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Topic: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

  1. #1

    A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Would any of you kind people have time to advise me how to improve my first substantial GPO rendering ? It’s a scene-change which I originally composed a few years ago for a dramatisation of Jane Austen’s Northanger Abbey. While vast clumps of unwieldy furniture are shuttled on- and off-stage, the somewhat feeble heroine Catherine Moreland has been banished from the gloomy grandeur of Northanger Abbey and is on her way back to her very humble home (hence change of instrumentation at the end), feeling sad.
    All advice very welcome and very necessary. Thanks !

  2. #2
    Senior Member rayzalaf's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Hi Viv,

    I'll leave it to better judges than me to comment on the structure of composition etc. All I can say is, "Sounds Great" to me,
    Clavinet in a humble home?

    You don't do anything wrong for me in this piece. It's lovely!

    My Best


  3. #3
    Senior Member rpearl's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2005

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Sounds great! Perhaps more dynamic range would make it more effective, but as it has to cover the sounds of furniture being moved around that might not help much. This conveys your stated sentiment very nicely. Others may have some good audio tips, but I think this is quite beautiful, and quite capable as it stands.
    Ron Pearl





  4. #4

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Compositionally I agree with Ray and Ron--it sounds like it will do the job fine! It's a very well-written underscore. And you do have some subtle dynamics in there. I like the orchestration you have.

    Mixwise, it's pretty good too. You might bathe it in a touch more reverb to give it a little space, since at points the woodwinds are fighting for the room, but overall very well done!


  5. #5

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Hello, Viv!

    This is great, thanks for playing this for us. "Scene change" in the title capture my interest immediately because that sort of thing is right up my alley.--Perhaps you've noticed that I've been posting music written for the theatre, as in my post currently on the front page here.

    Really good composition and arrangement in this, and the recording seems it would work very well in the context you described.

    You asked for some technical feedback--I have two items:

    --There's a build up of mid-lower frequencies which is sounding too "boomy" to me. I think it's the amount of reverb on the Cellos, emphasizing some boxy resonances there. A bit less reverb on the Cellos along with an EQ cut should help that out, if you listen and hear what I'm referring to.

    --The Harpsichord at the end has a really large stereo image. Did you do some processing to achieve that?--because I don't recall the instrument being so wide in GPO. In any case, I thought at first there was some distortion on it, then I heard the wide image, and noticed it's in the center. I feel it would be worth the experiment to move it to one side, and to pull the reverb back on it, so the scene change music ends up sounding smaller--just as the character's surroundings have gotten smaller.

    On stage, the "humble home" Catherine is returning to is most likely to one side of the stage, or at least the door through which she enters is--Throw the Harpsichord to the same are. That would work very well.

    There was the hint of an objection on this thread, that perhaps this is too elegant an instrument to end on. I understand the point--we tend to associate Harpsichord with the rich, with ball rooms and elegance. But of course it was The keyboard of its time, to be found everywhere. Its use denotes period, I think it's a fine choice. It Can sound so poignant, as you have it here. I Do think the above idea would help it--to have it smaller and less dominantly in the center.

    Thanks Viv, I really enjoyed this!

    Randy B.

  6. #6

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Ray, Ron, Reegs and Randy (! - all the Rs !) - many thanks for your kind comments and extremely useful advice.

    Ron, you're absolutely right about the dynamic range - I was trying to get more expression into it but I haven't yet gone far enough.

    Reegs, yes the woodwinds do get a bit swamped from time to time: I may have to give them a bit of compression to avoid this (there's no compression on any of it so far). Maybe that will also allow me to fatten the high violin part somewhat, as it sounds very puny at the moment.

    Randy - yet again, you've put your finger on it. I couldn't work out why the mix was sounding muddy, but you're right - it's definitely the cellos. And no, I didn't treat the harpsichord with anything apart from some light reverb, but it has a tendency (like the clarinet) to sit up in the mix ! I like your idea about panning it more to one side... it's nice to benefit from your theatrical experience.

    I really do appreciate all of the tips: I knew I wasn't satisfied with the piece, but I was at a loss as to how to improve it. I've really got something to work on now. Thank you all !

  7. #7

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Viv, this is a fine piece of writing that is perfect for the setting you describe. I like the harpsichord - it provides an unexpected departure as one normally only expects to hear this in a baroque piece. Some good advice has been offered here with respect to the mix - and I think some minor tinkering is all that's required to complete this perfectly.

    Thanks for sharing, I enjoyed this.

    Regards, Graham

  8. #8

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    This is quite the beautiful song and I'm sure everyone was asking where it came from during the intermission.

    I just have one small point to add to what everyone else is saying: I think you've "underrated" your string writing somewhat. There are two parts in the songs where some high string work comes in but it sits very far back in the mix and the woodwinds continue to dominate. I think the strings are very beautiful and having them enter into dialogue with the winds would be a nice touch (rather than merely relegating them to simple ornamentation). In short, you've written a great string part that can handle a more prominent role than it currently occupies.

    Okay, off my musicbox now.
    There is the music of Johann Sebastian Bach. Therefore there must be a God. You either get this one or you don't - Kreeft & Tacelli
    The will to achieve is not sufficient. Some things should not be achieved. - Rimsky-Korsakov
    Musicians are just these guys that want to make music. Okay, they want to have a wonderful lifestyle, but the majority just want to make really great music. - Jon Anderson

  9. #9

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Graham, Chris - many thanks for your comments. Chris, you're absolutely right about the high strings. The reason they're so far back in the mix is that I left all the instruments I used with their original panning - and these particular violins (I think they were Gagli player 1 & 2) were panned hard to the left.

    I'm now taking the whole thing apart and will (among other things) re-pan all the instruments, boosting those violins while I'm at it. I promise not to bounce this thread again ! - but I just wanted to thank everyone for their comments.

  10. #10

    Re: A scene-change from Northanger Abbey !

    Did you alter this piece between now and the first post?
    It is a very nice melody and well done, but the violins were very, very distorted!!!!!!! Keyhole effect.


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