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Topic: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

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  1. #1

    Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    I'm on a 2.33 GHZ dual centrino with 2 GB of RAM. I'm running VISTA Business. I use FINALE 2008a with GPO, JABB, and the Concert Band libraries. I also have KONTAKT 2 and 3.

    The percussion (mainly bass and snare drum) are very intermittent to sound and seem unresponsive to dynamics. They do sound as I'm entering them, but do not play consistently. I feel fairly comfortable with the GPO and MIDI constraints in FINALE.

    My project is to demonstrate the sound of a 19th-century ensemble in comparison to my updating the same to a "modern" Sousa-style band. The percussion parts are mere filling as I believe that the players were expected to "realize" them using various rudiments. When I get around to this stage of my work, I'd really like to have these parts very prominent.
    Henry Howey
    Professor of Music
    Sam Houston State University
    Box 2208
    Huntsville, TX 77341
    (936) 294-1364
    http://www.shsu.edu/~music/faculty/howey.html
    Owner of FINALE Discussion List

  2. #2

    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Hello, hhowey

    "...The percussion (mainly bass and snare drum) are very intermittent to sound and seem unresponsive to dynamics..."

    It sounds like you're expecting them to respond to dynamic markings in your score. Like the percussion in GPO and JABB, the drums' volumes are determined by note velocities - unlike the rest of the pitched instruments.

    You'll need to get into your MIDI editing window and adjust the velocity values accordingly. For the most part, they'll need to be high, ie: 100 and over.

    Randy B.

  3. #3
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    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Henry,

    Assuming that your staves are setup and named correctly, dynamics will work to control volume in Finale. But there a few things that might help your initial audio level of each percussion channel. There's no need to use the midi tool for editing unless you choose to.

    In the Instrument List, increase the initial volume of each percussion channel. These can be adjusted on a individual basis.

    Go to the Kontakt 2 Player. For each percussion instrument, press on the 'gears' icon, then click on the "Controller" tab. The bottom line reads "Midi Controller #7 (Volume) range" Next to that is a drop down. You can increase the db level here, which will help tremendously.

    Good luck,
    Jeff

  4. #4

    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Hi, Jeff - Thanks for helping out.

    Once hhowey follows your instructions, he still needs to be aware of what his velocities are, right?--since that's the way the percussion instruments in Garritan libraries are programmed? Low velocities playing through channels which are turned up all the way will still yield quiet levels wouldn't they?

    Randy B.

  5. #5
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    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Yes percussion is velocity based. That's why I mentioned that he make sure his staves setup correctly. As long as the staves are named with the appropriate instrument, then HP will apply either velocity or modulation automatically.

    The user just enters a "f" for example, and HP will use the correct controller for that percussion staff. And another controller for wind instruments.

    Jeff

  6. #6

    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Cool, Jeff - Never having used Finale, I try to pick up what I can about how it works from Forum messages like yours.

    What you described is what I've always wondered about when using a notation program like Finale. Without doing more detailed controller editing, the user is stuck with just a handful of volume levels - as dictated by ppp, pp, p, f etc? - That's just a fraction of the 127 levels actually available.

    But my understanding is that there is a MIDI controller view available for more detailed work?

    Randy B.

  7. #7
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    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    I wouldn't describe it as being "stuck" with 8 or 10 dynamic levels. The user can adjust those anyway they like. I often create an additional set of dynamics like "mf+" which is halfway between "mf & f". The convenience factor comes into play here, it's very easy and quick to enter these dynamics. But as you mentioned, these are only a small portion of the possibilities available.

    There is a midi tool available in Finale, it does work, but it is archaic by today's sequencer standards.

    It all comes down to our individual needs. If the user just wants a quick no-frills mockup, then basic Finale playback will give you that. If a more polished recording is desired, then additional time spent editing midi data or inserting playback expressions into the score is necessary. Just like a sequencer, the more time you put into something, the more final result will shine.

    Jeff

  8. #8

    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Excellent, Jeff--

    Your new post sums up much about Finale very well.

    I have noticed that a lot of Finale users are only concerned about having a reasonably acceptable "mock up" to listen to, checking the work on their scores. When there are "machine gun" episodes and stilted dynamics, it's not a concern to them.

    It must be frustrating to such users to post their works only to have some people focus on how the recording could be made more realistic, when that wasn't their focus.

    Thanks again - I always find it fascinating, the concept of making scores play music, instead of scores being the graphical by-product of music being played.

    Randy B.

  9. #9
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    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    I think it's frustrating for all users, not just notation users, when they hear the magic that DPDan and other masters make. But listen to to QcCowboy's pieces, he gets astounding results using just Finale. And honestly, I've heard many pieces that were done using sequencers, that didn't have that magic. It all comes down to the user, and their knowledge of their tools and the time they put into a piece.

    JT

  10. #10

    Re: Percussion in Concert and Marching Band

    Hi, Jeff

    Yes, you're right that some people manage to get their recordings sounding really great, no matter what kind of software they're using.

    I was just saying that for notation users who really don't care about getting a totally pro sounding "rendering," it can be difficult on them when they want their composition to be heard by others - and technical shortcomings distract listeners away from their writing itself.

    Sequencer users are certainly able to come up with not-so-super recordings too, of course. The difference is that they're using DAWs because they Are interested in recordings above getting clean looking print outs. Whether or not they've really learned how to harness the power available to them is another matter.

    I'm a DAW user and only very rarely need hard copy scores, so I'm doing everything I know how to do in order to make recordings which are good sounding renditions of what I've written. That's my priority. It's gratifying that most listeners find the work I've done of high calibre.

    Lucky me - The vocal director for my upcoming production of "Dorian" is a whiz at using Finale. He'll be helping me get together presentable scores for future productions which may use live orchestras instead of the "virtual orchestra" tracks I've created for this first premiere production.

    Randy B.

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