PDA

View Full Version : Epic Soundtrack


callitsleep89
01-06-2010, 12:18 PM
I have recently started listening to more movie soundtracks, and am amazed at the epicness of everything; the thundering drums, the tense strings, the ambient noises, they are all amazing.

My question is, how would I go about emulating this style, composition-wise, instrument-wise, and effects-wise? Like what specific progressions could be used? Specific scales? Are there any orchestration or arranging tips/techniques that one could begin to implement to improve they're writing in this style?


Thanks in advance for your help.

dannthr
01-06-2010, 02:02 PM
the thundering drums, the tense strings, the ambient noises

Sounds like you have a handle on breaking music up into parts.

Do this, do this for everything you listen to, do this and break up your problem into smaller, bite-sized pieces.

Instead of asking how you can be epic, ask how do you get thundering drums, give us your best shot, and we'll try to help you achieve what you can with what you've got.

beckett007
01-06-2010, 02:41 PM
Dan is totally right. Start listening to film scores and dissecting them... listening to exactly how that specific composer is utilizing instruments within the orchestra. I would highly suggest listening to some Jerry Goldsmith scores as part of your education. Scores such as Total Recall and Rambo First Blood 1 and 2.... outstanding action writing there and he always utilizes synths in such creative ways. The only problem with learning epic instrumentation this way is that you'll never watch a movie the same way again... you'll always be distracted by trying to figure out what the composer is doing musically :).

I learned music theory mainly from Goldsmith and Zimmer and am 100% self taught... if I can do it, trust me, so can you!

I also have to say the obligatory "you need epic sample libraries to sound epic as well" phrase. People hate hearing it cause they get so expensive... but if you seriously want an epic sound, upgrade your sample libs. A few I would suggest are Stormdrum 2 (AMAZING huge percussion), Project Sam Symphobia (HUGE tutti orchestra samples) and Symphonic Choirs.

You also need a decent reverb, and I would highly suggest you track down a convolution reverb. A really good / cheap alternative that I use on a daily basis is Reverberate. Great quality and I think it's only like $50.

Showing off said reverb and sample libraries listed above.. check out a couple of my recent pieces of music. They're pretty epic.
http://www.richdouglas.net/evochron/EvochronLegends_NoWarp.mp3

http://www.richdouglas.net/evochron/Revenge.mp3

Just as Dan said, post away and I'm sure a handful of us will give you some feedback.

Rich

tweex
01-06-2010, 03:09 PM
Tanner, I can't stress enough how right on Dan and Rich are here.

First, I'm in the same boat you are; I listen to OSTs non stop here (much to my co-workers annoyance). Keep listening and you will start to dissect subconsciously.

Break your elements down piece by piece like Dan suggested. I do the same thing. In fact, I have 3 different templates that I work with when it comes to my orchestral work. I start with the first template that has all the tonal orchestral elements in it (strings, brass, woodwinds, and tonal percussion). I then render that and take it into template 2, my percussion template. After hammering out the big drum sound, I'll then render out the two together and put it into template 3, the choir template (if I need choir). This allows me to concentrate on each section entirely and I can put detail into it that I wouldn't usually think about. Also, mixing the different elements together as stems allows you to get a much more powerful sound than if they were all together in one template file.

Much like the other guys, I concentrated on a few composers and they have taught me a lot of what I know/do today. Zimmer is also on my list, but I have really studied Jablonsky, Gregson-Williams, and Powell. I can't tell you how important it is to keep listening to EVERYTHING that you can. Because I've imersed myself in it, I've learned MUCH more about people like Elfman, Horner, Shore, Giachinno, Silvestri, Newman, Williams and dozens more!

Rich is dead on the money when it comes to samples. If making big orchestral music is what you want to do, whether it be a hobby or a job, you really are required to invest in good samples. Yes, it can be expensive, but if you catch the sales at Sounds Online or Project SAM right, you can get so much for a fraction of the price. Be thrifty and you can get everything you need relatively cheaply. For instance, I never buy anything from Sounds Online unless I can at least get a Buy 1 Get 1 Free deal.

Here are two pieces I've done recently that really fall into that category:

http://tweexmusic.com/L_Hall/trailer/Everest%20Trailer%20Full%20New%20Ch.mp3

http://tweexmusic.com/guild/guild_theme_3.mp3

Keep at it mate!

Slogra
01-06-2010, 09:53 PM
I joined today solely because of this thread. Thank you callitsleep89 so much for posting it.

