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Topic: GPO versus...

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  1. #1

    GPO versus...

    orchestration textbooks and scores!

    I\'ve looked at GPO and other commonly compared sample libraries and I\'m already convinced that GPO would be the one to get if I get one. However....

    My goal in using it would not be to produce a final sound. Rather, my goal would be to learn to orchestrate better. Having the use of a fairly good sounding orchestral palette seems like a good way to do that. My question is whether my money would be better spent buying GPO or buying an orchestration text and and some scores to pieces I like. If it helps, I have training in traditional Western art music theory and jazz theory (as well as instrumental performance), but no training whatsoever in orchestration.

    If anyone can give me advice, thanks.

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: GPO versus...

    [ QUOTE ]
    My question is whether my money would be better spent buying GPO or buying an orchestration text and and some scores to pieces I like.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    In many ways buying GPO and joining this forum is like having both. If you have done comparisons on other orchestral libraries then you already know that GPO is quite the best for the price! Furthermore, there are plenty of knowledgable musicians of all levels and experiences here at your disposal for your learning pleasure. I am quite sure that others will agree when I say take the plung and get your wonderful copy of GPO! I did and what a ride I am having! You just owe it to yourself. The text and scores will be there and you will have GPO to learn along with.
    Ramble ramble ramlbe. GO FOR IT! Life is not a dress rehearsal. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif[/img]

  3. #3

    Re: GPO versus...

    I have to disagree. GPO is an absolutely amazing tool, but if you are looking to learn orchestration, you need scores and orchestration books. Better yet, get a teacher. If you had a 4th grade reading level and aspired to be a great novelist, would you first go out and buy a word processor? Even the latest spell-checker, grammar-checker, and built-in thesaurus won\'t make you a better writer--you have to go out and *read.*

    GPO can imitate an orchestra quite well, but it is *not* a real orchestra--if you learn to orchestrate using GPO, then that is precisely what you will learn: to orchestrate for GPO. If you are looking to orchestrate for real instruments, then study works that have been orchestrated for real instruments, talk to instrumentalists, conductors, composers, etc.

    Each instrument has its share of nuances and limitations which simply can\'t be simulated--if you know the nuances and limitations in advance, you can perhaps approximate them in GPO, but you can\'t expect the GPO to teach them to you. Furthermore, the orchestra as a whole has a great many quirks, subtleties, and traps--something that sounds good in GPO won\'t necessarily translate into a real orchestration, and something that would sound spectacular might never occur to you if you can\'t think out of the GPO box. And keep in mind, you still have to learn how to *notate* these elements, which is perhaps the most crucial part of orchestration--learning how to notate instrumental effects by listening to your notation program\'s clunky interpretation of prefabricated symbols is (at best) the-tail-wagging-the-dog, and (at worst) absolutely useless.

    The last thing I would want to do is deprive Gary of a customer, or to deprive a potential customer of GPO\'s joys--but for what you want to do, GPO is not your answer. It can be a great *supplement* to your course of study, and I would highly recommend it for this purpose, but it cannot be your teacher.

    chris.

  4. #4

    Re: GPO versus...

    Chara...

    I think CallMeZoot has a point indeed.

    If there\'s something that has been proven over and over IMO (both by listening to what knowledgeable people say and to the music people make), it is that the orchestration is if not the most crucial factor then at least 90% when it comes to making orchestral music...which actually makes sense when you think about it.

    Regarding your question I\'d say get both if you can afford it, there are deals out there that bundles orchestration litterature with GPO.

    I can personally recommend TrueSpec, which is where I bought my copy of GPO.

    The price of GPO is pretty much the same everywhere as far as I know, but when you buy GPO from TrueSpec you also get to select one of three orchestration books in .pdf format for free. I\'d go for the \"Rimsky-Korsakov\'s Principles of Orchestration\" revised by Peter Alexander. It\'s a great book and is highly recommended by many.

    You can check out the TrueSpec GPO webpage here.

    Also, you can\'t go wrong with the customer care and service of TrueSpec which IMO is second to none. Highly recommended indeed.

    Just my 2 cent\'s, but if your main goal is to improve orchestration skills and have a nice tool for rendering your orchestrations, I\'d say books on orchestration and GPO is a good starting combination...and with this TrueSpec deal you get both.

    All things considered, as CallMeZoot points out...GPO is a tool for rendering your orchestration skills, but if you wan\'t to improve your theory skills, you\'ll most likely at the very least need some good books on the subject. Going \"trial and error\" on orchestration might work to a certain degree, but many have said one is better off learning it properly from the beginning...which is true about most things, not just orchestration.


    Cheers

    Rodney

  5. #5

    Re: GPO versus...

    I\'m going to disagree with the last two posters.

    I think if your choice is between buying some books and materials on orchestration or getting GPO, getting GPO is far and away your best bet.

    Now, we\'re not talking about ideal or optimum -- in an ideal world you\'d go to school and study this stuff for years and then apply it with whatever wonderful technology is then available.

    But having GPO is a bit like the difference between getting a digital camera and using a film camera -- the feedback in learning will be astronomical.

    You can read textbooks (and some, like Adler\'s, are very good indeed) until you know them by heart, but until you start putting notes together and hearing how they sound right then it\'s difficult to make progress.

    I\'ll go out on a limb and say I think this is why it normally takes years to learn orchestration -- all theory and not too much actual practice and of course it takes this long. It would be like trying to learn to play golf by hitting the ball and then coming back the next day and seeing where it landed. Or learning to play a musical instrument by blowing into it and then hearing the results an hour later. Could anyone learn to play that way?

