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Topic: Appreciation

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  1. #1

    Appreciation

    Some of us often forget what it was like to use General Midi sounds to create composition. I am one of those people. In a recent adventure, I experienced a sudden realization that I indeed should be more appreciative of what I have. As cheap and useful a program Garritan Personal Orchestra is, it really makes all the difference to the composers tool belt. In this audio example, I have taken a transcription I did of the Final Fantasy VIII Battle theme No. 2 and put it directly up against the General Midi. I hope all of you will feel the same amount of gratitude I did when I heard this side by side.

    DISCLAIMER! I do not mean to generalize general midi. The intent is to show a card for card replication of general midi orchestral instruments and gpo instruments. I realize that the capabilities of GM all depend on the users preferences and different GM sound sets. I also do not think that Kontakt is a bad choice when searching for a sound library. They run much better on slower computers like mine as well.


    So the way this works is, 15 seconds of general Midi, 15 seconds of GPO.
    Side-By-Side with General Midi



    This one is 15 seconds of Kontakt 15 Seconds of GPO
    Side-By-Side with Kontakt Silver



    This one is an uninterrupted GPO version for all you collectors.
    Finished Copy (just GPO)
    Yours Truly,
    TubaJediMaster
    May the Fourth Be With You

    My demos:
    http://www.box.net/shared/ejtluyupfb

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tom_Davis's Avatar
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    Re: Appreciation

    Point very well made.

  3. #3

    Re: Appreciation

    Hi, "Tuba"---Really good to see you posting something here again, seems like it's been quite awhile.

    And what a great concept for a post - ! This is an outstanding thing you've put together, and I hope a lot of people get the chance to experience what you're talking about here.

    It was a neat thing, as I listened to your MP3, to be hearing the General MIDI sounds, and then to become aware that the sound had transitioned into the much more satisfactory GPO soundscape. The Garritan instruments always arrived like a much-needed breath of fresh air once the transition had happened.

    Understanding what the demo was to be before I started listening, I thought maybe you were going to delineate the transitions more clearly, fading in and out or something - and maybe that would've helped some people hear more clearly what you were doing. But still, with any kind of even semi-careful listening, your point should be clear to most, if not all people.

    This reminds so distinctly of what I went through with "Dorian." I had taken quite some time to orchestrate and record the entire score using my hardware synthesizers. Then I discovered GPO - I was so amazed by the demos. After deciding to buy the Library, and then experimenting with it- I bit the bullet and decided I simply had to re-record the entire score using GPO instead of the General MIDI sounds from my old synths.

    The process of re-doing my score took me 1 1/2 years - It was a major undertaking, working on it almost full time for that period. I tried the plugins that instantly translate CC7 for CC1, but they weren't sufficient for me - The major reason it took me so long to re-do all my MIDI tracks was that I had to record all the volume data anew, and use CC64 slavishly right in order to take advantage of the Garritan legato feature. As I've said several times before, even though it was almost "too much"--that huge re-do project,- in the end it was well worth the effort.

    I do want to say that your contrasting examples aren't entirely fair to General MIDI. For one thing, the GM sounds in hardware synths like my trusty old Korg X5dr are far, far superior to the soft synth equivalents. And like any sounds we use in our computer recordings, so much of our success depends on How we use the sounds. The more stilted and less-convincing GM portions of your demos are highly quantized, done with a notation program I assume, since the Tympani rolls are robotic.

    But if one plays GM sounds, the way I did in the original "Dorian" soundtrack, one can get natural sounding drum rolls, and the results don't need to be as artificial - They take as much massaging and care as the Garritan instruments do to really bring out their full potential. I reiterate that how good one's results are with GM depends a great deal on How one has used the instruments. If they're just loaded up with a MIDI triggering them from a notation program, they'll of course never be so great.

    But it does remain true that without much effort, at the very least, GPO is going to provide the user with much better instrumental sounds - The same MIDI file can be played through GM or GPO without much editing and the contrast would be very marked. The major issue, of course, is that CC1 is used for vibrato in GM - so all of that either has to be erased or translated in order for the same file to sound right with GPO.

    I'm saying there's more gray area in the issue you're talking about here, but in essence, you're so right that we should be grateful that we have more at our disposal than standard GM instruments.

    Thanks!

    Randy

  4. #4

    Re: Appreciation

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hi, "Tuba"---Really good to see you posting something here again, seems like it's been quite awhile.

