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Topic: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

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  1. #1

    What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Hi All,

    I am very curious about ones approach to orchestral scoring using sampled sounds - Windows platform only - sorry no mac here.

    Do you play all of your orchestral lines using a keyboard controller or do you enter notes into some kind of software program assigning each line a sampled instrument with appropirate patch or keying?

    Do you write it all out on stave paper or in piece meal entering the lines using a master keyboard or do you do it as above?

    I am very curious to know your approach. I really need to have the ones who having been doing this (having expertise in virtual scoring) and would not benefit from the talkers who think they know how to do it with all due respect.

    Alan Russell

  2. #2
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Hi Alan,

    I rarely write out in full score, but I do a lot of sketching on staff paper. It keeps me from digressing to lines that fall comfortably under my fingers.

    Then, I try to get a structure in the sequencer, playing in the primary parts. After that, I fill in the secondary/counter parts.

    I generally play in the parts, almost 100%. The only case where I don\'t play the part is when the tempo is just too brutal for my keyboard chops. Even then, if I can slow the tempo a bit and play it, I\'ll opt for that.

    I think it\'s possible to get good results from step or note entry, with subsequent tweaking, but for me it\'s a much faster path to do the playing. The things I do naturally as a performer, vs. intellectualizing them too much, tend to come through in the final piece and are more satisfactory to me.

    Since you\'re a sax player, I think a WX-5 (Yamaha, wind controller) would be a desirable investment. A lot of the expression which is intuitive to your airstream takes a long time to abstract and mock-up with controllers after the fact. Things like flowing countermelodies come out very well when you apply your actual physicality to them. In my case, I find that I\'ll instinctively play more dramatically than I\'d \"abstract\" after the fact, because it seems to be coming from a different part of my brain--from a less intellectual place. Of which there seem to be many in my monkey-brain, haha. Even with my sorry chops (trumpet player) on the WX-5, there are some tasks which come out so appreciably better that it\'s worthwhile for me to muck through the lines and capture the expression. The one thing that\'s a little difficult is that the timing has to be very good, sans quantizing, or the notes become disaligned from the underlying controller information (which does not move with quantization). When something is too talented for my 1/4 chops on the sax controller, I ditch the \"melody\" and just concentrate on playing a fake melody that I CAN execute finger-wise, with the expression I want--then I drag the notes to their proper pitch in piano roll. That way, I get the rhythm and expression nailed, and the dragging of notes to different pitches is pretty trivial compared to the amount of repetition and tweaking that the expressive content would require if not \"played.\"

    That\'s about all I\'ve got. Hope you get some use from some of it.

  3. #3

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    I helped Hank Mancini do this before he passed away, so I hope I qualify.

    It doesn\'t matter whether you\'re on a Mac or a PC as all sequencing programs work the same way.

    Everyone has a different approach, so there\'s no one right or wrong way. It\'s all about how you work.

    For me, I first start by picking out the samples I\'m going to use before I start work. I do this using rough sketches I\'ve done so I can pick the right sounds. Once done, I prefer to work out the most of the finished score on paper first. I say most, because we\'re still dealing with samples, so I\'ve learned to check vertical stacks at the keyboard with the samples I\'m using. Some things that work for live don\'t work for samples. That\'s reality.

    In selecting samples, I do so according to the dictates of the melodic lines. In other words, one sample will not do it all. Some melodic lines and effects have to be broken down, like a mosaic, over several tracks. This is a sequencing reality that doesn\'t come up when working with Finale or Sibelius and then importing the score. Yes, you have the notes in, but they all have the same velocity levels and still lack shape.

    After this, you go through line by line and shape volume levels and velocity, plus correct panning.

    Eventually, you finish.

  4. #4

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Originally posted by Bruce A. Richardson:
    When something is too talented for my 1/4 chops on the sax controller, I ditch the \"melody\" and just concentrate on playing a fake melody that I CAN execute finger-wise, with the expression I want--then I drag the notes to their proper pitch in piano roll. That way, I get the rhythm and expression nailed, and the dragging of notes to different pitches is pretty trivial compared to the amount of repetition and tweaking that the expressive content would require if not \"played.\"
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s a great tip!! I don\'t know why I never thought about doing that.

