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JDHarding

3. completed Chrono Trigger : Schala's Theme [ReMix]

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I highly encourage you to keep working on 2:58 - 3:12. It seems to be a climax that leads into the outtro, so keep improving it until it sounds much better than the previous sections.

The lead in to 3:12 is still not very clean. Again, the drums just stopping like that sounds kind of lazy, to put it in a nice way. It would be a good decision to add some sort of final lead in there.

At 3:17 - 3:20, I would have expected the strings there to be softer than at 3:12 - 3:15. If you do that, it will be more obvious that you are nearing the ending.

Sounding much better, too.

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Version 5.5. EQ, reverb, and compression settings tweaked.

Schala (v5.5)

http://jdharding.bandcamp.com/track/schala-v55-new

I listened to this song, and I think that it's a very good piece. There are a lot of remixes of this song, and this one succeeds where most fail: it has some variety in the melody. Too many remixes of this song just play the same notes with different instruments.

That said, I think that the time period between 1:56 and 2:06 doesn't have enough going on. The drums are playing, but not much else. You said this is supposed to be a techno remix, and when I think of techno, I usually imagine a harder hitting baseline than what is present during those ten seconds. I think you need to add another instrument there.

This mix, in terms of composition, is excellent. But I think that the sample quality is sort of a letdown - there was obviously a lot of work put into getting the notes right, but the samples themselves sound lifeless. Unfortunately, getting good quality samples, or hiring someone to play the tracks, is expensive, so I don't think you can be faulted for this issue.

Overall, great track. I'll keep checking back to see how it progresses.

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I like this, I must say. I like the feel, and it has a pretty full sound for the majority of it!

I would say that I'm not crazy about the section from 2:05 to 2:30. I like the beat, but it just felt like something way missing.

Anyway, good job! I'd listen to it again. :-)

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Aw man, I was kind of disappointed when the drums started. You created a deft orchestral intro, really nice. I hoped it would continue in that vein. I feel once you get into the electronic part the strings become quite muddy. Take a highpass filter to that bad boy. Piano is a little on the stuffy side as well. All in all an enjoyable track, but I kinda lose track of the Schala theme during some of the electronic parts. Maybe it's just my own aging memory.

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Sounds pretty muddy in the intro due to the reverb's low cut being too low.

The drums are in fact overcompressed the most out of everything, and the snare has too long of a transient to let the other instruments breathe (the tone of it is also weird). Too much reverb overall on everything. Old version was less overcompressed and much better.

Update!

Orchestral instruments converted over to Kontakt libraries. Oboe converted over to Miroslav libraries. Everything's been given a new, clean mastering. Took about 3 hours of work.

Don't take this the wrong way, but I don't know of anyone notable who's successfully upgraded old instruments with expensive sample libraries and re-mixed everything as well as adding articulations/keyswitch toggles, velocity fixes (to adjust to the new velocity curve), and MIDI CC (dynamics) in less than 12~36 hours over the course of 1~2 weeks, let alone 3 hours in 1~2 sessions (unless it's a really weird typo). You need to take your time. You're rushing to finish something that needs more TLC.

Edited by timaeus222

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The snare and the high bass have compression on them. The snare has very hard compression for that snappy effect. Everything else has no compression or very mild compression. I don't know where you're getting overcompressed from, but nothing's overcompressed.

Edit:

Oh I forgot.. there is a master compressor I turned on. But that shouldn't be having a heavy compression effect.

Well, whatever you did, I'm definitely hearing overcompression. Once you get an idea of what it is, it's hard not to notice it, IMO. If you listen carefully, you may hear the snare being pushed down quite a bit, but it doesn't sound snappy to me; it sounds squished, like you used a hard knee limiter coupled with a really high gain on the snare. It's most evident at 0:52 with the double snare hit getting pushed down and 2:31 where... uh... I can't really tell what's happening there, so there's my reason for that timestamp. 2:31 is super cluttered in general. Maybe if you try mixing the snare compression as about half of the dry signal and half of the wet signal, it may sound cleaner, though I don't know how your compressor settings look, so it could still need more work there too.

In the extreme case with a snare roll of a billion hits, the overcompression may be more obvious, so you could always try that if you want to check. You may want to read up on this article.

Edited by timaeus222

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Okay, well, the overcompression is gone, but the snare sample is still sounding as if it were still overcompressed, especially at 0:52 like before. It's easiest to hear the snare at 1:53, and all I can say is it needs an improvement on its compression algorithms and/or you need to replace it with different snare samples. You may not hear it as much as I do, but I think the snare samples are the major issue here in that they sound overcompressed, even if there are no compressors on them. I don't know if you're using a hard knee or soft knee limiter on the master, but it could just be that the snares are too loud.

The bass is clearer. The background arps are now at more of a background volume, which is good.

Also, the experience makes the producer, not the headphones, so you could have the best headphones in the world (which are the DT-880 250 ohms IMO) and still not be as good as someone with worse headphones but more experience. Trusting one pair of headphones too much is not a good thing. You need multiple ways to check your mix. It can sound good on your side and there could still be issues on skullcandies and cheap iPod earbuds.

Edited by timaeus222

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Well, the overcompression is now all gone. There's cleaner dynamics than before, so that's good. Though honestly, if you're "sick of working on this song", you may be missing the point here; it's not about finishing the song, it's about learning along the way. Music should be something you enjoy if you keep doing it so much, right?

I'll say that it's much better than the very previous edit, so good job.

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Let me rephrase that. I'm sick of *hearing* this song. The working/learning part is fine.

