Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Wed Jan 02, 2013 9:54 am

I'd be interested to hear the piano rendered with Alicia's keys, I've got Ivory myself but have never been that impressed with it..Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby foolomon » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:28 pm

I have all of the NI pianos (save for The Giant) and I'd put Alicia's Keys up against any piano VST, even Pianoteq. Alicia herself even used it exclusively when recording her album The Element of Freedom. In spite of the fact that her piano (which was sampled for the VST) is a Yamaha C3 (not a C7) the color of the instrument is absolutely amazing.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Wed Jan 02, 2013 3:37 pm

Think I'm gonna have to get Alicia's keys...
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Wed Jan 02, 2013 4:57 pm

foolomon wrote:If you want me to render the piano part using Alicia's Keys let me know and we'll coordinate the transfer of the MIDI file to me and the 44.1 / 24 stereo WAV back to you.


Thanks for the offer mate, but I think I'll pass. I normally don't make a habit of handing around my MIDI files, I'm sure you understand that. ;)

Personally, I don't think Pianoteq is any competition for Alicia Keys Piano. The tone I know is mesmerizing, it's a Yamaha C3 Neo, great rich piano with only 3 of them still in existence I believe. The Yamaha C7 is the more brilliant piano, and more suited for rock songs, but I'll certainly agree, the C3 does have nuance.

I'll be sending the song to iMix and Master today or tomorrow hopefully. I'll show you the final results.

A special thank you to Bassbase, Shadowfax, and Foolomon for your advice. I owe each of you a favor. ;)
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Lenny Lee » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:41 pm

I agree that you'd benefit from a better piano VSTi, so I'd take Larry up on his offer.

I just got here and the earlier links must've been overwritten, but on this 4th upload, the drums could still
use a punchier and clearer sound. It may be that you've got all the other instruments louder than they should
be and there's no headroom left for the drums. If your master level is peaking now, that could be an issue - you'd need
to lower all your instruments and start the mix over. If that's not the case, you could insert a compressor (the best one you've got) on the master stereo channel of EZDrummer, and add subtle compression to the kit.
Also - have you looked at EZDrummer's mixer - are your kick and snare faders up there?
Another option - It's time consuming, but if you really want the optimal drum sound, you can route all 9 of your EZDrummer outputs to individual channels in Cubase, where you can then boost the low end on the kick drum, add more compression to the snare, etc etc.... (To do this, go to your VSTi rack, and just to the right of EZDrummer's edit button, click on the little arrow and you'll have the option to 'activate all channels', or select the one's you want to
add to the Cubase mixer.)

I also think you should spend more time on the drum programming. The groove when the drums first come in
is too busy on the kick drum for this type of song IMO, and the fill that comes in at 1:07 repeats exactly the same several times in a row - thereby making it sound programmed. You should invest the time to add lots of subtle variation throughout the song to make it sound more natural.

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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Wed Jan 02, 2013 6:59 pm

Thanks for listening Lenny. I knew I'd need special help (:P ) on everything concerning the drums, since I've been composing solo piano for years, with this being my first serious song with rock style drums. I'll keep working on it in the future, and trying out different fill techniques. If it weren't for those blasted fills this song would have been done a month ago.

I'm looking at the EZD internal mixer right now. Here's what I see:

Kick: 0
Snare Top: 0
Snare Bottom: -.9
HiHat: -10.5
Tom1: -1.4
Tom2: -1.4
Tom3: -1.4
Overhead: -.9
Room: -1.9

I'll be honest with you, I'm a musician at heart and know nearly nothing about sound mixing techniques despite researching it for some time. Maybe it's a good idea to load EZD into the rack as you say and export each of the kit pieces individually for the masterer?

Concerning the piano VST, I'm quite happy with my C7 at the moment, and I believe a touch of reverb and some EQ will work wonders on the solo section. But I definitely appreciate Larry's offer. :)
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:55 am

I use EZ drummer all the time and I always have it on one stereo track ( except the snare) and do the mixing in the EZ, the snare goes on a separate track and can be eq'd later and rev added..I do this by adding another instance of EZ drummer on another instrument track ( cause it's easier ) you can then mix in with the snare a bit of the overhead to taste...I know purists will say this is wrong but like you, I'm a muso and this way gets it done the easiest and is just as effective..Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:06 pm

I've worked with a mastering company and am proud to finally make public the final version. We were able to get Superior Drummer rendered to the drums and a better strings and bass. I know the drums are a bit low, but I think it's fine.


And finally a very sincere thank you to all of you who participated in this thread.

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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby monsterjazzlicks » Sun Jan 27, 2013 10:12 pm

Hi Bane,

i would not change the harmonies are form at all. It is what it is, and it works more or less fine (as it is !!).

You have done a very good job, but have you thought about getting in a LIVE bassist and drummer (instead of sequenced ??). i think it would help bring the song more to life.

