Hello fellow authors
I’m having some trouble getting some of my orchestral works accepted, and I can’t really seem to find the reason why.
I’ve been listening to a lot of the works that are already placed on AudioJungle, and the only thing I can think of is that some of it sounds more “synthetic” or less “natural”, and that maybe my tracks sound too filmish and too much like you are in the room with the orchestra, which then makes it not very eligible as library music.
Maybe it is my mixing that needs some work as well, I don’t know - but I’d love to hear from you guys, what you think could be my issue or what I could work on in the future as I love to make these orchestral works. It’s just sad that they’re just hanging out in “Finder” on my computer.
Thanks in advance!
Hope you’re well. I think for the most part you are correct on your thoughts about mixing and sound design. Not sure what you used as samples either for this tune in particular, but I think some better quality sounds could help. But main focus should be on the mixing and arrangement. The idea is there. Just need to work on the execution of it. The balance is pretty off between the sounds in general. Could use some more low end and mid range in some elements. Also towards the end here, it seems to be clipping and distorting. One spot you can literally hear your string samples stutter so I’m guessing it’s either clipping or you have some compression/limiter things to work out.
Library music isn’t always easy to get down. Things that work in a film score won’t exactly work for library music and vice versa. While you don’t want a ton of changes and evolution, you still need some variety in your track overall as it proceeds through the piece. There’s some spots here that I think the transitions need work and just need some new direction or evolution. It’s a lot of the same piano riff repeated and then the strings come and play the same riff repeated, then the choir, ect. Similar to trailer music, it’s got to evolve and build properly.
So in short, it seems that it comes down to simple quality assurance on the reviewers part. Mixing could be improved, arrangement could be improved and sound choice could be improved.
Hope this helps a bit,
The quality of the sound libraries are not very good especially the strings and choir. I would also think about the mix as well as it sounds too cluttered with no seperation as the track gets busy. Just my thoughts so my comments do not mean very much.
I would always trying to hear successful orchestral tracks. Soundwise and composition-wise. Your personal taste and impression and feeling, what sounds good or how orchestral tracks should sound like, doesn’t matter in that case. If a track is successful in stock libraries, then the composer/producer hit the nail on the head and matches the customer demands.
In your case I see some potential for improvements.
Composition: Try to be a bit more versatile. As an example your intro. The piano plays one minute long the same phrase, the low brass plays one note, the lo strings/cellos playing one note. I also noticed no dynamic or articulation changes, which are important for orchestral music
Libraries and sample quality. Here you need to find more high quality samples. Layering from different libraries helps very often. But more important are dynamic and articulation changes. The best library is useless and sounds bad, if all instruments playing the whole time with full power. That isn’t realistic. Most important controllers: velocity (also for strings and brass), CC1 - modulation, CC10- expression, breath controller (mostly used for vibrato intensity)
Mixing quality: In orchestral libraries the sections get recorded separately. That means, that the sonic of the recorded room will add up, if you play different sections in your DAW. Also important to know: Every instrument group produces resonant freqencies. By example violins. They are nearly always need to be tamed in the range of 2kHz. Also critical resonant frequencies add up from different instruments in the mix, depending which note you are playing at the same time.
Recorded instruments have their own position in the stereo field, but it is sometimes needed to tweak the position of a group in the stereo field and in the room.
In my opinion your mix needs also a bigger reverb.
There is no single factor or single tweak, which makes an orchestral track sounding good. It’s always a lot of work (especially for the dynamics) to get a good sound.
Thank you so much for the very elaborate answer.
I think I’ll have to work more on dynamics and definitely also on the arrangement. I actually can’t hear the clipping/distortion, but maybe that is my untrained ear!
You’re correct that there is a huge difference to film scoring and library music, and I definitely have to look more into that.
Regarding my samples, I’m currently using Albion One and Spitfire Solo Strings but I might have to look into other samples for sure.
Thanks for the feedback, gballx.
The mix might be way to confused and with too little seperation, I agree on that one. More dynamics is something I’ll have to work on!
Wow, what a professional response and very honest feedback.
I’m using Albion One and Spitfire Solo Strings as my samples but will definitely look into other libraries as well.
I totally agree on the mixing part, and I’ll have to listen to some more pieces to refine my own sound and I’ve obviously not played around much with the dynamics which makes it sound flat and without movement. I’m not very trained in mixing and especially not in orchestral mixing as I think it is a big mouthful but I love composing, so I better just get to work!
