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Heroic Fantasies Track 2 - Collaboration (Jem Talaroc/Benjamin Maisonet)

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Benjamin Maisonet, Mar 8, 2019.

  1. #1 Benjamin Maisonet, Mar 8, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
    Thanks for all the feedback! Here's the premaster demo:

     
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  2. Don't know why, but it makes me think of the "A-Team". I like it, well done!

    I have one question: do you compensate for different delays accross different libraries and articulations for when the transient of the sample hits?
     
  3. You mean like legato lines that need to be negative delayed? Yes. If you meant something else, then I have no idea. But I'm glad you enjoyed the track :)
     
  4. Hey! I don't have a lot of time now, but I have some quick comments:
    • I feel like the piece is overwritten. Is this piece its own "island"? Does the melody appear in other pieces that are connected to this one? If it's a stand-alone piece, I do think that the orchestration it's way too chaotic to let the audience understand what the melody is. If it's hard enough for me to distinguish what the A theme is, I'm way too lost to "care" about the B theme, which is why I couldn't hum back any part of the piece after 1 or 2 listens. The intro is fine, but if you wanna keep the motion and the musical figure going when you have to state the main melody, you have to drop a lot of instruments on the first (or even second) pass of the melody; the percussions and the woods are stealing the thunder from the melody.
    • Why do you keep putting woodwind runs everywhere? They're not helping making the piece more beautiful and they're very distracting. My suggestion is to just remove all of them, except the ones that serve the dynamics (e.g. the one at 1:23). They don't add anything musically, and they makes things even more busy and confused.
    • Not sure what is going on at 0:38. It's almost like I'm hearing 'impressions' of multiple counterlines happening in the background, which add to the overall confusion. In fact, the whole piece sounds very chaotic. I would personally drop 50% of what's happening in every section and keep some breathing room for the main melodies.
    • The A theme is always repurposed with the French Horns (and doubled on trumpets later on?), and you'd be much better off changing the colors and moving it to other instruments for the different section.
    • There is something at 1:00 in the harmony that feels a bit out of the harmonic vocabulary. I don't have the piano to check now, so I don't know exactly what it is. I can't put my finger on it, but there is something weird in the harmonic choices in that section. It also feels kind of directionless and random: there isn't a melodic thread that keeps it together, but it just sort of "happens" before you get back to the main melody.
    • A good rule of thumb is to repeat things twice. You only have your B section played once, which I personally consider a mistake. And if I'm not wrong, you don't even bring it up agin in the whole piece. An idea played only once in a piece of music is not a pattern, which defeats the purpose of introducing a melodic idea.
    • I needed a second to lock on to your ryhtmical figure. I guess you can write is as 4/4, but the accents make it sound like it's alternating between 7/8 and 9/8; 90% of the times this doesn't help your case, and if it has to be an odd meter, it's always better to keep it as consistent and predictable as possible. Or at least make it clearer. I played in a progressive metal band for a long time, so having bars in 7 or 5 thrown at me is not a problem, but most people need to have their hand held through them.
    In summary: you have too much shit going on all the time and, in my opinion, the piece is over-written in terms of orchestration. The piece is also very "loud" everywhere, it would greatly benefit from some quiet dynamics. There is not much point to comment on the inherent strength of the ideas/melodies now, since it's not super-clear what the ideas are in the first place.

    Do you have a (playable) piano version of the piece? It would greatly help in clearing out the fog and detecting what is wrong with the music.
     
    Alexander Schiborr likes this.
  5. Thanks for your feedback!

    ►"I feel like the piece is overwritten. Is this piece its own "island"? Does the melody appear in other pieces that are connected to this one? If it's a stand-alone piece, I do think that the orchestration it's way too chaotic to let the audience understand what the melody is."

    I'm not sure I agree. I tried to give the clearest version of the melody in the opening, and I think it works well, but it's interesting that you felt this way. Others have said the theme is quite catchy and they couldn't get it out of their head. I guess it's a matter of perspective.

    ►"Why do you keep putting woodwind runs everywhere? They're not helping making the piece more beautiful and they're very distracting. My suggestion is to just remove all of them, except the ones that serve the dynamics (e.g. the one at 1:23). They don't add anything musically, and they makes things even more busy and confused."

