I posted this piece a while ago when I finished it, but after hearing some of the orchestra pieces in the listening room I am blown away by how realistic they all sound.
I'm sort of one of those people whose a composer more than an audio engineer, and I can obviously get GPO to sound much better than any stupid MIDI file, but I would love some suggestions audio wise to make this file sound more authentic than it currently does.
I run GPO through Sibelius, and have never really tried other mixing software.
Your composition is great, I can imagine how well it would, no, will sound played by a real orchestra. Your asking a very difficult question. SOME! very few, can make a piece sound realistic using only a notation program. I'm of the opinion that you can never do a recorded piece justice unless you use a DAW of one brand or another. It allows better use of the dynamic range not just in volume level but reverb level where e.g. a quiet passage produces little reverb compared to a loud one. I base my comments on the fact we sit and listen to these recordings in a relatively small room compared to the size of space needed to house an orchestra and audience.
Use of artficial space is essential along with eq, maily to create holes in the frequency spectrum that intruments and sections can have their own place in the mix. This is a big community here but I've heard very few posts having both brilliant composition and rendering (recording is a better term).
I use Finale, and have found the following †o be true:
Dynamics use to bring out important part vs. backup use of
sus†ained notes usually need to have a decrescendo to avoid clutter
with moving notes--either a fast decres. or longer;
set the best "room" depending on size of group-largest room for
largest group & vice versa;
some instruments are too loud, set individual levels so a part like trombone, tuba don't cover up;
set the master volume level by experimentation-set it as loud as possible without distorting sound
record on CD to check outcome before final posting.
By the way, I can tell that you understand the composition skill.
i don't know if you use a pc or a mac, but if you'd like to get a more realistic sound i would recommend using sonar (which is what i used when i had a pc) or Logic if you own a mac (the Express version is more than you will need for this, and with an education discount its $150 - or cheaper if you make friends with a guy at the mac store). DAW programs like these are (some might argue this, although i don't know how) the only way to get a more realistic sound. GPO has SOOOO many ways to influence the sound you want and a DAW is the easiest way to get it. there is modulation, VAR1 and 2, velocity, aftertouch, sustain, and brass overlays and spicatto strings have another cc that changes the Aggressiveness.
the other recommendation i'd give is getting a good keyboard with some faders and twisty knobs (i use an Axiom - the 25 doesn't have faders, but other sizes do), and a pitch and mod wheel (the mod wheel is an absolute must). this way, after you notate everything, you can hit record for whatever track you want to edit and move the knobs and it will record the cc's and leave your notes. you might want to record over a track multiple times for each cc, then you can go back in your DAW and edit away.
anyway, my suggestions are to get a good MIDI controller (Keyboard without sounds that connects via USB) and a DAW. i believe that without these it is impossible to get anywhere near a realistic sound. i hope that helps
ps - you can check my site for examples of how i use them, and i am not very good at all at editing.
I really admire your composition. The sound is original while doing a wonderful job of reflecting your love for the great composers listed on the MP3 site as your major influences. This is arresting, absorbing---a very rich experience for the listener.
Your question about how to make it sound "better" is of course a huge, open-ended question. The responses you've already gotten are much like what I was prepared to say.
There are people who get an organic "believable" sound from using Notation programs. There are composers here at the Garritan Forums who do that amazingly well--people such as Et Lux who recently explained in a post that he adds an incredible amount of commands into his notation projects in order to get the great playback he achieves.
However, based on my listening experience, it seems that people who achieve that sort of level of work with Notation programs are in the minority. In the "old days" of MIDI, we used to refer to "step sequencing"--the term is still sometimes used. It was generally looked down on by keyboardists who actually played their instruments. Step recording would be resorted to for touches here and there, but for the most part, synth driven music was played. Well, Notation programs are a sophisticated development of step sequencing--And the limitation is fairly obvious, that inserting notes onto a staff view so they look tidy and correct for printing makes for an overly quantized robotic playback. Hence the development of "humanizing" tools in programs like Finale, so that playback is more natural and satisfactory.
The Tympani roll at the start of your piece is a good example of something which is too perfect to sound as natural as it could.
I use Sonar and start projects by playing each instrument. A lot of hand editing is done after the fact, but I feel it's pretty difficult to beat the organic input of natural dynamics one gets from playing a keyboard, and real-time use of the mod wheel (volume in GPO, as you know) gets the best results also. Recording all controllers in real time can add amazing touches to each track.
Using the Tympani example--you could play that in real time, and instantly it would sound more authentic, with all the imperfect timings you would naturally have in the recording. Going in to hand edit the velocities on that roll would be the finishing touch--making sure you don't make a perfect ramp up in volume, but a jagged upward sloping hill with lots of velocity "trees." It's all about imperfection versus impossible perfection.
