(More) suggestions for this instrumental?

I posted this a while back and got some good suggestions in this thread:

I’ve remixed the drums and changed the ending on this as was suggested so please bash again!

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Hey Sir Lee I usually don’t comment on instrumentals. Being that they forumers are sparse…ha ha
This was hard for me to follow. The notes played I am sure are cool, but made me I guess I would say a little uncomfortable. At 1:02 it started working for me and then after 1:35 again. I should have played it again to see if I felt the same way about the start. I know this is not much help

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It is absolutely a good help. I want to know what works and what doesn’t and why. Can you tell me are there any instrumentals you do like and why? Thanks for commenting.

Before listening to your latest updated version, I first listened to the original MP3 you posted awhile back, so that I could compare them.

The thing that really stands out between the two mixes is that your snare drum on the latest mix is really loud as opposed to the very quiet snare sound on your first mix. At first I was thinking that the snare is too loud in this latest mix but it may be that I got used to your previous mix with the very quiet snare drum. As I finished listening to this second version I was less certain that the snare was “too” loud. I’d probably have to get familiar with this version for awhile before deciding conclusively whether the snare is too loud or not. BUT……I did get the feeling that the snare was a bit too dominant and overbearing on the first listen of the latest mix. It’s probably just a matter of taste. With this song, I tend to want to be absorbed in the guitar melodies. The snare is a lot steadier than I previously thought it was, except for a spot somewhere in the middle of the song. The loud snare combined with it’s steady nature tends to distract me from the other elements in the song……,but again, this may just be my first impression. I’m listening through my iPad speakers, so this isn’t an ideal way to make the best judgement. Later today I’ll give this another closer listen through my headphones, via laptop.

Another thing I seemed to notice is that the volume of the ride cymbal was much lower. In your first version the ride was quite loud but this time it didn’t stand out. That might be because I was so focused on the snare. I’ll pay closer attention to that when I listen again later.

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Hey @Wicked thanks for listening, it’s good to compare iPad to other things. I liked the snare sound I got by pushing the velocity settings up high so it’s quite possible I got used to it and left it too high. To keep that sound and lower the volume I’ll have to pluck it out of that track and give it a dedicated track which is easy to do and probably the best way to refine a mix anyway. This library doesn’t give volume control over each drum except through velocity which gives a more natural sound but I should have more control over it anyway. Thanks for commenting!

Edit: Yes I lowered the ride and hats

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I do remember hearing elements of this before. I don’t recall if it’s the one I commented about it being atonal, and was corrected. It does give a sense of emotional uncomfortableness, though the music is interesting and intriguing. It actually reminds me a bit of an Indie band called Deerhoof (circa 2014). The snare does sound pretty good, but the other percussion isn’t in that league IMO. There’s something to the kind of choppy/staccato feel that creates the emotional tension, as well as the unusual guitar scale (what key/scale is this in?).

I even felt a certain Joe Satriani -ish vibe at the beginning. I’m most familiar with his 80’s “Surfing With The Alien” stuff. Repetition with variation, so the instrumental keeps a familiar song structure, but keeps interest through instrumentation.

The drums in the intro of this song and first 1.5 minutes seemed pretty decent, especially the panned toms (?) But then it seemed like largely snare after that, and less interesting. I’m hearing a few drum fills after that. I might call the style “meandering”, though that’s relative to the typical song structure we’re used to. I assume this falls in the Jazz category of “do what want and what feels good at the time”. :slightly_smiling_face:

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Listening again (through headphones and laptop)and the snare volume isn’t bothering me this time. I think the louder snare does tend to make the guitars sound quieter and that’s really the only thing that slightly concerns me about it’s volume, but it does bring more balance to the song than you had previously. It also adds some ambience and depth, partly due to the reverb or delay you have on it and because it’s a juxtaposing percussive sound (naturally, because it’s a drum). I guess it’s just a matter of taste if you prefer a more prominent snare or a slightly less prominent snare.

I like the new ending you have much better than the ending on Version 1. The way the note dives at the end is a better finale.

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It’s the same tune with some minor changes.

