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Topic: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

  1. #1

    $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

    When my daghter started music college at Berkeley we used part of the scholarship money and part of my money to set up a composition computer for her. She unfortunately never quite got the composing "bug" and used it only for assignements.
    I, on the other hand, find composition a joy and I have added a few components of my own to try to achieve a level of technical proficency where I can concentrate on making music rather than fiddling with switches.

    My set up is as follows:

    Sibelius 5.x
    Finale 2008 (dropped it after finding Sibelius easier to use. Want to buy?)
    Cakewalk Sonar Producer 6 (thinking of upgrading if it's worth it)
    Garritan GPO Studio
    Miroslav Philarmonik
    Edirol Orchestral (very old and low quality, but great for scketching)

    Most of those are Educational licenses.

    Now, until about 2 years ago I was happy to compose on Sonar with Edrol Orchestral, but after trying out Philarmonik and GPO I can't use it anymore except for fuill string and brass type sounds. The solo instruments are pretty bad.

    However, Edirol Orchestral has some great features, such as the ability to switch instruments in the same track (in Sonar) and it's relatively smal footprint.

    I have also heard that the new Cubase has a much better VST controller and better scoring than Sonar. Maybe that is my answer?

    What I would like to do, using either GPO or Philharmonik (or both) is this:

    1) Load a ful orchestra and a solo instrument
    2) Switch between the different voices of a given instrument without having to create a new track just for the Pizzicato or staccato, etc.
    3) Be able to insert notation accidentals (hope this is the right term) instead of MIDI commands to change the style of play.
    4) Be able to output a score that makes some sense to a small orchestra without too much editing.

    I have tried several combos, including GPO studio in both Sibelius and Sonar, I have tried keyswitches and just about everything else but either they proved buggy or simply impossible to do on my set up.

    GPO especially has keyswitches, but most of them seem useless. Especially the 2 notes switches seem absurd because the second note would not be nbotated and would force me to insert it in case I want a real player to play the score.

    In general, if I want to have an instrument or a section play pizzicato, staccato, legatos and otehr modifications in the same track, the only one I can use is the Editrol. However, if I need to reassign those tracks to GPO or Philharmonic, then I have to spend hours moving the notes to another track.

    In Sibelius, I found a way to assign GPO and Philarmonik as either a VST or MIDI output, but as VST Sibelius crashes when I load too many instances, as MIDI it's a terribly long process and half the time I can't make it work. Yet Sibelius Score is so much better than Sonar it makes me cry. On the other hand Sibelius way of assigning sounds and keyswitches is foreign to me.

    Sorry if this is confusiing, but where would I find good resources to learn the various tricks I need to accomplish my goal?

    I can't believe that everyone else is condemned to having 3 or 4 tracks for each instruument to generate a passable composition. There must be something better I am missing.

    My daughter, incidentally, is no help and her teachers are also too busy or ignorant of this specific issue. They mostly use Sibelius and at that they use the very basic features.

    Thank you for your kind help.

    PS: By the way, this is a Hobby for me. Expensive, but still a hobby. Because I have a terminal illness, I only have maybe 3 or 4 years before I'll get too sick to do these kind of things. By then I'd like to have produced a few good orchestral compositions if I can. Something to leave behind.

  2. #2

    Re: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...


    First of all, excuse my bad english.

    As I am quite new to this area, I was quite frustated too with the problem of having several tracks for one instrument, but I believe it is the way "they" do.
    Think that this "trick" came several years ago (before that samplers could only load a single instrument !). Then, as sampler gain power, came the keyswitches trick. Very recently Steinberg introduced "expression maps" in Cubase 5 (see their website for explanations), basicly, it is layer between you sequence and the sampler. You delegate to this layer the keyswitches and/or canal changes for different articulations. Once you have programmed it (as it is quite new, only VSL expression maps are available at this time), you are free to change articulations on the piano roll or even in the score editor.

    About the score editing, I were you, I would export my midi project to Sibelius, and forget about the DAW bult-in editor, it seems a lot of work, but I believe that very much more work is needed to achieve a result suitable for performance...

    Hope it helps (and that you can understand my strange english !)


  3. #3

    Re: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

    Using multiple tracks for an instrument is from back in the dark ages!

    Though I can’t help you with Sibelius and GPO (I use Finale and GS3), I can assure you that key switches and patch changes DO work, and you should be able to have one instrument on each staff. Or even change between different instruments that the same player would use, like flute and piccolo. It’s just a mater of figuring out how to use them. Don’t depend on the automatic human playback systems. Best to insert non-printing articulations that have the key/controller switches in them.

    Sorry I can’t be more specific.

  4. #4

    Re: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

    Regarding how to insert keyswitches in Sibelius, I can tell you how to do it in Finale. It would seem only logical that Sibelius does the same thing. In Finale when you assign an articulation to a note the software automagically changes the instrument. So if you add a staccato mark, Finale plays that note staccato. Are you telling me Sibelius doesn't do the same thing?

  5. #5
    New Member
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Jordan Station, Ontario

    Re: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

    Steve's assumption is correct. Sibelius, like Finale, is notation driven so if you add staccato marks to the notes, they will play back as indicated. Likewise with phrasing (or slurs, as they are referred to in the Sibelius documentation): the notes will be played more smoothly. For something like pizzicato, select a note in your score and then go to Create>Text>Technique ( or use Command T on a Mac...apologies, I don't know the equivalent Windows shortcut). From there control/mouse-click (on a Mac) gives you a drop-down of all the text you can add. Select "pizz." To revert back, repeat the above process but select "nat.".

    I suspect your software crashes may be related to a shortage of memory on your computer. From my own experience using Sibelius and GPO, 2GB is the minimum you can get away with. 3GB works much better. Also, check your playback configuration (Play>Playback Devices). Have you been using the same playback configuration for all the pieces you've been trying to create? If so, you may be loading a lot of instruments into memory that you don't need for a particular piece. I prefer to use a unique playback configuration for each piece so only the voices that I actually need are loaded.

    Hope this helps a bit.


  6. #6

    Re: $2000+ Later and still frustrated...

    personally Sibelius is the best ... i prefer to write scores with each technique or timbre within its own stave ... so scores are bigger but i think clearer ? anyhow i use GPO and Sibelius on a AMD Sempron 3 and its fine

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