instruments get less loud when the drum plays. Other than that, great improvement.
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
This was made using a sample version of Kontakt Player that comes with Sibelius 3. Sibelius is one of the industry standard music notation/composition programs today. Kontakt Player is made by a 3rd party that Sibelius used to do rendering. Most composers today I understand are comfortable using Kontakt Player to send demos to publishers, when in the past they would only be comfortable if they got a real group to record a demo.

I have Kontakt Player Silver - the demo version. It only comes with 20 sounds and can only play 8 at the same time (I did a lot of overdubbing to put together this sample). The full version (Kontakt Player Gold) is 63 sounds (virtually all of the accoustic instruments I would use in an orchestra, plus a few others) and can handle 32 sounds at the same time.

It's between this and Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) at this point. GPO doesn't have any sort of trial edition, and I understand its very difficult to get it working well with all of your other programs. However, I think the sounds are a knoch better. I don't know if its enough improvement to make it worth all the fustration of getting it to work and double the cost though.
 

Edx

Spaceman
Needaham45 said:
It's between this and Garritan Personal Orchestra (GPO) at this point. GPO doesn't have any sort of trial edition, and I understand its very difficult to get it working well with all of your other programs. However, I think the sounds are a knoch better. I don't know if its enough improvement to make it worth all the fustration of getting it to work and double the cost though.

Im pretty sure Kontakt Gold is a proper sampler where you can load other samples into it. I know however that GPO is a only a sample "player" and will only play the onboard sounds. If you have no sampler, (i know what i said in that PM) but it might be worth getting Kontakt Gold to import other samples (although GPO will have better orchestral sounds).

There are many great free sounds around the internet as long as you know where to look. Try all of the following links:

http://www.naturalstudio.co.uk/sampled.html
http://www.gtownsounds.com// - server is sometimes down
http://www.projectsam.com/freesounds.html
http://www.swgames.com/westgate/free.htm
http://www.postpiano.com/tests/demo/BbClarinetGig.exe
http://www.postpiano.com/tests/demo/BassTrombone.exe
http://www.postpiano.com/tests/demo/bass flute gig.exe

Btw, it does sound a LOT better that the original, the space between the instruments are far richer. What Ive learnt is theres only so much good samples can bring to a piece, and after that its down to good composition and orchestration.

Ed

Ps: dont forget to check for any educational discounts you could get!
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
Alright, thanks. Rendering was never my strength, so its nice to know a little bit more detail about what I'm getting into. I'll look into those sites you mentioned. Thanks.

And yes, I know the sound set can only do so much. I have a lot of confidence in my writing and my orchestration especially (I think of everything that I do pertaining to writing, the skill that I'm personally best at is orchestration), and I felt the the sound set is what was holding my work back from sounding how it should. I have had my works played by live musicians and when I write, that's generally what I'm writing for. I'd love to have that happen with the Standoff music, but unfortionately, that's just not possible as this project isn't being done through/with/for my school (so taking a school ensemble's time to work on it isn't possible... unless I use my old high school which wouldn't sound so great), and we don't have a budget to contract other musicians. If I can find a solution to this problem, you will be hearing a real orchestra playing this stuff rather than, as ace put it in another thread, "a box inside [my] computer," as a real orchestra I believe is always preferable than a synthesizer (especially since I write with a real orchestra, and real players in mind).
 

Wolf Dog

Spaceman
I think this is awesome work. I know very little about music, but yet I am really into scores and how they can, by themselves, tell the emotional side of a the story. I think this does a great job of staying true to both WC and Origin as a whole. I really love the soft romantic interlude in the middle. I'm going to step all over my music terminology, but the harmony (?) from 1:24 to 2:17 seems be a homage to Ultima. I mean that in a good way, I think it is awesome.

My other comments focus on the only thing I would change. From a story telling perspective, 2:20 to 2:40 seems to be the low point, but it doesn't quite seem to get low enough or last long enough given that the Battle of Earth may have been the most desperate battle of the war with the immediate threat of all life on Earth dying that very day. I like how it picks up at 2:37, but I think it should drop back down into something similiar to 2:20 to 2:37 but with a fading tempo that reaches the brink of dying before picking up as it does at 2:40. I think that added section could last a good 30 seconds or longer (although I'd assume you are already where you want to be time wise) to really get the suspense up there. I'm feeling the 2:20 to 2:40 section as 'hope' and I think it should almost die out before humanity accepts that their fate is tied to the outcome of the battle (2:40 to 3:01). I especially love the downtown at the end of that section (2:58 to 3:01) where it seems that the last desperate hope humanity is resigned to cling to is very much in doubt even as the battle begins.
 

Chernikov

Spaceman
The tom towards the end comes in sorta softly then suddenly becomes loud. You may want to think about bringing it up faster... and when you occasionally play the tom stacatto to accent (along with low brass?) the volume on the accents is okay (you may want to take the drums down just a hair) but the background brass (F horn?) is FAR too subdued. Crescendo in and keep it high - or at least louder than the preceding woodwinds... or maybe augment the horn with something more cutting, like a trumpet?

The general feel might be more militaristic. Up until around 3:00 it sounds like a pleasure cruise/soap. MORE SNARES PLEASE! (replace the toms with snares? Ive never liked toms so I could be biased...) The more elegant writing is excellent, however... the middle portion could stand to stay as is entirely. Excellent use of bells and your woodwinds are just eery enough to catch attention.

