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Topic: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

  1. #1

    New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Okay...breathe....breathe......WOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWWW W!

    I have had the GPO for 2 whole days now and I FINALLY finished re-arranging a hymn that will be on my upcoming "Orchestral Hymns Vol. 1" CD that I'm currently working on.

    First, let the gushing begin:

    1. I have been searching FOR 10 STINKIN' YEARS for a library like this. Over the last 10 years I have been using purchased Soundfonts and also Soundfonts that I've found on the Internet (after scouring for hours!). And, as you well know, nothing comes CLOSE to the GPO.
    3. I got the GPO on Friday, dinked around yesterday a bit, then last night I loaded up the various sounds (Cakewalk 3.11 PE) and tried a few more things out, and then I sat there with a silly grin on my face (this was at about 1:30 a.m. this morning) and realized...THIS IS IT!!!

    Several months ago (before I heard about GPO and all that), I completed one song towards my new album and was actually quite satisfied with it (using the old technology) and I then determined that as long as I was going to go through the trouble of arranging 10 hymns using orchestra, I might as well at least make a passing attempt to see if anything had changed in the arena of orchestral libraries in the last 9 months or so. I am a HUGE fan of Roland ANYTHING, so I first checked out the HQ Orchestral DXi package and it's not bad, but quite spendy for what you appear to get.

    I then SOMEHOW (I can't even remember how...duh??) stumbled onto the GPO main site and played the Shenendoah .mp3 file and was BLOWN AWAY. Then, like any good obsessive/compulsive, I immediately downloaded every single .mp3 file on the Garritan site, burned them all to a rewritable CD and slapped it in my portable CD player for about 4 days straight (going to and from work and other places), I literally immersed myself in all of YOUR works to see what this thing was all about.

    As you can imagine, once you hear all the examples, the case is closed. Had to have it.

    I'll shut up now and get you the link to the first attempt, but first here's some general information about the two files that I would like you all to hear:

    Hymn: It Is Well with my Soul

    Using Old Soundfont Technology: http://kevinselby.com/musicfiles/gpo/ItIsWellOld.mp3
    Using GPO (and GPO only!): http://kevinselby.com/musicfiles/gpo/ItIsWellGPO.mp3

    Both .mp3's are rough mixes, I would probably spend a bit more time tweaking all the tracks to get a better mix. In some areas of the song, the piano melody is eclipsed by cello counterpoint. I will definitely remix before it goes on the new CD.


    Grand Piano Soundfont (which I will actually use for other projects, it's pretty good, however, a little bright and clangy for classical work)
    Legato Strings Soundfont
    Acoustic Bass Soundfont
    Cello Soundfont (that used to be a Kurzweil patch that I converted).


    Full Steinway Grand Piano (PERFECT for classical applications...LOVE that sound...they did a great job!). Loaded it as a DXi so I could use normal Sustain.

    The remaining sounds were loaded as VSTi's and they used the mod wheel thing and legato sustain.

    Section Basses Lush
    Section Cellos lush
    Cello 3 Solo
    English Horn 2 Solo
    French Horn 1 Ens
    Basses Pizzicato

    Some first impressions of the GPO and its relation to my first attempt:

    1. The Steinway is VERY good, but being a solo pianist, I could stand to perhaps have a SLIGHT bit more dynamic variation. Don't get me wrong though...no complaints...in fact, it has caused me to really re-think just what I want out of a piano, especially if it will be mixed with the rest of the GPO sounds, and for that purpose, the Steinway, as it is in the GPO library, is perfect, I wouldn't change a thing. I just am always thinking of solo piano stuff too, and for that I'm VERY picky.

    2. The strings are simply too gorgeous to blather on about (and besides, you all know that!).

    3. The Oboe and Cello are to DIE for. They MAKE the song (especially for what I'm trying to do with hymns).

    4. At first I thought it would be hard to break out all the parts and start arranging mostly one note at a time (the Legato Strings Soundfont I usually use allows me to do it all with one or possibly two tracks), however, once I set up the tracks, it was VERY easy and very satisfying. I know that to get the best possible realism, that I'm going to have to do it this way, so I'm glad it wasn't too tough.

    5. You have to FORCE yourself to KEEP IT SIMPLE. The GPO sounds are SO good, that you sometimes want to just throw in another octave, or perhaps a violin part towards the end, but like anything in life, just because you CAN, doesn't necessarily mean you SHOULD. I think I will primarily build all of my arrangements simple at first, then perhaps add some things, get some opinions of folks, and then be ready to remove parts to keep it simple. There were 2 violin parts and a viola part on the ending passage and I ended up removing them because (and it's hard to even say this!), I just didn't need them to complete the thought that was in my head. The Bass Section and Cello Section (played VERY soft), did the trick. The slow swell at the end of a song that is almost cliche now.

