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"A Formidable Enemy", my first song in EWQLSO.


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Make your velocities varied. Just applying EWQLSO over a midi arrangement isn't going to improve it by much. Your samples would be much more effective if you put in the effort to emulate the real playing and sounds of an orchestra. All your instruments currently are perfectly quantized, and have no variation when repeating. At 0:29, your trumpet consistently has the same harsh attack for every note, without any expression. Not only does this sound unappealing, a real trumpet player would play the phrase with some expression.

For example, at 0:29, at 0:39, the trumpet could get softer each note, then get louder right before the legato note.

Here's a good rule of thumb for for general/subtle orchestral dynamics - higher notes can get higher velocity, and vice versa. For example, at 0:29, the trumpets can get louder on the C#.

Also, you melody at 0:07 seems to come from an entirely different song. Your staccato strings seem to be in a minor key, but the melody is in major??

Your orchestration sounds very thin. Where's all the chords? At 0:44, it sounds like the only parts of the string section you're using is a single violin and bass line. The entire song is like this. In orchestral arrangements, parts are written for entire sections, not just single instruments. You should listen to some orchestral recordings to hear how orchestral scores are usually written, (typically with many instruments blended together.) Watching videos/live will help you become familiar too.

I'd also recommend becoming familiar with all the instruments commonly used in orchestras, so that it's easier to consider how instruments can work in sections.

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7 hours ago, Slimy said:

Make your velocities varied. Just applying EWQLSO over a midi arrangement isn't going to improve it by much. Your samples would be much more effective if you put in the effort to emulate the real playing and sounds of an orchestra. All your instruments currently are perfectly quantized, and have no variation when repeating. At 0:29, your trumpet consistently has the same harsh attack for every note, without any expression. Not only does this sound unappealing, a real trumpet player would play the phrase with some expression.

For example, at 0:29, at 0:39, the trumpet could get softer each note, then get louder right before the legato note.

Here's a good rule of thumb for for general/subtle orchestral dynamics - higher notes can get higher velocity, and vice versa. For example, at 0:29, the trumpets can get louder on the C#.

Also, you melody at 0:07 seems to come from an entirely different song. Your staccato strings seem to be in a minor key, but the melody is in major??

Your orchestration sounds very thin. Where's all the chords? At 0:44, it sounds like the only parts of the string section you're using is a single violin and bass line. The entire song is like this. In orchestral arrangements, parts are written for entire sections, not just single instruments. You should listen to some orchestral recordings to hear how orchestral scores are usually written, (typically with many instruments blended together.) Watching videos/live will help you become familiar too.

I'd also recommend becoming familiar with all the instruments commonly used in orchestras, so that it's easier to consider how instruments can work in sections.

The velocities could be more varied. But the whole "emulate the real playing and sounds of an orchestra" thing is easier said than done. Real instruments can play several different articulations such as legato, marcato, portamento and stacatto. Convincing legato doesn't seem possible in EWQLSO.  Realistic marcato and portamento seems to be limited.

I have listened to real orchestral recordings.

This is a song by a real orchestra, orchestrated in a similar way:

 

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3 hours ago, YoungProdigy said:

But the whole "emulate the real playing and sounds of an orchestra" thing is easier said than done

[...]

I have listened to real orchestral recordings.

Listening to something and understanding something are two completely different things. I don't believe you processed them fully enough to train your brain. If you did, your music would be more refined. Just calling it like it is.

You say it's "easier said than done", which is true, but it's not an excuse to spend less time on it and assume you'll never get it. Assuming you'll never get it is a great way to not get it. So you have to put more of your time into learning how to write for orchestra if you're going to want to write something more realistic.

I do hear the similar styles, but you're still missing the expression present in the SMG example, real or not.

  • Your orchestra is a little distant, which means the close / room / hall mic mix is skewed towards the hall mic (or away from the close mic) or you don't have the flexibility to mix all three together (you wouldn't beneath Platinum version of EWQLSO I believe). Or your samples are pre-baked in reverb.
  • Your brass in particular is noticeably lacking dynamic crossfade automation, so the high-dynamic "blatty" tone to the brass is constantly there, without an emulated decrease in incoming breath via a lower dynamic (often done with CC1 or CC11). Even if you don't have dynamic crossfade, you could at least record volume event edits. It's not the same thing, but it approximates it.
  • You haven't fully accounted for the slow attacks of certain articulations (particularly in the non-staccato brass and non-staccato strings), so the slow articulations are late. Therefore, it would help to shift those slow articulations back in time a little to make sure they are more on-rhythm.
  • As Slimy mentioned, a lot of your notes sound quantized. One way to help that is to write bigger chords, and offset the notes in your chords. This at once gives you a bigger sound and a bit more flexibility when it comes to aligning the note transients.
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36 minutes ago, timaeus222 said:

Listening to something and understanding something are two completely different things. I don't believe you processed them fully enough to train your brain. If you did, your music would be more refined. Just calling it like it is. You say it's "easier said than done", which is true, but it's not an excuse to spend less time on it and assume you'll never get it. Assuming you'll never get it is a great way to not get it.

