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Topic: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mix."

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  1. #1

    A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mix."

    Hello Forum,

    I am addressing my contribution in a thread separate from the named one so that it does not get lost in the middle of that one.

    I feel bound to say how sad I am to see how far the GPO, full of promise when it first appeared, is (like all other orchestral libraries) proving to be a potential curse rather than a blessing. The basic idea was to give us users an approximation of orchestral sounds so that we could get a fair idea of what our compositions would sound like when actually performed. It was true in those early days, and remains true now, that whatever we may do in a computer, it will never sound exactly like a real orchestra with their subtle phasings and slight changes of timbre, etc. (most of all in the string department.) But we were satisfied if it sounded pretty much like the real thing, because then we knew we had made no major blunders, and could happily produce our score and parts for real performance. Well, that's what I valued it for: a confirmation that my imagined orchestrations would actually work in practice. It is true that we could also use computers for pieces that would not actually get performed, perhaps for our own amusement, or in my case, for studying classical masterpieces by going through the process of playing every note in the score and thus discovering what it was there for.

    Why do some users, even senior members, want to use GPO and its ancillary computer facilities to achieve absolute perfection? Perfection in what? We have had in the past everything from up-and-down bows to baroque oboes in an attempt to get everything "right", which is impossible; from arguments about the proper amount of reverb, finally settling on convolution reverb whilst nearly always forgetting that these are recorded in empty halls; to worrying about whether a Bb clarinet can be used as an A clarinet when they are supposed to sound a little different. And now we are to go through every instrument in our "mix" (horrible word) and doctor it until it sounds, not like the instrument that was recorded in the first place, but some theoretical model of it which will make it unique and not interfere with other sounds. It is totally absurd! The latest thread, referred to in my header, concerns itself with an incredible amount of advanced technical trouble, to achieve what? A result where every instrument can be heard separately, whereas the objective of a real orchestra is to blend well. If the composer/orchestrator has done his job properly, those instruments that actually do need to be heard separately, will be.

    Where will it all end? All the fun is going out of creating music. Our main thoughts should be on our compositions and whether they are what they should be, not on the minutiae of aping a "studio recording" (another anathema to real live musicians.) We ought to use GPO and our other programs as tools, not as channels for showing how scientific we are. I want to see and hear musicians in this forum, not scientists. Viva la musica! never did refer to machines.

    I think it was C.P.E.Bach who said, "I would rather be moved than astonished." Can't we concentrate on that? Let's be musicians, not geeks. Sorry if I sound out of date. Perhaps I am.

    Terry Dwyer

  2. #2

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    This is going to be a fun thread. ~Rodney

  3. #3

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    I respectively, and completely, disagree with you.

    Personally, I'll never be moved by a poor recording, or a robotic mock-up of a piece of music that hasn't been given the oft-needed attention to sound and tone required to make it sound as best it can.

    We're working with pre-recorded material (the samples), and they need work. Also, the classical CD's that many people enjoy are often mixed to create the absolute best balance of the orchestra. Some of your favourite recordings are likely mixed.

    GPO can, and is used by many to create an approximation of their piece so they have an idea of how the real performance will go if they are lucky enough to have that option, but it, and all the other libraries out there now are becoming so much more commonly heard on TV programs, lots of films, short films, and especially games, than any real orchestra is.

    And that is where mixing, EQ, reverb and general audio engineering comes in.

    Would I be realising my dream of becoming a composer if it wasn't for all this audio production knowledge, and wonderful sample libraries?

    So on behalf of any composers doing the same as I, who are trying to fulfil their dream of getting their music out there, into media, film, or on albums and so on, long may the tasteful production of good quality music live.
    Website:
    www.grahamplowman.com
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  4. #4

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    I know exactly where the author of this thread is coming from. There is an obsessive focus on turning composers into engineers, when in the past this was never the case. Composers, which were once considered artists, are morphing into technicians. It's the tyranny of the machine. Maybe they really are taking over! And the process of gaining technical mastery over the electronic toolbox of today's up-to-date composer never ends, because the technology keeps "evolving." No sooner do you begin to finally figure out Sonar 8.5, that they completely redesign it, so that you feel you're living in the dark ages, hopelessly out of date. The saddest part of it all is that people won't bother to waste their precious time to listen your music unless it rises to a minimal level of technical brilliance. The great ideas you thought you had won't be heard and commented on, only how the "production" does not meet the accepted standards of today's composer-technicians. So, I hear you, I couldn't agree with you more. My only advice is to take what you need from the technology, but don't let it steal your heart. Keep composing, above all. Write it on paper and pencil if you have to, and send it to the copyright office, so there will be at least some evidence that you lived and tried to add something of beauty to the world.

  5. #5

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    There's actually many angles to this - I understand my angle on it may be quite acute, but it's the reason I compose. Because I hear my music almost as I intended it. A live performance would be the pinnacle...

