Piano only vs. Orchestrated vs. Real Live Instruments

Hi there, l notice no piano tracks on AJ that are just piano solo [edit: just found one!], there’s always accompanying strings.

So my questions are:

  • Is it ok to submit a piano-only track?

  • How do you make a natural sounding orchestra or guitar, without it sounding like a series of one-shots?

Do you guys use multisampled instruments? Even then, l’d have thought you’d get waveforms repeating so that’d give the game away that it was made on a DAW, or are the multisampled instruments like, two octaves x hundreds of samples per note?

I suppose what l’m really trying to ask is: can you get away with a small set of one-shots or do you think it’s necessary to have a large expensive orchestra library?

  • Does anybody here record real guitars / other instruments? Is that normal or is it a minority of folks? I imagine you’d need hella expensive setup to record real.

What l’d also like to know is, is there a software that can just follow you with an improvised orchestra?

Demos on YouTube don’t tend to reveal what really needs to be done to get the finished sound … such is the nature of advertising.

Most orchestral soundtracks are composed using high quality Kontakt libraries or similar. These are MIDI based sample libraries where you can go in and edit the articulations and so on with a lot of detail, these high quality libraries also usually have velocity sensitive triggering so will change the timbre, play style etc. depending how high the velocity is. One shots are more just used for rises, hits and general sound fx, the rest is high quality MIDI based libraries.

As for solo piano compositions, yeah sure they fine! :slight_smile:

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To answer your questions:

  • Is it ok to submit a piano-only track?

Yes, as long as it is musically unique, is well composed/performed and has a quality that customers would find useful (ie. It is commercially viable), it has a good chance of being accepted.

  • How do you make a natural sounding orchestra or guitar, without it sounding like a series of one-shots?

I’ve had little success with real sounding guitar samples. For the tracks that I make that need a guitar, I generally always record a real guitar as I am not a terrible guitarist!

High-quality orchestral string libraries are definitely a help when trying to make a string section sound organic and authentic, but they are not the straightforward ‘fix all my woes’ solution. As with most sample libraries of acoustic instruments, there is a lot of midi programming/automation parameter tweaking and articulation switching that you have to do within the midi track to get good results. It helps a lot to learn how an orchestra would play the music and what section of the strings would play which harmony etc. Dynamics play a huge part in making acoustic samples sound real. And with string libraries, this is usually achieved using, the Mod wheel (and/or sometimes the expression cc) when you’re using sustain samples and other long note types, and/or note velocity when using staccato and other short note types.

  • Do you guys use multisampled instruments? Even then, l’d have thought you’d get waveforms repeating so that’d give the game away that it was made on a DAW, or are the multisampled instruments like, two octaves x hundreds of samples per note?

There is no perfect solution, it has to be said. You’ll never get a sample library to sound exactly like a real orchestra, which is a good thing really. It would be sad if that room full of humans could be replaced with a single computer with a terabyte of samples! Most orchestral Kontakt libraries nowadays are multi-sampled with both round-robins and velocity layers which help reduce the repeating waveforms (the aptly named ‘machine gun’ effect.) Another key factor of authenticity is the legato samples, and in strings, there are different types. (bowed, fingered, fast, slow etc.) It is really helpful to know where it is appropriate to use each one in a musical context.

  • I suppose what l’m really trying to ask is: can you get away with a small set of one-shots or do you think it’s necessary to have a large expensive orchestra library?

In a way, it depends how talented you are at manipulating the sample library with the cc’s and tweaks that I mentioned before. Generally speaking, you will need to invest in professional quality sound libraries in order to sell tracks made with samples here. Some are not altogether prohibitively expensive and quite a few of the ‘built-in’ sounds that come with NI Komplete will be of high enough quality. The key thing though isn’t how much money you spend on sounds, it’s how much time and energy you put into learning how to use them properly to get good results. Without this knowledge, your track sound quality will get stuck in a rut no matter how much money you spend.

  • Does anybody here record real guitars / other instruments? Is that normal or is it a minority of folks? I imagine you’d need hella expensive setup to record real.

I do. I record guitars, both electric and acoustic, sometimes I record a violin and in the past, I have recorded vocals both as backing and lead. I don’t have a hugely expensive setup. I do have a selection of awesome microphones, as I’m a location sound recordist and it’s my business to have those tools, but I’ve heard great results from relatively cheap ($200) cardioid small condenser mics placed correctly when recording acoustic instruments, not to mention the amazingly versatile sub-$100 Shure SM57 dynamic mics that are a pro studio staple. Sound damping and room treatment are probably even more important than your choice of microphone I would say, and there are also relatively cheap solutions for this that will work to some degree. Obviously, you can get better results if you spend huge amounts of cash on gear, but there is so much truth in the phrase ‘All the gear, no idea!’, and without learning the theory and techniques involved in sound recording, you’re always going to struggle. Again, the key things are skill and experience, not hard cash spent.

