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Barium

Metal Gear Ac!d + Chrono Trigger + <More to come>

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I've been spending a lot of time getting to know the ins and outs of remixing, and this is an idea I've been tossing around in my head for a long time, it's a "medley" of sorts based around the song Power House from Metal Gear Ac!d; a song I like so much I used to leave my PSP on while I just sat back and listened for long, long stretches of time despite the fact it's only two minutes long.

I figured it went well with quite a few "big bad" tunes from other well known games, so the first stop for this tune is World Revolution, the second to last fight against Lavos in Chrono Trigger. It moves on to The Fierce Battle, the music played in the fight against Atma (Weapon) in Final Fantasy III / VI, and then bridges and concludes with Sub Castle BGM, the background music for (surprise surprise) the small castles in Super Mario World.

This is the first song I've done where I've actually figured out how to use EQ, Compressors and Limiters to a semblance of their real capacity (and the first song in which I've used synths, really,) so I think what I've got so far is pretty decent. But I'd love comments or advice on how to improve it, of course.

Sources:

*Can't find the Metal Gear Acid Source!*

http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=ct - Track 66 (World Revolution)

http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=ff6 - Track 56 (The Fierce Battle)

http://snesmusic.org/v2/download.php?spcNow=smw - Track 19 (Sub Castle BGM)

Versions:

First - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/rvka/Acidic-Compound-Partial

Second - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/obxs/Acidic-Compound-Beta

Third - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/ubtk/Acidic-Compound-Beta-4

Fourth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/wqgj/Acidic-Compound-Beta-6

Fifth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/iqsq/Acidic-Compound-Beta-8

Sixth - http://tindeck.com/audio/my/nsda/Acidic-Compound-Beta-9

Seventh - http://tindeck.com/audio/my/kqqr/Acidic-Compound-Beta-11

Eighth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/fjav/Acidic-Compound-Beta-16

Ninth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/eskx/Acidic-Compound-Beta-17

Tenth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/dqhe/Acidic-Compound-Beta-23

Eleventh - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/jocq/Acidic-Compound-Beta-25

Twelfth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/ibmk/Acidic-Compound-Beta-33

Thirteenth - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/lrsb/Acidic-Compound-Beta-34

MOST RECENT (4/3 6:46 PM PST) - http://www.tindeck.com/audio/my/qhml/Acidic-Compound-Beta-35

That's a lot of versions, huh?

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I think you have decent energy and dynamic contrast (between the busy/sparse sections) here. The main problems would be in the writing and production. I'm not familiar with the source, but pretty much everything from the opening string part onwards sounds like nearly every part has some clashing with another (especially the part at 2:01), and it doesn't sound intentional.

As far as production, the synth choices, especially the ones playing in the higher register, are pretty grating. The balance/EQ could use some adjusting in the busier sections. With so many instruments in similar EQ ranges playing at the same volume like that everything kind of melds together. Not being familiar with the source, it makes it hard to tell what is the main melody, so aside from the repeating bassline this piece is hard to follow.

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Heh it is intentional, actually. I'm kind of going for the feel you get in System of a Down's Dreaming (though I didn't realize it until after I got well into the song) where there are several quick transitions from dissonance to harmony and vice versa, and I used the bass line to keep everything tied together somewhat. I updated the original post with the sources I could find. Unless you're talking thematically, in which case there may need to be some rewriting done.

Which high synths are especially annoying? Is it mainly the one into the transition into The Fierce Battle? Because I kind of meant it to be like that, though if it's really too much I'll try to tone it down. I'll see if I can't do some of the other adjustments as well. Thanks for the tips!

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I like the initial barrels + rim-like percussion, that's a very cool sound. It sounds very acoustic, sort of dry. The big horn chord sounds like it sounds in a different space, like you were listening to the percussionist in a smaller room and the horn section in an orchestra hall at the same time. That's not really a problem, just an observation.

Some points to fix:

- the horn lead that starts around 00:39 has a slow attack. It makes it sound lagging. It also sounds like it cuts off the earlier note, which sounds bad with the slow attack. A more legato-like transition between the notes might help. I've only dealt with trackers, so I don't know how to achieve that in any other programs. :)

- it sounds like the volume swells according to drum hits, for instance around 03:30-03:38 when the earlier section transtitions back to the beat, the bass drum causes the other instruments to swell down, and when the beat comes up this keeps happening with the snare too. I hope you get what I mean.. It might be a compression issue.

