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Sonic the Hedgehog 3 'Secerts Hidden in the Deep' (Hydrocity Zone/IceCap Zone)

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So I was in the shower late one Thursday night and decided that I really wanted to make a remix of Hydrocity Zone and Ice Cap. I used Finale to come up with the basic arrangement and used Reason to actually create the remix. It really sucks 3.0 can't support tempo changes (can't wait 'till 4). Ah well, I've come up with a way around that. Anyway, I wanted to post here so that I can get comments and critiques. I have come further along with the arrangement as of now, so I have the midi posted as well (it's not finished yet though). Keep in mind that for the remix, no EQ has been applied yet (because I have 3 (right now) Reason files (one for each tempo change so far and the speed up), I can't apply the EQ until the end, after they've been pasted together in Audacity). Also, drums haven't been finished yet either, also I will be adding background things later, and my experience in Reason is still young. So I'm looking for tips and critiques galore :wink:. Don't be easy, let me know what you think.

You can get both the midi (arrangement) and the mp3 (what I've done of the remix so far) here:

http://public.box.net/senjin3172429

Thanks.

Edit: newest version (6): http://www.box.net/shared/7p1s1cfsws

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Well, first of all I want to say, you've picked a really tough song to remix (Ice Cap). Not because of technical difficulty, but simply because it's been covered so many times it's difficult to come up with an original take on it. That said, I'll try and give some tips on what you've got so far.

Overall, it sounds like you're going for a laid-back feeling take on the original. Right now, though, the piece is very sparse with a solo piano covering most of the material. I think this needs a lot of development with other instruments. Perhaps some backing pads, something else to cover some of the lower descending notes, more percussion, etc.

Starting out, you've got a piano layered with a bell and a simple synth string. Each are playing the same descending pattern very mechanically, then repeated a couple times with additional chords on the strings. I think it's really important at the beginning of your song to start with something that's going to capture the attention of the listener. Not trying to be mean, but this starts out very dull and basically follows very closely to the original. I'm not too crazy on the synth strings you're using, but I guess it depends on what feel you're going for.

Next comes a piano basically playing alone with the original almost verbatum, then repeated with a little more complexity, then repeated yet again with slightly more added. It's hard to help with something like this, but I'd say that you need to come up with an idea of how you want to interpret the song in an original way rather than just cover it with a few embellishments. How you decide to do that will really impact the direction of your song.

If you do continue to use a lot of piano, try adjusting the timing and velocities of the notes so it doesn't sound so rigid. Try and picture how someone performing the piano part would emphasize certain notes over others and wouldn't be playing every note exactly on time.

At this point, I think it would be helpful for you to listen to some other music from genre's that are similar to what you are trying to accomplish with this piece. Notice the instrumentation used as well as how the piece flows - not a melody line once, repeated several times adding a few more notes each time, but different instruments/synths playing different parts and dynamic (loudness) changes. Sorry for the long post, but I hope this helps you develop your music further.

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Yeah, I know I picked a difficult song, but unfortunately I didn't really have a choice (you know the whole mind thing making you do it...). I'm hoping one thing going FOR me would be that it's not just Ice Cap, but Hydrocity also.

Right now I know it's sparse, I haven't had the opportunity to add anything else, I just wanted to get the main arrangement into Reason and deal with the tempo change stuff before I went on with everything else. I mainly wanted critique on the arrangement and instrument choices right now because I haven't done anything else yet, as well as change velocities and timings (I play piano myself, and know about velocities and interpretations with that and minute timing adjustments).

I personally thought the intro captured the listener into a relaxed setting, but it could just be bias because it was my idea. I do however have an idea for a different intro. And the thought the slowly gaining complexity part fit well into the relaxed theme I was going for, but I guess it could be TOO slow.

Did you get a chance to listen to the other part of the arragement rather than just the .mp3? And thanks for taking the time to reply. I appreciate another view on my own piece, especially a contructive one.

