Work in progress - would love feedback on what is right and what is wrong

Genre: Orchestral pop

Track description: This project started with my taking a guitar part I wrote about 15 years ago and using it for the harp

I then created the strings around it, added flutes, horns, trumpets, trombone, pipe organ and drums (and even a vocal in a couple of spots)

There is no reverb, EQ, compression or any other effects on the tracks

There is also no MIDI CC automation

My creative vision: I actually never have a creative vision when I write - I guess my writing can be categorized under the philosophy of ‘absolute music’

Composition overview:

Key: F# Major
BPM: 120
Time sig: 4/4 to 8/4 back to 4/4

Main sounds:

Drums: Logic Pro SoCal Drums
Pipe Organ: Royal Albert Hall (default patch)
Vocals: Gothic Sister
Harp: BBCSO Pro
Strings: BBCSO Pro
Flutes: BBCSO Pro
Horns: BBCSO Pro
Trumpets: BBCSO Pro
Trombones: BBCSO Pro

I am very much a newbie at this so I am sure I am doing tons of things improperly so would appreciate any comments/criticisms on this work in progress

Thank you and be well

With brass:

Without brass:

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Hi Douglas,
First- I’m really intrigued where you go with this, as I love the potential that exists in an orchestral pop setting. The combination of rhythm section with strings and horns creates so many possibilities, so can’t wait to hear what’s in store with this song!
As far as some comments, I have a few, with the preface being that music is personal and subjective, so take what you like and leave the rest!
First- I know it’s a work in progress, but I hope you will be adding electric bass. For my ears it’s really needed, given the modern and punch sound of the drums (and kick drum in particular).
Second- Not sure I’m following what’s happening in the horn harmony between trumpet and trombone. Seems like possibly the trombone is not on the correct notes. Maybe try A#-G#? Also, the horns seem a little legato versus the drums. Maybe increase the velocity and/or shorten the notes (might be an adjustment to the articulation selected; I’m not familiar with BBCSO).
Third- the drums are punchy and up-front, and dry, while in comparison the orchestra is pretty awash in reverb, very wet, and mostly very smooth legatos. Maybe try to find someplace in the middle they can meet, so they sound a little more in the same space? Give the strings a little more oomph/energy, and cut back on the reverb, and add a bit of reverb to the drums.
The drums sound great; nice programming; but for me they don’t quite sound like they’re playing the same song in the beginning, which may have to do with the arrangement not being complete. In the second half, they sound more in the pocket and meshing with the strings.
I hope my comments are helpful, or at least provide food for thought. Can’t wait to hear more! :^)


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Steven - thank you so much for taking the time to listen and comment

I actually removed the horns as I also felt something was off about them and working on replacing them

I was hoping someone would mention electric bass as, being I am new to orchestral music, I was wondering whether I should include an electric bass considering there is a Contrabass in the strings section - I will be adding one in

Re: reverb - I have no reverb on any tracks except what Logic loaded in with the SoCal drum software instrument - everything else is completely dry - no reverb, no compression, no EQ, no additional effects at all and the reverb in BBCSO Pro is completely off

Re: when I start composing I usually do a quick drum track as a placeholder ( I am still trying to learn how to program orchestral drums so the drums are definitely a work in progress)

I am wondering now why it sounds so awash in reverb when I don’t have any in there - hmmmm

I rearranged it a bit and added a short section - thoughts?

I think you’ve got the workings of a cool piece.
For me, once I figure out what the main groove is, and what the main melody or chord progression is, everything else seems to flow naturally out of it. To me it sounds like you’re in the middle of that journey. I think once you get those elements settled, the rest will come pretty easily. Looking forward to hearing more!


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Does the transition new section at the end sound disjointed?

I don’t think it does. I like what you’re starting with, but I’m assuming the section isn’t complete yet?

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Yes not complete yet at all - was just getting an idea down

I like this piece. You’ve got a nice mix of instruments and style here. You did some extra mixing between the original and this updated one that really helped it a lot. After listing to the first version, my main comment was going to be that a little level adjustment getting the instruments down to more realistic relative levels would go a long way. But it sounds like you did a lot of that in your updated mix. I’ll second what Steven said about electric bass. I think the only thing it needs, besides finishing the arrangement, is a melody.

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I was thinking about the reverb issue. My guess is that the samples themselves have a fair amount of the room in them, creating a natural reverb which you obviously can’t remove. I’ve heard that criticism of a number of orchestral samples, that there’s too much room to get a really dry sound. I use cinesymphony lite by cinesamples, and there’s a fair amount of room reverb in them, so I pretty much always turn the reverb off.
I don’t think it’s necessarily an issue here, as long as you do what you can to give the strings some presence, and to give the drums just enough reverb so that they and the orchestra sound cohesive.


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Mike - thank you. I started trying to add to the project and ended up creating something new so, once again, I have a plethora of unfinished projects of 30 seconds or less each - I am trying to look at all these unfinished projects to determine if pieces of each might fit together - I should just release an album of “intros” lol

I usually trust he reverb off of everything as I am not a mix engineer (same with EQ and compression) so, when I post something, it is always just “raw”

Ha! An album of intros. You could call it “In A World Where…” and that’s it.


Very cool! Like it a lot and think the horns add some nice color in the first rendition. Perhaps find a way to syncopate them with the Drums? That would punch them up some. Another idea is to sync (Option-Shift & drag) the Strings to a piano part, one octave lower would give them a bit more anchor (along with a cool electric bass line). I just picked up NI’s Session Bassist (Prime Bass) and it is super fun to craft with.

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I’ve never heard of Option+Shift Drag

ok - just looked that up - it creates an “alias”

So you recommendation is to add a piano? I have the Royal Albert Hall playing triads plus bass pedal – you think piano an octave lower than V1 would work? I will try it :slight_smile: