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Topic: Just Foolin' Around

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  1. #1

    Just Foolin' Around

    I wrote this just to have some fun playing the AKAI EWI using Garritan Samples. The piece is a simple smooth jazz ballad with a jazz solo in the middle chorus. I wanted to work on recording techniques in Sonar X1d. All instruments are Garritan except for a few supporting sounds from Sonar's string patches and TruePianos which were layered with the GPO4 strings and Steinway piano. The EWI saxophone was the AKAI Garritan samples. All sounds were converted to .wav files and then engineered in Sonar X1d.

    Instruments used:

    AKAI Garritan Tenor Sax
    GPO4 Strings
    Sonar Sesssion Strings
    GPO4 Steinway Piano
    Sonar TruePianos
    JaBB Electric Bass using Guitar Rig 4
    JaBB Jazz Fusion Drum Kit (each drum of the kit was put on it's on .wav track and EQ'ed to the desired sound

    I hope you will listen and enjoy Just Foolin' Around
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  2. #2

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Hey Rich! I am curious as to how the EWI works here. Are you able to tap into any garritan sample and play it on the EWI? If that is the case, that is pretty cool. Anyway, it was fun listening to your song.
    Jay

  3. #3

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Hi, Rich - What a fun project.

    Thanks for detailing what you did with this project, working on recording techniques in Sonar, layering Garritan sounds with some Sonar synths, playing the lead with your EWI, bouncing to audio etc. Quite a production.

    Now, I hope you find the following constructive. I feel your mix is hurting the music, and in a rather extreme way. I think you should go back to square one of the mixing process, erase your automation data and have another go. Right now, the balances are so off that it's what I focus on most as I listen - how new balances would make your project work.

    OK, that being said, here are specifics:

    --The Bass is way over the top too loud. I had to turn my speakers down, fearing they'd rupture their cones. It sounds like you've used heavy compression on the Bass, and that you didn't roll off any bass frequencies. The notes are sustaining in an unnatural way, due to the compression and notes held too long, so that the electric bass becomes more of a Moog synth bass sound - very boomy, sustaining too long, and far too hot in comparison to the other tracks.

    --The backing tracks are almost inaudible. Whatever the piano and string patches are doing, I can hardly make out much of the time, and they're primarily all sitting at the right. Without hearing them very well, the supporting chord progression isn't clear and so the sax lead doesn't have a foundation to mesh with. I suggest bringing all those tracks Way up, and spreading them out in the stereo field more.

    --The sax lead, as a result of the above, is far too loud in comparison with the backing tracks. A happy medium needs to be found, bringing the sax down, the backing tracks up, until they sound like they're playing together again. The sax also sounds dry - did you use any reverb? Even though it's the lead, and of course needs to stay up front, it still needs some air around the notes to sound more natural.

    --If you decide to experiment with a new mix, start with balancing the drums and bass. Hopefully you get settings to avoid the boominess in the bass, and you also edit notes if you have to, so the bass isn't doing this impossible perpetual sustain thing. Get the bass and kick drum to work together so each can still be heard. Then balance the rest of the kit. You'll find that drums can get lost easily in a mix - keep them way up as you add the rest of the tracks.

    --After the rhythm is established, start bringing in the piano and strings, adjusting things until they're all clearly heard. Your volume sliders will end up in extremely different positions than you currently have them.

    --Add the Sax until it's just enough louder than the backing tracks to remain clearly the lead, but without drowning everything else out.

    I'll add that I find mixing to be difficult. I end up spending as much time trying to balance sound as I do in writing and recording it. It's always a new thing, each recording, with different EQ settings to be found, experimenting with pans - since position in the stereo field helps an instrument either be heard or be lost - and so forth.

    Well, so there's my honest reaction to this--That you have all the raw material to start over on the mix, but that you could find balances which would make all the problems disappear (lost backing tracks, booming bass etc.) - and you'd come up with a mix that would serve your music much better.

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Randy,

    I will go to square 1 and try again. I did many of the things you mentioned and I would guess my hearing is the problem. I have and use hearing aids and mix with excellent speakers and sound system but I did not and still don't have the boomy blown out effect of the bass that you mentioned. I appreciate your comments and will do a remix because I would like this piece to be a good experience for the listener and a good experience for me as for engineering the mix. Thanks for the comments and I will take the efforts to remix right away.

    Thanks,
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Jay,

    Yes, you can play any of the Garritan sounds using the EWI. I find the ones designed for the EWI to play the easiest (or least they are easier to set up).

    I hope you will re-listen as I have re-mixed the piece after reading Randy's comments. He really does have great ears to bounce music off of. (No I didn't mean big ears like mitts ) They hear everything.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  6. #6

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Randy,

    I'll add that I find mixing to be difficult. I end up spending as much time trying to balance sound as I do in writing and recording it. It's always a new thing, each recording, with different EQ settings to be found, experimenting with pans - since position in the stereo field helps an instrument either be heard or be lost - and so forth.
    I did re-mix again today. (I have remixed this piece for at least 6 weeks now and each time it sounds different.) I am not sure why my own system (and that bothers me) doesn't respond and play back the music in the same way that yours did (does). My worry is that the soundclick site does something to these free accounts and it is not the same as what I mixed although, I listen to their sound engine playing it and it sounds relatively close to what I hear on my .wav at home.

