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Hi Guys

I've been playing guitar and writing songs since I was around 12yrs old. About 10yrs ago I started dabbling in DAW based Theme Music but a hectic "traditional" career got in the way. I'm now retired and wish to make composing for TV Film and Video Games my future career. Please find the link for a piece I did some time ago for a BBC Composers Competition for the TV Series Galapagos. It was set to video footage originally. I would welcome honest feedback on this as I want to progress and would value advice.https://soundcloud.com/neil-wighton/galapagos10

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Welcome to CF Neil - I hope you enjoy this site as much as I and many others do.

This is a very atmospheric piece with some evocations of Galapagos-like occurrences and wildlife (in my mind's eye at least).

Are you self-taught or have you enjoyed some formal training in composition? I can't make up my mind if you're a Gershwin-like guy or a Mozart.

However, thanks for posting and good luck with your future career - I hope to hear much more from you.

Stephen, thank you so much for your reply and encouraging words. I'm afraid I have no formal musical training which makes me feel a bit unworthy. I am, however, excited for the future and will give it my best shot. Any advice on how to proceed would be very welcome.

Hi Neil and thanks for posting! That's awesome that you are wanting to pursue scoring for TV/Film and Video Games. I am currently working in a traditional career while simultaneously pursuing your same type of composing career and it has been a tough balancing act with many ups, downs, turns and twists! 

I enjoyed your contrast and choice of instruments. Aesthetically and tonally, your piece went somewhere, understandably following the video footage of course, but I appreciate that you always had something different going on musically - 1:00 to 1:46 was the most enjoyable part for me as it contrasted the giant orchestra playing and the electronic elements were a nice surprise!

I feel that the overall sound of the track was a bit too punchy and forward, as in close-up, and I think can instantly be elevated by using more professional orchestral libraries. While expensive, I'm a big fan of Spitfire Audio for orchestral samples (shop on Black Friday for deals). In my personal opinion they are the best in that sound sample library market.

Adding to this I think the big orchestra sections at the beginning and end could use some more dynamic contrast. Especially the high and low strings sustained notes. Using electronic sound samples to emulate real string players, I would add some subtle crescendo swells and tapers while holding those notes out. Anything you can do to make it sound less synthesized and more realistic/emotional will add more value to your track.

My biggest headache and struggle in my own compositions has been with mixing. I don't think I will ever be a pro when it comes to mixing, but as the years have gone by, my ears have slowly developed as I have begun to understand concepts in mixing. I think you need some EQ adjustments based on the clash of frequencies your sound samples naturally contribute, as well as more depth (think front to back) within instrument sections - everything sounded right up front to me as a listener, sort of in my face - but again my ears are not the best at critiquing these nuances of the mix, perhaps someone else with more of a defined ear can offer specific insights into that. Hope this helps. Thanks for sharing your track Neil!

Thanks Henry for your critique. It's so easy to get very close to a project so it's great to get a fresh pair of ears on the case  I'm using East West Symphonic Orchestra Gold which is supposed to be high quality samples of real instruments so I wonder whether I'm spoiling the sound with my eq or by the method I'm implementing the patches. It was the first time I'd used the package on anything of this scale. I obviously need to be more mindful of the sound quality going forward. Thank you again for some great advice.

You're welcome Neil. Although I have never used a product of theirs before, I'm familiar with the East West brand and know of their high quality. Interesting. 



Neil Wighton said:

Thanks Henry for your critique. It's so easy to get very close to a project so it's great to get a fresh pair of ears on the case  I'm using East West Symphonic Orchestra Gold which is supposed to be high quality samples of real instruments so I wonder whether I'm spoiling the sound with my eq or by the method I'm implementing the patches. It was the first time I'd used the package on anything of this scale. I obviously need to be more mindful of the sound quality going forward. Thank you again for some great advice.

Nice work.

