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The American Frontier

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by George Streicher, Nov 26, 2018.

  1. Oh...... well then it doesn't matter how you orchestrate it.
    I wish you a good experience, but I shoot straight: I have only heard horrible stories about using them.

    Just don't use it as a measuring stick for your abilities. (Ie. if it turns out well you are good, and if not you suck etc.)

    This is a straight down the line piece of music. Any real professional orchestra could be stoned as hell and nail this. Just.... you have to pay for that.
    ($99 = dating the crack whore)

    If I was betting in Vegas I would say your demos easily already exceed what you will get from the session.

    Not to come off as too "Pessimist Patty" I hope it leads to many more, and better, orchestra sessions for you.
    George Streicher likes this.
  2. Oh yea, I'm definitely prepared for their quality haha

    But it's my first time with players all together in a room so I'm still looking forward to it!

    I'm hoping to learn more than anything and, for the price, I'd say it's worth it.
  3. Like Doug, I've read some tough reviews of that outfit, but it sounds like you're going in with the right expectations and your eyes open.
    It is more fulfilling to hear live musicians play your stuff, and the better the input/preparation (usually) leads to better outcomes. On the other hand, sometimes it doesn't give you a very clear picture of the final work if it is full of intonation or tone issues. Further still, if the performance is great, but it is poorly recorded/engineered, then that's another potential pitfall. If they give you the stems to everything, you may be able to pay another engineer to salvage quite a bit. However it pans out, I'd love to hear your experience. Things like:
    • how was it contacting/contracting the company?
    • what was your impression of the performers' ability? (there's not a lot of technically demanding stuff in this particular piece)
    • how fast were they at delivering your final product?
    • would you recommend them? with caveats?
    • what would you do differently preparing for your next live session?
  4. An invaluable book (I can't recommend highly enough) is "Behind Bars: The Definitive Guide to Music Notation" by Elaine Gould. There are similar texts, but it is a great resource for all things notation at around $70 (not so great for pop/jazz though). Two notation web resources I like are Tim Davies' deBreved blog and Robert Puff's Of Note blog.

    There's a list elsewhere on this forum with some orchestration resources. Great job, as usual, with the supplemental examples Doug.
    George Streicher likes this.

  5. Sorry for the vocal fry sound. Early morning and getting over a cold. My first video on the board (and probably only of interest to George), but it was a learning experience for me with some new audio and video capture software. The video is unlisted on Youtube and I'm happy to take it down (work-in-progress) if you'd like George.
  6. Thanks for doing this! It was extremely helpful.

    The score i'd posted was extremely rough, so I've done many edits since but this was still extremely valuable.

    Maybe I should just get someone to proof / fix these issues for me - I'm very much a newbie when it comes to orchestration / notation.

    I'm considering recording this piece instead:

  7. Did you copy/typeset the PDF score. Wow..... you are the most helpful person in the world.

    George: I would go with the first piece. Stand your ground. It's all going to sound like shit anyway. (them not you)
    You'll learn more from the first. Also, don't expect it to blend.
    It would be advantageous to use a piece needs contrast in dynamics, spacing etc.

    sort of (it's a much different style) like the first 1:15 of this.(until the flute and the psycho chords) Meaning how just a solo instrument and occasional small section. The horns (muted trumpets too) stand on their and are not needed to blend outside of themselves.

  8. Yes, 6 sparsely scored pages only took about...45 minutes. Then another 15 minutes or so on formatting. I wasn't trying for publication-worthy, but tutorial-worthy.

    To be honest, I spent more time troubleshooting my audio for the screen capture than I did messing with Sibelius. Then I spent more time outlining what I wanted to say. All told, it was more for my benefit than the forum's, but I hope it had some beneficial info. Next time, I'll go for brevity, or multiple uploads so no one has to listen to me drone on.

    I've been looking at harp excerpts again to get a better sense of reasonable pedal shift times (and left vs right foot stuff), but again that's more for me. Necessity is the best teacher.
  9. Hey all!

    So, I did a bunch of revisions and updates to the score and I thought I'd share it for thoughts.

