Quite an undertaking - lots of notes in there. Could you tell us what you used to create this? (It might help with the comments on ways to improve it to know what program(s) would be doing the improving... )
I'm using Finale for entry and for playback. At the moment, all dynamics and articulations are done HP. I'm now looking at what manual things I can do to get a more realistic performance. Prefereably from within Finale, but I do have access to a lightweight DAW called MU-LAB which I can use to edit the midi file.
A great and deservedly well-beloved piece of music this is. I imagine it's been fun to immerse yourself in that score as you've whittled away at the incredible amount of work this kind of thing is.
I use Sonar, a sequencer, so don't have any hot Finale tips for you - Plenty of people here use Finale though, and even if they don't answer you directly on this thread, you'll pick up a lot from going through the Forums, and using the site's search engine.
I can comment on a few things I heard - even though I don't understand exactly how Finale users deal with such issues:
--This is devoid of reverb. You said you want it to sound more realistic. Well, a major thing for adding realism in computer music is to always have instruments play through some reverb. In the Real World we hear absolutely everything reverberating, since sound waves bounce off the walls of whatever venue the sound is made in. To add back that bit of Real World physics, we have to use reverbs to make the instruments not impossibly "dry" - they have to be at least a bit "wet"--with reverb applied. And classical works like this sound best when played in fairly large reverb settings, to simulate a concert hall.
--There's not very much use of volume dynamics. Like the opening long sustained notes on the strings - Listen to how they hit a volume and then stay at that absolute same volume until they suddenly drop off. Unnatural. Garritan instruments respond to MIDI controller #1 for their volume control. In notation programs, dynamic markings and hairpins are linked to sending that MIDI data to the instruments. MUCH easier, I have to add, to simply have cc1 constantly and realistically rising and falling, with the turn of a modulation wheel on a keyboard, or with the sweep of a pencil tool in a MIDI editing window.
But that's what's needed on those strings, after their initial entrance, they should shrink down in volume, come up intermittently as is appropriate, and then the sharp cut off is avoided with a smooth dipping of the volume.
It's all these constantly varying dynamics that make samples come alive - with all played in a simulated venue.
There's more - But I'm passing on the unrealistic things I can hear - Now, --to fix all those sorts of things in Finale - that I don't know how to explain, sorry.
Fun work for you - I hope you learn more about how to control all those software beasts in your computer!
Much work -- and good work -- on this beloved classic,
You're most of the way there.
As Randy outlines, the absence of reverb is the key
problem in this... adding that will immediately bring a
great improvement in the overall sound.
In general, with all rendering, too, there are the
standard Four Horsemen of performance:
Dynamics, Tempi, Phrasing, Articulation
These are the finer elements, but just as crucial as
the notes... they bring a piece to life. And they're
also the elements that take the most time; massaging,
tweaking, getting "just right". This is where your
real-life musicianship comes into its own -- learning to
"play" the technology just like you would a real
Thanks for the comments, Randy and David. I have avoided reverb at this stage, so that I could hear the instruments themselves (mainly to pick up and entry errors). I guess that I got so used to hearing it without reverb that I forgot to turn it on for the render that I posted here.
By the sounds of it, now it's an excercise of goint through each instrument and adding variations to the volume dynamics. I will do this over the next little while.
I know this piece very well and even though you have the note in the score it really lacks much of a realistic sound to it.
Are you certain that you have the VST instruments enabled? This almost does not sound like the GPO instruments. Perhaps it is an it is because, as pointed out, it is incredibly dry, absolutely no reverb, no presence to the music. You will need both the instruments selected in the Kontakt player and them mapped in the Instrument List to the score.
If you are using a PC edition of Finale, and I am assuming that you are using the VST instruments, open the Midi/Native Instruments VST Setup screen. At the bottom there is a checkbox for Ambience Reverb. Select it to enable playback through the Garritan Ambience processor. If you want to modify the ambience setting, select the Edit button. The default settings are sufficient to get you started. But you may want to play with the wet/dry controls and the decay time. You want fullness without loosing notes in the playback.
The Human Playback sounds a little funky as well. Have you changed the settings for the setting that is selected for the Human Playback Style? The Standard setting works well in most cases. I would advise against changing the defaults especially in the Advanced Parameter settings. In order to get the most out of HP you need to put all of the dynamic and phrasing marks into the score.
