Commentary about each music track (as promised)

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EvilDragon
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Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Thu May 14, 2009 5:54 am

I have listened every track with headphones, so that I can hear as much details as possible.

Afternoon - sounds nice, except those slides on oboe could be done more realistic, meaning that oboe doesn't really do slides, it does glissandi (each note is heard between the starting and ending point, so it's not a continuous pitch shift). Piano is not doing a great deal of stuff here, so it may or may not be replaced with a Pianoteq 3 render. Harp could be done more realistic, with more dynamic involved. Looping could be done better.

Ah Eh I Oh You - this track is quieter than others. Some better mixing and normalizing is abound. For example, the pizzicato strings are louder than the bass guitar, which is quieter than even the drums. Bass and drums should be prominent here. Also, violin spiccato could be done a liiiitle bit better. There is a too much of a contrast between the sound of orchestral string pizzicato (the whole section), and the solo violin spiccato (one instrument), the difference in reverb is too much, meaning that violin should be put in the same "space" as string section pizzicato. That being said, drums and bass are also too dry, having no reverb at all.

Air Guitar - this is a beautifully composed track, it's just too bad that the guitar itself sounds so unrealistic, no dynamics at all, plus, the hammer-ons sound so incredibly fake (not connected at all). A better-sampled guitar here is imminent, or even recording of a real one. The whole piece doesn't sound too hard to learn. Also, the background seashore noise could have been better looped, there are clear breaks heard - it should have been crossfaded instead of just cut and retriggered. I would make those waves continuous throughout the song, with small but obvious volume swells. Guitar also needs some reverb. The end is too abrupt maybe, the last note could have hanged in there for a little while more.

Another Day - strange clicking throughout this whole track! This must be remedied! The instruments themselfes sound fairly good, just normalize the track to raise it up in the range of perceived loudness as the other tracks. There's also some humanization regarding orchestral dynamics needed as well, including better phrasing of musical lines, otherwise it sounds pretty flat. The last note before the looping could have lasted a beat longer, then the loop could chime in.

Cold Iron - this definitely needs a Pianoteq render. Piano is nice here, just needs a better and livelier sound. IMHO synth string sound is maybe a bit louder than it needs to be here. I would also use a bit better sound than this one. The end is cut unnaturally, regarding piano, and it's too obvious.

Concord - as above, a Pianoteq render is needed. Cello needs more articulation (vibrato and stuff, sounds pretty dull). I would also spread the instruments around the panorama quite a bit, especially when the cellos multiply in the second part. Pizzicato section clips the track and it sounds bad (clicking sounds). This needs a remaster as well, then, because obviously a limiter or something like that wasn't used, otherwise pizzicato wouldn't clip. The long cello notes here sound duuuuuulll.

Daylight - guitar -_- needs better samples, or real playing recorded somehow. The drums are nice. Bass is kind of too muffled and doesn't really have definition, sounds just like someone mumbling. The pitch bend, oh the pitch bend... it could be done way better, really.

Generic Happy Music - I LOL'd when I saw the title of this one :P Pianoteq render needed for piano. Better drum samples needed, too, especially the cymbals, the cymbal chokes sound so freaking unnatural. The string ensemble sound could be more connected, articulation-wise. This track could loop better (has way too much pause at the end).

Painful History - definitely a Pianoteq render! A really beautiful track which could be brought to life with a better sound. I like the spaciousness (reverb) here. Unfortunately, I hear some clicking here and there, mostly in the part when the string pad and tinkle bell chime in. Some piano notes are cut too abruptly instead of leaving them hang around and breathe with piano resonances. This one could also loop better, the last note is cut too short before connecting back to start.

Happiness - some clicking here, too. That must be avoided! Oboe and clarinet here needs vibrato at times. They should also be spread in panorama, because they phase out in some places, especially when they are played unisono. More panorama should be used in general. Also - track needs normalization and compression on master track.

High Tension - indeed. Too bad it sounds too plasticky to even sound tense, IMHO. Piano needs a Pianoteq render with louder dynamics. Looping is done badly and some clicks are obviously heard. This can sound awesome when done with EWQLSO Gold.

Lullaby of Open Eyes - another Pianoteq render. I would never pan the piano with such spread, also it's spread inversed (right hand is on left side, and vice versa, when it should be the other way around). I would pan the piano closer to the center (somewhere around 40%). The voice-like synth pad sounds abruptly cut with another note at one or two places, this should be remedied.

Moment of Decision - piano sounds really bad here, especially in fast runs. Almost like a toy :/ Like it's compressed too much. In fact the whole track sounds a bit overcompressed, and this can clearly be heard when drums enter. Also, clipping occurs at some points, and that must be avoided at all costs. Too much high end here in the drum section, needs some filtering so that it doesn't sound so piercing. Looping should be done better.

