Chelsea Grin Orchestra and Challenges
Let's uh let's talk about some orchestral stuff um I do have to get a set session loaded real quick and uh there's always the possibility that pro tools is going tio not be very friendly about it any questions while I get pro tools going this would be a good time somebody wants to know do you track rhythm guitars with the same guitar and amp uh do you change settings from left to right when you're tracking the same do duplicating a pan stuff duke looking and then pantsed oh like record as saying absolutely not do they mean just like have wanted to record it once and then or do they mean have a different tone on each side? I think different tone is what they're asking I guess some guys do that yeah just to create a little more texture yeah, but then what happens is you have a kind of an inconsistent attack and an inconsistent low end I guess it depends what you're going for but I think for this kind of music it's very important to have consistent, consistent low and coming out out from ...
the guitars and when you have a totally different sound on one side from the other kind of kind of getting in the way that so uh yeah and if he meant the other way of of tracking on lee once duplicating it and sliding over a few milliseconds or whatever absolutely not no way so yeah all right so you guys hear some of this next song real quick um and then we'll talk about it so so what I want to talk about with this is specifically uh what I did the most work on which is the orchestra and the sound effects now obviously you see right here what my challenges are but the stock real quick uh you ever had to mix in an orchestra? Yeah definitely how's that been I feel about it um it's fun I mean you're you know there's probably always a little bit of a tradeoff you know when the guitars you have to have toe if the balance something extra beyond just the typical basing guitar arrangement right? So it helps if you're using orchestral sounds that just naturally kind of separate themselves from the guitars or if you already know what the orchestral sounds are and you haven't chosen your guitar tone yet you know it's it's nice having control over that proposed to someone sending you a finnish tone and no dies and then sending your orchestra sounds with no midi then you might be in a tough spot you know that's a very, very good point and before even go into the pro tools file and start talking about it I think it bears mentioning that an orchestra is a full range set of instruments medal is a full range set of insurgent and that's without them being on the same song so when you combine two things that have such distinctly opposite to analyses that both inhabit the entire frequency spectrum you're asking for trouble and you have to be very, very clever with how you arrange it and mix it in order to get it to work and uh with that with that in mind I actually want to play that video again because uh because it's from the master version which I don't have here but there's one part in particular that I want you guys to pay attention to and it's when the band comes in and uh you hear the female voice over it and it sounds so clear and you know, creepy in whatever it does uh but why it sounds so good is because there's nothing else going on in the frequency range getting in the way of it it's not like there's a million lei guitars plus some clean vocals plus that orchestral woman singing whatever whatever software she is uh there's not a million things all trying to take up that space and so sounds great, but I've had lots of instances where I have to try to mix an orchestra, the band and all these things are on top of each other just cluttering and there's literally no way to get the sound so check this out again of course the interest sounds great is just orchestra but I'll talk about howto you know, work with that to to make it sound like you're seeing a movie soundtrack but listen to once the band comes and specifically to the female voice because that's not a funeral that's ah you know that's a virtual instrument yes, I'll hear what I mean it soars over it because there's nothing getting in its way uh so we're especially and now obviously it's composed well and all that but beyond that it's arranged very well it is huge because like that first rift there with a judgment and all the charges and stuff going say somebody sent you orchestral tracks where there's like chil owes following that same thing you know when you have like you basically haven't orchestra doing like you said a full range thing and then you try to fit it in with the guitar and bass which on its own is also a full range thing like the only way to really make that work is to filter out a lot more low end than you would otherwise if the orchestra orchestra was by itself and then uh you know, just you got to get to fit in there, right? I've worked with man's before we're like they expect the orchestra to sound as big with the band as it does by itself and it just it can't it can't happen there's always got to be some filtering and maury queuing and almost getting it a little bit just so that it can sit in there and and find its little spot you know, a lot of times when I get sent orchestral arrangements from bands and it that is happening like you have these heavy riffs like what chelsea gran had maybe not played as well but like you could I mean their guitar players about the best in the genre pretty much that I can think of for this death core whatever kind of john is about as good as it gets and ah, he writes the orchestral stuff too so that's why it's integrated so well but so you know, so it'll get stuff by bands that don't have the same level of musicianship or arrangements skills and yet you'll get these heavy parts that have chelios and horns and trombones and to bust and like all this stuff going on at the same time and and they wanted to sound like, you know, they wanted to some like they're like the theme banned for star wars or something it's like this is not gonna work guys it's end really really