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Topic: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

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  1. #1

    Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Hello everybody, I'm new to GPO and I've been quite excited about all its details. But here is what I struggle with:
    I have read several posts here and one group claimed, that it is necessary to have polyphony set to "1" in order to use legato (cc#64). The other group says you need to set it higher (3 or more) to get the right sound. Talking about wind instruments now.
    When I set polyphony to "1" and add the cc#64 there seems to be no legato at all. The notes don't overlap and they cut at the moment the next note starts to play. I really need to set the polyphony higher to smooth the melody.
    Where is the problem. Am I doing something wrong that my cc#64 doesn't work here? I stretch the notes to overlap slightly in a sequencer, but with poly=1 - no legato...
    Thanks for help.
    Kozel

  2. #2

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    If you select "MIDI switch" for CC#64 and depress the sustain pedal, set polyphony to 1 and overlap the notes, you will get legato with GPO winds (folders 1 & 2). With "9. Notation" winds, CC#68 is used instead of CC#64.

    The notes don't overlap and they cut at the moment the next note starts to play.
    Of course they cut. Wind instruments cannot (generally) play more than one note at a time. Hence polyphony = 1.

  3. #3

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Hi, Kozel

    So, you understand Nickie's helpful response? You need to make sure in the Kontact player, under Options, that you've chosen the MIDI switch mode for cc64.

    This is Definitely wrong when you said:

    "...I really need to set the polyphony higher to smooth the melody..."

    I've never changed the default settings for polyphony in the program--The solo instruments are set as they should be, and the great legato feature has worked from day one.

    One more tip--You will Always need to do lots of editing in a Piano View style window, so that you can make sure notes overlap slightly.

    If, as you build your ensembles, you copy and paste solo lines into instruments that are pre-set with a higher polyphony, than either change their settings to 1 or just take extra care that the notes are only barely overlapping in their tracks.

    Randy
    rbowser

  4. #4

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Just to clarify Randy's excellent advice, here's a screenshot of the Options menu choice: www.garritan.com/LegatoModePedalSetting.jpg Having the correct setting for the pedal mode is essential.

    Tom

  5. #5

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    The legato feature has never worked (or should I say "sounded") right from day-1 with GPO, despite my setting the options properly. There a ticks between notes. But it's no matter anyway, because a polyphony of 1 will never sound natural.

    Let's take a real clarinet as an example. When you move from note to note in legato fashion, you never hear a 'tick' or a sudden cutoff of the first note as you play the second note. But this is what happens when you have polyphony set to 1. The reason this doesn't work to simulate a natural sound is explained thus:

    a) There will always be a little bit of room ambience which connects whatever slight discontinuity there might be between notes.

    b) Try setting the length (i.e., "release time") parameter to its lowest setting. You'll notice immediately that the tails of notes simply sound too short. This proves that acoustic instruments -- even winds -- have a natural tendency to "ring" and there's a natural ringing between notes as well, as explained next...

    c) when playing a note on the clarinet, the column of air resonates and forms vibrational nodes. When you play legato to another note, particularly an adjacent note, the column of air doesn't instantly stop moving and then start resonating with the new note. The air continues to move and the sound appears to be legato, continuous, with no noticeable break. But a polyphony setting of "1" creates an unnatural break in the flow, and sometimes introduces a slight 'tick' as well into the sound. Not natural.

    Furthermore, the sound of air blowing through the instrument actually makes the clarinet (and all other winds) polyphonic, the two components being the breath noise and the notes themselves. With a polyphony of 1, whatever subtle sound of air blowing through the instrument is contained in the sample becomes interrupted and sound discontinuous. Not natural.

    The only way to simulate the natural sound of a technically monophonic instrument in a sampler is to have a polyphony of at least 2 so that adjacent notes are ALLOWED to overlap slightly. But it's not quite that simple. To really make a part sound realistic, a lot of hard, tedious work is involved... it's often necessary to manually adjust the durations of the notes themselves after you've played them (using your DAW's editing facilities) until you achieve just the right amount of overlap (or perhaps even no overlap) between adjacent notes, and, further careful adjustment of the length parameter so that the notes don't "ring" too much from one to the next.

    The above procedure creates, essentially, a tiny bit of crossfade from one note to the next which, with enough time and care, can simulate quite nicely a true legato sound per my points above.

