critique Logic Pro X Software Inst. only Orchestral - Advice/Critique

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by TadGhostal, Oct 30, 2019.

  1. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Been working with the built in Studio Strings and oboe for an arrangement of Gabriel's Oboe (from the motion picture The Mission).

    I've got it the best I can, so now I need brutal critique from anyone who knows more about mixing and orchestral arrangements than me (so, almost anyone).

    Currently I don't like the vibrato on the oboe; it's too constant. I like the sound of the Oboe Solo Legato on the EXS24 for what I'm doing, but while I can't seem to modify the vibrato or tie it to any type of controller, so it just keeps on at its constant pace. The other oboe sounds in EXS24 seem way too reedy to me - not sure why the legato one sounds fuller, but it does.

    Anyway, all feedback is appreciated!

    I would have uploaded the file directly, but says it's too large (even as mp3)

    Anyway here it is on SoundCloud. It seems to have chopped off the starting second or so, but for critique I doubt it matters.

     
  2. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    It's a nice pleasant sound but doesn't;t sound like like an oboe at all - which I'd always describe as reedy. It also would sound more realistic if it responded to expression? that was you could play the note and take the volume up and down more musically. 1:53 has a very long sustained note that would be quite difficult to play this loud for that long. The arrangement is rather nice and quite truthful to the original just a rather 'unique' sound. If you want mega critical comment - the string sections sound a little 'chronic' - as a 3 or 4 note chord played as an ensemble, rather than the section parts played in individual, each with it's own version of dynamics and phrasing - but the sound blends well into a section and I suspect most people won't notice. the phrasing in the melody is tricky to comment on because it's a silly melody in places that plays across the actual beats and tempo - racing ahead, pulling back and doing odd almost trills very slowly, and these are a bit ragged in places. What's the Cor Anglais like played up a little? I do like it though.

    For what it's worth, I have quite a few sample packages for orchestral instruments and the reeds, but maybe even the whole woodwind section are always the weak link. Brass and Strings seem to get attention, but the woods are always more basic. Does your keyboard have aftertouch? If so if you can find a nice non-vibrato oboe and play in the wobble with your fingers for a more natural result. If it's embedded in the samples you're stuck.
     
  3. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Nice work, but I agree with paulears that it's not a particularly good emulation of an oboe.

    You say "the other oboe sounds in EXS24 seem way too reedy", but it would be good if you could post a short extract using one of these so that we could comment on whether we thought it was more like a real instrument than the legato one you chose.
     
  4. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Thanks for the advice/critique. That's exactly what I was looking for.

    For a little more background -
    I did use a TEControls breath controller for expression on the oboe, set to have the resistance and curve of an oboe, but I'm not an oboe player. My son was, and we still have his oboe, which I used to mimic the resistence and expression curve - and yeah, just blowing through that thing was a real adventure! I played trumpet for many years, so I have decent lungs, but MAN, from what I experienced, playing it on an actual oboe would be rough to say the least. Ultimately, I had to cheat and draw the note out in the editor.

    On the strings, I played each part individually (violin 1, 2, viola, cello, and bass). Each was layered against two slightly different instrument settings. Maybe I should have played each instrument in the layer separately? I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'chronic'.

    For the tempo, I really had a hard time, because it does exactly as you said. I initially ported a live recording from YouTube with Ennio Morricone conducting:.

    Then I mapped the tempo manually (it was so all over the place, with very little distinguishable audio tempo, that none of the auto tempo adjustments could do anything). Then I did a "play along". As I did it, I discovered that the tempo was so off in some places (as you noticed as well), that it had to be either hiccups in the performance itself or something wrong with the recording. Those odd trill things were difficult, and I had to practice playing in a loop over and over because they never seemed to make sense. I never thought of doing the Cor Anglais - that's a great idea and I'm going to try it as well.

    I'd love to have better samples. I'm usually very hesitant to throw more 'gear' at a problem, and being 'cash poor' makes adhering to that theme pretty easy :) But, even as a beginner, I'm starting to see some of the limitations of the stock samples in Logic.

    Thanks again for the feedback - means a lot.
     
