View Full Version : Soaring Above - Input help needed please :-D

03-17-2012, 03:48 AM
I'm working on a piece here (http://soundcloud.com/trumpoz/soaring-above) and am really struggling to get the clarity I would like in it. My ears and brain are somewhat frustrated and I would love some 2nd/3rd/4th/5th opinions or suggestions.

I'm using (butchering?) HS, HB and SO Gold.

Thanks in advance.


03-17-2012, 05:06 AM
hi Richard. I like it, nice composition. But I don't know exactly what you mean with clarity.

If you mean the mix, I can say you the same thing that alex pfeffer advised me to do: After finishing composing, export every single stem and start a new project. Try to get a sense for clarity and EQ the tracks that sound muddy. It's really time intensive work but if you have done it a couple of times it will go easier and easier. Please don't mind if I'm telling you something you already know, just trying to help :)

Another thing: This piece could really benefit from more reverb. A good sense of reverb can add much more magic to your tracks, I would experiment a bit with that. A bit more humanization could add your compositions more life, here's a very good tutorial by Mike Verta: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OktpoOztRvQ

I don't know if this is the mastered version, a multiband-compressor and a loudness EQ could help aswell.

03-17-2012, 04:10 PM
Thanks Michael - I hadn't heard of what Alex P suggested, I tend to try and do everything in the one project. I might try that out. WIth reverb - I left it reasonably dry becuase every time I added more it got even muddier to my ear. I think I'll go back to this in a few days and re-look at everything.

03-17-2012, 07:50 PM
Some random thoughts about the piece, that may help:

- There is no depth in the mix. Everything comes out of one flat layer. That's surely what you meant with the term "clarity". You should setup the instruments in a way, that some are more in the front and some more in the background - if you like, take the standard orchestral seating and try to achieve this by using EQ, different Microphone positions, panning etc.

- Especially in the louder parts, there are too many instruments (mainly the different Brass sections), that want to play the main role. The listener gets confused, cause there is so much going on in the "foreground" of the piece. This is also interconnected with my first point. Try to figure out the ONE instrument, that plays the mail role in a certain part, work it out and keep the other instruments "behind" it. That part could be everything from one note to a full phrase or melody. You can do this with volume adjustments or by changing the arrangement.

- I can feel no energy in the track. It comes across a bit boring. Listen to some similar music and try to figure out, how the life in it could be catched. You will find out, that you can improve your track by paying more attention to phrasing, dynamics, etc. One example: You have the String Arpeggios in the last part of you piece. Those sound very even and flat to me. Try to accent the first note of each arpeggio (I think its the high note every time) and drop the following notes in velocity. "Paint" some nice curves into them, so it sounds fluid and energetic. Don't be distracted if some of the notes "get lost" in the final arrangement. Thats not the main point. Many times you only feel, that there is someting but you can't pick it out - I hope you understand, what I'm trying to say here. Another example is the Bass part in the beginning. I think you want to create a sense of tempo and movement in the beginning. The Basses should play much more accentuated. At the moment it sounds, as if there are just simple sustained notes. Try to add a marcato or staccato note at the beginning of each sustain and decrensendo or swell it throughout the bar. You can find such issues all arround the piece. If you invest the time to phrase every instrument in a way, that fits your idea of the sound and tempo of the piece, you will get a great amount of clarity.

So those are my first thoughts after listening. I hope they are of some help
- Sascha

03-18-2012, 03:01 AM
Well, Sascha covered everything I was thinking, and more. All of that is really good advice, plus reverb really wouldn't hurt (more reverb on the background parts than on the foreground parts will also reinforce Sascha's first point about making things layered in terms of space and layered in terms of importance in the mix.)

To add to Sascha's last point, it sounds as though it wasn't played in by hand on a keyboard, is that right? It would add a lot of expression if it were possible for you to record it that way. If not, that's fine, but it might be a bit more labor-intensive to get it to sound more "human". Every time the dynamics of the piece change a bit, things sound more natural, like the biggest crescendo at the end. If you can work some more dynamic changes throughout the piece on each instrument, it will add more life to the piece. If you're playing each instrument in by hand, it will be easier for you to hear and perform these kinds of changes in dynamics.

03-18-2012, 05:53 AM
Wow - thankyou so much for the feedback and suggestions.

- There is no depth in the mix. Everything comes out of one flat layer. That's surely what you meant with the term "clarity".
Yes - you put in words what I could not. I don't have different mic positions as I have Gold versions of everything. How to do you achieve the extra depth through EQ? I've seen it discussed but no real guidance on how or where to start. Any guidance on where to start exploring would be of great benefit (even if it is 'read section X of book X' to get an idea).

Try to figure out the ONE instrument, that plays the mail role in a certain part, work it out and keep the other instruments "behind" it.. I was trying to do this by bringing instruments to the foreground (ie bringing background instruments up) though this could just clutter things too much. I might try working the other way, cutting as opposed to boosting.

The whole last paragraph is still stuff I'm working on in everything.

So those are my first thoughts after listening. I hope they are of some help
They are more than 'some' help. Thankyou for taking the time for some in depth help.

Casiquire -

Yes I'm exporting from Sibelius. I've been trying to resist playing in by hand becuase my keyboard playing is poor at best. Looks like I can't really resist that much more. Hmmm now all I need is a digital trumpet that doesn't cost $3k and that would be sooo much easier for me lol.

03-18-2012, 06:23 AM
Well, work at first on the arrangement and on the recording. The extra mics would help for the final touch, but I think they are not absolutely necessary. Depth with EQ... thats difficult to explain in general. You have to boost or lower certain frequencies to "move" instruments in space, but this differs for every instrument and depends also on the register and key they are playing in and on the context. I don't want to give general advice here, because that doesn't work very often and you might ruin the mix more than you would improve it. Its also not a physical aproach. You really have to figure out, which frequencies of the specific sample is "present" in the front and then process them but always with your imagination of SOUND in mind. But start with volume and pan before touching the EQ. You can lower or boost your velocities or do volume adjustments via midi, but again, if you work on your "recording", you will get the most improvments at the moment.

You have to experiment at this point and go the long way of learning to work with the audio processing tools and advanced midi sequencing.. There is no shortcut, I'm afraid.

- Sascha

03-18-2012, 10:35 PM
You don't need to play like an expert--remember, you can always modify incorrect notes and timing, and you can even play it in slowly and then speed up to the actual tempo afterwords. Sascha's advice is fantastic all-around so definitely take that seriously as well.