Halion 4.5 with HSO soundset

My second go on this package, 16 hours of work for 2.25 minutes of music.
Still can’t find a really good workflow to make this sort of music.


Made with Halion 4 with HSO soundset.

Comments and tips (workflow!) are very welcome!

Greetz Dylan.

I think it sounds great, the mix is fine.
The arrangement lacks some cohesion in my opinion, in some parts the chord progression or melodies seem very random. It seems to lack a catchy tune that sticks with you even after the track’s finished.

This being your second orchestral piece is really amazing though, you managed to learn to write a completely different type of music and execute it really well imo. I don’t think I’d know where to start if you gave me HSO and a game without music :wink:

Hi Dylan, sounds good to me, maybe not exactly like an orchestra, but like a soundtrack. I don’t think I can advise you on workflow, as it takes me forever to finish something!

Very first thing I thought was why is the bass in my left ear for an orchestra piece. You have a picture of an orchestra as your soundcloud picture, so I assume it’s something overlooked. It sometimes sounds like the double bass is to the left and sometimes to the middle.

I know Disney sometimes switch the woodwinds around to balance the songs with the vocals/other instruments but the strings are always correctly placed as a live performance.

The orchestrations overall were decent. The brass could be better, it sounds like it’s completely to the right, I can’t hear any horns to the left to make it sound balanced and while I do like trumpets to the right as they usually are, sometimes they get put to the left to balance some pieces. After the first section it sounds too heavily imbalanced to the right. I’m not sure if I can hear oboes there or whether it’s the trumpets, kinda hard to tell with the library lol. But I can’t hear flutes at all or any woodwinds to the left and to me it lacks colour and balance because of this. For the kinda piece this is, it really lacks woodwinds.

I totally agree with the comment about the chords/melodies being too random, I liked some of the melodic ideas but they didn’t stick around long enough or develop properly. You can away with abrupt and fast changes for trailer kinda stuff when it’s following changes on screen, but if it’s for like background music on a level or menu etc you really want a conventional kinda tune with repetitive A and B sections that are clearly defined and identifiable. The music from Final Fantasy 3-10 videogames are excellent examples.

Overall the mix sounded fine and clear, considering the library used you can’t expect that much. Never worked with this library but improving upon 16 hours for a 2:25 piece of music isn’t really needed. You gotta work fast sometimes I know, but if it results in the actual music being less consistent and the chords/melody being all over the place then it just negates everything else. But the style of the piece does give a certain Snes kinda fantasy/adventure game setting in mind, so assuming that’s what this is for good job so far!

Creating templates for various genres with all instruments/articulations ready is important so you can just dive in and start writing. I don’t know what expression stuff this library uses for you to edit, but for hollywood strings you have to set the main volume, then edit the modulation for vibrato, velocity for the slur/bc legato transition speed/portamento and then expression for the actual velocity and all these obviously have to be edited for every single part and it all takes time. Keyswitch instruments are useful to change between articulations faster and can speed things up, but sometimes it’s much better to use separate articulations in each track, depending on your limitations.

As an example, if you look up on Youtube a song called Promise by Thomas Bergersen (try get the one without vocals as they were added at a later date,) that’s a fairly conventional piece of music. It’s really just A and B sections, with a short bridge section. It uses samples and it took him 3 days of 16-18 hour days to write the majority of it, then a further 2 weeks of tweaking parts for the final mix, and he’s half of Two Steps From Hell, which are 2 of the most professional Hollywood trailer composers. So imo, focus on getting the chords/melodies/orchestrations consistent and then think about how to get the same quality results but faster.

Some people can just record each part in and use the mod wheel doing a couple of recording passes to enter all data and this is the faster way for mockups, but they’d still have to go into each individual part after and tweak small bits. My instrument is guitar so I’m just not capable of doing it that way since I’m very bad at playing the keyboard, so I have to click everything in. I used to do it in finale/sibelius and then open the midi file in Cubase, but it’s faster to just draw the notes in as the blocks.


^ This is from Steinberg’s official Youtube channel and I learned a few tricks to speed up how fast I can enter the data, changing between cutting tools/pasting and things like that.

Hope any of this helps, keep up the good work with the project.

I’ve done a lot of pop-orchestral work with GPO in the past but I don’t think any of my early efforts were at this level so I think think you’re doing darn well considering its relatively new/unfamiliar territory! :sunglasses:

Rick, early and Ian thanks for listening and replies!

