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  • Cinematic and Natural Orchestra #2

    Hi all,

    I've updated my song "galactic swashbuckler", and was hoping to hear some opinions and feedback.  Its mostly complete up until around 4:20 (except I have not yet added any velocity crossfading).   After 4:20, its sketchy and incomplete.">

    Also, in light of the recent discussion on motifs/thematic music, I'd like to point out that I did try to compose it with several motifs/themes in mind.  =)   Eventually I might try to extend this into a 20-30 minute "mock soundtrack", and this track would be the opening credits overture.



  • This is shaping up really nicely.

    I also listened to much of the rest of the music you posted to your site. While not everything I heard is exctly my cup of tea, I am mainly impressed!

  • Thanks for the comments =)

  •  Sounds like John Williams (StarWars). Nice. It almost sounds like you had the soundtrak playing when you wrote this. Very good though

  • Hi all,

    A couple of trusted musician friends told me that my brass sounds like its "stuck in a tube".  Can anyone here suggest what they mean by that?  The link I gave above has the latest version.

    Thanks to everyone who's taken the time to listen.   I was definitely trying to imitate John Williams... it was a profound learning experience, but mostly this made it obvious how much more analysis I need to do to improve... =)


  • To me it sounds like a mockbination of John Williams and Alan Silvestri during the fast section. But why even try to imitate to such an extent where it becomes the point of the piece that the audience identifies that influence. I so much preferred the lyrical second part/theme after the transition; in fact I found it first class! Most people today could not do this kind of lyricism; a couple of more drafts of orchestration and proper production and this musically beats most everything I hear in composeurs' websites these days. HOWEVER, if I wasn't typing this while listening, I would have turned it off and would have missed it.... Unless you are doing this (I'm referring to the 1st part now) just for fun or for educational purposes (in that case write something Prokofiev-like, at least there you'll be going to the source), I don't see any point to it. Focus on SHAWN music, it's so much more interesting than bad Williams.

  • Errikos you have really good points....

    Another perspective is to appeal to what employers may look for in a composer's skillset.  Showing the ability to sound like John Williams from the 80's would be a good demo on such a portfolio (among other important demos, too, some things are original, some aren't)  So this definitely was for my own learning, as well as developing a portfolio.

    About Prokofiev... The scattered fast runs in the strings and winds, starting around 5:25... was actually my attempt to imitate directly Prokofiev's symphony 5 scherzo climax. =)


  • Shawn, I mean the following with the best possible intentions. Employers may (and it's a big 'may') be impressed by someone showing the ability to sound like John Williams from the '80s IF that actually is so... Are you that person? If you think so then read no further, it won't apply to you.

    I however don't know one composer that sounds like the man during his '80s scores; I know one too many that sound like Williams would have sounded during his puberty when he first put ink on a manuscript. Do you think potential employers would be impressed with that? Perhaps... but not too many as is evident from the available soundtracks; and how big do you think the competition would be for these few contracts... One thing has been certain so far. Not one Williams imitator has come close to what he can do in my opinion (don't just listen to the main titles tracks, try the dramatic sections!), and certainly no one has broken into the big contracts and sounds like Williams to my knowledge.. Like Horner yes, like Thomas Newman yes, like Elfman somewhat enough, like Zimmer certainly... Perhaps these composers would be more lucrative to emulate? The market seems a lot bigger for that and they are much easier to approximate... 

  • I apologize if I somehow sounded egotistical, but I didnt mean to claim that I already sound like John Williams.  Of course "Having the Williams sound" should not be anyone's entire aspiration or marketing gimmick... this song is by no means the only song in my portfolio, and Williams is by no means the only composer I will try to imitate and learn from.  In this particular case, I think we're already in agreement.  Maybe it didn't seem that way because of what I wrote earlier, but no matter.

  • nothing wrong with trying to imitate. That is how you learn. I thought it was quite good. The mix and phrasing was pretty bad but I can imagine a real orchestra playing and I can't fault you for that. I did however find the orchestration a little weird at points. I found the voice leading awkward at some junctions and the brass fanfare , and this is just my opinion, is sort of something you unleash for a bit. I think you could of done more with the strings and winds and introduced the brass when you need that extra punch. I think you captured a style quite well but there are some technical things that sort of make it sound not quite right. mostly the orchestration. I find that for this type of sound, you really need to orchestrate quite thickly. I think Elgar would be a great composer to look at for this. I found the use of wind glissandi a little overdone. The overall range is impressive and I recognized some of the themes. I personally did not like the lack of modulations. You have so many opportunities to use the motives in remote keys which I guess is more a fetish of mine in how you can incorporate your material in different keys and I suppose all the harmonic gymnastics it requires to get to where you want to go. Anyways, I thought you achieved what you were trying to do. it doesn't matter if it is a dated sound. As long as you challenge yourself and push your comfort zone, then who cares. Unless I suppose this is for a project. Anyways I can tell alot of effort went into the work so you should feel good.