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I have finally had some time to work on my mix, and here's WIP2. It has a new intro and background things going on rather than just piano. I will still be adding some more background in some places, but I wanted to at least upload WIP2 beforehand.

You can see WIP2 here: http://www.box.net/shared/a2760skcjt

So what's good, what's bad?

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From the beginning of the song to :21, you need to work on the balance of the soundscape in WIP2. Also, I could see where you were going with the intro, but the choice of synths is very MIDI-ish in my opinion.

Change the synth used for the hydrocity section. It's also very generic. And mess with the percussion on the hydrocity section when you get to it, it's still the same as the source.

After 6 listens, I'll give you a few short things i would do with the ARRANGEMENT.

If you're not going to bring in a melody from 0:20 to 0:48, cut out that part of the arrangement.

Cut out 0:49-1:07.

I think it would do your listeners some good too if you took out two measures of the song between 1:08 and 1:46.

I think you'll be able to extend the potential of 1:46-2:08. It is very full when you first hear it but upon 3-4 listens, my ear begins to hear the repetition of the basic progression. If you want to rearrange the hydrocity melody and qualify it to the ice cap chord progression, arrangement-wise, you'd be going far. It's something that I really liked about DJP's ice cap hurts (although he didn't rearrange the melody at all, the basic idea of melody over chord progression is still present).

Since you haven't changed anything from the hydrocity source, I won't comment on it.

If I were attacking this source, I wouldn't separate hydrocity/ice cap themes so much. It sounds like a 2 song medley with the separation at 2:08. If you're going to keep them totally separate, at the very least, have a hand off transition where there is transfer of the the ice cap melodies momentum into the hydrocity melody.

This is coming from someone who is a fan of Finale Songwriter and Audacity, even though my remixing capabilities are craptastic. Good luck. I think you'll do fine if you can get some help with production. It seems like you're arrangement will be on its way.

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You can see more of the arrangement by listening to the midi I have linked in my first post (it goes further than what I've done in Reason at this point, even though it's still not complete).

It's odd that you say the percussion is the same as the source for Hydrocity because I haven't taken anything from a midi or even listened to the percussion, I just found some things I liked and used it (it's not exactly done yet though, I just wanted a basic part on there so I have reference points because you can't do tempo changes in Reason yet, especially speed ups).

Thanks for the reply.

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Yeah, I will be. I used Finale for my arrangements, then take that into Reason. I'll let you know when I repost. I was suffering from a lack of creativity, so I decided to work on the remix part in Reason for a while until I can get some more ideas.

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http://www.box.net/shared/9ngs279ame

Finally, after some time, a new WIP. A few things have changed, mainly it being more Hydrocity-centered and less Ice Cap. Which is good. I've also added some bits and changed some stuff so hopefully it's less repetitive. There's still a few things I need to change (like some sort of bass instrument in the first section), but for the most part, the bulk of the work from now on will be based on developing what I have that comes after where the song currently ends, and adding an ending. Any critique is quite welcomed.

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first thing i notice is that the seventh on the second chord isn't really very tuneful. it's on the sixth beat of the piece, and it doesn't sound great. as a matter of fact, there's a lot of notes in this that don't sound great - i think that they're supposed to be blue notes, but they don't fit the key pretty much ever. also, when you're using the chord a full step down from the root key, don't use a flat seventh. don't use a seventh at all, actually, a bVII chord doesn't sound good with a seventh. it's a flat 6 in the key, and it doesn't work. even a major seventh in that chord doesn't sound good. it's better as a triad.

there's some glitchy transitions in this that aren't great. i'd say to work on your transitions so that there's more there - right now it always winds up being a solo instrument after each transition.

there's some cool pad work going on all over this piece, and i like it. you get a good groove going on around 1:52 or so, and i think you should run with it. stick the piano a little bit farther in the back and bring in a bass instrument of some kind, and you'll really have something good going.