    The acid test for how a polyphony setting of 1 is inappropriate for technically monophonic instruments is with ride cymbal. Try simulating, say, a jazz ride part (ching, ching, ch-ching, ching...) with the polyphony set to 1 on the sound. It'll sound horribly wrong. That's because a ringing cymbal doesn't come to a complete and utter stop when you hit it a second time. But that is precisely the sound that's produced on a ride patch when you have a polyphony of 1. But with a polyphony of 2 or better (usually much more for ride), the individual hits are allowed to overlap, and your part will immediately sound more natural.

    The exact same acoustic principles apply to woodwinds, brass, any technically monophonic instrument or solo line on a string. The only difference between them and a ride cymbal is that they don't ring quite so much between notes.

    Perspective from
    --orkguy--

  6. #6
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    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    orkguy,

    Obviously there is a problem with your soundcard settings. There is no break between or clicks between legato notes on my system and this is with a polyphony setting of 1. All woodwind instruments I've played (Oboe, clarinet, flute) don't overlap notes as only one can sound at a time. Setting polyphony to 2 will sound unnatural. If legato mode is working properly then it should sound like legato.

    Jim

  7. #7

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Hi Jim,

    Thanks again for replying.

    If my soundcard settings have to be changed to accommodate legato mode when those settings are absolutely perfect for everything else I do, then something's wrong with the NI player, not my settings. I'm running a Quad with 6G's of RAM. There's plenty of power there. Therefore, the problem must lie with the Kontakt player.

    Regarding polyphony set to 1, as I explained above, that value never works in general let alone with GPO. However, there's another situation where it could work, but... well, read on...

    From first-hand experience I can tell you that the mono/legato mode available in several digital synths actually "cheats" to create the impression of legato-sounding, monophonic operation. Instead of jumping from one pitch to the next, which would create a click, a slight crossfade occurs between two voices. This creates the impression of a seamless monophonic sound. With this in mind, if the Kontakt player is designed to operate similar to this when the pedal is set up for legato operation, then I could understand setting polyphony to 1. Because really, it's "2" internally to the Kontakt player.

    Can anyone confirm?

    In any event, if indeed this is the way it is supposed to work, then the Kontakt player is not compatible with my system.

    Just for argument's sake I'd love to hear an example of a simple flute line as played on your system with pedal/legato mode so that I could compare it to how it works on my system. Would this be possible?


    --orkguy--

  8. #8

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Quote Originally Posted by orkguy
    The acid test for how a polyphony setting of 1 is inappropriate for technically monophonic instruments is with ride cymbal. Try simulating, say, a jazz ride part (ching, ching, ch-ching, ching...) with the polyphony set to 1 on the sound. It'll sound horribly wrong.
    This has absolutely no bearing on GPO wind instruments.

    The legato function of GPO is a programmatic switch which will only work with a polyphony setting of 1. If you manage to get a smooth sound with greater-than-1 polyphony, that's good I suppose... but it's not as good as the intended setting when its working properly.

    If it's not working properly for you, that is another issue, which perhaps can be solved. It is certainly worth solving when you hear the result. My suggestion would be to scale the experiment down to the smallest possible scenario. Try one instance of a clarinet solo 1 in your sequencer, and input a scale passage in piano roll view. Make sure the notes overlap a bit. If you hear glitches, try different latency settings on your card. One thing I have found that if the latency setting is too high, there can be slight gapping. If it is too low, there can be clicking, but that shouldn't be a problem with only one instrument.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

  9. #9

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Jamie,

    Thanks for your reply.

    May I ask what platform you're on? If Mac, which computer, what soundcard/audio interface, and your I/O buffer setting?

    I'm running a G5 Quad, 8 Megs RAM, MOTU PCI-e424 + 2408, I/O buffer size = 64 (which is one above the lowest value of 32).

    Many Thanks,

    --orkguy--

  10. #10

    Re: Legato and polyphony - the final answer?

    Quote Originally Posted by orkguy
    May I ask what platform you're on? If Mac, which computer, what soundcard/audio interface, and your I/O buffer setting?

    I'm running a G5 Quad, 8 Megs RAM, MOTU PCI-e424 + 2408, I/O buffer size = 64 (which is one above the lowest value of 32).
    I'm on a PC, and I don't really know what technical differences you and I have in that regard. Are you using Digital Performer?

    By the way, I hope you didn't mean to say 8 Megs of RAM.
    - Jamie Kowalski

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

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