I also listen to soundtracks quite a bit, even if I disliked the movie. I've always wanted to know where to get heavy, rolling drum sounds, like in Sword of the Stranger. Thank you Rich and Tweek for your examples. I will browse those links you mentioned. BTW, I'm also in love with the strings in Rich's first example and tweek's second example. The only strings I currently have are free ones from FruityLoops and Hammersound. Sorry, I don't mean to gush and tell you guys what you already know: that's really impressive stuff. Maybe I should poke my head around here more often with tips like these!

callitsleep89
01-06-2010, 10:08 PM
I've been analyzing soundtracks on a simple level, and have realized some of the tendencies for this type of music, (such as pulsing stacatto strings coupled with a taiko drum and a brass lead makes things kind of drive forward, etc). I guess I should explore this further than the simple inferences I have been able to make.

Do you have any advice music theory wise? What scales, progressions, harmonies, or cadences help drive this big sound?

And once I get some money (I'm a broke college student) to buy a new computer (which will be when I am back from studying abroad), and some better software (need something a bit better than FL studios), I'll try and track down some EastWest libraries.

Has the play engine been improved yet? The demo just crashes FL half the time.

GarretGraves
01-07-2010, 12:48 AM
Tweek, regarding your demos, how many instruments/samples total do you have loaded? Also, do you ever get performance issues or error messages when using so much?

By the way, it sounds awesome.

Also, I personally have been enjoying EWQLSO Gold for my orchestra needs along with Garritan Personal Orchestra for keyboard instruments. (Piano and harpsichord mainly) I have demos I can share but they wouldnt be anywhere near as cool as to what the others here have posted.

Josh Whelchel
01-07-2010, 01:19 AM
I utilize EWQL Symphonic Orchestras Platinum, but here is a piece I did with gold:
http://music.jwmusic.org/track/finale-and-a-lost-dream?permalink

It is a few years old at this point, but I think it's still a worthy example of what you can do with the EWQL package. PLAY has gotten to the point where it's quite fine, for me - but I'm going from a DAW with WinXP and (at the time 2gb) 4gb ram. I have no hiccups with it in Sonar.

MY BIGGEST ADVICE, regardless of tools you use: Grab a book on Orchestration or Digital Orchestration specifically. It's best to have one that focuses on traditional training and one that focuses on the MIDI side of it (There are a few REALLY good books for this).

oh...

and listen.

and listen and listen and listen.

ps you can download that whole album for free, I didn't change the minimum price on a track-by-track basis.

dannthr
01-07-2010, 01:36 AM
Do you have any advice music theory wise? What scales, progressions, harmonies, or cadences help drive this big sound?

Steal.

http://www.musicianeer.com/temp/Dan_Reynolds_-_Operation_Iron_Phoenix.mp3

callitsleep89
01-07-2010, 01:46 AM
Due to my circumstances(mainly being broke and my cd drive being broken) I believe I am left with 3 choices for gaining some decent sounding drum samples. I have looked at truestrike: tension, big fish audio epic drums, and cinesamples drums of war; all 3 can be downloaded, and all 3 are below $100. Which of these would best give me that percussive sound I am looking for?

dannthr
01-07-2010, 02:24 AM
Due to my circumstances(mainly being broke and my cd drive being broken) I believe I am left with 3 choices for gaining some decent sounding drum samples. I have looked at truestrike: tension, big fish audio epic drums, and cinesamples drums of war; all 3 can be downloaded, and all 3 are below $100. Which of these would best give me that percussive sound I am looking for?

The super stupid drums in my Iron Phoenix track are half TAIKO (which I think is like $50 bucks or so) and half EW.

6 layered drums in total.

tweex
01-07-2010, 02:24 PM
Tweek, regarding your demos, how many instruments/samples total do you have loaded? Also, do you ever get performance issues or error messages when using so much?

By the way, it sounds awesome.

Also, I personally have been enjoying EWQLSO Gold for my orchestra needs along with Garritan Personal Orchestra for keyboard instruments. (Piano and harpsichord mainly) I have demos I can share but they wouldnt be anywhere near as cool as to what the others here have posted.

Hey mate, thanks for the kind words.

In terms of sample/instrument numbers, it largely depends on the template.

Template 1 - Tonal Orchestral: 50-100 different samples loaded.
Template 2 - Percussion: 30-50 different samples loaded
Template 3 - Choir: 2-5 different samples loaded

Each of these templates continue to get bigger as I realize that I have a need for a new sound.