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Thanks for the review. I'm actually pretty happy with my pad work, though I wasn't sure it was going to turn out alright when I first started. And yeah, I'm working on the transitions (they used to be worse). I think I'm still going to keep the single-instrument transition at 2:11, because I think it's a nice break. But the others will get some work.

I was thinking of bringing the bass part of the piano out very slightly and pushing the flute slightly back, but I think I'll try a different bass instrument (if I can find one). Also, the seventh you are talking about, which instrument do you mean?

I should have some time to work on it today, and I've already started work on the next section. However, the transition is absolutely awful (but I just wanted to get to work on that section and worry about the transition later). It starts off with saxes, an alto and a tenor, playing a slightly altered section of Ice Cap in a different key signature (instead of C,C, bB, it's bE,bE, bD). And then one of the guys thinks it's boring, so he does something a little different. And then the other guy does the same, and then there's what's basically ice cap being "dueled" between two saxes for a short while. But, I have no volume work done, no panning, no nothing. Just some notes with an instrument (and I don't even know if the saxes sound ok). I have some exaggerated differences to remind myself of what I'd like to do (makes these notes a little louder, etc..), but nothing set in stone or even worked on. So it's like a WIP of the WIP.

Anyway, I appreciate the review and thoughts on it. I should hope to have a little more done later today and post it for early thoughts on it (perhaps I need better saxes to to expand things, etc..).

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Ok, worked on it a bit more. Changed volumes and panning around between 1:15 and 1:51, also changed a instrument in the first Hydrocity Act 2 part, edited key velocities and note spacing at the end (to seem less synthesized), added a few notes here in the part before the beginning. I also added a couple notes in the transition between Hydrocity and Ice Cap, but the transition still isn't smooth (because they are 2 different Reason files because I started it before Reason 4 came out, so each tempo part had it's own file - yes, I did the speedup in Reason 3). I'm still trying to find a solution, I might have to add another measure in between or something.

Anyway, there's been some changes, would appreciate another listen!

http://www.box.net/shared/goowvjl0k0

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Fixed some more changes. Lowered the volume on the strings after the bluesy section, finally figured a way to make the transition easier (adjusting timimgs and tracks in audacity), panned the pads near the end, and edited some panning on the pianos. And a couple other small changes I can't remember at the moment.

http://www.box.net/shared/goowvjl0k0

Thanks for listening.

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PRODUCTION

[#] Too quiet

[#] Low-quality samples

[#] Unrealistic sequencing

[#] Drums have no energy

[#] Mixing is muddy (eg. too many sounds in the same range)

PERFORMANCE (live recorded audio/MIDI parts)

[#] Wrong notes, general sloppiness

STRUCTURE

[#] Not enough changes in sounds (eg. static texture, not dynamic enough)

[#] Lacks coherence overall (no "flow")

[#] Pace too plodding

PERSONAL COMMENTS (positive feedback, specifics on checklist criticisms, any other thoughts)

Jeeeeeesus that's a lot of music. A lot of good stuff and a lot of stuff I'd like to see changed! Therefore, a lot of stuff for me to say.

Broad Criticisms: There are problems I have with both the arrangement and the production values. As far as production goes, this piece definitely suffers from midi-itis. Don't worry--I've been there ;) Overall every instrument falls in one frequency range. Use your equalizer to emphasis different frequencies on each instrument depending on what kind of sound you want it to have (bright, dark, etc). Your piano is in dire need of some velocity work--all of those runs sound way too robotic. Edit the velocities of the piano midi so that the phrases come through. Also, your samples are once again (surprise) on the midi side of things. A lot can be done to help crappy samples with eq, reverb, and careful midi sequencing. Also, try using compressors on individual instruments--especially your percussive instruments. Effective use of a compressor can really make a part groove.