  5. #5

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Peter,

    can you please tell me your gear you use to create your orchestral scores..

    TIA

    Alan Russell

  6. #6

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Hi Alan,

    You know my struggles and junior status with this, but for what it\'s worth:

    1. Play out the entire base harmony/melody in piano or sometimes with a full string pad. Sometimes I will bother to actually put this into a midi track as I tend to forget particular melody/counterpoints two seconds after I do them.
    But the track is eventually thrown away.

    2. Switch to another track and slowly begin building and substituting each note in the piano or string pad with the \"potentially\" right instrument. Each instrument naturally gets its own track.

    What\'s tough about midi and samples is that a score that would typically call for a bass or cello in a real live orchestra, may end up using a violin in very low registers on the keyboard because for some unknow, mysterious reason, it simply sounds better.

    Are you writing from sratch or mocking something up? Would love to hear some of what you are doing, and good luck.

  7. #7

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Originally posted by cmrick:
    </font><blockquote><font size=\"1\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">quote:</font><hr /><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Originally posted by Bruce A. Richardson:
    When something is too talented for my 1/4 chops on the sax controller, I ditch the \"melody\" and just concentrate on playing a fake melody that I CAN execute finger-wise, with the expression I want--then I drag the notes to their proper pitch in piano roll. That way, I get the rhythm and expression nailed, and the dragging of notes to different pitches is pretty trivial compared to the amount of repetition and tweaking that the expressive content would require if not \"played.\"
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">That\'s a great tip!! I don\'t know why I never thought about doing that. </font><hr /></blockquote><font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">It IS great tip. I\'ve done this myself, especially on jazz piano pieces where my chops just aren\'t up to snuff.

  8. #8

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    I often come back to Andy Brick\'s Grand Hungarian Overture as a prime example. Andy sketched the entire work on five staves, then played each voice by hand at 6070% tempo.

    His five staff sketch is worth studying. It\'s the orchestral version of a lead sheet.

    Score:
    http://www.andybrick.com/images/abrick_overture.pdf

    Music:
    http://www.andybrick.com/projects/hungarianoverture/

    And going back to my college composition class, our assignments were generally to \"write something similar to this particular Bach/Mozart piece\". Step 1 was always to listen closely to the target piece and break it down. With so many instruments and artuculations available in an orchestra, finding a \"target piece\" may still be good advice.

    I think the toughest thing about moving from pop/rock/jazz to classical is getting out of the \"groove\" mindset. Having the freedom to do something completely different in the next bar with regards to tempo and key is both freeing and frieghtening. It makes it expecially tough to lay down that first track. (That\'s why I\'ve generally \"chickened\" out and let Sibelius play it for me.)

    Question: Does Sonar 3 let you tap-in a tempo? I\'ve read that the latest Cubase has that feature. It would be great to use your own tempo, but still be able to use the timing lines in the sequencer as a reference.

    Anyway, good luck with your foray into EWQLSO, Alan.

  9. #9

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    Jon,

    your horse is closing in on my hoese\'s issue..

    ...I think the toughest thing about moving from pop/rock/jazz to classical is getting out of the \"groove\" mindset. ....

    Groove, needs to be dismissed and one must begin to think more horizontal with long term objectives rather than looking at every single measure having the so called A B A (Sonata Allegro) format. No more Club date bridges or (3 fingers up for the Key of \"A\" or 3 Down for Eb) solo choruses here..Wow!!..what a change but if your heart is in it, you can dig deep and find something that will trigger this new adventure into squareness....>grin<< just kidding..
    In every gifted musician there is a place that ages like wine for better tasting. I hope to find it..

    thanks Jon..

    Alan Russell

  10. #10

    Re: What is your Approach To Orchestral Scoring? - Windows Based only

    This post is an example of how wonderful the net can be. WE are here in virtual reality, but because of our mutual love of music, are probably closer that to many in the \"Real\" world. I\'m here in the Rio Grande Valley and probably will never see any of you, Maybe Bruce, because he\'s only 400 miles away Joanne.. LA and the others??

    Useful information has been generated here. Peter.. I have purchasd your texts in years past and have much good in them...Earl

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