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Topic: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

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  1. #1

    Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Here's a link to a mockup of Brahms 1st Symphony:

    http://www.garageband.com/artist/HenrikBJ

    It's the first "real" orchestral work I do.
    With no musical background, I had to learn how to read notes to make this.
    Also, having just crossgraded from Logic to Cubase, I had to learn how to use Cubase as well as I went along.
    So it's been quite a learning experience!

    I'm very interested in all comments, especially on how to make the piece sound better.

    I've used Sonivox Complete Symphonic Collection + Samplicity T600 Reverb.
    Instruments in Sonivox are panned from the start, I haven't fiddled with that.
    No EQ was used.

    Looking very much forward to reading your comments. Thanks!

    Best regards,
    Henrik

  2. #2

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Hi,

    A big project to tackle after just learning to read music! I don't have the score to look at but some things don't sound quite right.

    First off, your violins sound very odd. From listening to a recording of the 1st, it sounds like that first part should be in octaves.. yours just has it in unison, and for some weird reason yours sounds like it's a solo violin playing it instead of a violin section and has much less body than it should. The attack of the violin also doesn't match the music and throws off the legato feeling.. you need to use a patch with a quicker attack.

    I also hear very odd dissonances. Because you are new to reading music, are you familiar with the idea of transposing instruments, where the note written on the page does not always match the note that is played? When you enter it into Cubase, you need to use the note that is heard, not what is written on the page.

    Also, it's a bit flat dynamically. If you use GigaStudio, use the Sonivox MW DEF (Modwheel-controlled dynamic expression filter) patches and then you can use your modwheel to get good dynamic controls while a note is playing.

  3. #3

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Dalek3, thanks for listening and commenting.

    I have a real beginner's question, hope that's alright.

    After going through the notes for Brahms piece again, I found some in my mockup that were not as they should be. However one particular note played by both 1st and 2nd Violins, I simply cannot get to sound right. No matter where I place it, it sounds wrong.

    The 1st Violins have the symbol treble clef, as well as "little b's" for notes E, B and A (= these notes should be played 1/2 step down). The note I cannot get to sound right is an A, and according to the above, A notes should be played 1/2 step down. Thus, the note in question should be a G#, right?

    However...no matter where I place that damn note, it sounds wrong! A, G#, even A#, B, G etc., it all sounds wrong.

    In the end, I gave up and played Civ IV instead.......argh!

  4. #4

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Henrik,

    String instruments are non-transposing, with the exception of the double-bass which plays the note exactly an octave below what is notated on paper.

    Clarinets, Horns (French and English) and Trumpets are frequently written as transposing instruments. For instance, when a Hornist plays a C you hear the F 7 semitones below. When a B-flat trumpet plays a D you hear the C two semitones below. Sample libraries do not generally transpose, so if you play a C into a sample library french horn sample you would hear a C, not the F that you would hear from an actual hornist. This would cause you to get the wrong note sound.

    EDIT: Your string notes are probably correct (even if the octave is off here and there), but wrong brass or woodwind notes could cause odd dissonances with the strings, causing them to sound wrong.

    EDIT 2: You are correct in how you are interpreting the accidentals, so I doubt the strings are the source of the dissonances you hear. It is most likely incorrect brass or woodwind notes caused by incorrect handling of transposing instruments.

    Mike

  5. #5

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    You're right, that's it! When the strings play alone - when both woodwinds and horn are muted - everything sounds fine. But once these other instruments are let back into the mix, that's when it sounds odd.

    Looking in the index to Adler's book on orchestration, I can see there is quite a bit of information about transposing instruments here and there. I'll read up on that and then maybe return to this thread if I have further questions.

    Thanks, Mike!

  6. #6

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Just found this out:

    At the place where the melody sounds odd, all woodwinds play an A.

    Flutes, however, have a "little B" (what's this called anyway?) on note A, thus I changed the A-note to a G#.