    And what a great concept for a post - ! This is an outstanding thing you've put together, and I hope a lot of people get the chance to experience what you're talking about here.

    It was a neat thing, as I listened to your MP3, to be hearing the General MIDI sounds, and then to become aware that the sound had transitioned into the much more satisfactory GPO soundscape. The Garritan instruments always arrived like a much-needed breath of fresh air once the transition had happened.

    Understanding what the demo was to be before I started listening, I thought maybe you were going to delineate the transitions more clearly, fading in and out or something - and maybe that would've helped some people hear more clearly what you were doing. But still, with any kind of even semi-careful listening, your point should be clear to most, if not all people.

    This reminds so distinctly of what I went through with "Dorian." I had taken quite some time to orchestrate and record the entire score using my hardware synthesizers. Then I discovered GPO - I was so amazed by the demos. After deciding to buy the Library, and then experimenting with it- I bit the bullet and decided I simply had to re-record the entire score using GPO instead of the General MIDI sounds from my old synths.

    The process of re-doing my score took me 1 1/2 years - It was a major undertaking, working on it almost full time for that period. I tried the plugins that instantly translate CC7 for CC1, but they weren't sufficient for me - The major reason it took me so long to re-do all my MIDI tracks was that I had to record all the volume data anew, and use CC64 slavishly right in order to take advantage of the Garritan legato feature. As I've said several times before, even though it was almost "too much"--that huge re-do project,- in the end it was well worth the effort.

    I do want to say that your contrasting examples aren't entirely fair to General MIDI. For one thing, the GM sounds in hardware synths like my trusty old Korg X5dr are far, far superior to the soft synth equivalents. And like any sounds we use in our computer recordings, so much of our success depends on How we use the sounds. The more stilted and less-convincing GM portions of your demos are highly quantized, done with a notation program I assume, since the Tympani rolls are robotic.

    But if one plays GM sounds, the way I did in the original "Dorian" soundtrack, one can get natural sounding drum rolls, and the results don't need to be as artificial - They take as much massaging and care as the Garritan instruments do to really bring out their full potential. I reiterate that how good one's results are with GM depends a great deal on How one has used the instruments. If they're just loaded up with a MIDI triggering them from a notation program, they'll of course never be so great.

    But it does remain true that without much effort, at the very least, GPO is going to provide the user with much better instrumental sounds - The same MIDI file can be played through GM or GPO without much editing and the contrast would be very marked. The major issue, of course, is that CC1 is used for vibrato in GM - so all of that either has to be erased or translated in order for the same file to sound right with GPO.

    I'm saying there's more gray area in the issue you're talking about here, but in essence, you're so right that we should be grateful that we have more at our disposal than standard GM instruments.

    Thanks!

    Randy


    I too appreciate GM once in a while. Specifically for their synth leads and such. With a little reverb on those, some FX, they sound quite neat. I also enjoy combining GPO and MIDI sometimes for some extra push on certain things. It just depends. But, my general point was a card for card. The GPO brother of each sound being heard in GM.
    Yours Truly,
    TubaJediMaster
    May the Fourth Be With You

    My demos:
    http://www.box.net/shared/ejtluyupfb

  5. #5

    Re: Appreciation

    There might be ways to get more out of General MIDI, but the general General MIDI sounds (GGM?) that load up when playing a MIDI on a normal computer sound pretty awful, as this demonstrates very well! The difference is pretty dramatic. It's hard to believe that's what I used to compose with: just the plain old General MIDI sounds that came with Windows. Blagh! How did I manage?!

    Very nice demonstration!!

    Sometimes, I have to admit, I'll listen to one of my older MIDI compositions, or a friend's composition who is still using MIDI, and it makes me cringe. GPO for all!

    (Of course, I remember how little memory there was on home computers years ago, both RAM-wise and hard drive wise, and how slow Internet connections were... MP3s were not feasible at all! MIDIs were extremely efficient. But I can't say I miss those days...)
    Sean Patrick Hannifin
    My MP3s | My Melody Generator | my album
    "serious music" ... as if the rest of us are just kidding

  6. #6

    Re: Appreciation

    Hiya, Tube - Thanks for the reply.

    I think it's clear from my story about re-doing the entire "Dorian" score that to me there's no doubt that GPO is a huge step forward from GM sounds. No arguments. Hearing for myself how much more musical and organic my recordings could be using GPO is the reason I spent 1 1/2 years re-doing what I'd already finished with GM.