    6. Right out of the box, this library is SO EASY TO USE. Once I understood how to do simple crescendo's and decrescendo's, I had a ball playing with that aspect. I still have some learning to do to actually do it better, but I'm VERY enthused with the results of just two days of playing with it (about 8 hours total). I can see why Mr. Garritan didn't choose to use AfterTouch to do this...the Mod Wheel is MUCH easier to use (plus, not everyone has a keyboard with aftertouch I'm sure).

    7. The vibrato's on the cello and oboes are PERFECT. Not too light, but not overbearing.

    8. I didn't have time to set up individual sections, composed of 3 "players" each and so forth, so I just used the Section sounds. I can tell I'm going to have to experiment with this to see how I can get it to sound better.

    9. I also didn't have time to experiement with the VAR1 and VAR2 knobs, but then I'm not doing a lot of runs or fast bowing in this piece...so not sure how much that would have helped.

    10. I simply HAVE to figure out how to get Sonar's track volume and pan sliders to control each Kontakt volume and pan knobs. I don't want to have to go to each Kontakt synth rack to do this...I remember seeing something about this in the forum, so if you know how to do this right off the top of your head, chime in, otherwise don't worry about it, I'll troll through this wonderful forum and find the answer.

    When I compared the two .mp3's for myself, the thing that just jumped out at me was the fact that the Old technology version doesn't "breathe". The strings sound the same ALL THE TIME...the cello sounds the same ALL THE TIME. And when I lifted the keys to stop playing, they stop very abruptly, whereas with the GPO instruments, I can use the mod wheel to pull my dynamics down and then let go. I'm not claiming to be the mod wheel genius here, but with a little effort, I'm definitely on my way! Wow what a powerful concept.

    My wife came downstairs and listened to the piece and simply said, "well, you're going to take tomorrow off aren't you so you can work on the REST of teh songs for the new CD all day?". YES!!!! LOVE that spousal support!!

    You will NOT hear the last of me (unless I die of absolute musicians ecstasy here!) and when I'm out driving around and what not, my mind can't can't help drifting back to whatever piece I'm working on and certain instruments that I "hear" might work in a particular part.

    If I get the time over the holiday season, I will try to re-engineer/arrange a piece that my guitar buddy and I wrote together nearly 15 years ago (using two Ensonique Mirage's if you can believe that!) that we called "Sarcastando March" because we deliberately tried to write a piece that used every possible orchestral "cliche" (sustained 4ths going to the third, choppy "biting" bowing and what not) and I still have the .wav file that I pulled from the cassette (yes, you read that right) that we recorded it to. What a HUGE comparison that will be (if you can even stomach the original!).

    Zowie this is a HUGE turning point in my life and my music.

    A HUGE thanks to Mr. Garritan and also to all of you. I wouldn't have made the decision to purchase without hearing all of those lovely arrangements and songs that you folks have put together.

    Okay, I must be going to bed...gotta get up early and get to work on my music!

    Another addict is born.

  2. #2

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Hi, Kevin! Wow, GREAT work!! Your old version sounds quite good but the new one with GPO blows it away
    I'm sort of in the same boat as you. I'm new to Garritan stuff (I have GOS, not GPO) and I'm so busy that I've only had one day to play with the new toy. But I have a project starting next week in which I'll be- guess what- orchestrating instrumental versions of hymns. So I'll be learning fast! Your work is inspiring (don't worry, It Is Well is not on our list ). After we both get some more done we'll have to compare notes.

    Hey, if you don't care could I offer a little thought I had while listening? The slow attack on the strings and in places, the cello, might benefit from shifting the start of the notes a hair earlier, as if they are anticipating the attack. Otherwise, they sound a little behind here and there.

    Thanks for sharing the before and after versions of this. It was really illuminating!

  3. #3

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!


    Let me say that I was very impressed with your piece. I am glad you gave us the opportunity to compare the two versions!

    My only suggestion, (and you already aluded to this being still in a "rough" stage), is that the legato tool (sustain pedal data) would be really useful in keeping some of the fluidity of the melody going, especially in the solo passages for the oboe and the cello. Rather than sustaining the sounds, when you hold down the pedal it connects the notes together without the attack, so everything runs really smoothly together.

    Thanks for sharing!! I am looking forward to hearing much more from you in the future!!!

    Jerry Wickham
    MacBook Pro Intel Core 2 Duo 2.5ghz 4GB Ram OSX 10.5.8
    Korg TritonLe & MAudio Oxygen 8
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    My Website!
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    Also, Ever think about having your very own personal documentary? See my new Website!

