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Topic: GPO brass - attacks.

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  1. #1
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    GPO brass - attacks.

    Hi all,

    I am looking at doing a bit of Latin/pop/disco (think Earth Wind Fire) style brass arrangement with GPO and somehow I can't seem to achieve good sharp attacks from the brass instruments in GPO. Are there any settings I can use on GPO (aside of the mod-wheel and dropping bricks on my controller keys) to achieve that sharp attack?

    Please post back with any other techniques on the brass you guys have uncovered.

    Many thanks!!!

    meeehoon

  2. #2
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    "(think Earth Wind Fire)"
    Wow, now that's a horn section!
    I am not too versed at using the brass as of yet in GPO so this is just a thought. Have you tried the "overlay" layered with each solo or ensemble brass section? Maybe if you max the overlay velocity out at the right moment you may get more of the attack you are looking for? Other than that the only suggestion is to wait for the Big Band add on I heard was in the works.
    Hope this helps.
    Good luck.
    Styxx

  3. #3

    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    No Styxx, this doesn't work, too. Believe me, I needed many, many brass attacks lately and I have explored this in depth. When you max out the Horn overlay it sounds like fake, weak brassy miniature Horns and if you max out the Trumpet overlays it sounds like the brass patch of a cheap synth (and no amount of EQing helps..). I fear we have to wait for the GPO-update.

    But here is how you can make good sounding brass within the limitations of the current programming.

    1) Compose your music then split out the parts for each instrument and put them on an individual track each.

    2) Assign each track to a different Brass "Ens" Instrument. So if you create a regular Horn section you end up with 4 tracks.

    2) Create 2 more tracks, assign them to "Horn F" and "Horn FF". You might want to edit the programs since "Horn F" doesn't cover the full range of a Horn (don't ask me why... ).

    3) Combine the notes from the ensemble instruments into the "Horn F"-track. You end up with a track that has all 4 voices in it. If there is too much going on in your music you might want to create one more "Horn F" track and split the notes between the 2 of them. Be careful not to double notes in the Horn F track!! If you have all 4 Horns playing the same note, you MUST make the "Horn F" play only one note or you get phasing problems.

    4) Copy the contents of the "Horn F" track to the "FF" track.

    5) Remove all notes from "Horn F" where you want the Horns to sound soft.

    6) Remove all notes from the "FF" track, except for the spots where it shall sound blaring and brassy.

    7) Paint individual modwheel curves for each track. Horn 1-4 + F may be nearly identical but be careful to give the "FF" track lower modwheel values (about 20-30% less).

    8) Go into the mixer (NOT the midi mixer but the one where you adjust volumes of the vst/dxi instruments) and set Horns 1-4 and F to the same volume. Set "Horn FF" to a volume about 1-2.5dB lower.

    9) Create an EQ for each instrument section in your brass (eg. one for Horns, one for Trumpets, ...). Tune each EQ to bring out the best in the instrument (ie: make the Trumpet less squeaky and thin, make the Horns warmer and fuller, boost the low end of the Trombones and dampen the highs on them, ...)

    Then try pressing play, tweak it a bit and suddenly you have a quite fat and fairly realistic sounding Horn section. There still wont be really sharp attacks but if you paint a little peak with the modwhel at each attack for the "FF" Horn it will sound quite good.

    What I wrote here can be applied to the Trumpets, Trombones and Tuba as well. Just keep the Trombone OV at the same volume as the "Trombone Ens" tracks (it's way more silent than the other Overlays), but turn the volume of "Trumpet OV" and "Tuba OV" down about 1-1.5dB.

    I hope this helps. And I'm really looking forward to the update, which I bet will appear right after I finished this project in which I really would have needed it.

    I love GPO, you can really tweak and play around so it will sound even better than out of the box!

  4. #4

    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    I've come across the same procedure as you, musicpete! You've described exactly what I do with the brass section.

    I'd like to add just one reference: listen to Francesco Marcettti's United we Stand this is probably the best demo on the GPO site to hear the possibilities of the brass section.

