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  1. #1


    UPDATE: I solved the unwanted "organ" effect with a little help from my forum friends, Bowser, Snorlax, Danny and Haydn. Thanks everyone.



    I just bought and installed the Garritan Concert and Marching Band sample library.

    No matter how much I tweak, no matter what CC controls I use, no matter what I do, I get an unwanted "organ" effect when working with the brass.

    Below is the link to an all-brass composition on which I am currently working. This is the introduction to a piece called "The Brass Seer". This example is only a few seconds in length and includes sections of CMB trumpets, 'bones, baritones, "French" horns and tubas. I think that you can readily hear the "organ" effect.

    I have tried other brass combinations and the result is the same unnatural sound.

    If anyone has suggestions, I would appreciate hearing them.

    Thanks in advance.




  2. #2


    Hi, Larry

    My observation is that others have had problems with the "organ effect" in CMB also, and seemingly more often in this library than the others. A few times, trying to discuss this issue has caused some unfortunate sparks between members in The Listening Room.

    I have heard pieces withOut this artifact, so it's not as if this unnatural sound is unavoidable by any means.

    But I did hear the effect in your sample. It reminded me of my own experience with the organ-effect when I played a CMB piece of mine for my sister, and when more brass came in towards the end, she said, "OOoh nice, you added a pipe organ." I couldn't convince her it was just more brass, Tubas on sustained notes in this case. And of course she hadn't ever seen any of our threads on the Forum which mention this particular artifact - it was an unsolicited reaction which coincided exactly with what I and some others have commented on when listening to some CMB projects.

    I can only theorize about the issue, but I can tell you what improved things in my experimenting with the library:

    --I think the effect is most pronounced with the Group sounds. The chorusing effect of those sounds can accumulate and sound something like what we associate with a processed synth sound, or an organ.

    --There seems to be a generally "lush" sound to the library, softening the instruments, which can contribute to an artificial sound when layered too densely. I think that there's a stereo effect used on most or maybe even all of the instruments, which can also accumulate and create an un-real result when layered too densely.

    --It sounds to me like the looping start points of the samples may all begin at the same point, or at least very similar points, so that the wave forms tend to start pulsing together at the same time.

    --SOLUTIONS - This has been confirmed in private email with another Forum member - A slight jostling of note-on events seems to be the key to disrupting the effects described. A shifting of separate MIDI tracks, slightly to the left and some slightly to the right - Either that, or individual tweaking of notes.

    And I think that resolves the issue because the pieces in which the organ effect is noticed seem to be the most quantized. When all those notes are starting at precisely the same time, or extremely close to it, the effect is exactly like an organist playing a chord. And of course that kind of one-man-band precision is impossible in an actual band/orchestra. This is exactly the reason for the organ-effect in synths and sample based synths - too precise and artificial a quantization.

    I hope you experiment with shifting your tracks, Larry, so that these brass chords are made of up notes which all have slightly different start times. I theorize that you'll be much happier with the results, and my experience leads me to believe you'll be Completely satisfied.

    Randy B.

  3. #3


    Thanks very much, Mr. Randy for taking the time to write this enlightening and helpful response.

    I shall try your advice and see what happens.

    Thanks again,

    Larry G. Alexander

  4. #4


    It's a really good idea to stagger attacks in general, even moreso with CoMB.
    Many of the brass are conical instruments to begin with and are INHERENTLY "organ-y" to begin with. When attacks coincide and/or conical instrumentsare mixed with cylindrical instruments, you can get one big organ stop.
    Also see below.

    Another thread mentioned that the forum needs a lesson or two on "band-strating"--orchestrating for band.

    I'll start briefly, and hope that someone whose bona fides exceed mine will take over.

    I know it sounds obvious, but here are the implications.
    1.THERE IS LESS TIMBRAL DIVERSITY IN THE WIND ENSEMBLE. That places a bit more burden upon a composer/arranger/sequencer to highlight whatever diversity there is. Some of the stuff that composers/arrangers/orchestrators can "get away with" in orchestra because of the diversity of sound will be exposed in the more homogeneous environment of the band.

