Your critique please

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RustyP
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Your critique please

Post by RustyP » Thu May 24, 2018 8:45 am

Hi folks,
I'm working on my chops as a composer, producer of instrumental cues. I'm very insecure. :)

Would you please give this one a listen and tell me what you think? Do you hear any problems?
I won't tell you my misgivings about it. I want to see if I'm hearing a real problem, or if it's in my head.

https://soundcloud.com/rusty-perez/bright-day

Thanks so much!
Rusty

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Re: Your critique please

Post by funsongs » Thu May 24, 2018 10:06 am

Hi Rusty.
Old-Guy ears responding - take the good, toss out the bad.
1) 'was expecting some kind of change up - add or subtract something - about the :38-:40 mark; as it starts to sound a little too repetitive/same-same.
But - you gotta be careful not to alter the forward flow you've established.
2) the change around 1:00 seems good - so, per item 1, something in-between would add some dynamics.
3) around the 1:18 mark (is that an edited spot?) the 'pocket' seems to come apart a little bit - not quite synced up & tight to the percussion track?

Other than those 'critical' points - the vibe/melody/groove/sound quality all seems to be well done.
This kind of up-beat cue would likely fit listings for light-hearted, happy, going somewhere vibe.

Hope that helps - "from the cheap seats in the Peanut Gallery"...
your mileage may vary.
Peter Rahill
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Re: Your critique please

Post by andygabrys » Thu May 24, 2018 1:09 pm

Like Peter remarked - this is a feel good thing that could be used in the right situation. Its a really good start but you can go way deeper into making this a great Broadcast Quality production.

The deeper you get on one cue, the easier it is to apply that depth of skill to a wider variety of genres and styles.

I would suggest the following:

1) read these books by Dean https://www.amazon.com/Dean-Krippaehne/ ... 654&sr=1-1 Demystifying the cue would be a good start. Production music has a specific form. The more educated you get on it, the more versatile you can be.

2) listen to some really great cues in BIG production music libraries. You can google these. Hint: they are usually owned by large communications entities. Most of them have tonnes of music on their sites, in a bazillion different genres. Find something that approximates the genre that you are working in. Then start taking notes - sounds, arrangement / form, mixing, production quality etc. Take note of the apparent volume to the ear of the cues. Your music will be compared against stuff of that quality so it helps to be in the ballpark level wise (related to how your are "mastering" your cues).

3) Go back to your cue and try to make modifications to make it closer to the quality of cues you have been listening to.

Producing instrumental music for film and TV is a game of being able to listen for the right things in reference tracks, and then listen to your own track with objectivity and detachment and make moves that put it in the right place to be competitive.

Peter already detailed a few things which I agree with.

Things I would look at:

1) Adding edit points. These are not essential, but picture editors often can use them to make more artful use of your music and conform it to pictures. 0:41 in this gives one possible way they could appear in a piece https://youtu.be/Y66j_BUCBMY - there are many other variations. These can add punctuation and a breath to your music.

2) rhythmic accuracy - as Peter noted

3) build arrangement - using stereo acoustic guitars is a choice you made.
What if the cue started with one center panned acoustic and after the first couple repetitions of the melody branched out to L and R guitars?
What if the arrangement started more minimally?
What if you held back the bass until the first melody section was over?
What if you started with no claps until the first or second melody repeat?
What if the claps were replaced by finger snaps on the first time through?
What if the quirky melodic figure starting the bridge was a different sound?
What if the melody started with piano, and then was doubled by some kind of hammered percussion and then doubled again with something else?
What if the piano made the first melody statement and then dropped out to a BG chord role with the melody being taken by other instruments?
What are typical melody instruments in acoustic type feel good tunes?
What if the bass was accentuated by a quarter note bass drum?
What if the bass got slightly more active as the cue progressed?

etc.

4) Mix - this is the kind of cue that its easy to lose objectivity in a hurry. Its reverb heavy and lush. You need a reference to refer to, or have a really strong idea of what you are going for.

To me: The piano sounds like its a thousand yards away- way behind the guitars. The claps are also pretty lush.

5) Polish - the ending. Turn up your monitors and listen. You can hear different fades on different instruments, and you can hear a click where you hit the computer keyboard to stop recording. Clean all of that up. Broadcast quality music is free of those artifacts.

Hope that helps. Great effort to start.

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Re: Your critique please

Post by RustyP » Thu May 24, 2018 1:46 pm

Thanks Peter and Andy!
Exactly what I was needing.

Honestly, I could hear the rhythmic issues, but I couldn't figure out exactly what was causing them. I also wasn't sure if it sounded "too human" or if quantizing would sterilize it too much.
I spent more time isolating things and discovered that my plucked rhythmic melody was way too human, (read sloppy sloppy sloppy)
Andy, thanks for the suggestions on adding forward momentum without adding more bulk necessarily.
Anyway, I have read Dean, but need to go revisit the books.

I'll clean and polish this a bit and see what happens.


Thanks guys!

