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An orchestral exercise using wholetone-scale

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Niko Tompuri, Feb 11, 2020.

  1. Hi there,

    I wanted to share this short piece I wrote for a radio show a couple of days ago. I wanted to make something orchestral by using only the whole tone-scale. I kind of think that whole tone-stuff wears itself out pretty quickly, so this could be thought as an excercise for trying to keep things interesting at least a minute or so. I think I managed to find some useful chords though. Melodic writing is what it is...:confused:

    I'm still learning to balance things properly and don't really know for sure how to create realistic reverb tails. Could you guys help me by giving some advice for how to use reverb properly in an orchestral context?

    George Streicher likes this.
  2. I'm curious what role you think the (harp?) ostinato plays (no pun intended) in your piece. I found it a bit distracting, both compositionally and mix wise. Imho the low frequencies are too muddy and clash with the brass. If it's an hommage to something, it's lost on me because I don't know what you're referencing.

    Common general advice would be to have the reverb on a separate bus as a send effect with a highpass filter before the reverb plugin and maybe some soft lowpass as well to avoid unwanted frequency buildup in the lows and highs.

    Another approach would be using delays and EQ to emulate the way different microphones on a real orchestra recording are picking up sounds at different times and with different characteristics. Mike talkes about this in one of his classes.

    If you send percussions to a reverb, then maybe don't have a pre-delay there to not mess with the transients. It's less realistic but might sound better. Your mileage may vary.

    Probably the most helpful advice for any mixing question is: pick a reference track, mock up a piece of it, and try to match your mix as close as possible. Even if it's just a starting point to deviate from again once you got as close as you can, it still is a very good way to learn about mixing.
  3. Yeah, I haven't done that yet but I know should.

  4. I enjoyed listening to this. I'd extend it. I like the ostinato and the brass/ww/strings sharing the larger phrase. You could eventually move the ostinato to another instrument(s) as the section continues. Your whole tone scale is far from being wearing at this point. It would be nice to hear a better clarity in the mix. Nice job!
    Niko Tompuri likes this.
  5. I would put EQ first if you want to remove unwanted frequencies. But if you would like to still EQ something up or down after the delay too, then go for it!

    It's been a while since I watched it, but I suspect it could have been the "Virtuosity" class. In the video he shows you stems from "The Race" and you'll see how certain spot mics also pick up other instruments than the ones they were meant for. But there is also a "Template balancing" class I think that I haven't watched. Maybe someone else can give you a better recommendation which one to get for template setup advice. I don't actually use his method, I mock up reference tracks and try to get as close as I can with whatever tools I have. And over time I hope my templates are getting better.

    You won't regret it!
    Niko Tompuri likes this.
  6. Thanks Craig, glad you enjoyed it!

    I like your idea of moving the harp ostinato to another instrument or instrument group, I'm thinking strings or woodwinds. I might try to extend the piece a little.

    Take care!

  7. Thanks Martin!

    Yeah, it's pretty much the same with me. I have a little bit of this and that (sample libraries) and just try to make the sounds fit together. I guess it could be somewhat easier and more rewarding to work with well constructed templates though.

    Martin Hoffmann likes this.
  8. I enjoyed this! Gave me a kind of vintage Twilight Zone vibe, in a way. Love that little frantic wind line @ 0:19 Would love to hear another version with some of the mix suggestions above. Also...maybe try doing a Goldsmith-esque synth for that ostinato and use the harp to accent certain beats. Just an idea! You could even mix it into the room. Could be a cool color!
    Niko Tompuri and Martin Hoffmann like this.
  9. Thanks George!

    These are great ideas. I'll definately try them out as soon as I can. I'm hoping to make this piece either a stand-alone one or part of a small orchestral suite.

    George Streicher likes this.

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