In terms of performance errors, yes and no. With the current 3 template setup I have, no, I don't have any errors. I have 10gbs of memory in the mac pro I use, so I'm covered pretty well. However, when I had all three templates in one template, yes, I began running out of DFD space, and that was before I started using PLAY and the packages that I have with it. The separation has been exceptionally helpful! Processing power has never really been an issue for me and I'm only using a dual core right now. However, my templates don't make use of huge PLAY instrument lists, so that could change if I ever have to go from Kontakt to PLAY. We'll see

And hey man, feel free to share your demos. We all started somewhere. Believe me, if you listen to my FIRST REMIX (http://ocrmirror.iiens.net/files/music/remixes/Tetris_Attack_Final_Panic_OC_ReMix.mp3) on OCR, you'll here how bad my orchestral work was :)!

GarretGraves
01-08-2010, 05:45 AM
Well if you say so!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=A3ZHROTF

This is my first real attempt using EWQLSO gold (PC. Kompakt in Win XP pro) towards something seriously creative. I guess it's considered a rock/orchestra track. The goal was to try and not have a metal track with the orchestra merely backing up the rock instruments but instead have all the instruments sound like one entity. I've been messing with it on and off for a while now (with no controller or mod wheel even) but as of recently it seems i may have added too many samples and now every time i try to open it up in FL studio, it crashes. Sometimes with an error message. SO now I can't get back in there an fix what needs to be fix nor can I finish the damn thing. AND IT'S ALMOST FRICKEN DONE!

You, Tweek, have a mammoth machine with 10gb of RAM. I have a mere 3.25gb and i'm working with a Creative SB Audigy 2 that's super fricken old and in need of replacement. (Im aiming for the M-Audio Audiophile card) and you load a LOT of samples. I mean damn that seems like a lot. All I've got loaded are 2 channels of EWQLSO each with 6 to 8 midi outs per instrument/sample and a channel for Superior drummer 2.0. And I'm just barely able to open the damn thing now. lol!

Moseph
01-12-2010, 08:25 PM
Thought people might be interested in the process I used to create this piece (http://artsci.wustl.edu/%7Epmcrocke/audio/crockett_stormdrum_test.mp3).

I began with this sketch.

http://img229.imageshack.us/img229/9590/stormdrumtestsketch001.jpg
Nothing fancy, but the three-and-a-half measures at the top contain most of the elements of the piece (labeled 1-5). The percussion pattern, notated with X's, didn't ultimately get used. Number 4 says "brass triad in second inversion," if you can't read it. Number 5 is an upward trumpet gliss.

Once I'd decided what these elements were, I put them in order on the lower staves as a way to organize my thoughts. (The i's signify inversion of a motive -- the only inversion I ended up using was 1i). The final piece pretty much retains the ordering of materials given here, with some deviation from it between "soft perc break" and the end of "loud perc break." You should be able to follow the piece while looking at the sketch if you watch the clock times, which I've marked for your convenience.

After the sketch, I orchestrated things in Finale. (It would have been faster to do it directly in Sonar, but my computer chokes if I try to load my complete VSL orchestra, so I can't use VSL to work out an arrangement.) It's a pretty straight-forward working-out of the materials. Didn't spend a whole lot of time on it; I mostly just wanted something to use StormDrum with. When I finished, I brought the MIDI file into Sonar and programmed the VSL performance. I bounced this down to a .wav and imported that into a new project where I programmed percussion (StormDrum 2 with a bit of VSL). After getting the percussion just right, I went back to the VSL project, tweaked a few things so they'd sit better in the mix, re-bounced, and combined it with the percussion.

Elapsed time: a few days

I know the percussion is over the top. It's my trial run for StormDrum and I like the Godzilla patch. Shut up.

Steal.

Guess where most of my melodic material (1, 2, and 3 in the sketch) came from.

Check out this (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOVoVCyJPG4) for the answer.

Kanthos
09-30-2010, 08:20 PM
Much like the other guys, I concentrated on a few composers and they have taught me a lot of what I know/do today. Zimmer is also on my list, but I have really studied Jablonsky, Gregson-Williams, and Powell. I can't tell you how important it is to keep listening to EVERYTHING that you can. Because I've imersed myself in it, I've learned MUCH more about people like Elfman, Horner, Shore, Giachinno, Silvestri, Newman, Williams and dozens more!

Have any film or game scores in particular that you could recommend, either because they've got a lot to learn from or because they're particularly epic? As much as I'd love to go out and buy everything any of those guys have put out, that's a bit much to do all at once on a small budget ;)

dannthr
10-01-2010, 07:48 AM
Have any film or game scores in particular that you could recommend, either because they've got a lot to learn from or because they're particularly epic? As much as I'd love to go out and buy everything any of those guys have put out, that's a bit much to do all at once on a small budget ;)

If you want to talk about the history of epic action music, you have to go to Hans Zimmer who in all fairness really first defined the genre with Crimson Tide.