    Sorry for not emphasizing, but composing-engineering is a viable option, because it's an option just like composing and handing your score to performers, or handing to someone else who could do a very good mock up, or, just locking it away, happy with your creation. All viable. So I don't agree with it being debunked.

    We are not being turned into engineers unless you come along kicking and screaming. I do agree that the technology keeps on moving, then just like musical tastes, poor MIDI productions of music are going out of fashion as the technology to create great music becomes more and more affordable and into the hands of anyone with a computer.

    Beethoven's 5th Symphony on an expressionless MIDI mock up may still be great music, but it does the music an awful disservice. I listened to so much music over the years on this forum that wasn't designed to be stellar recordings, and the music is so often great, and only when people expressed wishes to have an improved sound did such conversations arise. People who's music moved onto live performances don't need to have excellent MIDI mock ups. But I'll argue that it always helps to have the best possible recording you can so people can hear what you truly intended.
    Website:
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    @GPComposer
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  6. #6

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    Well, I did not expect to read this here given the "light" attendance in the forum, but since it started I think it would fun to jump in.

    When I read about how Rimsky-Korsakov practiced composing and teaching orchestration, the need for the conservatory was paramount for accelerating the learning process. The process for recording music came much later, but engineering the recording of an orchestra was its own discipline and available only to a few people because of the large budgets. Professional engraving of music was another expensive proposition as were all the other disciplines.

    The transformation of the learning, teaching, and technologies is much like what the Word Processor did for writing. We consolidated lots of steps into the heads of a few (or one) people. Now we can in our own home produce high quality material in both electronic forms (e.g. e-publishing) or printed material (1200 DPI printouts for $150 device). Some people focus on the writing, and some people focus on formats and fonts. How many fonts are there to choose from?

    So, I see the changes in music technology much like the above. Fewer people can do more things at a single workstation than ever before possible. So, people can (and sometimes do) obsess over the engineering details to achieve some "mythical" level of audio reproduction (like that font thing). Others use the tools to quickly learn the how things might sound in real life without the expense or long time frames to achieve the learning of how sounds blend in real orchestras.

    To me, these are tools to help us teach ourselves the things we want to learn. And yes, we can get easily side tracked in an of these areas along the production line, but we should all not forget the amazing choices we have in today's technology. The first time I saw MIDI I thought "neat and cheesie". Now, I can quickly whip out a plausible Glen Miller rendition so I can understand how he wrote music and tailored the sounds to the instruments.

    To me this is an awesome time in history. So, go forth and teach thyself what ever makes your curiosity peak.

  7. #7

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    Hello Terry!

    Interesting topic, and I am sure many will have much to say about this. I feel I can count myself among the lucky ones who uses instrument samples as a mock-up that approximates the music for those who may decide to perform it in the future. With the combination of Finale and GPO, the absolute most I will ever do with my rendering will be adjusting wet/dry levels and turning on/off vibraphone vibrato. The recordings may not be perfect, but (as I am just now discovering) these mock-ups do provide enough enthusiasm among musicians who are capable and motivated to perform them. Considering I know virtually nothing about the technical side of music production, I would consider myself a case where GPO is fulfilling its original purpose - which is something I would not have even imagined likely a few years ago.

    That being said, I know where both sides of this argument are coming from. On one side, the technology is great for those who are motivated to learn it, and have the patience to keep up with the technology. It can provide a satisfying result for music enthusiasts who don't necessarily have the means to become professional composers and get their music out there for orchestras to perform. But as has been mentioned, it is also a much cheaper alternative to producing music with a full orchestra at the mic.

    On the other side, I completely understand your desire to just - write. When I have an idea I want to get down quickly, nothing kills my motivation more than trying to figure out some technical detail like cross-staff beaming (as a random example) with Finale. If I have to spend 5 or 10 minutes trying to figure out the software, all motivation goes out the window. This is likely why I will never become engrossed with the technical aspects of music production. Since I do this primarily as a hobby, I don't have the patience to consider every detail of the rendering. Lucky for me, Finale, I feel, does a more than adequate job rendering the audio with its human playback.

    Interesting topic, and I'm looking forward to what others will have to say!
    Michael Obermeyer, Jr.
    youtube channel
    soundclick page

  8. #8

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    What a great post, Poolman - With absolutely no facetiousness intended, your passion on the topic is great to behold. And you made yourself very clear, I understand what you're saying.

    As with any topic under the sun, our take on it, and our opinion, can only be seen from our particular, unique perspective. Ideally we are able to see from more perspectives simultaneously as we get older, until, at the end, we can finally see that everyone was actually right all the time all along.

    But back in day-to-day reality, our perspectives are naturally limited. We have our individual expectations, and we have what we think are the lessons we've learned which have led us to have our particular opinions.

