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Topic: Another "Fun" Piece

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  1. #1
    Senior Member 4209fr's Avatar
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    Another "Fun" Piece

    Everyone has heard this piece in its popular form, but I thought it would be amusing to put it in a Big Band setting with considerable solo work. I can take absolutely no credit for anything concerning this piece except the instrument selection (and the 'small' room reverb that is 'medium' wet). But, when you have 14 guitar tracks to fill in addition to everything else, it gives one plenty of options.

    And, like so many 'pop' pieces, there is no end - it just fades into oblivion, sort of like someone driving off into the sunset in their convertible with 8-track deck blarring away on one of those 10 mile long, absolutely straight Nevada highways in the desert. I imagine that somewhere, there is one of these pieces still repeating the last few bars after 30 years.

    So, here is the Eagles' Hotel California.

    Frank

    http://www.box.net/shared/wvob2b8o4o
    Frank Newman - Houston, Texas, USA, Earth, Milky Way (for our 'extended' viewership)
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  2. #2

    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Hi, Frank

    A "Fun" piece indeed. I love how completely unexpected this post is after the more serious offerings you've put up previously.

    It's an iconic rock song you've translated here, so most of us have an emotional connection to it. I think I'm open to hearing it being done differently - But I'm not hearing this as a completely successful experiment, I hope you don't mind me saying.

    Besides a general sound of unreality to the ensemble you've put together, I know For Sure what I have as a major technical note: The pitch bends aren't working very well, Frank.

    It used to be that the Garritan instruments were only capable of a whole step bend in either direction. Now in KP2, we can program the potential bend to any setting we want, including a full octave. But only the tiniest amounts of bend are ever needed to achieve a real pitch-settling effect. You have so many instruments scooping so broadly that it makes them sound like old synth sounds being played by an overly zealous keyboard player.

    I also feel that the vocal line of the song in particular has been emulated too literally. The results sound a bit awkward to me at times. Re-writing, sketching in and suggesting the melody line could have been a better way to go perhaps.

    I liked the fade out section the most, and there were other moments that worked for me. It's an interesting experiment, Frank, and I'm sure it was fun to put together.

    Randy B.

  3. #3

    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Hi Frank,

    While I partially agree with Randy on this, I think it would be fair to say that as a fun piece you have achieved your objectives - you clearly have had fun putting this together and there is a successful development of the instrumental wall of sound as it grows from the beginning. I also like some of the syncopation developed.

    I think the beginning lets it down somewhat and it is (for my liking) a tad fast.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. #4
    Senior Member 4209fr's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Hi, guys -
    I must re-iterate, again, that I found this version lurking on the internet, somewhere, and I liked it - compared to other versions - and it gives plenty of opportunity for experimentation. Aside from some very minor alterations, the only thing I did is substitute a bunch of 'band' instruments for the rock/pop group instruments on the original file.

    The 14 guitar tracks in the original make up most of the tracks, including the soloists in the last 1/3 of my rendition. I'm no guitarist, but from what I have seen in video clips, guitarists will 'pitch bend' (or whatever it is called on a guitar) for 6, 8, 10, 12, ??? semi-tones. I haven't really looked closely, but I didn't alter that part of the tracks, so the 'bone will have an "unrealistic" scoop. (But it sure sounds bitchin'). I knew a guy in high school that could play such 'fireworks' on his 'bone. I think that he ended up being a professor at North Texas State. This piece, as I reconfigured it, reminded me of him.

    Anyway, I just wanted to point out that most of the short-comings that have been mentioned are due to not spending a lot of time to modify most of the tracks to suit the needs of a real band. With the wonders of computer music, you can do "unrealistic" things, and, maybe, make something that sounds 'better' than if performed with the contraints necessary for a live performance.

    Like Wendy Carlos said when asked, 'what would Bach think about the Moog synthesizer?' I forget exactly what her reply was (it's probably on my album cover), but I think it is fair to say that it might have something to do with a 'triple orgasm' - a "kid in a candy store" sort of a thing.

    To me, there is too much emphasis on a 'human' realism to works posted here. Why should we be constrained to the 'frailties' and inconsistencies inherent in live performance? Why not strive for the "perfect" rendition? What level of 'human performance' should be the goal - junior high school, college, virtuoso? Some pieces that have been posted are at or near the 'virtuoso' level, and are truly wonderful. But, aside from some technical difficulties (like the "organ effect") that may come from perfect synchrony, etc., why the emphasis on "realism" (whatever that means)? - despite Finale's (and other's) efforts to do so with their Playback.

