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Sonic 2 & Colors - Emerald Hill 2P & Planet Wisp, uplifting ambient (?)


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UPDATE 4: http://instaidgrace.com/freqrexy/junk/soniccolors-gointothelight.mp3

It's at this point that I consider the track done. Fixes in this version:

* Bass lowered, again.

* Timings fixed on the strings, and automation fixes on them in the beginning.

* Mid-EQs boosted to fill in some space.

* Piano lowered again due to distortion induced by the above point.

This is pretty much the version that I sent off to the Submissions Inbox. Let's see how things go :)

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UPDATE 3: http://instaidgrace.com/freqrexy/junk/gointothelight11.mp3

Current fixes to the previous version are as follows:

* EQ cut on pads at beginning.

* After being annoyed with 3 patch changes that went nowhere, I just replaced the square in the call-and-answer section with a piano. o_O

* Changed a bum note near the end of the electro kit segment.

* Added some liveliness to the drums and bass near the end. Not sure if this is what Eino means......

* Took out the bass EQ boost because it sounded horrible with the above section.

* In response to the structuring, I boosted some of the rhythm parts in the background past the 4 minute mark that were also present in the beginning.

Also I should have said this at the start; the 4:15 section shares chord progression with the 1:15 section, and the climax at 4:35 started by sharing chord sequences with the 0:50 area before going in a more dynamic route. So there's food for thought regarding any more irks regarding the general progression.

Thoughts?

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UPDATE 2: http://instaidgrace.com/freqrexy/junk/gointothelight9.mp3

* Wetness on the delay for first clip reduced by 4db.

* Bass varied in first couple of minutes.

* Volume boosted by 2db on lead synth at around 3:30; that synth also had a cut in portamento by 6% to make it sound less like a "bird chiruping", which volume there was reduced by 2db.

* Flanger added on synth in acoustic drum section and added a phaser to alter the tone to something a little less grating.

* Threshold on limiter boosted by 1.5db. Tried to do it higher, but it just killed my piano for some reason.

* 800-1200 frequencies brought in on strings. I usually have a problem fitting them in so that they don't clash with other rhythm parts... o_O

* Cut out a few 32nd notes in the last synth solo, particularly one of the portamento based wobbles. That ultimately got replaced by a brief 16th note sweep.

Apparently, there is concern about my structure. That is something that I really do NOT want to compromise for the sake of passing, but I just don't know how else to manage Gario's remark by that. I have done every bit of squeezing in and condensing as I could while making it in the first place, so I just feel really stuck by that.

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UPDATE 1: http://instaidgrace.com/freqrexy/junk/gointothelight6.mp3

* All Zebra synth sounds completely changed to some thicker equivalents. (Note to self: never use the Arksun soundbank again...)

* Pads at the beginning extended and blended in more with the first instance of the Planet Wisp melody.

* Weaving of pads and strings at 3:00.

* Chord prior to Green Hill piano section changed from a D Major to a D Major 7th.

* Synth texture changes thickened near end, particularly after the arpeggio segment.

* Acoustic snare drum volume lowered in the mix. Seemed to get a bit too much attention for my liking late on.

ORIGINAL POST:

Well, thinking about it as hard as I can, I really want to start getting one or two tracks I entered to Sonic Zone onto the site. I did my best with my source pick of Emerald Hill 2P from Sonic 2, and I want to make sure it FINALLY gets some representation on OCR - something to compliment my S&K and Sonic 1 movements.

So let's start with the little bonus track I worked on and sent as a bonus entry last week.

http://instaidgrace.com/freqrexy/junk/Go_Into_the_Light_(Emerald_Hill_2P_&_Planet_Wisp).mp3

I wrote this as something more calming/thereaupic than my other 4 main entries, and really wanted to bring up what I felt expresses me as an artist, particularly going as far back as 2005. Even if you're trapped in yourself, there will be someone who will help grant you a way out, even if it's someone you don't expect.

First things first and foremost: the voice clips are staying. First one is Sonic's infamous copyright statement prior to the Planet Wisp boss (keeping in as a sense of irony lol), and like my other Sonic Zone entries, the second one has a Gex voice clip ("What this place needs is color"); an intentional nod to Colors and the lifting moods as the track goes on.

