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Topic: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

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  1. #1

    Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    Hello all,

    I'm new here, but have now gotten Garritan Studio and GPO working with Sibelius and Logic -- though only after switching back to my old Mac PowerBook until there's a universal binary version of GPO based on the brand new version of Kontakt from NI.

    I'm working on a string quartet and have a section where several of the instruments play pitches outside the "normally accepted" range for violin or 'cello (i.e., higher, way up past the end of the fingerboard [e.g., 'cello 4 octaves above middle C] -- quite dramatic).

    I know these notes are possible, because the piece was premiered by the Minguet Quartet in Cologne Germany earlier this month, and the old Kontakt Silver sample set that shipped with Sibelius played it as well (though the samples sounded like crap, which is why I'm learning GPO). The EXS built-in sounds also play these pitches.

    GPO plays silence for these notes.

    Does anyone have a work-around that's easier than splicing in the sound from the old Kontakt Silver sample set for these measures?

    ...any assistance appreciated...

    Stephen Pope

  2. #2

    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by stpope

    Does anyone have a work-around
    It seems very odd to me that GPO doesn't even cover the 'normal' symphonic range in its samples, let alone the extended range expected in, say, chamber music or a concerto. However, that's what we have so we need to find ways to do it.

    There are two solutions - neither particularly good.

    1. You can squeeze an extra note or two with pitch bends. I don't do this but it's been reported as a suitable way to go if you don't need to extend the range very far.

    2. You can use another GPO instrument which playes in the range for just those notes. Kontakt Silver is an ensemble sound, so maybe isn't the best solution. I've used Piccolo NV for high notes, but although the sound is sufficiently weedy for high violin the volume is rather too loud, so it becomes a bit of a grey blob of hidden messages.

    If you're using Sibelius Sounds (internal) player, you then have to get back to your original sound. The hidden instruction 'arco' is meant to bring you back to the original instrument, but it just puts in any old solo violin (according to the 'best sound' settings in the sound set).

    So for this, as well as the change to piccolo, you need hidden MIDI-style messages like ~P97. Unfortunately, every sound set has a different set of numbers, so you have to hope you never want to use the file with a different sound set.

    There is a similar problem with trombones - neither tenor nor bass have a full set of samples, and I'm constantly changing between one and the other. Unlike a specific choice of solo violin, this can be done in Sibelius via the dictionary, asnd so doesn't have to change according to sound set. But because of the nature of my music I need separate slots for both these sounds for all trombones in the score - six slots just for trombones!

  3. #3
    Senior Member rwayland's Avatar
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    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    Use the tuning knob to set the pitch up an octave or down and octave. Then when you need the extra range, switch your sequencer to the new instrument you have just created. I do this fairly often with the GPO organ.

    Richard
    Last edited by rwayland; 11-23-2006 at 06:47 PM. Reason: typo

  4. #4

    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by rwayland
    Use the tuning know to set the pitch up an octave or down and octave. The when you need the extra range, switch your sequencer to the new instrument you have just created. I do this fairly often with the GPO organ.

    Richard

    Ah! good one!
    Bosco Adama

  5. #5

    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    I'm going to chime in here by reiterating comments I've made previously... I don't understand why no provision is made to allow users to extend the ranges of GPO instruments. The OP's situation is only one of many which reflect the need for this feature. Scordatura writing is another. Writing a piece in F for string quartet means jumping through hoops to create a simple patch that lets me play an F on violin. Yes, yes, yes, the violin only goes down to G (scordatura writing aside), but sometimes I just want to flesh out an idea and not have to be limited to the natural range of an instrument for the sake of getting the idea down. I can always "legitimize" the part later if I want to. And who knows, that low F might even sound just fine, especially if all I'm doing is mocking up a part for live players.

    C'mon, this kind of feature is ultra-basic stuff for a digital musical instrument being produced in the 21st century.

  6. #6
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    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    GPO is used by many schools in their music curriculums. It allows students of orchestration to learn about the normal ranges of the instruments. If you had the violins going down to F, many would incorrectly write for these instruments. GPO has the most common ranges for instruments as taught in a good majority of the orchestration texts. As mentioned before, if you need an F for the violin, then put in a pitch bend to the note. This can be used for the upper ranges also. I've only run into few situations doing quite a few classical scores were the ranges weren't quite far enough.

    BTW, this range issue is common with most of the sample libraries including the expensive ones, not just GPO.

    Jim

  7. #7

    Re: Notes outside of the accepted range for an instrument?

    Quote Originally Posted by Haydn
    GPO is used by many schools in their music curriculums. It allows students of orchestration to learn about the normal ranges of the instruments. If you had the violins going down to F, many would incorrectly write for these instruments.
    I think it's great that GPO finds use in academia. Really. But I'm looooooong out of school, and I didn't buy an "academic version" (if there even is one). I'm a "pro" who has deadlines (making additional programming a time-waster) and also knows how to break the rules to good effect.

    GPO has the most common ranges for instruments as taught in a good majority of the orchestration texts. As mentioned before, if you need an F for the violin, then put in a pitch bend to the note.
    Not practical, because of an acknowledged, long-standing bug in the programming of the GPO Kontakt Player: full excursions of the pitch bend wheel (either + or -) result in notes that are out of tune. And I can't tell you how time consuming (let alone tedious) it is to program pitch bend offsets to do what you suggest to try to overcome this bug (I know, I've tried). And writing with the pitchbend wheel fully down, even if it was in tune, makes all of the other notes sound weird.

    I've only run into few situations doing quite a few classical scores were the ranges weren't quite far enough.
    I don't doubt your experience. But we're talking about real-world instruments sampled or otherwise simulated within a digital playback medium, (i.e., a sampler) and therefore these instruments are no longer "real". The very earliest samplers had provision to change upper/lower limits of individual mapped samples. It's fundamental, über-basic stuff that's missing from GPO (as well as other libraries, as you've mentioned). But if the reason that this and other fundamental features are missing in GPO is to mimick some semblence of musical instrument "reality", then I'd beg to differ with the vibrato found on some of the low open strings on the solo viola and cello patches.

    One other reason to allow manipulation of the upper/lower limits of individual samples is for consistency of tone. Have you ever run into a situation where you have a nice legato line that suddenly changes tone when you hit the penultimate note because of the way the samples are mapped? Now, of course, mapping samples almost always involves compromise, and programmers would be hard pressed not to give this task their best efforts. But simple user-accessible controls to extend the range of the uppermost/lowermost samples, or, to change the range of individual samples are basic sampler functions that harken back to the days of the Akai 900. Why should they be missing in a modern-day instrument?

    Anyway, I don't want to veer off course anymore than I have. I'm simply in support the OP's contention that the limits placed on upper/lower ranges of many instruments are sometimes problematic. Such limits are as artificial as is the very notion of playing classical instrument sounds from a sampler.

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