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Topic: My first demo here... critiques needed!

  1. #1

    My first demo here... critiques needed!

    I\'m going to be applying to some music schools soon, especially the Peabody Conservatory which has a deadline of December 15th. I have to send two pieces along with my application, and I don\'t know anything about mixing. I\'m not even sure if the \"main piece\" that I\'m sending is considered \"classical\".

    My guitar instructor (and my mom [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] ) really like this piece, but I need some honest criticism from people that aren\'t my friends (real life friends anyway). This is just a couple of piano parts played on a Yamaha P-80, crossed with its strings pad. I recorded this in Cubase, but it kept coming out too soft, so I finally exported it as a wave, opened it in Windows\' wave program, increased the volume, opened it back up in Cubase and exported it as an Mp3.

    So, could you professionals please offer your advice before I send this off to distinguished composition professors, especially regarding the mix (or lack thereof).

    It sounds fine on my computer, but horrible on my CD player. Oh, and I still don\'t have a name for this piece yet.

    Untitled Piece!

    Thanks to Brewick for the hosting! [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

  2. #2

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    Beautiful soothing, flowing, peaceful mood, I love your piece! Reminiscent of Debussy, if I may allow myself a comparison... So many images are conveyed by the musical movements and harmonic textures and transitions. Did you try your piece with the piano alone, without the strings? Imo it would give more space to the piano, because I don\'t feel the necessity for the strings to double the whole piece... I find it even clogs the music in a way. What would GREATLY enhance the composition would be to have \"real\" independent string parts to complement the piano in certain passages. That would be truly awesome! Why don\'t you give it a try? Just program separate sections on different midi tracks and when it is ready record them individually and pan them as suggested. And let us hear please!

    Really good work!

  3. #3

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    What Etienne said.

    It\'s a lovely composition but the strings don\'t work for me either. It sounds like they are picking up sustain messages from the piano or something and it makes the release of the strings sound totally unnatural.

    I\'d dump the strings, the composition is easily strong enough to work with just the piano.

  4. #4

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!


    You\'ve already received some good advice. Not a pro here, but had to comment on your \"its sounds fine on your computer, but bad on CD and speakers.

    What\'s up with that anyway? I always have the same issue.

    I think some of it is following the advice already given, but some of it is skills in eq, reverb, compression, mastering etc. to get that compressed punch once it\'s transfered to CD and played on non professonal everyman\'s speakers. Anybody have any bright ideas on this?

    Nice peice, and thanks for posting.

  5. #5

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    I found that using Izotope\'s Ozone (now in version 3) is an excellant introduction to mastering. The plug-in covers everything in the mastering stage and the manual is superb. You might want to try the demo version to see what you think.

  6. #6

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    Hello! Thanks for all of the replies, everyone. I have always been annoyed with the strings in that piece, but have been using them to sort of \"hide\" the piano sound. The piano on the Yamaha P-80 always sounds so lifeless and dull. I\'ve tried playing it just with the piano before (on my guitar teachers recommendation) and didn\'t like it. Yesterday at a relative\'s house I was playing on her piano, and was amazed at how much more REAL it sounds than my keyboard. Sampled pianos (hardware ones at least) have a long way to go.

    I was also planning on writing a string part to go along with it. I even ordered SISS Mini just for that, but unfortunately writing for the strings is tougher than I thought. I feel sort of bad spending $500 on those strings, and not having the slightest clue how to use them properly. (That march section at the end does sound neat when being played with pizzicato basses and cellos though [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] )

    I DO agree about the strings though... maybe I\'ll lower their volume... or maybe I\'ll order a sampled piano real quick (I have to send this piece off in 16 days!).... [img]images/icons/confused.gif[/img] and I\'ve still yet to trancsribe it to paper... THAT will be difficult.....whaaaaaa.....

    The mix is okay though you all said, and thats good. Because if you had said it was hurting your ears listening to this, I would be doomed, as I haven\'t the slightest clue how to mix, or master or any of that nonsense.


  7. #7

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    Hey Jude,
    The advice given is pretty much on the nose except for that damn talented Brit Marsdy who I usually always agree with. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]
    I love the idea of the strings gently accompanying the piece along. While it is clearly a piano comp I found that maybe it was a touch louder than it needed to be in contrast to the pads. But then again you might have done that because of their quality. I would venture to say that if you are in need of some better samples quite a few folks here would help you out vis-a-vis recording them for you. As long as it\'s still your composition I don\'t think it would matter if someone else recorded them for you. Make a midi file of the (fleshed out) orchestration and see who salutes.

    It is a very nice piano piece and I can speak for all of us, I think, on wishing you well. Never heard of Peabody, but it certainly has an impressive sounding quality to it.


  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2001

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    What most music universities want from student is good music on score, CDs are usually optional...

    To tell the truth, most composition prof. will not listen to CDs, if it is midi performance. (I assume you apply as composition major)

    If I were you, I would prepare mistake-free, very-easy-to-read scores, instead of buying new samples. You could practice or ask someone to play your piece. Recording quolity doesn\'t mutter as long as it is live performance.

    Since this one is piano solo (I would not use string sound), I would send small ensamble one for my second music. Possibly, fast and somewhat 20th C.

  9. #9

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    Actually, i have to agree with Dave (Marsdy) here. The piano and the composition is gorgeous but the strings sorry to say, sound kind of cheap and cheesy.

    If that piano sat by itself it would easily (and beautifully) underscore a feature film or doco.

    I thought the piano sounded great actually. Maybe if you want to leave the strings in, try dropping them an octave so that they dont compete with the piano so much.

  10. #10

    Re: My first demo here... critiques needed!

    To me the sound quality sounds good, though I\'ve only listened to it on my studio monitors I suspect it would sound good on hi-fi speakers as well. One thing I would try to do, (I don\'t know what other sounds you have to use), is to give the strings a bit of space (violins to the left, vioals in the centre, celli right, basses far right). If you only have one strings pad then you could achieve this by recording separately the strings notes below, for example, g below middle c, then panning them to the right. Panning with the other notes should create a better sense of space.

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