    Which is to say that the perspective you have on your topic is clear in your post, and, like all perspectives, it's limited in scope. You're not seeing things from the viewpoint of people who have very different needs and expectations.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    ...The basic idea was to give us users an approximation of orchestral sounds so that we could get a fair idea of what our compositions would sound like when actually performed...
    That was one of the ideas, but not the only one. Speaking for myself, much of the music I've produced on a computer using GPO and other soft synths, was never intended for a live orchestra to play. Much of the time, the recordings themselves have been my goal, and I've often written with an active unconcern over whether or not what I've written could even be played by live musicians.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    ...Why do some users, even senior members, want to use GPO and its ancillary computer facilities to achieve absolute perfection? Perfection in what?...
    Speaking again for myself, I'm very involved and concerned over the sound of my recordings, but I'm trying to achieve non-existent perfection, I'm trying to avoid having recordings that doesn't serve my music well. I need and want recordings that sound as professional as possible.

    It doesn't matter how wonderful someone's music is, the fact is that when there's a poor representation of it in a recording, it detracts from the piece itself. People are easily distracted by flaws and focus on those. I want to avoid as much as possible any such flaws that interrupt the experience of listening.

    And some of us are demoing our music for various reasons - for bands and orchestras to play, or to be in soundtracks of various sorts. The only way for our work to be taken at all seriously, is to have recordings which are competitively of high quality. Handing in a stinker demo is the quickest way to get your work in the dreaded "circular file."

    Those are very legitimate reasons to realize that learning to produce our music as well as possible is a very important talent to develop. I for one am not too impressed with people who complain loudly that they're AAAartists, composers and not engineers, and so don't care what they're recordings/renderings sound like. They're only hurting themselves. IMHO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    ...And now we are to go through every instrument in our "mix" (horrible word) and doctor it until it sounds, not like the instrument that was recorded in the first place, but some theoretical model of it which will make it unique and not interfere with other sounds. It is totally absurd!...
    hehe, well, from my perspective, it's absurd to not be concerned about the Very aptly named Mix. We are Mixing the sounds of instruments into pleasing recordings, and many are the tools at our disposal towards that worthy goal.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    ...The latest thread, referred to in my header, concerns itself with an incredible amount of advanced technical trouble, to achieve what? A result where every instrument can be heard separately, whereas the objective of a real orchestra is to blend well. If the composer/orchestrator has done his job properly, those instruments that actually do need to be heard separately, will be.
    In the world of virtual instruments and digital recordings, none of what you have in that paragraph is true. We're not mixing "real instruments," we're making the most of software instruments, and without putting care into the production, by doing nothing but playing the parts, we can be assured of having muddy, dull mixes. The blending of instruments in a live orchestra is one thing that happens naturally -the blending of their software equivalents is quite a different matter.

    But if we're not going to make the most out of tools like GPO, we may as well have stayed with the early synths that didn't make any pretense of sounding “real.” In fact – those kinds of synths are still available. Those could be an option for people not interested in making the best recordings possible with GPO.

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    ...All the fun is going out of creating music. Our main thoughts should be on our compositions and whether they are what they should be, not on the minutiae of aping a "studio recording" (another anathema to real live musicians.)...
    I'm sure you don't mean that musicians who only work in studios aren't both "real" and "live."

    But it's only from your very anti-technological viewpoint that what we're talking about isn't "fun." You clearly have no idea what it's like to be in the shoes of people who immensely enjoy the processes we're talking about and which you detest and rail against – And so it's a big mistake to think you know how they feel about it. Trust me - there's Much fun to be had in producing a good recording - for whatever purpose the composer/musician/home recording enthusiast has for it.

    Don't let the fun of creating music disappear for you, Terry. Do what you love to do and keep enjoying it. When you look across the room at all us nuts working away on our mixes, don't assume we're not having fun, and not as dedicated to Music as you are.

    Randy

  9. #9

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    Well, I didn't expect everyone to agree with me. But ponder this:

    We deplore our children sitting all day in front of a screen and losing out on social life, but isn't that a parallel to what has happened to music?

    Terry

  10. #10

    Re: A rebuttal of "Instrument Frequency Response, Measurement, EQ and Space In The Mi

    Quote Originally Posted by Poolman View Post
    Well, I didn't expect everyone to agree with me. But ponder this:

    We deplore our children sitting all day in front of a screen and losing out on social life, but isn't that a parallel to what has happened to music?

    Terry
    Well not in all cases. I don't play the guitar. But I do know a bit about music and my son is taking classic guitar lessons. I wrote a duet for him and his teacher and they are working on playing it as a performance piece. I know that without the tools I had writing this it would have taken a really long time for me to learn how to write for the guitar. So in that regard the tech has had the opposite effect. It just depends on what you do with it.

    Jim

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