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Topic: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

  1. #1

    Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Hi guys,

    no composition here, just technicalities.
    I' ve been trying to re-program an old set of samples I had and testing it out. The set belongs to an old NI's package, "Kontakt sax and brass", that I got redeeming one voucher from them. The instruments were running in their Kore player and the samples are indeed special. I assume they should be coming from Chris Hein (a subset of his relevant packages) and were used for Kontakt's native library sax and brass, solos and sections instruments. In their version for Kore, behavior was anyway rather weak. The samples have too much attack and do not "flow" well musically, no vibrato and limited possibilities of customization. But ...open wav format... so re-importing and re-programming for a geek like me was an irresistible step. I did it in my favorite sampler software, Independence.
    In this case, I wanted to focus on the tenor sax (but I had roughly the same approach for all the instruments).
    Inspired by what Garritan himself or Sample modeling do, the idea was to use the basic samples sets (6 dynamic layers, though, rather good), and simulate the remaining playing styles. Vibrato is controllable by mod wheel and modulated by two LFOs. One controls the frequency and is linked to velocity that controls intensity and width, the second constantly modulates volume within a 2db range, to create "just a bit of movement". Expression has a customizable curve and at the moment is linked to cc20. Growl is also generated by another LFO, the intensity of which is also controlled by velocity with a dramatically steep curve, so that it really shows only at the very top velocities. In combination with expression, I can use the top velocities with a lowered expression control for low volume flutter.
    Staccatos are easily achievable by quick-releasing samples at top velocities, with accented attack, and trills by adjusting the attack curve. Volume is controlled by both cc20 and velocity, but the "master" is cc20, the only one that can bottom it out.

    I tested it out with a standard midi file, Body and Soul arranged for big band with melody and solo by tenor sax.
    The file is basically unedited, exception made for the sax line, completely adapted to the working controllers of my patch, velocities and expression rewritten and heavy "interpretation" of the line involving the notes themselves: things moved, made off beat, made room for staccatos and legatos passages and so on.

    I wanted to share to know what you think about it. Do not hide that I'd be very pleased by a word from Rich, who plays the saxophone so can properly evaluate.


    Ah.. the rest of the band is a mix of things, all re-programmed by me in Independence. The brush drum set and the jazz guitar are two free samples' sets from Andrea Pettinao (google him, "", he is amazing), the piano is again a free set from Iowa University. The upright is a "Frankenstein" by itself as the plucked samples 2xround robin are.. actually coming from London Solo Strings and have a "classical" feeling, but notwithstanding this I still prefer this set to many other jazz-specifical sets I have. Only.. it is enriched by all kinds of finger, slap and body knocks FX from Dimension Pro's Upright. Most trumpets, trombones and saxes are from the same NI package, but there are one trumpet, one alto and tenor sax from Dimension Pro, one trumpet from GPO (combining trumpet+overlay, won't say how I do re-import from there ) and one rather amazing free but very rich trombone set I do not recall where I found ("Knutsson", try to google it").



  2. #2

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Hi Sec,

    This is amazing! I'm not particularly fond of the saxes in Kontakt, but you really made this one swing and sing in a true jazzy style. Must have been a hell of a job to reprogram the instrument that way!
    The ensemble fits in well, good bass, nice piano and sax choir.

    Wit admiration!


  3. #3

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    I am standing next to Max to join in an enthusiastic and prolonged ovation!!

    What a hugely entertaining post, Fab.

    I have that Kontakt Sax and Brass for Kore, so know exactly what you're talking about. The samples are good, and while the package had interesting programming, I found it awkward to use. There was an attempt to give the user instant access to properly arranged jazz chords, something in the way the guitars from MusicLab work, using keyswitches and single key access to chords. Soloing was/is also available, but as you say in your post, not enough control over the sound was provided. The entire thing felt more like simply triggering samples rather than playing instruments.

    So it's with great admiration that I tell you it's wonderful to read what all you have done to get better use out of that pool of samples. Of course you know that you go WAY beyond what most musicians are willing to do in order to have virtual instruments to play. Your experiments are so successful, but it would probably drive me crazy to attempt doing the kind of Frankenstein reconstruction that you've done here.

    The test track you've posted is ample proof of how well your time was spent doing this. It's outstanding. I hope the Forum members who are especially into jazz hear what you've done - I know they'll love it. If I had to provide any criticism, I thought maybe the attack on the lead sax was sharply accented a bit too often. But I can hear how well all the new controls you've added work - vibrato, growl, flutter, volume fluctuation. Your version of the sax makes the original seem like a lifeless collection of sample recordings which sound fine individually, but were just never the expressive kind of virtual instrument that musicians want.

