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Fantasy inspired compositions

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Hans Jonathan Hummelgaard, Aug 29, 2018.

  1. Just finished the Noteperformer 3 version of this track. I plan to recreate it with samplelibraries. I will definitely add extra layers of percussion. My inspiration is mainly John Williams, then Howard Shore and some Ramin Djawadi as well as general World of Warcraft ost.
  2. Nice. Reminded me of the WOW Burning Crusade Opening titles, so I can definitely hear your inspiration there.

    I'm in awe that that was NP3. I don't have much feedback besides maybe add some winds? If there were any I couldn't hear them. Also, don't get to crazy with the percussion. The music is nice and should sing out.
  3. Nice piece. It starts to get cluttered after a while though and all I can hear is the brass over the top. Maybe try cleaning up the orchestration to let that rhythm be heard.
    Rohann van Rensburg likes this.
  4. There's a lot of good stuff there - I think I need to have an attempt on this genre, too :). I agree with Dillon on WOW and Sam on the cluttering in the middle. The minor-7 chord at the end feels kind of strange to me. I usually go with m6, mM7 as tonic, but in this case I prefer a straight triad.
  5. I like the vibe. I agree, don't add too much percussion. You've got an old-school-Warcraft feel going but with actual orchestral instruments, and you're largely avoiding the pitfalls of the modern "epic" sound, so don't lose that!
  6. Thanks all! Yeah I avoided woodwinds for two reason, I am not that sure when to use them (besides flutes) and it would take more time when doing a proper DAW version.
    In any case I made this DAW version. I am not sure what to do about the cluttering in the middle, I think it is a fine balance between too thin and too cluttered.
  7. I managed to get a more balanced mix, I also did a muted choir version, just to better judge other instruments. I'm curious if it still sounds cluttered in midrange.

    And with muted choir
  8. You definitely nailed the vibe. There are some sexy dissonances in there but I could also hear a few 'not so sexy' ones - Would be great to see the score :)
  9. NP3 is truly amazing. Nice track. Too short, but nice. I prefer the version without the chorus.
  10. Parts are definitely clearer. I'd be interested to look at the score for this, it seems like everything's so loud for so long that it loses its effect. As a consequence, your climax at the end doesn't have anywhere to go and it falls a bit flat.
  11. Only the first track posted is a Noteperformer version. Thank you. Yes Noteperformer 3 is mindblowing. This is also slightly problematic in that redoing everything in the DAW feels a bit like time wasted. Curiously I discovered that Sibelius has a musicxml format that allows you to export all dynamics, basically all that Noteperformer interprets (much more data than MIDI). So maybe in the future we will have a noteperformer DAW version working with something like Samplemodeling/Audiomodeling instruments. One can dream...
    I was surprised to listen to the choir muted and not missing it that much, I thought I had composed it as being integral to the piece but maybe not.
    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  12. Thank you! You are right.
    I can supply the score. I will have to correct the score to fit the DAW version first, but I can do that. It will be a messy Noteperformer score though and the dynamics will be different from the DAW version. I guess I can give the original Noteperformer score first, and later the corrected DAW version. I didn't change any harmonies other than leaving out some notes in the choir. Oh the original name is different by the way. I just didn't have any marching horde illustration so changed the name :D
    I actually didn't do any volume fader rides for this track to balance it out as a whole - I was a bit over-satisfied with finally having a working template that I didn't get around to do it. Normally I would definitely do volume dynamics for each section and perhaps exaggerate the quiet-loud contrast in the long-term development.

    In any case, I just discovered that all the original Warcraft II MIDI tracks are public, I plan to go though them and copy their orchestral template and compositional style. I actually prefer the music-style of the old Warcraft 2 game rather than the later games.