@ Jonathan5456:

That was a long post! thank you for your time!
Considering the placement of instruments did’n’t bother me that much, but now I figure it can be a great help to set up a template. I googled some and found lot’s of info on how an orchestra is set up. So thank you for that tip.

Greetz Dylan.

Hey np, I forgot to mention though. That orchestrations have to be consistent to balance it out, panning-wise and for colour/conflicts. But the reverb is especially important in orchestra stuff. You need a separate reverb for each section of the orchestra, as they would be seated on stage in rows one behind the other. With the pre-delay set appropriately or it will sound muddy/unclear because it’ll be the equivalent of every instrument on stage sat exactly on top of each other, which is physically impossible anyway. You also want a room stage with a low pre-delay (0-10ms) and a short reverb time of 0.8-2.0 or something. Breathes a bit more life into the sound. The reverb is so much more important with orchestra than other styles and it can really make or kill the recording xD I personally use Quantum Leap Spaces. It saves time and the quality of it is great for orchestra stuff especially. People whine that you can’t use your own impulses, but I’ve no idea why you would want to when the impulses in the plugin are from the very best recording halls across the world.

With the sample libraries I use I need multiple patches for each instrument. For example for all 5 parts of the string section I need; 2x Bow change legato patches, you need 2 with that library because of how it works it can’t play 2 of the same notes in a row, so you have to switch everytime that occurs lol. The pros like Hans Zimmer have at least 100 patches in their mockups. For violins he has pretty much every technique like bow change, col legno, staccato, pizzicato etc. Even if their are subtle differences it still gives it that extra bit of realism. But with Halion you can’t exactly breathe more realism into it.

There’s a lot to cover for orchestra stuff, theory/composition-wise and mix-wise. With the Halion samples it’s never gonna sound close to realistic so there’s a lot less work to do to. But if you buy some of the most expensive libraries it takes a lot more hours to get it to a professional sounding standard because there’s just so much more stuff in those libraries to try and get a realistic performance.

Templates for different styles are needed, you can’t just use one if you want to speed things up. When I do wedding music it’s just piano+strings+woodwinds as the template, all setup with the correct reverbs etc. If I need celeste etc for a winter seasonal touch I just add those extra instruments in.

There are some rules on orchestration, I can’t remember the name of good books, but there are enough around. But generally bassoon/cello will double each other doing the same part, and etc for the other instruments. Some combinations will just never sound good together, but experiment a bit. Like a cello playing high doubled with a flute just sounds crap. Ears like to separate low and high sounds. But a cello playing high doubled with a french horn can sound really nice. Obviously goes a lot more in-depth in the books. But just try to make it sound full using all instruments and balancing the parts out left/right. For that you need to know where the instruments are panned/positioned on the stage, and using headphones when composing/mixing for this is needed imo.

It’s all just practice though, so practice, have fun and keep up the good work :slight_smile:

@ Jonathan, thanks for the replie
Post some of your work, Then I can listen to what you mean.

hearing more and more of this stuff here, the more I’m getting fascinated by it. no way I can justify buying anything at the moment, but who knows, maybe down the road.
neat stuff

You know bob, I have an uninstalled GPO here, it was the early edition, bought it 5 years ago.
I know I wil never install it anymore so give me a PM, if you pay the postage it’s yours!

it;s this one:


Complete in box and serial.

If you check the 2nd page of the forums you can see 3 different pieces I posted. If you’d like I can easily open the project, change the reverb to just 1 hall reverb for all instruments and show you just how muddy it makes it sound for comparison, I was amazed at how much difference it made. So just let me know :slight_smile:

For templates, I’m only on C6 Artist though, so I have to be very picky about which techniques/patches I load per project. They could have more time invested for more realism if I could load more in.

For the epic orchestra stuff I use a small 0.8s, 10ms pre-delay sound stage for all instruments except the percussion which uses the same settings but one just for itself. Then using South California orchestral hall (3.4s) with a separate reverb for strings, ethnic, woodwind, brass, vocal, percussion and choir. The strings have a pre-delay of 40ms, woodwinds 50ms, brass 60ms, percussion 75ms and choir at the back with 90ms. You can use similar settings for any orchestra but if you have the money invest in Quantum Leap Spaces imo, one of the best purchases I made :slight_smile:

hey dylan, really appreciate the offer mate, but after checking things all out its not really worth the hassle. garratan is not very friendly about license transfers either. but on the good side I came across a free sf2 collection thats plenty for my purposes.
thanks again

The composition itself doesn’t grab me, but what you’ve done with the music is great.
I couldn’t do that in a zillion years. Hats off, it’s amazing.