Please bash my orchestral piece

Classical music in general is not as popular as other genres but I’d like for you to listen to this piece and give me your opinion. It is short and it is light and cheerful, something I’m hoping might give some of you a lift during a difficult time.


It’s really nice, soothing in places, but powerful in others, very emotionally expressive. And really good IMO! I’m not well schooled on Classical, but it sounds like a real orchestra and acoustic instruments to my ears. I didn’t hear any details that might detract from that perception, though I tried to listen like a casual listener and just enjoy it. Suffice it to say, I may not be a good critic (critiquer?) for this type of music, since I don’t know what to listen for that could be different.

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Hey Ingo, this is your composition, correct? Sounding great! Some nice contrasts in instrumentation and overall dynamics, as well as mood changes. It sounds a little like a musical “conversation” of sorts to me.

There are some huge dynamic shifts between the parts, which is what is great about classical music.

Being a very casual listener of classical music (and not at all what I would call “informed”), my only observation is that, while the macro-dynamics are impressive, the micro-dynamics within the instrumental parts probably need a little more work. At present many of the parts - even the ones that are “softer” and more “delicate” tend to sound pretty “full-on” most of the time.

Great to hear something different - nice work! :+1:

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I’m impressed. This is nice. You said you hoped it would give some of us a needed lift? That it did.

What were you using here for your sample library? This is pretty nicely done. Very creative and downright interesting.

Thank you for this! :slight_smile:

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Even if I had the instruments, I would not be able to compose this style of music. I really like the xylophone punctuating much throughout.

The strings are especially strong to me. It is crazy how it can be so melodic and yet not formulaic like pop or rock. Even jazz seems more like pop than this.

I hear this in some imagined context of a longer symphony, where somehow the ideas you express here are revisited and manipulated into other movements, and yet all fitting together like pieces in a musical puzzle. This piece has bright bells and crisp strings, another might have long, meandering lines that intertwine, and another some organic shapes and shadows, and all put together reveal a picture of- I don’t know yet! But to me, that is what this could do.

Very pleasant!

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Yes, I wrote this in Sibelius notation software. Thank you for listening and commenting.

Excellent observation! As I said I write in notation software which normally gives immediate general midi type audio feedback which is actually of decent quality that many composer’s can export and use to demo their work. Then for quality mock-ups the usual method is to export midi tracks into a DAW and use a better quality audio library which can be expensive and requires extensive tweaking. But there is a product called NotePerformer which I used for this piece. NP installs into Sibelius and replaces the stock sounds with upgraded samples that are supposedly ‘AI’ enabled to more closely replicate an orchestral sound with very little tweaking.

So, to make a long story longer, the lack of subtlety at low levels that you noticed is a limitation of NP (which sells for $129 USD) and would be available in a high quality library, but I took a short cut!

Thanks again for listening and allowing me to explain.


Thank you @Tesgin for listening and your encouraging words. I’m using a library that is designed to be used in music notation software such as Sibelius, Finale or Dorico. As far as I know it doesn’t work as a DAW plugin. It is called NotePerformer and sells for $129. Good quality libraries can achieve remarkable realism but they are often expensive and require a lot of adjustment work to sound good.

NotePerformer supposedly uses AI technology to add in typical orchestral sounds to a written score and requires very little adjustment. It doesn’t get a lot of the subtleties that a real orchestra is capable of, but if you write stuff that it can do well you can get a good sound.

Thanks again for listening!

Thank you for the encouragement @steban that always means a lot. I do hope to add other movements to this piece which is of course a traditional symphonic approach. We’ll see.

The samples at the beginning are a celesta which is a small keyboard from the 19th century that sounds similar to xylophone as you say. The best known example is in Tchaikovsky’s ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairiy’. I also have tubular bell samples through out the piece which are just chimes really.

Thanks again!

Hi there,
this was a lovely listen thanks! Love the whimsical interplay between the woodwind and strings and the chiming glockenspiel (?) sounds that give a lovely shape and space to the piece. There is a nice shape to everything with a sense of movement and suspense.