    Attached Files:

  13. Warcraft 2 is still my favourite, too. Thanks for providing the score. I'll check it and get back to you
  14. Thanks, here is the DAW version, a note on the changes :
    Instead of the contrabass trombone I used HW brass cimbasso. Apparently the cimbasso is used frequently as an alternative in orchestrations. The ordinary HW brass trombone section is bass trombone and two tenor trombones. Sounds great but adding in their cimbasso gives it more depth. I also added Samplemodeling bass trombone and two solo trombones. Don't remember if I used it all for the unison section.
    The trumpets are all samplemodeling btw. And a big thanks to Mike for his Virtuoso and Template balancing courses, taught me more than a lot about how to balance and mix these damn things!
    I used the tuba less since there was no need to overuse it. It's the samplemodeling tuba and I have no idea how to balance and mix it in. I think it sounds ok now since it is not soloed.
    I removed every second hit on the bass drum to improve the feel of 4/4 and added some rolls. (timpani and bass drum are from NI symphonic percussion)
    I removed a few notes in the choir tenors and moved some up an octave since they were out of range for Wotan. I thought Wotan tenors could hit the low Ab (since Elvis could)
    That low they are probably not usable anyway so maybe should all be moved up an octave.
    For the choir basses I deleted a few notes as well.
    For the double basses I put them down an octave at a few bars. In Noteperformer double basses sounds bad in the low Ds and Cs. The sound in the DAW was very pleasant.

    I also did changes in the timpani not corrected here but all I did different was variate the rhythm at times.
    I added harp runs and cymbals also not shown here. I am sorry for the transposed instruments - if you prefer just let me know and Ill attach these versions with concert pitch. I try and force myself to use transposed since I often study JW scores and would like to train reading transposed instruments faster. Also if you need you can get the sibelius file.

    Attached Files:

    Paul T McGraw likes this.
  15. Did you change the Soundcloud file? I love brass and thank you for sharing the score. I listened to the MIx 2 on Soundcloud. I also listened to several of your other compositions on Soundcloud. You have an impressive fluency with the classical era style!
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  16. Thank you! I don't delete, just add new tracks, so the one first posted is still the noteperformer version. I will keep on adding versions of this track I'm afraid!
    I am a major Mozart fan. I also love Beethoven. I did do all exercises in J.J. Fux's first book on voice leading because I read Haydn, Mozart, and Beethoven did. Then finding Robert Gjerdingen's book really was an eye-opener in terms of not being confused about harmony and basic structure anymore. Then I have been through most early Mozart compositions and used them as models for practicing menuette writing and also attempting short allegro pieces. I would say the classical style gets too hard without a teacher so now I focus more on just experimenting like Mike describes in his "here's Johnny" masterclass. But if I ever get the chance to study this old style of writing more in depth I'd be very happy!
    Dillon DeRosa likes this.
  17. Sorry for taking so long to respond after requesting the score. Feedback is below.

    Just looking at the Trombones, they're at fff until bar 17, almost a minute in to the piece.
    My understanding of dynamics like ff and fff is that they don't add significant volume, rather they suggest the attitude performers should adopt when playing.
    You pull the Trombones back from fff, but replace them with Horns at ff. So while the orchestration changes, everything is still balls-to-the-wall loud.
    I'm also not sure why you're opening with four trombones in unison. I suspect you could achieve a clearer effect by having the Tenor Trombones and Tuba playing the opening line an octave apart. Maybe save the other trombones for later in the piece so you've got something to build to.

    The Strings are at ff-fff from bar 11, but I can't really hear them.
    It looks like they're doing quite a lot of work, but they're completely swallowed up by the Brass section.
    I'm not sure what purpose you wanted the Strings to serve here, but I suspect they're muddying up the orchestration and obscuring the brassy sound you seem to be going for.
    Consider simplifying the Strings' parts to support the Brass, rather than try to compete with them. Also consider letting the Brass take a step back in the middle and have the Strings take the lead. That would provides something new for the listener while giving your Brass somewhere to go for your finale.

