I mentioned in Poolmans' (Terry Dwyer) Variations on a Theme demo thread that I would poke around at improving the sound of the timpani rolls. This is something that I mentioned as a (very minor) weak point in Terry's above-mentioned demo--which is otherwise very finely done. Heres the outcome of my poking around:
One problem with the GPO timps is that you cannot get a ff roll without the sound of hard sticks. Better to have medium or even soft sticks playing loudly - this would achieve a more continuous roll. I've been tempted to use Peter Siedlaczek's timps which give us a choice of strokes and rolls with soft, medium and hard sticks - six choices in all!
I did play timps for a while. One thing I learnt was that, in making a roll, evenness of touch is more important than speed. Stange that the live player goes for evenness and the computer musician goes for unevenness!
Would welcome other people's thoughts on this matter.
The "after," of course, sounds considerably better. The main things for good-sounding rolls are:
1. Actually "play" them into the track using alternating left and right hands or using the new "playable" roll feature (be sure you have lowered the polyphony to under 16 to conserve CPU.) As with most simulation –related sequencing chores, perfectly spaced, quantized hits will always sound unnatural. Actually playing the part adds velocity and timing irregularities that are essential to the illusion.
2. Related to #1, make sure that velocities never max out for a repeated series of notes in a roll. A series of notes at a velocity of 127 will create a hideous result. A repeated velocity of 127 with no alternation of hands will be even worse. Save 127 for just the loudest part of the roll. If you look at the velocity data you should see very few identical values in a series. Left and right hand velocities should be somewhat different from one another during the roll. Think of it as one hand being naturally stronger than the other. If you play it in that will happen automatically.
3. Experiment with adding both VAR1 and VAR2 data to further increase the differentiation between individual hits.
While it's true a live player strives for evenness, he/she never perfectly achieves it. Whereas, the computer musician must take steps to avoid perfect evenness since standard data entry methods make it all too easy to achieve perfect (and utterly unnatural) evenness.
I hear you. (Though I wonder what would happen if a timpanist achieved the perfect roll. Would he be fired? )
I looked at my timp roll velocities, and they were varied. I think what I did wrong was to record at a slower tempo but played a normal repetition rate for rolls. Then when the tempo was up to speed I didn't notice the fault, what with the rest of the orchestra playing. Black mark, Terry.
My days in college studying percussion had seen some amazing performances on timpani. Talking here about solo performances which if you've never seen a principle percussionist perform, you are totally missing out! Hard to believe someone can be a virtuoso on timpani until you experience it for yourself. Just thought I would roll in on the subject.
How can you change the polyphony using GPO Studio?
In the Kontakt player, just to the right of the midi channel info, are 2 numbers separated by a slash. The number on the right is the polyphony setting. Click on that number, and while holding your mouse button down, drag the mouse up or down to change the setting.