    Jem actually added tons more than you hear. I removed most of them except for the ones that run down, as I kinda like the way those fit in better. He had them running up in random places and it made no sense. I don't think they're distracting, but had you heard the original, they DEFINITELY were more distracting. I'm quite happy with the way these down runs play into the motion of the piece, and the up motion enhances the accents.

    ►"Not sure what is going on at 0:38. It's almost like I'm hearing 'impressions' of multiple counter lines happening in the background, which add to the overall confusion. In fact, the whole piece sounds very chaotic. I would personally drop 50% of what's happening in every section and keep some breathing room for the main melodies."

    Chaotic was kind of the point in this piece I think. Though yes, there are sections that could be probably truncated a bit more. One of my comments to Jem was that we should change the color of the A melody as we've already heard it on horns 4 times. I might go through and tweak that some more.

    ►"There is something at 1:00 in the harmony that feels a bit out of the harmonic vocabulary. I don't have the piano to check now, so I don't know exactly what it is. I can't put my finger on it, but there is something weird in the harmonic choices in that section. It also feels kind of directionless and random: there isn't a melodic thread that keeps it together, but it just sort of "happens" before you get back to the main melody."

    If you happen to be able to take a look let me know because I was struggling with that section too. (I didn't write that section, and I was trying to correct what was going on harmonically)

    ►"A good rule of thumb is to repeat things twice. You only have your B section played once, which I personally consider a mistake. "

    The B section does play again, just not back to back.

    ►"I needed a second to lock on to your ryhtmical figure. I guess you can write is as 4/4, but the accents make it sound like it's alternating between 7/8 and 9/8; 90% of the times this doesn't help your case, and if it has to be an odd meter, it's always better to keep it as consistent and predictable as possible. Or at least make it clearer. I played in a progressive metal band for a long time, so having bars in 7 or 5 thrown at me is not a problem, but most people need to have their hand held through them."

    I did try to be careful with the accenting to make sure that it feels like a 4/4 piece. It may need more work to solidify that. Might try for another version with your comments tomorrow to see what we can do to fix some of these issues.

    ►"In summary: you have too much shit going on all the time and, in my opinion, the piece is over-written in terms of orchestration. The piece is also very "loud" everywhere, it would greatly benefit from some quiet dynamics. There is not much point to comment on the inherent strength of the ideas/melodies now, since it's not super-clear what the ideas are in the first place."

    I don't know if we're hearing the same piece, there are soft sections in the piece. But as far as too much shit going on, that's part of the point of the piece. It's intended to have a sense of heroic chaos. Maybe this isn't played out to its best, but I think in a lot of ways it comes out quite well. It may need some work, I agree, but organized chaos was one of the goals of the piece.

    ►"Do you have a (playable) piano version of the piece? It would greatly help in clearing out the fog and detecting what is wrong with the music."

    I don't, but Jem has it on his computer on piano reduction.
     
  6. I don't think that what happened in "The original" version is really relevant to the discussion, as I'm commenting on the only version of the piece I'm aware of. It might be that there were even MORE distracting runs before, but I don't see the point of bringing it up.

    Real chaos is only frustrating to an audience. There needs to be a balance between things that are to be expected and surprises. People that listen to music that they don't understand tend to feel like they're stupid for not getting it; generally not what we're trying to achieve as composers.

    It's all about control, and only you know what you wanted to convey. If that was your intent, then great! But "control" means that you know how people will react to the music that you write. If hypothetically you want to write a piece with 50 singers yelling random notes to convey chaos, it's ultimately up to the listener to judge whether or not it's worth their time to listen to such music.

    But then again:
    very often, what is perceived as "controlled chaos" in pieces of music by great composers is anything but confusing to the listeners.

    The fact that I didn't catch this is probably telling; and I do music a lot more than the average Joe. You can't really expect people to hold on to an isolated musical phrase and remember it 2 minutes later. If you don't repeat something a second time right after, you can be certain that people will completely forget it after 10-20 seconds (in the best case scenario). Something it's generally only worth remembering if it's a pattern; there needs to be 2 of something in order for it to be a pattern, by definition.

