Opus 1 ‘Onwards’

Title

Onwards

Date of completion

15th March 2017, KST

Behind the title

The piece was originally titled ‘Have Faith’ because I thought it sounded like a team working together to achieve a goal. But then I realised that if I titled it that way, it might be mistaken for religious music, so I changed it to the less-emotional ‘Onwards’.

Influences

Thomas Bergersen and John Powell, although I did not do them justice.

What I learnt from composing it

  • Composing is hard work.

  • No matter how concrete the musical ideas in my head are, the real composing will always begin once I start using my DAW.

  • It’s the tiny edits and changes that add up to make VST music sound better.

  • I can create melodies that I enjoy listening to!

What I’m most proud of

  • The 8 bars from 2:03 to 2:20. I composed them while I was on my DAW, trying to think of a better transition to the climax, and I like the melody I came up with.

  • I completed an original work! Critics will sneer at it, professionals will laugh at it, it’s clumsy and amateurish, but it’s all mine. I like it, and right now, that’s good enough for me.

What I wish I could have done better

  • I was trying to make music in the epic genre, but I think I ended up creating something in the enthusiastic genre instead. ‘Onwards’ doesn’t sound commanding, mysterious, or majestic—basically, it’s not very epic. I might’ve lost control of the arrangement.

  • I hate how unpolished it sounds mix-wise. I can imagine listeners wincing (for that, it makes me wince, too). I don’t know what to do about it. With my utter lack of mixing experience, this is as good as it gets for now.

If, for some reason, you’d like to read about the whole sordid journey behind this composition, please use the following links (ordered chronologically):

https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/01/11/opus-1/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/01/14/opus-1-2/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/01/14/opus-1-3/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/01/16/opus-1-4/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/01/31/opus-1-5/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/01/opus-1-6/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/02/opus-1-7/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/02/opus-1-8/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/03/opus-1-9/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/05/opus-1-10/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/08/opus-1-11/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/11/opus-1-12/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/16/opus-1-13/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/02/22/opus-1-14/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/03/07/opus-1-15/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/03/15/opus-1-16/
https://mirinaemusic.com/2017/03/17/opus-1-17/


© 2017 Mirinae.
All rights reserved.

4 thoughts on “Opus 1 ‘Onwards’

  1. This sounds plenty epic to me. Sounds right out of Lord of the Rings or a Battle theme from Game of Thrones. I do agree the mixing needs work, and since you’ve always helped me out a lot with music things if you don’t mind here comes a lengthy novel about how the mix could be improved XD

    My major thing about the mix is both the EQ and compression. Those two things will help you loads with making this sound a bit more polished. Unfortunately, EQ is sort of a loaded subject, but because of that there are plenty of articles on learning how to use it for different instruments. Using it would make each instrument sound clearer, and have it’s own frequency space so it wouldn’t sound so dense and muddy. Like for example: You can use EQ to make the strings sound brighter and airier by raising the high and high mid frequencies of the strings depending on what KHZ you set it at, and the part where the choir (I think where it was a choir later) got drowned out a bit, if there was EQ on there it would have helped brighten them up also. Like I said, there are tons of articles on EQ out there, I tend to just google “How to EQ ___” and go from there, but I think for you just looking up how to use EQ and how it works would help out tons.

    Compression would help a lot too! It would even out some of the volume issues in here, where sometimes the drums were drowning out certain sections, and sometimes the other instruments overpowered the drums. If you used compression they’d all be at the same level and it would be a lot easier to place them in the mix. Once again, looking up how to use it is how I learned, but that one is a lot easier to learn than EQing so I think it would be easier to grasp haha.

    I didn’t hear any reverb on this either? I may be wrong but that would also help the cohesiveness of the mix. If you put different amounts of reverb on different instruments, or even just the same reverb on everything it would help everything glue together more. You could also put different reverb on sections and then put one reverb on the master track to glue it all together, that also works wonders. There’s this free reverb plug in I use called ambiance that has a lot of great presets you could use until you figure out how reverb works, and you can just tweak those settings in the plug in and find what you like/what you think works to figure out how reverb works or…look it up once again haha.

    Since I’ve mentioned the other basics, I figured I might as well mention panning. Not sure if I heard some in here or not, but moving certain aspects of the composition to the left or right or bouncing back and forth throughout the stereo field could have helped a lot (I thinking when the choral parts came in, if there were two layers of it panned both the the right and left it would have sounded nice). Panning is more something you play around with, it doesn’t’ get much simpler than moving certain tracks to the left, right, and center of your stereo field a certain amount of percentage.

    All in all, mixing is just like writing music: Figure out the concepts, then go play around with said concepts until you hear what you like. Bounce the mix off someone, get tips, then fix it more until you get better. I hope this helps you out, great job on your first composition!

    Like

    • Bless you, I don’t mind at all. In fact, thank you for taking the time to save my musical behind.

      I’m really glad that you pointed me towards EQ and compression. I considered using them heavily, but a lot of articles I read online warned musicians to not overdo them; it looks like it was the wrong decision. Maybe those articles applied only to real instruments, and not VSTs.

      I did use reverb; I think I set the room size at 85% and the average gain at about -12 dB. I didn’t use Ambience—I used ReaVerb. I’ll have to download Ambience later. I think I’ll revisit the reverb after I fix the EQ and compression if my mix still sounds bad.

      I also used panning, but I didn’t make it extreme; most tracks were set at less than 35% to either the left or right. If you couldn’t hear it, that means I was too conservative here, too. The next time I sit down at my computer, I’ll pull out all the stops on my mix.

      Thank you for taking the time to give me such thorough feedback. I’m sure that you’re right in a lot of things. I’ll let you know how ‘Onwards’ sounds after I implement your suggestions!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. No problem! Eq is like, the best thing once you get the hang of it. Yeah definitely don’t over due the compression, but even if you have it at a small ratio, I think it’s good to have on your tracks.
    With the reverb, was it the wet gain? or the dry. I really only mess with wet gain, not sure what dry does exactly but I think it leaves the original track generally untouched reverb-wise haha.

    Glad I could help! :D

    Like

    • I still don’t get the difference between wet and dry, either. I could probably recite the definitions of both, but I couldn’t tell you how exactly they relate to the thousands of fiddly knobs on my DAW. I watched a video tutorial which told me to make a separate track for the effects and send the instrument tracks to it, so that’s exactly what I did. The video also told me to use wet gain and slide the dry gain all the way down, and I did that as well because it told me to. Haha.

      Like

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