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Author Topic: Feedback for a newbie please :-)  (Read 40986 times)
MaxLeonhart
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« on: January 01, 2008, 01:10:58 PM »

Hi there :-)
I'm Max and I'm new to these forums :-)
I love Warcraft scores, so I came here to seek some help with my own work, if possible.

So, I'm a composer - amateur (don't know if I spelled that correctly  Cheesy ) and I could really use some feedback on my own creations.
You can find them at this site (along with a beautiful picture of mine  Grin )
http://composersforum.ning.com/profile/MaxLeonhart
I joined that forum hoping to get some opinions, but unfortunately, no one told me nothing there... So if you have a few spare minutes, please tell me what is good and what is bad in my music (I suppose the bad things will be way ahead of the good ones :-) )

The track "Storm over Eden" and "Battle of Oriol" (btw, I don't know if the second is functional, I can't listen to it from those sites) are more action oriented, while "Leaving home behind" is a "love scene music"... Actually, I'm not very proud of that one, cause... I don't know, one of my friends said that it doesn't sound right (maybe it's because I don't have a mod wheel, so I can't fine-tune strings and the other stuff - I use my Clavinova CLP-930 as a midi keyboard, and this model unfortunately doesn't feature a mod wheel  Embarrassed ) Anyway, you'll hear for yourselves :-)

Thanks

Max

P.S. And before I forget, I wanted to ask whether it is possible to find a game/movie trailer without music on the internet. I mean, with all sounds, but without the original music. I'd just like to practise composing on some videos and not only by sitting down at my piano and improvising :-)
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2008, 10:16:35 AM »

please, anyone?  Cry
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dannthr
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« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2008, 11:27:11 AM »

Storm over Eden is really two separate tracks--the first minute and a half is dramatic underscore and then a second action piece tagged together.

Underscores are good in-movie, but not when you want to show off.  You're basically bending a potential employer's ear for a minute and a half before you get to the meaty part of the piece.

I'd say, just cut out the first minute and a half and call it a separate piece.
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2008, 01:02:15 PM »

Finally :-) thanks. Although I wouldn't talk about potential employer's ear (that's a bit too soon), but I guess you're right anyway - the sooner I think about employers, the better. But I really have to ask further, is it any "too"? I mean, isn't it too boring, or too long or something? You know, I'm trying to get better, so I'd like a tiny bit more information, if possible :-)

And what about those videos or trailers without music? Is it possible to get some of those somewhere on the web?

Thanks again Dan for your feedback :-)
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« Reply #4 on: January 19, 2008, 02:14:11 AM »

Hey Max!!  Great to have some tunes by you to check out.  Thanks for posting.  You mentioned you'd like some feedback ... so, for whatever it's worth, here are some thoughts:

STORM OVER EDEN:

What are the chances you like Hans Zimmer scores?   Smiley   Hahaha ... I just say that because the harmonic progressions and overall sort of vibe is very Media Ventures-ish.  Very Zimmer.  Which is a great vibe to emulate since Media Ventures staff (past and present) are the busiest film composers in Hollywood.  Anyway ... enough about Hans. 

-First off ... I'm not sure what sample sets you are using, but your percussion and brass are decent, but your strings need some assistance. If you are limited in your sample libraries... do not worry ... I have been there.  There are some tricks that I can walk you through to make even the worst string samples sound decent (let me know if you want more info on that), but if you are saving you are really serious about music then you will want to invest in some great sample libraries at some point down the road.

-The first section was really nice.  I like the way it opens ... dark ... ominous... very good.  Here's what I might try ... mix bass drum dead center ... lots of reverb and let it really fill the room.  Mix back the chimes .. just a bit ... and put them off to one side or the other ... not panned all the way ... but like at 9 o'clock or 3 o'clock.  Also ..... a nice ominous pad (even if it's sort of synthy) would be a really nice addition to the underlay of the cue in the opening bars ... it can fade out at :45 when more instruments come in, but it will add in some darkness to your opening few moments... it will also help ground the cue.  You can get around the pad idea if you have a great bass drum sample along with some other big drums (taiko or other trailer drums) that reverberate and fill up the space.  I'm not sure what that flute is ... but what you want is a really nice hollow-sounding ethnic flute to bring out the vastness of the cue.  Try an asian Dizi flute, or a low Irish whistle, or even something like an alto flute would do the trick.  Add lots of reverb to make it sound ethereal and you've got yourself a nice-sounding lead over that great ominous setting you've created.  The flute you have now seems a bit too shrill and unemotional.  I realize that it's mainly the sample you chose ... but one thing I am learning every day is that sample choice is critical.  Nice voicings with the brass at :40.  Very nice arranging.   Then we get the choir ... all very nice... I think what would start to give the cue some more presence is better panning ... I feel like everything is coming up right in or close to the center.  Panning things out a bit will help.  If you're not sure where to start with panning, start with imaging your "ensemble" onstage ... so just imagine a real orchestra or a real ensemble is recording piece on this great stage ... where are sections sitting?  Then try to recreate that.  For instance ... if your "pan knob" is a clock with straight up being 12 (o'clock), then I put my violins at about 9 or 10 o'clock, violas closer to 11 o'clock, celli panned to about 2 or 3 o'clock, and (here's where I break what would actually be onstage) basses right up the middle at 12 o'clock to ground the mix.  I usually put my timpani and tuba way out to the left .... about 8 o'clock.  I like to put snare drum, cymbals, and sometimes even my bass drum way out to the right ... about 4 o'clock.  Brass sections and WW sections I will play around with ... but I usually keep lead lines closer to the center.  Again, this is just a launching point ... from here you can listen in and see if things should be moved around.  But if you can see it being performed onstage you can recreate it in your mix. 