Nocturne - again, better piano here needed :) Drums are OK, I would just tame that kick drum a bit. Also, track normalization imminent. Guitar here is... just wrong. Either using different sound, or recording a real guitar is needed, because those slides just don't really work that way in the real world.

Out of the Loop - hehe, better Hammond organ here is needed, something like NI B4-II or GSi VB3. There are some clippings in the right channel, basically because the instruments are too much spread on each side and there's little in the center. Bad thing, needs better panning accross all instruments, plus a limiter on master track so that it doesn't clip and distort. Otherwise a very cheerful track :)

Parity - Another Pianoteq must-render! Although piano is secondary here. I would add a touch of reverb to the drums too. Violin needs real spicatto samples here as well. Maybe adding a bass guitar here could also work. I love that marimba there, it just needs better samples. Also, I don't understand why is a spicatto violin mixed with the normal legato violin. At least they could be spread in the panorama a little. Or the legato violin could've been swapped with a different sound.

Passing of Time - I would bring the harp a bit closer to the center (something like 50% right) of the panorama, same goes for tinkle bell in the left channel. I would perhaps add some kind of phasing pad in the center to fill in the lower frequency range, but that's just the atmospheric side of me speaking.

Raindrops and Puddles - again, there's some work for Pianoteq here. Flute needs better articulations, too. Also, normalizing the track needed. Otherwise a really nice track!

Rain - I loved this one. There's just one thing that sounds too wrong - the piano "delay" is done by repeating the same chords with quieter dynamics, instead of with a real tempo delay effect, which would sound infinitely better. Otherwise, apart from the needed normalization, I have nothing else to say about this one, it's really nice.

Romance in Andante - ahhh, Chopin influences abound. Really good composing, but the piano really needs Pianoteq here. It sounds too swamped in reverb, there's also a low frequency hiss present which really disturbs my ear. Seems like a real piano was recorded here, so the microphone was used and it introduced hiss. Too bad the track is too short!!! There are two options here - rerecord it with Pianoteq, or leave it as it is, but add gramophone cracklings, so it sounds really lo-fi and ancient. Gramophone crackles go real well with the microphone hiss!

School Days - guitar again -_- strumming is quite hard to do on a computer, instead of recording a real guitar. I'm hearing clicks in the left channel at some points, dunno if that was intentional or not. Kick drum should NEVER be panned to the left! Other than that, track needs normalization.

Shadow of the Truth - again sounds like a real piano recording with lower quality microphone, or bad mic placement. Definitely needs a Pianoteq render. Strings also sound too mechanic (and at places bad overlapping of two same string sounds) and need more articulation. Flute sounds too dry here, needs reverb and more articulation. Cymbals are WAY TOO LOUD here, and percussion in general needs better samples. Woodwinds here sound the best, with some actual vibrato happening. Clippings occur when the drums enter. The strings are too freaking loud when they enter closer to the end. Kind of a bad choice of loop point.

Standing Tall - again, clicking in the left channel. Guitar strums are again too plasticky. I like the vibraphone :) Track normalization needed. Otherwise a fun track, being in 9/8 meter.

Aria de l'etoile - Piano sounds ridiculous up that high :/ I would use a different sound IMHO instead of transposing piano that high and getting slight aliasing effects. Generally, this is another track that calls for Pianoteq. Also, track normalization needed.

Stride - a little better recording of real piano, although still a bit on the lo-fi side. Definitely a Pianoteq thing. Guitar slides again sound horrendous ^^' Bass needs a little more presence (or is that a Rhodes?). Percussion could be a bit richer. Normalization. The loop here is done well.

The Student Council - Clicking abound the whole track!! This mustn't happen. Otherwise a nice track which would need just a slight bit of phrasing regarding the string melodies. Also, panning of the strings could be spread a little. Normalization. Better guitar strumming if possible.

Wiosna - phew, the last track :) Pianoteq would be pleased to do some work here again. Guitar would also like to sound better, complete with realistic slides. It even has one out of tune note occuring every now and then :/ Track normalization needed again.


Well, that would be it.

TL;DR - there's a lot work still to be done to match the music sound quality closer to the artwork drawing quality and story writing quality.

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mallory
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by mallory » Thu May 14, 2009 6:08 am

Yes yes, everything needs pianoteq... we get it.

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EvilDragon
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Thu May 14, 2009 10:18 am

There are also a lot of other points to get, aside from that one... :mrgreen:

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Cirno
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Cirno » Thu May 14, 2009 6:54 pm

I'm no authority on this by any means, but if you want to honestly get started on remastering the soundtrack it seems like you should probably be contacting the dev team directly about officially joining it in that capacity. I don't know how long those negotiations would take (or if they even want to deal with that right now), but I think the soundtrack would definitely benefit from your efforts if they did take you on.