uh I found that the best way to get around it is to just meet those tracks you can sometimes just take stuff out of the mix and then you know it's not even missing like the band doesn't know it's missing and it works better just taking stuff away yeah, you as a mixer, working with this kind of stuff often times you do have to just make decisions for the band. Uh, you have to find what is the most important thing here. Like, for instance, say that this came to me like this with the that female voice over that the center of the band. But there were the cello is playing the jugs and all that stuff. Ah, what I would do is I would try to find ok, which voice here is actually important? Like what? What is it that they're what what do they really want here? And, you know, hopefully the band would be able to give me direction. In the case of of of these guys, jason richardson and I were on skype the entire time going through this and just hours and hours and hours he community knows exactly wants and communicates it exactly right? And we'll sit there with you the whole time until it's, right? And, uh, if the bands like that, then this is phenomenal and you say, look, dude, this isn't gonna work because of this and this and this and I've made your last fifteen ideas work, but this one's not gonna work, and you give a good reason. I'll go with you on that and that that's how the band should be a lot of bands don't listen so you just kind of got to make the decisions for them interpret what it is you think they want to hear with the orchestral part and cut out the rest and deal with it and there's a reason that I'm talking about all this before even getting into pro tools because a lot of now that it's so common for bands tone orchestral instruments everybody thinks that they're orchestra and uh you know how to do it uh I know how to do it not many people know how to do it to really get into it and do it well there's a lot of understanding of theory and it's not something you can just jump right into it takes it's a serious discipline you know it's a profession yeah and it's and to do it well it's you know it takes a lot of well a lot of skill really well, I know though I studied orchestration starting when I was fifteen at a college level and then studied in college as well and then I was writing orchestral stuff when I was like seventeen and you know then stopped for a while and then as soon as I got two audio hammer I decided I wanted to re up so I started to go to school and online berkeley but still I really enrolled myself in school tio keep studying orchestration just because there is a whole other thing based orchestration is based is like mixing except you're working with acoustic instruments. Yeah, I would recommend bare minimum people should take like entry level music theory and studying like box four part harmony absolutely. So they understand but voices voice leading and you know that's that's just keeping it real that's the stuff you got to know. Yeah, absolutely. And they should also study arrangement because, uh, making this work with metal is it's basically an arrangement masterpiece of you can get it to work with metal because it should not work. Um, an album that a lot of guys look at for orchestral, you know, at least for a while it was kind of like the the gold standard for orchestral metal album was a demon borger yep, the death call arm again album and the one before it, but which I like a lot, but death carmageddon and was gonna progeny. Yeah, great apocalypse and then yeah, that's well, ah, what was his stage name? Mme eustis. Oi, oi! Even he was yeah he's incredibly talented and they hired a they hired a professional orchestrator who did soundtracks as well and what it's obviously it's done so well, I mean, it's yeah, because they had because they had a pro they had I mean that's not to say that the band aren't talented there that that era of the band was very talented, but they did have a guy who does who did it for movies working with them and that's that's kind of my point is if you want to talk about a black metal band that sold over one hundred thousand records in the u s of orchestral black metal, this didn't just happen because they downloaded a cracked version of orchestral instruments and put some spooky get some spooky strings on their outer tuned guitars they got some dude that's done some hollywood stuff to help amount of theirs. One thing that you can notice if you study some of this stuff if you listen to the guitars in relation to the orchestration oftentimes the guitars are very sparse that they're not it's not like full on information coming from, you know all areas at the same time, I know that the ranch actions when it works that's actually one of the things about ok, so everybody here, if this is before your time, then you should check it out if you're interested in doing orchestral medal the album death cult armageddon by the band d move board your d I am you b o r g I r they had a bit of ah member meltdown and things have been weird ever since but in that era they were they were the best by far and it again that is like the gold standard as faras that style goes and there's a few even if you don't like that style of music there things that you can use to study to learn how to do this properly like he was just saying one of the things that's interesting about that mix is the mix is not static at all uh the album is constantly changing from, you know, ripping medal to being like something that sounds like sounds like it's out of star wars to like sounds like it's out of bram stoker's dracula toe ripping medal tio scary trippy sounds too it's always changing but it's not just that they have a metal mix and these things come in what's happening is there's very, very, very specific decisions being made as to what the foreground instruments are the middle ground instruments in the background instruments and ah foreground middle ground background is something that people don't always think about in medal, but if you're going to be using orchestra, you