    In a couple of my pieces, a comment or two was made that instruments, at times, seemed "out of tune". Well, considering that I am working from the same library of sounds that most of the rest of you are working from (and there is no pitch bend involved), isn't that a bit ridiculous? The sound samples are 'neutral'. The problem lies in the fact that an A# is not the same as a Bb. And, sometimes, that becomes noticable in computer-generated music (although it can be dealt with). From the sheer volume of work that would be necessary to correct equal-temperment pitches (which the sound libraries will be close to) to being as "in tune" as a live performance is one of the drawbacks of computer music, though. (OK, off my soapbox).

    Frank
    Frank Newman - Houston, Texas, USA, Earth, Milky Way (for our 'extended' viewership)
    Vista Ult SP2, i7 chipset, 12Gb, 500Gb (int) + 1 & 1.5Tb ext., E-MU 1820, Sonar 8.5PE, VSampler, CME UF5, AcousModules (for 3D playback), GPO/JBB/CMB

  5. #5

    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Hello again, Frank

    I hear your frustration and annoyance. Sorry the feedback hasn't set well. I'm sure you know that both Alan and I were only intending to be helpful.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    Hi, guys -
    I must re-iterate, again, that I found this version lurking on the internet, somewhere, and I liked it - compared to other versions - and it gives plenty of opportunity for experimentation. Aside from some very minor alterations, the only thing I did is substitute a bunch of 'band' instruments for the rock/pop group instruments on the original file.
    Thanks for the more detailed explanation. I was probably being dumb, but I didn't understand from your original post that it was a MIDI file you found and then you just swapped out instruments. This response from you isn't a "reiteration" for me--it's an explanation which I didn't understand the first time.

    When you said "...I can take absolutely no credit for anything concerning this piece except the instrument selection (and the 'small' room reverb that is 'medium' wet)..." I guess I should have figured out you meant it was a found MIDI file. I thought you were just making sure we understood you weren't taking credit for the song itself, and that your arrangement was based on the original recording. Now I get you.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    I haven't really looked closely, but I didn't alter that part of the tracks, so the 'bone will have an "unrealistic" scoop.
    I see. Well, I think that Is the difficulty when realistic samples start being used in a project. Their realism cues the listener into expecting them to be played realistically. If this same MIDI file was played with purely electronic synth sounds, the scoops would be no problem, because those kind of pitch bends are characteristic of traditional synth playing.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr


    With the wonders of computer music, you can do "unrealistic" things, and, maybe, make something that sounds 'better' than if performed with the constraints necessary for a live performance.
    I agree in theory, but still have to say that when one is using natural sounding samples, you can leave yourself open to criticism if you apply unnatural performance techniques to them.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    To me, there is too much emphasis on a 'human' realism to works posted here. Why should we be constrained to the 'frailties' and inconsistencies inherent in live performance? Why not strive for the "perfect" rendition?
    I sympathize with this sentiment to some degree. I've long been an advocate of striving for good sound recordings, regardless if what is heard could be played live. It took me a long time to give in and start using samples, because I felt electronic music was more "pure" when the sounds were definitely synthetic, and that even emulations of real instruments were still not trying so hard to sound real. There was a freedom and purity to working that way.

    But once we're using realistic brass, strings, woodwinds - the criteria for what a "perfect" rendition is has to be grounded in reality, otherwise there's a confusion in the results. How can we say that "ideally" a Flute, for instance, should be able to pitch bend over an octave range - What dimension would That happen in? - It could be acceptable in a purely synth generated soundscape dimension, but the one in which the sound of an actual orchestra is attempting to be emulated.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    ...why the emphasis on "realism" (whatever that means)? - despite Finale's (and other's) efforts to do so with their Playback.
    There are plenty of people still using eclectic blends of synth sounds, guitars, orchestral instruments - and they're striving for something beyond what can actually be played live in concert. As I'm saying, that's fine with me. I played with reality a Lot in my recordings of my "Dorian" score, for instance.

    But I don't know why the point of reference here has to be just to Finale and notation programs. Though a lot of excellent work is generated that way, I think the majority of notation users are people who are writing for live ensembles, and just want to hear a half way decent mock up of what their pieces may sound like live. That's a very different kind of musician from the keyboard player who wants to use a DAW, be freed up from mechanical resources like "human playback" and simply be the human quotient in their projects themselves.

    The majority of people drawn to libraries like the Garritan line are people who are wanting to write for traditional, live musicians - hence the emphasis on getting as realistic a recording or rendering as possible. There's nothing very mysterious in that.
    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr

    In a couple of my pieces, a comment or two was made that instruments, at times, seemed "out of tune". Well, considering that I am working from the same library of sounds that most of the rest of you are working from (and there is no pitch bend involved), isn't that a bit ridiculous?
    Interesting - Most people manage to make recordings where things don't sound "out of tune," except for a few poor afflicted souls who have perfect pitch and can't stand to hear the majority of Any kind of recordings.

