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A Piece Of Music For 0 A. D.


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#1 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 09:40 PM

Hello all,

I have put together a piece of music for 0 A. D.

I think it would be suitable for Celtic peacetime

http://soundcloud.co...rst-draft-0-a-d

Let me know what you think. As specified in the title it is a first draft, so I am open to suggestions to improve it, and it could probably do with a better mix eventually.

EDIT: Here is my second version:

http://soundcloud.co...econd-draft-0-a

Edited by Sebovzeoueb, 13 June 2011 - 08:11 PM.

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#2 Mythos_Ruler

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Posted 07 June 2011 - 10:24 PM

Very nice! I love it. Might be difficult to integrate it with Omri's music, unless you guys use the same music program. Others would have more input on this.
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#3 OmriLahav

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 10:50 PM

This piece is indeed very nice, though a few points stick out to me:
The delay used is completely inappropriate considering the game we are composing for.
The sampled guitar and flute, sound way too obviously sampled. Do you have a way of recording them live?
Also, the harmony (especially that lowered 2nd) is very out of place with regards to Celtic music.

If you need help or have any questions please feel free to email me, OmriMusic (@) Hotmail.com

Thanks,
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Omri Lahav

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#4 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 11 June 2011 - 11:19 PM

Thanks for your reply.

The sampled guitar and flute, sound way too obviously sampled. Do you have a way of recording them live?


It's interesting you should say that, as what you are hearing is a harpsichord and a tin whistle, both played 100% live! The only bits that aren't actual recordings are the percussion (apart form the low tom) and the lowest sound in the drone.

I can try taking the delay off, but it is basically one of the major components of the track. I guess my inspiration for the electronic aspect comes from the AoK music, in my opinion probably the best game music of all time, because it is contemporary, but also incorporating orchestral and medieval sound worlds.

It's a shame you don't like the lowered 2nd :(, I was rather pleased with that myself! I don't really see what else is out with the harmony, it is all based on E Dorian, which is very Celtic.

I guess a pretty major rework is in order to meet your requirements.

I'll see what I can do.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

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#5 OmriLahav

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Posted 12 June 2011 - 07:53 PM

Well, they really did sound like sampled guitar and flute - and I'm listening through KRK 8" studio monitors...
With harpsichord I can understand how that impression is given (though a harpsichord hardly falls into the early Celtic folk chamber group),
but the tin whistle (to my ears) had no air or dynamics, which is why I mistook it for a flute sample. I don't know how you recorded it, but if you didn't - I'd advise using a good condenser microphone.

Don't get me wrong - the lowered 2nd is beautiful, musically - but it isn't very likely to be in what is supposed to sound like Celtic music.

As for the delay, to me - it was completely out of context, the score isn't as period based as the rest of the game, but at the very least it shouldn't sound too modern.
That's not to say we can't make it interesting - but it must be believable and set the right tone.
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Omri Lahav

Wildfire Games 0 A.D. Music Lead, Composer and orchestrator
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#6 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 08:47 PM

Edited top post to include my second draft of my piece.

I have generally reduced my use of effects.

For the tin whistle, I have reduced the compression and other effects. I think the sound comes through better now.

I have rerecorded the harpsichord an octave up, and without the minor 2nd (which in my way of viewing the piece is more of a 6th, as I am thinking in E Dorian, rather than B minor). I think the higher strings have more of a zither/hammered dulcimer kind of sound.

Equipment wise use mainly AKG C414s for recording, and Genelec 8030As for monitoring, so any problems in the sound probably don't come from my equipment.

I have to say that I am struggling with your concept of what constitutes "believable" and "appropriate" though. For me it seems that epic orchestras of VSTs are neither. As you say, we have very little idea what the music of the time was like, so we can't really know what is appropriate. The current score for the game reminds me more of 19th and early 20th century music if I am honest. I would rather hear music that is openly contemporary while reminiscent of ancient music, than music which makes me think of some totally unrelated time period in relatively recent history. All music made today is necessarily contemporary, and for me, attempts to pretend otherwise just don't quite work. What I am hearing at the moment is a score that is "period based", but not based in the right period. I think that some orchestral epicness may be required in places, especially for battle music, but at the moment I must say I am unconvinced by the orchestral sections. I don't claim to be able to do better, as I have never done orchestral writing, as it isn't my domain. Basically I find the musical references to be too modern, yet not contemporary enough at the same time.