  4. #4

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Hi Kevin, you sound as excited as I was and still am. Definately experiment with the sustain pedal for connecting notes as Jerry recommended. There is alot of valuable info here on this forum. Welcome!
    This is a true story about how this song "It Is Well With My Soul" was written, just in case you didn't know, it's really cool.
    In 1871, Chicago was largely destroyed by fire. During reconstruction, Mr. H.G. Spafford sent his wife and four daughters on a trip to Europe, but the ship on which his family sailed, never reached farther than half way across the Atlantic. In the middle of a November night, the ship was rammed by a sailing vessel and cut in two. During the awful confusion that followed, Mrs. Spafford saw all four of her daughters swept away by angry waves. A falling mast knocked her unconscience, she was rescued and taken to Whales, from there she cabled two words to her husband..... saved alone. Mr. Spafford took the first ship available. He asked the Captain to notify him when they reached the spot where his daughters lay. It was 2am when the Skipper knocked on his door and said "in ten minutes we'll be at your spot." Mr. Spafford dressed and went to the bow, as the ship passed over the watery graves of his daughters, he wrote on the back of an envelope these words.....
    When peace like a river attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll, whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say, it is well, it is well, with my soul.

    I share your GPO joy! DPDan

  5. #5

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Thank you all for your comments. You are spot on in regard to the legato stuff. Believe it or not, I actually used some legato pedaling on the Cello (and it worked!!), but then in my haste to get the piece mixed down, I neglected to go through and smooth out the rough spots.

    I'm also going to experiment with the "slide" feature of Sonar and also manually moving notes around to get away from the classic midi attack problem of strings.

    One of my inherent problems is that I happen to actually LIKE a little attack because in my earlier days, all the string patches had NO attack. So I have to find a balance in there somewhere!!

    DPDAN, right on with the story of how the song came to be. I can only hope that folks who listen to it can find that peace that Mr. Spafford found.

    neoTypic, yes, we will probably have to attend sessions together.

    "Hi...um...my name is Kevin.." "Hi Kevin..." "uh...well...it's kind of embarassing, but I use GPO pretty much EVERY MINUTE OF THE DAY....and when I'm not using it, I'm THINKING about using it....and...and..."

    Except in this case, I suppose it's perfectly okay to have this addiction. If anything, it helps get the project done!

    Thanks again for the help...I will definitely clean things up before I release the song for good. The ironic thing is that my fan base would have been perfectly happy with the Old version, but unfortunately I have to please ME too!!


  6. #6

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!


    Haven't listened yet, but I thought I'd answer the question you posed in point 10. To automate or control each Kontakt Player instance from within your sequencer you need to go the the Player's option panel and turn on the option for CC7/CC10 Volume/Pan control. This is off for default so that users will use the mod-wheel or modulation controller for volume and not the volume knob. To automate the volume and pan after doing this, just insert CC 7 (volume) and CC 10 (pan) controller data into your sequencer and voila.

    Note: You only need to enable this once as Kontakt Player settings are global and will take effect on every Player instance you load.

    I'll check back in when I've given these a good going over.

  7. #7
    Senior Member Styxx's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    West Seneca, NY

    Thumbs up Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    I need not comment on the first except to say you are an exceptional writer. As for the second, I am so happy you found GPO. The sound of the second was enough to bring a tear to my eyes, especially now.
    Thanks for posting and many warm welcomes to the Garritan family.

  8. #8
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    UK- teeming with life....

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Kevin your enthusiasm is infectious and I want to hear what you have produced....but the link isn't working for me.



  9. #9
    Senior Member BlueMax's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2004
    Calgary, AB, Canada

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    This is exactly the position I'm in! I'm just at the door of getting the software for myself (merely waiting on a cheque to arrive!)

    I have not been this excited about composition hardware/software for a very long time... This is the first bit of stuff to totally forget about my life with Roland sound modules up to this point!

    I can't wait to get playing! Very nice hymn... sounds great!
    "AAAAUUUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!" -- Charlie Brown

  10. #10

    Re: New GPO Owner - First Attempt!!!!

    Joseph, hmmm...does this mean, once I record my tracks (and use extensive MOD wheel for each) that I can THEN switch things for mixing and it won't affect the fact that I have a ton of CC7 messages in there. All I want to do is use the Sonar sliders to do minimal mixing, so hopefully the two won't interfere with each other. I guess I'll find out!!

    Styxx, thank you for your comments. I didn't write the song (you must have meant "arranger" rather than "writer"), however, I'm glad you liked it! And with two twin girls, I DEFINITELY have to buy Barbie AND her friends...in fact, apparently they're doing a Prince and the Pauper thing with two Barbies and my girls happen to be blonde and brunette...sheesh!

    Frank, I checked the links and they both appear to work...perhaps you should try right-clicking them and choose Save As and see if you can at least download them to your hard drive and play them from there.

    BlueMax, just hang in there man...

    Oh, I actually have some constructive comments for Mr. Garritan. I'll post them in the other section of the forum.

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