What are your thoughts on a 'fake' brass section in a song?

Danny Yellow

New member
Hey,

I am currently working on a track and I really like the sound of brass. The problem: I don't play brass and it would take me tons of time to find people to play it for me and to learn how to record it. Lately I had a little discussion about 'fake' brass in tracks. Should you use fake brass or should you change the instrumentation so brass is not needed (it would change the sound and feel of the song).

Currently I record brass on my keyboard/synth (Roland juno-di). My style is quite acoustic so a synth base is a little difficult to fit in.

What do you think? Using a synth brass (any tips on how to get a good one are welcome) or changing the instrumentation and avoid the brass sound.

Looking out to your reactions!

Danny Yellow
 

Storm

Member
No issue from my point of view. It depends on your samples and how you mix it.

The biggest thing for realism is varying velocities in MIDI notes triggering the samples. If you get the randomness right, it will sound fine. Brass can and should be, in this case, mixed to sound 'in the back' or relatively back in the mix. If it needs to be a feature in the mix, that's where people might notice something that sounds processed. Samples will always be better than synth brass. If it's only synth brass, you need a lot of varying layers or some automated light doubling effect that gives the sound some movement as well.
 

Danny Yellow

New member
Thanks for your respons! One more question: Do you mean that it's better to have samples of all different instruments in the brass section, or different brass samples?
 

rhythmgj

Character in Spades...
All good advice. I believe he meant any samples of actual brass are better than synth-created. I have a Juno G and have used the brass sounds effectively. One important tip is to play each line in a brass section harmony separately. As in, don’t play chords and stabs and lines as block chords. Play each line in a part individually with proper articulation and it will sound good together. Also, if possible to add an overdub of a real instrument, that can really help. It works great with strings too.


GJ
 

Storm

Member
yeah what he said, thanks rhythmgj. Real-world multi-layered samples are usually more ideal for realism than synth sounds.
 

Danny Yellow

New member
Thanks for your replies! I have a better idea now of what I can try. So I can't fix a real brass instrument to layer (also because I live in an old appartment and I guess my neighbours are not going to like that :)) and it costs me a lot of time.

At the moment I am trying to layer brass layers with instrument layers (all with the synth) and it's better and more controllable than before. You are also talking a lot about real-world multi-layered samples. The ones that I found are mostly played chords or melody lines. When I use those I am quite limited in which chords or lines I want. I also saw some packs with all tones (I don't know how to explain), like a synth but then real. Which type of sample is best to use and did you mean?

Most of them costs some money. Do you know any packs that are free or low priced?
 

martyb

New member
When using instruments that I neither play nor have real-life access to, I always turn to loops. Many sources online which you can preview individual loops before buying. Even the best keyboard samples have to be played and it's the playing that is usually the give away, not the sound or quality of the sample. The catch is finding a loop that matches your needs, particularly phrasing. Notes can be adjusted with any pitch plug-in.... but often a loop can be a creative spark giving you something unanticipated.

In my opinion, a nice horn section can really provide a robust touch...definitely worth finding what works for you, I bet it will add to your project.

My two bits.
 

Danny Yellow

New member
Thanks for your reaction. So using, and mostly finding, loops is something I haven't done before. I tried to find something but with very little succes.

I guess you need for one instrument in the whole song the same loop? Like, I have a brass section and a sax section in my song. Correct me if I'm wrong, but the brass section should use the same loop because otherwise it would sound like the music would alternate between different brass bands.

I found two kinds of samples: Some are very short and specific. Like one saxophone line or one brass hit (the free ones don't have that many different hits in a pack or something, mostly someone who posted 1 or 2 samples). I also found the preview demos you are talking about. But the ones I found have background music.

So a very specific question: What is it exactly what you are looking for on the internet? Like, what question do you ask google :)

And I decided to keep the horn section, so thanks for your confirmation!
 

Danny Yellow

New member
For your interest. This is the result for now. I am not 100% happy with the sound yet but its already better.
I also have to work a little bit on the chords, this example is purely to show the type of brass and not the exact chords. But feedback is always welcome

Only synth brass:
View attachment Brass v1.mp3

Synths brass and instrument brass:
View attachment Brass v2.mp3

Hope I can give you an idea about what I am trying.
 

Storm

Member
Both sound good so far. I prefer #2 a little bit, not much. And in a mix both should be fine. Nice work.

To clarify 'multi-layered samples' it just meant that there is a different real world recording at velocity 58 - 72 and a different real world recording at 72 - 88 (these are ONLY EXAMPLE NUMBERS). That way it isn't just the same sample but LOUDER and it has varying articulations. I wanted that on the record as it sounded like maybe it wasn't clear and confused with layering tracks of samples in your DAW. Kontakt library has some decent brass and orchestral sample libraries for free.

Like I said earlier, it is sounding really good. Those brass musicians you hired have impeccable timing!
 

Danny Yellow

New member
That's a clear explaination. I get the difference now! Thanks!

By the way: I made a little mistake in my previous post. The first recording is only synth brass, and the second one is synth brass and synth instruments (not real brass). But thanks for the compliment :)
 

martyb

New member
I'm not sure how it is for brass and/or woodwinds... but for strings, you can find loop sets that have various arrangements comprised of individual instruments. These are often called "construction sets". Loop producers will create their material around a progression or melody, then you can build at your discretion using the individual components. What you're looking for are loop libraries, loop sellers... they come in the variety of the particular DAWs that utilize them such as Acid, Ableton, etc. However, most DAWs can use most loops so far as I know. It's a fantastic technology that has been around for a long time. Popular with EDM and the like, but I think is terribly under utilized in more conventional folk, rock, and especially soundtrack stuff. If you are completely unfamiliar with working with loops, you have some research to do, but I do believe it will open some very exciting production doors for you. Loops not only can spark creativity... but from a production standpoint, they are the real thing, not sampled and not played from a keyboard.
 

borimayra

New member
I think trying to learn how the actual instrument works and reacts, can help. By learning it can be like 15-30 mins of youtube research. So, you can shape the VSTs and samples you might be using.
 

luckykat

New member
I would be careful with brass. If you get it wrong (which I have many times) it can sound like clown music like banda style in Mexico. I would recommend Spitfire Labs. They have a lot of free VST plugins and their quality is exceptional. Pretty sure they are British so their classical instruments are top notch. Let me know how it goes.
 

Danny Yellow

New member
For those who are interested in how it has worked out:

I released my first album! I used different approaches for different types of song. So when a brass section isn't very upfront, or when the brass section may have a synthy feel, I just used a standard brass sounds and played chords with it (lots of reverb and stuff). When the brass section was more upfront, and needed to sound more realistic I mostly used this method:

1. I recorded the chords with a brass sound from my synth (Roland Juno-Di). Brass samples mostly have a recognisable high end. When layering only single instrument sounds, I missed that high end.
2. I cut off the low end of the brass track (quite high, so I really only get that wide, crispy and bright high end)
3. Then I layered it with different single instrument sounds, also coming from my synth. For lower notes using a trombone and for higher notes using trumpets. Mostly I used two different trumpets/trombones per line, to thicken it a little.

And that's quite it. I think the biggest difference is you hear all the instruments start a little apart; with a brass sample, all instruments are starting robotically at the same time.

And a little handyness with the bend/tremolo knob is also quite useful.

Thanks for all your tips. They really helped me out!
 
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