    You have taken that Kontakt/Kore Library and sent it on a ride far beyond the stratosphere!



    P.S. I Googled "Knutsson" as you suggested - Hmm, there was Knutsson the "constable and virtual ruler of Sweden during the early reign of King Birger Magnusson (1280-1321)." -- I think I need to search more deeply.

  4. #4

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Thanks guys, I really appreciated your words.
    Doing your own patches is an interesting experience. One really understands how things work under the hood, and this also helps very much when you use the patches in a second moment. You just know them intimately.
    It is not difficult... one just needs to get the "concept" and put some work in it. Not so much... unless there is some looping to do. Finding loop points is quite a hard job that can sometimes turn into a nightmare.
    These brass instruments needed no looping, samples are quite long. Plus, they might gave 6 dynamic layers but not every note is available (one out of three) so there aren' t many notes to handle which means quicker job.

    Max.. actually the sound of this brass ensemble can get much better. The problem in this case is the midi file: the sax solo was indeed very nice, but the sustained ensemble is playing a very basic accompaniment all the time, just two lines badly spread around C3. It is a midi part for some brass pad, not a full ensemble. I had to split the part, clone it 6 times and transpose over 3 octaves (from trumpets& altos all the way down to baritone sax) but the result is not very satisfying. This same ensemble (NI+Dimension Pro+GPO+.."knutsson" ), appropriately fed with the right notes, sounds like this:


    (I like that baritone sax very much).

    Randy... definitely NOT the right Knutsson!
    I found the source: it was the MSLP link in Sonatina's "sources" section (http://sso.mattiaswestlund.net/). It is a big download, more than 2 GB, with a lot of things in it. The most interesting are the rather deeply sampled cello, flute and trombone. In particular, the flute and the tbone are stunning. But watch out: just the samples are there, NO patch... definitely some work to do and time to dedicate.
    Glad you liked the rendition.
    It was fun spending some time in PRV. I do not usually do it, but have to admit it is pretty rewarding

    ...those strong accents you mention...yes, that's very much like me. It is all my old guitar teacher's fault: very funky guy, still "lives by accents", even nowadays :



  5. #5

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Randy wrote:
    I hope the Forum members who are especially into jazz hear what you've done - I know they'll love it.
    I certainly do.... lovely sound those saxes......

    Nice thing for the saturday, thanks


  6. #6

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Raymond, thanks very much for commenting.
    It is nice to try to "think" as a saxophonist. The sax, in general, has a very nice sound and very rich, ranging from warm and "round" up to aggressive and "edgy". It is a very expressive instrument and really offers a lot of room for a creative approach to music.
    I am personally very "frightened". 3 years ago I began messing with VSTs and my first serious approach was movement 2 from Ravel's String quartet, built up note by note in Sonar's staff view:


    (shame I was an absolute beginner back then: lots of distortion, imperfections and rather flat expression... no way I' ll go back and fine-tune that file).

    I dramatically fell in love with strings - probably always was but that was the final push - so I bought a silent violin a few months later, an acoustic after a while and "ruined my life" with endless hours of practice.
    Now I see an alto sax in my life... NOOOOOOOOO not another one!!!

    Thanks again.


  7. #7

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Hi Sec,

    If I had to provide any criticism, I thought maybe the attack on the lead sax was sharply accented a bit too often.

    I really agree on this with Randy, but still, the reprogramming goes ways beyond the average sound of the Kontakt saxes. Congrats for that minutely labour you've put into that.


  8. #8

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Hey FAB. I got one word... GROOOOOOVY!!!! Great stuff man! Jazz is such an interesting music to listen to. I haven't heard much of it until I started listening to demos posted here.

    Thanks for the share,


  9. #9

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    Hi Sec,

    If I had to provide any criticism, I thought maybe the attack on the lead sax was sharply accented a bit too often.

    I really agree on this with Randy, but still, the reprogramming goes ways beyond the average sound of the Kontakt saxes. Congrats for that minutely labour you've put into that.

    Well... I do agree with both of you.
    Told you: "that guy" was so persistent on this particular issue: "shAka-taka/tAka-tAka/shaka-tAkataka/.......", "move things around, shift the accents, surprise me, have fun!"
    But you are right: at least 3/4 moments are really annoying. Could correct the issues, but what' s done is done.

    Max, thanks you very very much for re-commenting.

    Richard: Good to know you appreciate. We will serve you more of this and turn you to the "jazz side of things". Bet we won't succeed, I guess your tastes are a bit different.... but we will give it a try!
    Thanks for listening and commenting.


  10. #10

    Re: Sec's "Frankenstein" Jazz Big Band :)))

    Nice job! The instruments sound good and you did a fine job of orchestrating.


    Larry G. Alexander

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