    I'm not sure I understand this statement. The musical phrase of the accompaniment in the first bar "can only be" in 7/8, because of: (1) the nature of the motif in the upper register (2) the accents in the downbeat by the accompanying instruments in the orchestra. At least, in my opinion, having this written out as 7+9 makes more sense than having it in 4. At least this is how I hear it (everything is grossly approximated):
    Screenshot 2019-03-08 at 19.55.41.png

    Version in 4/4:
    Screenshot 2019-03-08 at 19.55.47.png

    Everything that I wrote is, of course, my own opinion. It's really up to you to weigh the amount of criticism you're willing to accept, and how much you think what I say is valuable or not. I am, however, a bit curious to hear what other people here think of it.

    Looking forward to listening to the piano reduction!
     
  7. #7 Alexander Schiborr, Mar 9, 2019
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2019
    I enjoyed overall the vibe of the piece and it creates an adventurous flair. I think there are good things in the track like the heroic first statements which I think is well done.

    But I think Francesco pretty much nailed the issues of the piece in his comments also. Sure taste may differ to some extent with orchestration, still I think most of his points I can comply with.
    Not to go into each of his points, but let say the wind runs:

    If they don´t serve any purpose they can be not only disctracting but making the piece bad in such situations for me. For instance your windrun at 30 seconds is just not only distracting but also not really emphasizing anything in particular. Its neither used as dynamic device for supporting a swell, nor to celebrate a specific moment. The string melody has zig zag countour while the landing note is the lowest where imo you should just stick with the accompainent and introduce if you still feel that the arrangement needs a counterline short after wards, then go and echo some stuff of the strings, for instance in short punctuated figures outlining the melody before on a higher register - anyways the background is allready that busy that I probably would hesitate to do that..- and there comes the point that you are most of the time in your piece borderlined chaos with the orchestration, at 1:17 for instance its just complete chaos and I am not sure what that all is there, it lacks of focus completely. Take out these many many elements and counterlines..you create there just mush and no sophistication because its not controlled.

    Do you have sketched out the piece on piano? you mentioned Jem did it? And who is Jem? Why don´t you have the piano sketch? Didn´t you write the piece? or did he wrote the piece and you orchestrated it? A bit confusing.

    Overall its a cool piece because the vibe is there, but the orchestration is a way too chaotic in some places and therefore I would advice that you simply take out some few elements to make the main lines a bit clearer.
     
    Benjamin Maisonet likes this.
  8. That's exactly what I mean, but not only for legato lines. I recently did that for my template and ended up splitting articulations on differnt midi channels and having a different negative delay for pretty much everything.

    The reason I was asking is because there was some sense of "I can't lock on to this rythm" that I couldn't quite explain. Mind you I'm terrible at hearing rythmic things, so I wasn't even sure if this is just a micro timing thing or a compositional decision you made. When I did my template I always had 2 articulations play to a click one semitone apart, and I listened for whether it sound like the lower or higher note comes first and tried to adjust till they're in sync with each other and with the click.
    Now knowing that you already adjusted for these and seeing the feedback others gave, the thing that threw me off was probably something else. You have many different things going on that are "densely packed" but not 100% in sync, making it hard to lock on to on a first listen. But the more often I listen to it, the less clearly I can point to those things, because I'm getting used to it. So I guess you must already have listened to it so long that it all makes perfect sense to you because all patterns are well established in your head you don't have the luxury of the first-time listening experience anymore.
    The suggestion has been made to cut some things, and that would probably fix this the best, but if you really don't want to cut something altogether you might also be able improve this by rythmically rearranging some notes to be more in sync with other lines and making the listener hear one or two less "things going on at the same time", or repeat parts for longer without change to give the listener more time to lock onto patterns and get used to them, introduce changes at a slower pace and/or density and thus reduce the "mental processing power" needed to keep oriented.

    Not sure if any of that made sense, use/ignore as you see fit :).
     
  9. Thank you all so much for your feedback. It was a lot to take in and without the piano reduction that Jem has (and he's out of town for like 3 days), I had to work from what I had in DAW. So here's V2, and I took into consideration a lot of what you guys were saying and I hope that comes out well in this V2, and please if you are willing and want to, feel free to tell me what I have done still wrong or could do better.

    I tried to remove unnecessary clutter (big comment there), but

    maintain a big sound (I ended up doubling the Spitfire Bass Drum with HZ01 Taiko, but I hope it's not too much, may have to take it back in the mix)

    I also took that "softer" section, and made it softer-er by removing the underscore clutter and just kind of letting a drone carry it gently.

    I also took into account repeating the B section, and then did some tweaking to the little thing you hear at the end of the first B section, which you'll notice as the piece progresses ends up being a repeated idea that I think works really well to kinda tie things into a pretty bow.

