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A Brand New Day


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We all can toil and fail
And sometimes get unfairly thrown in jail
When have we not known that life
Can be full of adversity and strife?

We're an incarceration nation
With plenty of unfair discrimination
The powerful have often used intimidation
To silence our independent declaration

That the toils of yesterday will not be in vain
We will not hide our faces in shame
We will grow from our pain
And tomorrow will see a brand new day again

Both this piece and this poem are inspired by Susan Burton's memoir "Becoming Ms. Burton".  She has founded an organization that helps formerly incarcerated women when they are released from jail or prison meet their many needs and requirements.

This time my excuse for not using Reaper is that I don't yet have any guitar, electric guitar, or bass and drum set VST's.  The instrumentation is for Flute, Oboe, Horn in F, Distorted Guitar, Overdrive Guitar, Acoustic Guitar, Drum Set, and string orchestra minus Contrabasses which are replaced by a 5 string Electric Bass.  I tried to make the drums sound as natural, yet unobtrusive as I could given that I don't usually write for drum set (if you have any critiques about that please share).

Thank you for listening and I hope you enjoy!

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Wow!

This is awesome, totally vibes for a video game soundtrack. I think you found a voice in this style, I love the blend of rock band with orchestral instruments. Too often I hear this mix not work so well, but it sounds like your studies have been paying off, and possibly even a break from composing to hone in on your own personal style served you well. 

Some things I noticed:

- The orchestration is pretty dense overall. You already have plenty of material, so maybe make some sections with just strings, some with just guitars, etc. I know you know about this kind of thing. Give the instruments some interplay. Power chords in the guitars all throughout can be overbearing as well.

- Keep exploring what the drum kit can do! A simple snare on beats 2 and 4 would have given this some punch imo, and that's an easy fix. I like the fills and what not, and I know the drums aren't at the forefront, AND I know it's a pain in the donkey to write for drums on staff paper. But keep studying up on what it can do; it's the one instrument I'm constantly conferring with a drummer on when I write for it. 

- Guitar writing seems pretty good, I'd maybe stick the F# in that last chord to fill out the bar chord, but that's pretty minor. I like that line right before it a lot. Just fyi, I'd notate when you want parts to ring out. The line before the last chord I mentioned sounds really good when I let it ring. 

- I wasn't too keen on the constant bass staccato notes throughout the piece, but maybe that's just preference. I like the driving rhythm you have, but maybe a bit more variation in that line (even if it's just adding a rest on certain beats).

These were just my initial impressions. You kinda blew me away with how well you've improved since I heard some of your music. I honestly believe you have a talent for this style of writing, and as you progress with getting your sound samples more polished and figured out, I wouldn't be surprised if some game company snatched your skills up once you make a press kit. 

I forgot to comment on your other new-ish piece, I did check it out though. Again, sounds great, just watch those 7 note guitar chords :grin: (last chord in Perilous Crossing)

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So my initial thoughts between listening and looking at the score:

• The mix is much too left-heavy

• The guitar and bass writing is not really very idiomatic. I think what's happening here is that the style of writing for orchestral samples that has emerged in the last 20 years is making itself known here and it doesn't work. A bass player and rhythm guitarist would not play most any of those notes staccato. It would sound very strange, and on a distorted guitar, quite noisy and sloppy even with an aggressive gate.

• I would personally not use rhythm guitar on a track like this at all. The vibe of this piece is a lot more upbeat than most rockband/orchestra combos and makes it sound kind of cheesy when you thrown in a distorted guitar. Kind of like how a metal arrangement of Mary had a little lamb or the ET flying theme would sound more comical than anything.

• Eliminating the rhythm guitar would free up much of the overtone series in the low-end to allow your bassline to have much more movement and be much more interesting than pretty much steady eighth notes.

• If you do keep the rhythm guitars and you don't have any VSTs or IRL guitarists, you can make this render sound better if you set one channel to dist. guitar and another to "overdriven guitar", copy and paste so both tracks are identical, and then pan one hard left and the other hard right. I would also make it so that they aren't playing just powerchords. Throw in single-note palm mutes to match the bass, for example. Or maybe throw in left-hand mutes where there are rests. Essentially, you could make the bassline stand on its own and be much more interesting, with much more movement, and the guitar doubles it an octave above.

• The more "lead" guitar part that you have written, especially on a real guitar, will sound quite bad tbh. The reason is, it is mostly a steady rhythm that keeps time and allows for very little room for vibrato and string bends. Without which, the electric guitar even of the most expensive setups tends to sound like a swarm of bees in a tin can.