--Eino

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Thanks for the tips, there's an update posted up there now. I already had a newer version to be posted (in which I had redone the drums) so I tried to deal with the first issue you mentioned prior to posting. Give it a listen and lemme know what you think.

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Interesting blend. I didn't realize you had used SMW until I heard it the second time.

Anyway, there's some compression issues that I find really annoying: it's pumping. There's a place where I think it's intentional, but some of the time, it's really just bothersome (1:33 and forth) being a good example. The stuff between the circa 2:00 brass mayhems are really destroyed by the pumping.

Ease up on the compression, that's all I can say about production.

Progression works for me. It's a creative mix of sources and genres, and while I usually don't like electronica/orchestral blends (they're usually cheesy), this one works for me. Just... lose the pumping.

I recommend not making this much longer than it currently is, it gets tiresome to listen to. 4:09 is a good length. Decent ending, decent intro. I like it's sound, I like how it moves. Good stuff, just... not done yet.

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Mmk, I've posted a new version; go ahead and give it a listen. I tried to fix those "pumping" issues and I think I got some but not all of it. I'm not sure if I can hear it as well as others may be able to so let me know if it's still too much.

As for its length, I didn't plan on making it any longer - arrangement wise I'm pretty done with it. I feel like the fadeout shortly after introducing that last section is rather fitting, but let me know if it doesn't feel right to you.

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Ok, here's another couple of listens from me.

You've added reverb to the percussion - good call! It meshes much better with the rest. Even though I though the dry sound was very cool, this is a better choice for the overall track, and that's what matters.

The attack on the horns/strings/whatnot is much better now. You could afford to have them be a bit more agressive still, probably not by decreasing attack but triggering them a bit eariler. (I can't tell if you already did that). But I don't get that sense of lagging anymore.

Overall, it feels more together than the previous version I listened, has more punch and drive. I'm not sure what has changed, but it feels obvious that the piece has improved. Or maybe it's grown on me a lot. :)

Intro is very, very effective. The use of space is great. The pause at :22-:25, a bit from the horns again and booom, off we go - good stuff!

Compression is still pumping, although much less so. You still definitely need to get rid of that completely. It's ugly on the headphones. :) I think you can best hear it when the organ is playing. I think bass drum hits corresponds to the pumping.

The trumpet sound that plays the "dissonant" lead around the middle should be fleshed out. For a trumpet it sounds too fake, but you could play with filters, effects, volume and pauses (you have some at 02:19, those are great) to liven it up (it of course doesn't have to sound real).

I'll add that I really like that bass thing at the conclusion of the middle "quiet" bit. Nice little detail! It's a bit different from the rest of the sound, but I think that's cool. Drumming is also good throughout.

--Eino

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This is really cool so far. I'd say the synth that comes in with World Revolution is a little bit loud, and that you could bring out some of the bassline a little bit more there. Samples all around could use work, but that's hard when you're working off of free samples. Some of the trumpet notes sound off, but I could be wrong on that. It could also use a real ending. Still, this is sounding really good, I'm looking forward to hearing more on it!

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Okey dokey, a new version is up. There is literally no compression in this one, so as a beginner I'll hazard a guess that any pumping is caused by the limiter on the master track. Let me know if you hear any, I can't hear it too well after listening to this over and over and over. Also, if you notice any pumping, please let me know specifically where it is.

I brought out the synth that I had paired with the trumpet (it was always there before, it was just pretty quiet) so now it's a lot more obvious and perhaps will give the trumpet some liveliness. I also tried to get the background synths to blend in a bit better. I had to mess with the bass line as well, so it'll sound a bit different (I think there were just too many competing sounds in it) so let me know what you think of it.

It could also use a real ending.
Well, I kind of like the way it ends now. The whole song feels resolved at the fadeout; there really isn't anywhere else I want to go with it and I don't think a sudden stop would suit this very well.

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I don't hear any pumping anymore, so that's good!

Comparing the sound on versions 23 & 25, the compressed one sounds beefier and fuller. It sounds to me the bass is more pronounced in the earlier version, and that - with my headphones feels more right to the song. Now the brasses overshadow the rhythm+basses at :40-01:03 for instance. This could and probably should first be addressed by mixing.