OK ... then the action kicks in... I love the rhythm and motion this part has.  It has some really great ideas that just need to be orchestrated.  You can obviously write... that's not the issue ... the issue now is: OK, I've just composed these cool horn lines, now what do I add that can compliment it?  The strings are jamming away, so they're out. But you can use some trombones, trumpets, and even more horns to play some counterpoint to your themes ... or even add in some punches and interjections to fill in the mix.  I love the use of the choir here.  You are able to keep the cue going, and I don't feel bored with it because you are adding in things (like strings and choirs) and keeping the horn lines fresh ... as well as fresh cadences.  Really well crafted, I think.

I don't know how old you are, but you look young in your picture.  This is a great start for a cue ... and I think you have some really good ideas.  What's missing, for me, is all the orchestration and arranging that takes it to the next level.  If you want to hear something amazing listen to Mussorgsky's PICTURES AT AN EXHIBITION .. he wrote it for piano ... so listen to a piano recording of it.  Then listen to Ravel's orchestration of the same piece ... it is pure genius .. it really comes alive and he makes some outstanding choices for which instruments to play what.  Just something to listen to.

On my website, you can also hear a cue called EPIC BATTLE ... it's orchestral and about halfway through when the theme really kicks in you can hear some of the panning I talked about earlier and how the brass is filled out to make it sound thick.

I couldn't get your other two cues to play.

I hope you keep writing, and again, these are just suggestions.  But I do believe with some attention to sample choices and orchestration you will be well on your way.

all the best,
jeff

 
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #5 on: January 19, 2008, 12:08:36 PM »

Hello, Jeff Smiley Nice to meet you Smiley I'm Max... well, I'm not a "Max" really, my full and real name is Jan Scigulinsky, but since no one can pronounce that, I use the name Max. I'm 19 years old. As I've already mentioned somewhere on this forum, I've only been into composing for a few months (although I have played piano for 12 years and won countless competitions Smiley ).

When it comes to samplers, I only have Garritan Personal Orchestra (which I don't like, 'cause I have a very slow PC and the Garritan Ambience effect isn't really a thing for the low-end machines) and EWQL Symphonic Orchestra - Silver Version. I've recently downloaded EWQL Stormdrum (Yeah, downloaded, I'm a pirate... one thing is the money, but the other thing is that I'm finishing High School and going off to a university, so I don't know if I'll have enough time for composing... But if it gets serious, I'm buying it right away - that's a promise Smiley )

The chances I like Hans Zimmer??? I LOVE LOVE LOVE Hans Zimmer. I adore every note he writes. I've loved his works since Lion King Smiley (I was about 5-6 back then Smiley ) Of course, the majority of OSTs I have are his works, so there is a certain level of proximity between his masterpieces and my "works" Smiley

So right now, you know what samples I use, the flute in the beggining is actually a picolo sample. About panning and stuff... a only recently realised how great it is and in my next piece, you will probably hear some difference. But until I get a new PC, you won't hear any new samples I'm afraid. But I will try to improve those strings... By the way, what exactly bothers you about them? Smiley

The other two cues are here:

Storm Over Eden

http://www.box.net/shared/20ov4bpc0c

Leaving Home Behind

http://www.box.net/shared/kwnfs0ysk0

Battle of Oriol

http://www.box.net/shared/22wzuugsgo

I just hope it works  Grin And by the way, the Oriol is my first "bigger" works, full of amateurism Smiley And the second one is more "romantic", but even I don't like those strings :-)

That'll be all, thanks again Jeff for giving me advice, I'm looking forward to more of that, if you have the time Smiley Thx

Max
« Last Edit: January 20, 2008, 10:54:54 AM by MaxLeonhart » Logged

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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2008, 01:28:56 AM »


Really?? I really didn't expect that Smiley Thanks
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« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2008, 09:46:45 AM »

I'm listening to "Leaving Home Behind", now, and I'm hooked.  Being an oboe player, hearing lines like that really grab me.  I absolutely love the way this begins.  I'm seeing pictures again, heh.  Kinda makes it difficult to type, but oh well, its worth it.  Wink

I like how you maintain a melody throughout that, to me, seems very similar, even across instruments, and yet its not very repetitive.  Once or twice, I noticed, but it was easy to move on from.

-asp
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2008, 10:57:34 AM »

Thanks, ASP... quite frankly, I'm shocked, I really didn't thinks LHB is a good cue...

By the way, I edited my post where I write the adresses for my other music (I noticed, that under BATTLE OF ORIOL, there's Storm over Eden...) Now, it's properly set, so go on and listen Smiley and give feedback, of course :-)

Thanks again.
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« Reply #9 on: January 25, 2008, 01:13:07 AM »

Hey Max...

Listening to Leaving Home Behind.  I'm really impressed with the writing .... it has lots of great expressions in it... from what i can tell you and i probably approach composition in a similar way ... the emotion is palpable and it's just nice writing.  This would sound great with a live ensemble, but alas ... wouldn't everything?  Smiley  I love the use of piano... I could actually use more of it in the mix at times, but that's just because i'm a piano player.  Strings make a great enterance.  In cues like this it is a PERFECT opportunity to practice phrasing your MIDI.  You have to sort of shape and mold your melodies.  For instance ... when the exposed flute hangs on to a note at the end of a phrase, a real player wouldn't hold that note perfectly at the same volume and then just cut off the tone ... they would ease out of the phrase (ESPECIALLY in a piece like this) and let the note die away.  And then they would probably ease in to the next note to start the new phrase .... really giving an arc to the line.

From a writing standpoint, all I could suggest is adding some harmony lines and counterpoint here and there to layer the sound and thicken it up at times.  But I love the writing and the horns at the end are great as well.

From a production standpoint, you just want to be sure you're not taking the samples right "out of the box" and assuming they're good enough.  Even though we composers may use some of the best sample libraries out there, no one sample is perfect in every context.  So the samples need to be worked with to get the right sound for the cue (brighter, darker, smoother, etc.) ... this can be done by EQ, but mostly it's done by going in and editing MIDI info such as volume or expression, velocity, note length, etc.  It is a learning process ... learning what to listen for and taking each instrument line and examining it for unnatural-sounding flaws.

If you're not really sure what I'm talking about, let me know and I'll be more specific. 

All in all, great writing .... but I think this piece would really shine with some attention to working with the samples.

Well done!!

-jeff
« Last Edit: January 25, 2008, 10:46:48 AM by Tom Servo » Logged

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« Reply #10 on: January 25, 2008, 01:16:42 AM »

OK ...Battle of Oriol:

Same sort of issues, for me, as Leaving Home Behind ... I really like your approach to your pieces, just the production needs some work --- that comes with time and experience, so if you're fairly new to it then don't feel bad that it's not at the level where it should be yet -- it'll get there.  You can write nice melodies and can keep things moving forward.  This sounds like it should be end credits music for some fantasy-adventure film.

I like it a lot!  Again, good job!

-jeff
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MaxLeonhart
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« Reply #11 on: January 25, 2008, 07:32:03 AM »

Hi Jeff :-)

Thanks for your comments, I guess you can imagine how happy it makes me to read something like this :-)

I'll certainly read your comments once or twice more. The fact is, that Oriol was my first "big" piece, then came the Leaving home behind and then Storm over Eden. So I'll try to read all your comments very carefully before composing my newest tune (I'll post it soon, god willing, it will have a prologue, 3 parts and a grand epilogue, Nobuo Uematsu style   Grin ).

And by the way, I started reading the "Principles of Orchestration" by Rimsky-Korsakov ( http://www.northernsounds.com/forum/forumdisplay.php?f=77 ) so I hope my new pieces will be better :-)

Thanks again for positive feedback

Max
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« Reply #12 on: January 26, 2008, 09:43:13 PM »

Ooh.. nice find, Max.  I'll have to start going through some of this.
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« Reply #13 on: January 27, 2008, 10:55:08 AM »

Ok, my newest piece is "done". You can find it here:

http://www.box.net/shared/38osuuygw0

I tried panning and new violin samples, hope you'll enjoy them. I also tried to work a bit with dynamics (I don't know if this is the right word,  Grin I mean "piano" and "forte" and that stuff), I'm really curious how it will sound to you Smiley

It's actually an "early render", so I'm open to any suggestions. As I've already said somewhere around here, this is a prologue to a 5-part "thing". So any suggestions, ideas, errors or bad things I didn't notice, please keep them coming Smiley

Max
« Last Edit: January 27, 2008, 10:57:44 AM by MaxLeonhart » Logged

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« Reply #14 on: January 27, 2008, 05:15:39 PM »

I really like your new piece max, especially the piano it goes along great with all the string parts, The build up at the end is really impressive as well although to me this sounds more like an ending than a prologue but maybe its just me.

I also listened to your others pieces and they are all pretty excellent, very good melodies and the like although I can't give much proper feedback as I am a novice.
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