I don't mean to offend, but these are my thoughts on the music situation in this game. Others may disagree, but I am just giving my feedback, as music is the one field involved in this game that I actually practice (other than playing games, of course). In any case, music is such a subjective area, that no-one can ever be "right" about it anyway. Well, apart from Bach, his music is always right, but he is no longer with us unfortunately. One person's noise is another person's sonic bliss.

I know that we have very different points of view musically, and I am not seeking to open a massive debate, I am just putting my own opinion out there for all to see, as part of my process of providing feedback for this excellent game.

Regards,

Sebastian.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.

#7 Pureon

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:33 PM

I like your updated version a lot, you've removed certain bits that I didn't think worked too well in your earlier versions. I'm not going to start a music debate either, I have absolutely no musical talent ;)
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#8 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 09:44 PM

Thanks Pureon.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.

#9 feneur

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 10:51 PM

A nice piece of music, but currently I don't think it's something I'd enjoy having as background music while playing. It's something about it that's a bit disturbing/annoying. Not necessarily of the kind that makes it a lesser piece of music, but it's a bit too distracting if nothing else. First it's that "clicking" in the beginning, it might just take a bit getting used to, and at least you feel some progression in it so it's got some reason to it. Second though just seems annoying in the way/extent it's used now: the background humming (or if I'm allowed to use a figure of speech I'd call it brown noise =) It's just how it feels to me, so don't see it as me saying your music is just noise, just a way to describe it. ) It's fine in the first seconds, say 25-50, but after that it gets a bit too much imho. If there would be some variation to it it would be one thing, but now it's just there all the time. Apart from those things I'm sure I could enjoy it after some more work is done to integrate with the rest of the score (and I'm only offering my opinion, not saying that I will oppose the track being included if the things I personally don't like about it aren't changed or that I will hate it, just that I won't necessarily enjoy it if those things aren't changed :) ).

In the end I guess that at least the beginning sounds a bit too modern to me. Not as much in the sense that it's specific to our time period as in the sense that it sounds more like an art installation (or background music for one) than music for a game. It might just be me who's conservative or doesn't like the same things in music, so no offense intended.
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#10 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 13 June 2011 - 11:43 PM

Thanks for your feedback Erik,

Indeed, I think the percussion might still need some work. It was meant to work with the delay, but then I took the delay off, and it doesn't really have it's place in the same way.

I like the way you are relating the music to the gaming experience. This is a very important factor. I'm am deliberately keeping the beginning sparse, to allow for some of the game sounds to come through (although being on OS X, I don't know what these are like yet). I totally see what you mean about it being a bit art installation-like though. Probably due to the fact I went to a contemporary arts college where installations were the "in" thing. Maybe I can make the beginning more sparse, and less "arty" at the same time, as a bit of silence shouldn't be too much of a problem in game music, in fact I think it could be a bonus.

Brown noise :D. Also aptly known in musical terms as a drone. It is a fairly common musical device, especially in folk music. I'm not sure what the best way to provide variation would be, but I guess something involving volume and timbre, and maybe just not having it throughout the entire piece.

All in all, pretty constructive feedback I would say, and in no way do I take offence. I find often feedback from people not involved in music is the most useful, as it is usually more down to earth and comes from the heart rather than the mind. And after all, in cases such as this, the listener is more important than the musician. It's all very well having something "musically good", but if people find it "disturbing/annoying", then it is not suitable.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.

#11 feneur

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 04:56 PM

:thank_you2: (y) Good to know my criticism was so well received :) It's so hard to know how things will be interpreted, especially over the internet, so when I remember it I try to err on the side of being too apologetic and polite ;)
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#12 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 08:18 PM

Yes, communication on the internet can be difficult, especially when attempting constructive criticism. You manage well, which I guess makes you a good Lead for the project!
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.

#13 Rasunadon

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Posted 14 June 2011 - 09:32 PM

I tried the second piece in game and it works. But it seemed to me a bit too loud if compared to other pieces.

The background hum is fine with me.
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#14 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 12:58 AM

I tried the second piece in game and it works. But it seemed to me a bit too loud if compared to other pieces.

The background hum is fine with me.


Nice.

When you say "loud", do you mean purely in terms of volume? If so, that shouldn't be a problem, as adjusting the overall volume of a piece is a easily done, and I would guess that a general volume balancing would occur once the whole game score has been finalised.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.

