X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

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X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by daniel481 » Wed Oct 24, 2007 6:18 pm

I submitted a song to this listing recently: The Owner of a new Music Library needs a wide range of well-known PUBLIC DOMAIN CHRISTMAS INSTRUMENTALS (no vocals) for use in film/TV/commercials, etc. This production music veteran signed dozens of TAXI writers to his previous company, and wants to repeat that same type of success with this new venture. He needs tracks with button ending - no fade-outs. This company will offer a standard exclusive deal where they will control the publishing rights of the songs they sign, the writer keeps the writer's share of the royalties, and the license fees are split between company & writer. Great performances are essential. Broadcast quality needed [excellent home recordings are OK]. Please submit one to three songs online or per CD. All submissions will be screened and critiqued by TAXI and must be received no later than Oct. 9, 2007. TAXI # S071009XMAnd recently had it returned, with the bulk of the review saying: "Hello Dan, I like the contemporary concept of the track. The Elfman-esque orchestration ideas are certainly valid, and are solidly done as far as the way the arrangement is scored. This track could potentially serve as an effective demo of your scoring ideas. However, for a high bar broadcast quality pitch such as this one, I advise using samples/patches that offer a wider range of expressive possibilities with the orchestral parts so as to convincingly convey the effect of an actual human ensemble. Keep up the good work & all best to you." and the main reason for return being: "production could sound fuller & more polished."Here's the song, and I was just curious to see what your thoughts are on this, because I was really pretty hopeful on a forward for this one."Deck the Halls"http://www.taximusic.com/song.php?song_ ... am=1Thanks in advance!Dan

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by mazz » Wed Oct 24, 2007 8:23 pm

Hi Dan,Some very cool ideas in this one! I'm not sure if you were going for more natural sounding orchestration or more electronic sounding orchestration here. This arrangement seems to straddle both approaches but isn't firmly in one camp or the other.If you were going for an orchestral sound, your samples don't sound like they are up to the standards of the day (such as EWQLSO Gold). Some things that give it away are the repeated notes, every note sounds like a repeat of the one before it, same velocity, and also the fast runs on most of the instruments sound very MIDI, too quantized. I use EWQLSO Platinum and I spend a lot of time on runs trying to make them sound like someone played them even when I step enter them. Also, on an orchestral piece, I would suggest making the piano sound darker. Yours has a bright rock sound which makes the piano seem like it's too up front compared to the rest of the "band". Your mix is also more like a rock mix which makes me think of a more electronic vibe.If you were going for more of a Mannheim Steamroller type of electronic approach, then I think you need to commit to it and use synth strings, not sampled strings. I still think you could warm up the piano but some of the other sounds make more sense in a more overtly electro context.Keep going and don't let a return get you down. They're a fact of life here in TAXI-land. If you want to re-work the piece, think about your concept first and let that guide you.Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are mine only and are given with the caveat that you might think I'm full of it. Don't take it personally!Your colleague,Mazz
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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by daniel481 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:28 am

Thanks! I definitely was going for a kind of a hybrid approach here, somewhere between a rock song and an orchestral song. I guess I was hoping they would think that was innovative But I agree, the samples aren't up to par, and I did just order Gold last night (which I talk about in the other post you responded too). As far as making runs sound more lifelike, what are some of your tips for doing that efficiently? Does something like Logic's humanize option produce good enough results? I'm kind of new to this whole orchestral thing Thanks again,Dan

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by davewalton » Thu Oct 25, 2007 2:50 am

Hi Dan,This is one of those where the composition is clearly very good while it's the quality of the instrumentation that's holding it back... a budget issue, not a music or talent issue.I had the opportunity to spend a couple days at Taxi this summer with HoraceJesse, poking around and learning about a lot of issues, mostly screening. I "pretend" screened a good number of instrumental tracks and by far and away (like 95%), the problem was that instead of using orchestral packages like EWQL Gold, the composers were still using orchestral sounds that were either synthesized or poorly sampled.I could summarize my posts regarding my Taxi "screening" experiences by practically BEGGING you to re-evaluate your current roster of sounds as compared to the quality of sounds that you hear from other film/television composers. Google "film television composer" and listen to the music from the composers on the first couple of pages. Some of them are using real orchestras but most aren't. Eric Hester should show up on the first, maybe second page. Listen to his "Homeland Security Theme" under "General Demo" (which is under "Music"). The quality of your sounds has to be convincing like that... to the point where regular people just assume it's an orchestra and the musicians listening will be pretty sure it's a virtual orchestra and offer their congratulations on the realism. To a musician it's obvious that it's a virtual orchestra because woodwind players are more fluid and expressive, but that's overlooked because the whole thing is convincing and sounds so darn good. It really hit home during my Taxi experience how important it is to start with quality sounds. I think the EWQL Gold package (the expanded package) is now under $500. If all you did was "rewire" the midi channels to trigger the basic sounds in Gold instead of your current sounds... forward guaranteed (from my perspective at least). Even a purchse of EWQL Silver for $195 would be a huge step up. Vikki (Hummingbird) can tell you what a difference a small collection of quality sounds has made.As a composer it appears that you've grown beyond your sounds. Time to elevate the professionalism of your sounds to the level of your compositions. PS - Mazz has piles of dough stashed in his house and buried in and around his house and back yard if you need a source for the new aquisitions.

