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Topic: Christmas Music: Silent Night

  1. #1

    Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Hi guys, I just finished a new arrangement of the hymn Silent Night. I know that you guys and girls of course will be honest of what you think about the arrangement and production (midi programming, mixing etc.) so therefor I decided to post it here first to get some comments before I allow more people to listen.

    Of course I know it\'s kind of risky because this hymn is so special to most people in the western world, but I needed to do this arrangement. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Ok, enough of talking... [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Click HERE!

    So you want some more talking...

    .. ok, the arrangement is for similar sized orchestra as my \"O little town of Bethlehem\" arrangement - however, I added some special touch in the end thanks goes to GTOWN for the sample. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Sound Libs I used:

    Woodwinds = Westgate Woods
    Brass = BoB
    Strings = GOS Lite
    Percussion = SAM Timpanis & GTOWN Glockenspiel
    Organ = GTOWN Organ

    In the mix I\'m using few new tricks I learned, don\'t know if I managed to use it properly though.
    All advice regarding mix are appreciated!

    Ok, now let the music speak for itself and please give me your thoughts (good and/or bad) about it and maybe suggestions of improvements.

    Thanks for taking the time!

  2. #2

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Hi falcon,

    Nice rendition. I can tell you like this piece.

    The work and central melody seemed to really come alive at 1:42, and the piece going forward from that point was very nice. But up until 1:42, have you considered \"lighter\" or more delicate instruments to play the lead melody? Wonder what would happen using a harp and classical guitar? I believe you have an oboe -or maybe it is an alto clarinet tracking the lead melody prior to 1:42, and I can\'t seem to get comfortable with it. Maybe it\'s just me.

    What I also enjoyed were your variations on the more traditional harmonies, for example 1:47 – 1:49. Why don\'t we do more of that with our traditional songs? Although not a religious piece, I\'ll never forget Whitney Houston\'s rendition of Star Spangle Banner at the super bowl in the 90\'s. Unlike Silent Night, our U.S. national anthem is a sorry awful song, and yet somebody finally had the \"boots\" to experiment, and it became beautiful.

    Back to Silent night...

    At 2:55 mix-wise, the organ possibly enters a little too loud relative to the lead-in transition, but I see the effect you were going after, and liked it. Maybe find a way to boost the volume of the instruments leading into that organ somewhat.

    Hope this was helpful.

  3. #3

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Hi Joanne, thanks for great comments.

    1:42 is the place where the text talks about \"Christ the Savior is born\" so the I\'m really preparing his birth with the rather silent and calm environment before 1:42 which changes to more joyful feeling after His birth.
    I use both oboe and clarinet as leaders before 1:42.

    Thanks, Silent Night is rather difficult to harmonize well because the song is so \"stuck\" around 3 chords. But also because this hymn has so special place in many peoples hearts so you must be careful to not over do it.

    Yes, your comments were really helpful - thanks!

    Ps. Yes, Silent Night is special to me. It\'s so amazing how the melody, which is so simple, can be so powerful.

  4. #4

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Falcon, you\'ve done a great job of keeping this song traditional yet adding your unique twist to the arrangement. I love these type arrangements of old familiar songs. Sometime people get too wierd on traditional stuff, which bugs me. Then again sometimes you hear it played straight which can be boring. But you seem to have the right mix of improvisation on an old standard. Well done.

    Nice peaceful feel which honors and respects this beautiful old song. Builds up very nicely, too with the full orchestra coming in and disonant chords around 2:00

    The beginning is beautiful the way it builds gently...but the dynamcis are bit much in a couple of places. I\'m in front of my studio speakers and it\'s really LOUD in a couple of places.

    The transision around 2:00 to 2:15 is perfect. Very smooth...makes you anticipate what\'s coming next. Very, very good.

    It is a bit of a let down on the next phrase, and the discords sound a little off to me at 2:42. To me this is the weakest part...

    But then you\'ve got a sweet ending, and it all resolves on a lovely note.

    Well done.

  5. #5

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Thanks for your comments, Sporter, I surely appreciate it.

    I don\'t like it when people use the sacred hymns as an experiment material for their own glory - Yea, I\'m talking for example about some of the pop celebs. Well I could go on and on but I won\'t. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Before I write anything, I always read the text of the hymn or song I\'m going to arrange to get the feeling and the meaning of the text. Then I start to think about separate lines etc. to see how I could express the meaning in a most appropriate way.
    Of course the text of Silent Night is kind of build into me, if you understand what I\'m saying, so I hope that the arrangement reflects that and delivers the meaning of the text to the audience.
    There\'s nothing like it when people, who have listen to my arrangement of X song/hymn, and tell me that they felt the music \"spoke\" the words right into their heart and soul.

    Regarding the dynamics, I\'m still trying to master midi programming and mixing so I know that I can improve that aspect of the production.

    Thanks again for your kind comments Sporter.

  6. #6

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Hey Falcon,

    I almost missed this before Christmas. It\'s a nice holiday treat. Very traditional orchestration - I like it as well.

    Did I notice the violins panned right? Or was that your violas there. It\'s cool if there are - I have been messin\' around with with unusual seating charts (1st vln left - 2nd vln right, etc.)

    The only thing I would consider is backing the vlns off the melody and let your WW\'s carry it more or all by their self (1:00-1:39) and maybe let the organ carry it alone as well later, that way when the strings come in they are \'fresher\'. Hope it makes some sense. Thanks again for sharing.


  7. #7

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Rob, thanks for your comments - great that you didn\'t miss it. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img]

    Your ears are good, yes the violins are panned to the right.

    I\'ll take your suggestions into considuration, as well as other suggestions I have got from you all nice people. Thanks!

    O, btw. there\'s more to come. [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

  8. #8

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    Hi Falcon1,
    Nice job overall. I liked some of the unusual harmonies.

    Like Joanne, I also think it might be better to have a lighter orchestration at the beginning. You have the strings going from the very beginning, so you miss that effect you get when you hear the strings make a silky smooth entrance.

    Here\'s just a list of other observations:

    Too much reverb (or maybe you just want it to sound like it\'s in the Vatican). Too much of the detail in the instruments is being lost.

    The oboe seems too bright and honky.

    A harp might be nice to add.

    The key change at 2:00 might be smoother if you add a scale going up to the new key that starts in the old key. You can have something light play it. It sounds slightly strange to me as it is.

  9. #9

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    I have played the arrangment a few times, and the recording needs work. The arrangment itself appears to be pretty good, but between too much possible reverb and with those fake sounding samples it is difficult to hear the details of the arrangment.

    I think you need to use chamber instruments. The strings may sound better if there were all solo. Try either Dan Dean or GPO, or even Kirk Hunter. VSL solo strings will soon be avalibe just by themselves.

    The suggestion of a harp and/or guitar might help the song in some places.

    I would like to suggest that you study the composer\'s original version. The song that he wrote is not as dull as what has often been published. At some point, someone took the song, simplified the melody, and shorted the length of the song. I have seen three versions by the composer, Franz Gruber, that have been engraved. One version is for organ, another for two vocal soloists, choir, two horns (in D), and strings. The third version has all the of the same instruments as version two and has woodwinds added.

    I have read in the New Oxford Book of Carols that the song was for a small choir, two solo voices, and guitar. This version has been re-constructed from the organ version.

    I have made a recording of my own using one of the composer\'s original orchestration. If you would like to hear an mp3, let me know.

  10. #10

    Re: Christmas Music: Silent Night

    I liked the reverberation. What reverb are you using?
    I liked this arrangement, it reminds me of Vaughan Williams.

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