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Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

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Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Dec 30, 2019 7:21 pm

Hi everyone,

Sorry, it's been a very busy time for me the past few weeks; I feel very disconnected from online life, which I suppose is a good thing? :)

The Soundtrack Machine is now just about fully formed, the only remaining bit that I cannot seem to find is a way to sync my sequencers across formats without having to schlep the BeatStep Pro out ... it loos like the new Erica Synths MIDI to CV unit may do it, but I will need answers to some very specific questions first ...

Anyway --

After an extensive rewrite, the demo for Megalith Book I: Concerto for a Dying Sun (For Strings and Well-Tempered Synthesizer) is now complete and ready for rehearsals; what a relief! This was a major undertaking in every sense of the word and I completely redid my entire approach and workflow to write this one. The overall key is in D Harmonic Minor and it basically follows Concerto form in the way the motives are presented, except instead of an Exploration section I have a guitar solo. :)

There are a few minor flubs with the live synths and guitars but the idea is all here and, most importantly, can be repeated.

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting/megalith-book-1

My goals for the rewrite were:
- Create a more structured piece
- Eliminate the bits where it seemed to drag
- Write more thematic parts for all of the intstruments

Instruments used:
- '71 Mexican Tele Thinline reissue through an amp sim (Behringer GDI 21) and compressor (Bogner Harlow)
- Roland JV-1080 with Orchestral I and II expansion cards
- Roland JP-08
- Yamaha DX7
- Moog Mother-32
- Twisted Electrons AY3
- TipTop Audio analog drum modules
_ Studio Electronics Oscillation

Sequencers used:
- Roland MC-500
- XOR Electronics NerdSeq

Everything was run through a single BOSS RV-500 delay/reverb

Any and all feedback is welcome, thanks in advance for listening, I hope you enjoy the journey. :)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Mon Dec 30, 2019 9:07 pm

Firstly, I really like this and I think it's great you're working on making it performable in a live setting.

I'm going to confess that I snuck a bootleg recording of the original 29 minute version you posted a while back because I absolutely love it. It's also, it's fantastic for listening to in airports, which I spend a lot of time in.

Random side note: it works surprisingly well for me listening to it straight after "Lochness" by Judas Priest!

I've just listened to both versions back to back.

Much as I think the reworked version is good, I prefer that original version significantly even with one or two minor mixing flaws it has. The original arrangement is richer and more 'epic' sounding, the drive and energy in it is much greater and the drums on the new version don't really work for me... they sound tinny and start to grate on the ears after a bit, whereas the original ones have more 'beef' to them and work wonderfully.

The new version also sounds sparser and has less variation in it and I think it would have been good to keep more of the latter even if it was shortened a bit for practicality.

I'm full of admiration for the work as a whole in any form though, it's very evocative and I love the sound you've got going on, but my preference lies firmly with the overall sound and structure of the original 29 minute version. Subjectively, to me, it's a far better work than the revised edition.

If you'd posted this new version out of the blue without having done the old, I would have been extremely complimentary about it but that original version is something else altogether, so thank you VERY much for that!

I know you're putting a lot of work into this so don't be disheartened, because I think you're onto something really good here. This is just one man's subjective opinion.
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Dec 31, 2019 12:08 am

Wow, thanks much for taking the time out to listen and provide feedback, it's really appreciated!

I am with you 1,000% on the drum sound ... well, specifically, the the snare. That's going to be the next thing I work on as I develop the demo further.

As for the arrangement, we'll have to agree to disagree. :) However, I'm flattered beyond belief that you have given it multiple plays; that's quite an honour!

If you liked the first pass @ this song, I think you might enjoy the next song coming down the pike, which I have been building up the voices for. It's called Ta'veren. (If you're a fantasy nerd you'll not only get the reference but you'll have a clue as to what I'm going to try out compositionally).

Thanks again, Eddie!!
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Tue Dec 31, 2019 1:34 am

Ben Asaro wrote:As for the arrangement, we'll have to agree to disagree. :)

Quite happy to disagree. Though we do, it's your work, and I've always taken the view that whatever works for the composer is for the best. Everyone else can just go write their own stuff!

