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Topic: Test Patterns

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  1. #1
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    Test Patterns

    Test Patterns

    Don’t Take This too Seriously - This is Only a Test

    I haven’t written any music in over a year and it’s been a couple of years since any really “hard-core” serious writing. I wanted to get back into it but from a totally different direction. Totally different….

    Before I started I picked up a few new tools, or at least new versions of old tools. I am also using all of my tools in a very different way trying to achieve different ends. I decided that I need to do a little test ditty before going on.

    Thus “Test Patterns”: a little ditty designed to help re-familiarize myself with my musical tools.

    Please don’t take any of it too seriously – the music is a little trifle designed to help me “sharpen” my tools and warm up to the job of creating music again.


    There’s Garritan in There

    At first listen you may think I hit the wrong forum. Nope, this was made using mostly Garritan products.

    There is, of course, the Steinway. From GPO I used the Sus & Short Violin I & II, Viola, Cello and Bass. From JABB I used an organ (Organ 7, I believe), a fretted bass and the fusion drum kit.

    There are 2 voices from a virtual modular M. synthesizer and a track of real synth, actually Realistic: it is an ancient Realistic analog synth which uses technology from Moog – you can hear its gritty voice near the beginning and end.

    And, of course, my voice, perhaps not gritty enough, as the announcer and my awful attempts at lead vocals…


    No Bars Hold – Give Me Your Worst (Best)

    As I said, this is a little learning piece. I’m too close to hear all of the problems (though I hear many). To find out how to solve the problems I have to know what they are… In other words, be as critical as you want as long as it is at least a little bit positive feedback and not just “Trent, this is awful and you need to consider a job in stable cleaning instead of music since you’ve been shoveling the stinky stuff.”

    Seriously, I am looking for feedback and promise to listen to any advice.


    My Future Direction?

    Yes, for at least a little while I am going to be experimenting with music that is a little more rock/pop than what I have been writing. Usually not this light, I hope, but more like this than my Symphony in C: Hamlet.

    Anyway, I hope you enjoy

    Test patterns - Old Link
    Test Patterns - New 11/12/11 - 6:35 PM EST
    (11/12/11 - I did a few fixes following Randy's advice)
    (PS: For a new start I’ve also started using Box…)
    Last edited by trentpmcd; 11-12-2011 at 06:36 PM. Reason: Link to new file
    Trent P. McDonald

  2. #2

    Re: Test Patterns

    !

    And I thought I was getting a bit "out there" posting my "Tom Sawyer" tunes on this classically oriented Forum! HA!--You win, Trent. This is one of the most wonderfully "out there" things ever posted here!

    Parts of your "Test Patterns" reminded me of a dear old musical buddy of mine who was a unique avant garde artist. You don't know his music, but for me to be reminded of his stuff is a Very Good Thing.

    Your post was great to read, and I think I have a good idea of what you're doing - Gearing back up to use tools which have grown a bit dusty. You're getting re-inspired, you're giving yourself permission to let your musical imagination lead you where it may. The results in this "Test" are quirky, unpredictable, and evidence of a personal reawakening that could take you deep into some very rewarding, uncharted territories.

    The refrain is probably the most musically "difficult," in that there seems to be more than one key signature in play. Difficult to sing!--How'd you pull that off? Did you use a guide track playing the notes of the vocal line, and then listen to that as you laid in your voice? That's how I do it, even for the much simpler "Sawyer" material.

    What you have here is uniquely yours - I couldn't possibly critique it in a helpful way. But you may have noticed from before, I find specific critiquing always something to give and receive with extreme caution.

    I can pass on some technical observations:

    --This is coming from me, Mr. Less Reverb Please -- for this, I think it would be a worthy experiment to try a Lot more reverb to give these dense layers of sound more room to breathe in. The impression is of a sound scape written Large - but the reverb treatment is smaller than what the music seems to call for.

    --I think it would also be worth trying a more dramatic panning. Several voices seem to be occupying the same seats in the pan landscape. Moving some even 5% farther away from each other could open up the sound.

    I'm taking your advice - "don't take it too seriously." For me this is a fun explosion erupting from pent up creativity. I find it entertaining, not always easy to listen to, but I don't think it was your intention to please other people's musical sensibilities.

    I think "Test Patterns" is a great experiment - What a trip!

    Randy

  3. #3
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    Re: Test Patterns

    Hi Randy –

    Thanks for listening and for responding!

    Actually, you hit exactly what I’m looking for – production tips. With my classical music the printed page was the final product for me – the real final product would come from “real” players (orchestra, pianist, etc.). I’m currently trying to make my mix the final product.

    I use 2 reference tracks for vocals – a piano so I can immediately hear the note and a cello to hear the sustained note. I also go over it with a real piano a few times and spend time on some of the more difficult intervals. Listening now I can hear some intervals that I could have worked on a little more…

    Panning – I put all of the bass instruments, drums and vocals in the center. I’ll play with offsetting some of them – perhaps having bass guitar opposite the bass synth and the double bass closer to being opposite the cellos but not on top of the violas… Listening to Stevie Wonder right now I can hear the drums are in the middle while the cymbals are panned far left and right…. Anyway, I’ll play with it.

    Reverb – I played with reverb a little and pretty much left it off… (there is still a little on the Realistic and real room reverb on some of the vocals). I have a hard time getting a good reverb without the mix becoming muddy. Do you have a single reverb running and send each instrument to it or separate reverbs on each track? I know the down and dirty of having the stereo mix running through reverb would turn this to mud. Anyway, something else to play with….