It sounds like this piece could have been written for guitar or organ, but you chose to feature it on accoustic piano. Thats fine and is just an observation.

Ta,

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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Mon Jan 28, 2013 9:36 am

Good piece..works really well, I don't think the drums are too low, It's not about the drums, It's about the piano..well done..Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Lenny Lee » Mon Jan 28, 2013 5:42 pm

This sounds a lot better than the earlier mixes. Nice and full. The drums do sit fine in the mix and their sound is
about right.

I still wish there would've been more work put into the drum programming. It could use a good deal more subtle
variations. The only other thing that, to me, make it seem incomplete is some kind of melody on top - whether
a vocal - or a violin or sax or something.

Nice work, Bane.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Mon Jan 28, 2013 8:20 pm

Thank you sirs for the feedback and also easing my mind about the drums. ;) Phew!
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Jonathan5456 » Tue Jan 29, 2013 2:27 am

I like the composition and the overall production, but I'm sorry to have to unease your mind by saying that in relation to standard songs in that genre and to the other instruments the drums are a little bit too quiet throughout (not by much for most of the song.) But when the left hand piano notes are played with more intensity toward the end it just completely drowns out the drums. This makes it stick out a lot as not being real because performers just wouldn't do that and/or it'd be mixed to compensate.

Although, I still think you should have bought a mastering program instead of paying people to do it, at this stage anyway.

It is intended to have vocals someday, right? If not then it lacks a more concrete melody to be an instrumental as well as a variety of different instruments as Lenny pointed out.

My biggest issue though, is that the piano sounds quantized. If it's purely your playing then it's very tight indeed. If that is the case then it may be the velocities causing it to sound too programmed. And if the velocities are varied in a way that a human would strike the keys then perhaps it's just the piano sample library that you're using that lacks enough variation between the dynamic layers, in which case not much you can do with that :p

The string writing is definitely something for you to give more thought to in your next song. I might suggest listening with headphones to both http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SM3fEJyPrrg and http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cwkej79U3ek and really take note and analyze aurally the panning of the strings and what each section of the strings is doing. One of the things I really like about her songs is the way the strings and instruments are arranged, they don't just sustain all the time or play in unison with the piano/vocal melody. In the first song 'White Houses' listen to how the staccato/marcato sections are written in relation to both the piano and vocal melody and then the sustained parts. Neither of them play exactly the notes of the chords. You may not find it interesting and maybe most of her audience wouldn't notice it directly, but I think it still adds the right kind of variation that seeps into our unconscious as a listener and as a composer songs like these really are very good to study, aurally and/or with sheet music.

The kind of production that goes into songs like that is insane though. For example some snare hits have more reverb on than others right after it in the next bar etc etc and small things like that, that do make the difference :p And I'm in awe myself at the standard of the composition and the production.

Of course the only thing that matters is that you're proud of what you've done and learned. The effort you put in is very obvious so keep on writing and practicing and good going with this song :D
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:23 am

Thank you Jonathan, I was really hoping you'd jump in here. You always have the most challenging advice.

The drums really did get lost at the end IMO, don't know what the dude was thinking when he mixed it honestly. I could never do a good job, as I stated earlier I don't have any kind of education in the technicalities of loudness and sound balance stuff.

You are right indeed and kudos for being the first to say, that the piano notes were step input, that is, infinitely quantized. The dynamics were made to mask that as it does retain my very own velocity response, etc. But the notes were quantized indeed. Is there another way to mask that (such as swing settings) that will work with dynamics?

I did listen to both videos. Those strings are perfect to my ear, it gives it that teen pop sound that got Justin Beiber where he is. I'm working on a slower song at the moment, which already has been arranged with lots of sustain strings with the piano, but some other strings techniques have been implemented as well.

Most importantly, I have a question for you. The sound on my work in progress most corresponds to the more epic Evanescence ballads like Lost in Paradise. But I'm not able to build to the power they can. I've tried adding a guitar but it sounds like something crunchy that should be in a Meshuggah song rather than an epic build like Evanescence. Is there anything I can do/buy to get that sound? Of course, I understand Evanescence albums were engineered by the brightest minds in that field, but that doesn't mean we can't get close, right? So how would you amp/filter/eq a guitar to get that kind of crescendo?
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Lenny Lee » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:28 pm

Bane wrote:You are right indeed and kudos for being the first to say, that the piano notes were step input, that is, infinitely quantized. The dynamics were made to mask that as it does retain my very own velocity response, etc. But the notes were quantized indeed. Is there another way to mask that (such as swing settings) that will work with dynamics?