One thing I'll mention as a related thought (and as a random listener) is that in the original I never get a sense of repetitiveness, although there are repeated themes, whereas in the new version I did find a couple of sections sound almost as if they are cut and pasted loops (though I know they are not) and I was willing it to progress.

Ben Asaro wrote:I'm flattered beyond belief that you have given it multiple plays; that's quite an honour!

On the original 29 minute version, I'd say we're nearing the 30-plays mark now. Assuming you don't mind the fact I've admitted having the bootleg for offline listening (and if you did, I would delete it on principle, albeit with a heavy heart) this will steadily rise over time.

It also works well when played after (longstanding resident of this parish) The Elf's epic ambient work, The Bridge Of Ply which was another track that blew me away and which I cannot recommend highly enough for those who like that sort of thing.

Ben Asaro wrote:If you liked the first pass @ this song, I think you might enjoy the next song coming down the pike, which I have been building up the voices for. It's called Ta'veren. (If you're a fantasy nerd you'll not only get the reference but you'll have a clue as to what I'm going to try out compositionally).

You've got my attention and I'm sure it'll be wheely good. I need to re-read said works I think. I never made it to the end of the series. It's been a while :-)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Tue Dec 31, 2019 4:54 pm

LOL. Yeah, I think most people shipwreck on that series somewhere between book 6-9. I reread the entire thing last year, it felt like a real accomplishment! :D

But I love the concept of ta'veren pulling at the Pattern and how can that be done in a musical sense, perhaps by using random fragments, or fragments that randomize over time? Or do they start out quite far apart, tonally, and then "pull in" to a tonal center?
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Martin Walker » Wed Jan 01, 2020 12:40 am

Currently enjoying this a lot Ben, but it's 25 minutes to midnight on New Year's Eve, so I've got to get all the curtains pulled and the dogs settled before the village fireworks take off shortly.

Will listen again in more depth tomorrow, as I'm really getting into it (apart from the synth arpeggios that open in the right channel - please either pan them centrally and make them
dance about in stereo, as my ears object ;) )

Lovely guitar happening now - damn those fireworks!


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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Wed Jan 01, 2020 9:27 pm

Got some work done on the drum sounds yesterday, mostly re mixing the balance of the drums and getting the snare beefed up. I tuned the snare much lower and then added a chamber reverb with a short predelay and very short decay to create a gated snare sound with a TC Electronic Hall of Fame reverb pedal.

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting/drum-test
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Martin Walker » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:01 pm

Big improvement on the drums Ben - I returned to the concerto as promised, and love the overall effect on the previous version, but while the guitars sound humungous, the drums sounded a little small & plastic by comparison - with these upgraded drum sounds everything should gel together a lot better methinks.

Looking forward to hearing the new overall mix now!


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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby The Elf » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:59 pm

I quite like where this is heading.

If you don't mind me butting in... I feel as if the whole mix is going through one long reverb, the sounds are all stage-centre and the mids are dominating the mix. Rely less on reverb, be a bit braver with panning and start to clean out the mud and there's something good going on - especially some of the guitar motifs.

But definitely on its way...
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:48 am

Martin Walker wrote:Big improvement on the drums Ben - I returned to the concerto as promised, and love the overall effect on the previous version, but while the guitars sound humungous, the drums sounded a little small & plastic by comparison - with these upgraded drum sounds everything should gel together a lot better methinks.

Looking forward to hearing the new overall mix now!


Martin
Thanks for the feedback, Martin!

Next step is writing drum fills to flesh out the drum parts, then re record the whole thing as separate instruments instead of live to stereo like the demo. That should get things quite a bit closer to finished product, not a demo.
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:55 am

The Elf wrote:I quite like where this is heading.
Thank you, Elf!

If you don't mind me butting in...
Hardly! I asked for feedback!

