Honestly, I find it pretty hard to hear what's going on in the track, partly because of the orchestration, and maybe partly because of the mixing (high amount of compression ?). I don't know if the comparison will help you to see what's the issue, but it's like all your instruments are walking on each other.
Also, in terms of composition, your instruments aren't supporting each other in a coherent fashion, they are instead all playing their own part without taking into account what the other sections are playing. While this could work sometimes in small passages where the composer wanted his track to sound messy on purpose, I'm not sure this was intended here. Nothing stands out, not even a main melody or harmony.
Sorry for being the party pooper this time, but I hope my feedback will help you for your next pieces. ;)
PS : Don't mind the rating, it was random. Sometimes I wish we could post a review without actually rating the track. At least,it doesn't count for anything, as far as I know.
no excuse for my lameness. ^.^
i don't know half of the time what im doing either.
thank you for your constructive criticism.
Help is on the way ! :p
I think one of the main issues there is that your melodies are repeating themselves a lot, and it really quickly becomes repetitive. Try to add more variation in your track, even if it means having some more drastic changes sometimes. Listen to the Hyrule Field music from OOT, and see how the track keep varying in terms of melody and instrumentation.
I also feel like the different melodies sometimes lack of coherence (they don't always go very well together, even if they could work well if they were kept separated). This might be an orchestration issue, though, but maybe you tend to stack a bit melodies without taking care with how they interact with the other elements playing at the same time. I see too many people forgetting that, and I did too, some years ago. :p
Your melodies also lack a bit of something - maybe they aren't catchy enough for what you're trying to do, but here this could also be a mixing issue, the strings/brass sounds playing the main melodies feel a bit distant. This could also be because of the lack of coherency I already mentioned. Yeah, there's a lot of things to think about. xD
The biggest issue I can hear in this track is the fact that the guitars sound REALLY muddy. It probably comes from the way they've been recorded, but while everything else in the track sounds crystal clear, the guitars feel like they're far behind the other instruments. Maybe you could try to raise the levels of the guitar and throw in some EQ to compensate for the recording issues.
I also noticed it's always the same sample, without any variation, that is used for the strings' staccatos (it can easily be heard in the intro, at 0:10). I know it's only a detail, and not that important given the style of the track and how these staccatos are buried in the mix for the rest of the track, but as someone composing mainly with orchestral instruments, I couldn't help but notice that. ^^
What we usually do on this kind of staccatos, when working on orchestral stuff, is randomizing a bit the velocity of each note, so the same sample isn't always used (I'll spare you the whole "an orchestra is naturally imperfect" argument this time xD). But again, your staccatos work as intended anyway in this context, so it's not really an issue, just a little personal nitpick because of how I'm used to work ^^
And in this style, maybe it wouldn't work really well anyway. Give it a try, and see if it works for you.
Finally, I don't really like the snare. While it doesn't disturb me too much, maybe I'd have added some mid/highs to it. It may be a bad idea though, I'm not really familiar with this style in terms of mixing.
Apart from these things, I really liked your track : it is highly energetic and works really well, it's just sad that these guitars don't shine as they should.
Thanks for the feedback !!! yeah the strings staccatos are actually a nexus arp patch i was too lazy to work on them XD. Thanks for the advices. It was a bit hard to work on the guitars because my friend sent me all the tracks in one audio file and he doesnt have a very good recording materials, i should have more work there :/ Thanks for the long review it means a lot !
Honestly, this would have been a great track if it wasn't killed by production issues and your lack of experience regarding MIDI programming for orchestra.
I have read the other reviews, and saw you use notation software. One of the issues with this kind of software is that you don't have as much control as you could on the dynamics of the instruments you are using.
If you use notation software, it's a good idea to import the MIDI in another DAW, and to add more changes to the dynamics of your instruments, for example by using the CC#01 on the DXF patches from EWQLSO (other libraries from EWQL will have similar patches, but I think it's EWQLSO, given how it sounds), and adding some velocity changes. Just to give you an example, this bass drum becomes incredibly tiring because it doesn't feel "human", it is ALWAYS played with the EXACT same intensity, every single note. The same goes with most of your other instruments, even if it's more subtle.
