First of all, I know. You've heard these pieces before and your're sick of them. Believe me so am I
But the last few weeks these have been my "test pieces" for getting a more realistic orchestral sound out of my equipment. I wanted to post them one last time to ask you all; what would you do to make these sound better (I.E. more like a real orchestra)? I have used etlux's advice (indirectly offered through Karen: thanks to both of you) on how to tune my Garritan Ambience Plugin. I've also downloaded Classic EQ and upped the bass by just a hair. (too much and my gain went off the charts).This was all done in Sibelius 5 using GPO. I haven't decided yet if Sib 5 makes things easier or harder. (On a side note has anyone had KS frustrations? I'm still not clear on whether I can use them or not in Sib 5).
Of course I always welcome musical observations, but this time I'm really trying to get some technical advice.
Don't worry about hurting my feelings either. I know I"m a novice so I can take it!
What? - THIS Stuff again?---KIDDING! Just had to kid you after reading your text intro.
Your music is so rich, Matthew-I'm listening to the brooding, dense voicings of movement three again as I type. It's feeling more relentless to me this time, undoubtedly due to whatever my particular mood is this afternoon - Not to say I'm not engaged.
You want technical feedback. Well, you say your aim is more realism, and compared to the excellent naturalistic recordings/renderings we hear from time to time in The Listening Room, I certainly don't see why this wouldn't compare very favorably with the best of those.
Gunther suggest you try Sonar - Well, both he and I are Sonarites because we have a preference of working with sound as opposed to with trying to make notated notes breathe well in an audio rendering. That's just the old eternal difference between the two kind of computer musicians, so --I understand, you've made the choice most logical for you. To have a good printed score is more or at least as important to you as a good recording. So - don't you think you've reached your goals rather well? I do!
In following the posts about the notation users perpetual quest for the best renderings possible, I've read many suggestions - Some which describe a Lot more work than most people are willing to put in, such as making two entirely different files of a piece - one for recording in a DAW and another for printing. Everyone has to make their own decisions about what they want to do.
If I were you, I'd be Very pleased with the way this sounds. Maybe the ultra-technoid engineers like DPDAN could spot some tips that would be good to pass on, but all I can say is - I think this sounds great!
Any time that you want to play your "old stuff" please do! This is great composition and technique. I like the interplay of the themes and rythems very much, especially in Mvt II. And the choice of instruments works well here. Definately kept me on my toes the whole time.
As I know these pieces fairly well at this point, I just spot-checked
Overall? To my ear: not bad, not bad at all. You're basically pretty
well on track... maybe a little dry.
Matt, I've been hammering away at this for a bit longer than you;
and I immediately must say I am nonetheless no expert; but from
my own experience you're at that point where you find out the tools
do only what you tell them. And given my own recordings may never
win awards, either, lol... I will, though, just toss out some things I've
First, you've got to be practically slap-happy with hairpins in notation.
To do that effectively, you need to think like an orchestral player and
then act like one on paper.
This leads to another factor: the difference between the practices
dictated by basic musicianship and what actually appears on the page
in conventional score. For instance, the failure to flow you sometimes
hear in these pieces isn't due to the writing (which is conventionally
correct); but due to the fact that the conductor and players would
hold a lot of ending notes somewhat longer than written. Notation
knows nothing of this; so notes must be writ to actual rather than
Voicing is another concern. Often, you tend to write low and tight;
and while that will work in a real orchestra somewhat better, it seems
to throw a monkey wrench into EQ when rendering with samples...
No hard-fast rules, here, though -- it depends on the writing; but
some EQ work might liven the mix.
Ambience is actually pretty decent, despite the rap it sometimes
gets. But it has some serious limitations. Ideally, you'd want to treat
practically every individual instrument slightly differently -- but that's
obviously not practical. So... you have to get a best compromise.
As a starting point, I usually start with Ambience set as below for a
larger orchestral work... then tinker with it to get it just right. Again,
no hard-fast rules; because it depends on a variety of factors in the
Hope some of this is at least a little helpful. There are a thousand
tricks you pick up as you go along; but these are a few that are
fairly essential when working with notation.
So sorry it took so darned long to get back to you again. (Fall Semester starts in 2 days and I'm in Syllabus making land.)
But thank you very much for your advice. I'm glad to know I'm not THAT far off. THe idea Randy had about a score for recording in addition to the offical score would probably be great if I had limitless time. Unfortunately I don't, so I have to do what I can as part of my composing to get playback right. The good news is Sibelius can hide hairpins, so getting slaphappy (as David suggested) could still happen to some extent. Sibelius does randomly change the Modwheel setting with every note, but these settings seem random within a given range (90, 112 110 96 101 98 etc. was one), which is not a good representation of the natural ebb and flow of a real player. Its less noticeable at fast tempos, but half notes at adagio are very exposed. Maybe this will be corrected. Lets hope so. Same situation with the Tempo fluctuations that naturally occur, and the sustained notes.
It seems Sibelius tries very hard to reproduce human playback, but just doesn't quite get it sometimes. I wish I had the money to get sonar, or the time to learn it, but for now I'm stuck where I am. In the meantime, David when you talk about EQ Do you mean a frequency EQ or the level of the instruments in the mix?
Thanks again for all of your help, I hope to continue to improve.