If the two examples that you have posted so far as reference are typical, I can say with some degree of certainty that your production quality level is not of the standard that is required to sell music here yet.

I’ve seen your recent posts in other threads as well as this one and it seems to me that the recurrent theme is that you are looking for advice about how to take shortcuts and what are the easiest ways to get music accepted here on AudioJungle.
In a sense, your questions in the other thread regarding the viability of tracks made solely from audio loops, and also your question here about some kind of automated orchestra app are really asking the question “How can I sell tracks on here without having to learn how to compose/arrange/mix/master music.” And the answer to that question really is, you can’t. You have to spend the time to learn the techniques and knowledge in the subjects that I mentioned in order to produce professional sounding music.

In your previous thread you were given some advice, that I would reiterate, that had a somewhat angry tone. I can sympathise with that because to an author who has probably spent years studying and honing their craft in order to make a living in this industry, to have someone come along and try to find ways to bypass all of that, well, you can forgive them for being a little irked, especially when the platform is already blocked up with copycat authors and cheats who don’t contribute anything that is creatively authentic.

I wish you luck and I hope that soon you’ll be making great music.


Thank you

Criscracker, you wrote an excellent guide in your post, thank you for that.

However you then go and ruin it (as far as l’m concerned) by flippant remarks about my musical ability and what feels like a disinvitation to submit music here (which you will deny):

Let me just point out:

  • I am only asking on this thread what l’m asking on this thread, anything else, please post on the relevant thread

  • You know that l found the remarks on the other thread you linked to to be incendiary, and l politely stopped responding. So why repeat those insulting remarks here? Is my polite silence not good enough?

  • Please know the difference between asking and telling. I am asking about how to make music fit for AJ. I am not telling that this music is fit for AJ (a major clue is that the song l posted in the thread you referenced, is a song, whereas AJ is geared more toward snippets, AJ is not a record label).

  • Even if you persistently forget the difference between asking and telling, why not make pursuant comments helpful, constructive, rather than just dismissing a person’s musical life (which of course you will deny, like the other person, never mind my complaints to you on the matter).

  • Where have l actually held up a piece of music and said “this is going on AJ”? I have done no such thing, yet my supposedly doing so is crucial to your negative remarks

  • I invited criticism of a song, not of a life or an attitude. Play the ball not the player. I thoroughly enjoyed reading all constructive criticism of the music l’ve posted so far. As l say: l need this. What is totally unwarranted is the type of remarks l’m pointing out now, which l hope will stop? Please.

  • The fact is: my production skills are nonexistent, and l have no musical training as such (beyond playing the recorder). So you are in fact correct that my present state is not fit for AJ but it is impertitent to point this out, and inherently hostile to do so, as it is nothing to do with my questions, which are technical questions (= asking) about specific matters, not general decrees (= telling) about my supremacy. Which is why l’m here asking stuff. You need only answer the questions asked.

  • So yes, it’s true that it’s what AJ will permit, that matters. But l was never questioning that.

  • Finally, let me point out that if AJ permit something that took you ages to work on, and you get low sales for it and low earnings, then would you too not wish there were a quicker route to that £68.23? I wish you better sales. And l understand why you need to falsely position my head and take a good shot at it. Life is pain, l understand, so you get cross and take it out on someone. Even burying that venom under some pretty good advice that you gave out preceding it. Clever.

Let us both earn some real money, friend. It’s a hard life and l wish you well.

To anybody else that wants to comment, please keep it about the questions l originally asked, please don’t widen it to stuff about my life and my abilities, that’s just so uncalled for. I just want to talk about technical stuff. If l ever go beyond that, it’s just to accentuate the positive, never to lord it over another person so please no more!!! Keep it relevant to the OP please!!!

I understand where you’re coming from with regards to taking a long time to make a track with the risk of it not selling. Sadly that’s the nature of the business. You need to be mad to go into this industry to be honest :joy: it’s a very hard grind but we do it because we love it (not saying you don’t btw, but just giving you fair warning what it involves). Before you jump into making specialised stock music I’d recommend making music for yourself that you have a genuine love for making, otherwise you’re probs going to end up hitting a brick wall both creatively and technically fairly fast.

