Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

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fretman
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Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by fretman » Wed May 12, 2021 8:08 am

I recently got a few Spanish instrumentals rejected for a variety of reasons, one of which was unrealistic sounding castanets. This can either be due to bad sounds or bad playing, or both. I used castanets from IK Multimedia's Orchestral Percussion, which were the best sounding castanets I currently have. I studied up on how to play castanets here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ag6KmZ-2Ymo (all 3 parts plus "how to choose"). The "low" clicker plays on the down beats while the "high" clicker plays all the other notes. Assuming I played them realistically, then I need to find better sounds. Any ideas what else to try?

The submissions can be found here:
https://www.taxi.com/members/zuHdYfRqTI ... paul-smith
https://www.taxi.com/members/zuHdYfRqTI ... paul-smith

The other critique was the lack of an "arc". The intensity is pretty much the same throughout the pieces. I can hear that and can come up with ideas on how to make the piece more dynamic. Apparently I was too subtle as I layered on instruments. But the castanet sounds - do they sound too fake?

Thank you for suggestions on how to move forward.

Paul

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by AlanHall » Wed May 12, 2021 9:36 am

Often very good sounds can be compromised by a less-than-ideal FX chain. Too dry/too forward/too present can all make the instrument stick out as artificial. Don't give up on the sounds you have until you have placed them realistically into the virtual ensemble you're creating.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by Telefunkin » Thu May 13, 2021 12:04 am

Hi Paul, great playing on all your tracks!
I'm guessing the castanets issue was on 'Palma' and 'Cordoba' (although you don't say and the link shows a set of tunes). On those two tracks the triplet timings seem machine-gun accurate so that could be the main giveaway. Perhaps if those triplets had a touch of inaccuracy or swing it might help, and more volume difference across the set. Also, I imagine the dancers playing them moving around would cause some slower eq and volume variations even from the front row, so if you think about that it could give a touch more realism. Just guessing though. Nice tracks!
Graham (UK). Still composing a little faster than decomposing.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by Ted » Thu May 13, 2021 6:30 am

Telefunkin wrote:
Thu May 13, 2021 12:04 am
Hi Paul, great playing on all your tracks!
I'm guessing the castanets issue was on 'Palma' and 'Cordoba' (although you don't say and the link shows a set of tunes). On those two tracks the triplet timings seem machine-gun accurate so that could be the main giveaway. Perhaps if those triplets had a touch of inaccuracy or swing it might help, and more volume difference across the set. Also, I imagine the dancers playing them moving around would cause some slower eq and volume variations even from the front row, so if you think about that it could give a touch more realism. Just guessing though. Nice tracks!
I agree with what Graham said. The castanets do have a thin, piercing metronome-like timbre to my ear. I have those same castanets so I went into SampleTank to see what the stock effects setup would be-- and there's an EQ Compressor, a Pultec and a hall reverb. I looked to see if I had any other castanet samples that were better-- and the ones in Miroslav sounded like a typewriter, so I think the ones from Orchestral Percussion are much better sounding.

I'd maybe increase the reverb and play with the eq so the timbre is more pleasant and realistic. And like Graham said, change the phrasing so it's less mechanical.

Also, I thought the compositions were very good, but as a guitarist, it sounds to my ears-- in some places-- like the guitars are MIDI generated instead of being actually played. Are those MIDI guitars?

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by Paulie » Mon May 31, 2021 9:56 pm

Agree re: the castanet triplets, they are too perfect and even volume wise. You could humanize it a bit by changing the velocity so that the triplets start softer and have some variation.... if the 1 and 3 beats are at 127 MIDI velocity, the triplets could perhaps be at velocities 30, 60 and 90 before the downbeat at 127. (this could vary quite a bit, it depends on the particular sample library). Setting them back a little more in the mix might help as well.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by fretman » Tue Jun 01, 2021 9:30 am

Thanks, Paulie. I actually DID vary the velocity and timing of those, but I was apparently not aggressive enough with that. I was attempting to use the "just a little bit goes a long way" idea that I often find to be the preferred mindset suggested by those more experienced than me. But not here.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by Kolstad » Thu Jun 03, 2021 12:25 am

Don't sweat it. I've found that sounding "real" isn't always the same as sounding "reel", meaning that the sounds they have in mind sometimes is more like an imagination of how the "real" deal sounds. They want it to sound like in similar types of productions, whether they are "real" or not. It has actually helped me to make this distinction. They want something that sounds produced like in a film, "reel" not "real".
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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by fretman » Sat Jun 12, 2021 4:06 pm

LOL, that thought never occurred to me, Kolstad. You may be right about that. Thanks for sharing your insght.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by fretman » Thu Jun 17, 2021 7:26 pm

Just to close this thread down, my two traditional Spanish folk re-do's got forwarded this time! But the reviewer still wished the castanets sounded better, although they were considered good enough. I appreciate everyone's comments.

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Re: Got "dinged" for castanets not sounding real

Post by cantilena » Thu Jun 24, 2021 6:54 am

Hi Fretman,

I know you closed this thread, but I only saw it now and wanted to offer my two cents. : )

For "realism", I always try to play my percussion on my MIDI keyboard, and in real time. Yes, I'll fix it up later if it's messy, but I find the variation in velocity from my "imperfect" human playing adds a lot to the track, and can make certain sounds, especially percussion, sound less robotic.

Another thing to think about is quantization. Some DAWs, for example, have a "quantize strength" option that allows you to quantize SOME, but not absolutely to the beat. So if you play it in kind of sloppily and then quantize maybe 75 or 80 percent, you can end up with something that sounds more like a live player.

Your sample library is something to look at as well. You're always going to be dealing with a set number of samples in a percussion library, and it's often fairly easy to tell how many there are, and at which velocity levels the "breaks" are. For example, you might have 4 different castanet samples that play back, and the quietest might be between velocity 1 and 30, then the next loudest might be between 31 and 60, and so on. You also might have a "round robin" option on your library, which if you turn it on will automatically randomize the samples and ensure that the exact same sample doesn't get played back twice in a row.

And finally, reverb! The more reverb there is, the farther away and "roomier" something will sound in the mix. That can be especially good for percussion, as they can commonly be farther away in a physical recording space, which we're always trying to replicate in our recordings. A bit more reverb can also soften and humanize the sounds by making them a little less "present" in the mix.

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I'm so glad your tracks were forwarded!!

Andrew
https://www.taxi.com/members/andrewgilpin

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