The pumping however (the bass instruments do it) is an unforgivable issue. I don't have much experience with compression and mastering, so I can't unfortunately give you tips with compression.. One thing that comes to mind, is that you should try to achieve the same sound by EQ and mixing, maybe compressing individual tracks, rather than using compression on the master track. Again, I'm no expert so you should consult someone with proper experience, but I think I'd try mixing it to match what that compression gave you.

The trumpet/synth lead does sound better now. I'd still apply my suggestion to use filters, pauses etc to liven it up.

I like the fadeout, I think it's a fitting ending for this track. Usually I'm not hot on fadeouts, but here it feels like serves a musical purpose. (I felt so also with Zircon's Dirt Devil FF6 mix for example, but a lot of people would have wanted the track to go on, so that's just my opinion.)

Kudos to you for working so hard on the track! It pays off, it's going forwards a lot. Btw a sound that works great, so great I only now realized it, is the flanging constant synth that starts when the intro ends, with the rocking drums and pans around.. that, and the similar sounds/parts are very good.

cheers,

--Eino

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All righty, yet another version is up. I spent all day on this one (spring-breaks-in-which-all-my-friends-are-out-of-town ftl) trying to use the old bass while preventing any pumping, so let me know if there's any in there and if there is, when specifically it occurs. And I really couldn't think of anything else to do with the trumpet/synth lead, I didn't want to complicate it any more than it already is and I'm fairly satisfied with how it sounds.

By the way - thanks for all the feedback Eino, I really do appreciate it. It's helping out a lot.

EDIT: Thanks to advice from bustatunez, I threw a multiband compressor on the track to see what would happen. I uploaded the result and posted it (it's called Beta 34) so if you've got the time I'd love for some opinions on which is preferable.

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Glad to hear I've been of help!

Man, this pair of ears can't tell which one sounds better anymore. 34 has kind of a rounder feel to it, and the instruments mesh together better.. maybe.. or maybe 33 is clearer, and less tiring to the ear? I can't tell anymore! They definitely sound different, though. :) No pumping in either, too!

Still on the lead - no, it definitely doesn't need more complexity, it's a pretty complex part. What I meant to say is it needs life - it's a good part, but as it's complex any mechanical or wooden feel to it is magnified, and it does stand out - it's the bit in this mix that I don't like. I wonder if using a filter with key follow, so it changes according to highness of the notes, would help there. I repeat, the stops at around 02:20 sound great. :)

I noticed another bit I like, the beat, especially the bass drum in the final part..

cheers,

--Eino

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I'm baaaaaaaack!

Okay, I've put a decent bit of effort into trying to get everything to mesh together and I also tried to pump up the bass a bit more. I replaced the synth at the beginning with trumpets, I think it makes for a more powerful lead harmony. Tossed in a couple variations to the trumpet/synth lead (I honestly like the additions and how it sounds overall at this point, I don't really want to change it).

Go ahead and give it a listen if you've got some time and feel free to give me any advice/feedback/comments you might have.

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After 14 tries this is the best you got? WEll, the mixing in this is REALLY bad, but that's the least of it. The orchestral style intro needs more articulation and better composition. Once the song comes in though, it goes from bad to worse. Almost all of your harmonies are wrong, that lead instrument you chose sounds ridiculous, and the arrangement itself is seriously lacking.

What you need to do (besides learning some music and training your ears) is to learn about proper arrangement techniques. You seem to have no idea what song structure is. Most of the work was done for you by the original composers, you can't just stick the songs back to back and hope it'll sound cohesive because you used the samples for all the songs. The key is to map the song out before you start arranging, listen to it in your head, and then try to translate that into a plan, on paper or notepad or whatever, just write it out in terms you can familiarize yourself with. Then go back, listen to each song, and try to match sections from each song, whether it be by similar rhythmic patters, same key, or anything that would glue section A from song 1 to section C from song 2 or whatever. MIX the material together in a good way, and use time and silence more effectively! All that time and silence do in your song now is prepare me for a bad transition into a totally new song, this is not how one song should be.

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Well, as much as I know I won't be able to defend myself from a Snappleattack, I am quite a new mixer, so I am very prone to mistakes.

But, if I've got more arrangement problems than production problems then that's okay, as I really haven't made many changes arrangement-wise from the first couple versions aside from changing my ridiculous lead instrument (I like it :sad: ), it's all been about making the bad arranging and mixing sound cohesive while going to worse. So, lemme know how or why it didn't really happen (if you can nail any good examples/reasons from just listening); I'd like to improve on that front as well.