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Re: Your critique please

Post by funsongs » Thu May 24, 2018 3:01 pm

Andy gave you the critique from those REALLY EXPENSIVE box seats - you know - where the team owners' guest usually sit. :? :lol:
(Thanks Andy - U. Duh Mann, Man!) :)
Peter Rahill
website: www.peterrahill.com
https://soundcloud.com/funsongs-1
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“The future aint what it use to be.” - Yogi Berra

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Re: Your critique please

Post by RustyP » Fri May 25, 2018 5:00 pm

Hey folks,
OK, So I've reworked my cue.
If you have the time and inclination, please give it another listen. I do really appreciate the help.

https://soundcloud.com/rusty-perez/bright-day

Here are two main concerns:
Loudness: I've been reading that film and TV program material should be around -23 LUFS. For streaming services it should be no higher than -14 LUFS. This version ended up about -18 LUFS. What recommendations do you have on loudness for cues?

Also, I'm noticing that my reverb tail is hanging in the wind at the end of my track. Is this a problem?

To my ears, this version sounds a lot better, but I'm still learning. :)

thanks!
Rusty

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Re: Your critique please

Post by funsongs » Fri May 25, 2018 5:15 pm

Hey Rusty.
IMHO - huge improvement - the changes come at the appropriate time such that there's no sense of lag or being overly-repetitious.
On the 'down-side', if I may call it that, the first :19 of Intro, before the percussion comes in, sounds oddly quantized & 'stiff'; lacking some fluidity.
Maybe that's appropriate for the style and cadence -
though, I don't know how you might address that without spoiling the rest of what works WITH the percussion & tempo.

While this is NOT a song, the Intro-feeling part probably could be half as long, which may help some, too. Just a thought.

My 2 cents' worth.
Peter Rahill
website: www.peterrahill.com
https://soundcloud.com/funsongs-1
You Tube channel: Peter Rahill - funsongs
https://taxi.com/peterrahill
“The future aint what it use to be.” - Yogi Berra

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Re: Your critique please

Post by andygabrys » Fri May 25, 2018 5:55 pm

RustyP wrote: Loudness: I've been reading that film and TV program material should be around -23 LUFS. For streaming services it should be no higher than -14 LUFS. This version ended up about -18 LUFS. What recommendations do you have on loudness for cues?
That is the $1,000,000 question these days.

Your cue will never be played at the recommended loudness you have stated above unless it is a solo featured instrumental on a show and there is no dialogue or on camera sound. Otherwise it will always be pulled down in volume so it doesn't compete with those other sounds.

Another thing to consider is LUFS is a time weighted average - so over 1 hr of TV program, the time weighted average cannot be over a certain threshold. AFAIK,

If its streamed on Youtube, it will be "normalized" in volume to youtube's current specs - same as on iTunes, Spotify etc.

If its auditioned by a production company or editor for use in a show - now you have no idea what the other stuff they have listened to is, or from where. Production music is typically fairly hot in level, and most people continue to render it fairly "loud" so that it competes. Louder stuff generally sounds more impressive all things considered.

So my personal bar for this is to listen to some high money production music off a major company's website as long as its in the same genre and instrumentation. I make it like that so it comptetes on that playing field.
RustyP wrote:Also, I'm noticing that my reverb tail is hanging in the wind at the end of my track. Is this a problem?
When you have a sting or a short decay button ending, its got to sound natural to have the widest number of possible uses. It you hit a sustaining chord on the guitars, let the strings totally die out before you stop recording. Then when you edit the ending in your DAW, cut all live recordings off at the same place after they die out, getting rid of keyboard and mouse clicks, breathing and chair squeaks, and use automation on your master fader to bring things to a nice close. I think you faded out too quickly on this one. I would let it ring a bit more.

A lot of virtual instruments have mutes built in. Like BFD for drums has certain keys that are cymbals hits, and other keys are cymbal mutes. So you can hit the cymbal in time with the band and deaden it after a certain number of beats. This can help. Piano you can automate a sustain pedal down and up when you want it to become silent.
RustyP wrote: To my ears, this version sounds a lot better, but I'm still learning. :)
Yes much better and getting much closer!

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Re: Your critique please

Post by RustyP » Fri May 25, 2018 6:55 pm

Again guys, thanks so much!

Peter, I think I hear what you're hearing on the first section and I'll see what I can do. I think it's all in the piano melody and maybe I can nudge some notes a bit. We'll see.

Andy, thanks for all of the detailed commentary.

About loudness and comparing to music on the high end sites, how do you go about comparing, making the web site audio the same as your audio in your DAW? Do you buy and download a cue? Audio levels are so variable.
Thanks so much for all of the help! :)
rusty

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Re: Your critique please

Post by andygabrys » Fri May 25, 2018 7:06 pm

By ear. Play half a dozen of the cues on the website. Then yours. Close? Good. Your too quiet? Master louder.

It helps if you have meters on your interface that give a rough assessment.

If you have a reliable meter on your DAW or a plug-in then you can use that too.

After a while you get a feel for how loud different genres are.

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