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Topic: Use of Celesta

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  1. #1
    Senior Member
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    Unhappy Use of Celesta

    I'm using the celesta for the first time in an orchestral piece and am having trouble getting a good sound with appropriate balance with other instruments and an appropriate balance between the tone of the celesta and the sound of the hammer striking the reed. If I set the celesta loud enough to be heard over other instruments the percussive part of the sound dominates over the tone of the sound (at times excruciatingly so). If I adjust velocity, volume, etc to get a good balance between tone and hammer in the celesta it is far too soft to be heard in even the softest orchestral context.

    Has anyone had similar problems with success in solving them?

    Any suggestions would be appreciated.

    Thanks.

    David Mauney

  2. #2

    Re: Use of Celesta

    Quote Originally Posted by pianodoc
    If I set the celesta loud enough to be heard over other instruments the percussive part of the sound dominates over the tone of the sound (at times excruciatingly so). If I adjust velocity, volume, etc to get a good balance between tone and hammer in the celesta it is far too soft to be heard in even the softest orchestral context.

    David Mauney

    Hi David, pardon me if I have misunderstood the question, but a compressor with a fast attack setting could be helpful here...

    jrj

  3. #3
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    Smile Re: Use of Celesta

    jrj:

    Thanks for the suggestion. I'll give that a try tonight.

    David M.

  4. #4

    Re: Use of Celesta

    Excuse me if I'm stating the obvious here, but if you have the settings at a sound you like and think sounds realistic and it's not cutting through the other instruments, may be the orchestration is too heavy for the celesta to deal with.
    If you were orchestrating for a real orchestra you'd have to be very careful to give 'room' for the celesta to speak through if you were featuring it, it's not a loud instrument, and light strings and very gentle woodwind is what you might expect.
    Given that, in a recording environment you could spot mike and feature a celesta over a full orchestra, but your problem sounds like whatever else you are using is in the same frequency range as the basic note of the celesta
    so that might be something to look at. A middle 'a' on celesta and clarinet unison, say, and you'd probably only hear the attack of the celesta.
    With great respect to jrj I think compression is going to make it sound unnatural.

    Good luck!

    Barrie

  5. #5
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    Re: Use of Celesta

    Barrie:

    Thanks for the response. I have pretty much taken that into consideration. The particular example I'm working with is celesta with very soft strings and no other instruments. They do not clash in range. I believe that the celesta should be heard in this example but I'll certainly take that into consideration. The celesta is a very soft instrument and context has to be a primary consideration.

    David M.

  6. #6

    Re: Use of Celesta

    That is perplexing then!

    I have heard good examples of clear balance in GPO with such forces, I'll let the techies have a go now. It must be possible given what you say.

    As I said before - good luck, and don't forget to post it when you've cracked it!

    BB

  7. #7

    Re: Use of Celesta

    Quote Originally Posted by BarrieB
    jrj I think compression is going to make it sound unnatural.

    Barrie
    Hi Barrie,
    I agree; I hesitated to suggest that... thought it might be considered "cheating" in this context. (i.e. forcing the sound to do something a real orchestra couldn't or shouldn't) And it probably will sound artificial. It would be interesting to hear the piece in question.

    jrj

  8. #8
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    Re: Use of Celesta

    Thanks for all the suggestions.

    I was wondering if perhaps some of the cc's in GPO might give me a better balance between the percusive onset of the celesta's sound with the more bell like resulting tone.

    I have increased and decreased the individual note velocity settings and only get a "celesta like sound" when the velocity of each note is almost at the minimum. Otherwise the "thud" of the hammer atriking the reed is almost the only sound heard.

    I'm not at home so I can't provide any more information about the settings I have in use. The piece is not ready but Perhaps if this continues to be a problem for me I can post the troublesome section to see if that sheds any light.

    Again, thanks for your thoughts.

    David M.

  9. #9

    Re: Use of Celesta

    First adjust velocity so that the tone is what you're looking for. When it sounds right, start adjusting the volume control until it is balanced with the rest of the orchestra. If you can't get it loud enough to balance at this point, start lowering the volume of the other instruments. You should be able to get a good balance this way.
    - Jamie Kowalski

    All Hands Music - Kowalski on the web
    The Ear Is Always Correct - Writings on composition

  10. #10

    Re: Use of Celesta

    The default level of the celesta is set to a rather modest -13.5db. You can modify this a couple of ways: First choice, move the player's volume knob to a higher level (it goes up to +12db.) Any changes should be saved with your song file. Second choice, you could turn on cc7 in the Options menu of the player and set the level with cc7 data placed in your celesta track. Finally, if your host software has the ability to take advantage of the following suggestion, send the celesta to a separate pair of outputs, chosen from the player's output assignments. Then you will have completely separate level control at the mixing stage. This is most commonly available in sequencers (rather than notation programs.) So, as Jamie just posted, adjust the velocity to achieve the sound quality you are after and then mix to taste. Be careful to avoid overload when turning any instrument(s) up significantly in level.

    Tom

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