I'm cutting straight to Mod Review because I have poor confidence with the workshop as it is, and I really want to make sure this baby will actually pass the panel. So yes, fire away!

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production wise there is nothing wrong with it.

And that's the end of my criticism.

Well, not really. I also feel it's a little drawn out and slowly evolves. Perhaps that's what you were going for, and that's fine. But at 6 minutes I feel like you can condense some of this.

I don't like unnecessarily cutting something that might be good as is, but I also believe in terseness from the get-go.

note-written when I was pretty damn sleepy and it was a quick 2 minute glance throughout. So I may be off mark.

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The intro is gorgeous. The cut-off switch at about :50 to the meat of it all is alright, but I would've preferred some sort of lead-in or a continuation of the smooth intro (overlap) so it doesn't feel like the intro isn't adding anything. Like the intro builds up nicely, but doesn't feel relevant to the rest.

I can't stand synth lead at 1:46 (the plucked one)... mostly because it seems so low-quality next to how slick everything else is. The square lead after that is borderline. I like mixing synth styles, but these seem out of place or could stand to have some effects/tweaking done to make them a bit glossier like everything else.

At 3:00 the smooth string pad from the intro comes in briefly, but I think it makes you realize how long it's been since the intro before this idea really came back. Maybe use these differing textures in more of a contrapuntal style. Ie, have them come in and out in the background to tie things together throughout.

The 3:45ish synth is well-written and has a great part. But it has the same issue (to a lesser degree) that the earlier leads had. It sounds too simple and jarring next to everything else. Maybe some subtle effects/processing, or go the glitchy route to make it not as constant and piercing. The arpeggiating is a nice break, but why not it switch or combine with other leads/stuff at some point? Just give it some variety, I guess.

That chord at 5:20. It is exactly where, I guess, it should naturally go. And that makes it seem, to be honest, cheesy. Try to find another way to resolve all of that--something more interesting. A sus4, major 7th, a major flat-six chord, re-orchestrate it, throw the third in the bass. Something to make it a little less vanilla since everything else is so much more interesting throughout.

The outtro is great as-is, and really does it more interestingly than the fake-ending did at 5:20. The suspension/anticipation at 5:42 is exactly what 5:20 needed.

Overall, a killer track and one of the best I've heard from you. Just some nitpicks with the leads not meshing so well, I'd like some more continuity in your textures/combinations of them, and that cheesy chord at 5:20. Fantastic work otherwise!

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@Shake: Just for the record I found it hard to initially condense my ideas within 6 minutes without breaking apart the artistic vision. So I can't cut it any shorter, I'm afraid. :\

@C7: Managed to take a look into the feedback. We addressed bits together in the IRC and I managed to get some of the ideas into the track... including replacing a few synth sounds and reshuffling/texturing some near the end. I'm kind of unsure about doing glitching though; I'm looking for a more natural and expressive sound as opposed to Katamari-style chillout.

So either way, the first post is updated with some of the feedback taken into consideration. Is this an improvement? Can other things be changed? Or is there something else I'm just not hearing? o_O

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I still kinda suck at giving feedback, but here it goes...

Damn nice groove right here! And one of my favorite sources, Planet Wisp!

The intro is great, but I'm honestly not feeling the vocal sample. Maybe too much delay?

The bass that comes in at 1:05 is nice and groovy, but I would add more variation in there (1:24 to 1:51) to spice things up.

Back to Planet Wisp at 2:17. For some reason, that's my favorite part. I would probably use a nice jazz guitar sample to take the solo at 2:43.

Nice transition at 3:08.

The synth that comes in at 3:24 seems to be a little too quiet. I'm not sure if it is suppose to be the focus, or the bells/plucks.

You can probably use a stronger buildup before the section that starts at 3:50. I like the synth that comes in here, but it seems like its missing something. Maybe some flanger/phaser effects?

Definitely not feeling the wobbly bird thing at 4:43. Its a bit loud and distracting. A piano solo would probably be awesome there.

The strings that come in at 5:10 are a little on the thin side. I don't know if its just the sample or the missing low ends.

The piano at the end gave me goosebumps. A really nice way to close this one out.

That's all I got for now.

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Rexy... this is a very nice remix! Super chill at the beginning, perfect for a late summer evening! Really love those bell sounds, but that one synth that comes in at 1:55 is contrasting a bit too much.. just seems like an oddball synth out of the bunch. No complaints on the melody or anything, just that one synth sound.