I didn’t know Deerhoof but they are interesting, thanks for pointing that out, there are some similarities as you say.

The opening and ending are Em (actually E phrygian which is quite close). At 1:01 we get Cm (actually C dorian which is quite close) with a couple of measures of C lydian. At 1:34 it’s in E major using E, A, B, F#m and C#m chords in a somewhat normal fashion. Then back to Em. I can post a score if anyone is interested.

Well I’m all for that but there’s not much jazz here I don’t think although jazz has expanded out to include almost anything, everybody likes to cross over nowadays? I do get the Satriani influence though, he’s always been a favorite.

Thanks for commenting!


I think I like the arrangement better on this one - it seems more cohesive overall. Nice progress!

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That’s a good point @Wicked and I should fine tune that as I haven’t really paid attention to the mix on this.

These drums are from an East West audio library so they are recorded samples. The reverb and delay in the player are turned off but they have some natural ambience from when they were recorded that I can’t really control. There is a ‘reasonance’ control turned on and it’s kind of subtle, more tonal than ambience.

The ‘guitars’ are Omnisphere synth patches and the patch has reverb turned on. It then goes through a Scuffham amp with a Dumble model but there’s no ambience there. There’s nothing on the master 2 buss.

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Thank you @ColdRoomStudio, I guess I need to think about some mixing on this but other than to fine tune the snare level I’m not sure what I would do. I might humanize the drums a bit just to see what effect that would have. I’m still not sure about adding a vocal, or some vocal sounds at least.

The ‘guitars’ on this are Omnisphere synth patches run through a Scuffham Dumble model. The patches have a lot of processing on them already so just setting the levels gives me a basic mix. I haven’t added anything to the tracks or the 2 buss as far as EQ etc. I’ll have to listen again and consider it, any suggestions would be welcome!

May I ask why you’re using a synth to play guitar? Since you’re an accomplished guitarist, it seems like you’re doing things the hard way to me. :thinking:

IMO playing real guitar parts would yield a much better, more organic result. While I agree that the drums do sound quite robotic, I think a more telling “uncanny valley” feeling is imparted by the guitars.

There is an inhuman consistency of attack on the front end of the notes that really sacrifices a big part of the expression available to a guitarist. There is also a noticeable lack of subtle swing in the timing that comes from the physical action of alternately picking a string.

I assumed that you were using this as a method of composing, and that you would replace the parts with real instruments (or at least real guitars) to complete the song. I personally think that would go a long way toward helping people connect emotionally with the composition.

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I write to score in Sibelius which I’m used to so it’s very quick and easy to get the sound I want. Then I export a midi file to Reaper where I have a choice of instruments, also very quick and easy. I could just play the parts and put them together but that takes longer and it’s harder to try different instruments. I could play keyboard (except I can’t) or midi guitar (mine is terrible) and eventually get to the same point but without a score to fall back on to easily make changes or additions.

That was my original plan and I may still do that or a mixture or . . . ? When I got to the point I was at when I started my original thread I liked the ‘uncanny valley’ sound I was getting so I thought let’s see what others have to say. Everyone focused on drums which was helpful but I did expect some discussion about instruments so I’m glad I brought up the midi/synth issue in this thread because you make a very good point about the appeal of ‘real’ guitars.

Honestly from past experience I think that manually playing some or all of the parts will steer this piece in a different direction (I had originally expected to add more instruments) which is a probably a good thing; but I might also take @Wicked 's suggestion to have more than one version, although I’m probably too lazy for that. :blush:

Thanks for the excellent comments!

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Thank you for the reviews! Now your music: my favorite parts are the drums/percussion and the electric bass (good!). The song creates a certain mood (good), though I wish the guitar riffs were a bit more melodic. Though it did grow on me more with another listen. Sounds a bit prog. The synth sounds were a surprise. Rock on man!

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Thank you for commenting @aaron_aardvark . You have a different perspective than most of our small group here which is helpful. I’ll have to consider your melodic suggestion.

In case you missed it on your latest BTR post I requested that you link us to some of your work that has some unusual stuff going on.

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