I come to you now having long hailed from a proud tradition of electronic artists. That was a very different world than the one in which I now find myself. Timbre? We don't much care. As long as it's utterly unique. Or exceedingly popular, because well-known rehashes can make you money, too. Melody? Barely matters, but the catchier the better. Rhythm is where it counts, and easy, memorable riffs/basslines. But reality is the very vice from which our electronic cacophonies are intended to liberate our listeners. Acoustic realism is generally uncared for, where I come from. Anything goes, and if we happen to utilize an actual guitar or piano, then so be it. It was the best noise for the job.
But my gateway to music in the first place was fifteen years of classical training on the piano, and several years of heavy art music addiction when the rest of my buddies' interests had long graduated into the mainstream market. I didn't know why I thought orchestras were so fascinating as a kid. For all the theory and formulas in my head, I still couldn't really piece together what made a particular symphony work the way it did. Maybe I was just trying to rebel against my perception of common society. In the wimpiest way imaginable, I suppose, hehe.
All this rambling actually does serve a purpose. Mainly to shield me, psychologically. My musical preferences (compositionally) have at last matured as I knew they would, and I've moved into the realm of acoustic music. Actual instruments. Reality. Heresy amongst my local circle of artists. But see, I've never before had to worry about anything going wrong in my musical compositions. Electronica, trance, dnb, club grooves, whatever - it's all a fairly subjective art form, the significance of the sound is whatever you make of it, but here - here, it either sounds real and therefore in some way fulfilling, or hollow and inhuman and distancing.
So go real easy on me. I barely know what the hell I'm doing!
The posted MP3 is only the first two minutes of my absolute first piece ever in GPO (and really ANY kind of acoustic music). The current work is upwards of twenty minutes, and quickly reaching its conclusion. I only just recently had this panic attack and wondered if any of this music was convincing or at least of any quality in the slightest, and thus, so as to avoid a potential total massacre, I've only linked to a fragment of the whole.
I just discovered the tutorials on Mr. Garritan's website... I haven't looked at them, and will continue to evade them until directed to do otherwise by you folks. I spent about five months doing some serious studies of symphony orchestras (only one book, mostly listening and taking lots of notes as I did so) before I even considered purchasing GPO. And what a wonderful package it is! As I started to connect the dots, I was blown away by how amazing even a total beginner can make his music sound - a testament to the sheer quality and empowering nature of GPO.
I won't outline all the acoustic principles I employed (or tried to employ) while putting this together... that could likely comprise a decent book. But I will say that I used no pre-fabricated sections. Every instrument is an individual.
Initial feedback (mostly from friends, friends of friends, and strangers on the 'Net in other forums) has been encouraging. I gave no pretense of reality, but that's what everyone assumed without hesitation, and that's a nice feeling. But they did say that the first minute or so (just the violins at first, then the whole string section) sounded synthy, and added that it might be an EQ thing. They were referring to timbre - the timbre was electronic sounding, they had no qualms with the actual composition and flow of the music. But I've done minimal EQ work, and have added a little reverb to make it sound - well, more real. The blend effect is pleasing... but what would make them think it sounded synthesized? They could not identify any other symptoms other than a "fake" timbre. Must be the reverb, I guess... or maybe something else?
What do you guys think?
All critiques will be useful to me in my cause, as long as I can garner some wisdom out of them!
Again, sorry for the rant. I'm nervous. I haven't done anything... "fresh" in a good long while. And I don't want to fail!
As one relative newcomer to another, Welcome, Tom!
I'm going to forego technical comments -- there are others here, far more experienced, who will jump in and help on that... a wonderful crew, you'll find, every last one of them.
What I will say is that you've got some solid musical ideas coming along, with much potential.
Mastering the GPO (if one can ever really master such tools!) will come with time and tinkering... but you've got the first part on the run: the ability to write; without which, all the fine tools in the world are without worth.
Hi Tom, I agree with David (etlux)
sometimes depending on the balance of instruments, using an equalizer to cut the level of some frequencies around 2-3khz. does wonders. Try your best not to be tempted to boost high frequencies but rather cut back the ones that are offensive to the ears. Also, be careful not to cut too much because ultimately the fidelity of the samples in GPO are very good!
