Sign in to follow this  
Sauraen

wip [Updated 2/20] Xenogears - 'Final Convergence' Remix

Recommended Posts

Sauraen - Xenogears - 'Final Convergence' Remix

https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/xenogears-final-convergence-2 [updated 2/20/2014] (Now that the mastering is better, the low-quality streaming version is also better, but please download for full quality)

Since there's 22 songs referenced here, I might as well just post a link to the entire OST, and you can find all the songs there:

Original Composer: Yasunori Mitsuda

Primary songs remixed: Star of Tears, Small Two of Pieces

Songs referenced:

0:00 - Aveh, Ancient Dance

0:25 - Star of Tears / Emotions [Overworld Theme]

1:25 - My Village is Number One (uilleann pipes)

1:29 - The Sky, The Clouds, and You [Chu Chu's Theme] (glockenspiel)

1:33 - Singing of the Gentle Wind (flute)

1:48 - Bonds of Sea and Fire / The Leftovers of the Dreams of the Strong (horn)

1:56 - Flight / Gathering Stars in the Night Sky (brass)

2:04 - Shattering Egg of Dreams (strings, low whistle)

2:34 - Small Two of Pieces (uilleann pipes shredding)

3:22 - Faraway Promise / Small Two of Pieces A Theme (glockenspiel)

3:43 - Back to Sleep V1/V2 (harp)

3:50 - The Wounded Shall Advance into the Light / Pray for the People's Joy

3:57 - In a Dark Sleep / Small Two of Pieces B Theme

4:13 - Lost... Broken Shards (flute, glockenspiel)

4:28 - The Treasure Which Cannot Be Stolen

4:58 - Wings (uilleann pipes)

5:02 - Ship of Regret and Sleep (glockenspiel)

5:06 - Dazil, City of Burning Sands

There will probably be a few minor mixing/mastering edits before I want to submit it, but it's mostly done. Enjoy!

Edited by Sauraen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Quite an impressive composition you've put together. I'm not a musician, so I have very little technical advice to offer (I'm sure someone else will offer some tips on the mastering or the instruments), but I did thoroughly enjoy the arrangement. Like I said, the composition is quite impressive (I'm a huge fan of the Xenogears soundtrack, so I'm intimately familiar with all of the sources used).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quite an impressive composition you've put together.

Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it.

Hopefully some more people will comment, otherwise I'll just go for Mod Review.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Haven't been getting any additional views (let alone comments) for the last few days, so bumping and switching to Mod Review.

Enjoy, whoever winds up listening to this!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

MOD REVIEW

Woo, Xenogears! Looks like the main source is the overworld theme, so if you posted that as your source that would probably suffice. I'm glad that's the case, too, since if it were more like a medley than it is now then I would've let you know that it had little chance on the panel. You seem fine in this case, though. :P

Alright, you have some great compositional ideas, and it was a great idea to merge pretty much all the sources from Xenogears in snippets with the overworld pretty much linking everything together into a cohesive piece. It works pretty darn well, actually.

The production is okay, but the sequencing is very mechanical on this one. You'd be rejected on the panel based on that, so you need to find a way to humanize your instruments better, and if at all possible find some better samples (in some cases I swear I hear GM). It sounds really good even now, but it could sound so much better with more humanized instrumentation.

The drums could either stand out a little more or be removed (opting to just have the percussion, like the cymbals would be nice), since they just don't stick out at all, right now. Find a way to bring them out more, or don't bother with em'.

I really do like this, but you need to make your instruments sound more realistic if you want this to pass. Best of luck!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

At first I was a bit concerned about the arrangement being a list of songs in a medley, but you do have some form of personalization. It isn't just one track after another, and it actually kinda sounds like one song.

That said, the pacing is so-so. The entire track is basically one mood without any change-ups in energy, and mostly little to no change-up in atmosphere (mainly Celtic dance-like, it seems). Five minutes is quite a bit to burn through without pausing the track for repetitive pacing. The sound quality is average, and the mixing is not great but OK. However, I agree with Gario that the sequencing of many of the orchestral elements is fake and/or mechanical (especially the horns and strings). They don't sound bad; they just don't sound good, for the particular quality samples you used. You can certainly automate volumes, overlap notes, and do other tricks to make free samples sound more realistic. It also couldn't hurt to get better samples. FluidR3 is an example of a good soundfont, IMO. Its harp is great, and with some careful EQ it can be even greater.

The drums are a bit buried, but I'm not convinced that they fit the genre. That's an acoustic kit in an orchestra with some Celtic and Irish instruments; nothing wrong with that, but it's unconventional. The kick is pretty far back, and the snare is barely audible. The cymbals work though.