    Anton

  5. #5

    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    Thank you Galvedro!

    In the beginning I struggled with GPO's brass. But using the described technique one can get the brass to sound amazing! By finding it out myself I also learned incredibly much.

    Now if the update will give us better attacks, I will be in brass heaven.

  6. #6
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    Oh, I see...that layout sure makes sense! Thanks for clearing that up for us musicpete. I'll remember that when and if I ever get around to using GPO for my own compositions (soon).
    As for the add ons, I'm waiting just like everyone else.
    Styxx

  7. #7
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    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    Nice! Will give this a try! Many thanks and virtual air beer all round!

    meeehoon

  8. #8

    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    Looks like this simply how it's done. Musicpete and galvedro both do the same thing that I do. In terms of creating a staff for the overlay, I do the composing in Finale, and put, for example, Horns I & III in one staff and in layers 1 and 2 respectively, and on a second staff, will put Horns II & IV also in layers 1 and 2. Then I select the plugin to create a piano reduction, and it merges the two staves (or however many staves you choose) together for easy editing. I just remove any duplicate notes, save as a MIDI file, and drop it into the tracks window in DP. Works like a charm. The piece I'm finishing up (hopefully soon) has 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, and a tuba. I'm looking forward to posting it, but it depends on the director and how many more changes he wants.

  9. #9

    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    Sadly, you've just run up against the only real 'weak spot' in GPO--namely the brass. I have been using them less and less, though in the right musical situations they can sound quite good (the Hindemith excerpt posted a couple weeks ago is a good example as is the Dvorak "New World"). The 'chorale' type of slow tempo brass writing is okay with GPO.

    If on the other hand, you want to compose some aggresive fast tempo film cues (or r&B), then GPO will dissapoint you.

    Forum members here mostly think the brass are fine, but based on the pieces submitted and the demos, its clear that GPO can't do it ALL.

    I believe to that end, Gary has this 'big band' or whatever add-on to address the short-comings. I know Gary and Tom have good ears and a musician's sense, so these 'weaknesses' in the brass are surely knowen to them, proabably before GPO was released.

    GPO was planned as a 'composer's toolkit' and to that end, the brass shortcomings were deemed acceptable, I'm sure.

    Actually I only find the trumpets to be really poor (synthy sounding) and the other brass are much better, but the attacks are still synthy if you push them.

    Since the application of the brass that you are using relies mostly on strong trumpet sections such as in r&b and big band, the 'polite' euro-style orchestral brass wouldn't cut it anyway.

    Why don't you hold off and wait for the BB expansion which is surely coming soon. The techniques discussed here won't get the sound you are needing.

  10. #10
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    Re: GPO brass - attacks.

    GPO is an orchestral library that includes orchestral brass. It handles traditional orchestral and symphonic brass, concert band, and other types of brass ensembles quite well. There have been many that have been using GPO Brass with very good results and there are many examples of this in the various demos. It is when expections go beyond what the library was designed for that there are perceived limitations.

    As an analogy, the Honda Civic provides reliable good transportation - and no one expects it to run up mountains. It was not designed to run on dirt roads, it's lack of 4 wheel drive is not a "limitation" or a "short-coming". It just wasn't designed as an SUV. It does what it was designed for and does it very well.

    Orchestral brass is just one type of brass. There are other types of brass such as Big Band, Tower of Power, Jazz, Salsa, R&B and others. GPO is an orchestral library and the brass (and other instruments) were not designed for these situations. We are diligently working on a Jazz/Band set specifically designed for those types of music.

    Tom has been working on some additional programming for more accented and sharper attacks for the next update of GPO. Hopefully this will be available in the next few weeks (awaiting Native Instruments). This may provide more options, but it still won't cover it all because some styles are played quite differently than orchestral brass. The approach, intonation, attacks, dynamics, ranges, the space and even the instruments can be different as you venture to other styles. Tom, Prof. Jim and some of the other brass players here can expound on this better than I. In some types of music one may best be served with a jazz, big and or pop brass rather than orchestral brass.

    Gary Garritan

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