    I think when you got that kind of feedback, the writers were thinking that perhaps you used the variation controls a bit too zealously, because that can happen--Var 1 and 2 are great tools, but have to be used with great subtlety to help a piece.

    If you weren't using Var 1 or 2, or pitch bend - then I don't know why you got that kind of reaction.

    Well - it looks like the feedback on your thread so far has been not too encouraging, Frank, and I'm sorry for that. I Do think it was an interesting experiment. Now that I understand the origin of it, I have a final thought on why I found it "less than successful" as I said in my original reply:

    --Swapping sounds out in MIDI files is an idea that works best in theory. Invariably, when we replace one instrument with another, a LOT of MIDI editing has to be done to the track to make that same data work very well with the new instrument. That's because of the characteristic attack of the instrument, mostly, but there are other factors too. What I heard in your experiment here was that it was just too busy and fast for the CMB brass to keep up - it sounded unlike what I think any band could sound like. OK--so you don't care about reality - helping us to hear that it wasn't meant to be natural sounding, that could have worked--like add a Very synthetic instrument or two here and there, even a keyboard pad - maybe a Roland tinky tink drum machine sound--elements to help indicate that we were supposed to think of this as Music From Another Dimension.

    And so on.

    We're trying to help each other. Sorry the feedback didn't sit well. It was an impassioned response you wrote, and so it motivated me to ramble here in response.

    Nice talking with you.

    Randy B.

  6. #6
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Frank,

    I just listened to this and I think that it is a pretty reasonable rendering of Hotel California. Even in all of its craziness. And certainly it was a full plate to work with. But the outcome is fitting the work.

    As far as the point of the bends, I think what is happening on the faster paced notes is that the bend are not completed in time so therefore the end point is not on what would be the expected pitch. Not sure it really matters so much on this work. In others it might.

    I do disagree with your comment that an A# is not the same as an Bb. Indeed it is to the sound library that is made up of a finite number of samples sounds, each locked to a specific pitch reference. The correct sampled sound must be referenced each and every time by the calling party, whether Finale or some other software tool. Like you said, the library is neutral. The problem that I heard plain and clear was in the Beethoven, clearly instruments not on pitch. The low instruments were playing practically out of their range.

    In the case of Hotel California, to me the arrangement works well. A sort of crazy piece that fads off into the sunset, as you put it.

    Gary

    www.garybricault.com

  7. #7
    Senior Member 4209fr's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Gary, you bring up an interesting point about low instrument intonation. I believe that the offending instruments in the Beethoven piece are the contrabass clarinet and the tuba. Both are a little sharp when their lowest note in the piece (E2, reference middle C is C5 - Sonar) is played on the KP2 keyboard in comparison to E3 and E4 for each.

    So why would Garritan place sound samples in his library(ies) that are "out of tune"? One would assume that care would be taken that, at least, octaves would be in tune, and I would think that customers inherently expect it. Since I was using the KP2 from the Beethoven piece, they are "purged" (and since I didn't want to have to reload, then re-purge them), I didn't do any comparisons with lower notes, since the E2s are 7 semi-tones above the lowest note that Garritan (and other sources list) gives as the instruments' lowest note. (I don't consider 7 semi-tones "nearly out of their range").

    Maybe you were aware of this problem, but you have just made me aware of the fact that some of Garritan's instrument samples are not "in tune". Since some instruments are constructed (like clarinets) to play downward to a certain pitch, and others (like a tuba) have an expectation that a reasonably good player can hit a given low note with some accuracy (and many players can go much lower than the standard, published low note), one would think that the samples would be good if Garritan expects them to be used. I would like to be able to explore the 'full' range of an instrument, but it looks like I will have to be careful when using the Garritan libraries. Maybe this is also a problem with the highest notes for some instruments - ???

    I'm not sure what you meant by your disagreement with "A# is not the same as Bb". Virtually no one writes specificly for micro-tonal scales. And, it would be impossible to make sound samples for anything but equal-temperment scales. So 99.999% of people use them. But, there will almost always be a very slight amount of 'out-of-tuneness' from the use of equal-temperment sounds (except, of course, with octaves - if the octaves are sampled "in tune"). Nowadays, we are used to the 'out-of'tune' equal-temperment notes. But, 'live performance' musicians automatically compensate on every note to bring them into tune in relation to the notes others are playing.

