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Topic: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Talking Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Could one skillful performer actually "connect" notes during a solo performance by using the "live" ambience of a hall? I don't know why this came into my head (not many things do these days) but I am curious as to your views. After all, what better place than this forum with it's vast plethora of knowledgeable musicians?
    Think about this for one moment. If you were in a concert hall that was fairly "live" you could hear when the note(s) were starting to fade and thus continue. One would have to be very acute to listen and to master the timing! Sounds absolutely impossible but fascinating! Unless someone has already accomplished this? I would love to hear their account and how it can or was accomplished.
    Or, I am just plain crazy (which isn't far from truth).
    Styxx

  2. #2

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Styxx,

    I’m not medically qualified to comment on your question about your mental health but I can say that there’s no need for concern on your question about deliberately using live ambience as a part of an acoustic performance. As an example, I composed a piece for solo valve trombone about 6 years ago that consciously used the sound of a large stone church as an integral and interactive element of the composition. I’ve converted the piece to mp3 so that you can hear what I’m talking about. The piece is called “Walls of Stone.” No, there are no trombone samples here – this one’s done the old-fashioned way – wrestling a brass tube, two falls out of three!

    The piece uses 3 brief written motifs as raw material for (strongly Jazz-influenced) improvisation. The piece is highly chromatic. I’ve included a link to my handwritten “roadmap.” As you can see, I made notes to myself about interacting with the ambience of the church. I performed the improvisation in one take while listening carefully to the church’s reverberant reaction to the things that I played. There was no preparation on my part other than jotting down the motif ideas to myself just before the recording session. There are times when the trombone “melts” into the reverberation and other times when the “return” time of the reverberation plays a part in the rhythmic aspects of the piece. As a brass player, it’s always fun to play in a large, live-sounding stone structure. This piece was something of a celebration of that fact.

    Here are the links:


    http://www.garritan.com/beta/Hopkins...llsofstone.mp3

    http://www.garritan.com/images/hopkins/wosscan.jpg

    Tom

  3. #3

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    This is a very cool recording, Tom. Thanks for sharing it.

    The same thing can be done with effects processors using reverb, digital delay and other effects.

    -- Martin
    http://www.starbirthmusic.com

  4. #4

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Martin,

    Darn right it can, at least in this case - if you include convolution in your bag of tricks. Your post made me notice that in copying the text from Word to my reply I had inadvertently omitted the last paragraph I had written about the piece. And one of the most interesting parts of the story too. I was so busy trying to get the links to work that I didn't notice something was missing! Ah, technology. . . Here's the rather important omitted paragraph that was supposed to come before the links:

    Having said that, it was an abstract celebration because this particular "Church" was an illusion. While I could have spent time searching for an appropriate local church in which to record my piece I had just become acquainted with a fascinating idea that was new to me at that time (1998): Convolution. So, this recording's "live ambience" was one of my first experiments with convolution and used an impulse from Sonic Foundry that came with the original Sound Forge convolution engine back when it was called "Acoustic Modeler." Test recordings told me that this church impulse was exactly what I was after for my little brass opus and I was very curious to see how successful this unfamiliar concept of room simulation could be. Because real-time convolution was much too CPU-intensive for the time, I created a reverb program in one of my hardware units that mimicked the characteristics of the impulse as closely as possible. This was used for real-time monitoring while I recorded the piece to give me the necessary aural feedback on the interaction with the "room" as I played. Once recorded, the trombone was then put through the convolution engine for the sound of the actual Church. This procedure worked extremely well and was a great work-around for the lack of real-time convolution at that time. Out of curiosity I did some comparisons then with the best reverb programs I had available and the convolution definitely sounded more natural and convincing to me. The artificial reverb sounded quite good, just not AS good in this particular situation. So the convolution version posted here is the one that made it to the final CD released in 1999. It was the only piece on the CD that used convolution.

    Tom

    P.S. I had to go back and change the dates in these posts. I just realized that Walls of Stone came later and on a different CD than I originally posted. Must be early signs of dementia.

  5. #5

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Tom, First of all, your playing is magnificent, and what a lovely sounding room that is. Just goes to show us who think that all the toys we may have is all we need, that there is still a little way to go before achieving the perfect reverb.

    I would think it would be fun to add another dimension by having another brass player at the other end of the room, and both of you improvising with each other and the acoustics, sort of an antiphonal improv.

    That was cool. Thanks for posting it and thanks Styxx for that great question.

    Karl

  6. #6

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Oops, I missed that missing paragraph. I will be brave and leave my first post. It should have saidÉÓ Just goes to show us who think that all the toys we may have is all we need, that there is still a little way to go before achieving the perfect reverb, unless the reverb was done by Tom."

    Tom, I stand in awe of your many talents.

    Karl

  7. #7

    Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Great question.....! All good stuff here. Sometimes I use a different reverb for certain string samples like 1st and 2nd violins. This makes the notes (as Tom puts it) "melt" into each other. The quality and type of reverb that we use in our recordings can make or break the "believable" aspect of our finished product. In recording, it is often asked,,,, is the microphone the most important part of the chain, or is it the pre-amp or something else? I think there really is no "one" more important tool, but if the reverb is cheap sounding, it will surely ruin an otherwise great performance.
    Great sound Tom!

    Karl, I'm sorry I have not sent you a CD. PM me your address again and I'll get it to ya
    Thanks,
    Dan

  8. #8
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Re: Use of "Live" Ambience to connect notes during a performance.

    Tom,
    Very nice and interesting. So this is very doable I see. Thanks for posting.
    Styxx

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