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My second short orchestral piece

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Massimo Santi, Dec 22, 2018.

  1. Hello everyone, this is another very short orchestral idea, as always thank you for all the gold in this forum... love you guys!
    Max Arthur and Aaron Venture like this.
  2. I feel bad that you haven't received any replies. I cannot relate to this style, so I have nothing helpful to offer. But I did want you to know that you were not being ignored. There just isn't anything I can say.
    Massimo Santi likes this.
  3. Massimo,

    I put my headphones on for this one. Great start to this piece! It would work well in film noir. After the voice enters there are some very interesting overlays of rhythms. I think these rhythms would be more clear if you panned a few instruments to the right (the lonely side of your mix after the voice enters). For instance, I hear vibes playing triplet eighth notes but can't make out the start or end of its play. During my first listen on laptop speakers, I thought you had lost structure after the voice enters. But, you maintain it well. Nice job.

    One reason I like this segement is it requires a more listening concentration than usual and surprises. I can imagine this as one of many tiny sections related by mood within a larger piece.

    Your picture is the opposite of what I image. Maybe something like this:

    Massimo Santi likes this.
  4. Hey Massimo,

    Craig nailed it with the picture, that's kind of the vibe I was getting from this as well, except with a bit more snow and Christmas around it :D

    This generally sounds like a little-bit-longer-than-necessary intro (I feel like you could cut from :20 to :50 with some minor changes to make the transition smoother). And right after it ends is where I expected your piece to actually start. You have the theme, you've set up the vibe. Now I can hear it as being either a fanfarish Christmas-y piece with sleigh bells 'n' all, or a this darker noir-like piece and with the cymbals coming in softly right at that moment. I might be totally wrong and you have a completely different idea in your head.

    So yeah, keep going with the melody. Tell us a story!
  5. I too got a film noir kind of vibe from this. As Aaron suggested, soft Cymbals would really emphasize that vibe. Out of curiosity, what vibe were you aiming for? What was the emotion, mood, style, or (god forbid) "message" you were trying to get across? Given the title "Two Months In" and the picture I'm guessing this has to do with or was inspired by an oncoming pregnancy? Is that correct? If so, then that's not really the vibe I'm getting from this piece, but perhaps I've completely missed the mark trying to guess what your inspiration was here.

    As for the piece itself, I could easily follow and get into the piece up until around the 0:30 mark. On a second and third listen I do find that there's a slight lack of movement in the first thirty seconds because, technically, it's "just" a melody over chords and all the chords changes happen on the beat. On the other hand, the way you've written it now does reinforce the more laid-back, slow pace so I can see why you didn't feel a particular need to have more rhythm in your bass/chord parts. This brings me back to the riding cymbal idea Aaron first mentioned, I think it could be a nice way to both lock in on the film-noir vibe and at more rhythmic interest at the same time. Currently, for lack of a better word, it feels a little static.

    One other way I can think of to solve the somewhat static/unchanging feel and add more interest would be to play with the dynamics more. Currently everything seems to be more or less at the same dynamic (mf-ish I would say). Let's take the opening chords as an example, I think you could phrase them a bit more nicely by having a slight crescendo and fast diminuendo on the third chord.

    I quite like your melody but I'm unsure of your decision to have the bass play sustained notes under it. Could be a mixing thing, because the bass sounds about as close as the sax. I'd be inclined to try a different articulation for the basses here (like pizz) or remove the basses altogether and use other brass (bones or horns) to play what you currently have on the bass. It'll gell a bit better, I think. Actually, I also think I'm hearing some other brass already in the background around ~0:15, but I'm not sure.

    Anyway, I do rather like the piece up until 0:30, though I wouldn't call it Orchestral to be completely honest.

    It's from 0:30 on out that you're starting to lose me. Now, I must very strongly emphasize that this may largely have to do with personal preference and opinion. Your choice of instruments sounds odd to my ear from 0:30 onward, but I do recognize that you might in fact be aiming for a more unusual and eclectic tone.

    On the other hand, since you call it Orchestral yourself, I'm inclined to think that you were trying to go for an orchestral sound.

    The main thing that throws me off at ~0:30 is the female voice. It's rather sudden and to my ears feels very much tacked on. In other words: nothing leading up to this moment had me prepared for incoming vocals. Now, sometimes a surprise like that can be very rewarding to the listener, but in your case I felt it was somewhat jarring. Why did you go for a female voice here?

    At around ~0:45 it starts to sound random to my ears. After a few more listens I can kinda start to hear the shape you're going for, but it's largely obfuscated by your choice of instruments. In other words: I don't feel like the instruments you've chosen are conducive to what you're trying to say here. Most of the instruments around that part have a somewhat piercing/attention-drawing quality to them in the registers you're using them, so it's kinda like all these instruments want my attention all at once. So to me, as a listener, my brain is trying to figure out where the "main" idea is and I'm being pulled in many different directions at the same time by various instruments that are all waving at me and shouting "listen to ME, I'm the important part here!"

    Now, I will say this. Harmonically you've got good and interesting ideas. The melody is also plenty compelling to me. While I'm somewhat unsatisfied by the ending, the bigger problem, to me, largely lies in instrumentation and orchestration. Your somewhat odd choices regarding the instruments make it unclear what the vibe of the piece is (It's film noir for thirty seconds, after which it tries to be modern opera for a few seconds, and then throws its hands up in the air and no longer seems to know what its style is) and also obfuscate what the main line/phrase/idea is that we should be following. My recommendation would be to render out this midi directly on piano and let's hear what it sounds like then. As Mike often says in his classes: the choice of instruments can often be directly derived from where on the piano the notes are played, so I think that could be a good starting point.

    I'm not saying you should reconsider all your instrument choices, but if you -say- pick the sax as your lead instrument, then you can start to pick other instruments for the chords that won't fight as much with the sax.

    Please take all of what I've said with a fair grain of salt. I'm by no means an expert and this is just a random person's take on this piece and everything I say is colored by my own personal preferences of what something should sound like. All in all, I hope you don't feel too discouraged by everything I just said because that's certainly not my intent. Taking this back to piano and hearing what your intention was behind this would, I think, be a good starting point to build on this piece.
    Massimo Santi likes this.
  6. Hello guys, I'm back from my holiday vacation and I wanna thank you all for your comments on my piece, wow! It is always a pleasure to have suggestions and comments from the forum.
    Paul thank you for the support! Hope you will like my future pieces.
    Craig yes you are right, it could work as a noir introduction :)
    Aaron after your comment I decided to write a melodic piece! Is coming next :)
    Matthias wow!! Your analysis is super useful, is so detailed and really helps me, I wanna be a better composer! Will consider all your suggestions to grow and become better in my passion.

    Thank you again, looking forward to hear your compositions, wish you a nice day

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