#15 Rasunadon

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Posted 15 June 2011 - 09:43 AM

Yes, generally a bit loud, so it is nothing to bother about now. That can wait to Beta.

Maybe it is what feneur described as "a bit too distracting".

As I posted elsewhere I have problem with only terrain displaying on minimap. So when I am attacked while being somewhere else I need to hear it.
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#16 Chakakhan

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 08:37 PM

Very nice man! I definitely prefer the first version though. The echo makes it sound like drums being played outdoors in a large canyon - nice effect. Reminded me of times I have sat outside in an area with a similar natural echo delay and tapped out beats. Awesome feeling being "in time with nature".

The humming is a "drone" which probably was used quite a bit during that period. Similar to the drone pipes in a set of bag pipes - very Celtic.

The recording is done very well and it is recorded at a very "hot" level (this is a good thing as hotter signal means less noise). This is why it seems loud when compared to the other tracks - at the same volume setting it is a bit louder and brighter. The existing tracks are not recorded as hot nor as bright and clear sounding. So the tracks all need to be "mastered" together to make them sound better as a whole. Mastering is the process of setting the levels, the EQ and reverb on the tracks so they play nicely with each other.

I am a professional musician and composer and I must agree with Sebastian, I have no clue at this point what what is considered appropriate or believable. I certainly hope we are not going to try to reproduce period music, It would put everyone to sleep. Music has grown considerably in terms of complexity and variety. I think it best to write what ever sounds and feels good and throw in musical references, like Sebastian's use of Dorian mode and the use of the drone and penny whistle to give it the Celtic feel. Me personally I want John Williams dramatic scores that make the hair on the back of my neck stand up, not some naked native scratching on a gourd! I know the native scratching the gourd is more "period", but he smells funny and frankly his music is boring. Not all the time, but sometimes I want that big exciting Hollywood movie track sound.

Omri, I think I understand part of what you are trying to do - the blending of live instruments with samples and I think it's a great idea. Just don't be too quick to "poo-poo" a sound just because it is sampled. A well played sample can blow away an average live performance. I have a friend in Israel, Amit Poznansky (www.poznansky.com). He is a great and very popular composer. He has done some amazing tracks where you really can't tell he is using samples.

For example check out this: http://www.fablesoun..._CurtainUp!.mp3

Not one single live instrument is used and it sounds amazing to me! So amazing I went out and spent $4000 on that sample set - ouch!!!

I love the tracks I have heard so far. Keep up the good work.
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#17 privateer

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Posted 16 June 2011 - 10:58 PM

I'm very impressed with all the samples!

About 5 years ago I went to Los Vegas and saw Cirque du Soleil perform.
I was blown away by the music!!
And I consider myself a Hard Core Heavy Metal type Guy.
I now listen to thier sound tracks, but Live is UNREAL!
(The composers are fantastic!)
Apoctolyptica suggested by a friend in Finland.
(Metalica by Concert level Musicians!)
And even my Cousins playing of the Bag Pipes!
(That I'll have to post pictures of but he is not bad!)
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#18 Chakakhan

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 05:19 AM

I just reread my wall of text and I think it sounded like I was ragging on Omri a bit. That was certainly not my intent, I think you have done a fantastic job on the tracks so far. I also thought Sebastians track was awesome and think with some mastering it would fit in with the existing music.
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#19 OmriLahav

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 11:15 AM

I'm going to try to cover everyone's points in one reply, sorry if I leave anything out.

I disagree with the statement that the score is "period based" on the wrong dates.
My intention was never to make a period score for this game - due to the fact I have no knowledge on 0.A.D. period music.
What I did intend, however, is first and foremost - to make a game score.
If that means that in order to work in the epic context of this game, the score needed to be orchestrated - then that is what is "appropriate".
I read someone mentioning Uillean Pipe drones, as you can hear in my Celtic peace track - I have used them extensively.
If you can change the stringy drone to a pipe drone, that's a step in the right direction.
I also used penny whistles (D and low D), but I recorded them much more loosely then you did - with a lot of air and transparent compression, and that difference in sound is too radical IMHO.