    The rest of this is for people who may read this thread and may not understand some things about the General MIDI standard:

    I didn't think you were saying that GM has no purpose. And something I think we'd both agree with is that it really isn't fair to imply that all General MIDI instruments are created equal. Very far from it. It would be just as inaccurate to say that all sampled sounds are created equal. GM is a proscribed standard, where a specific list of 127 instruments and sounds is mandatory and each sound/instrument is assigned a number. Piano is #1, for instance.

    But how those sounds are created/sampled/assembled is completely up to each company or individual assembling a GM set. Of course the advantage of GM is that MIDI files made by the GM spec are compatible with all GM sound sources - You can always rest assured that the correct instruments will play, and your program changes will always match up, no matter who is playing your MIDI file.

    When I work on a new piece, I usually start with "dummy" sounds, using the fairly humble GM set from Roland in Sonar. Its adequate for starting the work. I have my basic instruments.

    And then, exactly as in your demo here, it's like stepping into fresh crisp air when I swap those instruments out for the Garritan instruments I'll be using to record the piece. Suddenly the funky piano is a Piano, the woodwinds come alive, the Brass amps up - and so forth.

    Something so hip about the hardware GM modules, like my X5dr, is that they were completely programmable. That module is sample based, and so the sounds are really good to start with. Everything can be controlled via MIDI in a sequence - the attack and the resonance, for instance, and you can morph between layers, and stack a large number of sounds simultaneously. It's the sort of very flexible massaging of sound which it's taken a long time for soft synths to catch up to. Pure samples can be so stiff, unyielding, but if you pay enough money, like for the full version of Kontakt, for instance, you start to get the control that synthesists took for granted 10, 15 and more years ago.

    ---No latency--OH man, I do miss that. To fire up your hardware modules and play them, with true, absolute zero latency, not even KNowing about latency - that's a big advantage of the old GM and Pre-GM (original MIDI) modules, and one reason a lot of people still prefer using hardware instead of the software versions.

    And so on.

    If I started a project like "Dorian" over yet again, I would probably combine GPO and the other Garritan Instruments with everything else available, rather than using pure GPO the way I did. I understand better now, as you said in your post, that blending multiple sound sources is really the best of home-recording worlds.

    Thanks for the opportunity to think on all of this.

    Love your track.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Appreciation

    Instant reply - YES, Sean - the GM tinky tink sounds that come as the default synth sounds on a computer--argh! - And those are a FAR cry from the good GM sounds I was talking about.

    Randy

  8. #8

    Re: Appreciation

    I totally agree. There are some great general midis andsome crappy ones, like Microsofts. I don't own any other, so I have the disadvantage of not knowing at all how well some others might be put together. On the other hand, I did have a keyboard that would play sounds from my computer, and I used to use that as well. The keyboard sounded pretty good overall, but was still no comparison to the kind of seamless construction you get with a GPO sound.

    What I've done here was little more than MIDI code removal, and a I handpicked the sounds to replace the GM equivalent. For example, you hear a tuba in GPO, but the GM is using a tenor bone. This is obviously because the range of the GM trombone is a full keyboard length, while GPO is only the standard instrument length.

    Actually this is one of the things I find the most detrimental about it. Granted they wanted it to be as real as possible, but I feel like the bass trombone has just as high a range as a tenor given the right musician. Instead I often have to do a program change to get the bass trombone track line to go up to the A at the top of the bass clef.

    What I find unusual is that the tuba can go as high as the bass bone, but the range on the bass bone is less than that of the tuba and the trombone. I play bass trombone, so I know, I can play a Double Pedal E with ease. Yet GPO doesn't even go that low. Even Sibelius 4 agrees its within range.

    Even with the tuba, the low G or even B flat sound rather blatty. I'm a tuba player remember, and I can make them sound quite smooth. No blat at all. So I kinda wish they would have thought more in the brass. Overall though, it's still an A+ program.

    I love being able to combine like 5 french horn sounds and getting what sounds just oh so incredible. I love being able to use 2 kinds of Harps.

    However, I think we can both agree that not many sound sets will compare even to that, with those simple disadvantages.

    I think I'll do another version with Kontakt Silver, (since I haven't bought Gold), and do a side by side of that. It'll be up later tonight.
    Yours Truly,
    TubaJediMaster
    May the Fourth Be With You

    My demos:
    http://www.box.net/shared/ejtluyupfb

  9. #9
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    Re: Appreciation

    Great contrast.
    Trent P. McDonald

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