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Topic: fast tonguing and piccolo

  1. #1

    fast tonguing and piccolo

    Hello, all-

    On a recent piece, I discovered some difficulty with the piccolo instrument. I have written a piece at 150 BPM that inlcudes a passage for tongued 16th notes for piccolo. It's a very important passage. The problem is not only will the inst. not play the fast notes, it won't play anything at all for that section. I am wondering if 1) anyone else has encountered this, and 2) if there are any suggestions. Here is some more info about the problem:

    1. BPM = 150
    2. I have set the 2 var. controls at about 10%
    3. I have randomized the key velocities so that they are not all exactly equal and repetitive, especially emphasizing downbeats, because that's how a real player would control this passage.
    4. I can get other instruments (flute, clarinet) to play this passage, but it needs to be piccolo.
    5. The passage will play up to about 140 BPM; but any higher than that it gets worse until it finally just stops playing around 150.
    6. The passage is a lot of repeated notes in a row, with occasional moving notes.
    7. I have tried different note lengths (full value, mid, short), but it doesn't play at any note length.
    8. My PC is a very fast mega-PC with tons of RAM, and the piccolo is the only inst. going. I always just use 1 inst. at a time, so there aren't any other insts. or programs taking up resources.

    Again, if anyone else has found this, and espcially if you have solved it, I would appreciate your feedback.


  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    NW Illinois

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    Have you increased the velocity and also adjusted the length parameter?
    That's what I did for some triple tongueing trumpet parts that worked out well.


  3. #3

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo


    Thanks for your suggestions. I did not mention in my original post that I had also tried several levels of velocity, but yes, I have tried that. I have not done anything with the length parameter. Would you be so kind as to elaborate on that? (I know what the length parameter is, but what do you suggest to set it at?)

    Also, re: trumpet, I have found (so far, unscientifically) that this is particular to the piccolo. I have gotten most other instruments, including tumpet, to work. It just sems to be picc. Have you experimented with picc and found good results?


  4. #4

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    Have you tried both the vibrato and non-vibrato piccolos?
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  5. #5

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    yes, I had also thought of that, and should have included that in my explanation of factors above. It also produces the same results (or... lack of results). I had thought that maybe the vibrato version is more memory-intensive than non-vibrato, but the same thing happened.

  6. #6

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    Boisty Music,

    I tried a little test tonight with the piccolos to see how far the tonguing could be pushed. I paid close attention at first to repeated sixteenth notes at a tempo between 140 and 150. When I encountered no problems at 150 I started pushing things beyond that with an accelerating tempo map. I found no practical limit with my test file. I'm including a screenshot of the test file structure. It contains 4 measures of 16th notes, cc64 - value 0, cc21 - value 65, velocity - value 122, and cc1 - value 112. The tempo map starts at 100bpm goes to 500bpm(!) www.garritan.com/GPO_Files/PiccoloFastTonguing.jpg

    Here's what the test sounds like (no thing of beauty here): www.garritan.com/GPO_Files/PiccoloTest.mp3

    As you can hear, the notes track to a ridiculous tempo without dropping out. It actually ends up so fast that it starts to resemble a flutter tongue. I tried this test on different notes, with different cc21 values, with pedal up and down, vibrato piccolo and non-vibrato piccolo. All of them worked.

    So that brings us back to determining the source of your problem. Is there any chance that you could post the midi file of the portion of the phrase that fails to sound? Perhaps I can spot something in the data to account for your problem.


    P.S. Do the notes drop out even when the track is soloed?

  7. #7

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    One last question for both Tom and Boisty. What are your latency settings when you do your tests? I've found that the playback behavior varies depending on this setting. See this thread for my discovery.

    That had more to do with legato, but it also uncovered possible anomolous behavior with the attack and decay portions of the samples at high latencies.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  8. #8

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    Good question, Jamie. My M-Audio FW410 is set to 512 samples (about 11ms.)


  9. #9

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    I knew this forum was good for something!

    Thanks to Tom and Skysaw - the latency settings were the trick. I reduced the current latency settings and redid a picc test, and it played with absolutely no problem. I also read the reference thread about latency/legato, so before I changed anything, I made notes of all my current settings (legato has never been a problem). This way, if I absolutely have to, I can go back abnd forth betweeen settings that work well for legato and settings for fast tonguing, although I have tried a few other pieces and there doesn't seem to be any reduction in legato quality.

    Thanks again to you both. I knew there was an answer.

  10. #10

    Re: fast tonguing and piccolo

    Quote Originally Posted by boisty music
    I knew this forum was good for something!
    Yes, the forum is good for something, but we're "good for nothins!!!"


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