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Request for Feedback

Posted: Sat Jun 02, 2018 12:33 pm
by dskinner75
Hello all. Just starting my 3rd year in Taxi, and this is (I think) my first forum post. Have really enjoyed two Road Rallys and the folks I've met so far. Looking forward to helping out where I can, and being helped.

Would you kindly give me some feedback on "Ambient Bossa?" It's a cocktail jazz cue designed to be in the background of a party. I kept the melody simple for that reason. The guitar, shaker, and flute are real, everything else was a Pro Tools virtual instrument. Working on all my skills including musicianship, sound capture, mixing and mastering. Please give it to me straight, and as I know the bar is high.

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:29 am
Hi Dave, I like the composition, and to me (non-expert) the melody, rhythm & instrumentation seems just fine for the purpose. I would reduce the flute's volume, it seems to much in the foreground. I have to say, right from the start with the sax I got the "MIDI-driven" sensation that they always talk about. Now, this is from me as a 5-time submitter with no forwards to show, but then some of my pieces were rejected on similar grounds with the advice to "stagger" the notes more. But maybe that would not be enough. E.g. with the sax, maybe you could play it in with a keyboard, so you can get more modulation/expression into it? Not sure, maybe one of the experts can chip in here. Just my impression and 5c. Anyway, I like the piece, but more has to be done to make it sound more natural. Tom

P.S. Recently, I got a piece rejected, because the French horn sounded artificial. Given I played it myself, that was funny, however I had mixed in a soundfont horn. Maybe the mix was not good enough, who knows. I would have sworn no one could have told, so my guess is still that the screener thought my own play was artificial. :mrgreen:

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:43 pm
by andygabrys
Hi Dave,

Interesting piece!

There are several things you could do to revamp this one.

1) MIX - if you listen very very quietly on your monitors, you should be able to hear everything. Hear the kick drum, and the bass playing with it. Hear the strings on the guitar. Hear the lead instruments.

You need to work on your fine balance in each section and section to section. To me the flute was loud compared to the band, and also compared to the relative volume of the sax lead in the previous section.

2) Great sounds - I would look for the parts of the song that have the most "real" vibe and utilize those. The sax isn't happening sound wise. VI's are super hard to sound convincing as saxophones - this might be the best one out there but still...

I would go Flute, Guitar, Shaker, Piano as accompaniment, Drums, Bass.

3) Composition wise - often songs that roam through different key centers are tough to use for film and tv. However roaming key centers are somewhat "normal" for jazz compositions and by extension bossa and your piece definitely roams. I would consider simplifying the form a bit. Once piece that was AABA or ABCA or similar could be played several times through and would be easier to follow.

4) Note wise - there are a bunch of "crunchy" moments. My ears perked up a number of times but the section at 1:01 is an example.

You have the C-7, F13b9, BbMaj9 chord progression. The tenor plays the melody in a low register, C, Eb, G, F, A, D, Bb. The high notes of the guitar voicing form a b9 interval against the F the tenor plays on the F13b9 chord. So while the notes are all "inside" for the chords you have chosen, the result is a little ear challenge. The resulting sound might be more effective in a faster moving solo line instead of the slow notes in this part of the melody.

5) Length of notes - in the third section the piano sounds like its being played with the sustain pedal down, or at least a lengthy reverb decay. As the guitar moves through the various chords and plays tensions sometimes the piano notes are hanging on and clash.

6) comparison - have you played several similar bossa tunes off commercial recordings and then yours? does it sound in the ballpark?

my 2 cents.

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 12:58 pm
Cheeze, why do I even bother giving feedback given Andy's research report? :mrgreen: At least he agreed with me on that the flute was too loud. 8-) (Oh, and on the VI sax, too.)

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:53 pm
by johnlewitt
+1 to what Andy said.

But further to that, if I listen to the basic track (without the sax and flute), the playing shows you know what you're doing. So why not reach out to some of the members here to collaborate and ask them to put a real sax or a flute on here? There's no harm in asking and the Taxi community is all about collaboration.

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:44 pm
by Paulie
CTWF wrote:Cheeze, why do I even bother giving feedback given Andy's research report? :mrgreen: At least he agreed with me on that the flute was too loud. 8-) (Oh, and on the VI sax, too.)
Yep. Andy is the king of feedback... good thing the original post didn't also include a question on the right Mac setup. ;)


Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Mon Jun 04, 2018 3:50 pm
by Paulie
I'll add a little bit... as a sax player the patch has to go. These days someone might get triggered and sue you. ;) The piano and guitar accompaniment could use some rhythmic variety. The same rhythms over and over can get monotonous and sound like a Casio accompaniment instead of real players. That's part of the "MIDI" commentary that screeners can give. Also, make sure that your melodies breath. Give space for the player to take a breath, and give the melody a chance to pause. Also consider varying the percussion, or adding some hand percussion in different sections to give the rhythm track some variety. In general, instrumental cues usually have something changing every 8 bars or so.

Fun piece, reminds me a bit of Antonio Carlos Jobim, which is not a bad thing at all. :)

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:07 am
by dskinner75
Guys, Thank you for some amazing feedback; I'm using your ideas in my rewrite. I'll post the next version soon. Thanks a million!

PS. Paulie, we met at LAX coming home rally before last. I'm in Cameron, 1 1/2 hours NE of Austin.

Re: Request for Feedback

Posted: Tue Jun 05, 2018 3:38 pm
by nicotina
As a jazz fan/player I thought I should add some comments here. I agree with what was said above. That flute sounds real to me, but most of the other instruments do not. The rhythm section sounds like "Band in a Box" bossa- so I think you need some rhythmic variety- add some fills maybe, and don't quantize your playing to the grid. Vary what the bass is doing a bit, so it's not playing the exact same pattern through every change.

For the lead playing - lose the sax and keep the piano and flute. But here's where it gets tough. Real jazz soloing does not have every phrase start on the "one". The solos should "breath" even though it is piano (leave rests), and sometimes should start on the "and". Incorporating a few chromatic notes (outside the key_, dynamics, and grace notes or ornaments (which I do hear in the flute) will help bring the solo to life.

Arrangement wise, it does sound like a real Bossa, but I do agree that you might want to simplify the key cycling for the purposes of TV.

best of luck,