    Frank
    Frank Newman - Houston, Texas, USA, Earth, Milky Way (for our 'extended' viewership)
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  8. #8
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr

    So why would Garritan place sound samples in his library(ies) that are "out of tune"? One would assume that care would be taken that, at least, octaves would be in tune, and I would think that customers inherently expect it.
    I do not know why the insturment(s) sound out of tune. It could be in part perception and in part the relationship of several of the instruments in the particular range. I seriously doubt that the sampled sounds are out of tune. However, you yourself can run an experiment to verify the pitch of each note of the instruments used. Just write a set of scales and verify that they all track each other over any range that you choose.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    I didn't do any comparisons with lower notes, since the E2s are 7 semi-tones above the lowest note that Garritan (and other sources list) gives as the instruments' lowest note. (I don't consider 7 semi-tones "nearly out of their range").
    Well you should. Many instruments do not sound properly at the edges of their range. Oboes begin to sound raspy at the low end, tubas can play through the floor but can have a rather muddy quality. And this problem is compounded when a group of instruments are playing in the low range, spatially close together in pitch, chords do not combine or resolve properly.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    Maybe you were aware of this problem, but you have just made me aware of the fact that some of Garritan's instrument samples are not "in tune". Since
    I am not aware of any issues of library problems. Again, run the experiment that I described above and verify it for yourself.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    some instruments are constructed (like clarinets) to play downward to a certain pitch, and others (like a tuba) have an expectation that a reasonably good player can hit a given low note with some accuracy (and many players
    Like I said above, just because an instrument has a particular range, it is not always in the best interests of the music or the musician, to score it there. I write my music for hopefully and actual performance and take that into consideration; the range, breathing and trading parts, the key that it will be written in, the grouping of the ensembles and the combinations of sounds this hopefully result or be avoided.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    I'm not sure what you meant by your disagreement with "A# is not the same as Bb". Virtually no one writes specificly for micro-tonal scales. And, it would be impossible to make sound samples for anything but equal-temperment
    I am referring only to the enharmonic relationships, A# is Bb, and not and fring stuff such as micro-scales.

    Quote Originally Posted by 4209fr
    But, 'live performance' musicians automatically compensate on every note to bring them into tune in relation to the notes others are playing.
    Frank
    The really good musicians can correct the ensemble playing, but only to a point. Writing for performance is critical to the success of a work. Some of the considerations that I mentioned above are but a handful necessary in the art of getting the piece to be playable and sound good.

    Gary

    www.garybricault.com

  9. #9
    Senior Member fastlane's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    It was fun to listen to. I think you did quite a funky job on it. Rather irreverent.

    Wasn't this song a Cal-Mex version of The House Of The Rising Sun anyway.

    It was pretty much a set up for Joe Walsh's great licks. That's what you were always waiting to hear. That's what sold it.



    Phil

  10. #10
    Senior Member 4209fr's Avatar
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    Re: Another "Fun" Piece

    Phil -
    I have no idea where the original file came from. I looked at several and picked this one. Interesting background.

    Gary (and anyone else following this idea about instruments being out of tune) -
    I took your suggestion one step further. I really don't trust something as subjective as one's hearing, so I ran a set of FFT tests to see the exact fundamental frequency of one of the instruments in question - I picked the contrabass clarinet. I recorded the lowest 2 octaves of its 'range', then ran an analysis for each pitch. I did the analysis on the second second of the recording (to avoid attack anomolies) and had a span of one second (to average out any other anomolies).

    The results showed that the pitch frequencies were 'dead on', at least to 0.1 Hz (max. of 4 cents deviation). I ran one to 0.01 Hz precision (it took a little longer to process so I didn't want to do it for all of them) and that was within 0.01 Hz of theoretical pitch (less than 0.5 cents off). So, Garritan did do a good job, and the actual sound samples are "in tune".

    I find that doing scales causes loss of pitch memory, so I just compare octaves. I did the tuba quickly and, to me, most of the lower octave sounds slightly sharp (although I would imagine that the tuba pitches are as accurate as the CB clarinet pitches were). I spent a little more time with the CB clarinet. I still feel that most of the lower octave is a little sharp, but the D and F seemed pretty close. This despite my knowledge that all pitches were correct. (I did this using the KP2 keyboard, selecting the instrument that I wanted - unpurged).

    So I don't know what is going on. Maybe it has something to do with the psycho-acoustics of very low frequencies. I doubt that it is our equipment, since you and I and others question the pitch.

    Anyone with ideas?

    Frank

    A side note - ever since I changed to McAfee protection (I had Computer Associates), I am not getting forum notifications (like I did before the change). Any ideas on why and how I can 'fix' it?
    Frank Newman - Houston, Texas, USA, Earth, Milky Way (for our 'extended' viewership)
    Vista Ult SP2, i7 chipset, 12Gb, 500Gb (int) + 1 & 1.5Tb ext., E-MU 1820, Sonar 8.5PE, VSampler, CME UF5, AcousModules (for 3D playback), GPO/JBB/CMB

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