How to you keep your compositions...ehm...simpler?

Any Tips on Forcing your Compositions to use LESS parts? :stuck_out_tongue:

I have a big orchestral template, and for some reason, I often fall for the trap of adding more layers and parts to my music compositions just because…well…all those empty tracks begging me to lol.

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Write better parts. :wink:

The problem with that (apart from the writing itself), in the context of virtual instruments, is realism. Naked solo instruments are particularly unforgiving, and it doesn’t take much for even an untrained ear to pick up that something isn’t quite right.

It’s good exercise to write “simple” pieces (like piano + one or two solo instruments), but it can be a bit frustrating to maintain a balance between what you have in mind, and what your instruments are capable of rendering realistically.

I suppose that’s less of a problem if you intend to have it recorded with real instruments later, but then you need to be familiar enough with the instruments to “hear” what it will sound like, even if the placeholder virtual instruments can’t keep up.

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Seriously, the biggest problem for me is seeing those empty tracks that are “unused” lol :stuck_out_tongue:

I know I would have an easier time if I started with a clean project, but I just love having every instrument loaded in my template.

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Well, my solution for that is to not use templates. :wink: I’m not really a fan of templates anyway, as they only save time if they actually contain the very instruments you planned on using - and since there’s (still) no full orchestral library set that covers all styles and articulations perfectly, I end up using different combinations of libraries for every project.

(Though with the improved import feature of Cubase 10.5, I can just pick instruments, sections etc from multiple projects/templates, with effects, mixer routings and all, so there’s no need to have countless templates to cover all viable combinations of libraries.)

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I think I am (at least for now) a lost cause for creating templates, so I always start from scratch, and I (so far) enjoy adding the instruments one after the other. Truth is that it takes a lot of time, especially setting up the instruments every time, but it automatically makes me to keep it simple and a little bit unique everytime.

So if you want to still save time with templates, just create some simple orchestral templates and some complex ones? Or just decide on the instruments once you open the template and remove those that might beg you to complicate things :stuck_out_tongue:

Or as David says, don’t use templates at all :smiley:

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Thanks Mia, I also use template for mixing purposes. I might try a new approach to have like a “folder” of instruments at the bottom, or in another project, and just drag them in as necessary. Perhaps that can work better for me. :slight_smile:

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On the matter of templates, I’ve noticed that some experienced composers seem to be moving away from them recently - and I can see why, and I can also see why they were using them in the first place.

I never saw much need for templates myself, but I’ve also never had to run massive orchestral templates across multiple slaves, or bounce/freeze all tracks I’m not actively working on.

My current machine will leisurely runs a full orchestra (though 64 GB of RAM is a bit tight at times), and I don’t think I have any project that takes more than half a minute to load in full. Browsing instruments (in case I don’t already know what I want to use) is perfectly viable as well. So, the only real time savings with templates would be not having to create, name, and route tracks, set up reverb, sidechain compression and whatnot, but such operations only take me a few seconds anyway. (Unless it’s actual sound design, in which case it’s project specific anyway, so not much use for templates there either.)

But yeah… Since I can now do modular templates with Cubase, I can finally save a few minutes per project by not having to set up my typical 10 track Spitfire strings section with 1st chairs for (almost) every project, so I guess I might look into that. :slight_smile:

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Here, i’m not using any template !^^ i usually add instruments as i go to achieve the idea i have in mind ! if after using 5, 6… instruments, i’m happy with the track i leave it like that ! my goal here is to make music that just sounds good! even if that’s mean composing with only 1 or 2 instruments ! ^^

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How do you load them? Browsing in Kontakt? I find that searching and loading instruments is so boring, but I can see why the big template is also hindering me sometimes.

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A step to less tracks or to use instruments is probably the only way to know what you want to compose. The clear idea of a goal.

The question is whether the composition already exists as a sketch or only with the work on Daw arises and the ideas gradually patter down. The result is a giant.

Sometimes it is good to have multiple templates for different genres. There is also an orchestra in the real world of different sizes: a classical orchestra, a romantic orchestra, a modern orchestra.

Sometimes it is good to put together your tonal preferences (the instrument selection). So you learn to compose within certain limits.

Greetings
Klaus Ferretti

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Thanks Klaus, good input. How do you usually start a composition yourself, let’s say an orchestral track? No template at all?

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I usally start with a template of strings and brass. All together four tracks strings and four brass tracks (horns, trumpet, low brass and Tuba) plus a piano track to develop my ideas. Ofen I use a pencil and a paper to write down my ideas, melodies or a rhythm. Then I start layering or add some instruments.
Another solution and I do not have such studio, is to use several screens and several computers, In order to see Kontakt, a notation programm and the DAW.
Greetings
Klaus Ferretti

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I use 90% east west libraries, (composer cloud on an HD) and have an 84 ch template ready to go, both LPX and pro tools. The key is to save the template only after you hide ALL the tracks. When the muse strikes, you open only the instrument needed. Melody is usually king to me, so once that is established add enough to support it and then stop. Unless I am seeking an unnatural poke in the head I rarely let the visual screen influence the invisible sound. Then before mix mute everything but the original melody. Then only add what’s needed, arranging sections to taste. Having everything ready but hidden is essential to maintaining creative speed and keeping tech to a minimum during composition.