• The drums definitely need more snare, to hit harder, more fills and variation

Those are my initial thoughts and tips, but I think you're still on the right path.

Orchestral winds + rock band is an unusual but interesting combination that could really stand out with more polish IMO

 

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12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

Wow!

This is awesome, totally vibes for a video game soundtrack. I think you found a voice in this style, I love the blend of rock band with orchestral instruments. Too often I hear this mix not work so well, but it sounds like your studies have been paying off, and possibly even a break from composing to hone in on your own personal style served you well. 

Thanks!  I feel pretty satisfied with the result for a first time writing for a group like this.

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

- The orchestration is pretty dense overall. You already have plenty of material, so maybe make some sections with just strings, some with just guitars, etc. I know you know about this kind of thing. Give the instruments some interplay. Power chords in the guitars all throughout can be overbearing as well.

I kinda went wild with power chords in this orchestration overall, not just for the guitars LoL.  If you notice the strings are playing mostly open 4ths or 5ths with the occasional major or minor 7th added in (but no third which is left for other instruments such as the Horn or the Distorted Guitar to do a 4 - 3 suspension on).

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

- Guitar writing seems pretty good, I'd maybe stick the F# in that last chord to fill out the bar chord, but that's pretty minor. I like that line right before it a lot. Just fyi, I'd notate when you want parts to ring out. The line before the last chord I mentioned sounds really good when I let it ring. 

I know I still have much to learn about what it is possible to do on a Guitar, especially on an Electric Guitar since I've never played one and don't own one.  😕

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

- Keep exploring what the drum kit can do! A simple snare on beats 2 and 4 would have given this some punch imo, and that's an easy fix. I like the fills and what not, and I know the drums aren't at the forefront, AND I know it's a pain in the donkey to write for drums on staff paper. But keep studying up on what it can do; it's the one instrument I'm constantly conferring with a drummer on when I write for it. 

Yeah - I realized when writing the drum part that it would be very easy to ruin the whole piece with a badly written drum set part so I just tried to keep things simple.  Btw - I watched 8-Bit Music Theory's video on how to write for drums as a primer.  It's full of really great ideas which I've only begun to explore.

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

- I wasn't too keen on the constant bass staccato notes throughout the piece, but maybe that's just preference. I like the driving rhythm you have, but maybe a bit more variation in that line (even if it's just adding a rest on certain beats).

It was my intent to include those bass staccato notes.  What can I say?  I have a soft place in my heart for pieces that are built on top of such bass staccato's.  Maybe it's some nostalgia leftover from Chrono Triggers "To Far Away Times" track which features said staccato's.

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

I forgot to comment on your other new-ish piece, I did check it out though. Again, sounds great, just watch those 7 note guitar chords :grin: (last chord in Perilous Crossing)

LoL - you caught me there.  I did that totally consciously too - I felt like I just couldn't live without that high C above the staff even though it would probably not be possible to hold the chord and finger that note at the same time. 😕

12 hours ago, Thatguy v2.0 said:

These were just my initial impressions. You kinda blew me away with how well you've improved since I heard some of your music. I honestly believe you have a talent for this style of writing, and as you progress with getting your sound samples more polished and figured out, I wouldn't be surprised if some game company snatched your skills up once you make a press kit. 

Thank you!  You're too kind .. it's always great to hear praise from someone who you know knows his stuff.  Thanks for your input.  I'm glad you managed to just miraculously show up on the forum once again when I posted my piece!  LoL

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10 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

• The mix is much too left-heavy

I have the Flute 60% left, Oboe 60% right, Horns in the center, Distorted Guitar 60% left, Overdriven Guitar 60% right, Acoustic Guitar in the center, Drumset in the center, Violins I 80% left, Violins II 40% left, Violas in the center, Cellos 40% right, and Electric Bass 80% right.

10 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

• The guitar and bass writing is not really very idiomatic. I think what's happening here is that the style of writing for orchestral samples that has emerged in the last 20 years is making itself known here and it doesn't work. A bass player and rhythm guitarist would not play most any of those notes staccato. It would sound very strange, and on a distorted guitar, quite noisy and sloppy even with an aggressive gate.

This is my first foray into writing for this kind of ensemble/band so I know I still have much to learn about how to write for guitars.  My basic scheme for how I set things up that I thought would work well for my purposes in this piece, is to have the Distorted Guitar playing countermelodies, the Overdriven Guitar playing rhythm guitar (power chords), the Acoustic Guitar on a repeated ostinato figure and the Bass Guitar on the bass.  As I already mentioned in my reply to @Thatguy v2.0, the bass and Overdriven Guitar staccato's were totally intentional.  I tried to not have them played staccato and it just didn't work - it didn't have the same effect.  Chrono Trigger influence might be to blame LoL.