As for the arrangement, because you go through so many styles and themes, it's coming off to be a bit schizophrenic and aimless. The individual pieces are really well done, but the organization of the package as a whole is sort of jumbled and disjunct. I would re approach the way you organize all these pieces, try to get a good rise and fall. Also, the way I approach composition in general is that "nothing appears only once"--so I would try alluding to the different styles that you go through in different sections. Also, throughout the whole mix, I noticed a DISTINCT lack of bass instrument--all we ever get is the kick drum and the piano, there are some parts of this mix that really suffer from lack of bass--your frequency spectrum isn't being evenly represented.

Anyway, let me take this through with timestamps, and make more specific comments:

Opening: sounds pretty cool, nice choice of sounds there. In terms of organizing your mix, I would start with something a little less dense here, like maybe the piano stuff that comes in next. The thing I don't like about this section is that it starts at a completely different tempo and feel than the next few sections, so it's not really setting the listener up for anything. At :22 I feel like the piano rambles on a bit with the embellishment. Jazz at :53 sounds good, but once again holds no continuity to the rest of the mix. That shaker sample needs some work.

What's going on with those panning strings at 1:20? They aren't following the chord progression of the piano at all--is this intentional? I'm not crazy about it. 1:55 I'm feeling the piano is rambling a bit too much... Also I should note that by this point we still have had no signifigant bass activity--the staticity of the texture makes for this to sound repetitive and plodding.

2:12--I don't agree with the suddenly extremely thin texture--at least have the piano doing something with the left hand!! Also, I'm not crazy about that shaker--it isn't grooving to me at all, you could do more with velocity. I LOVE the introduction of hydrocity zone though, but I wish you had more intricately woven this theme into the ice cap theme.

2:45 - once again a jarring transition but I'm glad you incorporated the original source accompaniment in the piano--it sounds really cool. Here's a part that I think really suffers from lack of bass-- you're getting some bass notes in the piano, and the kick drum is pretty low, but your soundscape isn't very even. I'd really like to hear this stuff kick more--through use of percussion and other instruments, more rhythmic accompaniment, etc. Get a better sax sample too!

3:34-modulation sounds pretty good--still would like a different instrument doing bass stuff. Those rhythmic figures need to be punchier, and that piano needs some velocity work (as well as a better sample, better eq, reverb, etc) to make those fast runs sound realistic.

Nice return to hydrocity at 4:00 but I'm still lacking in the bass department! Once again i appreciate the reference to hydrocity but I'd like to hear it more evenly intertwined throughout the rest of the mix.

4:48- finally some bass sounds, even if it is in the percussion! Do you hear how fresh that sounds compared to the rest of the mix! That's what I'm getting at. The rhythmic interplay here is cool but after a while it begins to ramble--also your percussion samples don't help with that--I'm not hearing enough variation in velocity as well as from sample to sample.

5:37- alright, I guess solo piano is fine but by this point I'm exhausted. Your mix is piano, piano, and more piano--maybe it's appropriate to end with piano then but I'd still like to hear more variation. I like the strings that come in, and the water drop at the end is BALLER.

So basically what I'm getting at is your mix doesn't have a clear direction, and it's meandering is a result of a thin texture, low production quality, organization of ideas, and a narrow frequency spectrum represented (i.e. no bass) All of this being said, interpretation skills are EXCELLENT. In this mix, I feel like you have 5 different mixes of ice cap that if were developed, could hold their own as ice cap remixes. You should've joined this project ;) But a lot of the choices within each section of this mix were GREAT, and the fact that you've used finale to make what could be narrowed down to a theme and variations of ice cap zone for solo piano--it makes me wonder if you consider yourself a "composer" more than a "remixer" or "producer". I could totally see this being performed. Remember, when you're producing music, you can't rely on the listener thinking "oh, well that's what it would sound like if someone was playing it". You, in the end, ARE the performer.