    I also took into account that horns don't have to hold down the melody the whole time. Yes, a lot of this is horn feature, and frankly it's difficult in those A sections to get that heroic sound with some brass instrument, but in A3, I achieved this by using horns on staccato ostinato, and then let the trumpet, flute, and high strings carry the melodic line for this one, and in A4, added back the horns, and removed the flute and high strings, but kept trumpet. Just trying to move colors around in a way that feels intelligent.

    I also added a subtle but it's in there clock - almost like a metronome that is locking down where the beat is for the syncopated rhythms. I tried first just not syncopating the woodwind and snare in the piece, but I actually liked that syncopation - but I tried to find a way to make it so the "every man" can follow it without stumbling - and in this case I achieved it with a clock tick, and a bass drum on every down beat 1.

    I then took into account how I'm using my woodwind runs. In some cases I felt the woodwind runs served a purpose, or maybe I just really WANTED them to serve a purpose and they weren't. I tried to fix this. So let me know what you think of this change as well.

    So without further adieu, V2:

     
    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  10. Well done! I think this works much better and will be easier to follow for the first-time listener.

    It's a tiny bit too much imho.
     
  11. So to answer this question - Jem sent me a submission to the brief for our library. I was, per my previous comment, going to ask him to revision. But instead had him send it to me so I could work on it. The framework, most of the ideas there are his own. I added and changed a lot of his ideas. He has already orchestrated it, and the file he sent me did not include the piano reduction version (which that would have helped me), even though I know he has it on his PC. I call this a collaboration because I made significant changes to the overall composition he sent in to me, including changing the melodic lines in some places, removing some stuff, adding different elements. So we collaborated on it. Jem works for me - he is a composer on my team for our library.

    https://musicfactory.tm/jem-talaroc
     
  12. This is kind of an awkward position for me (us?) to be in: it's kind of hard to criticise the piece when you didn't really write it yourself. Am I directing these comments to you or to Jem? Is Jem okay with having his composition analysed in the forum?
    It also kind of defeat the purpose of this comment section in a way. If I say "I don't like this" and your response is "well, it was not me!" it feels a bit pointless at times. How does the responsibility lie in a collaboration? I don't even know, to be fair!
    If I didn't know any better, it also seemed like you were throwing him under the bus sometimes, funnily enough :D -> ("Jem actually added tons more than you hear. I removed most of them except for the ones that run down, as I kinda like the way those fit in better. He had them running up in random places and it made no sense. I don't think they're distracting, but had you heard the original, they DEFINITELY were more distracting.")

    The easiest way for me to go about it is probably to just take the two of you as one entity, and to only focus on the music.

    Adding has the advantage of helping with the orientation, but it's a big orchestrational commitment: if you don't save it, you've already maxed out on the bottom end and you have no way of getting "bigger"; this way your first pass of the melody is as powerful as the last pass. Percussions really tend to be the main force behind climaxes, so introducing them at the beginning is very dangerous. A good philosophical question to answer is the following: where is the piece going? Comparing the first and the last statement of the main melody, how impactful is the dramatic journey of the piece? Not saying that there isn't enough development, but every instrument that you introduce is an instrument that you failed to save, and you do begin with "Spitfire Bass Drum with HZ01 Taiko" playing from the beginning.

    This feels like a gimmick, and it's not really a thing in pure orchestral music. It becomes a thing when you talk about hybrid/Zimmer-like scores, but I'm personally not a fan...

    I still find the descending woodwind runs rather uninteresting and useless. And this brings up my final point:
    I'm still looking forward to listening to the (PLAYABLE) piano reduction. The reason being that it would become instantly clear what is absolutely important in the composition and what isn't. I'd bet money that in a piano reduction the woodwind runs would be the first to go.

    A lot of the same comments from my original post remain true for this version, especially the ones about structure (B section not repeated) and the ones about the confusing counterlines that seem to faintly linger in the background - which fail to provide a strong enough statement for a meaningful contribution to the piece.

    (If it seems like I'm only focusing on the negative, it's because I am. There are a lot of cool things going on here; however, I'm being as harsh and honest as I could, which is hopefully more helpful than me congratulating you)
     
  13. I definitely appreciate the feedback though this track is locked. Gonna try some to improve more for the next one.
     

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