I'm finding the sequencing to be the biggest issue here, followed by the pacing and then the mixing. The transitions seem OK for the most part, and the sources are implemented in particular ways, rather than acting as completely separate tracks joined by crude links. Overall, I think if the pacing was varied some more, the orchestral sequencing was refined, and the mixing was refined, this would be more engaging for longer.

Edited by timaeus222

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, I really enjoyed this! But I have a few suggestions:

- pipe solo is kinda buried, you may wanna raise their volume there

- drums need more transitions/variation, and could also be brought a bit more forward

- the bass has a bit too much reverb, you could try high-passing the reverb to leave the bottom frequencies dry

I have to say instrument quality/sequencing didn't come off to me as bad. This arrangement is really awesome, nice work! :D

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have never played Xenogears so I am unfamiliar with the source but it all seems to fit together rather nicely. I particularly liked the parts with the uilleann pipes.

I personally really like where the drums are in the mix as they add to the piece without getting in the way. The much more experienced guys in this thread seem to disagree so please don't take this newb's advice over theirs!

This track has found itself a place in my music library :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The production is okay, but the sequencing is very mechanical on this one. You'd be rejected on the panel based on that, so you need to find a way to humanize your instruments better

The sound quality is average, and the mixing is not great but OK. However, I agree with Gario that the sequencing of many of the orchestral elements is fake and/or mechanical (especially the horns and strings).

Thanks, I will go through and try to improve this.

The drums could either stand out a little more or be removed (opting to just have the percussion, like the cymbals would be nice), since they just don't stick out at all, right now. Find a way to bring them out more, or don't bother with em'.
The drums are a bit buried... The kick is pretty far back, and the snare is barely audible. The cymbals work though.
- drums need more transitions/variation, and could also be brought a bit more forward

I'll try just using percussion, but the drums provide a driving force for the piece, so I'd rather keep them if I can. I know what you're talking about the drums being buried, I'll do what I can.

- pipe solo is kinda buried, you may wanna raise their volume there

- the bass has a bit too much reverb, you could try high-passing the reverb to leave the bottom frequencies dry

Noted, thanks. I didn't want the pipes to be too in-your-face (considering their timbre), but if someone else (you) thinks they could be louder as well, I'll do that.

When you say "bass" I assume you mean "double bass", since the bass guitar has no reverb. I'll take care of that.

...the pacing is so-so. The entire track is basically one mood without any change-ups in energy, and mostly little to no change-up in atmosphere (mainly Celtic dance-like, it seems). Five minutes is quite a bit to burn through without pausing the track for repetitive pacing.

This'll be the hardest thing to address. I've been unsatisfied with the transition at 3:50, and this would be the perfect place to add in a few more measures with a lower energy, before it starts building up again to the finish. I'll try that and see how it sounds.

and if at all possible find some better samples (in some cases I swear I hear GM). It sounds really good even now, but it could sound so much better with more humanized instrumentation.
You can certainly automate volumes, overlap notes, and do other tricks to make free samples sound more realistic. It also couldn't hurt to get better samples. FluidR3 is an example of a good soundfont, IMO. Its harp is great, and with some careful EQ it can be even greater.
I have to say instrument quality/sequencing didn't come off to me as bad.

This is really ironic. I did a MIDI arrangement a couple years ago of some themes from Link's Awakening (called "Melodies of Mabe Village"). I downloaded every free soundfont I could (including Fluid), spent a couple months sifting through all them for the best patches for each instrument and writing configuration files for Timidity to combine all those patches, rendered the piece with those, and was immediately rejected--didn't even make it to the submissions inbox--on the grounds of poor sample quality. So I co-opted my roommate to help me, rendered some virtual instrument tracks in Sibelius and some with SONAR's sounds, mixed them all in the latter, and was rejected again on the same grounds. So I saved up for half a year and bought the EastWest/Quantum Leap Complete Composers Collection, a 1 terabyte iLok-secured cinema-quality sound library. Then of course I had to build a computer that could handle it, and then get a DAW (I'm using Reaper) that could load 16 GB of virtual instruments into RAM without crashing. A version of that piece made with these sounds is currently in the blue judges' queue, and these sounds are what you're hearing in this arrangement.

Now, I suppose the joke is on me if my humanizing/mastering skills are so terrible that I'm able to get a $1000 sound library to sound like GM, and be recommended to upgrade my "free" samples to Fluid! (The only upgrade to the samples I'm using that I know of is $14,000!) I'll do my best with humanization, but if you would like, I can provide a version of the piece actually rendered with FluidR3 for comparison. :P Edit: Here you go: https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/fluidr3-vs-eastwest-ccc

Edited by Sauraen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I'll try just using percussion, but the drums provide a driving force for the piece, so I'd rather keep them if I can. I know what you're talking about the drums being buried, I'll do what I can.

Nooo, don't even think about removing the drums! :-D

It's not that all of the drum lines need to be changed! What I usually like to do is add minor variations to each bar, such as different accents on the snare, maybe a shuffle here and there. A small transition on every 2nd bar and a bigger one on every 4th bar. You could also try using a steady tom groove accented with the kick and snare (

) in some parts, play with the hats, add cymbal hits to accent some notes even further, make the transitions follow the bass etc.

Also, when it comes to mixing drums, I always try to have my kick and snare as the loudest elements in the song, at approximately the same level, but all depends on the actual sound of the kick and the snare. Also, don't be afraid to slap a limiter on them to tame the transients. Usually the dry drums are such that they appear loud on meters but sound quiet, and that's because the transients are much louder than the "body" of the sound.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's an updated version of the remix. Soundcloud really kills the bitrate, so please download it to hear it in full quality:

https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/xenogears-final-convergence-1

Issues improved:

  • Mastering: drums, strings
  • Humanization: uilleann pipes, french horn solo, high strings, rhythmic parts
  • New, slightly longer, intensity-breaking transition section at 3:50--do you like it, or does it distract from the continuity?

Oh, and by the way, here's a comparison between this remix being played on FluidR3 versus the cinema-quality EastWest samples I used: https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/fluidr3-vs-eastwest-ccc

Edited by Sauraen

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ok, I've had a chance to listen to your track again and have a few comments on the mix. In general, it's all sounding really good, arrangement is solid, all the instruments have their own space in the mix, and it sounds pretty full. I don't really think you should have too much trouble getting posted because of the quality of the arrangement, but since you want to push the mix further here are some general mixing tips, some of which I've taken from a few other people who have asked me about this:

- Filter out ANY frequencies you don't need with EQ, but especially bass frequencies. Everything that is not a drum or a bass instrument should have reduced or no bass. The rule of thumb is to rolloff the low end until you start to hear it effect the sound, then back off a bit. You don't want the sound to feel too thin or lose its character, but you want to control your bass because those can make a mix muddy. I can hear your mid bass pretty well but it's definitely a bit of blaring bass interference on the side that may not be necessary.

- The other suggestion is to use automation to spotlight what you are focusing on in different sections of the mix so things feel like dynamic. While I can hear everything in your mix pretty clearly, I do think that mixing-wise it feels a bit like autopilot which makes it sound sequenced. Try to find opportunities to spotlight particular instruments in your mix, and put your best sounding sample to the forefront in that respect.

- If you are adding reverb to something, always use a send track so you can control the dry signal and wet signal and EQ them separately. This means that on track 1, you have your 100% dry sound. Send that dry sound to track 2, and add your reverb unit. EQ the reverb to rolloff the extra bass because that can muddy up your mix, and you can also turn up some of the high frequencies on the EQ to see if you like how it sounds. If you prefer a full wet sound that's cool, just roll the bass off where you can.

- You have some solo-type instruments taking the stage in your mix, but I've noticed that the entire mix is pretty static. Flutes on the left do a solo but they stay on the left and there is no noticeable change in volume. I think it might be helpful to create more movement in your mix by panning a solo instrument to the center or making it stand out more in the mix a bit during a solo section. Or send that flute to another track and fade it up to make it sound larger in the mix for that section. So if your flute is on track 1 panned left, create a send to track 2 and pan that right, or center, and see if it creates more clarity or presence for your flutes for the solo section. Try to capture the texture of that instrument a little, maybe increase the higher frequency EQ in that section to give a bit of sparkle or turn up the reverb a bit, then back it all down when you move into the next section and have the orchestra fill up the empty space created by the solo.

In general, every mix is different, and in the case of your track I think there are three key elements that should define the mix:

1: Percussion plays a huge roll in how you transition and add energy to certain sections of the mix. I think for big transitional moments, bring it to the forefront, turn it up, bring the close mics up a bit if you have that option, and sometimes this means ducking other instruments out of the way to create an opening--so EQ them or automate their volume for that moment to let the percussion shine through.

2: Solos. I mentioned this already, but the same concept of letting the percussion shine through in key moments should apply to your solo sections.