This mix is long. It's huge, and it's JAM PACKED with musical ideas. You can keep going with it if you want, but I think it would be benificial to your "education" as an ocremixer is to take your favorite section of this arrangement and develop that. I wouldn't normally reccomend this, but this mix is a special exception. I hope you don't interpret this as "give up on your remix" because that's not what I mean at all. I just think you should change your approach a bit--isolate one musical idea you find to be really profound, and work with JUST that. Also, there's a good chance your remix would be over the 6MB mark anyway.

It's very impressive to see that one can pack so many different musical ideas into 6:30 though, and have them ALL be different. As a composer, out of all of my suggestions, I implore you to practice fleshing out all the different possibilities from one very narrow musical idea. If you've ever listened to Bach, you'll find that the genius in his fugues lies in the fact that he treats each and every one of them as a study to use that musical theme in every possible way. There's a lot to be said for doing this. Coherence, my friend. Good luck with remixing--you've got tons of talent. It's over 9000!!!!

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Wow....thanks for the exhaustive review :) And now for some comments:

First, I agree that the mix is lacking a bass instrument throughout...I've tried a couple synths in various sections and found nothing to fit, and gave up for while :?. Do you have any recommendations for a fit?

It's funny what you said about the sax sample, because both saxes (I've got soprano panned slightly to the right and alto panned slightly to the left) are the ONLY samples in the song that AREN'T from a free soundfont or the main reason banks (yep! I've got no cash at the moment). Again, do you have any recommendations for a sample? I've browsed around a lot and those were the best I could find.

About the intro (first 22 seconds): I've thought about excluding that for a while now. It originally wasn't going to be in (the part after it was slated for the intro) but I stumbled across an idea early on when looking for pads and put it in as the intro because I thought it sounded cool. Then I just kinda left it in, but I've been thinking about putting it towards a Rusty Ruin (genesis) or Chemical Plant remix.

My first task was to start by writing out the basic arrangement in Finale, and then bring the midi into Reason (but I got stuck after the sax hydrocity part for a long time and decided to start with reason with what I had). Next was to just get the various instruments and sounds out there with drums, sound effects, panning, and whatnot. That's really where I am now, and I was saving compression/EQ/etc.. for the very end and haven't really touched upon that yet. But I will :) With that hopefully will come better-sounding instruments and drums with more energy.

Which piano part(s) do you think need more velocity work? I've done a lot on velocities for the piano parts. I guess though the difference between velocity 100 and say 90 may not be as much as I think it is, leading to the feel of a synthesizer producing the music. Do you think there is enough of a change with velocities during the solo piano part at the end?

I would like to include more of hydrocity thoughout the whole song. That's actually what lead to the jazzy part at 0:53. A while ago, all I had was solo piano playing ice cap. It was pretty boring. But I was listening to hydrocity act 1 and slowed it down a bit, then got the idea. A little rearragement later, and it showed up. Another reason why there isn't so much of hydrocity in some parts is because at first this was just going to be a mix of ice cap. I got the idea for hydrocity as I was writing what would come after 2:10. I love hydrocity, and noticed it was in the same key as ice cap, and thought the transition would be nice and smooth. From there, everything started changing and I made the song more about hydrocity (which I think is a better song than ice cap) except for the off-key ice cap theme I have with the saxes. But ice cap lends itself better to interpretation because it has a very "predictable" rhythm. Hydrocity on the other hand rarely uses the same note durations for more than 2 or 3 notes and jumps around the different pitches. It's much harder to arrange hydrocity than ice cap and I think that's what led to the section from 3:34 to 3:53. From then on it's strictly hydrocity arrangement and interpretation (like mixing two parts of hydrocity 2 into one section between measures and half measures from 3:57 to 4:47). By then I realized I hadn't really done much reinterpretation of hydrocity, and tried to come up with a section to follow. It took a long time to find and a lot of ideas never ended up working. But eventually, after just sitting down at the piano and trying different things with it (I created sheet music for hydrocity for piano and learned the right hand, and I based each hydrocity section off of my transcription), I came up with 4:55 to the end. I would greatly like to put hydrocity in more places (did you catch the flute doing it at 3:42 and 3:47?) as well as put a little more jazz into some parts. Sometimes it just takes someone else to point something out that you know you need to do, but it hadn't hit exactly what that was. Know what I mean? In doing that, I know that I will have other ideas to add to other places to vary it up, which will change the flow and add direction. Right now I've got many different sections that are all different. I'd like to change it a bit to add a smaller climax to each section with a resolution to the next section, which will lead to a small climax and another resolution, constantly building until (what is right now) 5:30, which will be the climax of the whole song, and the resolution being the ending which I have.