Together the HP and the ambience will do wonders for your massive effort to enter the score. Without both it just will not be a convincing performance.
I have avoided reverb at this stage, so that I could hear the instruments themselves (mainly to pick up and entry errors). I guess that I got so used to hearing it without reverb that I forgot to turn it on for the render that I posted here.
Here's an ironic thing - What you're saying here about the way you work makes reasonable sense, but in practice, it's actually the exact opposite thing which is most helpful.
Listening to your work with at least a dummy stand-in reverb plugin as you progress helps you hear what's happening with your volume balances and general sense of proportion. Some people feel they can't even work on something unless a reverb is on. You have to understand that it's not just the volume of instruments which is important, but where they are on the stage - which involves how much reverb each instrument should have added.
I highly recommend that you try working with reverb as you go - there'll be no way to forget this extremely crucial element when you go to make an audio file to test out!
Originally Posted by darrob
By the sounds of it, now it's an exercise of going through each instrument and adding variations to the volume dynamics. I will do this over the next little while.
Absolutely right! Much more than half the work in putting together a piece like this via computer is doing exactly that - working intensively with each instrument's dynamics in every way that's possible.
As David has said on your thread here, "...Dynamics, Tempi, Phrasing, Articulation..." are the things to focus on. When working with a notation program especially, one cannot rely on just the notes and their duration values as providing the stuff that makes music happen. Often, for instance, you'll find that 8th notes are what's written in a score, but in actuality, the best performance of those notes is much shorter than a full 8th note value. Having a robot/computer play the notes as written will never emulate an actual performance, and in any case, to rely on a literal playback of a score is merely the tip of the iceburg in making music sing.
I'm glad that Gary Bric has joined your thread here. He's one of the Forum's experts at using Finale, and his response could be a good inspiration for you.
MAJOR POINT - and I'm so glad he brought this up - he suspects that what we're hearing isn't even GPO instruments. Frankly, it was hard to tell - but there was a reed, an Oboe or Bassoon which was distinctly General Midi-like - nothing like anything I've heard in GPO. I chalked it up to raw data not being finessed, but I think Gary could be right, that at least some of what you have going isn't even GPO - that you haven't done all the necessary set up so that GPO is the sole sound source.
And as I said, Gary speaks from experience - I hope you explore all the details of Finale even more, because you've done a lot of ground work for making this "Apprentice" sound good--but, --deep breath-- it's really only the beginning.
The best part - I Know you want to do the work, because you said in your original post that you want your results to sound more natural and musical. --This thread is getting full of good suggestions on how to do just that.
Gary and Randy, I can definitely say that this uses GPO instruments all the way through (GPO Second Edition and latest Kontakt update). Possibly it's the lack of reverb which is causing the instruments to sound so funny?
Randy, the reed that you're hearing is the 'Bassoon 1 Plr3' instrument. It does sound a little funny, especially when contrasted against the other two Bassoons in this piece. I might swap it out for the 'Bassoon 2 Plr1' instrument. Just looking at thise instruments, there is a big size difference between the Plr1/2 and Plr3 versions of the Bassoon1
Gary, I've followed your advise and reverted the HP settings back to the 'standard' style. I found that sometimes the tempo variations could get a bit quirky (going on experiences with 'Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy' many moons ago), so usually turn the 'Rubato', 'Rhythm Accents' and 'Rhythmic Feel' down quite a bit.
I'm just now going through the score and adding some missing slurs and articulations (some errant staccatos). I've turned on the reverb (using the concert hall 2 preset) and will shortly do a test render to see how that sounds.
Again, thanks you all for the feedback so far. I'll keep going with the mods and re-send the file when I've played with the instruments a bit more.
I have just updated with a new (and slightly improved) version
So far I have:
Changed the Bassoons from the Plr patches to a combination of the Solo and Plr patches
Added Reverb (I'm really going to have to do a lot of experimenting with reverb, I can see that)
Made some very slight dynamics changes, along the lines suggested by Randy. (Still a lot to do there. A challenge from within Finale)
This is still very much a Work In Progress, as I try and learn the techniques of rendering quality music.
As before, I would appreciate any comment and criticisms.