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Topic: Somewhere (Revised)

  1. #1

    Somewhere (Revised)

    Here is a piece I've been working on for the past week. Unfortunately, the gods of hard drives decided to take my hard drive to the happy hunting grounds before I could finish the piece. It is loosely based on Harold Arlen's Somewhere over the rainbow. No, that's not me playing Picc. I do have one now for I am playing the Bach Suite No. 3 with our local orchestra. I thought it would be fun to write my own work for piccolo trumpet. Maybe I'll record myself playing the picc part when I have a chance.


    JaBB - Soprano Sax, Piano, Fretless Bass, Electric Guitar
    GPO4 - Full Strings
    Sonar - Session Drums

    Mix down was through Sonar X2 Producer using the ProChannel tool on various tracks and the Channel Tool to widen some of the acoustic field.

    Comments on the mix are very welcome now that I am back in business again thanks to Michael (UK) and Randy (US).


    Best Regards

    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  2. #2

    Re: Somewhere (Revised)

    Good idea, the new thread, Bill - I was ready to post on the old thread again when I saw that you'd posted the same new message on a new thread. Like I said, good idea - And good to get good ol' Arlen in there, since his song was the starting point for this.

    OK, you're inviting comments on the mix:

    --I understand you want two distinctly different panning positions for the lead instruments. I think you've made them too different, too far apart. The trumpet has the lead in the opening verse, and plays for long enough to be considered a lead instead of a backing instrument. But having him so far left for that long makes him sound too secondary and less a central part of the mix.

    --Something else taking away from the trumpet's lead is the volume. The rhythm section remains a bit too dominant.

    --The sax is panned opposite of the trumpet, and maybe it's directly opposite, but on my speakers it sounds like it's not quite as far flung as the trumpet. The volume is a bit better also, so when the sax takes over, it sounds more like a lead.

    --My suggestion would be to move both of these leads much closer to center. When there's one lead, it sounds great to have it dead center. In this case, I would nudge each just slightly off center - Trump a few ticks to the left, Sax the opposite. Like two musicians sharing the spotlight on stage, only as far apart as is physically comfortable.

    The Channel Tool widening effect is exaggerating the pannings you have, and can do some unexpected, unwanted things to a mix. Use with caution - It's one of the causes of your leads being too far apart.

    The Pro Channel setting you've used is adding quite a bit of compression to this. That's noticeable from the very start since there's just solo piano. I had to double check to see what piano you used, thinking the heavily compressed sound might be part of the sample set - But it's the JABB piano, and I'm pretty sure it sounds fine, better, without all this compression on it. When the rest of the band comes in, the compression is still there but it's not as noticeable.

    The ending is abrupt, and sounds very dry/devoid of reverb. Maybe this is unfinished? If not, I would suggest the last chord being held another measure, probably fading a bit as it holds, and then when the release finally comes, we should hear a bit of the reverb tail in the virtual room. That could just be a matter of being sure you include a measure or two of "silence" when you export your 2-track master.

    The rest of my observations aren't about the mix, but I hope you don't mind me passing these on also:

    --This is a Band-In-A-Box production, right? That's where the MIDI started from, and then you did your editing to those loops and files, and added the leads. I think that's basically the process you described in a good BIAB thread awhile back in General Discussion.

    While there's a looped, constant dynamic quality to the results, it's the drums in particular which, to me, come out too busy and robotic. The constant whooosh-tish of the hat's open and closed pattern started annoying me pretty quickly. The very active, unrealistic tom runs stick out, and there's just that looped MIDI clip feel that makes the drums stick out as a bit problematic. I would suggest more editing of their velocities, especially on things like the tom runs, along with some mussing up of the timing - And judicious pruning of notes so the patterns are less busy.

    One more observation not related to the mix, but to the MIDI. You don't have any vibrato on either of the lead instruments, making their performances much less realistic than they could be. I think you're starting in BIAB, then working in Finale, then doing the mix in Sonar - correct?-- While in Sonar, if you recorded AfterTouch data (AT controls vibrato on that trumpet and sax) on the longer notes, to varying depths, the solos would be more life-like.

    Here's an old screenshot showing AT in Sonar's PRV:

    If you record that data in real time from a keyboard, it takes no longer than playing the song through once. If you draw it by hand, of course it would take longer and it's trickier to get natural results, but it still wouldn't be a long process.

    A final observation is about the music itself. Why did you decide to adapt Arlen's tune? It sounds like you're planning some lyrics, because there's a vocal quality especially in the phrasing of that repeated note after the "Rainbow" phrase. Regarding that repeated quote, I have to say I felt derailed each time that came along - "Ah, this is familiar--oh, now I don't know where we are." I don't know, I was just left wondering why the concept of doing this loose adaptation rather than just writing something completely original on the same chord progression?

    Well, I don't mean to look a gift horse in the mouth!-- I did enjoy this, Bill. And I know you're interested in improving your Sonar chops - so wanted to help in that regard with some notes. Hopefully I said some things here that will be helpful.


  3. #3

    Re: Somewhere (Revised)

    Randy, thanks, I appreciate the well constructed ideas. As you know I am a newbie to the stuff that you are talking about, but, at least now, I am understanding what you say. My brother has said basically some of the same here so I think I have a consensus. I was playong with the new toys (oops, tools) in X2 Producer, so I know I went overboard. I will read your comments (actually, study them) and work from there. give me some time for an update. I want to enjoy this holiday weekend.

    Yes the piece, well at least the chords and rhythmic section was BiaB. The melodies are all mine. I don't trust or even like the stuff BiaB creates as melody.

    Now, I will study what you and my bro have said and see where this piece goes (grows).

    Thanks for listening,
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

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