Okay, on second listen and putting my ‘bash hat’ on, I’m hearing some dynamic issues between the instruments, in particular the chiming twinkling bits that sounded glockenspiely :sunglasses: There were times when this sounded disproportionately loud, noticeable when playing with a group of strings at the same time. I liked the sforzando attack of the strings, is that the word? On occasions the grouped strings felt a little artificial to me. I didn’t notice it with the simpler/solo stings but in a group playing, I was drawn to slight discrepancies between the separation of the notes. It felt percussive rather than bowed, but that is supreme nit picking so take it with a grain of salt!

So lovely to hear the horns and I did get a sonic orchestral sense - if that makes any kind of sense?
Some lovely musical interplay that I enjoyed!

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Dude! Where’s the wide panned, down-tuned, heavily distorted guitars?! Uh, you seemed to have forgotten those !!! :astonished:

But seriously, this is a nice, refreshing piece of music! I’ve never made orchestral music and I’ve never studied it to any lengthy degree, so I can only give you a brief review. This sounds really good to me. I can’t help but see Bugs Bunny, Wile Coyote and that little Space Martian from Bugs Bunny (the guy who is always asking “Is my lunar space module ready yet?”…or something like that) in my brain. That’s a compliment, though.

Great job!

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This is what I need to hear! Thank you for listening @Emma and especially for that second listen 'cause that’s when I can learn something. Especially from you as a string player, I’m sure you’ve been in orchestras so you understand the delicate balance that happens there. The sample calls itself a celesta but it’s the same as a glockenspiel, but probably weaker, and it couldn’t match up well against a full string section. I pushed it because I wanted to hear those notes. Us midi arrangers are drunk with power sometimes so thanks for catching that!

Sforzando sounds good to me, this library is NotePerformer and it plugs into Sibelius and gives me very little control over stuff which is both good and bad if you know what I mean. Others have complained about NP’s ensemble string sound but there’s no adjustment for it, unlike other more expensive libraries. (NP sells for $129 USD). I can enter basic dynamics and crescendos and some other articulations like pizz but I can’t draw velocity curves and such.

Nit picking is what I want to hear, thanks for your help!

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This is the only microscopic nit I have with the music. Emma seems to be onto that also. I wouldn’t have even took conscious notice of that had I not been listening critically. I didn’t even want to bring attention to it, since ColdRoomStudio did that already, but since you seem to be very open minded with us critiquing your work, I’ll reinforce what they’ve said about the “micro dynamics”.

I like it a lot, even without the more subtle dynamics, though.

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eek that was another lifetime and I am now so very inept, alas. I did do some amateur orchestral playing way back in my teens, but my ears were mostly trained from a classical education and I still listen to quite a bit of classical music from time to time. I am constantly fascinated by how amazing virtual instruments can sound. When I record cello I invariably mix it with vst to cover my multitude of faults and then I spend a ridiculous amount of time tweaking the midi to try to ‘naturalise’ the sound. It all becomes a bit ridiculous sometimes, I do laugh at myself!

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Impressive piece of work. The result is very homogeneous with nothing really throwing me away at any point.

I’m not anymore trained in classical music than the others so I’ll just tell you what I noticed while I was listening:

  • The tuned percussion instrument (xylophone?) has too much low end, it sounded like it was in front of the orchestra to me. I would roll off a lot of the low end to place it back where it usually is in an orchestra.
  • The reverb sounds nice but the size of the room is too small for such a big ensemble, in my opinion. A larger room and maybe better quality reverb would help a lot in making it sound more realistic. I think.
  • I might just haven’t paid enough attention, but I didn’t hear a recurring theme, which made the piece a little frustrating to listen, as I wasn’t able to make much melodic sense out of it. Maybe I just need to listen a second time.
  • I thought (again I might be wrong) I heard some violins coming from both left and right sides on occasions, which I found a little odd, as I thought there were usually all grouped in one spot.

Congrats on your creativity and hard work!

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Yes it is important to me to hear the nit picks, it helps me hear things better and I like that. Unfortunately with this current set-up I can’t control those micro dynamics. But sometimes it is possible to write around certain issues, minimize the impact, so now I can keep that in mind.

Thanks for coming back and letting me know that.

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very beautiful! Though I almost missed this piece thinking it was an older thread. I would recommend putting a title on your compositions :slight_smile:

Overall a phenomenal composition with the playfulness and serenity combined. Great work!