  • BadOrange, thanks for the feedback =)

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    @BadOrange said:

    nothing wrong with trying to imitate. That is how you learn. .

    That was my point too. If one does it for educational purposes go for it; but only for that (my opinion). 

    Shawn, you didn't sound egotistical at all - I don't know what prompted that from my post. I just wanted to say that I don't think you really need to do this cheap-imitation thing (for that's what it really is), for I believe you can do a lot better from what I heard. I really don't think you will get a gig doing 10th rate Williams, and that's all right because only a few can do 9nth rate and that's where it stops. If you don't trust my opinion (no reason why you should), why don't you ask some professionals (directors and producers), and by professionals I mean people who usually work with more than a few million euros per movie/TV series. Maybe I'm wrong (even if I am I would never do it myself), but like I said I often hear other composers being imitated in films and on T.V. Not Williams really, not as much. There must be reasons, one of which (I'm guessing) is that no one can do it convincingly, and without being patently derivative, and that directors/producers just don't want bad Williams; I'm certain they'd go instead for O.K.ish Zimmer; in their majority...

    Nonetheless I wish you good luck with consolidating your own style.

  • I also think the just the fact of the trend and aesthetic at the moment dictates perhaps what directors want more so than the fact that people can't imitate Williams which I disagree with. Even Williams later scores were much less melody driven than his Star Wars days. There is also the trend in mixing where the music is really pushed to the back contending with loud sound FX. Very intricate orchestration doesn't work. You only have so much room and the result tends to be rather dense heavy string an brass arrangements with very little counterpoint. I also think that in between those extremely loud scenes, you would typically want to give the audience a break which probably accounts for all the pedal tone underscoring.

  • Whether '70s Williams was more melodic than '90s and '00s is arguable, but who cares anyway? When I want to listen to melodies the last person on my list is Williams; there are so many better composers than him on that score. But for sheer energy, for musical technique - NOT just orchestration, for invention, he's up there!

    As far as the heavy action scenes, traditionally they have all been scored properly. From the days of Tiomkin, to the days of Goldsmith and Williams, real composers composed real music for those scenes. Even if I bought the "give the audience a break" and "too many FX" arguments, what is the excuse for the basest, indigent, and most offensive in its ineptitude, what passes for film-music today, underscoring all the other scenes in movies (transitions, silent action, thought-scenes, romantic, family, court, country, sky, nature-scenes, etc. etc.)

  • BadOrange, I'm looking at your feedback more carefully now.  If you have time can you please give me more specific details (which instruments, approx where in the song, and what's wrong with it) about how you feel the mix and phrasing should be improved?   I think all your other feedback is clear, and I'll have to practice with future compositions, but at least I can try to improve the mix and VSL performances on this song.  I only have VSL special edition and the basic convolution reverb provided by FL Studio.  I'll have to consider based on your feedback if I would need better articulations (I wish I had sforzatissimo, realistic runs, more velocity layers, etc) or maybe if I need Vienna MIR. Thanks in advance, but I'll completely understand if its not worth your time =)

  • I can take a closer look if you have a score version as that would make it much easier. don't worry about formatting too much but just something with all the instruments laid out in score fashion.

  • It will take me a while to get it in score version since I've got a lot of other work right now.  I will try to have it early next week =)

  •  Shawn --

    Thanks for sharing this work-in-progress! Let me also chime in with a "preference" for the second part of the work. It has good "bones," in my humble opinion.

    I hope that you will receive more detailed feedback regarding suggestions for altered orchestration, voice leading and such [edit: and share this with the forum]. Most of us are, ourselves, "works-in-progress" in such areas and I know that many others will find the critique instructional. I have tended to employ too few modulations in my own work and I am trying to be more adventurous in that regard as well.But in the end, if it sounds good to YOU then that is a worthy end in and of itself ;-)



  • .

  • Hi everyone,

    Thanks again for taking the time to listen, and the feedback is very helpful =)

    Since some people have asked, I made a rough incomplete score.  It has no dynamics or tempo/rubato markings, but please be assured that I know specifically where those markings go... I just haven't done it yet, being busy with other work.

    I think many people will find it interesting and informative to see this.  I hope it shows the amount of deep detail I tried to consider, despite superficially imitating Williams.  I'm sure it also reveals many faults in my composition, which I hope people will kindly point out =)