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djgalvanization

Save the Earth, Save the Galaxy (Mass Effect themes remix)

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Hi all.

Been a nameless viewer here for years and just recently decided to start contributing after learning enough tricks to hold my own.

This track is a remix of ME3's "Leaving Earth" and ME2's "Suicide Mission".

A full explanation of the thoughts behind the mix can be seen in the description of the track in the link below:

https://soundcloud.com/djgalvanization/save-the-earth-save-the-galaxy-mass-effect-remix

Sources:

Mass Effect 3 Soundtrack - Leaving Earth: http://youtu.be/KGHA9oO1Ybg

Mass Effect 2 OST - Suicide Mission: http://youtu.be/VTsD2FjmLsw

I submitted this track already for review as a potential OCRemix post, so we'll see if it gets picked up after the judges decide later on. I hope you all like it.

The track is finished and I won't be making any changes to it, but I am posting here anyway because I would love to hear what both the casual listener and musically adept communities have to say about it, whether good or bad. Positive feedback is always welcome so I'll know I did something right, but I definitely am open to constructive criticism as well. I intend to apply what I learn from this to my future remixes/originals.

Thanks in advance to all who post their opinions/criticisms.

Cheers.

Edited by XPRTNovice

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Hey there ^_^ Looks like this has fallen a bit, I'll be happy to give you a review.

First thing that springs to mind is your production quality - its pretty good. The piano and strings sound great; you have some good ambience going on. Your transition at 1:00 is pretty interesting. The Kickdrum sounds okay, I like the tempo variance. You do a great job of layering the sounds just right. Things sound good for the most part. Nice work!

1:40 sounds great. Excellent blending of sounds here. I'd like to see a bit more variance with the lead and chord progression; you tend to fall into the 'just keep it going' mentality of so many electronic tracks. I think a more active lead would do justice. The break is great, nice transition again from the Electronic to the Orchestral and again - well blended sounds. After the break, you start this heavy orchestral building. Things sound pretty good; Not quite as good as your first half, but respectable.

Overall, the later half of the song starts to get repetitive. A lot of this is your drum work and looping chord progression. The part that hits at 6:25 is such a welcome change of pace. You could have probably dropped a minute or two out of the song as a whole and still gave the listener the same experience. I'd even say a better experience. As a whole though? This is pretty nice work. looking forward to seeing your future endeavors.

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You saved my post from the abyss, k-wix. Thank you :-)

And I appreciate the production feedback. Patting myself on the back for the good you pointed out (your opinion of my production quality is high praise coming from you) but I definitely see your point on the improvements.

I was actually tempted to shorten the song by around a full minute while making it but it was just difficult deciding which part of the 2nd source song to keep cutting since the original is so epic and long in context of the game. What I may have not fully considered was the context of this remix. It's a remix with listeners, not a score track played while playing the game, so yes, I agree I should have made it shorter now.

The track also goes from 4/4 to 7/8 to 6/8 (or 3/4) to 4/4 again so that presented a difficult and lengthy transition period between time signatures, but I think with my present day skills, I would have pulled it off. I just wanted to post it already because I had it on the shelf for a long time and already mastered it too, but I definitely needed the feedback so thank you for that. I will consider all of this for my future stuff.

Edited by djgalvanization

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If you do decide to trim it down, you could cut out one of the loops between 1:38 and 2:34. The third iteration of the four was the least interesting to me, and that was the section I felt was most repetitive.

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This here is a pretty interesting blend of orchestra and electronic. I must admit that I was not quite sure initially about the track in the first 3 min, but then 5 seconds later I am quite surprised with a very enjoyable experience from that point forth. Actually, I have to admit that riser you use at 3:37 is pretty awesome. Additionally that transition leading to 5:52 was probably the best in the entire track. Close contender is the one at 5:05 though.

The things that bothered in the grand scheme of the track are pretty small. In the intro, until the brass stab comes in there is no center image, granted the original had this too. Also, where you go on all Trance like, I personally really dislike that snare (I cannot put into words how much I dislike it lol). Also, about the first section at about 1:40 it just feels kind of boring. You go from this really big, atmospheric orchestral bit into a more full on electronic stage, but the only thing of any meaningful value there is a sawtooth melody. You get a much better idea at the end of the track about something you could do to make the section more interesting. The entire intro of the track is building up to that single part and it is just not capitalized on nearly enough. I expected something "huger" (excuse the butchering of English). The rest of this track is so darn epic and massive sounding that I only expected that section to carry on the theme.

Though other than that this is a pretty darn awesome piece. Creative, epic, and just beautiful. My two cents on the track at any rate.

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Typing on my phone so please excuse any less than intelligent spelling :-)

MindWanderer, since I've already widely released the track across many mediums, I have no plans to modify it... at this time anyway. Plus, the removal of one iteration would compromise the structure of the song unless I remove two iterations since it is largely dependent on a binary structure in terms of composition. Everything is in pairs. But I definitely noted your preference. So thanks for the input.

APZX, blending two worlds like Trance and Orchestra was definitely a challenge, and this was my first attempt at it so I'm glad you enjoyed most of it. Admittedly, my favorite part in my own remix is also the orchestral part. The greatest challenge was achieving coherence between the weird time signatures like I stated in a previous comment, so perhaps I neglected some fine touches like a more decent snare. I actually think it sounds ok, but I probably should have washed it a bit more to blend it better and reduce a bit of the harshness intrinsic to all snares. I also concentrated on developing my own sound designs so that's probably another reason I may have neglected other minor things unknowingly.

And I know what you mean by "huger". The art of manipulated perception to achieve that perfect climax in a song is still a skill I am developing... and it's a tough one. Do I use silence, lower the volume, or do a filter sweep? I always ask myself questions like that at the end of a buildup and I intend to master this art at all costs. So I'll definitely take that comment of yours into consideration.