Other examples of Hans Zimmer and his musical spawn would include Harry Gregson-Williams, Steve Jablonsky, Klaus Badelt, etc--mostly folks who've actually worked for Hansy.

Some slightly off the mainstream inclusions would be Bear McCreary (Dark Void, Battlestar Galactica), Tan Dun (Hero), and John Debney (Lair, Cutthroat Island, Passion of the Christ).

Some over-the-top epic epicness inclusions would be Thomas J Bergersen of Two Steps from Hell--just about anything he does is remarkable.

tweex
10-05-2010, 08:43 PM
Have any film or game scores in particular that you could recommend, either because they've got a lot to learn from or because they're particularly epic? As much as I'd love to go out and buy everything any of those guys have put out, that's a bit much to do all at once on a small budget ;)

Wow, completely missed this. Sorry duder!

Hans Zimmer - Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest
Steve Jablonsky - Transformers 1 (not 2)
Anything by E.S. Posthumus

And those are just 3 examples of highly epic OSTs WITH great melody lines! I've got shit tons more, so let me know if you want more.

Kanthos
10-05-2010, 11:12 PM
Sure, more ideas are always welcome. I've been doing a lot of research on my own too, looking up all the major film composers and picking a few soundtracks from each to add to my wish list. Already got all three of the Pirates soundtracks, and Transformers 1 was on my list too. Besides that, I've got the Lord of the Rings trilogy and some of the Star Wars movies, and The Dark Knight. Never heard of E.S> Posthumus though; I'll check them out tomorrow. Thanks!

PrototypeRaptor
10-07-2010, 03:36 AM
I would highly recommend brushing up on some actual orchestral music too as well as Zimmer and co...

While tutti is a fun approach, there's a lot more to the orchestra as an instrument than just loud eighth notes!

(not that I don't enjoy that from time to time... :))


Some composers of super importance to that film music style that are also, well, "concert ready:"
-Dvorak - tuneful, tuneful, tuneful. how to write melodies? go here.
-Wagner/Bruckner (moreso Bruckner for film...'Batman' is stolen directly from him. also he's pretty much Zimmer's new style; TDK onward)
-Strauss (NOT Johann II) - super inventive orchestration
-Bartok - embellishing catchy melodies in strange ways
-Korngold - pretty much invented the action score
-Debussy/Erik Satie - that sad piano that emotional scenes get? yeah, about that...

All of these guys have something extremely valuable to say, and studying or just listening to their music will be highly worthwhile...moreso than straight "film music."

A wise professor once told me that film music serves another master, while concert music does not... think of it as kind of "watered down" compared to a full scale Bruckner symphony.
While the Bruckner would be out of place in most films, the ideas it has can be distilled and used in a less distracting way.

You can never get 'too' good at composing as such that you can't dumb your writing down... but you can't fake true skill!

...something that I and most people are still constantly working on.

/my 2c

Kanthos
10-07-2010, 01:50 PM
I've got a fair bit of orchestral music too, though I've tended to prefer romantic and earlier periods. Definitely need to get some more of the stuff you recommended though. Thanks!

Kanthos
04-27-2011, 07:43 PM
Resurrecting an old thread here, but I see no point starting a new one.

Any recommendations for epic movie soundtracks that blend orchestral and synth? I'm not looking for something like Chariots of Fire where the entire soundtrack (or at least, what I remember of it) is synth-driven pop music, but something more like Inception or The A-Team where the synth is more ambient and abstract, or even something that's predominantly synth textures. Ideas?

mickomoo
04-27-2011, 08:03 PM
Yeah I wanna write orchestral scores too. I just started writing music about a year ago, so we'll see where I go lol. Honestly right now though I don't have a definitive style I just write very dark music apparently:

http://tindeck.com/listen/mwdc

http://tindeck.com/listen/rnro

What, all the cool kids were doing it >_>

Well if you say so!

http://www.megaupload.com/?d=A3ZHROTF


THIS.IS.WIN! I cried when it suddenly ended =/

Resurrecting an old thread here, but I see no point starting a new one.

Any recommendations for epic movie soundtracks that blend orchestral and synth? I'm not looking for something like Chariots of Fire where the entire soundtrack (or at least, what I remember of it) is synth-driven pop music, but something more like Inception or The A-Team where the synth is more ambient and abstract, or even something that's predominantly synth textures. Ideas?

Zack Hemsey comes to mind but you already said inception... that's funny. I listen to orchestral music daily... I can't remember anything right now though. If I remember something I'll let you know. There're probably a lot of members here that do that though to say the least.

Edit: the bleach soundtrack, and many shonen soundtracks for that matter. They're not great examples but I could lead you to a track or two if you want