Honestly, this sounds really good. I don’t think the leads or any of the instruments for that matter sound “default” or “too recognizable”, but that’s my opinion. I think you’ve got a really nice track on your hands, no matter what DAW you finish it in!
Do you think it’s a good length? Does it keep your interest from start to finish — or does it start to dip anywhere? (I’m thinking it might benefit from trimming 8-16 bars, after the second breakdown.)
I’m thinking of having the sax play a bigger role, to give the overall sound palette a bit more interest. (It’s a tricky one, as the Auxy saxophones can sound good in specific situations, but can quickly stray into sounding like bad midi instruments if not careful.)
I’ll likely swap out the Auxy Vintage Keys in Ableton for a better Rhodes VST, like , but that’s mainly because I’ve absolutely rinsed Vintage Keys — in pretty much everything I make.
…plus it wouldn’t hurt to add a little more velocity and volume variation, to make it feel a bit more performed, rather than sequenced.
I’d like the whole thing to sound less sequenced. I’d like to loosen things up. I’m imagining a small (or not-so-small), contemporary jazz unit recording this in the studio.
Think of bands like Jaga Jazzist or Snarky Puppy.
(How might it sound if they performed this? That’s close to where I’d like this to end up.)
I think it’s a pretty good length, and it does keep my attention from pretty much the beginning to the end. There’s a lot of variety in the drums and instruments that I enjoy, so I was listening intently all the way through. I enjoy jazz quite a lot, so I was naturally interested in it, but I can imagine someone who isn’t as into jazz clicking off after about a minute. Not a bad thing, just worth a mention to keep my feedback in check.
If you really wanted to make it shorter, I think you could trim about 8 bars off at around 3:00, and another 8 at around 4:30.
About the sax: I think it fits decently, but I feel like it could be softer or at least one octave higher. When it first comes in at around 1:12, I felt like it was too sudden and way to loud in the mix just because it has a lot of low end, but the bass isn’t very in-your-face, and most of the piano/keys don’t have a ton of low end. I think if you made it just a little softer, I think it would sit more nicely in the mix.
To make it feel organic and like a group of people actually played it, I would recommend adding a tiny bit of swing (just increase it by 2-3 at most). The only other thing that I can think of to make it feel like that is to make some of the notes soft, especially for the saxophone. With saxophones, I personally imagine someone actually playing the melody on a sax, and thinking of where the “intonations” (I don’t know the word for it–maybe “stress”?) would be, and making some of the notes in between those intonations softer.
I think I’ll stick with the length after all. (Not sure what I was thinking when I mentioned trimming out 8 bars. It’s effectively built on 16-bar passages, so trimming 8 from any 1 section would the feel out.)
Good to know it works for an interested audience.
You’re right about the sax coming in kinda unexpectedly during the intro build. It could probably work like that, but later. I think it’s good, but it might work better on a breakdown later in the track, once there’s some momentum (and the general energy level is higher).
Going to a higher octave means potentially entering octaves where the Auxy sax samples start to sound a bit cheap. I think they’re based on a limited number of key samples, with higher notes seemingly being lower samples reused at higher keys, rather than a fresh resample. And all the breathiness is lost.
I tried the sax on some of the lead melodies, but again, it meant straying upwards into notes where these sax samples don’t sound so convincing.
Good call on adding swing. It could help take the edge of the quantisation just a little.
Thanks for the thoughtful feedback. Really appreciate it.
3:15 seems like a good opportunity to play with the bass some, change up the drums a bit and at that point I’d really like to hear some rides. Thinking on Jaga Jazzist some, something they do in a lot of their tracks is drop the wall of sound for a bit to explore a different idea entirely. Animal Chin comes to mind, there’s that break down about 2/3 of the way through where it’s just drums and bass pretty much. 3:15 to like 3:38.
I wouldn’t shorten it though. The length is perfect, there’s enough variation in there that things stay interesting. And I know you said the ending wasn’t really complete yet, even having it resolve on a lower note that’s drawn out would do. Or you could do a fade out lol I love fade outs I don’t care what anyone says the vibe it casts would work with a fade
You’re welcome! I’m glad I can help out a little. I totally understand what you mean with the sax notes at higher octaves, as I’ve experienced that myself—I forgot about that when typing my previous message. Otherwise, with iammane’s feedback as well this is going to be a great track!