    I am mixing through an Onyx 1640 mixer with an Alesis RA100 amp with the sound coming out of Polk Audio monitors. It may not be the same as major recording studios but it's not bad.

    Thanks again for the constructive criticism and the polite way of saying "YOUR BASS almost BLEW my SPEAKERS!!!)

    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  7. #7

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Quote Originally Posted by RichR View Post
    Randy,I did re-mix again today. (I have remixed this piece for at least 6 weeks now and each time it sounds different.) I am not sure why my own system (and that bothers me) doesn't respond and play back the music in the same way that yours did (does)...
    Goodness--! That was fast work - I posted just a few hours ago!

    Rich - I'm very glad to see that my response about the mix was well received. The only time I post specific suggestions for changes is when I feel someone's music isn't being heard to its best advantage. I keep those kinds of posts to a minimum, but when I feel I have something to pass on, I go for it, risking being offensive. SO, thank you for taking my post so well.

    AND I just had another listen - Oh man, this is so much better. Don't you think so? Everything's in much better balance, the sax doesn't sound detached from the ensemble the way it did before, the bass isn't hogging so much sonic space, and I can hear the backing tracks much better. This is a super job on a re-mix. I hope you're happy with it too.

    From my own experience, here's what I think happens to all of us: We work on a project for a long time, and try as we may to be objective about the results, we really can't be. Our ears have gotten used to not really hearing what we have, but what we want to hear. Mistakes can get ignored, and even total imbalances can end up being unnoticed. We just can't hear what's really there after working with a project for so long.

    So, I don't think there's something wrong with your system or your ears - you're only going through what we all go through, ending up too subjective to hear what we've put together. That's why playing things for other people can sometimes be helpful.

    In any case, congrats on a much improved mix.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    AND I just had another listen - Oh man, this is so much better. Don't you think so? Everything's in much better balance, the sax doesn't sound detached from the ensemble the way it did before, the bass isn't hogging so much sonic space, and I can hear the backing tracks much better. This is a super job on a re-mix. I hope you're happy with it too.
    I couldn't agree with you more, Randy. You are right about hearing what you want to hear. Ears and brains do not always work as expected. Reminds me of the video that Raymond put in the General Discussion Room. Boy, did I fall into that trap.

    I always accept criticism. I'm not always happy about being told something may not be quite right but, it is important to listen to comments and try to improve your techniques. Sometimes I actually get the mix right and sometimes it has problems. Every piece is different and I am trying out much of what I can find in Sonar to see what works and what doesn't. You should have heard what I did to the bass player on the first mix using a rock crunch amp in Guitar Rig. (Makes me want to shudder thinking about what I heard!)
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  9. #9
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    Hey Rich!

    Wow ... "A Day In The Life"! I looked in a couple of times today at this thread (between getting our tomatoes planted!) and looks like between you and Randy, a lot of creativity and mixing evolution has transpired. Usually something like this might go 2-3 days, not 12 hours or so!

    First off, you have shown once again WHY you are such a consumate musician ... the way you took Randy's mixing suggestions to heart. Many lesser men could have taken it the wrong way. To me, you are inspirational in how you handled the well intentioned (and apparently helpful) critique. I need to remember this in the future for myself. This thread is also a microcosim of why this forum is so great.

    I jumped on the mix after the changes and the mix sounds like a fine balance, so the hard work was well worth your effort.

    On to the EWI aspect: Your use of the EWI is dramatically better than when you first started using it. I thought you had posted a couple of pieces right about the time I started experiencing problems w/ the site. I went back and sure enough, late-Feb, "Air/G" and "Shared". You have made great strides; it's so noticable when I compared the three pieces tonight. Especially improved is the vibrato.

    Just a great excersize Rich; really nice improvisation and with the advances you made w/ the EWI, the phrasing and articulations are vastly improved. Keep it up and let us hear more as you master this EWI like it was a Selmer! And congratulations on the re-mix.

    Regards,

    Frank

  10. #10

    Re: Just Foolin' Around

    First off, you have shown once again WHY you are such a consumate musician ... the way you took Randy's mixing suggestions to heart. Many lesser men could have taken it the wrong way. To me, you are inspirational in how you handled the well intentioned (and apparently helpful) critique. I need to remember this in the future for myself. This thread is also a microcosim of why this forum is so great.
    Thanks Frank,

    If you can't learn from your mistakes than I feel that you just can't learn. I appreciate your comments and I do really try to listen to what others say. I do have my fits when being criticized but after stepping back and listening to what the person or group is saying, I usually find room to improve upon what is being critique. Every musician has been critique sometime or even all the time in their career. Some critiques can seem insulting but for the most part are done as a way to help you improve your skills. I remember the juries in college where I had to perform for a panel of expert players. There critique meant a difference in what kind of grade I was to get. Sometimes the critiquing is biased based on a belief in what the listener thinks he hears or biased to a personality of a performer but for the most part I have only seen genuine and honest criticism in my career.

    This forum is a prime example of that. Everyone who comments on what they are listening to are giving an honest and genuine criticism of what they are experiencing when they listen to a piece. I know that is what I try to do. Isn't it great to be able to come to a forum and display what you are proud of and get helpful and supportive comments on how the piece sounds or possibly how one can improve what is presented.

    I ramble, sorry...

    Thanks for taking the time to listen and comment. You are right about the EWI. It is becoming fun to play. Now If I could get the pieces to sound that way in only one take and not in a multitude of takes.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

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