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chiaraf

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PostSubject: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:25 am

Anyone into writing music of the more orchestral genre?

Thought this could be a nice place to chat about or offer some advice about this stuff whether it be just starting out composition, orchestration, instrumental libraries or just speaking about inspiring composers that have helped you in your writing!

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Mon Sep 01, 2014 7:34 am

i just recently got into making some orchestral music.
I have to say, that i don't know a lot about actual classical composition.

But I'm up to share my workflow or even my "partiture"/notation of my song(s) if it helps others to see how i made my music.

I am currently using the ableton suit orchestral library to make my music and some other samples from free libs i found and the drums of war lib.

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Mon Sep 01, 2014 8:33 am

Awesome! I'm not an Ableton user so don't know anything about libraries/composing in there but would be really cool to hear what you have/how the library sounds!


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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Mon Sep 01, 2014 9:00 am

Ok.

It is these two here:
---


Looking forward to your comments. I don'T think they live up to yours though. Some awesome pices you have there.

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Mon Sep 01, 2014 10:06 am

Woah, those tracks sound amazing.

You have some really fantastic melodic ideas in the first one, reminds me a lot of one of my favourite composers, Jeremy Soule (explains the Skyrim comment someone left you!)

When it comes to the second one, you seem to really have grasped the orchestration and it sounds much fuller with the drone but may be cool to turn it down a notch next time so we can really concentrate on the melodic ideas. Also those low brass stabs could do with a longer sustain to really emphasise them! Sounds awesome though!

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Tue Sep 02, 2014 4:57 pm

Thanks a lot. Really appreciate your comments.

I hope i get around doing more orchestral works in the future, but i have to be bitten by the correct muse for that Very Happy

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Wed Sep 03, 2014 3:43 am

I absolutely love film and game scores. They're what got me in to music in the first place (my first CD was Howard Shore's The Two Towers OST when I was eight). Although I tend to do more electronic stuff, I've played around with orchestral music ever since I started producing. None of my pure orchestral pieces have ever seen the light of day, but I've been incorporating it with my usual electronic style in various degrees to some success.

I used a variety of free soundfonts for a while, but last year I finally got Komplete and the Action Strings library for Kontakt, so now I'm kind of spoiled by choice. I'm almost not sure what to do with halfway decent samples.

Any basic orchestration tips for someone who tends not to do much more than some chords and a melody (and maybe an arp if I'm feeling wild)?

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:05 am

Thanks for joining Legacide!

Its hard to suggest without knowing exactly what you want to write but I think the number 1 tip to writing orchestral stuff is listen to as much as you can. (obvious, I know!) A lot of people who want to write film style music tend to just stick to the film stuff or your standard 'epic' music like Two Steps From Hell etc and I think the best way to get better is listen to as much different types of orchestral as you can. Go through and see what techniques they use in Baroque, try out the structure of Classical or the instrumentation in Romantic. Have a listen to choral works and the 'strange' ones like Philip Glass or John Cage. See what you like best and pick and choose...be a sponge!

I think another thing is not to be scared of using different instruments/techniques. Have the same freedom as when you create electronic music, play with the sounds, spaces and textures. I know with classical stuff there seems to be more rules and its more frightening to try newer things but basically ignore all the crap and experiment! I remember once swapping the standard violin for a Chinese erhu and the difference it made was staggering (I'm totally in love with the instrument now)

Many people have different ways of composing. I sometimes try out different ways though I usually have a film and some examples from the directors to help me start. If there's no film, I tend to start with a chordal pattern and the melody comes much later. I build on that chord, maybe adding in some weird, 'off sounding' note that brings dynamic and a little surprise (Choral composer Eric Whitacre is known for his 'chord clusters' that have a bit of dissonance in them but they sound amazing!). I also like to hold off extreme bass notes or key changes until I want a sort of 'emotional peak' because it always gives a piece that kick it needs.

Another thing to think of is avoid adding too much because there is a point where it begins to sound messy. If you have too many multiple tunes/rhythms going on, it will just be confusing for the listener. Countermelodies are good but only after you have established your main motif!

Percussion is super effective if you feel like the piece is missing something. Try it out...usually works for me.

Lastly...have fun with it. I know it seems cheesy but theres no point in writing something you don't like.



If you wanted tips on an actual piece, I'd be more than happy to try and help.
(really enjoy your music by the way!)