Listening to that same synth with it's little solo part, it definitely works better here (2:55ish area) than it does back at the section around 1:55.

Undecided if I like the next synth solo after 4:00... again, it's not the melody itself I think that's great, just the sound.

At 4:45ish and forward I think you kind of overuse the 1/32 or whatever speed notes.

Really these are all probably just personal taste issues. I think overall your arrangement is solid and production is absolutely top!!

~Syllix

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Hey you voted for me. You're awesome, lol. *Ahem* Got business to do, eh?

MOD REVIEW

I really enjoy the meshing of the themes in this. It simply all fits together as perfectly as one could hope - so much Wasp Planet and Emerald Hill and Solo and... Schala (2:40)? You like that theme almost as much as I do! It's subtle, yet fitting.

The soundscape is great, but it feels quiet in comparison to other tracks on OCR. You'll want to increase the volume of this one, overall - the mix itself is fine, just raising the master volume or adding a limiter should be enough (not too much limiter, though - the production is clean in this, and we wouldn't want to lose that). Otherwise, it's a hint weak in the deepest part of the bass, too - perhaps raise the low end a touch, too.

As I mentioned before, I like the meshing themes. It sounds directionless, though - is there a form to this track, or is it a stream of thought? I'm all for a stream of thought, but if you want a track to last 5-6+ minute, you'll need to create a coherent form to follow - don't be afraid to bring back older material from the track to create coherence and structure in a song. If you want to keep the stream of thought style arrangement to the track, that's fine - but it'll need to be shorter, then. One or the other, I think in it's current state it sounds like it drags and meanders too much for the panel.

It's a very nice arrangement with beautiful production. Raise the volume and fix up the arrangement a little bit and I think it'll be great for posting on OCR. Nice work!

:nicework:

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As I mentioned before, I like the meshing themes. It sounds directionless, though - is there a form to this track, or is it a stream of thought? I'm all for a stream of thought, but if you want a track to last 5-6+ minute, you'll need to create a coherent form to follow - don't be afraid to bring back older material from the track to create coherence and structure in a song. If you want to keep the stream of thought style arrangement to the track, that's fine - but it'll need to be shorter, then. One or the other, I think in it's current state it sounds like it drags and meanders too much for the panel.

It's not really a stream of thought; I found it hard enough to fit in every single one of my ideas when going through my initial notes on how to go about it. This is practically the structure I agreed upon:

* Subdued intro

* Planet Wisp melody gently coming in

* Reference to Brandon's opponents

* Planet Wisp repeat with fitting in of the Emerald Hill melody

* Intense synth solo, moody for 16 bars

* Synth solo becomes more triumphant at end

* Dream Theater style string fakeout

* Minimal piano outro

Basically my low moods were able to carry the track forward; I couldn't really envision creating something like this in any other way. But I just feel really disheartened if you're thinking that the panel would 'no' it on arrangement grounds. It's making me think that I give myself way too much credit than I actually deserve. :(

I'll address the other components bit by bit after having eaten, but I still can't see myself altering the structure unless there seems to be something that needs to be taken out.

[EDIT: Okay, started going through a few things. I'm mainly paying attention to Blue Magic's thought about the delay on the first voice clip; this is its settings as it currently stands.

pwisp-delay.png

There was some awkward feedback on the second ping which I soon took out for consistency, but is there something else that is making the delay stick out?

(And yaaay... that's Reaper's ReaDelay. :razz: )]

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I said that the arrangement suffers from either being too long or from taking a style of form that doesn't lend to longer music without sounding like it's wandering (note that the structure you noted never really has any parts that repeat - that's what's leading to the 'meandering' feel that I'm hearing). 0:47-1:13 and 2:14-2:40 are the only parts that really connect the piece together (where you mention you brought back the Wasp material). More moments like this where you bring back older material would help this along immensely, as it gives the song some coherence. Or you can shorten it down to four minutes, or something; as I said before, you can take either approach and make what I believe is a needed change, so I don't think I'm pigeonholing you too much.

That's my observation on it, though - if you'd like, you can request another mod to take a look at it. Musical form isn't a hard science, so they might see it differently than I do.

