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Daigohji
06-09-2005, 08:43 AM
For years I've been using the internal voices of my Yamaha PSR-330 keyboard for composition, so I figured it was time for a serious upgrade. So in the space of the last week I've bought a new soundcard (Audiophile 2496), new speakers (Logitech Z3 2.1), Cakewalk Home Studio 2004 and, of course, Symphonic Orchestra Silver :D I expect my bank account will be aching from the strain for months to come.

...and then I had to figure out how to use all of it, and sort out the spaghetti junction of cables I needed to hook everything up, lol. Just getting the keyboard's MIDI function working was a headache, but I muddled through in the end. Now I'm busy teaching myself how to use sequencers, soft synths, etc.

Well, I figured before I spend ages climbing the learning curve, it would be a good idea to see if my PC can actually take the strain of running all these applications in the way I need them to. So here's my first track sequenced in Cakewalk and made entirely with the SO Silver sample set.

The Choices We Make (http://www.superiorvision.f2s.com/the_choices_we_make.mp3)

This is actually only the first third of the track, but I started to get audio drop-outs once I hit seven simultaneous audio tracks in Cakewalk, so I made this composite mix that I'll just tack onto the start of the full piece if I can't sort out the problem by tweaking buffer sizes or defragging my drive.

This music is part of the soundtrack that will accompany my first novel, Last of the Namers (http://www.superiorvision.f2s.com/lotn_main.html). The title refers to one of the keynote lines of dialogue in the story, "it's the choices we make that define who we are and how we're remembered." This cue tracks into a scene halfway through chapter 34 (http://forums.ffonline.com/showthread.php?t=26690&page=7&pp=15&highlight=namers), which involves the classic face-off between two old friends who have reached a point where the only way for one to achieve his goals is by killing the other. In its current form the track starts when Lars comes to after the sequence of flashbacks, and end just as the fight is about to begin. The full version will go right through the fight scene as well.

This track builds on themes that are introduced earlier in the soundtrack. For example, the choral melody is a more emotive variation on the Rune Inquisition/Belastung theme, and there will be elements of Lars's and the True Namer's themes woven into the latter part of the track.

If there's one thing I learned while recording this one, it's that the metronome is more of a hinderance than a help, especially at a slow tempo. I don't think I'll use it from now on.

Anyway, opinions please. And since my entire audio setup is new, let me know if I have the volume set to an appropriate level. It sounds fine on my system, but you never know.

DaveWalton
06-09-2005, 11:29 AM
Hi,

This would work well as an underscore to a film. My only comment is that it needs more ambience. More reverb would add a lot of life to this.

Welcome to the PC world! I do everything with Sonar and soft synths and samplers. I can now carry a Hammond C3 in my front shirt pocket. :-)

Dave

drew
06-09-2005, 11:55 AM
You might also want to add more expression to the winds and strings at the beginning to make it sound a little more musical. The sudden starts/stops to the notes are a bit unnatural - unless that is what you are going for.

Daigohji
06-09-2005, 01:15 PM
I did actually apply quite a lot of reverb (I used the Grand Hall preset, with the wet/dry slider about halfway), but did so in the Kompakt plug-in as opposed to Cakewalk itself, and I think the effect diminished when the track was mixed down. I'll try upping it or using the sequencer's reverb next time.

As for your comment, Drew, I can see what you mean about the start. I'm not used to having so many options to twiddle about with in customising sounds, so could you elaborate on what you mean by adding expression? (I still haven't figured out how to effectively use half of the modifiers in Kompakt). I'm guessing your talking about making a deeper attack curve and adding a longer sustain and release.

I used quite a few different articulations on the bass and clarinet, but again the distinction got a bit swallowed up in the final composite. The effect I was aiming for was starting out gently and then becoming increasingly abrupt and aggressive as the track progressed.

Thanks for the comments, and keep the advice coming, please. I need all the help I can get! ^^'

drew
06-09-2005, 02:26 PM
I did actually apply quite a lot of reverb (I used the Grand Hall preset, with the wet/dry slider about halfway), but did so in the Kompakt plug-in as opposed to Cakewalk itself, and I think the effect diminished when the track was mixed down. I'll try upping it or using the sequencer's reverb next time.

As for your comment, Drew, I can see what you mean about the start. I'm not used to having so many options to twiddle about with in customising sounds, so could you elaborate on what you mean by adding expression? (I still haven't figured out how to effectively use half of the modifiers in Kompakt). I'm guessing your talking about making a deeper attack curve and adding a longer sustain and release.

I used quite a few different articulations on the bass and clarinet, but again the distinction got a bit swallowed up in the final composite. The effect I was aiming for was starting out gently and then becoming increasingly abrupt and aggressive as the track progressed.

Thanks for the comments, and keep the advice coming, please. I need all the help I can get! ^^'

I don't know cakewalk, but most sequencers have a way to draw in controller curves. The main ones, at least for me, are the velocity, expression(volume) and modulation, for the patches that use that - dynamic cross fades and mod xfades. Also, you need to exaggerate them a bit more than you may think to get the desired effect. When you listen to your own music, your ear tends to hear things the way you want them to sound, but may be far too subtle for the casual, first time listener.