Distortion guitar might be rewoked... it's akward, sounds like a distortion piano. :s Not quite sure how to deal with that one... if you can find a really good guitar sound that'd be perfect though. Good concept when writing.
 

Wedge009

Rogue Leader
Needaham45 said:
The chords at 0:30 seconds on are a mix of woodwinds, a few brass instruments, some percussive instruments, and distortion guitar. What's too loud and ridiculous is the distortion guitar - left over from the old sound set that needs to get something of a volume change (it's too loud for my taste). Same thing with the drums. There are actually multiple toms...
I'm currently re-downloading the original version of the theme/overture.

The acoustic guitar which plays in the middle of the piece sounds fine as it is. The supposedly distortion guitar (I really couldn't pick it out as such) could be better. I know electric guitar samples are a little more tricky compared with others. The tom-toms, yeah, they're much too loud, as I recall them being in the original. I know you didn't do much tweaking between the old and new instrument sets.

[Strange, now that I'm listening to the original version again, it doesn't sound as bad as I remember it. :eek: But the huge improvement in sound quality just makes it sound even better. :)]
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
The things I'm looking to change for the final version of the Overture with the new sound set are as follows:

Distortion guitar - lower volume throughout, and better sample
Toms in last section - softer (along with guitar)
Brass in last section (its horns and trombones) - louder

I didn't change anything between the old version and the new version at all (except 2 wrong notes in the chords in the chorus at one point... they were A's in the bass instead of Abs. I caught it hearing it back with the new sound set - for those of you who are unframiliar with music - think about it like a bad typo). The above is a list of volume changes I plan to make which should fix the conversion to the new sound set completely.

Wolf Dog - interesting interpretation. This is what I love about music. Everyone has their own view point, and it doesn't always agree with the composer's. However, everyone is on an equal ground (including the composer) when it comes to interpreting music and what it means to them. If you want to look into what I was thinking in terms of the programmatic nature of the piece, then I direct you to the following post:

http://www.crius.net/zone/showpost.php?p=249007&postcount=16

Chernikov - I didn't want the entire thing to be too milataristic. Standoff is very much about emotion with the battle of Earth and humanity being decided and all, so I was trying to do something that would have an emotional sound, while still keeping some of that military flare in places. Snare's are nice, but I like toms a lot too. I find they pack more punch and are good for adding some umph in places. I also like using them to establish a beat at times (I'm experimenting with some Kilrathi music as of late, and I'm using toms a lot there in this way. I also used them quite often in UE's score in this manner). At the end, the last thing I want on that melody with the horns and bones is a trumpet. I want a broad, fat, loud brass sound - I don't want anything cutting in with that. I need to ajust the volume on it. It's marked fff, but there's something wrong with the playback. I'm looking into it. I'm also working on the guitar.

I usually don't modify my compositions after they're completed, but seeing that I'm experimenting with a new sound set, I think its OK to do that here.
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
Unfortionately, probably not. Even if we could sync it up, it would sound out of place. Using one real instrument like that in the background wouldn't fit with everything else being synthesized. Its a different story with the jazz stuff - the sax is a solo instrument that's supposed to stick out, so it can be real while everything else is fake. With an orchestra, you have to do all real (or at least everything in a section real) or everthing fake.

I could find players and do overdubbing, but it would still sound wierd because we didn't all record it together. There's something different - no matter how good the mixing job is, the ensemble just doesn't sound as tight when each instrument is recorded seperately.

I'm not too worried about the electric guitar. Its a problem now, but it was one of the sounds that wasn't included in the trial version of the program. Once I get the full version and toy with volumes, that problem should correct itself.
 

Edx

Spaceman
Needaham45 said:
With an orchestra, you have to do all real (or at least everything in a section real) or everthing fake.

Actually thats not true. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, the music by Christophe Beck, (in general) all the solo instruments are real but the rest is totally sampled. What it does is to fool the ear into thinking the rest of the instruments are real too.

Now of course if your samples arent that great, and your recording of the instrument sounds pretty bad then yes, it will sound bad but using real instruments supported by samples goes on all the time. Listen to the score to the movie Armageddon, almost all of it is sampled.

but it would still sound wierd because we didn't all record it together. There's something different - no matter how good the mixing job is, the ensemble just doesn't sound as tight when each instrument is recorded seperately.

Yes that right, but this would probably work fine for recording a string quartet perhaps, but then if you wanted a quartet you might as well get get them in a room and record it :p. What can work well is mixing in live solo strings underneath sampled strings.

Ed
 

Needaham45

Spaceman
Yes, but this is a different scenario. As I said, it works fine with the jazz stuff because the part is written for one instrument to stand out. I also know that on occasion, a real violin may be used with a string sample to make it sound more real, for example. However, to replace the guitar sample completely with a real instrument on a part that is completely a background part, it would sound out of place.

The problem is when there is so much ensemble work in my writing. There is no one instrument that could be replaced with a real instrument - whole sections would have to be in order for it to work. For example, if I were to say, record myself playing a real clarinet and a real flute with the orchestra, it would sound wierd because the oboes and bassoons aren't real as well.

I disagree with your assesment of the string quartet. A string quartet by the nature of being a chamber ensemble needs to play together otherwise everything will be all over the place. In ensembles such as this where there is no conductor, everyone works together and develops a certain dependancy upon one another. Everyone is relying on everyone else for tempo, cues, feel, ect. To try to record each part individually in such a setting is, in my opinion suicide. It would probably be easier to record every member of an orchestra seperately with a click track than to attempt the same with a small chamber ensemble.
 
Top