How to sound more "Contemporary"

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jlizerbram
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How to sound more "Contemporary"

Post by jlizerbram » Thu Dec 01, 2016 7:57 pm

Hi all,

One of the things I learned from the Road Rally this year is that you don't necessarily need to have the latest and greatest sample libraries for production - Dean, for example, still uses an old version of Sampletank, I believe, yet somehow creates fresh and contemporary recordings. I've recently had some returns for tension instrumentals, and the returns indicated the instruments sounded "dated". I feel comfortable with the VIs I'm using, but perhaps there's certain tweaks that I haven't tried yet to get out of my comfort range! Between EastWest, StylusRMX and Omnisphere as my main synth / orchestral instruments, that might seem like it was a good investment to keep sounds up to date and fresh. Any shared insight on how to sound more "contemporary" would be appreciated. Thanks so much

-Jeff

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Re: How to sound more "Contemporary"

Post by Sunset » Sat Dec 03, 2016 7:51 am

Hi Jeff,

I think that when you write tension and atmospheric synth stuff ,the gear or the programming needs to be current... meaning if you use stock presets in your soft synths, they have to sound similar to the references,not too "retro". I ran into an issue with this recently when the screener referred to "dated sounding higher end synth keyboard pads".. that was a stock Absynth 5 pad sound (oops!).. I've also had that issue with percussion sounding "dated".. in that case it MIGHT be the gear or depending on the style, might also be the programming (quantized vs not)... I still think Stylus RMX ( older venerable program) for example can be used , but so can a lot of the Komplete/Heavyocity stuff as well -depends on the listing and the references..

As far as the soft synths, like you, I also used Omnisphere (doesn't everyone?) and have a few other go to VI 's like Zebra that tend to show up in my submissions..I think for me, bell sounds and "dated upper register " samples have done me in when it comes to returns.. just a thought..

Hope some of this helps.. it's something I'm very aware of(!)


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Re: How to sound more "Contemporary"

Post by hummingbird » Sat Dec 03, 2016 10:00 am

I use the same VIs myself and get forwards, deals. I do a LOT of tinkering with Stylus to ensure that it's not recognizable. Make sure your Omnisphere is updated cause there's tons of sounds there. I layer stuff (the rule of threes... if you have say, a cello line, also have playing with it, maybe a low flute, and a textural droney thing playing the same line an octave above or below) this way nothing is playing by itself sonically. Esp with strings, if they aren't made human sounding, you'll get the dated or synthy remark (as I have too).

I recommend Dean's book too, Demystifying the Genre. From his book - Make sure there is something live in each cue, and try adding 'air' by playing a VST through a speaker and recording it that way.

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Re: How to sound more "Contemporary"

Post by mojobone » Thu Dec 08, 2016 5:16 pm

Presets will date you, unless you either keep up with the joneses by buying every new "pack" that comes out for your favorite synths, or learn to program the synths you have to get the new sounds you need.

For example I snagged an Akai mini-keyboard that came with a dedicated soft synth that frankly has some amazing sounds for dubstep, but at the moment, dubstep is sorta passe. I'll either have to program some new presets or wait for dubstep to become 'retro', which I figure will take 'bout twenty years.
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Re: How to sound more "Contemporary"

Post by jlizerbram » Thu Dec 08, 2016 7:03 pm

Great points there, Sunset, Mojo, and Hummingbird.

Thank you. I finally got some feedback on a return and was actually happy to hear that my submission sounded "Contemporary", so I think I'm getting closer :)
Hi Jeffrey, I like the electronic melody that comes in. I think it adds nice focus and feels contemporary.
Just a little snippet of a critique from a screener - so I was happy to hear that. My virtual library funds have dried out for now, so tweaking I must do!

Thanks again.

-Jeff

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