    2. YOU ARE, IN ESSENCE, DEALING WITH ORGAN STOPS IN A WIND ENSEMBLE. There are no strings to create contrasts. You are dealing in a band with closed or open pipes, and cylindrical or conical pipes. It isn't surprising, then, that an "organ-y" sound is possible.
    3."SECTIONS" exist in a wind ensemble that don't exist in an orchestra. Try to make your sections as varied as possible. I only use the section instruments in CoMB as a reinforcer when I need a big sound. I vastly prefer the ensemble building approach. Even though I work in notation, I take great care to stagger attacks in every track. Another useful idea is to make liberal use of var1 and var2 and randomize velocities, especially in notey passages. Nobody's attacks are ever totally coincident or totally consistent. So even though I may have two clarinets on the same part, I enter the notes, clone the track, apply randomization of note-ons and -offs to each track, randomize the velocities in each track and apply a dose of VAR1 and VAR2 to each track. That way the organ effect is minimized and I achieve a sound that mimics two skilled clarinetists sitting next to one another playing the same part.
    4. BANDS TEND TO BE MORE "IN THE MID REGISTER" than orchestras. I don't know if that's the fault of writers or the instruments themselves, but bands seem to be very light in uppers and lowers and heavier in the middle that orchestras. that may also contribute to the organ effect. That's also a by-product of the "no-strings" state of affairs.

    Well, I have to split for work now, so I leave people with this--perhaps to be expanded later:

    2. Use heavier velocity on attacked notes--let your ear guide
    3. Vary velocity, even within the parameters of individual dynamics
    4. Liberal use of VAR1 and VAR2
    5. Build your ensemble

    Jim Williams
    Professor of Capitalism
    Indianapolis Brass Choir
    All Your Bass Sus&Short Are Belong to Us.

  5. #5


    Hi Larry,

    Well, Randy and Jim beat me to it; in fact, I was in the middle of writing my response when BOTH of their posts appeared, so I'll just reinforce what they've already said:

    -With CMB, staggered attacks AND releases are especially vital to avoid the "organ phenomenon". I've always used this technique, but CMB seems to demand even more of it for some reason.

    -As Jim advised, I tend to build ensembles with individual patches and reinforce those custom-built sections with the ensemble patches.

    -Along with the ensemble building within CMB, I now almost always subtlely enhance the sound with some GPO patches and even a JABB player or two here and there VERY judiciously (I was always the "jazzer" in wind ensemble and orchestra during my college years, so I do this also out of principle ).

    -Although it doesn't address the varied attack issue, I tend to EQ a certain amount of mid-range out of the brass, which -- to my ear -- adds realism to the sound and reduces some of the typical organ frequencies.

    Larry, I think if you tinker with these things for a while, you'll hit upon a sound that will definitely satisfy your ear; it's just a matter of "digging for the diamonds". After dealing with that initial experimentation time, I know you'll find that the CMB sounds are all really quite good and in many instances just simply extraordinary.

    You'll get it, Larry! Let me (us) know how it's coming along; and I'm definitely looking forward to what you come up with using CMB. I know it will be some great stuff!


  6. #6


    I just finished writing "The Brass Seer" and will post it as soon as my present posting in the Listening Room scrolls off of page one.

    Thanks for your suggestions, everyone.


    Larry G. Alexander

  7. #7


    Excellent, Jim - Thanks for that.

    It's very helpful that you've pointed out how it's easy for Brass and Winds samples to produce organ-like results because of the way the instruments themselves are built.

    It's a good thing to reinforce the point that it's not the nature of CMB per se, but rather the conical pipe-organ-like construction of the instruments which invites us to use caution when building pieces where Brass and Winds predominate.

    For the very reasons you outline, it's very rare for me to apply any quantization when I work. The naturally occuring slight discrepencies in note-on timing is a hallmark of of music when performed live. And it's why I can't imagine ever not working with a keyboard and a DAW - I need to perform the music I put together on a computer.

    Cloning and then "messing up" the duplicated tracks is a constant part of my own process. Our ears can instantly hear the improvements when the two otherwise identical tracks (note-wise) are not playing in precisely the same way.

    And I also want to second your recommendation of using the Var 1 and 2 controls to help introduce more natural variations in a group.

    Several times I've tried to broach this subject with some Forum members who want to argue that live bands Can play as precisely as a quantized MIDI file - but of course they can't, and I've never been sure why a method which produces such mechanical results would be so championed. But of course it's difficult for anyone to see when their approach to working isn't as successful as it could be. We all learn new things at our own pace.

    Great--Thanks again!

    Randy B.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Jun 2000
    Chandler, Arizona


    One other thing I do is set the vibrato level to the slowest speed and add some randomly to some of the instruments. This adds extra motion to the sustained notes.

    Also, make sure you play in each part. Do not copy and paste parts.


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