  5. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Thanks Boswell. I did use the non-legato one, and I'll post it when I get home. I chose the legato one for the sound over the regular oboe. Might have traded more than I gained though. That's why I'm here - to learn.
     
  6. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    it was a typo for a word I made up - "chordic" was what I intended. It sounded a bit like chord progressions with common notes rather than individual lines. I wouldn't worry about the tempo. I did this for a client a few years back and had exactly the same problem with the melody - took ages to get right, and I'm not sure it ws ever perfect.

    It's not a bad job at all - just the sound for the oboe. I think I did mine on a different instrument. I think it may still be around somewhere I never throw anything away, so there could be an early version on a backup drive - I'll have a search.

    EDIT no luck finding the track, but I did find an example of an orchestral piece I did for a soundtrack that features the oboe sound I quite like. This also has a very wandering tempo, which suited the visuals.

     

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    audiokid and pcrecord like this.
  7. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I thought I'd put into perspective how good a job you've done. I dug up the old versions and I found 2! One from 2015 used samples that I don't have working any longer - they were 32 bit and Cubase blacklisted them and my attempts to bridge them failed. It works for most of my old samples but not this particular one - so I have grabbed similar sounds from other sample libraries but not done any work on revoicing or even a mix - this is faders in a row!. Makes your orchestra sound rather nice. The indications are that this was put in from the score, making the oboe and the others that double it, like Flute and Picolo very stiff and unrealistic. Then I found another which appears to be a version on organ with a real saxophone. I'm not precious so I'll share it. It's marked as a do not use version, so I cannot remember what the outcome was. The saxophone part has some buzzes and clicks in it, and is distorted in places, but plays all over the real bar lines - badly in places. Out of yours and these two duffers, you win hands down - even with the odd sounding oboe. Damn tricky and clever piece of music. I wish I could find finished versions but no luck.



     

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  8. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    First off, thanks for the tremendous help and advice you've taken the time to offer - it's way more than I expected, and I truly appreciate you taking the time to give it.

    I really like the sax version! Yeah, like you said it might be a little rough, but it has a really good feel. I've heard a lot of different instruments do the solo, but this is the first with a sax and it really works, imo. I think creatively you've done more with each of these than I did - I used the prescribed instruments, so I appreciate it.
     
  9. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    If I could play the damn thing properly it would be better! My colleague is a proper concert pianist and I asked him about the clip you posted and he tells me the chances are that the soloist in that piece just played the dots, and because of the nature of the piece it would have been written accurately rather than follow a "play with considerable rubato". Moricone like Zimmer want everything very precise and repeatable. Apparently other piece like Rimsky-Korsakov's Scherezade where there is aflowing violin melody, the player moulds it around the written notes, so each recording will be different to a degree.

    When I was teaching I found it useful to let students hear my attempts at what I made them do so they could really hear how mistakes impact. Students always get to the end, press stop and say "that will do" and repairing and fixing get left till later, which never happens. So many people can't bear the thought of sharing early versions, or ones with errors, but I've never had any of the truly excellent musicians I've worked with ever be negative. They offer suggestions and even solutions after hearing problems. Never too old to learn. The only thing I'd never share would be my attempts to dance, which will remain private for ever.
     
  10. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Lol, I'm with you on the dance thing. My wife and kids have seen it, but they're sworn to secrecy.

    Again, SO much insight you've offered. It's way more than I'd hoped for, and all of it is helpful. I started replacing the legato oboe with the normal one as Boswell suggested, and added proper vibrato (pitching up slightly). It still needs some tweaking on the note lengths and volume in some places because the legato oboe had a slower release. When I switched to the regular oboe, it sounded like a "smoker's oboe" :)

    I'll probably bounce it this evening and post to get your take on if it sounds better or not and go from there. This piece is really just an excercise for me to learn Logic Pro, arranging, and mixing, so the time I put in it is all investment.
     
  11. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    This is definitely in the area of what I was aiming for. Really makes my oboe and strings sound less real. It's nice being able to hear something that is closer to the target - like hearing someone shout when you're trying to find your way to them. Otherwise, it's just guesswork (for me anyway). This is why I'm here. Thanks!
     
