How to write Sad music - Episode 2 (orchestration and automation)

Hey everyone.

Super excited to bring you the second episode in this series. I’ve taken on board all the advice you guys gave me too which was so helpful, thank you. I’m getting a bit more confident on the screen too, so we are slowly starting to see my sense of humour come through (I hope) ;D

Here it is! I hope that it helps you!

The next will hopefully be out on Sunday afternoon!


Still confused a bit about panning; are the libraries you’re using here not pre-panned or are you panning them in addition to the pre-panned sound for added realism? My main libraries (Areia, Nucleus, CSS) are all recored in natural seating position and pre-panned to the audience POV, but my mastering tool, Expose, almost always tells me that the stereo field is unbalanced.


I’m panning in addition. Because I’m mixing my strings and other instruments to supplement tge frequencies they don’t have I can get away with re panning the dry libraries as I’m adding it back with The additional library.

If you imagine the stereo field sounding like the letter “v”. What I’m doing is simply widening the stereo field. Does that help? :slight_smile:


I’d also say that I wouldn’t completely rely on your mastering tool to do the work for you. Your best tool in mixing and mastering are your ears. If it sounds right then it probably is right. The thing about mastering tools are they can be biased to low frequency information.

This is simply because low frequencies need more energy than other frequencies in the spectrum. This is because the wave forms cycle is much bigger. Where a typical high frequency would cycle several hundreds of times in a small room, a bass frequency wouldn’t even finish a third of its cycle.

This is generally why I’d ALWAYS opt to listen with my ears, rather than just rely on a plugin, as they don’t always do a good job of it… plus we learn more when we are trying to make the decisions. :slight_smile:

You simply do this by dragging in a track in the same genre to reference. Solo that track every so often when mixing to see if you are going off on a tangent. This then resets your ears and gives you a firm reference point to mix from. After this, mastering becomes much easier.

Even if you used this technique and only used high end low pass filters to get the track into the right area it would still sound much better than a plugin could ever get you.

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OK. That makes sense. I trust my ears, but of course, even when centered the violins are to the left, violas mid, celli and bass to the right, so I figured if you pan any more, it’d sound unnatural, or rather too wide. My orchestration tutor once told me to take the pre-panned mix and pan them the opposite direction (violins to the RIGHT, celli, bass to the LEFT) and this would help create a wider, fuller stereo field, but it never worked for me.

BTW, I am going back to a bunch of my older, unfinished tracks using some of the tips you’ve given me (and changing my strings to Areia) and things are def sounding clearer. I gotta say Areia is totally killing CSS for me right now. Now I want to see how their Nucleus full orchestral library compares to something like BBCSO.

Looking forward to the next vid!

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Yeah you just need to work towards what you know. It sounds like the library you use does the work for you, where studio strings which I chose to use here is much more centered. There is a bit of panning but I chose to push it out a little more. :slight_smile:

That’s really really great that my tips are helping! Well done Matt! You’ll be writing blockbuster tracks in no time! :stuck_out_tongue:

I don’t have any of those libraries so I’m super excited to hear them.

The next video will be out Sunday evening so you’ll see my mixing process for this track in that video :smiley: you’ll realise how little I actually do in this scenario :stuck_out_tongue:

An then on Wednesday I’ll be uploading a Q&A with Composer Sam Griffiths which will be really fun!

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Well then, looks like my Sunday is booked! Yeah, I did my sad music thingy with Areia–beautiful sounding IMO. I never got that kind of result with CSS (I harmonized the violas with Violin Swells from the intro to the mid point–really adds some definition!!!) Really appreciate it!

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Ah thank you, that is great to hear. I’m so glad you find it helps!