Stock music is great and it is fun once you know what you’re doing but as a beginner I think it’d be better to start off making music for yourself to allow yourself to experiment and to find your own sound. Because you’ll find yourself making music for others knowing that it won’t sell for probs well over a year. I’ve been making music for about 10 years and it only just started to click for me haha. I’m very new to stock music myself though since I’ve been making EDM & ambient music mainly (the type that doesn’t really work for stock music), but I find the diversity of my knowledge and skills to be very useful.

Just my advice though, good luck either way dude! :slight_smile:

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I’m just giving out friendly advice dude, I even said that at the end. Not trying to be rude at all but actually trying to help. I’ll respect your request though and I won’t say anything else :+1:

Hi there thank you for the constructive remarks.

I like the idea of stock music because l find it very hard to complete a song. I would also find it hard to complete a song on demand, because it forces me to bleed my heart out. However, with stock music, it can be just the core of my emotions.

I used to make music on my Amiga computer when l was younger, and l have about 30 melodies l’d like to revive. I have made very little music since then, but evenso l have a lot of other post-Amiga stuff that needs airing.

I understand that music ideally needs to be finessed, especially for stock music. I would also say that it doesn’t matter how much you earn from it, the more finessed the better, but:

  • I feel that as a collection builds up, from scraps and bits in a prep folder, then the layers of production can be added, rather than having all the skills from the start (= most of you professional guys)

  • I feel that creativity should figure largely, rather than just a churning out polished material from a template

  • Bottom line is, though, l want to air my old music, and may need a quick accompaniment here or there, hence l asked the OP

No that’s okay l just anticipated someone would say “hey man you need to respect your elders they’re juist trying to help” or some other form of arguing, but l thank you for your replies, they are on point. That’s all l asked for so l couldn’t possibly fault that - thanks buddy! Keep it coming.

aaah kk cool fair enough dude. Beyond technical production stuff, do you know music theory? If you don’t then I’d recommend getting a piano plugin and leaning just the basic stuff like keys, basic chords etc. and try to build up your own melodies into a more complete song like that first, before jumping into the deep end with fancy kontakt plugins. Get the fundamentals of music down first then work up from there. And if you’re happy with any piano ideas that came out of learning theory you can always try and throw them on here to see what happens! :slight_smile: If you do already know theory then still might be a good idea to start by trying to finish a 2 minute piano solo piece first, then worry about the technicals later.

To be honest, I started off exactly like you and went right after the technical side so I really can’t blame you for it, it’s an easy trap to fall into! But from experience I can deffo say worry about finishing musical ideas first, then worry about the technicals.

Yes, l sometimes think art sotware companies are propped up by speculators with money to spare after the bills are paid in Springtime, that don’t really ever get into the software after the first session.

I actually attemped a piano solo here: Criticism invited for this "song"

I made it way back in 1997. What l was asking on that thread was for an alternative piano, one that has a similar timbre but is pro.

It has dawned on me that some of the notes in the melody are so fast that they are going to sound 8 bit or less no matter what piano l use, because there’s no time for the timbre to make itself felt. So my workaround would be separate channels for each note, but that runs the risk of natural reverb running wild (explanation: l’m not using a piano roll so l can’t tuck overlapping notes in that easily. Maybe that’s most of the problem here).

If you do not wish to use the link, that’s fine. I did issue a warning about downloading giving a popup, so don’t press the download button. Streaming is hassle free. If you want to suggest an alternative site e.g. wetransfer, l could show you the piano melody that way.

It’s deffo an interesting idea! More on the experimental side of music though so probs wouldn’t work as stock music. Considering you made it in 97 tho, that’s pretty cool! Only other advice I could give would be to watch as many tutorials on youtube as you can along with experimenting on your DAW of choice. Best way to learn imo. :slight_smile:

Good luck with it man and hope to see you actively selling soon!

Thanks. I was hoping it could be implemented as a background to a YouTube video but never mind. The good thing is, the music already exists so l won’t mind if the finished version gets rejected.

Expect more test submissions in the coming few weeks (some of it techno btw). I may start showcasing the music from my Soundcloud instead, l just didn’t want to leave a trail on the web leading back to my primitive test versions & forum conversations regarding them. But okay l’ll try Soundcloud in future.

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I think we got our wires crossed. I didn’t intend to wind you up. I was just giving you advice on how to become a better music producer which is what I thought you were asking for. I wasn’t trying to be mean or spiteful and none of what I said had any venom in it. I wasn’t bashing your production skills, or trying to insult you in any way either. I’m sorry you took it that way. There is no shame in being new to this stuff. Everybody starts somewhere.
Whether you think I’m qualified enough to give you advice is your call. You can either take my advice or ignore it. No need to start mud slinging.

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