And part III will be updated in a day or so, along with the first complete recording.
Part I uses lower strings heavily, plus some solo woodwinds; Part II uses more brass and percussion; Part III again strings, especially VSL solo strings.
The mix uses VSL Horizons Solo Strings as principals for each string section, with GOS strings as the section and occasional doubling with AO strings. Dan Dean solo woodwinds for oboe, clarinet, and bassoon, Dan Dean brass ensemble for horns. A little bit of EWQLSO gold and some leftover parts from Kurzweil 2600 Orchestral rom.
All (except the EW and K2600) run through gigastudio and gigapulse.
Although I'm just learning to compose orchestral pieces myself, I'll give you my honest opinion (and of course, it's just an opinion--I could be talking out of my ~~~ and you don't have to agree).
It feels like your composition wanders around without any emphasis, and has no real connection to the listener emotonally. A lot of things happen randomly without any reason or structure, and it almost appears that it's composed to mimic classical music without having the required understanding of music theory and proper orchestration structure.
I've read someone's past comment about your music and it was very negative, and I remember your defense was that you're making "modern" music." IMHO, there's a time and place for non-melodic or atonal styles, but I think in your case, it's more like the result of lack of understanding. Maybe I'm wrong, maybe you have a Phd in Composition and is a highly trained and talented musician, and I just don't "get" your work--like I said, it's just an opinion.
I'm always honest with people, even if my critique is negative, and I always try to be constructive and polite. I think this is the best way to help someone (if, they indeed need it--but even if they don't, at least I meant well).
I'll have to agree with Lunatique on a lot of points. These cymbals in the beginning, and percussion in general seems to play randomly. There's nothing rhythmic about it at all.
Dynamically the production is somewhat flat, while dynamics are the orchestras' biggest strength.
Around 3:20 there's some nasty triggering of the same sample, over and over again. You can avoid this by using alternative samples. I urge you to spend more time on the programming as well, from drawing expression curves to using more different articulations.
Compositionally, I think you should consider just going through the score and selecting lines and simply deleting them, because composition is not only the art of adding notes, but also the art of leaving empty spaces, both horizontally and vertically. You also make a lot of "style jumps", even for a modern piece. I've listened to it 5 times now, and I heard some parts that I can appreciate compositionally, while other parts really work on my nerve. I'd try to find some kind of build-up.
Herman, I appreciate the time you've taken to listen 5 times! Your points are all worth considering, to be sure.
It may not work (duh you say) but the 'random' percussion is symbolic and numerological, in connection with the whole structure of the piece.
Those 5 rattles of the jawbone of a donkey (aka vibraslap), the threefold gong/cymbal/tambourine, etc, etc -- all meaningful in the subtexts. But that's imagining everyone hears it as I hear it, which for any composer requires work, and precarious balance, and successful recording.
Dynamic range is a problem that I'll be working on in final revisions; your comment about deleting might actually work -- in many live rehearsals (any classical works, not especially my own), it is often striking how good partial elements of a piece can sound, but then they get lost in the entire work.
I too listenned a few times to this piece and tried to see where you were going with it ...While all the instruments in the mix seem to work together, from what I heard , these are some thing's that you need to work on ( I'm no Pro, and don't claim to be ) ..They are pretty much consistant with what others have said...This piece needs more
3) Dynamics and Expression
Sometimes less is more....This may be the case here ... Give the instruments and samples in your work more space so that they can be heard, and use more dynamics to make them lay back or jump out at you ( whatever your intent )
Timing is EVERYTHING .... When too much is put into a piece at once, and it's there all the time, you can't follow the music ...If there are no dynamics to the instruments, nothing in particular will stand out to be heard...
Keep working on it ..You have good idea's, you just need to work on the above....You'll get it down ....Good luck, Sincerely, Jim
After about the first minute, I really like what you're doing from that point, especially once you've gotten into the first major color change. Harmonically it is very well done. There are a few places that I wonder why you're moving from the fairly chromatic and extended language back into the farily diatonic, but we are all different artists and have different reasons.
I think you could improve the mixing a tweaking of the performance itself quite a bit, and get some mileage out of that. There are a few areas, more so up front than anything else, where there is just not the level of rhythmic cohesion and drive that would make the piece work--and I don't think it's the writing itself, simply the difficult task of getting in there and tweaking those parts one by one to get the kinetic energy of the lines themselves flowing.
Probably nothing you don't already know...large scale works take a long time to clean, edit, and mix. Good luck with it.
Synthnut, Bruce, thank you for your additional -- and supportive -- comments.
It is really valuable to be able to get some early responses about music, especially here, somewhat privately, where everyone understands the basics of using samples to work out the sound of a piece, before tossing the music over the wall to the lions of performers and publishers.
Recently I had the interesting and hopeful 'development' of having a friend who is concertmaster of a USA regional symphony listen to a sampled work, and say that "the intonation is too good, a real orchestra would play out of tune more". For years, those live classical musicians, especially string players, would always say "it's too painful to listen to computer generated orchestral music, everything is out of tune and unreal sounding".
Thanks for posting the excerpt of the score. Nicely done - was now able to 'hear' what the samples were not putting in. Performed with live players this will sound excellent.
While much easier said than done due to the cost, for this type of work you should really look into the larger VSL collections - you would get much closer to what (I assume ) you want to hear from your samples.