As for arranging, I get what you mean for the majority of what you're saying but one thing stands out - how are my harmonies wrong? If you care enough to try to point out specific examples of my bad harmonies I'd appreciate the chance to figure out why. Like you said, I do lack musical knowledge; aside from having played the bagpipes for seven years I haven't played another instrument from an age (piano at age five) I can remember but I am trying to expand my musical knowledge both through practice (here) and classes (which I can't take until next quarter :|). I can just imagine you saying you don't want to hear my life story, but that's okay; I'm down with the soul-crushing as long as I can get some good advice from it.

EDIT: Getting some good feedback via IRC about certain things, especially the harmonies, so I'm getting a feel for what you might have meant. Still feel free to let me know what you had a problem with though, in case it was something different that I could fix.

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Well, as much as I know I won't be able to defend myself from a Snappleattack, I am quite a new mixer, so I am very prone to mistakes.

But, if I've got more arrangement problems than production problems then that's okay, as I really haven't made many changes arrangement-wise from the first couple versions aside from changing my ridiculous lead instrument (I like it :sad: ), it's all been about making the bad arranging and mixing sound cohesive while going to worse. So, lemme know how or why it didn't really happen (if you can nail any good examples/reasons from just listening); I'd like to improve on that front as well.

As for arranging, I get what you mean for the majority of what you're saying but one thing stands out - how are my harmonies wrong? If you care enough to try to point out specific examples of my bad harmonies I'd appreciate the chance to figure out why. Like you said, I do lack musical knowledge; aside from having played the bagpipes for seven years I haven't played another instrument from an age (piano at age five) I can remember but I am trying to expand my musical knowledge both through practice (here) and classes (which I can't take until next quarter :|). I can just imagine you saying you don't want to hear my life story, but that's okay; I'm down with the soul-crushing as long as I can get some good advice from it.

EDIT: Getting some good feedback via IRC about certain things, especially the harmonies, so I'm getting a feel for what you might have meant. Still feel free to let me know what you had a problem with though, in case it was something different that I could fix.

Your harmonies are offkey. Unless you're going for dissonance which I can tell you're not because the rest of the composition doesn't go in that direction.

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hey barium,

I wanted to give you some advice, and i hope you dont take this the wrong way. First let me say, i am by no means a professional remixer, so I wont give too much advice on the actual mechanics of that. I am still learning myself in that regard.

At the earlier part of this thread, i recall you mentioning that you were fairly new to remixing. That being said, it seems to me that this may be too ambitious a project to take on at this point in time. Often, it is hard enough to remix 1 song let alone multiple ones. With one song, you have the capability to concentrate on a set of melodies and rhythms that you can work with, which makes for a much easier project. With this song, it seems that the different themes kind of run into each other.

Honestly, that is going to be natural since more thought is going into how to make the different songs mesh than how the entire song as a musical thesis sounds as a whole. To begin with, trying to collaborate themes is a tricky business, since they have to naturally flow as they exist, or you could have a big mess on your hands. I have a hard enough time trying to make 1 theme work let alone 2 or more. Im not saying youre not capable, i am just suggesting that it may be too ambitious a task at this point in time. Basically, if it were me, i would shelve the whole project until i felt i had the capability to do it.

Im sure you feel capable, especially after working your ass off on 13 different versions ( believe me, thats exactly how many versions i have into my latest mix), but maybe try working on another project for a while that is simpler, and less challenging, so that maybe once you have successfully mastered 1 (granted i dont know if you have or not), maybe you will have a better time trying to remix many.

About the piece itself, i think dynamics need to be considered. The piece will come alive if you really take into consideration crescendo and decrescendo. Also, attack would be another thing to think about. With the orchestral instruments, (especially brass), nothing is worse than having mushy attacks trying to re-enforce rhythm. If you can pick from samples with more attack, i would definitely do so. Also, there are many musical textures that make a short appearance and are gone for the rest of the piece. This will detract from the unification of the song as a final product. Using the same instrument textures throughout the piece on different themes would help create a more seamless segue.

I would also reconsider some of the textures you are using. That synth-ish trumpet that appears about halfway through the piece doesnt fit the mood or style of the piece IMO. Consider the melody structure as well. MAbe dont completely give the entire melody out right away. Reserve it, and give it out in hints here and there. Do so throughout the entire piece. Dont just say, ok this part is gonna be chrono trigger and this will be mario... Make them apart of each other in a way that is recognizable.

Hope that helps

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