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Another mod would be helpful, but no matter what, I feel that changing the form is just going to destroy the vision that I had for the track. If I want this thing to pass the panel, then I definitely don't want that vision compromised because that would just make me feel even more unhappy than the rejection. I still want to get this out there - I am taking a serious amount of pride in it, though that to me is now sounding like an understatement considering how upset I am in myself right now. :(

But alas, took a look into the track again before going to work, according to the crits layered out. Two things I'm not doing is putting in synth guitars due to my general dislike for them, or even compromising the portamenteau section with any form of piano part; I cite Steve Vai's 'For the Love of God' for the builded climax for the synth line going throughout the last couple of minutes. And it's usually that kind of music that rubs a chord on me and brings out that kind of expression.

The new version is in the first post. Go grab it.

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Hello Rexy (:

The piano in the intro sounds great. The background.. string/thing sounds great too, it's unusual and I love it. Only thing is, that it seems to have a lot of noise to it. That is fine in itself I think, it adds to the sound that I like. The problem is that the noise fades in and out, which sounds awkward. If you can make the noise continue throughout even when the instrument isn't playing, it'll make it sound better. I think the noise fadein/out it's also audible in the little drumless bit around 03:05.

I'm not very fond of the audio clips, but you want to keep them so that's fine. I'd maybe add a bit more of them, as a some sort of foreshadowing, so they don't come on suddenly.

01:01-01:24, a real acoustic guitar would sound so gorgeous there. What's there is passable, though.

Gotta agree about the synth at 01:55, it sounds very dry and up front compared to the rest of the soundscape. Also, the synth line around 02:01-02:07 could vary the velocity a bit from note to note, it sounds a little stiff which kind of pulls it away, exposes it from the track. I like the sound, it itself fits very well to the track. It sounds great at 01:46-01:54.

The background piano seems to have a slightly awkward chord at 03:35 and 03:42. It sticks out.. I guess it resolves, and it's an interesting chord/progression, but it kind of sounds unlike anything else in the track, and I felt it maybe conflicted with what the lead was doing.

I don't have trouble with the structure or length in general. I thought the mood was consistent, and it felt like the same piece throughout. I *did* however feel that the piece went into "lengthy band jam" mode towards the end a bit. I felt like I enjoyed the soloing between 03:46-04:39, but the backing from drums and bass didn't carry the tune forwards. Not sure what to suggest. I did a second full listen-through, and I felt I got the structure better. Everything seems to continuously develop forwards, drums and bass included. I kind of do dislike the "slow jam" feel, and wish the drums and bass were a little more active during that section (without taking the focus from the lead too much, of course). The pace they're taking seems really appropriate from 04:49 onwards, especially when the more complex chord structure comes on. If the drums and bass were a little busier in the previous section, the "easing up" that would happen would probably be a noticeable, interesting transition. I hope that made sense.

I really like the wobbly synth sound starting at 04:39. The outro mirrors the intro very well.

--Eino

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Heya Eino :) Thanks for the commentary on Hogging Molly earlier!

Well, I took a look at some of those concerns, though off the bat here's some I can't address.

The pads at the beginning were part of Impact Soundworks's Resonance library (yes, one of the two prizes I asked for as a result of the FF6 contest). I've looked into the framework of the pad, but in the end it's a bowed metallic pad that relies on loops, and I can't really take out any grating noises that came with it. I did have a go at EQing out some of the frequencies past 2500 though, seeing if that kind of helps things.

Coming in at 1:01, that's not an acoustic guitar - that's a koto. I was originally intending to go for a shamisen there but there was just too much high end and not enough body. I went for that because when trying to integrate the guitar power chord breakdown with the Emerald Hill chord structure, I realised it had a pentatonic progression, hence the need for something Eastern.

As for the chords at 3:35 and 3:42, the chords go into diminished, which was present in the original source tune. I have indeed rectified it by making a slight modification on the synth lead over the top of the first one.

Finally in regards to the pace, having realised that I need to do a lot to make sure this thing passes, what I am understanding is that there needs to be some added tension going through the acoustic drum section. So taking it into account, I've ended up cranking the drums and bass into double speed prior to the arpeggiated synth area, and indeed it calms down before the end. I'm actually not sure if it's even going to be likeable myself, but hey, if the Goo Goo Dolls can make it work... x_X

Either way, uploading with newest version now. Will update the first post accordingly.