I am also still working on 4:55 through 5:30 as it is the newest part of the song and haven't had as much time with it to fully develop it to what I want it to be (as of now it does get a little tiring to listen to, especially because there's not much bass after 5:15 - but I do love that bass piano going from 5:12 to 5:15!) and there isn't a whole lot of other types of sounds at the moment. It's also very difficult to find something that fits because from 4:55 to 5:32 it switches between 4/4 and 15/16, and then from 5:32 to 5:36 is 11/8 (and the next two measures are 7/4). Oh, and glad you like the water drop :). I use that as percussion in various places, but it never stands out as a water drop unless it's by itself.

About the composer question...I do, in a way. I've played piano for quite some time, but in a different way than most people. A lot of people seem to just want to play what's in front of them. I like to see what the piece is, and I'll likely learn it that way. But once I have it memorized (which is as soon as I get to the end - I memorize as I practice each section), I will play it differently than what's written because I think some parts are boring, or that I like it but want to play it a bit differently. Take Path of Repentence from FFX. It's a nice song. But it's also a massive run of 8th notes. But who says I have to play it that way? Triplets are nice, as is interweaving the left and right hands. Listen to this to see what I mean: http://www.box.net/shared/shunyb08w0 . Another thing I like to do is to change the overall groove. Here I've got the version written (I think it's Turkish March by Martha Mier), and then I play it again in a way that I interpret it: http://www.box.net/shared/332pga9kwo . All that got me thinking about doing the same thing to ice cap, and that's where I started this song from, doing what I do normally with piano songs, but adding it to other instruments, drums, etc. And yes, Secrets Hidden in the Deep is my first attempt at an actual remix (doing something other than sitting at a piano and playing with a song). I love the sound of piano, and that's why this has so much piano in it, but I do think I need to shift focus in a couple of spots so listeners won't get tired hearing it.

When I get through mixing it up, adding compression and other production-like effects, change focus from piano at some points, adding a bass intrument(s), and re-work the flow towards smaller climaxes and resolutions, it should change the overall direction and flow of the song as a whole. While doing that, I expect the length to change, but I highly doubt it will get longer (I also think it's a little long in the first place, but removing the current intro will help, and tempos and other various things in some cases will change as I change the flow of the section).

Phew...thanks again for your review! It helps to get someone else's opinion to solidify ideas you have but aren't sure how to implement and to be introduced with new ideas. Another set of ears always helps.

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Wow....thanks for the exhaustive review :) And now for some comments:

First, I agree that the mix is lacking a bass instrument throughout...I've tried a couple synths in various sections and found nothing to fit, and gave up for while :?. Do you have any recommendations for a fit?

Well, a lot of that depends on what's happening in the mix! Sometimes a plain old electric bass works really well, I'm particularly fond of the sound of a fretless. Having a nice long orchestral double bass can sound good for the more lush sections, and I often find a lot of versatility in electric settings with a simple sine wave :) Be creative!

It's funny what you said about the sax sample, because both saxes (I've got soprano panned slightly to the right and alto panned slightly to the left) are the ONLY samples in the song that AREN'T from a free soundfont or the main reason banks (yep! I've got no cash at the moment). Again, do you have any recommendations for a sample? I've browsed around a lot and those were the best I could find.