I never said samples are not a viable option - I use them all the time, in fact the Uillean pipes I used as a solo instrument on Celtic Peace #1 are sampled.
But I do want to use live recordings beside the samples - if nothing else, then simply because few independent scores have them.
However I wouldn't insist upon it as much if I didn't truly know it'll make a big difference in the overall product quality!

I listened to the second draft and it is sounding better, but I still have a bit of a problem with the percussion intro...
The instrumentation of it just doesn't sound right to me, I'd prefer to hear Celtic percussion, such as Bodhran and some Spoons,
the current sounds instinctively make me think "Africa".

Bottom line(s):
I don't want to make period music - just music that suits the nature of the game, that is a priority I will not settle on to accommodate anyone,
and weather or not the sounds are correct with the dates is immaterial - as long as the music works in game and is believable in that context.

I do not "poo-poo" samples, but I think that 100% sampled tracks will stick out in a mostly live recorded album, and lower the overall production quality.
And while it's true that good sampled beats average performed - I'm not looking to record "average" musicians, so no worries there :)

As it stands right now, I'm having a hard time seeing this piece fit in with the rest of the score, but maybe I just need to get used to it, I'll listen to it a few more times.
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Omri Lahav

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#20 Sebovzeoueb

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Posted 17 June 2011 - 12:36 PM

Very nice man! I definitely prefer the first version though. The echo makes it sound like drums being played outdoors in a large canyon - nice effect. Reminded me of times I have sat outside in an area with a similar natural echo delay and tapped out beats. Awesome feeling being "in time with nature".


I'm glad someone understand what I was going for! I still think this idea could work, but with a longer delay. This is also why I used a particularly heavily delayed and reverbed whistle sound in my first draft. I wasn't particularly going for a tin whistle sound, but more of an epic flute type instrument of some description, echoing through the Celtic valleys. Thanks for you positive words regarding my piece, although I think you have ended up slightly distorting my original point about the musical concept for the game in general, but hey, a bit of distortion never did anyone any harm.

:balrog::band::balrog:


I disagree with the statement that the score is "period based" on the wrong dates


In that case, we will just have to agree to disagree. Iberian Peace is the first one of your tracks I listened to, as I didn't realise there was a bandcamp page with the 2 other tracks for a while. I think this is the least successful track, for me there is just something not quite "right" about it, especially in the orchestral parts (sorry, but it sounds a bit cliché to me), and in terms of musical references, it makes me think of the Spanish, but in no way makes me think of the ancient Iberians, if I exaggerate, it is like if you used Italian Baroque music for the Romans. Also the track for the Hellenes for me has nothing Hellenistic about it after the first few seconds, and the music reminds me of the game Cultures (the first one), by Funatics, which is about Vikings, in fact, the orchestral parts of the other two also remind me of that score a bit.

I think it is a shame that you haven't incorporated some more ancient and mysterious sounds into the mix (of all of the tracks).

Your Celtic track is my favourite, I think it has the most fluid integration of orchestra vs "chamber" (as you like to call it), and really has a Celtic vibe. We must have different recording preferences though, as I find there is too much air, or rather that the air is too boxy, on the recorded instruments.

but I recorded them much more loosely then you did


It seems to me like we are hearing different things with regards to my tin whistle recording. When I did the recording I thought that the playing was verging more on the side of sloppy, than just loose, but then I quite liked the effect of it. I don't understand how you are hearing such a MIDI like tight sound. My room I record in adds quite a lot of air and natural reverb to the sound, it is quite clear sounding, but there nevertheless. With regards to dynamics, if I compress it even less, then the quieter bits totally disappear in the mix.

If you can change the stringy drone to a pipe drone, that's a step in the right direction.


Do you think my drone sounds stringy? I think it is more brassy myself, I wanted something vaguely reminiscent of the Carnyx, and other ancient celtic brass instruments. I don't have a pipe drone, I'm afraid. I don't have much in the way of sampled instruments, apart from various percussion hits.

the current sounds instinctively make me think "Africa".


I think I agree with you on this one. I was trying to bring a tribal feel to my track, but I didn't quite choose the right sounds for Celtic-Tribal.

Well, I guess a third draft may be coming online this weekend some time.

For example check out this: http://www.fablesoun..._CurtainUp!.mp3


Yes, these samples sound good. I think if this guy made a 0 A. D. track you would be hard pressed to recognize it as MIDI.
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Sebastian Boutin Blomfield.

this is pretty much what I do.