Thanks for the props, glad you enjoyed it, and I appreciate your constructive criticism as well. All this input will help me hone my skills for future tracks and remxes.

Edited by djgalvanization

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And I know what you mean by "huger". The art of manipulated perception to achieve that perfect climax in a song is still a skill I am developing... and it's a tough one. Do I use silence, lower the volume, or do a filter sweep? I always ask myself questions like that at the end of a buildup and I intend to master this art at all costs. So I'll definitely take that comment of yours into consideration.

Simple answer, but it'll take years to master. Layering. Gotta have the ear to pick out sounds in your head and decide what you can layer to get a wall of sound. Then you have to be able to mix it cleanly. Try watching this.

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Thanks Timaeus.

Heck of a video. Watched the whole thing, even though I don't even have Kontact.

For whipping that up in 90 minutes, that's pretty awesome. I can make stuff pretty quick right now, but my OCD kicks in and I almost always start polishing from the get-go so I take a while.

Layering is definitely something I need to do for that BIG sound I want in a climax. The problem is knowing what to remove. In the vid, he did quite a bit of EQ behind the scenes but I could definitely see how it fit nicely into the image after that. I've been interested in doing trailer music also and that vid certainly gave me some insight into the genre.

Like I said, I must master that art at all costs ;-)

*Edit*

Just realized that video was from our own Zircon. Crazy. I should have joined this site years ago (visited a lot but just kinda lurked before).

Edited by djgalvanization

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Hmmm, Mass Effect - I actually just started to play the first game in the series and I don't think there was a single memorable theme just yet. Having listened to the source links, my fears remain - it is always hard to remix and reinterpret a track that is more of a background score rather than a theme with a pronounced melody. But let's put these caveats aside for a minute and check out the remix.

I really like the intro, slightly distorted piano, airy pads/strings. You can make the bass section stabs a little quieter with less verb. You could also increase the attack on them, and overlay a bass saw synth to add a little more grit and make them sound like the Inception bwaas. So far, this is more or less a cover of Leaving Earth.

Sounds like we are venturing into the trance territory. 1:40 to 2:40 - arrangement can definitely work, but you are missing a key element of trance music - where is that bass? If it's there, I can't hear it. Also, the drums need some work. The kick needs to be more substantial, I can't really make out the high-hats either (they quite distorted). Sounds like you layered your snares, but they still sound lo-fi. It is important to create a groove, even in a trance track, where the bassline works together with the drums to create a driving rhythm. Otherwise, the track will lack energy. Also, trance has moved on and developed significantly in terms of production in the last five years (at least). I recommend checking out Above&Beyond's Group Therapy podcast to hear what modern trance sounds like. In my opinion, trance music develops continuously, and the modern trance sound is a necessary evolution of the genre rather than a stylistic choice.

2:40 and on - nice break.

3:10 - I am liking those strings and the space you have created in the mix. High strings around 3:49, and especially when they reach 4:00 mark sound artificial and definitely need to be fixed. I am far from a pro, and even less than that when it comes to the type of instrumentation you are going for in this section, so I will let someone else comment on this part.

5:05 - awesome transition.

5:10 - ok, the mix sounds sparse at this point, and once again there are the same problems with the bass and the drums. The strings also sound too sampled to be synthetic and too robotic to be real.

With better production values this mix will sound significantly better, but at this point the drums, the bassline (or lack thereof), and the occasional sample choices for strings push this remix below the bar. I would also consider making more of the mix sound synthetic rather than opting for using samples - this will fit the genre better and is easier to work with than making samples sound real. Once again, I highly recommend listening to A&B's Group Therapy podcast for inspiration.

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Thanks for the input Ambient.

I agree with your thoughts on the strings in the later half of the track. I had made this track a while ago and I hear it now, and I still think it sounds good but there are some definite improvements I could have made with my present-day knowledge and skill. Had to release it sometime though. The thing is, the source track sounds heavily sampled as well, so that was my thought process behind using sampled orchestral sounds in this remix. I just carried the torch, if you will. I will admit that I didn't do much by way of articulation diversity when using EW's Platinum Orchestra. Still difficult to perfect that, but I'm working on it. Humanization is something I will definitely have to do as well. They were humanized (as in, I physically played it live with my keyboard) in the 7/8 time signature section, but not in the OrchesTrance section near the end. Will definitely watch out for that from here on out.

I always find it hard to sacrifice good sampled orchestral sounds for synthetic ones. The sampled ones always sound better to me. But I guess I will have to work a bit harder at blending them just right so that they all sounds like they are in the same "league" with each other, whether synthetic or not.

Your bass observation, well, honestly, it didn't occur to me. The originals didn't have much bass either so I guess that's why it slipped me. I still think it sounds good, but I can't deny that a well-placed baseline would give the track the final "oomph", at least when it gets to the upbeat parts.

I am actually a big A&B fan. I also listen to Armin van Buuren, Paul Van Dyk, BT, and tons, tons more.

But A&B is a terrific example of what you're trying to say. Their Oceanlab tracks have always been my favorite ones. Trance has definitely evolved since the 2000s (which I am a sucker for... I miss that sound). Also Trance seems to have dropped into the 128 BPM realm as well. Go figure.

About Mass Effect... just be patient with it. The 1st game is the slowest, but you'll be glad you went through it all once the lore keeps piling up in the 2nd and 3rd games. Incredible story and character depth. The music gets much more memorable in the 2nd game and on. One of the tracks called "Normandy Reborn" was composed by our very own Big Giant Circles, and that is definitely a memorable track. Watch out for it on Mass Effect 2.

Thanks for all your input. I appreciate it. All of this will definitely help me with my future projects.

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