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:15 pm

I've dabbled in the genre before and I think I did alright overall.

Having a bit of experience actually performing in an orchestra really helped a lot in that regard. If you feel like your composition skills need a little bit of tuning up or you can't find your stride, it helps to listen to other orchestral pieces for inspiration. When I made Sentence, I used Junichi Natkasuru's Winter Storm from Ace Combat 5 (and when listening, the inspiration is somewhat clear).

There are also some interesting techniques that you can utilize: if your music is sounding a bit muddy, you can utilize techniques for making it a bit cleaner and/or a bit more filling. Look into orchestral panning when mixing out the final product -- it makes an amazing difference.

EDIT: one more thing I'd like to add -- look into learning some music theory. There are some interesting foundations you could use to really convey meaning in your melodies (augmented chords, anyone?)
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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Wed Sep 03, 2014 7:40 pm

Great page about orchestral panning! Will have a thorough read of that, thanks.

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:43 am

It's not just augmentation. Diminishing can be nice too Wink

But yeah. Panorama is very, very important to get a good "real" orchestra feel.

Another point would be, that the most instruments in an orchestra are pretty much played monophonic. There are ways to play two tones at once on the strings, yeah... But as far as i know it is quite uncommon to do so outside of solo violins or more modern styles (please correct if my memory fails me here).

So... your 1st violin section should not play a full triad or even more as a chord but one note... The second note would be played by the 2nd violins, the violas, celli etc. This makes the feeling a bit more realistic.
Same for woodwinds and brass.

Then we have "humanization". When i program orchetsral instruments i always have a small randomizer on the velocity. Only like 2 or 3 % but this actually makes a difference (at least in my head Very Happy Feels good for me) and even in the timing. It doesn't matter how good a musician is. None of them is 100% in time.

A big thing is the reverb as well. A nice sounding reverb brings brings the panorama back together a little bit and glues all the sounds together. Classical music usually is not recorded in a studio but in a great sounding hall. And that's the reverbaration.

Oh: And there is more than one way to organize a full symphonic orchestra. So if you think that it sounds off, feel free to puzzle the sections into a nice bow in front of the conductor. Wink
I, and that is my personal opinion alone, don't like too much, that the double basses and celli (the strings that provide us with the beautiful basses) are usuall on the right.

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Thu Sep 04, 2014 12:51 pm

Nequissimus wrote:
It's not just augmentation. Diminishing can be nice too Wink

But yeah. Panorama is very, very important to get a good "real" orchestra feel.

Another point would be, that the most instruments in an orchestra are pretty much played monophonic. There are ways to play two tones at once on the strings, yeah... But as far as i know it is quite uncommon to do so outside of solo violins or more modern styles (please correct if my memory fails me here).

So... your 1st violin section should not play a full triad or even more as a chord but one note... The second note would be played by the 2nd violins, the violas, celli etc. This makes the feeling a bit more realistic.
Same for woodwinds and brass.

Then we have "humanization". When i program orchetsral instruments i always have a small randomizer on the velocity. Only like 2 or 3 % but this actually makes a difference (at least in my head Very Happy Feels good for me) and even in the timing. It doesn't matter how good a musician is. None of them is 100% in time.

A big thing is the reverb as well. A nice sounding reverb brings brings the panorama back together a little bit and glues all the sounds together. Classical music usually is not recorded in a studio but in a great sounding hall. And that's the reverbaration.

Oh: And there is more than one way to organize a full symphonic orchestra. So if you think that it sounds off, feel free to puzzle the sections into a nice bow in front of the conductor. Wink
I, and that is my personal opinion alone, don't like too much, that the double basses and celli (the strings that provide us with the beautiful basses) are usuall on the right.

- diminished yesyesyesyes

- that's an excellent point that you mention about polyphony/monophony and it is incredibly important to note; utilizing monophony is not only more realistic in theory (woodwind/brass instruments are monophonic) but it also gives you more control of your composition with regards to panning and dynamics. Separating multiple parts of an instrument group by dynamic isn't possible if you just layer in chord on top of chord in one instrument. As a result, you may have a large amount of instruments, but at the end it'll be great. Also, something that I've tried: I've actually tried putting a number of the same instrument as if part of a huge ensemble (for example: three first trumpets, three second trumpets, etc) and very slightly manipulated their tuning as the song goes on -- as a brass player, exhaustion can do big numbers on your embouchure. It's not something you want to put a massive difference on such that it becomes dissonant, just a really really small amount. It can do numbers on the overall fullness, it's quite surprising.

