Alright. Here we go *wipes sweat off forehead* After reading a couple of posts here I decided to go ahead and post some of my work. I would like to hear your honest opinions and critique.

I seem to have a lot of dry spells at the moment and every now and then a creative moment (thank heavens!), resulting in mostly a couple of short ideas. I have all my ideas on my Soundcloud account, but I personally dislike the audio quality there, so I will link you via my Dropbox account.

I consider myself a mediocre composer (mainly due to the frequent dry spells) and thus am a little nervous about what you'll think of my work.

Here are two things I'm currently working on. I'd especially like your opinion about Clues, since that's the piece I'm working on the most.

Clues (Unfinished)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/167571/Music%20Ideas/clues_progress.mp3

It's still missing an end. Where the mp3 stops, I'm going to let the tune get back to C. There will be a jazz guitar solo, and then it will end.

Orchestral idea (Unfinished, mostly a concept)
http://dl.dropbox.com/u/167571/Music%20Ideas/orchestra_idea.mp3

What do you think of the orchestration? I'm very, very new to writing for orchestras and frankly, I really don't know much about it.

And lastly, I would like to hear your opinion of a finished piece. This one is actually quite old and is different from what I compose nowadays.

Perseverance

http://dl.dropbox.com/u/167571/Music%20Downloads/Joshua%20Mononoetoe%20-%20Perseverance.mp3

Oh, before I forget. This is all made in FL Studio. So if you're wondering why it sounds so "sampled", that's why.

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  • I listened to clues and thought that it was very well recorded (but that's not what I specialise in anyway - I'm more interested in the music).

    In musical terms, the bass line was great - did you play that in or just write it on a sequencer? The drums were also very good and inventive. The harmonica sound could have been varied a little, in my opinion - as it sounds a little synthetic - I would have introduced another lead instrument.

    The change at 2:20 was a little radical for my ears and I couldn't totally follow the music's direction at this point, but a good transition into the main theme again.

    Although the chord sequence in this music wasn't especially original and had a semi-improvised rock-jazz feel you kept up interest by a great interplay between the instruments. To me it sounded like a "demo" on a top-end keyboard, which is not meant to be a derogatory comment, as it had that feel to me.

  • To Adrian Allan

    Thank you for the kind words :)

    Actually everything is done with samples from several different sources. The bass is also done in the sequencer, although playing it on my real bass first did help. I haven't recorded myself because I have a little trouble with playing in time, but that's mostly a bass playing technique thing that should improve over time. Also I tend to mess up whenever a "record" button is pressed, so for now it's all going to be synthesized, haha!

    Indeed. The harmonica does sound rather synthetic, and now that you mention it I do notice that the harmonica is indeed not varied that much in the first part. I'll look into that. I've been trying to keep it interesting by putting little bends here and there, because the sample is so flat.

    I see what you mean with the transition. The transition isn't really 'introduced'. I'll see if I can smoothen out the transition a little.

    It's interesting you note the 'semi-improvised' feel. I was hoping it would sound somewhat improvised, even though it's actually all carefully planned. It seems though that you see it as a somewhat negative thing. Could you explain that? :)

  • Not really a negative thing at all if that's what you are aiming for. What I meant was that it doesn't have a melody like a song or a theme, which is how we normally think of composition - even jazz often starts with the theme and then turns it upside down and then improvises on the changes. I meant there was no one melody that could be pinned down. But if that is what you are aiming for, then you have achieved your goal.

    Will listen to the others when I get time.

  • @Clay:

    Teehee. Yeah, I guess I had a classic Metheny-esque synthesized harmonica in mind, but that conflicts with me wanting to make it sound realistic. I actually bought a chromatic harmonica to study the possibilities (it's actually quite a fun instrument), but I think a live performance of this would definitely need readjusting of the melody. Or a harmonica virtuoso. Or a synth, but that might come off as cheap.

    I think the harmonica samples are from a free soundfont I found somewhere, and I never really changed that. Since I bought the Garritan's Jazz & Big Band VST, I guess I should look into that. And maybe rewrite the melody a little.

    @Adrian:

    Ahh yes. Actually there is a melody in the beginning, but I think it isn't pronounced enough. I'm actually getting a couple of ideas. I'll see what I can do!

  • Cool another FL user!  Sounds like you've put some time into shaping the sound here, some nice arrangements.  No matter what one does, FL sampled sounds do always end up sounding a bit goofy though, don't they?  Sometimes I feel as if I am trying to polish turds.  I'll spend an hour or so working on EQ, compare it to the original mix and go "arrrrggghh!"  But you've done a good job of spacing the parts and giving the overall sound some depth, which has been a bit of a struggle for me, so bravo!  I agree that the melodies could be a bit stronger, but writing a good melody is just "one of those things" or some such cliche.  As long as you have a good ear and are diligent, you'll get there.

  • @Clay:

    Huh, interesting!

    I don't really like the saxophone as much, but I'll experiment and see what happens :)

    @Tombo:

    Thank you :)

    Hahaha. It really depends. I hardly use FL's built-in stuff, as I feel that most of them are more electro-oriented. I mostly use soundfont VST's and Garritan's Aria Player (with "Jazz & Big Band" and "Personal Orchestra"), and that usually sounds pretty good. For "Perseverance" I actually did use a built-in FL instrument: Sytrus. Man, I have only briefly looked into how it works, but it's pretty versatile.

    I used to EQ like a beheaded chicken (I think that's actually a Dutch saying I really roughly translated into English) until I thought about that the only thing you need is to think about the position in the mix, and EQ, pan and level accordingly. Also look out for annoying frequencies and such. Reading about 3D mixing really helped me out :)

    But EQ will only take you so far. If the source material isn't good, then it's probably going to be hard to actually make it sound good. That's also why I sampled my own acoustic guitar. Most free or cheap soundfonts don't have proper guitar sounds. I'm not saying mine is perfect, but at least it sounds like a guitar made out of wood instead of cement :)

  • Wow really? Ha! Who would've guessed! That's the most surprising thing I've read in a while! The harmonica is indeed very underrated. Most people have no idea how expressive it can be when played right. And it's not like it's easy to play either! It certainly deserves more respect :)

  • Indeed you have :) Thank you for the message and taking a look at the track! I really like what you've done with it.

  • I liked 'Clues'. I like the instrumentation. It comes across as a 'demo'. I like it enough were I WANT to hear it in a polished form. I want to hear it with real musicians. That's the next step up for you. I think the huge change of structure/mood, should have occurred just a little sooner, but that's a matter of taste and balance. I liked the short intro and would also like to hear an outro. The main groove, needs a little more chordal variation, in my opinion. The next step is to get away from bad samples and go to real instruments, real musicians. It's not an easy transition. Start small, with just 2 or 3 instruments.

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