3: Uplifting moments. There are a lot of uplifting or transcendent moments throughout the mix, and for those moments I think you need to spotlight something and have it soar above the orchestra. Strings or horns are great at this, and try to pair them with powerful percussion moments because I think the general idea is to uplift and then have a powerful release, which is what your percussion should be--the downbeat or transition out of or into a powerful moment. Don't be afraid to duck other instruments out of the way to focus on a particular instrument or idea. Sound design and mixing is about making choices--sometimes you can have everything, but sometimes it's better to focus on one thing and build that section around one sound or concept.

In general, don't be afraid to mess with your mix and make mistakes. Save your file as an alternate version, and go to town--take risks, experiment. The only way to really get better at mixing is to do it, learn what works for your and what doesn't, but you have to take risks and push yourself. If you can bring some more dynamics I think this track will feel a lot more organic and alive and allow your arrangement to shine through. If the dynamics and arrangement stay on the same level, people tend to tune out. Your job as a mixer is to make sure your arrangement has impact so that people connect with it. Even the best arrangement can fall on deaf ears if it sounds weak or the mix lacks style. For your next update focus on creating some more movement and rhythm in your mix--add more automation to your volume and EQ as the mix progresses and be more extreme with it. If you don't like the way it sounds, you can always dial back, and you may still find something else that ends up being useful.

Best of luck man, hope this helps!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Here's an updated version of the remix. Soundcloud really kills the bitrate, so please download it to hear it in full quality:

https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/xenogears-final-convergence-1

Issues improved:

  • Mastering: drums, strings
  • Humanization: uilleann pipes, french horn solo, high strings, rhythmic parts
  • New, slightly longer, intensity-breaking transition section at 3:50--do you like it, or does it distract from the continuity?

Oh, and by the way, here's a comparison between this remix being played on FluidR3 versus the cinema-quality EastWest samples I used: https://soundcloud.com/sauraen/fluidr3-vs-eastwest-ccc

You can certainly automate volumes, overlap notes, and do other tricks to make free [(not "your free")] samples sound more realistic. It also couldn't hurt to get better samples. FluidR3 is an example of a good soundfont, IMO. Its harp is great, and with some careful EQ [and reverb] it can be even greater [or better].

This wasn't directed towards your samples, but free samples in general in the first sentence. The second sentence was a very general statement, and could apply to anyone. The third sentence was expressing my personal opinion (which was obvious from the "IMO"), but that comment about the harp was a suggested particular sampled instrument for you.

So nah, I'm not saying that it sounded like you were using soundfonts, but I am saying that I very much like the quality of FluidR3's harp because it already has strong treble content to let it pierce through a thick mix. A regular harp, as I've found, can come through mixes less often for me than FluidR3's harp because specific harmonics present in FluidR3's harp are more present than in the harps in orchestral libraries I've heard. It's not about sample quality that you start with, it's about how you process those samples to make them sound realistic and better than they were before. Applying tasteful reverb, EQing carefully, sequencing meticulously, and adding automation to humanize expression/volume/articulations is pretty important, whether you're using high OR low quality samples. Elevate low quality samples with production tricks, and although it won't sound as good as well-sequenced orchestra libraries, it'll sound good for a soundfont-heavy piece, specifically---in context.

If you were rejected based on sample "quality", it's not factual that your sample quality was literally not high. In actuality, the perception of your sample quality was that it was not high. Literal high quality libraries sequenced and reverbed in an average way may actually sound like general MIDI soundfonts that haven't been touched up well enough in terms of humanization and reverb sometimes, depending on the comparative tonal qualities of each instrument between a particular library and a particular soundfont. As usual though, it's case-by-case. The OCR judges are not inconsistent.

tl;dr: It's quite possible to write low "quality" music using literal high quality sounds. Putting it to the extremes, dry mechanical $1000 libraries might actually sound objectively worse in their realism than well-reverbed humanized soundfonts simply because the soundfonts would then sound more realistic due to the proper reverb and the proper humanization tricks. Literal higher quality does not equal more realism/believability. Yeeep, I did just say that. :lol:

By the way, the cross-fades comparison has some difference, but not much. There's a difference in the reverb, expansiveness, panning, and other stereo image aspects, but it's not quite a fair comparison. Soundfonts need more effort in humanization to match up to adequately sequenced sample libraries (which is another general statement, not applying directly to you). Right now, the mixing sounds pretty good, and it's better than before, though I feel like the acoustic drum kit sounds out of place in an orchestra. Just an opinion though.

Also, Theophany has some great points.

Edited by timaeus222

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this