So I'm with the others in saying that while it's possible to get more natural recordings from a Notation program than what many people achieve, it's more difficult to arrive at what you're looking for than if you'd use an audio/MIDI program such as Sonar.
And no matter what program you use for making your music, my one big request would be that you use less reverb. It's a completely subjective, personal taste thing, but the recording you have of this piece is too awash with reverb--to my ears. I feel it would be more musical and details would be heard more clearly with less reverb.
BUT, this piece is sounding much better than you seem to think. Really, the composition shines through and the "rendering" is certainly as good as most things I hear.
Thanks for signing up here and posting your wonderful music.
What I would do is get some cymbals and a snare drum. Also, at the beginning where you have just brass, have the violas on trills, or use the violins to do some runs and add color. Make it just loud enough to be heard but no louder. Other than that, even as it stands right now, it sounds extremely good. It reminds me of john williams. In all fairness I don't see why you want it to sound better. But then again, artists tend to be the most critical of their own work. Take Tchaikovski for example. He HATED his Nut Cracker suite. However its amoung the most beloved and well known pieces of classical music writen.
The first is the composition, the 2nd is the arrangement and No. 3 is the mixing... .
When I compose, I do it with the librarie that is loaded in my cubase, so I always hear the result of my thinkings. Because every librarie sounds different to the same notes, for me, I think it is the best way for best results. When I compose I use equalizers, compressors and so on in the seperate channels where I am composing. So I always have the comming up result in my ears.
I now compose most for radiostations and they want to have best results in shortest times.... .
My tip to you: compose with a sequenzer. Sonar, Cubase or Logic. Then you control fast the fight of the frequencies between the individual instruments.
I agree with the others, using a sequencer and drawing in data will give you a much more lifelike rendering.
But I use a notation program also, and what I found helps is to enter TONS more information than you normally would in a score. Dynamics, articulations, phrase markings, etc... add more hairpins all over the place. Even if you mark a phrase for a musician at a specific dynamic level, it's almost impossible for a musician to play at a constant level. You have to notate and tell Sibeius to play those nuances. If Sibelius allows you to create additional dyamics, use them. Create a "mf+" which is somewhere between a "mf" and a "f" and so forth. Create accents that have varying amounts of velocity. If Sibelius lets you edit the midi data at all or randomize it in any way, that will help too.
think of it this way...
imagine never actually hearing the piece,,,,,......... ever!
The great composers of the past never did, until the first rehearsal, think about it.
Now, look at your beautiful accurate score printed from your favorite notation program. Look at just one meaure of one instrument.
Now, pretend you are at a studio in Burbank, ready to record your beautiful piece of music. You are in the control room next to the recording engineer, and you hear the oboe line for the first time. The player of the Oboe plays the measure exactly as the score notates, however, he/she has added so much emotion and expressiveness to those four notes it blows your mind.
How did he/she do that?
Years of playing the Oboe, that's how.
We as midi mockup creators, do not have to know how to play an Oboe to create that same emotional expressiveness, but it is imperative that we have a software program that allows us the ability to add that data that WILL make that Oboe come to life.
Sing it either outloud or in your head!
Then make your GPO Oboe sound like it does in your head.
If 1st violins are supposed to creep in so quietly that you don't even realize they are there,. that can only happen with the assitance of MIXING the sound.
Use fader automation in the DAW of your choice to create this soft entrance.
Just as I use Digital Performer (DP) to create my projects, I would never even consider using it to produce a perfect printout of the score that musicians can read. Likewise, I would never expect a program that is designed around printing a score of a work to be able to spit out a really nice recording of the piece. The two different applications (software programs) Notation and a DAW have two distinctly different objections.
Of course, these are just my thoughts as I agree with so much of what has been said.
Someday, I will want a notation program when I learn how to make and read music.
Nice piece! You have already been given good advice, so I'll just add ont thought. The realization/rendering of a score is much like preparing a piece to perform. I don't know your intrumental/performance experience, so please don't think I am talking down to you. I've performed for many years, and when I'm practicing the thought is constantly "accent here? crescendo there? a little more tenuto, etc", and it is almost a note by note issue. Now, if you take that same approach to rendering, you can see how a sequencer comes into play - a quarter note is no longer a quater note, but a note that has a life along with its duration - just as it would if you were performing it. If you thought in terms of how long it would take to learn something you have written, then transfer that time into the realization, youcan see how it could be made very realistic. But most of us don't have the time, or once we've finished writing it, aren't about to put in as much time (or more) getting the sound "perfect". I too use Sibelius, and I like very much I can do with it - but for me, I want something that I can give/send to someone to persuade them to play it - not as an end result.