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Topic: How do you guys tweak?

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  1. #1
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    How do you guys tweak?

    What exactly do you guys do to get your sample libraries more realistsic? What tweaking methods do you use? Is it alot of eq'ing? Alot of Controller info? Alot of mixer automation? Thoughts?

    Cheers.

  2. #2

    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Controller info, note placement and lengths.
    The moment I've recorded a passage into MIDI, I hit the volume controller. Fading out endings and fading in attacks, as well as swells here and there. Then I adjust the note placement and lengths, making sure the phrase sounds as natural as possible, and extend the lengths where needed so that the notes overlap enough to make the cutoffs sounds realistic. String phrases in most cases sound better to me when overlapped as the attacks sometimes take a moment to speak. Works for me.

    Tim

  3. #3
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    A lot of the conversations about realism are actually not about realism at all. I think your questions center mostly on expression, which to me is far more at the root of whatever a person considers realism to be.

    Given a well engineered library, EQ should be at a good starting point for tracking out of the box, and wouldn't come into play until focusing up the mix.

    With very few exceptions, the most realisitically expressive sampling has come from people who can play. And whether anyone wants to admit it or not, most of us are not first-call, triple scale studio rats. Nothing contributes to the best result more than simple good playing. Most of MIDI's bad reputation over the years has centered around this simple fact. People viewed it as a way to get a "sound" they couldn't play. And indeed, you can get the sound, as in the basic timbre. That's the easy part. The hard part? Unless one of two conditions exist, it's hard to take it to the next level. Either a person must be an exceptional keyboard/controller player--a performing artist--or must possess a keen mind full of minutia about the way exeptional players actually perform on the instrument at hand.

    Otherwise, even a non-musician can hear that the connection just isn't there. I have a killer Toots Thielemans album playing right now in the background, an acoustic Brazilian thing that has some of the best players on the planet on it. Just zeroing in on listening to the bass, the level of intellect being poured into each bar is overwhelming. Same with the piano, each note just perfectly dovetailed into the sound of the rhythm section--phenomenal playing.

    There are probably 100 people alive on the planet that play their given instruments on this level, when you're talking about the first-call talents in each genre. And those are the people you're accustomed to hearing when you buy an album (in studio-centered genres, that is).

    Most of the music people play on samplers, at least among any group of musicians who would even USE the word realistic, is emulative of this kind of world-class tone and playing.

    And there is the rub. Because when THOSE players record MIDI, it sounds pretty much like what they play when they're not recording via MIDI. It simply sounds like world class playing.

    And again, most of us are not world class, first call players...at least not on every instrument we're emulating.

    So we're at that second class of possibility--where the musical intellect, technical understanding, and patience intersect in the capability to conceive and produce what sounds like world class playing in the abstract. In essence, taking music out of the instant of performance, out of its time element, and reconstructing it out of time.

    In between those two extremes is where most people who are sounding good in MIDI fall. They tend to play well--maybe not Matt Chamberlain, Chuck Rainey, Will Lee, Don Elias, etc., well, but well enough that the spirit and intention is flowing and the rest can be touched up. Then the intellect part kicks in, and the final ten percent gets shined up.

    I know this is rambling, but to put a finer point on it...there are no specific answers to any of the questions you're asking. It's all of the above, and then some, and then, it's just one instant at a time in the musical product...using all of the available horsepower to push the MIDI production past what theatre/film philosophy would call "suspension of disbelief."

    Once you have crossed that threshold, you're home free. But the related point is that "suspension of disbelief" is rarely about realism. Or if it is, then it is about realism in the specific area of engaging musical expression. You can whack your pecker on a coffee can, and if you're musically intriguing enough (or have an impressive enough pecker), it's going to work.

    Most of the time, when someone posts a piece of music and the comments are about its realism, the actual truth is that the piece is either not compelling or poorly played.

  4. #4
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    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Most of the time, when someone posts a piece of music and the comments are about its realism, the actual truth is that the piece is either not compelling or poorly played.
    Yep. That is about right most of the time to my way of listening. That really gets me btw. This constant sh!t about realism and samples. Samples are like photos that one stacks together showing some sort of panorama. They are never going to be real - they are the same recording of a snapshot in time over and over again. They are useful and I wouldn't want to be without them. If the actual piece of music connects in the first place - you won't need to do a lot of tweaking.
    For strings though, Jeff, you may want to experiment with rolling off using EQ. And sample mock ups are always enhanced with a good reverb like say, Altiverb etc.

  5. #5
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    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Thanks for the replies. And Bruce, I don't look at your post as 'rambling' - there are alot of good points there.

    Just wanted to get a feel for what everyone else does. Keep the replies a-comin'!

  6. #6

    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Glad to see that nobody said that they tweak with Meth.

    -JF

  7. #7

    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Once you have crossed that threshold, you're home free. But the related point is that "suspension of disbelief" is rarely about realism. Or if it is, then it is about realism in the specific area of engaging musical expression. You can whack your pecker on a coffee can, and if you're musically intriguing enough (or have an impressive enough pecker), it's going to work.
    Of course I agree with this sound common-sense, but on a technical note, Bruce, who do you think has the best pecker-against-coffe-can-library, right now.
    regards

  8. #8

    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bruce A. Richardson
    Once you have crossed that threshold, you're home free. But the related point is that "suspension of disbelief" is rarely about realism. Or if it is, then it is about realism in the specific area of engaging musical expression. You can whack your pecker on a coffee can, and if you're musically intriguing enough (or have an impressive enough pecker), it's going to work.
    Sometimes I forget why I still come here... Thanks for the reminder Bruce.

  9. #9
    Senior Member Bruce A. Richardson's Avatar
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    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    Quote Originally Posted by joaz
    Of course I agree with this sound common-sense, but on a technical note, Bruce, who do you think has the best pecker-against-coffe-can-library, right now.
    regards
    I will soon be producing the authorized Folgers library, and I will sue you into the next century if you get your tallywhacker anywhere near it.

  10. #10
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    Re: How do you guys tweak?

    My aim is to tweak all the controllers, overall volume and timings in such a way as to approach realism as much as is possible. Like most things in life it suffers from the law of diminishing returns but it does make a vast difference. Tim made some very useful and practical points.

    What you're really trying to do is to get away from computerised timings and computer accurate levels etc. Human beans couldn't do this even if they wanted to so we shouldn't aim for accuracy. The so called machine gun effect, for example, can be removed just by kicking off the drum beats, back and forth off the beat, by a few random ticks. I've always found it amazing that the human ear can hear just a few ticks in ryhthm timings.

    If you search for the word 'controller' in this forum and Gary Garritan's ones you'll find a great deal about this.

    Frank

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