From a woodwinds perspective the only place I felt a bit of uncomfortable dissonance was with the dueling flute and clarinet between 3:05 to 3:14.
I think it could be the length of the notes or the syncopation. If you change those sections to play staccato, it could ease the conflict a bit.

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A very valuable experience. When you spend time with an instrument you become very sensitive to it’s characteristics and strings are probably the most subtle and expressive instrument of all (ok maybe the voice too). Strings (and voices too) have that incredible chorusing effect that happens when you mass them together that is unique. I’m sure your classical roots have informed your music (which we all enjoy!) to a large degree.

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Thank you @Lophophora for listening and giving me such a detailed analysis. You’ve obviously studied music and honed your skills and that’s all that matters, it’s not important what style or where you studied because (to me at least) it’s all the same.

The instrument sample is (supposed to be) a celesta which is a small keyboard from the 19th century known mainly for ‘Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy’. It is very quiet and would never be heard in the back of the orchestra but I have boosted it unrealistically as you say. The NotePerformer format that I am using doesn’t allow eq on individual instruments but your suggestion is good and I will look for a work around.

NotePerformer does allow a choice here. I accepted the default which is ‘Ambient Hall’ but I could switch to ‘Cathedral’, I’ll try that. NP only allows mp3 export but I could import a dry version into Reaper and try some different reverbs also, again a good suggestion.

I haven’t used themes in a traditional manner here. The celesta part does repeat at the end and there are several motifs that repeat consecutively as they are developed but they don’t reprise which would also be the traditional approach. The approach I’m using is not one that I invented so if it doesn’t work I’ll take the blame or if it does work I can’t take the credit. :laughing:

You’re right, good catch! NP does have some panning control but usually it is preset, hopefully correctly. Yes the violins usually are grouped on the left of an orchestra. With this arrangement there are two sections with somewhat different parts that are panned separately . I’ll keep your suggestion in mind.

I assumed that the arrangement was a midi concept and not a final product. So I did not critique the sound samples, eq and the ambiance. It is a beautiful arrangement nevertheless with tons of potential.

I highly recommend FL studio for orchestral compositions. The sheer control of space and midi you get from the FL Studio default plugins is well worth its 130$ cost . the default xyz fruity plugin allows you to move the instruments around in space which is truly amazing. Its comparable to the Altiverb. I am also a big fan of Kontakt libraries combined with FL studio. It takes the going from concept to final product an easier and much more controlled task

not always, it is really the decision the one swinging the baton. I have performed under some very experienced batons and they sometimes split the first and second violins if both can hold their own and don’t require as much lead. Sometimes the viola chair is seated further away to the right based on the availability of the woodwinds or brass. The Violas can sometimes sound like violins as they are close enough. From a conductor perspective or stage mic, violins, violas and cellos could be heard as split into a wide spectrum of left and right.
It ends up being about the balance of even and odd harmonics. Flute is often paired with french horns or oboes playing symmetrically opposite. There is no one rule fits all. Anything goes.

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Thank you @FluteCafe for your encouragement. You are right about naming pieces and I have been avoiding that which is not a good idea. I used to name things and then come back to them later and cringe, so maybe a number system or date of post at least, thanks for pointing that out.

Yes some little tone clusters there, and elsewhere in this piece. I personally am tolerant of dissonance if it adds some color without being too jarring. There are some milder flavors that are quite attractive but it’s like spicy food, everyone has their own preference. I think high volume head banger music is a lot harder to tolerate but again it’s all subjective.

I’m glad you mentioned this because it is an important point. We live in an age in which it is possible to use virtual instruments and processors to a degree that most if not all listeners cannot say with certainty what they are actually hearing. Your recordings are certainly in that category. There is of course a cost of time, skill and money involved. I’m working at improving my mock up skills and adding to my library collection but to do a full orchestra is way beyond me at this point. But I will keep FL studio in mind.

But even if I had the capability to produce such work the time involved makes it difficult. So I bought a plugin called NotePerformer which works with Sibelius to render a mock up with almost no tweaking required. In fact tweaking for the most part is impossible. My piece here is an mp3 exported directly from Sibelius with no adjustments at all.

So yes, we’ll call this a demo. And many of the valuable comments in this thread I have received have mentioned some production issues, and you, having even more experience with this type of production would find more issues as well I’m sure. But for an amateur composer the NP short cut is irresistible.

Thanks again for your valuable comments.

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