Just a shame the video can’t be shown – copyright I suppose – it raises a few questions about dynamics. But as far as the piece goes, fine. Well done. The harmony all fits together. “Mix” is fine.

There’s a passage at about 1’36” that starts maestoso but peters out too soon by 1’41”. That could be to spot the video though. Follows on with a nice lyrical passage – great balance between upper and lower instruments - that builds up toward the resounding ending. Perhaps a little more could be done with dynamics to build it up.

I wish you well with your career and look forward to further of your work. 

Cheers.

 

 

Neil,

I really like your writing. Good job.

You didn't ask, but consider a few comments on the file itself. Strings are really hard to replicate in software, so anything you can do to help them out is a plus. Dynamics and phrasing help a lot. Better samples help, but using what you have to its full capacity is important. Pan your orchestra more realistically. Many instruments seem to be clumped in the middle. And consider less reverb. Personally, I find too much reverb muddles, and covers, things up.

Thanks for posting.

Thanks Dane. Yes the music was very much dictated by the video footage.  As my knowledge increases hopefully my command of dynamics will improve.

Dane Aubrun said:

Nice work.

Just a shame the video can’t be shown – copyright I suppose – it raises a few questions about dynamics. But as far as the piece goes, fine. Well done. The harmony all fits together. “Mix” is fine.

There’s a passage at about 1’36” that starts maestoso but peters out too soon by 1’41”. That could be to spot the video though. Follows on with a nice lyrical passage – great balance between upper and lower instruments - that builds up toward the resounding ending. Perhaps a little more could be done with dynamics to build it up.

I wish you well with your career and look forward to further of your work. 

Cheers.

 

 


Hi Bob. Thanks for commenting, it's really appreciated.  Now I'm getting familiar with the VST Instruments hopefully I'll be able to implement them better. 
Bob Porter said:

Neil,

I really like your writing. Good job.

You didn't ask, but consider a few comments on the file itself. Strings are really hard to replicate in software, so anything you can do to help them out is a plus. Dynamics and phrasing help a lot. Better samples help, but using what you have to its full capacity is important. Pan your orchestra more realistically. Many instruments seem to be clumped in the middle. And consider less reverb. Personally, I find too much reverb muddles, and covers, things up.

Thanks for posting.

This is a very well done piece.Sadly music like this often tends to get lost behind a movie theme or heard so often that people tend to tune it out as the fill for a movie. IOW they don't REALLY listen to it.

What jumped out at me as something interesting was what you did at the 1 minute mark an on into 1:30. This gave it a much more unique interesting feel. Like you thought it out and didn't just sit down and play in cello/violin tracks from a sampler for that generic orchestral sound that we hear so often, at least here in the US. I hate to use the word generic, but much of that type of music does have that "sound" to it. I'm watching a movie and I expect to usually hear that "sound".

I think that, for the most part, people don't really listen. We here listen because it's what we do. Music is background for most folks. I tend to like a good film score better than most classical music. The general public likes Country better than anything else.

If you are writing for a film, you are bound by what's on the screen. If you are writing in a film score style, you have more leeway. More fun.


Wow! Thanks Timothy that's really encouraging.  I'm trying something a bit different for me at the moment, I've invested in East Wests Composer Cloud subscription service and Spectrasonics Omnisphere and some of the sounds there inspired me to try a more electronic piece with a driving beat and some Middle Eastern textures (not sure how you'd label it within the genre).
Timothy Smith said:

This is a very well done piece.Sadly music like this often tends to get lost behind a movie theme or heard so often that people tend to tune it out as the fill for a movie. IOW they don't REALLY listen to it.

What jumped out at me as something interesting was what you did at the 1 minute mark an on into 1:30. This gave it a much more unique interesting feel. Like you thought it out and didn't just sit down and play in cello/violin tracks from a sampler for that generic orchestral sound that we hear so often, at least here in the US. I hate to use the word generic, but much of that type of music does have that "sound" to it. I'm watching a movie and I expect to usually hear that "sound".

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