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Well, I took a look at some of those concerns, though off the bat here's some I can't address.

The pads at the beginning were part of Impact Soundworks's Resonance library (yes, one of the two prizes I asked for as a result of the FF6 contest). I've looked into the framework of the pad, but in the end it's a bowed metallic pad that relies on loops, and I can't really take out any grating noises that came with it. I did have a go at EQing out some of the frequencies past 2500 though, seeing if that kind of helps things.

I think it helps a bit. It's a wonderful sound so it's worth trying to work on it. I was actually thinking of mixing in more hiss to conceal the fades on the actual instrument. Crazy stuff probably.

Coming in at 1:01, that's not an acoustic guitar - that's a koto. I was originally intending to go for a shamisen there but there was just too much high end and not enough body. I went for that because when trying to integrate the guitar power chord breakdown with the Emerald Hill chord structure, I realised it had a pentatonic progression, hence the need for something Eastern.

Ah, I should have realized that it's not a guitar. That's actually really well thought out. As is usual for your works. Did you change the sound in any way between the 2. and 3. update? Because it sounds so much better on

these headphones than the ones that I was listening with earlier. :P

As for the chords at 3:35 and 3:42, the chords go into diminished, which was present in the original source tune. I have indeed rectified it by making a slight modification on the synth lead over the top of the first one.

I think that works better now. Might have gotten used to it, but it didn't stick out, just sounded good.

Finally in regards to the pace, having realised that I need to do a lot to make sure this thing passes, what I am understanding is that there needs to be some added tension going through the acoustic drum section. So taking it into account, I've ended up cranking the drums and bass into double speed prior to the arpeggiated synth area, and indeed it calms down before the end. I'm actually not sure if it's even going to be likeable myself, but hey, if the Goo Goo Dolls can make it work... x_X

I thought that worked brilliantly! Superbly energizing for the section, it sounded really exciting and made the surrounding parts more strong too.

I'm really enjoying the whole tune now. :)

Either way, uploading with newest version now. Will update the first post accordingly.

Cool to see you working hard on this, good luck! :)

--Eino

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Eino, it had been updated for the past hour. I was just really slow trying to edit the first post with nothing but mobile internet a few blocks down the street. It's there either way. No modification was done to the koto though, if that answers anything. :)

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  • 2 weeks later...

Assorted thoughts:

No source links?

Oh great, voice clips.

Your choice of instrumentation right after the voice clip is fantastic tho.

The mids feel a bit empty, maybe a touch of EQ on the master would solve that?

The track picks up a little randomly, and not for long either. When most of the track has been a slow groove without any hints of it picking up like that, it feels a bit out of the left field. Dunno how best to solve that.

I'm more concerned with that than with the arrangement overall, tho I've done a fair share of meandering tracks myself so I might not be the best to judge.

Beautiful track in any case.

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Rozo, you're a bit late with the feedback o_O Since I didn't seem to be getting any more aid, I just went back and tweaked a few timings before sending it off to the panel earlier this week.

But that didn't make your feedback redundant though. I managed to attend to the mid-EQs and placed a boost on the master around the 350-750 range. This did however affect my piano in the intro (ugh piano compression), resulting me to bring that down by a couple of decibels, though with its minor presences I consider it to be still okay with the rest of the pads nearby. Either way, thank you :) That's been ninja'd into the submission link.

Otherwise, I'm considering this to be a done deal until OCR staff decide what to do with it. I did state in the submission letter that I'll take out the samples if it comes back as a Yes Conditional on those, but we'll see what happens.

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The track picks up a little randomly, and not for long either. When most of the track has been a slow groove without any hints of it picking up like that, it feels a bit out of the left field. Dunno how best to solve that.

I'm more concerned with that than with the arrangement overall, tho I've done a fair share of meandering tracks myself so I might not be the best to judge.

Beautiful track in any case.

Now that Rozo commented on this, I hear it too, it comes in pretty suddenly. I was too happy to hear my suggestion happen to pick it earlier. :oops:

I do think it helps with the earlier problem.. Perhaps such a tempo change-up could be foreshadowed earlier in the track. But of course, it's finished and submitted.. it'll be interesting to see what the panel has to say. It's a great piece in any case!

--Eino

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