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Topic: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

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  1. #1

    Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    I am in the process of making a new album, but I want to go for that romantic classical feel, also old sounding. Do you think it is best to assign each instrument to a separate mono output where you can pan each mono separately. What would you recommend for the furthest panning level? Finally, what kind of reverb setup would you recommend, if any at all?

    Libraries I will be using to create this:
    - Garritan Personal Orchestra
    - Vienna Special Edition Strings
    - Vienna Soprano Choir
    - Sampletekk Black Grand

    Regards,

    Richard

  2. #2

    Re: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    I'm probably not the best person to answer this, but I'll take a stab at it, to get the ball rolling, because no one else has so far. I suspect a lot of what you are asking is somewhat subjective. So, here is what makes a piece sound "classical" to me:

    First, the way it is orchestrated. RK's book (most of which is reprinted on this site, with lots of very helpful audio examples) will give you a good guide as to how things were done at the height of the era that most people (lay people, anyway) consider "classical". It seems to me that the whole idea was to create a blended sound, where you don't want the listener to be able to pick out individual instruments (except when they are featured).

    Secondly, I think the placement of your instruments (i.e. the panning of each section) should reflect where they usually are on stage (your L. and R. values being where the performers are in relation to the listener).

    Finally, I think most of us expect to hear this music the way it is usually presented: in a large hall. So, I'd say you want stereo, with the samples and/or your reverb settings simulating the distance of the mics from the stage (with the listener in the middle of the house). This can get to be a fairly complex thing. You start getting into issues such as how much damping you get from the hall (with or without people in the seats), what kind of secondary reflections are present, even how much "noise" you hear from the musicians (chair creaks, pages sheet music being turned, audible breaths, and finger noises -- yes, there are sample libraries that include all this stuff -- which I think is overkill and calls more attention to simulating the technical aspects of a live recording than the quality of the music) but there you go. You can get as crazy with the details as you like. Personally, I would use reverb and effects judiciously just to tweak instruments that don't sound right or get them to blend. But it is just as valid to apply one verb to the whole mix, rather than individual patches. The best advice, I think, is to trust your ears. (Listen to the piece, over and over, at different times of the day, and when you are in different moods, because your perception will be a little different each time. When you reach a point where it always sounds good, you probably have something.)

    One more thing -- and this is also a very subjective opinion -- if a blended sound is what you are after, you will probably be better off, or able to get there more easily, using the instruments from a single sample library (like GPO), rather than combining them from different libraries (except perhaps for solos, if you have a great solo instrument). The reason is simply that they are recorded in the same environments and tested to sound good together.

    Allegro Data Solutions

  3. #3

    Re: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    Thanks for the great feedback EJR.

    I spent some more time practicing. I'll have to take a look at RK's book. I guess the mono is definitely out for this, I never put into perspective an actual live audience and where it would be preformed in life, I'm stuck in the digital world, lol.

    Thanks again for the help,

    Richard

  4. #4

    Re: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    Quote Originally Posted by sururick View Post
    I am in the process of making a new album, but I want to go for that romantic classical feel, also old sounding. Do you think it is best to assign each instrument to a separate mono output where you can pan each mono separately. What would you recommend for the furthest panning level? Finally, what kind of reverb setup would you recommend, if any at all?

    Regards,

    Richard
    Just wanted to point out, Richard, that panning mono instruments doesn't make the final mix mono. Once things are placed around the stage with pan, then you're making a stereo mix. Most instruments in Garritan are mono, so it works to have them on mono tracks in your project file, panning them where you want.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    Thanks Randy,

    My bad, I meant only the instruments and leaving the master bus stereo. Thanks for the tip on the mono instruments I generally left everything on stereo channel.

    EDIT: Forgot to put in the libraries I will be using for this project. I just updated the first thread.

  6. #6

    Re: Composing Romantic Classical Music (Mono or Stereo Outputs)

    Quote Originally Posted by sururick View Post
    ...I meant only the instruments and leaving the master bus stereo...
    Hello again, Richard - I just got through responding to your other thread on this same topic over in The Listening Room.

    DPDAN has been a big advocate of using mono tracks as much as possible, since stereo tracks are exactly twice the size, and there's no reason to make projects larger than they have to be. He has modified that recently, pointing out that with our massive storage capacities, it's not so much of an issue.

    Also, like me, Dan always bounces his MIDI tracks to audio for mixing. He works completely in the audio realm when working up a mix, since, like me, he feels he has the most control over the sound that way. I couldn't agree more. It's a lot more work, but it can be extremely worth it for people willing to put in the time.

    There's another issue - Sometimes you'll be working with an instrument that can't be panned as precisely as you want, because it will be a stereo sample with panning already party of the programming. If you decide to pan such an instrument to the opposite side, the sound will almost disappear, because there's little audio information on that side of the track. In those cases, in Sonar, and all DAW software, you want to change the interleave of a track from stereo to mono so you can regain your control over the pan.

    Your subject line was asking something a bit different - whether to do "romantic classical music" with the final master mix being in mono or stereo. Well, that's what the subject line's questions seems to be, but I guess you were actually asking about the individual tracks being in mono or stereo, with a stereo final file always being your goal. As, as I've basically said before on this thread, whether the individual tracks are mono or stereo really has no effect on what the final mix will sound like. There's certainly no relationship between those factors and specific types of music - Using mono or stereo individual tracks won't effect the appropriateness of the style of music you're aiming for.

    You also asked, "...What would you recommend for the furthest panning level?..." And I think you mean how much of the complete stereo field to use? I have one basic piece of advice on that - Don't pan something completely to one side or the other. Sometimes that work, but it often just makes those far-flung instruments sound like they don't belong in the mix. If you have a signal that's really coming strictly out of just one speaker, it sounds odd. About the farthest I go in either direction, left or right, is around 85%. That places an instrument definitely off to one side, but there's enough signal coming from both speakers to make the results more natural.

    Randy

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