If you really don't know where to start, you could read EWQLSO's user manual (chapter 5 mainly). I don't know if this is the best thing to begin with, but I remember it contained some useful information about how the library worked. If you don't use EWQLSO, you can disregard this, but the "Creating an soundscape" and "Volume, velocity and expression" give some very general advice and vocabulary that can be used with any other library.
On a more general basis, you could also keep in mind that an orchestra will never play a piece perfectly. Part of making an orchestra sound realistic is to reflect these imperfections in the way you "program" your MIDI tracks - something that can't be done easily in a notation software.
Don't be afraid to spent a lot of time reading on the subject of MIDI programming or sound engineering, you'll end up learning a lot. I also recommend looking at how other composers work. You could look at Blakus' Template Walkthroughs or Behind The Scenes videos for example : Watch the beginning of his video on the Hobbit 3 trailer music, and look at his tracks, how he uses the MIDI Control Changes, how the notes don't start exactly in time, how the staccato/spiccato notes aren't all at the same velocity, how each note of a chord don't start exactly at the same time. It's the sum of all these imperfections that makes an orchestral mockup sound realistic.
...well, there's other things, but this is what you need to work on for now, I think.
I truly hope you'll take the time to improve on these points, to give your music the sound it deserves.
Thanks a million for the amazing review Ylmir! I have practically no experience with production lol. I've done a lot of composing using notation software, but I've never had to worry about anything except the notes (that and making sure everything looked tidy for the performers).
You weren't too far off with the EWQLSO. I actually recently purchased EWQL's Hollywood Orchestra and I've begun to write my pieces with it. I spent a day or two just figuring out how to use the sample libraries in FL Studios.
In this piece, the main things I messed with were the MIDI control changes 1, 7, and 11; Modulation, Volume, and Expression, respectively. The only reason I knew they existed was from reading the manual EWQLHO came with lol. I touched on some small effects here and there, but I was slightly hesitant, because I wasn't 100% sure what to do with them. I'm thinking of eventually getting a midi plugin keyboard, which could help for getting a more 'human' sound; rather than having to always manually move the notes around for the 'imperfect' sort of sound you were speaking of. Plus I'm a fairly confident pianist, so using it shouldn't be too difficult! :D
I just purchased 'The Mixing Engineers Handbook,' by Bobby Owsinski and will begin studying that religiously! I'll also be looking for online resources to learn as much as I can! Thanks a ton for the awesome recommendations and general advice, it'll come in handy in the future!
P.S. Your piece for the A.I.M. Contest was fantastic!
This is one of these tracks where I don't really know what to say. There's a lot of issues - including repetitiveness, a problematic sound quality and/or mixing for some instruments (the short string notes for example), but on the other hand there's still enough things to make this track enjoyable. FL Slayer didn't bother me that much, maybe because it was more in the background - actually, the kick and snare seemed to be more out of place IMO.
I feel the levels are pretty well balanced though, there is some good ideas in terms of composition, and it reminds me a bit of Phrynna's Epic Battle Fantasy Soundtrack in some way.
While this track is maybe not flawless, it's still enjoyable and shows some potential. I could easily hear it in a flash game here at Newgrounds as a battle theme. Just remove the parts that repeat themselves too much, throw in some more ideas and variation, make it loopable, and you'll probably hear it a lot in flash games. :p
Honestly, I understand why you weren't completely satisfied about this track (according to the other reviews). Apart from the basic melodies and all the sound-designed elements, I feel there's not much happening, in terms of melodies and harmonies. For example, the cello part at the beginning could work better as a lead element, if the rest of the elements followed it and adapted to the pace. More generally, I feel like you are afraid of putting too many melodic elements at once. And I think it is why this track ended up being repetitive (even if you still do a good job at keeping some variation in the background).
By the way, sorry if my (very short) review sounds a bit harsh, but I've always been bad at finding good points to talk about when I criticize something. :p
You're 100% correct on this track's quality :P
Writer's block is hell of a drug.
Thank you for your review. :)
Since you left me a review, I wanted to return the favor :)
The first time I listened to it, I didn't realize it was in fact a 55 seconds loop. It is really powerful yet diverse, even if there is only percussion and shouts. I could definitely hear it in a professional game or movie. Oh, and this kind of low kick sound works really well too.
Great job ! :)
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