Was there anything wrong with it this time?

There wasn't anything significantly wrong with this now that I would feel like I need to tell you. The only thing is really just the arrangement flow; a few spots sound disconnected because there's no lead-in sound, but that's about the only reasonably significant thing.

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Let me rephrase that. I'm sick of *hearing* this song. The working/learning part is fine.

Was there anything wrong with it this time?

The only thing I can find "wrong" with it is that the snare doesn't quite fit the soundscape. I don't know how you have it set up, but maybe put a bit of reverb on it?

Removing the overcompression fixed pretty much everything else. Sounds great!

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seems like there have already been lots of comments on the drums in past versions, but i think they are still not quite as effective as they could be. the snare sound youre using lacks punch, which imo could be due to a few things: the sample itself sounds to me almost like a rock snare at pitch, the decay on the sound seems unnecessarily long, and it seems like there is some kind of stereo separation effect (?) on the sample. the result is a boomy sounding snare that seems to be eating up a lot of mid-range freq with little benefit to the overall sound (not to mention it kills the momentum of the percussion, the lingering sound creates the impression that the tempo drags). i think you might be able to accomplish more with a less complex, "tighter" (higher pitched sample/electric snare) snare and maybe a slight reverb, maybe even layered with a clap, for example.

the kick is lacking presence as well, though i think that is more to do with the sub bass sound you're using, which i think could be tightened up or otherwise modified to suit the rhythm and texture you have. the weak kick, boomy yet distant snare, and heavy sub bass i think are the main things which are clouding the mixing in this track.

i listened to this in comparison imax by culture shock, which i think mayyy be useful as a reference, so i'll throw a link out there just in case. im thinking specifically the section starting ~2:35

aside from the percussion, i'd say the synth textures are nice overall, though i have issues with the orchestral textures. personally i disagree with the pizz+arco strings against the harp in the intro (multiple plucked strings in the same register), i might prefer some kind of plucked synth and saw pad (or something), which could provide a more engaging contrast.

the section at 1:40 is, i think, another example of ineffective use of space. when the harp comes in at 1:53 it's in the same register as the piano, and its buried even further by the delay on the piano (which to me seems excessive). perhaps that was the intended effect, but i might suggest using a higher register of the harp (harmonics?), or even something like crotales, which could also evoke the original.

at 2:58 you start to make what seems like the natural decision to merge schala's theme with the breakbeat texture, but then you lose the beats almost immediately (and awkwardly), which didnt make much sense. since the piano is more or less verbatim from the section at 1:40, it's not as compelling to hear it on its own again. it sounds like you stopped writing halfway through and just put in a fade. the arrangement has potential, but at this point sounds unfinished!

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Schala? Trance? Sounds interesting, let's check it out.

Ok, the intro is pretty typical for a Schala remix, we have the typical Schala arp with other elements slowly coming in. No particularly new or interesting ideas, but everything is more or less well-executed. The string swells sound a little artificial, so you they would benefit from some additional processing/layering, maybe reverb to make them sound natural.

Before I was able to put down my comments on the intro I finished listening to the remix. Then I listened to it a few more times, and really there are a few big picture issues with the mix that need to be addressed, otherwise we will miss the forest for the trees.

First, the rearrangement factor is quite low. The only new and interesting aspect in this mix is the arpeggiator. And even if you programmed every note in there, it still sounds like it was put through an arpeggiator, which is not necessarily a good thing, since it is not used as a supporting synth but more as a lead. The mix is sparse, for a good portion of it you just have the arpeggiator, bass and drums going. Bassline is not particularly interesting, it's functional, and if you had some other interesting melodic elements going on, then it wouldn't be a problem. But when the bass is one of the main elements of your mix, it needs to be more interesting both in terms of sound and in terms of notation/arrangement. The acoustic parts are sparse, and not really rearranged, but rather sound "stripped" compared to the original.

Which brings me to my second point - production. If your arrangement is not particularly inventive or dense, you need to rely on strong production and sound design to express creativity and present the source material with a different twist. Production is just very straight forward here, with nothing that keeps a listener interested.

I thought drum sequencing was really good, and that the breakbeat section worked great, but here I will echo what others have said about drums - the kick is weak, the snare is not snappy enough (even after the edits). I think you are just using the wrong type of samples to begin with, these don't sound very fitting for the type of music you are going for.

The remix is by no means bad, it's a good attempt that you can use to hone your skills. But if you want to make something that will pass the judges panel, it will sound very different from what you have now.

I would recommend checking out the Above&Beyond podcast Group Therapy to get some production ideas if trance is what you are going for.

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Hm. I don't think that lead at 1:13 is suitable for playing those notes in that way. It sounds like something organic and more nuanced with trill articulations would be able to handle that more cleanly. Same at 2:32. EX: This track @ 1:30-1:48

That snare at 2:06 is too loud, especially in the mids, and it's covering up whatever's happening underneath. It could be toned down by 1~3dB and scooped a bit.

Also, 2:59 is a copy-paste of 1:39, just with a few strings notes on top. Adding some more meaningful variation there would portray more TLC overall.

There's some improvement, but ultimately, if you are happy with your edits, then you should be able to summarize what you did without listing all those changes as justification. They all culminate to a more concise description. I used to list changes like that, but I've long since then stopped doing that because I feel like if the changes made were significant, people should be able to hear them without reading off a list.

Edited by timaeus222

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Each to their own - I really dig this remix whether or not other people have their gripes :P

Always been a fan of your works Mr Harding 8-)

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