Yes. When in the midi editor, look at the top where you see the Q (quantize). When you select certain notes or groups of notes, it'll then quantize them perfectly to whatever note value you've selected just to the right of the Q,
when you hit the Q key on your keyboard. If you click on the Q at the top of the editor, it changes to iQ.
That stands for iterative quantize, and when you quantize when it's set to iQ, it only quantizes
a part of the way to the selected note value. You can choose what percentage of quantize you want by going to the edit menu, then selecting 'quantize panel', then adjusting the % to the desired value. By using iterative quantize, your timing will be improved, but not perfected.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Jonathan5456 » Fri Feb 01, 2013 8:00 am

Challenging is good, personally I'd much rather people pinpoint the things that stick out as not being great or what they like if they can, than just saying a quick praising sentence. Although both is nice ^-^

The quantizing is definitely the biggest issue. When you're trying to replicate real instruments you need to do all this kinda stuff, I actually drag every note manually because I don't like the way it does it with the auto thing. You can imagine how irritating this is for an entire orchestra but the smallest changes from the beat when all the instruments are combined make a big difference on how human it sounds.

You should invest in some mastering software, there's always changes and improvements you'll want to make and being able to do rough masters yourself will really suffice for the majority of stuff, at least until you get a full album's worth that you wish to send as demos or sell. It'll save you money in the long too.

Also, about the the mastering; a mastering engineer can only do so much with a mix. It's your responsibility to make sure everything in the mix is right, including individual levels for each instrument. If the drum volume level isn't right in the mix then you can't expect it to magically be right in the master also :P

Make a new thread for your other song and I'm sure myself and others will give our thoughts on it.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Fri Feb 01, 2013 10:14 am

Jonathan is dead right regarding the mastering, I bought Ozone on his advice and it's one of the best things I've done regarding music..it's pretty awesome..Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby twilightsong » Sat Feb 02, 2013 12:17 am

I can't find it :cry:
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Sat Feb 02, 2013 1:36 am

twilightsong wrote:I can't find it :cry:


The link? The site may be down for maintentance.

Yes challenging advice is the best. I don't have Ozone but do have Wavelab Elements 7. Does that count? The quantization definitely deserves more attention as does the drum programming. Both will be addressed more intensively in my new project. I don't plan on having in more cheap masters done, I've found that alot times they don't share the vision for the track. In one render, the dude put an electric piano in place of the Yamaha-yuck!!

This one was neither mixed nor mastered by me. But as I said earlier, I'm gonna see what I can do with this aspect of it in the future, all with a little help of course. ;)

I will make a thread for the new song when it's ready, right now only have 30 seconds or so down in Cubase, but the rest is in my head.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:16 am

try a demo of ozone 5 and you'll realize...Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Jonathan5456 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 9:24 am

Changing instruments or anything in the mix is not what a mastering engineer does:- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audio_mastering

Unless I were specifically collaborating on a track I'd never let someone else make decisions on the mix and neither should you, as you said it's your vision and creativity.

I like Ozone 5 because there's too much stuff involved in mastering to really sit down and learn it, not when composition is your main goal anyway. The presets are good starting points and tweaking from there per specific project is easy and good enough. If I were gonna release an album I'd most likely pay a professional to master the album as a whole so each track matches for a unified album sound.
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Bane » Sat Feb 02, 2013 3:58 pm

Isn't iZotope's Alloy for mixing and Ozone for mastering? What are your thoughts on Toontrack's EZMix 2? Aren't the Cubase EQ/effect presets good enough? :)
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby shadowfax » Sat Feb 02, 2013 4:41 pm

Izotope alloy is a channel strip..the beauty of ozone 5 is the presets for mastering..just select the pre set you want and it's more or less mastered..I've got ez mix and it does not compare to ozone..Kevin
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Re: Piano Rock Song-Need Feedback Please!

Postby Jonathan5456 » Sat Feb 02, 2013 7:04 pm

I'm not sure what your definition of mixing is Bane. For myself and many others mixing is the whole compositional process from beginning to writing/recording the idea into the DAW right up until you export as a wav file ready to be mastered. At which point nothing in the mix would change since mastering is post-mix.

I run Cubase Artist, and before that Elements neither of which feature a Maximizer, the last step in the mastering chain. So I couldn't master in Cubase myself. You'll have to Google/Youtube for some review comparisons in addition to Kevin's recommendation of the product.

The presets in Ozone really are great though, selecting a genre specific gets near enough the right kind of sound. I haven't done other styles for a while but for my orchestral pieces I have some subtle EQ, a very low amount of reverb that can barely be heard because the other recording hall reverbs have to be on during the mix/recording, some subtle harmonic excitation, some compression, subtle stereo thing and finally maximizer to pump the volume up.

As I've suggested before, even just reading the introduction of the manual and the brief descriptions of what each part does will give you the best idea if you want to invest in the product or not. The manual is available free from their website and as they say in it even if you don't buy the product the manual contains general mastering information that is beneficial. Along with QL Spaces reverb it's one of the best products I've invested in.
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