I feel as if the whole mix is going through one long reverb, the sounds are all stage-centre and the mids are dominating the mix. Rely less on reverb, be a bit braver with panning and start to clean out the mud
I am so with you! One of the problems with live demos is you get what you get. There is, indeed, a single reverb here and this is not the way I will approach the actual recording.
Agree on the panning, right now the modular is going through a WORNG Sound Stage so the pan positions are fixed in a way that I wouldn’t necessarily do in the final version, as well as not having the ability to use automation.

there's something good going on - especially some of the guitar motifs.

But definitely on its way...
Thank you very much for listening and providing feedback, it helps me immeasurably!!
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:25 pm

Oh, forgot to mention that the actual recording will have guitars reamped through actual guitar amps/pedals/microphone, not an amp sim. Amp sims are fine for songwriting demos but I prefer the sound of cooking valves. :)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun Jan 05, 2020 2:52 pm

I'm travelling at present but will give the latest version a proper listen tonight :-)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Sun Jan 05, 2020 4:55 pm

Eddy Deegan wrote:I'm travelling at present but will give the latest version a proper listen tonight :-)
Alas, aside from the quick drum tweak demo, I won't have any further progress to share for a few days. Getting the synths recorded will be easy, but to reamp the guitar tracks requires an empty house due to the SPLs. :)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Mon Jan 06, 2020 4:39 am

Put a ton of work in today and got the drum fills completed, tweaked some of the sequenced synth parts, and recorded all of the orchestral and percussion tracks. About 20% of the entire thing by my estimation. Not bad for one day of work! The sequencer tracks are totally broken out so each track of the MC-500 has its own stereo track for processing and the drums are spread over three tracks.

(The real aim of the Soundtrack Machine is to be able to play these pieces live, of course; that was, and remains, the impetus behind all of this: Can I have a performative piece that incorporates live instruments with sequenced orchestral and electronic music without having to use a tablet, laptop, or computer?)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Thu Jan 16, 2020 1:25 am

Well, the rough mix is done and I'm ready to put this one to the side and start the next one! :)

Here's a basic idea of what the final tracks sound like. No automation yet; actually, aside from some EQ, there are no plugins used at all yet!

https://soundcloud.com/asfollowswriting ... rough-mix2
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Martin Walker » Thu Jan 16, 2020 5:20 pm

Hi again Ben,

Some big improvements there, but first of all many thanks for panning the opening arpeggiated sound to the middle - my ears are much happier ;) I also like the new mellow sound and filter sweep on this - much more dramatic!

One thing still sticks out for me though - the very taut snare sound that enters at 1:04 and continues throughout. It just sounds 'small' and 'close' compared to the rest of the track. You've got such a monumental sound on everything else, but my poor ears just keep rebelling in that after using Abbey Road for recording the rest of the band you overdubbed the snare in the office next door.

Still gorgeous overall! :clap: 8-) :thumbup:


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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby Ben Asaro » Fri Jan 17, 2020 5:48 am

HA! Noted ... I agree, I’m not sold on the snare sound, either.

Thanks for your continued patience in listening and providing feedback, it’s really invaluable to me.

As for the bass panning ... you’re welcome lol. (I like asymmetrical mixing, but am aware not everyone else does!)
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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby IAA » Fri Jan 17, 2020 8:35 am

Ben,
Firstly just listened to your latest rough mix. There’s some wonderful ideas and it’s well executed. I agree with Martin that the snare does sound a bit “out” given the grand epic scale of the music. The guitar chucka at 6m I think could be closer in the mix to really give it some welly a la Petrucci!
The closing bass at 8 10 I think is a little harsh with the lead line maybe a more Taurus type tuba swell might work.

Anyway these are but things that just struck me, I’m impressed with it, great work and when’s the live event? - it would work well at somewhere like the Eden Project with a full solar eclipse as a backdrop! :thumbup: :thumbup:

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Re: Return of the Soundtrack Machine! (new sounds inside)

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 17, 2020 9:36 am

IAA wrote: when’s the live event? - it would work well at somewhere like the Eden Project with a full solar eclipse as a backdrop! :thumbup: :thumbup:

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