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Topic: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

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  1. #1

    Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Hi -

    How much value do real acoustic instruments add to predominately sample-based compositions these days? I know this is a “depends” question, but with the improvement in sample quality are we beginning to see diminishing returns relative to the extra work of adding a few live components?

    So many here are accomplished players of real instruments (I know who you are and I know what you play), yet do you find yourself looking less at adding live instruments to punch up the composition than you did a few years ago? Has anyone experienced any differences in adding live instruments to the more realistic sample libraries vs. older sample libraries? Thanks for any perspective, comments, practices.

  2. #2
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    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    I can\'t recall ever not using live instruments on a track unless its been a simple mock-up demo that isn\'t for final production. The input of other musicians is so very important IMO.

  3. #3

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    My personal feeling is that no matter how good the samples are, if there is a solo lead line it is far better with a performer on that instrument. It doesn\'t really matter which instrument it is, just having someone give a different take and a human feel tips the whole session toward sounding better and more real (if that is the objective).
    A sample library, no matter how good, is only a momentary snapshot of an instruments true range. And having human interaction with other musicians is far more fun then diddling dials on your own.
    On any of the extended Lord of the Rings DVD collection there are sessions showing the scoring stage with Howard Shore conducting. There is no way to get all that from samples (but you can get close).
    Like Jeff Rona says \"It sounds like the real thing till you hear the real thing.\"
    I do like the combination of samples and other players if time and budget allow.
    Cheers,
    Jamie

  4. #4

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Originally posted by Joanne Babunovic:

    I know this is a “depends” question, but with the improvement in sample quality are we beginning to see diminishing returns relative to the extra work of adding a few live components?
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi Joanne

    While I am not as intense as Jon (who, I should point out, I work with on a daily basis so know just how anti-sample he can be!) when it comes to using live musicians, I do think using experienced pros can add so much more life to pieces. We, and a few others, were listening to Aaron Saps excellent wacky big-band demo on the SAM website earlier and one noted just how much life was added to the piece by the inclusion of a guitarist.

    If you have a good flautist or trombonist to help out, you\'ll hear a real difference than if you try to emulate their parts using the latest library.

    The only thing that can get in the way here is the recording process itself. If you\'re stuck in a small squat studio with little quality recording gear to hand then you run the risk of not having a recording of the performer/s that will be of similar quality to the sample libraries - pretty much all of the recent ones are really outstanding and beautifully clear.

  5. #5

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Joanne,

    I feel that if you want it to sound like real musicians, then get real musicians. That doesn\'t mean that samples are not good, I think they are fantastic, but I do not try to use them to emulate a \"real\" acoustic musician. I use them to do music that sounds the way I intended for it to sound. Many times, that is using samples in a way that no live player could duplicate. Using a few real musicians on top of samples makes a big difference, IMO, if you do want it to sound like an orchestra.

    And if it\'s a didgeridoo part, you\'ll never get the results with samples that you could get with a good player [img]images/icons/grin.gif[/img] .

    -- Martin

  6. #6

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Hi Jon, Jamie, and TParks,

    Very surprised. You are more likely to add live performances than not. And I guess there\'s some clouding of the issue I hadn\'t considered; There\'s the value of adding a live sound (i.e. midi composer picking up an instrument they happen to play and adding to samples) compared with the value of a another performer\'s unique contribution.

    TParks - your comment implying it is now harder to add live instruments due to the quality of the samples is very interesting. I have not had the opportunity to experiment with adding live to the better samples, but I had suspicion that there might be new challenges with the higher quality samples.

  7. #7

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Originally posted by mschiff:
    Joanne,

    Using a few real musicians on top of samples makes a big difference, IMO, if you do want it to sound like an orchestra.

    -- Martin
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi Martin,

    This is the focus of the question. I\'ll never be in the position to have more than one or two live performances weaved into the sample-based composition. Although I probably need to make this another topic, and sorry I picked you (or anyone else with the time to chime in) to explain this, but what is the process for example, adding a live guitar to a sample-based compostion? Do we record guitar via analog mic, convert to wav audio and then incorporate into the sequencer and treat like any other sample-based midi tracks?

  8. #8

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Joanne,

    I do all my composing in Sonar 3 XL. It can be done in whatever order works for you. When my other thread runs its course, I will go through the procedure that I used.

    I frequently do a couple of midi parts, then an analog recording, then another midi, etc. It is as simple as arming a track for recording and then recording through some analog source. You do need a quality sound card and a good signal path (microphone, preamp, etc.). No conversion is necessary. That happens automatically in your sound card. When you record into the sequencer (on a PC) the file is recorded to a wav file. With guitar, if it is electric, then you don\'t need a microphone. You can record it direct with a preamp into the sound card (or go through a mixer).

    Hope this helps. Feel free to email me any time about this if you need help. mschiff*NOSPAM*@cdsol.com. You know what to do [smile].

    -- Martin

  9. #9

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Martin,

    Very exciting to hear adding live is so easy. I\'ve just migrated from sequencing on a keyboard to Cubase SX and really had no clue it would be that easy to add live with this new approach to sequencing. Thanks and I\'ll look forward to details on your other post regarding the typical process/workflow of adding one or two live instruments to predominantly sample-based compositions. Thanks also for your email.

  10. #10

    Re: Real Instruments in Sample-Based Compositions

    Originally posted by Joanne Babunovic:

    I\'ve just migrated from sequencing on a keyboard to Cubase SX and really had no clue it would be that easy to add live with this new approach to sequencing.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">it\'s great to read this. My biggest problem with hardware sequencing was the issue of live audio. Moving to the modern MIDI+Audio DAWS will bring you much more power than you may have imagined.

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