Last night I saw a REAL Symphony Orchestra....
Hi All, I had the pleasure of seeing a REAL symphony orchestra last night. For many of you I\'m sure it\'s no big deal, but if you are like me, and your last orchestral experience was the high school band, then I whole-heartedly recommend that you go and see one.
The first thing I simply couldn\'t get over was sonic beauty I was hearing. The orchestra in question was in fact a Uni orchestra and when these \"young kids\" started playing I had to blink as my eyes couldn\'t believe what my ears were hearing.
Not only did seeing the orchestra live give me a greater and renewed appreciation of classical music, it also gave me a \"frame of reference\" for what we try to create with our sample libraries.
I noticed that there was not nearly as much decay in the hall as I would\'ve imagined. It seemed to be more of a \"large ambience\". So in my next orchestral mock-up I will be experimenting with shorter but fuller reverb settings if that makes sense.
I was also interested to see how a composer can really create a \"conversation\" with different instruments in the orchestra. In one of the movements (I think it was in an Adagio by Brahms) the Cello\'s (Celli?) and Basses were playing pizzicatto. The 1st and 2nd Violins were responding by playing the pizzicatto on the off beat. It was something you could actually watch, almost like a tennis match, as the strings on the right duelled with the strings on the left. It also created a nice \"stereo bounce\".
As a GOS user, watching the string section play gave me a deeper understanding of how to utilise my library. Given my lack of musical training I have to admit that my imagination went as far as having the Cello\'s and Basses mirror the strings down in their respective octaves.
I am also not ashamed to say that I didn\'t really know what to do with the Viola\'s. Now, I can see so many possibilities; to my ears Viola\'s and Cello\'s seem to blend beautifully. I suspect now that when I have heard those low and sombre string passages in the past what I was hearing was not violins, but Viola\'s playing in their \"sweet spot\" and Cello\'s playing in their upper registers. I also couldnt go past the beauty of hearing the Basses and Cello\'s playing Pizzicatto whilst the Violins played legato over the top. The sound of the lower strings playing pizz was so full that for a moment I thought that the Timpani had joined in.
In the pieces I watched last night (almost entirely Adagios in style) I noticed that the Horns also play a great supporting role to the strings and were used something like 60% of the time, more than I would\'ve first imagined.
And that\'s another point, the poor old Trombonists mustn\'t have blown more than half a dozen notes last night. As silly as it sounds, I also realised that the whole orchestra doesnt have to play Tutti (all together) the whole time. It\'s obviously quite legitimate to have certain players or even sections sit there for entire movements without sounding a note.
For the experienced and classically trained among you, please forgive me for the simplicity of these statements, but perhaps some of you making your first foray into the orchestral world will gain something from this. I know that I certainly did.
The two main insights I gained from last night were;
1. Sonic Purity, I know it is extremely hard to mimic a real orchestra with samples but hearing something as beautiful as I did last night sure does make me want to strive for it. It also \"recalibrated\" my brain to what sound I should be trying to create.
2. Playing Techniques, if you\'re like me and have gone and bought a stack of sample libraries but feel restricted in how to best use them, go and watch an orchestra. See how the instruments can interact with each other. Also watch the dynamics they create. On of my other failings has been to always load up the forte samples in my libraries. (Must hark back to my Rock \'n\' Roll days.) The softer sound that an orchestra creates is enough to make a grown man cry. No disrespect to Hans Zimmer, but I think I was starting to get into the habit of composing everything at full volume ala \"The Rock\" as I had been listening to so many of his scores.
Last night gave me SO MANY ideas, I can\'t even begin to describe them. The next time I load up Gigastudio I will have a fresh perspective and renewed vigour.
Thanks for reading my long ramblings. [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img]