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by lboogie77 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 3:07 am

Well Dan,You have heard from some of seasoned vets on taxi.I have to also agree. The tune is fun and a good composition.Some velocity editing and some note shifting here and there and some more up to par sounds... You would most likely get the nod. You definitely have the ideas and talent. But that garage band orchestra does your compositions no justice. Try the tune again with ewqlso gold and hear the difference... I'm hoping there will be another xmas listing as I missed the last one. 77

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by daniel481 » Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:06 am

Thanks guys, I'm really glad you liked the composition, and I actually ordered Gold last night! I'm really excited to get it and had the realization last night that I was fooling myself into thinking that I could get away with using the cheaper sounds. Hope this investment will equal more forwards!

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by rcase » Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:58 am

Quote:PS - Mazz has piles of dough stashed in his house and buried in and around his house and back yard if you need a source for the new aquisitions. Address please?
"Financial success as a songwriter requires 3 things: One, craft. Two, volume. Three, time." - Vikki Flawith

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by squidlips » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:18 am

I've got a shovel.

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by squidlips » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:19 am

Daniel, this is a wonderful composition. And while the return might be disappointing, finding out you've outgrown your instruments certainly isn't. Well done! I'm glad you got the Gold version, you'll be well satisfied with it, based on what I'm hearing of it here on the forums. I'm dying to get my hands on it too.

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Re: X-Mas Song Return, second opinions?

Post by matto » Thu Oct 25, 2007 6:29 am

Okay I'm gonna have to disagree with some of the posts here. IMHO, he first problem with your version of "Deck The Halls" is, I can't hear much application for it. Always try to think of the likely applications for Xmas music. Think of the various scenarios in film, tv, advertising etc that you've heard Xmas music in. Then write something that would fit many of these applications. Your piece may be "innovative", but I can't really think of any application it would fit, except maybe some odd comedy thing. By contrast, I can think of TONS of applications for Chris' simple, yet movingly beautiful treatment of "Silent Night".Secondly...gonna be dead honest with you here...this is just not among your strongest compositions. It sounds thrown together, like you did it in a hurry, just so you'd have something to submit.Compositionally and sonically it sounds very rough and unpolished. I have to disagree with Dave that this is a budget issue. You could replace every orchestral sound in this with Gold and the end result would still not be forwardable to this listing, because the underlying composition isn't polished enough.Gold is going to sound much better out of the box, no doubt, but if you want to produce brodcast quality orchestral tracks the writing needs to be more solid, and you will still have to do a ton of manual tweaking to make it sound just right. You have to think of your individual lines as played by an individual instrument (or sometimes section) and impart that natural phrasing onto each one of them. NO library or sequencer function is gonna do that automatically for you. Beyond that, you have to listen to orchestral music (real or mocked-up) more carefully to get a better grasp of the subtleties and musical devices used within the genre.Remember, in the end this is NOT about submission deadlines and forwards, it's about building up a catalog of quality material that can make you money for 10, 20 or even more years. Getting forwarded is great, but unless your music is in about (generally speaking here) the top 10% of forwarded submissions, your chances of scoring a deal are slim at best.You've been submitting a ton of stuff to a ton of listings, and while you have done stand out work like on the B-movie listing, in general many of your submissions sound like they could've used an extra day of TLC. My advice to you is to slow down, write fewer things and instead polish your compositions more carefully so you can do them full justice and give them the best chance of eventually making you money!Hope this doen't sound overly harsh and you don't take it the wrong way... Best of luck to you Dan!matto

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