    I've attached the .pdf score and included a link to the Sibelius / Note Performer audio export, as well:

    Thank you all for taking the time to help me out; I've learned so much doing this!

    Attached Files:

  10. Here's another video review. I tried to tighten it up, so I'm down to 20 minutes! See also the annotated PDF if you want to skip the clip. No Sibelius input this time, just marked up your PDF score and rambled through it. As before, this is an unlisted clip, so only those with the link can locate it, but I'm happy to take it down at your request.

    Attached Files:

  11. I can't thank you enough for doing this. It's been a HUGE help. I've gone through the video and the score and made the changes you suggested.

    Should I use the same voicing you suggested at the ending (trombones, low winds, strings) throughout the whole piece? Or does my voicing work alright as it is?

    I've attached the v.4 of the score and a link to the audio.

    Thank you and happy new year! :)


    Attached Files:

    Max Arthur likes this.
  12. #34 George Streicher, Feb 4, 2019
    Last edited: Feb 4, 2019
    Hey everyone!

    Finally got the stems back from the recording with the "Musiversal" (aka 99 dollar) orchestra.

    I think it turned out decently, though there are many intonation issues in the high registers. But, you get what you pay for and this was a great learning experience.

    Unfortunately, the Harp and Tuba were not present at the session, but they will be striping them in at a later date for me. So here's a rough mix of the best takes from the session, sans harp and tuba:

    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  13. Probably as good as you'll get from any student orchestra, sounds great for what you went through.

    I'm still uncertain as to what I think of that business model, but it's certainly making a passable orchestral recording well within reach.
    George Streicher likes this.
  14. Thanks for sharing the final-ish product George. Do you have access to the individual stems from all of the mic positions? Some of that can be re-balanced, but the pitch (especially the tremolos) will be difficult/impossible to edit. This is especially true when trying to account for microphone bleeds. Based on my time with the scores, that's a pretty accurate representation for $100 in a short session.

    A couple of quick questions:
    • What'd you learn from the process?
    • How were they to work with?
    • What would you change to better accommodate the strengths of that group?
    • Would you re-book them for a future recording?
  15. Here's a link to the all the stems / takes:

    To answer your questions:

    What'd you learn from the process?
    I gained a tremendous amount of confidence in being able to orchestrate and arrange a piece of orchestral music. Furthermore, I'm now confident that I could write a piece that can be put on the stands and played! Since I started this process, I've become less afraid of Sibelius and I've been able to approach writing from the perspective of the musician playing it (clarity, rests, expression, etc). I can't wait to do another one!

    How were they to work with?
    They were quite easy to work with. They were very attentive and made sure I was getting what I wanted. I gave notes, they addressed them and, for the most part, the result was an improvement. I do wish they'd suggested a longer session, however. I think a few more tries and maybe some pick ups would have yielded better results.

    What would you change to better accommodate the strengths of that group?
    That ending high strings tremelo MAY have turned out better if I'd put a rest between the previous bar and the jump to the high chords. Other than that, everything seemed to be handled fairly well, there were just a bunch of intonation issues. Perhaps I'd have done less open voicing? I'm not sure if closed voicings would have made it easier for them to adjust off eachother.

    Would you re-book them for a future recording?
    I would! But purely for a personal project or "test." And I wouldn't pay over $300 for a session, so that would limit the length of my piece. I am looking into other remote orchestras (Budapest and Sofia Session Orch) to see if I can get this piece or another recorded with them.

    Thanks again for all your help and advice!
  16. @George Streicher thank you so much for posting the results. I thought the 99 orchestra did fairly well. They sound like a fairly decent university orchestra. Perhaps not a conservatory orchestra, but for sure as good as the typical university orchestra. The woodwind solos worked very well. I might give this a try myself at some point.
    George Streicher likes this.
  17. Thanks for listening! It was a great experience and I learned a lot. I'd definitely like to save up pennies for a more seasoned orchestra in the future.

    I just got the final mix back (added some VST strings underneath to help fill it out a bit) and it sounds pretty good!

    Matt Varone and Bradley Boone like this.

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