    I know I have problems with drums/percussion. Besides just a lot of practice (or getting a real drummer), any tips on getting a good drum track? I played all the drum kit parts with a keyboard. I tried a tap pad but found the I could control the keyboard better. Had to experiment in the 5 / 4 section…

    In the last year or so I have been listening to an incredibly huge range of music: folk, country, Broadway, Jazz (from ragtime & Dixieland to current but spending most time on my favorites like Ellington & Miles), rock, pop (Sinatra to Gaga), electronic, new age, etc. Plus, of course, classical from chant to Carter and beyond. I’ve rediscovered prog rock in a big way. Funny, but after all of my in depth studies I find a new respect for Zappa – no rock artist has shown quite the understanding of 20th century music he had.

    So, that is the idea for the future – put my classical studies to use in a more prog rock setting. Of course it will be quirky and sound like Trent.

    Oh yes, I think I saw you tell somebody recently that the listening room isn’t a classical only club… I’d like to take that to extremes…
    Trent P. McDonald

  4. #4
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    Re: Test Patterns

    Hi Randy -

    Some quick changes - I made the drums stereo which gives them more depth. I panned the 3 different basses a bit. I added a reverb send and put a little bit in each track - more on high strings, less on bass, etc. Did a little compression.

    Better?

    I added it to the original post and here.

    Thanks!

    Test Patterns
    Trent P. McDonald

  5. #5

    Re: Test Patterns

    Very interesting. Before I saw one of your replies I thought to myself this reminds me of Frank Zappa. But there are for sure influences of some Broadway show I played many years ago as a trumpet player. I just can't place it right now.

    It will be interesting to see where this journey takes you.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  6. #6
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    Re: Test Patterns

    Thanks for your comments Swinkler.

    I guess sometimes my influences come out if I mean for them to or not... I'd be very interested to know if you figure out which Broadway show you were reminded of. After The initial mix down and I was able to sit back and just listen I was surprised that there was a little something that reminded me of show music. I never thought anything specific, just in general. maybe there was something sitting in the back of my mind that slipped out...

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  7. #7

    Re: Test Patterns

    Oh my gosh Trent,

    This is without doubt the most fun post I've heard since I"ve been on the forum. Dr. Demento
    eat your heart out..(if you know that bizarre DJ)

    For all you have going on in this piece, the instruments (and of course that golden voice) sound pretty darn balanced, placed, and clarified. The voice overlay was mixed in really well. I can't be all that helpful I'm afraid because I'm going through the same process of relearning all my software, and technical issues, as you are. You're just braver than I, to let it all hang out....good for you!!!

    I have to ask you Trent which synth is the one that does that pungent raspy bass line at the beginning. I've always loved that sound and I want to incorporate it into a future composition. They use to use that sound in all the old PC games before orchestral samples became the norm. ie: such as "Shivers", one of my old time favorites.

    Anywho, this was a treat Trent, or should I say a Trent Treat!

    My Best,
    Cass

  8. #8
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    Re: Test Patterns

    Hi Cass – Thanks for listening and for your comments.

    Brave or foolhardy? There are so many good composers on this forum it can be a little intimidating to put something up, particularly if it’s quirky a bit different from what is usually posted here…. For instance, even though your music is different than what I’d ever write, the obvious skill and the depth of emotion in it is intimidating – imagining that someone is going to listen to whatever I post after listening to something like the huge, soaring piece you recently posted…

    I’m not sure which sound you are talking about but I think it is the electric organ – after the high piano note with the violin sustained above, the organ comes in pretty deep down, left hand playing the root in octaves – it has a bit of a growl to it. I doubled it with cello and later added a double bass an octave lower. A little later a soft-synth emulation of a modular Moog plays what will become a major motif pretty low in the bass but I’m pretty sure you are thinking of the organ drone.

    Thanks again for your comments.
    Trent P. McDonald

  9. #9

    Re: Test Patterns

    Quote Originally Posted by trentpmcd View Post
    Hi Randy -

    Some quick changes - I made the drums stereo which gives them more depth. I panned the 3 different basses a bit. I added a reverb send and put a little bit in each track - more on high strings, less on bass, etc. Did a little compression.

    Better?

    I added it to the original post and here.

    Thanks!
    Hi, Trent -

    Yes! I think the new recording sounds much nicer. Drums just Have to be in stereo - as per their physical layout, even wider than life is good. More reverb - Much better. And general panning tune ups. You like it better too I think.

    You asked earlier: "...Do you have a single reverb running and send each instrument to it or separate reverbs on each track?..." Usually, but I've used multiple reverb buses also. All the "Dorian" tracks had at least three different reverbs - each one chosen for how I thought the different groups sounded best - one for winds, one for brass, strings would always get the least since they're closest to an audience - and so forth. But I often do use one, and with sends from the instrument tracks. That's what you did in this new recording - The dimensionality of using reverb comes out more in this version. Reverb is determined by how far away an instrument is from a listener, so, more dimensionality when it's used in different degrees.

    About Cass's question - I'm fairly certain he means the Moog bass, not the Organ. It comes a little bit later than the Organ, but he was talking about a raspy sound - Cass, if you see this, I was amused by your description of the sound - "...They use to use that sound in all the old PC games before orchestral samples became the norm..." hehe--Showing your youth, Cass. I think you mean the Moog, and that was used for making great music long before there were computer games - And it's still used a lot, not at all replaced by orchestral samples. There's the school of emulating the real-life sound of instruments, ala samples, and there's the school of staying more purely electronic rather than emulative. Synths aren't just for pop, and there's no debate that the Moog remains the supreme king of synths - Now we have so many Moog descendents, like the one Trent uses here.

    Thanks for the new post, Trent!

    Randy

  10. #10

    Re: Test Patterns

    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music
    http://www.miserymadebeautiful.com
    "...Wiktor's a Jekyll-Hyde personality..." - Lycos Music
    http://www.miserymadebeautiful.com

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