  12. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    You link to the authentic Morricone YT video in an earlier post, but here is another version that I think illustrates a better oboe tone:

    This is a recording from the Faroe Islands Philharmonic Orchestra with an unnamed conductor. I don't know what fraction of the population of the Faroes is playing in this clip, but it's a nice sound.
     
  13. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    Actually that's a great clip to study - where the motif gets played by the strings before the oboe returns and they play the slightly simplified version. A lovely recording isn't it!
     
  14. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Wow. No weird triplet thingies, and you’re right-the oboe is clearer and more expressive. Some of that will be due to the superior recording quality, but some is just plain interpretation. I think this would be a great study as well. I’ve been looking at some different techniques for routing sections or rows throw a few slightly different delays before going through reverb, so this might be a good item to work that into, along with playing the each layer for strings that paulears suggested. Got my weekend cut out :)
     
  15. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    This is I think, the first classical style topic we've had, and nice to hear the variation in styles and if you listen carefully - the recordings of those great orchestras. I've spent a while trying to see if the original Morricone composition has been published as sheet music approved by him. So much sheet music is arrangements of arrangements nowadays.

    Somewhere I had the original music Barry Gray wrote for Thunderbirds - it's really interesting seeing it with his handwriting saying "PLAY EXCITEDLY!".

    In the Faroe Island clip - and why on earth have they even got a Philharmonic? - the oboist moves around quiet a lot, and the tone didn't change, which makes me wonder if that was an omni capsule?
     
  16. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Well-Known Member

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    Almost certainly an omni. It's hard to tell from the YT clip, but it may be one of the Schoeps CCM2 series on a GVC swivel.

    It's probable that the camera angles over-emphasised the performer's off-axis movement, but the tone was indeed very consistent.
     
  17. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    I dunno, I think it may all be lip-sync'd o_O

    lol, maybe not.
     
  18. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Ok, quick question - I think I might know the answer, but want some pro info.

    When creating vibrato for a woodwind, I'm using LFO to 1) modulate pitch between norm and HIGHER, 2) modulate volume.

    My question is whether the volume should be modulated with LFO (increase when pitch goes up) or inverted LFO (decrease when pitch goes up).

    It seems that with a woodwind, the thing that makes the pitch go up a bit is increased airflow, which would indicate modulating volume with same LFO as pitch (volume and pitch increase in sync).

    Is that correct? When I invert it so that volume decreases when pitch increases, it sounds like something I'd be better off using on, say, strings.

    I also understand that for brass, you'd decrease the pitch from norm (rather than increase). Is this correct?

    Thanks!
     
  19. paulears

    paulears Well-Known Member

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    I’m not aware there is a standard and I’ve always used whatever controller setup sounds best. Indeed, in some the vibrato and expression just get mapped to a controller. If you are using modulation with associated volume this is quite unlike a real instrument anyway. Double reed instruments for example have extremely limited pitch change ability so their vibrato is really tremolo but few people call it that. Single reeds can bend quite a lot but it’s embouchure not so much breath pressure but you can use both. Certainly increased pressure on a single reed tends to make pitch go down but on an oboe it just gets louder? Trumpets pitch up slightly but I think that’s just because pressure tightens your lips? Some samples react to after touch too but I find that difficult to control sensitively. I’d advise to not try to set a ‘standard’ because your next sample library will do it differently. Spitfire and session strings for example have very little in common in control terms.
     
  20. TadGhostal

    TadGhostal Active Member

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    Unfortunately the mapping for Logic Pro oboe doesn't seem to map to expressions. The info I was using is just what I've found in other areas of the internet where people were trying to do the same thing. In those conversations people imply the standard (or I inferred it), but that may have been a standard specific to adding vibrato to Logic Pro instruments that have none rather than DAWs in general. I just wanted to get confirmation from you guys as to whether it was something you'd heard of, a standard, or complete bollocks.

    Of course, I have an oboe sitting next to me, so I could just pull it out and record it to see. I'm no oboist, so trying to actually play the piece would just be yet another lesson in humility - but I can play well enough to point it at a mic and play a note with vibrato.
     

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