I do hear the similar styles, but you're still missing the expression present in the SMG example, real or not.

  • Your orchestra is a little distant, which means the close / room / hall mic mix is skewed towards the hall mic or you don't have the flexibility to mix all three together (as you would beneath Platinum version of EWQLSO I believe). Or your samples are pre-baked in reverb.
  • Your brass in particular is noticeably lacking dynamic crossfade automation, so the high-dynamic "blatty" tone to the brass is constantly there, without an emulated decrease in incoming breath via a lower dynamic (often done with CC1 or CC11). Even if you don't have dynamic crossfade, you could at least record volume event edits. It's not the same thing but it approximates it.
  • You haven't fully accounted for the slow attacks of certain articulations (particularly in the non-staccato brass and non-staccato strings), so the slow articulations are late. Therefore, it would help to shift those slow articulations back in time a little to make sure they are more on-rhythm.
  • As Slimy mentioned, a lot of your notes sound quantized. One way to help that is to write bigger chords, and offset the notes in your chords. This at once gives you a bigger sound and a bit more flexibility when it comes to aligning the note transients.

When I said "I have listened to real orchestral arrangements", I meant that I understand how real orchestras are arranged.

I agree with most of your feedback though. The samples in EWQL seem to have reverb on them by default. So when I load up samples, they automatically have reverb.

My notes definitely could use some quantization.

I don't think I should aim for a "real orchestra" sound with these samples. There's simply not enough convincing samples and scripts to do that.

However, I fully agree that more can be done to make it sound less like a midi.

I think my goal should be to write something "similar" to a real orchestra, but not 100% exact. So I should aim to have "similar" expressiveness to a real orchestra; but not 100% of the expressiveness of a real orchestra.

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5 hours ago, YoungProdigy said:

The velocities could be more varied. But the whole "emulate the real playing and sounds of an orchestra" thing is easier said than done.

So what. We all have to do it, why should you be the exception?

5 hours ago, YoungProdigy said:

Real instruments can play several different articulations such as legato, marcato, portamento and stacatto. Convincing legato doesn't seem possible in EWQLSO.  Realistic marcato and portamento seems to be limited.

EWQLSO has legato, marcato, portamento and stacatto samples. I don't see the problem here.

5 hours ago, YoungProdigy said:

This is a song by a real orchestra, orchestrated in a similar way:

*snip*

That song isn't trying to convey the same energy you were trying to convey with your song. When it starts to picks up, the orchestration gets thicker.

1 hour ago, YoungProdigy said:

When I said "I have listened to real orchestral arrangements", I meant that I understand how real orchestras are arranged.

You thought your thin orchestration was excusable because a random song in the Super Mario Galaxy OST with a completely different style was slightly comparable. You haven't convinced me.

1 hour ago, YoungProdigy said:

I don't think I should aim for a "real orchestra" sound with these samples. There's simply not enough convincing samples and scripts to do that.

*snip*

I think my goal should be to write something "similar" to a real orchestra, but not 100% exact. So I should aim to have "similar" expressiveness to a real orchestra; but not 100% of the expressiveness of a real orchestra.

I really don't mean to gloat or anything, but can you at least make your orchestration sound as decent as I was able to get mine to sound while using EWQLSO before you decide the only way to proceed is to buy more shit?

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1 hour ago, Slimy said:

So what. We all have to do it, why should you be the exception?

EWQLSO has legato, marcato, portamento and stacatto samples. I don't see the problem here.

That song isn't trying to convey the same energy you were trying to convey with your song. When it starts to picks up, the orchestration gets thicker.

You thought your thin orchestration was excusable because a random song in the Super Mario Galaxy OST with a completely different style was slightly comparable. You haven't convinced me.

I really don't mean to gloat or anything, but can you at least make your orchestration sound as decent as I was able to get mine to sound while using EWQLSO before you decide the only way to proceed is to buy more shit?