- humanization is something that I would love to do, but I actually never knew how to randomize the note velocities automatically within a certain range; otherwise I'd randomize within 5% or so... if there's any FL studio users that can actually tell me how to do this, I wouldn't mind. Trying to add humanization manually is extremely taxing. Neutral

- REVERB LOVER

- also I'm not a huge fan of panning the bass to the right either, it reduces the effect imo -- I put them somewhat closer to the center, haha

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:05 pm

Here is one of my Modern/Classical pieces that I've written for Strings, Piano & Wind/Brass but in this I've used the sounds from Ableton Live Lite 8 that I thought would sound the best in my opinion. Wish I had more instrumentsounds to work with.


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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:27 pm

This is just an example for my instument layout.
I haven't panned the instruments themselves, since they have been recorded in an orchestral position by ableton and sounded nice where they were Wink
This is the secon crescendo of "im Waldkönigreich" and you still can see where the instruments are in the room Smile

But more important. This shows, how far i lay out my instruments.

I would love to build an orchestra from solo instruments though. Where i can take (i think 8?) my first violins each one alone and detune them by cents and give them individual sounds for different instruments and what ever... But i guess that would be just TOO much... for me and for my computer Very Happy


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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Thu Sep 04, 2014 5:14 pm

All such great tips from everyone. Glad this topic has taken off.

Halogen- wrote:


- that's an excellent point that you mention about polyphony/monophony and it is incredibly important to note; utilizing monophony is not only more realistic in theory (woodwind/brass instruments are monophonic) but it also gives you more control of your composition with regards to panning and dynamics. Separating multiple parts of an instrument group by dynamic isn't possible if you just layer in chord on top of chord in one instrument. As a result, you may have a large amount of instruments, but at the end it'll be great. Also, something that I've tried: I've actually tried putting a number of the same instrument as if part of a huge ensemble (for example: three first trumpets, three second trumpets, etc) and very slightly manipulated their tuning as the song goes on -- as a brass player, exhaustion can do big numbers on your embouchure. It's not something you want to put a massive difference on such that it becomes dissonant, just a really really small amount. It can do numbers on the overall fullness, it's quite surprising.


Yes yes and yes to all of this! I've found the multiplying and slight detuning works wonders for making things sound fuller and more 'real'. Definitely a supporter of this technique.

Halogen- wrote:

- REVERB LOVER


yASSSSS
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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Fri Sep 05, 2014 10:16 pm

Thanks for the tips, everyone! I listen to all sorts of orchestral music, but I've never analyzed it quite like I have dance music. I'll definitely start doing that.

I've seen orchestral panning brought up before. I try to use it  and even have a diagram of orchestra layout on my nifty cheat sheet that I made recently. I just wonder how extreme the panning is supposed to be. Like, should I really be panning the basses hard right and the violins hard left? Or is it more subtle than that?

Halogen- wrote:
- humanization is something that I would love to do, but I actually never knew how to randomize the note velocities automatically within a certain range; otherwise I'd randomize within 5% or so... if there's any FL studio users that can actually tell me how to do this, I wouldn't mind. Trying to add humanization manually is extremely taxing. Neutral

Ctrl+A in the piano roll to select all, then go to Tools->Randomize (in the piano roll) or just hit Alt+R. Make sure the "Levels" radio button is on, then tweak the knobs to your heart's content. You can also randomize pitch, so that's pretty neat. The "Scale Levels" tool is also pretty useful if you want to accentuate the dynamic range of an instrument.

Although it's time consuming, recently I've been manually putting in note velocities for my piano parts. I'm not good enough of a player to actually play the parts I write on my MIDI keyboard, but taking the time to get each note sounding just right is soooo worth it in the end. That's how I got from this (piano at 3:14) to this (piano at 2:27). If you do velocities right, you don't even need decent piano samples. I'm considerably less meticulous with my other instruments, but it makes a huge difference for piano.

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PostSubject: Re: Classical/Orchestral Composing    Sat Sep 13, 2014 9:08 pm

I'll be following this thread closely - orchestral composing/production is something that I've just been beginning to get into. What a wonderful field.
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