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Topic: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

  1. #1

    Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    I thought I would start a new thread here about getting everything possible from a two bar lick or phrase. I’m a sax player and I have been around Cubase SX for years but I am new to Garritan. I have this friend and Cubase Guru Tony who has been with Cubase full time since it was on the Atari – writing and producing for others. He feeds his family entirely from using SX and works hard every day. He’s just back in the UK from over the pond - setting up a studio – We meet regularly.

    I agree with Tony that you set up your relationship with SX/Garritan in a specific way. There are many ways to work with GPO, so its easy to start with the wrong concepts. I am sure this is true of any quality sequencer.

    My SX2/GPO system is set up so that:

     Midi channels in the mixer are ignored. Everythnig is audio. (Makes setting levels so much simpler, and giving access to more powerful plugins).
     Reverb unit is set up as sends. I usually use one instance of Garritan Ambience (GA) and control the level individually for each instrument. You can use more, but really only if really required.
     The Audio outputs of each Garritan slot show in the mixer – as audio only – and can be automatically/ manually crafted for individual reverb slopes.
     Any broad mixing of track levels is done in Cubase’s mixer.
     Any other audio effect or plugin can be sent to any channel instrument or even just a single note.
     There is minimum load on the CPU

    It’s a lot to set up first time round, but after saving ‘as template’ in SX, its your Tabula Rasa- your blank slate. It’s a once only job.

    I could post about this if there are requests.

    All this is a digression… cos I want to talk about real Vibrato.

    I am a sax player and I know vibrato from the inside of a wet reed. It might interest you to know that sax player’s view reeds like they were altars – each reed has a life of it’s own some reeds you junk them straight away others still play like a dream even after snapped almost in two. Saxophonist care more about their reed and their mouthpiece than they do their wives - they get totally dull and boring speaking about this at every opportunity.
    Each note I play is a universe in its own right therefore can never by truly automated, but it can be emulated by handcrafting controllers. Vibrato is not just pitch bend, it is also tremolo and even reverb.
    Short notes don’t really have vibrato – you simply don’t get time to savour the undulance of the note – a short note might barp a little and have a sharper and busy attack instead, it could also be just a whisper.

    OK if I want to emulate vibrato in SX/GPO….

    If I score a two bar phrase for Oboe (or a string), I might first sketch out the design in score – you know maybe a run up a scale 123,234,345,456,567,67.. and then oops a ninth tumbling to the big octave.
    On first playback this is usually wooden. Good Sounds Gary you’ve done your bit, but now we need to make these notes unique.

    First intermittently shorten the lengths of notes by just a fraction to simulate a real player’s struggles. Yes, very, fractionally.
    Short notes don’t need vibrato but you can still mess with them to obtain character. Maybe you could also apply legato for the last four notes of the run - before the big sustained top C. Maybe you could make the on beat honk a little more using velocity.

    Turning attention to the last long note, I would emulate real vibrato using mainly four parameters velocity , pitch bend, modulation and reverb. The hand modelled reverb is especially sweet it imparts a richness - like fruit cake.

    PB and MOD are crafted via the SX2 key editor, and the reverb is hand modelled using individual automated control in the project window – this requires once-off set up.
    Pitch bend and Modulation being ‘continuous controllers’ you can see a timeline in SX’s ‘Key Editor’ screen. Simply altering the slope with the pencil is one way to go, but you should also try the line tool which can give you ramps, sine wave shapes triangle and lastly my favorite – parabola – aurally very pleasing. Applying a parabolic slope of reverb crescendo to a note is close to what a lot of players to for the long-big-finale-note thing. Be aware that players often have trouble settling down a reed after the attack and the pitch can waver most sharply at the start – its still only small increments and decrements in the editor though. Use both pitch bend and modulation together, in unequal amounts.
    Toward the end of the note you might want to increase its loudness – don’t use velocity first, first use the modulation wheel – here you have control over the way the whole note-crescendo takes shape – over time. Velocity, as I understand it, is used to select a suitable sample perhaps a sample of a flute being played pianissimo or forte.
    These samples have the right grade of attack. After I have set the parameters for pitch bend and modulation, I might go to velocity and set different sample ratings (by increasing or decreasing velocity) to get a different ‘cousin’ samples into action, then go back again to PB and Mod for a bit of a further tweak.
    Lastly reverb. This is where I say you need to set up your template so things are just right first. In my system I control reverb of each note using Garritan Ambience (real nice unit Gary) in the project window by drawing curves and gradients. If I have a long note I might use the parabola tool to fashion a ‘reverb crescendo’ as the note culminates – this is so effective. You could use any quality reverb, you don’t need the onboard Kontakt job – its best to be fussy here.

    Id like to hear from others about SX2 set up, reverb, vibrato, and hand crafting musical phrases.

    Hope this is useful bear in mind I’m a newbie to Garritan, and have yet to get to grips with the update.

    If you want to discuss an 'ideal' set up for SX2/GPO templates

    make a reply


  2. #2

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    Thanks, Zero, lots of useful stuff here! Will return when I've digested it!

  3. #3

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    Excellent tutorial!

    Any thoughts though, on the new capabilities in the Update that deal with allowing the musician to apply vibrato by hand and also the depth of the vibrato (it's in the manual)??

    Just curious! Even though I dearly LOVE the stock vibratos that the Oboe, Flute, and Cello have, I have often wondered what it would be like to apply my own vibrato (at the end of a phrase perhaps) and also vary the depth slightly? Anyone tried this?


  4. #4
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2002
    UK- teeming with life....

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    Thank you very much Zero.

    It was kind of you to take the time out to assist others. I am certainly interested to discuss templates in the future. I was also interested in the runs you mentioned.....


    I was wondering if these are published in this form anywhere. I mean Strings, and the other instruments, all have what seem to me to be standard runs.....Does anyone know a source of these as it's something I haven't been able to find.

    Some people would say these are hackneyed and stereotypical but that is only because they have been successful and as a result they get used a lot because people like them....nothing wrong with that!

    Thanks again


  5. #5

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    On the point about 'runs'. I am a jazzer, there are many books that have ways to run a scale. See the jazz section - if you can improvise, then you can compose. My personal harmonic global theory has three concepts - 'modal movement' that is movement within a scale this can be any scale including diminished. Secondly 'transpositional movement' which is movement from one key to another this might be taking a triad in C and adding sharps to all notes to go up a semitone , it could also be a figure in C moved. Lastly there is 'other movement' which is a catch all concept to remind oneself that you dont have to be restricted. Its important to use the chord tones to rest on for on beats where conventional concordant harmony is required.

  6. #6

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    I would LOVE a more detailed post about your GPO as audio set up. I have always felt there was a better way to run GPO in Nuendo, but have never taken the time to really explore new set ups.

    Any details you can supply would be greatly appreciated.

  7. #7

    Re: Real Vibrato and crafting phrases

    thanks for posting these tips, zero. i always have a lot of trouble with wind instruments and it's more by luck that i get them sounding a bit better than cheesy so i'm sure this will be of great help.
    the set-up you use in SX is very similar the set-up i use myself. i have also found that by ignoring the midi channells in the mixer, i actually hide them, and working with the vst outputs as audio, it tends to make things a lot simpler. i also use one reverb plug-in as a send. i sometimes group some of the outputs and apply eq or other plug-ins to the different groups, as needed, in the group channell. i don't normally see any need to apply plugins to individual instruments so treating strings or brass as a section also conserves cpu usage. it does sound like a lot of work but as you say you have only to get it set up once and save it as a template, but it does save so much time the next time and the time after that.


    mick ó c

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