do need to think about this stuff I mean that's just something you think about with orchestra by itself, but when you're bring it over metal it's that much more important especially when you have things like chelios in there that totally are like guitars frequency wass so you think to yourself what's the foreground here meaning what you know like the chick on on that chelsea grand thing that would be your foreground instrument what's your middle ground the guitars um and the background would be I don't know there was really a background it sounds like there are two things going on the band the band mix and then the chick but then the the band vocals came in and then you notice the band the chick vocal came down so there you had foreground was the band vocal uh a middle ground wass the was the you know, the synth girl whatever her name is, janis will call her janice yes that's here. Okay. Yeah. And then and then the background was the band uh and you had and if you listen to the demon record that's constantly happening all throughout the songs the levels of the guitars lows of the drums levels of the vocals are changing and it's pretty drastic stuff if you have a part with the huge horn arrangement like on the first track it's ah ah there's a section where it's insanely fast blast beats over like uh a brass corral and it's just really, really epic the guitars are almost non existent if they get how a brass corral inhabits all the same frequencies and tonalities as distorted heavy power core guitars it wouldn't work, so the guitars are almost non existent now making a big deal out of this because I have worked with a lot of metal mixers. Um, you know, mixing my own stuff and my own music has always had lots of different elements to it and a lot of metal mixers. I do not want to sacrifice the rhythm guitar as being the lead instrument that because that's what that's, what drives metal along with double bass and, you know, different base and, uh I had and snare the guitar, drives it and is the meat of it, and when you bring in an orchestra, you have to stop thinking of the guitar is the meat, and you have to think of it as something that's interchangeable. So, uh, I think I think this is all really worth mentioning jeff to do a lot more automation on an orchestral mix than you would on a regular mix, for sure and to the bands who are hiring people to do this. What bands need to understand is that not everything can be heard at all times when you're bringing in on orchestra to meddle things, we're going to get lost um so be wise and decide what it is you want hurt, so what? That is going to some pro tools unless there's any questions about what we've been talking anybody wants to study up on orchestration. There's, a book by sam adler called the study of orchestration that's a great book. Yeah, I have it's gotta work book too. Yeah. Cds? Yeah. It's awesome. I study that one that's the one I studied when, uh, that I was a study that in high school, those a great book but that's for riel orchestration not yeah, yeah, yeah. That's the really? Um yeah, if anybody here really wants to do it, that would be one of the best. The best, best ways to go. Um, the berkeley online classes air I don't get much out of it, but you read the samuel adler book. Um, anything for the internet on that on any, uh, there's some questions about how do you mix the orchestral stuff and do you mix it while you're mixing the rest of the stuff, or do you mix it on top of ah premixed like everything else, and then you mix in the orchestral stuffer there's different stories. I know that when you told me about earlier there's different stories out there about how some of these records have been mixed saying that the metal mix was done first and then the orchestra was thrown on top of it, um and the reason that I find those hard to believe is because of you listen to the really good sounding orchestral medal records the mixes air not static at all they're always changing so that means that decisions have to be made constantly you know if you know rhythm guitars or now not the main instrument they've got to come down considerably or we don't need to really be hearing the kicks too much right here or whatever you know all this stuff and you can't really mix an orchestra to like a stereo track and get the balance is right in context of a metal mix without having it work together so what I would recommend is you get your medal mix going you get it slamming like you want to because that's the thing you can't sacrifice obviously you know it's metal it's got to be powerful so you do all those things and then you start bringing in the synth and you start bringing in the keys and the pre mixing I guess with with the orchestra would be like ok so you don't need to have seventeen violins in there and mix things down to the simplest amount of instruments possible that you don't need four flutes you know uh you could probably get away with just having a wind a stereo track for winds you could probably get away with having a stereo track for violins another one for villas and want another run for chelios I wouldn't do all streams and won but you can get away with, and you should try to get away with reducing it to the least amount of tracks possible. But you got to be smart about it. If you put your chelios and your violins on the same story a track, you have a really, really hard time automating that any queuing it right? So, yeah, but again, you don't want to have the full orchestra brought in over ah, full orchestra amount of tracks brought in over a metal mixon is just going to be ridiculous. I've had a band do that to me before I made them read, rebounds, their stuff. I did have a band who had, like something like a ninety track medal mix, bringing a full orchestra worth the tracks where every instrument had its own track meaning within the sections. So, you know, seventeen, violence for first violin, they're like, well, why don't you just bust it down, like, do you understand how many isn't a track out of over two hundred?