    But with GPO you get instant feedback, you get instant results, and I think someone with absolutely no musical background can in one hour learn more than someone can learn in a whole semester of study. Truly, this is a whole new way of looking at music, and don\'t listen to people who have been classically trained (it\'s a lot like listening to the old school film photographers who say you can\'t learn anything by shooting digital -- trust me, they are dead wrong).

  6. #6

    Re: GPO versus...

    I see your point, but you\'re comparing apples to oranges here. Instant feedback is the best way of learning anything musical, but if you want to learn write for orchestra, you need instant feedback from an *orchestra.*

    GPO could be helpful for trial-and-error learning in the very basics of chord voicing and timbre combination, but when it comes to texture, it won\'t teach you much on its own. No amount of fiddling with the MOD wheel and pedal will help you come up with a sparkling Ravellian texture. This is not to say GPO is not *capable* of approximating this kind of texture, just that it requires you to know in advance how it should sound, and then get creative with programming to coax it out of GPO in a realistic way. If you just fiddle blindly with GPO, you will most likely get results that sound great on your computer but won\'t translate properly into a real orchestra. And, I repeat, in order to translate at all into a real orchestra, you must know how to notate every little nuance, which is obviously not something a sound module can teach you.

    Furthermore, GPO does not have many articulations at all--it certainly has the flexibility for a knowledgeable person to approximate detache, portato, spicatto, jete, legato, martele, staccato, etc., but if you don\'t know these articulations exist, then how will GPO help you learn them? And these are just the basics--no magic wheel-work in GPO will help you \"discover\" the existence of col legno, sul ponticello, or sul tasto, let alone what they\'re called or how to communicate them to a living string section.

    Of course, if all you\'re looking to learn is how to evenly distribute notes (from, say, a piano score) into the orchestra with a basic arsenal of short and long notes, then GPO is a fine educator. But this skill only accounts for a page or two of most orchestration books--you could learn it in 20 minutes. For the past 150-200 years, orchestration has been about color and texture, and the orchestra is capable of a huge variety of colors and textures that either a.)can\'t be done in GPO, or b.)require foreknowledge and creative programming in GPO.

    An orchestration book (like Adler\'s) which has recordings of almost every example provides \"instant feedback.\" Listening to a recording and following along with the score provides \"instant feedback.\" Attending a local or university orchestra rehearsal provides \"instant feedback.\" See how it looks in the score, hear how it sounds in an orchestra. What more could you want?

    I\'m not trying to be contrary or argumentative here, I\'m just trying to prevent Chara from learning things incorrectly. I love GPO and I would highly recommend its use in many capacities, but not as an orchestration teacher.

    chris.

  7. #7
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    Re: GPO versus...

    The original poster said his goal is not to produce a better sound. He wants to learn to orchestrate better. If this is his goal he should get the books and take a class if possible. If he gets GPO, he\'ll be spending time learning different skills necessary on the computer for GPO. I think he would benefit by using both. But in reply to his original question, he\'ll get more education on the subject of orchestration if that\'s what he concentrates his studies on.

    JT

  8. #8

    Re: GPO versus...

    [ QUOTE ]
    My question is whether my money would be better spent buying GPO or buying an orchestration text and and some scores to pieces I like.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    My answer: yes!

    Learning how to orchestrate is a dificult task, constituting a lot of trial & error and a lot of reading. Adler\'s orchestration is one of my invaluable tools, and so is GPO. One without the other makes learning really difficult. If you have just GPO, you\'ll learn timbre and sound blending, possibly what instruments sound good together, but you won\'t learn how a violinist reads music versus how a trumpeter reads music.

    (Yes there is a very definite difference. For example: a slurred line just means for most brass to play the slurred part without tongue [legato]--the same passage for violin means not only legato, but to play the passage on one bowstroke. This means that your notation must be realistic to play for the intended instrument, otherwise you will confuse your performers and waste valuable rehearsal time. There are nearly infinite nuances you need to study if you plan to write for an orchestra--a lot of them in the strings alone--the above is merely one example.)

    I believe notational knowledge is of paramount importance if you intend for live players to perform your work. But, this knowledge is slow in coming if you do not have some way to practice. This is why I seriously suggest you get both a good synth and and written guide to orchestration.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: GPO versus...

    Here are some other good sources that are inexpensive through Amazon Books. In addition to many others including Adlar in my personal library.

    · Principles of Orchestration by Nikolay Rimsky-Korsakov (Author)
    · Study of Counterpoint by Johann Joseph Fux, Alfred Mann (Translator)
    · Orchestration by Cecil Forsyth (Author)
    · Treatise on Instrumentation by Richard Strauss (Author), Hector Berlioz (Author)
    · The Reel World: Scoring for Pictures by Jeff Rona

    You may find these usefull.

  10. #10

    Re: GPO versus...

    [ QUOTE ]
    My question is whether my money would be better spent buying GPO or buying an orchestration text and and some scores to pieces I like. ...If anyone can give me advice, thanks.

    [/ QUOTE ]

    My advice: Don\'t choose. Do all of the above.

    I learned orchestration the old-fashioned way, by obsessively studying scores and orchestration texts, and listening to records while following the score. Also, I\'ve been a working orchestral musician for 25 years, which is definitely an advantage.

    Still, I think that having such things as GPO back when I was a student would have also been an invaluable learning tool. So why choose? Do it all!

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