No need to be nervous in this forum...if people think something really stinks, they're courteous enough to keep quiet about it. Discussions get pretty lively sometimes, but the criticism is almost always constructive.
Originally Posted by Tomdini
But they did say that the first minute or so (just the violins at first, then the whole string section) sounded synthy
Actually, that first minute or so is my favorite part...but then I like it when real acoustic instruments start sounding "synthy" or otherwise different.
Originally Posted by Tomdini
I just discovered the tutorials on Mr. Garritan's website... I haven't looked at them, and will continue to evade them until directed to do otherwise by you folks. I spent about five months doing some serious studies of symphony orchestras (only one book, mostly listening and taking lots of notes as I did so)...
If you're really wanting to get to "realism" with GPO, I would suggest that you go ahead and work thru the tutorials...they are some good ones out there by some very talented folks. Especially check out the Ensemble Building tut by DN Davis and all the stuff by J.B...I'm a newbie too and haven't got much past those myself, but they are a great help.
Maybe I will say a word or two technically, in that, as a newcomer myself, some of the early hurdles are fresh in mind.
I found moving from hardware synths and other earlier technologies over to the GPO meant I had to "unlearn" a lot of things.
One of the first was, you do far less adding and enhancing, and tend to treat sound far more subtly -- you're dealing with very nearly real instruments with the GPO, and the second you get too heavy-handed with sound treatment, they bite you back by sounding "snythy" or muddy or too thin or... just plain unnatural.
Probably the first lesson, then, is back away from the knobs and sliders and effects gear -- use sound treatment sparingly (and often more to subtract than to add), and let the instruments speak more on their own.
I'm still no expert at creating the most realistic pieces with GPO at all, but I will say I did enjoy your music and I hope you continue it, it seems to end suddenly and my ears want more.
Another thing that can add a lot of realism, though I admit I've never used it myself, is adding background noise. If you listen to a real performance, subtle page turning, audience coughs, and such can sometimes be heard. Somebody, I can't remember who, once added small sounds of his own breath before the a woodwind instrument played, boosting the realism a great amount, at least in my ears . . . it was very clever.
Enjoy GPO, great to have new members of the community!
... I did enjoy your music and I hope you continue it, it seems to end suddenly and my ears want more.
I definitely agree with you.
I'm not an expert, but the first thing I thought about was the reverb. Somehow I think it would benefit from a larger room. That, I think, will be one thing to do to help a string section sound more natural.
Did you use Ambience, and if so what settings? I am not very found of the presets and haven't had time to tweak it. I have been using Lexicon in Sonar 3PE.
And regarding the flute - did you use the non vibrato flute? I think the vibrato one would sound more natural in this context.
Hey, for those who liked it... there's a bunch more where that came from! But I didn't post it all in the event it turned out to be a futile, useless effort... so I offered only the beginning. It's nearly done, I suppose I'll make it available once I finish it and nail down the reverb issue.
Thanks for the encouragement, it certainly doesn't seem so edgy and hostile here after all! Looks can be deceiving though, so I came cautiously.
Tangram, I did use Ambience. I don't really like any of the presets either, so I built my own room...
As far as isolating the problem goes, with this next MP3 there's been no processing done in the slightest, except the reverb itself. I've done no EQ'ing in Ambience or otherwise on any of the signals, so it's definitely a purely reverb issue that would make the strings sound so... artificial.
I went ahead and followed your advice. I bumped the room size from 50% to 75%, the predelay from 8 to 12 ms, and the overall decay time from 900 to 1350 ms. I set damping to only affect very high or very low frequencies, and I didn't employ it in great amounts.
And... the overall effect obviously sounds quite different from what I had before, sometimes a bit muddier, especially with the woodwinds, which I have given a slightly more "we're behind everything else" feeling to them... but I think the strings sound a whole lot better: cavernous3.mp3
Still, I dunno if I've shaken that 'synthy' feeling completely, and what to do about it if I haven't. It's just reverb now, nothing else... I don't know a whole lot about EQ'ing acoustic instruments, to be real honest, and what to do to avoid messing up a 'natural' sound.
But I do like the more 'wide open' effect I'm getting now... sounds more fitting, more 'accomodating' for this larger body of instruments, than the closet I was cramming them into before! But should I aim for larger still...?