10 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

• I would personally not use rhythm guitar on a track like this at all. The vibe of this piece is a lot more upbeat than most rockband/orchestra combos and makes it sound kind of cheesy when you thrown in a distorted guitar. Kind of like how a metal arrangement of Mary had a little lamb or the ET flying theme would sound more comical than anything.

Do you mean Overdriven Guitar?  That's the guitar I have on those power chords.  I guess it's your personal preference to not use this kind of rhythm guitar.  My influences and experience told me that that would sound cool, especially with how I heard Overdriven Guitar power chords being used in the Star Fox - Corneria track.  Again - my VGM influences are on full display here LoL.

11 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

• Eliminating the rhythm guitar would free up much of the overtone series in the low-end to allow your bassline to have much more movement and be much more interesting than pretty much steady eighth notes.

I know the bass is capable of much more movement and cool stuff, but this wouldn't be the same piece anymore if it did that instead of what is currently written.  Plus, I feel like there is already lots of motion in the melody, countermelody and ostinato - it might just be too much movement if the bass were to move all over the place as well.

11 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

• The more "lead" guitar part that you have written, especially on a real guitar, will sound quite bad tbh. The reason is, it is mostly a steady rhythm that keeps time and allows for very little room for vibrato and string bends. Without which, the electric guitar even of the most expensive setups tends to sound like a swarm of bees in a tin can.

I'm not an electric guitar aficionado but I play Acoustic and I thought there were plenty of long held notes on which it would be possible to vibrato or do a fall off of a note like was suggested in the very beginning of the piece although I admit the glissandos in my rendition leave much to be desired and sound quite cheesy 😕.

11 hours ago, AngelCityOutlaw said:

Those are my initial thoughts and tips, but I think you're still on the right path.

Orchestral winds + rock band is an unusual but interesting combination that could really stand out with more polish IMO

Thanks for your input!  It's very much appreciated.

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Ah well, I'll keep it simple.

Very enjoyable and quite an accomplishment with the poem. There is scope for technical refinement - as you might already be aware but the result is very pleasing and bright of mood - and optimism (particularly reflecting the last verse of your poem). It has an exhilarating atmosphere.

Perhaps the clarity could be improved by fading down a few channels  very slightly. I won't comment on your score. AngelCityOutlaw is in a far better position to comment on guitars and style. Except to say the written last bar didn't quite match what I heard in that there was some gentle movement as it wound down. The drumming seemed ok to me listening to the piece as a whole. As you observed yourself, you don't need it to intrude.

Great, then. Easy to listen to. 

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5 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I have the Flute 60% left, Oboe 60% right, Horns in the center, Distorted Guitar 60% left, Overdriven Guitar 60% right, Acoustic Guitar in the center, Drumset in the center, Violins I 80% left, Violins II 40% left, Violas in the center, Cellos 40% right, and Electric Bass 80% right.

Definitely I'd put the bass in the middle.

The orchestra often has basses off-center, but for anything "pop" it really throws it off. A lot of orchestral recordings monosum the lowest frequencies of the bass so they're center and the higher-end of the bass is off center.

5 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Do you mean Overdriven Guitar?  That's the guitar I have on those power chords

That one, then. Overdrive vs Distortion in the terms that notation software use them is just one is meant to simulate amp breakup from volume and the other is meant to simulate a guitar distorted via pre-amp high-gain.

But like I said, if you sent one rhythm track to the distortion guitar and the other to overdrive and pan them, it will give you that double-tracked feel.

5 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

I'm not an electric guitar aficionado but I play Acoustic

Acoustic and electric are really quite different animals. 

Acoustics, in terms of melodic playing, are a lot less demanding technique-wise in order to have a good timbre.

5 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Thanks for your input!  It's very much appreciated.

No worries

5 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

Star Fox - Corneria track.  Again - my VGM influences are on full display here LoL.

If I could find it on one of my old hard drives somewhere, back around 2013 I had the guy who voices Star Fox on some of Nintendo's projects play the saxophone parts in a prog-rock version of some Final Fantasy music I did. You might have thought it was interesting

and I got to say that Star Fox played Sax on my track lol

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10 hours ago, PeterthePapercomPoser said:

It was my intent to include those bass staccato notes.  What can I say?  I have a soft place in my heart for pieces that are built on top of such bass staccato's.  Maybe it's some nostalgia leftover from Chrono Triggers "To Far Away Times" track which features said staccato's.

I get it, I think it worked but I always think of playability. However, the bass did remind me of this banger 

 

Edited by Thatguy v2.0
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