    You've got the Timpani and Bass Drum at f from the very start, then you crescendo to fff with the trombones. This seems like a perfect place to accentuate the Brass with the drums, but I don't think you need both drums here.
    The Timpani and Bass Drum remain at f from the beginning until bar 21, where the Timpani goes up to ff. I don't really notice the difference here. The drums have been so loud for so long that my ears start to tune them out. This robs your composition from the effect those drums can have when used judiciously.

    My main issue when listening to this is the lack of dynamic range, especially in the drums, and what appears to be over-orchestration. By looking at the score I can see that you've got lots going on, but I can't hear much of it. All I get is brass and drums.
    How did you approach the composition of this? Did you go straight to orchestration, or did you start with a piano reduction and orchestrate from that?
  18. New version : I improved the mix a lot (I hope..). Closer to my reference in terms of EQ and depth. I still didn't touch on dynamics, I know if I start to go there I'm at work for days :D

    THank you!
    The problem with dynamic markings and Noteperformer is that Noteperformer works entirely mechanical in that regard. It doesn't really interpret the feel of f but only reads it as the instruments midi loudness. Then I'm just going for a sound that I like - aggressive brass is usually fff since the overblowing of the trombones give this overtone brassy sound.
    For orchestration I usually use a template/model, but not having one in this case made me just try out things. I noticed JW use a marimba as a string doubler, might work very well to accentuate the forward driven pulse in the strings. In the noteperformer version it does get lost. I suppose I want the strings to give the pulse and harmonies whereas focus the melody in the brass. I do love to have a constant "exchange" between sections so maybe as you suggest find a way to dim the brass at times and shift focus to the strings would be a great solution! I think if I had taken more time I would definitely have exaggerated the dynamic curves in the string sections.
    I suppose I wanted the horns to accentuate the chords also - I could work more on balancing the horns and trumpets with the strings so that they'd work together - the brass accentuating the string-chords. Although you may not hear the strings in terms of clarity, if you'd pull them out there would be a lot missing in terms of pulse. I might work on reducing their pitch ranges though - focus them more into unison.

    For the drums : this is primarily a march so I settled on the bass drum at a regular first bar hit - you suggest using it to accentuate loud sections only ? Alternatively I could just use it at pp in soft. I redid the timpani a lot for the DAW version, I suppose I don't detail the noteperformer version if I know I will do it all again.

    Workflow :
    I do a melodic and a harmonic reduction in Noteperformer just using block chords and filling in the missing melodies as I go along. I do work on piano as well but for something like this I prefer Noteperformer. Also Noteperformer helps me organize and I'm more and more used to it by now. I often do seperate sections first, then do transitions later. So I guess I use Noteperformer much like you would a piano reduction.

    I wanted this to be an opening sequence for a movie or a computergame so that is the main reason for the aggressive start. After that I don't really have any reasons for not dropping more in loudness.
    I don't put so much thought into the size of unison sections, In the DAW I'd end up doubling a lot to achieve expression (samplemodeling + HW brass) so it won't be so realistic anyway.

    Ah I will be moving towards a more Warcraft II oriented template and orchestration from now on.. Can't wait :D
    And thank you again, much appreciated!
  19. Ah I just realize - I have two different inspirations for string sections.
    1. JW - Battle of the heroes, Duel of the fates
    2. Bear Mccreary - Prelude to war

    My main compositional technique for this type of music is JW, his use of a short repetitive and variated string ostinato (or whatever you want to call it) working together with a melody.
    I realize he might focus this ostinato into unison only, not sure.
    Bear Mccreary has a more thicker and beat-accentuated minimalistic style (less melody driven). He usually do string sections only and with limited melodic drive. I suppose you could say he puts the melody as a secondary importance.
  20. For the marching sound, the main thing you're after is bass drum on each beat of the bar, with 1 and 3 accented. You don't need the Timpani for that effect, so only include it if there's a good reason. There are also certain idiomatic patterns you can play on a snare that will really drive home the military effect.

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