That's true, EWQL does have  a legato script. But when compared to real legato strings; it really doesn't sound as good. It has marcato and portamento but that's also limited. I've looked up videos on youtube of real violinists playing portamento and the script in EWQL, doesn't sound convincing. However, I've listened to some Hollywood Strings demos and those do sound much more realistic. The only things I find that sound convincing are short articulations such as stacatto and samples that fade out.

I only hear thin orchestration at 0:44; I completely agree. I could definitely add some more strings in there.

I'm not saying the only way is to buy more stuff. But what people seem to want is realism.  Convincing realism. At least, that's the impression I get. You can definitely make expressive strings. But even with CC11, I haven't come up with anything that would fool anyone. However, I've listened to the Hollywood Strings and they definitely sound closer to the real thing.

I may certainly be wrong. Maybe EWQLSO can get super close to a live orchestra sound like that SMG song. Perhaps I'm missing something.

I'm not saying that you shouldn't humanize and add expression to midi. No, I completely agree with that. You definitely should humanize and add expression to midis. I'm just saying that without expensive sample libraries, you shouldn't expect it to sound like a real orchestra.

I made a new song, where I attempted to add more expression.

 

What am I missing?

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No one's asking you to achieve 100% real. We're more so asking for realistic, as in, convincing to the general audience. So that means you should at least work on the feedback that I gave you, because that was bare minimum. I could have been more picky, and told you to try recording event edits instead of mousing them in, but I would have waited until you understood the point of doing the CC11 in the first place. I could have also said to layer similar articulations together to thicken up your sound, which is entirely possible on EWQLSO, but the wash of the baked-in reverb might not offset the benefit of a thicker sound.

It's not to achieve perfect realism, it's to approximate it. If you have EQWLSO Platinum, then I'm sure that a capable person can follow the advice without reaching a barrier that the library itself has created.

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On 9/7/2016 at 3:38 PM, YoungProdigy said:

That's true, EWQL does have  a legato script. But when compared to real legato strings; it really doesn't sound as good. It has marcato and portamento but that's also limited. I've looked up videos on youtube of real violinists playing portamento and the script in EWQL, doesn't sound convincing. However, I've listened to some Hollywood Strings demos and those do sound much more realistic. The only things I find that sound convincing are short articulations such as stacatto and samples that fade out.

*snip*

I'm not saying the only way is to buy more stuff. But what people seem to want is realism.  Convincing realism. At least, that's the impression I get. You can definitely make expressive strings. But even with CC11, I haven't come up with anything that would fool anyone. However, I've listened to the Hollywood Strings and they definitely sound closer to the real thing.

But you haven't even come close to using up the potential of EWQLSO. That's why I doubt you'll sound significantly better when using Hollywood Orchestra, even if it does have better sounds. You have to understand how to use samples in a convincing way, and orchestrate well.

You aren't as limited as you think, far from it. If you can't find the sound you want sampled, try to think about how you can approximate it with the tools you have. Can you overlap sounds together? EQ the sound to be more appealing? Exaggerate dynamics by adding volume automation? Samples aren't all you have, you have the full functionality of a DAW at your disposal.

On 9/7/2016 at 3:38 PM, YoungProdigy said:

I made a new song, where I attempted to add more expression.

What am I missing?

 

Well, thicker chords, but I'll get to that.

This really does sound more expressive, but the lead violins have a pretty bad attack. I think you could make them sound more legato if you lowered the attack, and slightly overlapped the notes. At 0:21, you can overlap your legato violin samples with some staccato samples if you want them to sound a bit stronger there.

I like the articulation at 0:05, I don't think I've ever actually used that sample. And I like the clarinet ear-candy at 0:32.

Concerning the thicker chords: At the beginning of the song, there's only a single violin line, and bass line, (and maybe a cello line, if so it's too quiet to really hear.) The chords don't need to be this thin, they would sound better if they were thicker. You could fill up the space in between your bass and violin with a cello, viola, and a 2nd violin part. That's a typical full string ensemble.

At 0:11, an oboe is added, but it's just matching the violins an octave higher, so the chords aren't improved at all. As well as the oboe, you could have other woodwind instruments playing under the melody, supporting it with chords.

At 0:43, the melody sounds pretty good by itself, but the woodwind chords supporting it are once again sparse. This wouldn't actually sound too bad as a contrast, but the entire song lacks thick chords.

I already complimented the the clarinet ear-candy at 0:32 - I like what you're trying to do, but it could be improved if you added in more woodwinds to play with the clarinet.

And one last thing - why did you suddenly end the song in a completely different key?

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