Thanks again for the feedback, I’ll have something to work on now.
That is not a bad choice - depending on the music you want to produce. For action tracks I would more tend to other libraries from Orchestral Tools, but for all kind of epic and classical oriented music Albion One is a good choice. For the solo instruments I cannot give a comment, because I don’t own a single solo library from Spitfire Audio.
That brings us to the point, that the most issues will be to find in the parts of composition, the dynamics (as part of composition)and mixing.
Depending on the DAW you’re using, I would recommend to start with single instrument groups -e.g. cellos. Open the piano roll and set some 2-bar long notes in different velocities. Then change the the controller values for modulation and expression (expression is pure volume) and see how the sound changes. . Cellos sounding wonderful in low velocity and low modulation. By example in Cubase you can draw in modulation bezier curves very easily and it’s the always to the exact point. Draw in some modulation swells from 0 to 127 to 0, the same for expression curves. Also try different articulations, not only long notes. And for short notes try to compose some simple spiccato or staccato patterns and see how the sound and volume changes on different velocities. Do this for all instrument groups.
I know, that sounds very boring - and I admit: it is. But in this way you learn to use you library and the potential of every instrument group.
I also recommend the software Art Conductor. As you maybe know, every library and manufacturer uses its own set of keyswitches for the different articulations. With Art Conductor you have a standard. It needs a bit of prework in an orchestral template, but then afterwards it is very easy to set the different articulation on the notes.
When your composition is finished - Ice on the cake: tempo changes. That brings also much more life in compositions. And try to humanize your quatizations - your orchestra is not played by robots with exact computer timing.
The mixing part is the last part. Try to find out, which instrument(s) causing resonant frequencies - and tame them. Concentrate on the overall mix - are there some parts or instruments too loud, too quiet? Does your orchestra follow your intentions as the conductor??? Try different speakers, use headphones to check your mix. It is all allowed, what helps, to produce a good sound. Crazy automation curves - why not? Crazy EQ-ing? Why not? What counts is the end result. The death of orchestral music are flat dynamic curves!
Thank you again. I’m working in Logic, and I’ll have to try your idea of testing how different the instruments can sound whether I’m using a low modulation or high modulation etc. It might be boring but sounds like worth it in the end. I’ll also look into Art Conductor - sounds like a great tool. I’ve thought about tempo changes too, but found it changed my piece too much, but guess I haven’t played around enough with it.
Regarding velocity and modulation I can’t seem to get the sound to change with velocity in the midi-roll - only the modulation. I’m using Logic.
Thanks for all the great feedback!
Okay, only two notes
To avoid mistakes: I do not mean hard tempo changes like this: From bar 1 to bar 8= 120; from Bar 9 to bar 16 = 70
What I mean is a slight change curve, which simulates the human expression of feelings via tempo. If you play notes from a sheet without any human feeling exactly to the written tempo and note durations, it sounds dead. You can simulate this humanization afterwards. In my opinion, if you play a song 3 times on three different days - you’ll get 3 different results regarding to tempo changes. That’s because your feelings differ each day and you express them different via tempo changes.
The screenshot shows the tempo curve of Chopins Etitude No 3."Tristesse, the first 20 bars. The max tempo is here 57 and the min value is 30. And every player has its own interpretation, feeling and tempo curve.
Regarding to the velocity and sound changes. You need to differentiate here the impact on long notes and short notes.
- For long notes a higher velocity has impact to the very frst sound, called transient. By example: For strings, it simulates the hardness, how a player strikes the bow. For brasses, it simulates the pressure of the lips on the instrument. For the sound afterwards it has less impact. So if you have silent song parts with long notes, it makes sense to imagine the player. Would he strike the violin with full power for a quiet note? No. Decrease the velocity and also the modulation and expression to get a realistic sound.
- For short notes, the impact differs, because in the most libraries the loudness of the played note increases with higher velocities. You can adjust in the most libraries the volume additionally with CC10, but the main expression of short notes happens via velocity.
That makes sense. And especially the way it makes the composition more interesting. Thanks for the visual tempo curve, where you can get a feeling of how tempo’s work.
I think I’ll really have to work on using the velocity, modulation and expression for creating more realistic sounding passages. And I’ve definitely noticed that on short notes, you can hear the clear difference when adjusting the velocity compared the long notes.
Thanks for sharing this information.