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Nintendo Maniac 64 » Thu May 14, 2009 8:35 pm

About the inequality of volume, wouldn't it be better to use something like replaygain instead, seeing that normalization doesn't always give equal results? Since Ren'Py doesn't support replaygain natively (I think), the only way to have this work would be to apply replaygain to a lossless source like PCM WAV or wang, then convert those to OGG Vorbis using a replaygain-enabled audio converter/editor (such as audacity)
Last edited by Nintendo Maniac 64 on Thu May 14, 2009 9:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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EvilDragon
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Thu May 14, 2009 8:39 pm

Nintendo Maniac 64 wrote:About the inequality of volume, wouldn't it be better to use something like replaygain instead, seeing that normalization doesn't always give equal results?
Ideally, I would put a carefully tweaked multiband compressor and a limiter as the master FX on each OST track, instead of normalizing. ReplayGain isn't a really good solution.

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Nintendo Maniac 64 » Thu May 14, 2009 9:26 pm

Why not? Compression just weakens the dynamics.
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Fri May 15, 2009 4:43 am

Nintendo Maniac 64 wrote:Why not? Compression just weakens the dynamics.
Not if you set it right (low compression ratio). Also, none of the tracks here exert that big a dynamic difference between pianissimo and fortissimo (for example), that compressor would kill. I could bring each track to about equal percieved output level, add more punch, and generally clearer sound, just by using multiband compression and careful limiting. It's called mastering the track, and that's not something that replaygain does.

The primary function of compressor is reducing dynamics, right. But it has also different functions depending on the use. It doesn't have to "squash" dynamics, at all.

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Nintendo Maniac 64 » Fri May 15, 2009 3:02 pm

Oh, you mean THAT kind of compression, not none of this "loudness war hard-limiting" crap. Made me worried there for a sec! :P Thanks for the clarification.

...still though, replaygain WOULD be easier and quicker :P (if time is of importance that is)
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Fri May 15, 2009 3:06 pm

Yeah, I'm against that loudness war stuff, although I mainly listen to metal music where that stuff is all over. But there are some gems of bands who don't overuse compression. For example, Pain Of Salvation.

Lately I'm more into instrumental and ambiental music, where things don't need to go overboard just for the sake of it.


Also, getting the mix right doesn't really need to take an awful lot of time. But, there are a lot of tracks in the OST, and that's what generally takes some time, to get all tracks to sound alike, to maintain the same feel, an "album-feel" to it. I believe I can be of at least some help to 4LS. And, when production is in question, you're never good enough, so more practice makes perfect.

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Teclo » Wed May 20, 2009 11:14 pm

The thing is, music is a lot more open to interpretation that artwork in terms of realising the quality of it. One may not like a certain painting, but they can see if it's at least realistic or not - though of course, that may not be the point of it. Painting only approaches music's opinion-splitting nature when it gets more abstract. Most people would look at a classical painting and think "Damn, that looks like a photo. It's amazing!", fewer could be relied on to look at most Van Gogh and agree with each other and barely anyone would agree on what to make of really basic modern painting like that one called something like "Russian peasant woman works the fields" which is literally just a red square. With pretty much all music, peoples' opinions vary wildly. What may be one man's bread and butter will be a fucking joke to another man.

Anyway, I was originally just going to say: Listen to the music you get in the nurse's office. There's a fairly subtle little sequence of just 10 notes in the background at some points that seem to be taken directly from that song, "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more". Really, go and listen to it. I wonder if this is intentional.
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EvilDragon
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by EvilDragon » Thu May 21, 2009 6:27 am

Teclo wrote: Anyway, I was originally just going to say: Listen to the music you get in the nurse's office. There's a fairly subtle little sequence of just 10 notes in the background at some points that seem to be taken directly from that song, "Baby don't hurt me, don't hurt me, no more". Really, go and listen to it. I wonder if this is intentional.
I'm not in the same country as you are, they don't play any music here at nurse's offices :(


I don't know if I'm missing the point of your whole post. I'm not saying that compositions should be rewritten (changed notes), all I'm saying that the sound quality of all the notes that ARE already played, can sound MUCH better, and with more life.

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Painiac » Thu May 21, 2009 6:51 am

I'm pretty sure that he means music in game, in nurse office. <went check what track he had on mind> It's probably Ah Eh I Oh You.
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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by Free the Bee » Thu May 21, 2009 7:16 am

Whenever I try to critique music, I always think of my girlfriend, a professional musician, and how she'd be doing it much better because she, y'know, knows what she's talking about...

My main comment is just that I really like Parity. Very late period Beatles-y and it fits Rin's personality very well. Also, I... uh... actually really like the pitch-blend-whatever-it-is in Daylight. It's the highlight of the whole thing for me. That said, my username is a Melt Banana song, so that should indicate a higher-than-usual tolerance of discordant noises on my part...

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Re: Commentary about each music track (as promised)

Post by The Chemist » Thu May 21, 2009 5:57 pm

You all mustn't have played too terribly many VNs. The music is always sub par, by most standards.

Other than sample sounds, the music in this is 80 times better than most.
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