    Oboes also have "little B" on note A, so the Oboe A-note was also changed to a G#.

    Clarinets are in B and they play DB at that particular moment I am talking about. However since both flutes and oboes play CA at that moment, I kind of figured out that the clarinets have got to be transposed downwards to a CA. Otherwise it would sound horrible

    Clarinets have a "little B" on note B, and since they play DB before being transposed downwards, the Clarinet A-note has to be changed to a G#.

    Bassoons play AF at this particular moment where things sound odd. These notes are written in bass clef however, so in reality bassoons play CA just like the rest of the woodwinds. But bassoons have a "little B" on note F, which is what they play before the transposing. Therefore the bassoon A-note was changed to a G#.

    With these changes done, the piece sounds completely "fluent" at the point where there were problems before.

    Horns I haven't looked at yet, I'm too tired for now.
    Will probably read a little in Adler.

    Not sure how interesting all this is (or if it makes sense at all!), but I'm just excited about figuring this out!

    Thanks again!

    EDIT: I've uploaded the new version, it's called Brahms311007.

  7. #7

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by HenrikBJ
    Flutes, however, have a "little B" (what's this called anyway?) on note A, thus I changed the A-note to a G#.
    The "little B" is actually called a "flat", so an A with a "little B" beside it is called "A-Flat" which is the same note on the piano keyboard as "G-Sharp" just a different name for the same note. Two different names for the same note is sometimes called being "enharmonic". (ex. you would say "G-Sharp and A-Flat are enharmonic").

    Clarinets are in B and they play DB at that particular moment I am talking about. However since both flutes and oboes play CA at that moment, I kind of figured out that the clarinets have got to be transposed downwards to a CA. Otherwise it would sound horrible
    Yup, you've figured out how transposing instruments work. BTW those Clarinets are not in "B" but actually in "B-flat", two semitones below C. Orchestral works frequently incorrectly say "Clarinets in B" as a shorthand for "Clarinets in B-flat" which they can do because there is no such thing as a clarinet in B. I hate that convention as it is confusing for people learning orchestration who do not necessarily know that there is no such thing as a "B Clarinet" and that it must be referring to a "B-Flat Clarinet". A "B-Flat Clarinet" is named such because when it plays a C you hear a B-flat, so you always hear two semitones below the note that is played. So when B-flat clarinets play a D, you hear two semitones below that, which is a C, and when they play a B, you hear two semitones below that, which is an A. Therefore, as you've correctly deduced, when a B-flat clarinet plays DB you hear CA.

  8. #8

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Just listened to your updated piece - it is improved but still hear dissonance near the end that doesn't sound right.

    Probably incorrect transposition of the horn notes - you always hear Horns as 7 semitones lower than what is written on the page, so you may need to drop the horn notes all down by 7 semitones.

    Flutes, Oboes and Bassoons are generally non-transposing, so what you see written on the page is what you hear.

    Mike

  9. #9

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    I will listen and post later on, but just wanted to give a great congratulations to the original poster for doing all this work! It is amazing and your passion is great! Keep it up man!

  10. #10

    Re: Sonivox: Brahms 1st Symphony

    Quote Originally Posted by dalek3
    The "little B" is actually called a "flat", so an A with a "little B" beside it is called "A-Flat"
    Ok! But here, the A does not have a "little B" beside it, instead the information is given between the treble clef and the time signature all the way to the left on the note sheet, before the notes even begin. There, three b's are placed on the staff (that's the right word?) on notes E, B and A respectively. Does those b's have a name when they are placed there? Also, how do you say what this information indicate? Do you say: "The b's indicate which notes are to be played as flats" ?

    Orchestral works frequently incorrectly say "Clarinets in B" as a shorthand for "Clarinets in B-flat"
    Yes, here on the sheet it says just that (or rather, it says "2 Klarinetten in B" as it's German ) - I'll keep in mind it's actually called Clarinets in B-flat.

    EDIT: Thank you very much, Nikolas!

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