As someone who's never spent a nickel on soundfonts, I find often that good mixing can really help make a sample sound more realistic. If you spent money on them, I hope they are good. Part of the problem was that they were so soft, I could hardly hear them, the other part is that they seemed to have no reverb and had no definable equalization. Perhaps maybe even more velocity work on those could help. Saxophones are VERY difficult to emulate, however. Do some messing around with equalization and balance on those, perhaps that'll help.

About the intro (first 22 seconds): I've thought about excluding that for a while now. It originally wasn't going to be in (the part after it was slated for the intro) but I stumbled across an idea early on when looking for pads and put it in as the intro because I thought it sounded cool. Then I just kinda left it in, but I've been thinking about putting it towards a Rusty Ruin (genesis) or Chemical Plant remix.

The intro has some of the strongest instrumentation in the entire mix, for sure. Use it as an example for building the rest of the mix perhaps?

My first task was to start by writing out the basic arrangement in Finale, and then bring the midi into Reason (but I got stuck after the sax hydrocity part for a long time and decided to start with reason with what I had). Next was to just get the various instruments and sounds out there with drums, sound effects, panning, and whatnot. That's really where I am now, and I was saving compression/EQ/etc.. for the very end and haven't really touched upon that yet. But I will :) With that hopefully will come better-sounding instruments and drums with more energy.

I understand, sometimes I take that approach too. Although I find that I have a tendency to not want to deal with mixing by the end of writing the arrangement, and I often have greater success working with it as I go. But whatever works for you :)

Which piano part(s) do you think need more velocity work? I've done a lot on velocities for the piano parts. I guess though the difference between velocity 100 and say 90 may not be as much as I think it is, leading to the feel of a synthesizer producing the music. Do you think there is enough of a change with velocities during the solo piano part at the end?

Yeah, the difference between 100 and 90 is actually pretty slim. I go all over the place with velocity. It's most noticeable in the fast parts--the glissandi and such, it sounds like each note is being hammered out at equal volume which most of the time isn't the case ;). I think I remember the end sounding pretty good. But you can definitely be more extreme.

I would like to include more of hydrocity thoughout the whole song. That's actually what lead to the jazzy part at 0:53. A while ago, all I had was solo piano playing ice cap. It was pretty boring. But I was listening to hydrocity act 1 and slowed it down a bit, then got the idea. A little rearragement later, and it showed up. Another reason why there isn't so much of hydrocity in some parts is because at first this was just going to be a mix of ice cap. I got the idea for hydrocity as I was writing what would come after 2:10. I love hydrocity, and noticed it was in the same key as ice cap, and thought the transition would be nice and smooth. From there, everything started changing and I made the song more about hydrocity (which I think is a better song than ice cap) except for the off-key ice cap theme I have with the saxes. But ice cap lends itself better to interpretation because it has a very "predictable" rhythm. Hydrocity on the other hand rarely uses the same note durations for more than 2 or 3 notes and jumps around the different pitches. It's much harder to arrange hydrocity than ice cap and I think that's what led to the section from 3:34 to 3:53. From then on it's strictly hydrocity arrangement and interpretation (like mixing two parts of hydrocity 2 into one section between measures and half measures from 3:57 to 4:47). By then I realized I hadn't really done much reinterpretation of hydrocity, and tried to come up with a section to follow. It took a long time to find and a lot of ideas never ended up working. But eventually, after just sitting down at the piano and trying different things with it (I created sheet music for hydrocity for piano and learned the right hand, and I based each hydrocity section off of my transcription), I came up with 4:55 to the end. I would greatly like to put hydrocity in more places (did you catch the flute doing it at 3:42 and 3:47?) as well as put a little more jazz into some parts. Sometimes it just takes someone else to point something out that you know you need to do, but it hadn't hit exactly what that was. Know what I mean? In doing that, I know that I will have other ideas to add to other places to vary it up, which will change the flow and add direction. Right now I've got many different sections that are all different. I'd like to change it a bit to add a smaller climax to each section with a resolution to the next section, which will lead to a small climax and another resolution, constantly building until (what is right now) 5:30, which will be the climax of the whole song, and the resolution being the ending which I have.

