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WeeklyBeats.com / Music / ViridianLoom's music / Woodland Bosk (Part 1)

Woodland Bosk (Part 1)

By ViridianLoom on April 26, 2020 11:45 pm

This one is unfortunately a really rough submission. Not sure if this is cheating but rather than writing an entirely new song from scratch this week I decided that I wanted to work on my mixing chops by taking a song I wrote in Guitar Pro more than a year ago and try to bring it to life in reaper. I exported that midi, imported it to reaper, began assigning the instruments, recorded Guitar and Bass, and then tried mixing it all. I feel like I failed in getting this to even sound halfway decent but it is what it is. What's important to me is that I'm submitting something every week because I've been wanting to develop a better work ethic with music production/writing.

Something that's been bumming me out is that I've written like 2 or 3 albums worth of material since I was 20 (I'm 30 now) but I've never recorded any of that stuff. Whenever I TRY to record that stuff, it never comes out the way I envisioned it should sound. Something that I've been enjoying about Weeklybeats is that I don't have time to become sentimental about a song and idealize how it should sound in my head.

I was really hoping with this submission that since I haven't heard this song in a long time that I could come at it with a fresh pair of ears and mix it proper. This might have been a hard to practice in. This song begins with an ostinato on double bass, its meant to grab your attention at the start and as more of the song gives way it should fall behind everything else. It's presence should be shift from being noticed to being felt. A guitar solo is introduced that leads into a clarinet. At the end of the solo, the guitar takes a step back playing longer, open notes to give other instruments room for their pieces. Clarinet melody leads to a trumpet. Halfway through the trumpet melody the piano motif gets its introduction. Halfway through the piano the electric bass is introduced and SHOULD bring the low end to life at this point. My complete lack of knowledge on how to mix and balance such a wide array of instruments, especially when I'm trying to tell some kind of musical story, made this incredibly challenging and I'm frustrated that I couldn't even get this thing in the ballpark.

On top of all that, my old nemesis, midi drums, reared its ugly head. The drums don't sound great and its not necessarily a product of bad EQ as much as it is me being bad at setting the velocities on the samples and also not understanding how to make cymbals/hats sound natural.

As you can see, this is labeled as Part 1. Part 2 isn't coming any time soon. Even though the second half of the song is complete, its more of a prog-rock thing in the vein of The Contortionist mixed with some Mr. Bungle weirdness. Aesthetically it's a completely different feeling which would require a different approach to mixing and I couldn't even wrap my head around the first half.

So yeah, super long post on this song. If anyone has ANY advice or guidance on how I can better produce this song it would be much appreciated.

This submission is licensed by author under CC Attribution Noncommercial No Derivative Works (BY-NC-ND)

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April 27, 2020 12:05 am

I think I hear the bass clipping at the 2 minute mark, but other than that the mix is alright. I really like that ending, it feels cheeky.

April 27, 2020 1:29 am

I like the blend of electric guitar and more cinematic orchestral elements! You've got some interesting moments of unison between the two in there. If anything, you could probably brush up the track by stripping away some of the material. There's a lot going on at points, and it feels like the different instruments would sing more clearly if they grouped up on the same melody. Take that with a grain of salt, though. (And I agree with Devieus about that ending, it works very well!)

April 27, 2020 1:42 am

I like the arrangement! For the mixing (take with a grain of salt): try cutting the reverb on your double bass, or at least high pass it. I think that's contributing a lot of the mud in your mix. With so many instruments, I'd also check to see if any of them are fighting with each other (what is playing in the same octave at any given point in your arrangement?)

Mixing is tough but you'll get there! Just keep practicing smile

April 27, 2020 5:14 pm

Props for putting together a really strong, jazzy arrangement. It all sounds really good once all the instruments get into full swing.  I don't really notice deficiencies in the drums, but definitely stronger as the piece gains momentum. Love the doubled melodies on guitar with other instruments and the interplay of the brass.  You have some really good work here, just keep mixing and recording and get the material out.  That's the best way to improve.  I have learned a lot by listening to the wide variety of musicians on WB as well. 

Other thoughts, work environment (dedicated space), proper head phones, and monitors are important if you can get 'em smile In general, I find getting bass frequencies under control are a challenge to focus on.  Sloppy bass can impact the rest of the mix (I'm a text book example). Anyway, that's my two cents. I really enjoyed listening to your comp!

April 27, 2020 11:42 pm

I think you could cut out more low end overall. That double bass does seem like is giving you a lot of problems, I'd cut the low end on that for sure, or even hand off that riff to another instrument. There is also a few noodly parts with the piano and the oboe, almost like they are fighting for attention, I'd probably do a lot of editing out stuff and focusing on a few main elements at any given time, that will help open it up a bit. This track kind of reminds me a bit of Tortoise TNT, one of my fav albums! I'd give that a listen for some mastering inspiration!

April 30, 2020 1:29 am

I have to say, I am really impressed with this composition and production - I'd love to learn how to do virtual orchestral like this!!!

April 30, 2020 1:30 am

downloaded and favorited!!

May 1, 2020 6:10 pm

This is really cool, it's a great mix of free-flowing melodies and great rhythmic ideas. I empathize with the mixing struggle a lot lol. The hardest mixes develop your ear the most though so it's time very well spent.

Mission Crossing wrote:

try cutting the reverb on your double bass, or at least high pass it. I think that's contributing a lot of the mud in your mix.

This 100%. The low end is sacred space, make sure you highpass absolutely everything, and keep a sharp eye on the reverb tail and low cut.
The bass also varies quite a bit in volume, it could do with some compression to keep it under control. It has a pretty long booming release that's overpowering in the mix, which should probably be faded out for more control. The long release also takes away a lot of rhythm from the track by making the rhythmic ideas less obvious.

As other people mentioned the instruments are often competing for the same frequency space, and it's not entirely clear what's supposed to be the main focus. At 01:10 they feel like they're playing their own distinct melodic lines simultaneously rather than supporting each other.  The instruments could also be arranged to emphasize the rhythmic motifs a little more clearly. The section starting at 0:48 does this pretty well, but the long release on the bass hurts the motion, making it less clear what's happening.

I hope that helps a bit and made sense. A lot of the issues can be solved by highpassing and getting the bass under control. This is a great piece though, it's really fun to listen to and I really like the ideas in here. Good luck with it!

May 5, 2020 4:35 am

This is really cool, reminds me of Tortoise too. I miss that band...

August 12, 2020 10:48 am

the first minute would also make a great surf instrumental

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