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Yeah! i load them by browsing in kontakt ! the thing is i alreay know what i have already as instruments and what to use when needed ! ^^ so from that, i don’t have to go through all the librairies to find the instrument to load! but sometimes i try to find something that can be used as a layer !

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Hide instruments, I never thought about that. Thank you Thomas, I will try that approach. :slight_smile:

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I have a small template for the creative process… all organized in folders and everything hidden, except for Piano and Harpsichord.

I start the creative process with regions purple colored… so when I copy and paste it to other instruments… or when I play chords for the lead… or anything, while working in more than one track… I can see which region is the mother of all…

Then, just like Thomas Orsi, I start unhiding the instruments I need… and also, I use a lot my saved presets from the “Y” menu… (you understand me, Logic Pro X tip you gave me)… in my own folder…

So I force myself to not add too much layers. The main rule is: If you can make it sound cool only in one instrument -preferably plain piano, it may sound cooler even with supportive layers… -supportive- not overcrowded with many… also, just leave one instrument or two at most in its own bands… so they don’t compete.

Sometimes when I succumb and add more layers than needed, I extract them and make them new songs…

Remember: Sometimes in order to create something worthy -musically- you have to kill your own son — that I heard from Zimmer himself in a masterclass… it resonates a lot in my head, so I am cool with doing that and it has made me a happier composer :blush:

HEY!!! Incredible but Pigments 2 (Arturia) is at USD$50.00 bucks!!! go get it to add more un-needed layers hehehe

Regards and good night!

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Ah so perhaps this “hiding” technique is what I should try, as several have already commented about it being important. I use the library all the time, but still my template is way too full of tracks which is overwhelming and pushes me to keep recording parts for all those poor empty track lol.

Thanks for the input Marco, I have some new ideas for my workflow now! :slight_smile:

PS. It’s good morning from me in Sweden haha, 8am Saturday.

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As @Muluku said, you need to learn, feel and guess when the orchestration is enough. It comes only through experience, time and comparing your genre to others. For example: Ludovico Eiaudi, you could count how many notes and what kind of popular rhythm sections he usually writes in one bar, for the right hand, for the left hand. The same with orchestral music, main melody, which instruments are playing it and what supports it. The easiest way is to write with instrument group recorded at ones. If you check out Orchestral Essentials / Symphobia by ProjectSAM or Nucleus by AudioImperia or AlbionOne by Spitfire Audio you can make it really far using only pre-recorded section recordings. You are focused only on 3 to 4 sections so you have to write smart to sound simple, right? You don’t have many options on articulations and overall sound manipulation capabilities, so you are less distracted by in most cases unnecessary things, which lead you to overthink the process. We often overthink things, and that’s why we end up making more and more complicated moves, transitions and most often wrong choices in terms of what the music actually needs. We have to many options as we have all the tools and not only a few.

You want to write a more simple cue? Start with only one instrument, using only 4th and 8th notes and only 4 chords. You will realize that this is way harder to compose something simple but still amazing using only a couple of fractions of musical possiblities. But that’s how you learn to write and orchestra better. More clever. Simplicity is always less than you might think it is.
Why do we remember silly advert jingles? Because they are in most cases super easy and clear with a logical vision in mind, concentrating on a few notes, that’s what most people remember. A melodies which contains max. 5-6 notes. After the 7 we forget what happened in the beginning. I speak for the usual mass of people, not musicians primarily. Less orchestration, less to remember, so -> easier to remember and recall.

I think it makes more or less sense. Simple things are easier for our brain to scan, as we do it in real time. The more our brain processes in a short amount of time, the more we loose perspective. There is a reason why people say that using less is more. :slight_smile:

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I love the above! Just to add my take on Composing: Making soup. Seasoning, the wrong ones, to much salt or bay leaf, but with none its terrible: start with a good base…With experience, one gets ‘better’ taste (or learns to like the stronger tastes) and so on. Eventually, perhaps, one comes back around to, ‘this dish is actually best served with very few ingredients, sometimes, even just one’. It’s all good, but I tend to go nuts at first, esp if I have a new thing to make music with, then back down and season more delicately, looking for subtle nuances that are important to the ‘taste’ of the piece.
To summarize: Just because I have a rack full of spices, I do not dump them all in a bowl and expect a masterpiece to emerge…I decided to stay out of the human love metaphor…but its similar, lol

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Some simple tracks i like the most and from which i take often inspiration are those from John Dreamer… Some years ago John had a lot of success on internet with his musics, althought he was not making big tracks like those of Two steps from hell…just some simple tracks with often a melody that is played over all the track but with different instruments… and people were loving it! even now if you go on youtube to listen john dreamer music, you will see in the comment section some people that are claiming his come back…that’s where i realized simple tracks with a beautiful melody are the best… the thing is in that kind of track melody is more catchy, once someone listen that music, there is a chance the melody continue playing in his head ^^ ! and after a while that will make him go back to listen the track again and may be he would also want to show or share the track to/with his friends ^^ ! and who is the winner here ? the composer ^^ ! so let’s go simple as we can ! ^^

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