When you say that hydrocity is so much more rhythmically unpredictable than ice cap, I find that the contention between the two could prove to be very interesting. Maybe experiment with layering one theme over the other? You'd have to change some chords and some notes, but having the ice cap theme soaring over the rhythmic drive of hydrocity could be VERY cool. Just an idea ;)

About the composer question...I do, in a way. I've played piano for quite some time, but in a different way than most people. A lot of people seem to just want to play what's in front of them. I like to see what the piece is, and I'll likely learn it that way. But once I have it memorized (which is as soon as I get to the end - I memorize as I practice each section), I will play it differently than what's written because I think some parts are boring, or that I like it but want to play it a bit differently. Take Path of Repentence from FFX. It's a nice song. But it's also a massive run of 8th notes. But who says I have to play it that way? Triplets are nice, as is interweaving the left and right hands. Listen to this to see what I mean: http://www.box.net/shared/shunyb08w0 . Another thing I like to do is to change the overall groove. Here I've got the version written (I think it's Turkish March by Martha Mier), and then I play it again in a way that I interpret it: http://www.box.net/shared/332pga9kwo . All that got me thinking about doing the same thing to ice cap, and that's where I started this song from, doing what I do normally with piano songs, but adding it to other instruments, drums, etc. And yes, Secrets Hidden in the Deep is my first attempt at an actual remix (doing something other than sitting at a piano and playing with a song). I love the sound of piano, and that's why this has so much piano in it, but I do think I need to shift focus in a couple of spots so listeners won't get tired hearing it.

I do believe interpretation and creativity, as well as improvisation in general, is unbelievably important-especially for a pianist. Keep messing with music :)

I do think you could stand to change up the texture. I know what it's like to love a sound, but don't spoil yourself ;)

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Ok, got a new version going. I added bass in a lot of areas, so it sounds a whole lot more full. I also changed the intro to hydrocity act 2 to be a bit more jazzy to relate to the earlier hydrocity section. I also added so EQ and verb to the pianos, fooled around with the sax with a slight delay and some EQ, and made a couple of other changes throughout.

Let me know what you think!

http://www.box.net/shared/7p1s1cfsws

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i like it. though it kinda jumps from one music genre to another (eg from a very jazzy feel at the begining to a very strained and epic-battle-ish sound in the middle) it does so in a very smooth and polished way, making the song exiting. it could almost be the theme song to a movie or something else.

i'm tempted to write a poem inspired by this. would you mind?

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If this is going to OCR, you might want to cut some length, or you're gonna end up with a low bitrate to fit the 6 megs limit.

The transition from straight to swing was a bit too sudden, you might want to have something in the bg, some faint rhythm track to ease the transition. While on the jazzy topic, some jazzness are just clashing on purpose, and doesn't seem to work, not being introduced as a jazz piece.

Piano, a lot of the time, could use some EQ boosting in its highs and lows. Actually, the whole track seems like it could use some contrast. I recommend a multiband compressor on the master to make sure you have a healthy balance of highs and lows at all times. Currently, it's a bit thick around the waist, and the reduced amount of highs make it sound low-quality.

The differences throughout are enjoyable, but some transitions could use some work. It also has something of a style-wise medley-itis, so the transitions are crucial to the flow of the track. Tempo changes are fine, it's the writing I'm talking about. Drums are pretty boring and poorly mixed, to be frank. Mostly, it's low kick+shaker, plus some other percussion. A more balanced EQ mix might improve it, but you might have to work a bit on the drum writing.

I did hear the Ice Cap Zone in there, and something else I reocgnized, among all the styles. If this isn't interpretive enough, something's wrong with OCR. You're in the green as far as source/interpretation goes, afaik.

Impressive variety of styles, just needs some writing fixes and production improvements. Great stuff.

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