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Topic: What do you use for orchestral simulations?

  1. #1

    What do you use for orchestral simulations?

    I have a simple question about doing orchestral simulations or your own orchestral compositions.

    Who uses a notation program for the final rendering, and who takes the midi to a sequencer (i.e. Sonar, etc.) for the final step?

    -- Martin

  2. #2

    Re: What do you use for orchestral simulations?

    A professional rendering without deep MIDI, tempo map, and audio (effects and mix) tweeking is impossible.
    So only a sequencer (even a little one like Cubase essential can do the job) is the possible tool.

    Some last generation notation programs have amazing MIDI or even Human playback features, but it won't be accurate enough.

    Basic workflow:

    - inport midi file in sequencer, and create a decent tempo map
    - edit every single track to fit VI features (velocity, note lenght, controllers), to obtain best and realistic solo sound possible
    - mix everything with volume automation (of the virtual instrument or of an audio bounce of the track if not available) for final balance of sound and dynamics

    Advanced options:
    - create the tempo map using auto and manual sync functions, using as a reference a real audio file (e.g. a record or your own live execution etc.)
    - keep dry and possibly mono the single track, and use convolution for stereo positioning on stage
    - add convolution umbrella reverb to the whole orchestra for final ambience (possibly using same Hall impulse responses).

    Trics for increasing realism:
    - use detuning and tempo random errors (some software has automation of it) as much as possible if you have skills for understanding it (e.g. you have experience of live concert rehershal, conducting, performing etc.)
    - use expressive virtual instruments instead of sampled sections
    - make sections out of solos
    - play on the keyboard the track instead of just using sequenced track
    - keep low and clever the quantization
    - add background noise

    Is all that possible with Notation program? no, last gen neither (even if Finale 2010 or Ouverture can go close to a sequencer workflow, it's still the "unnatural" environment for rendering: it's better for composing.

    More?...use the real orchestra...LOL

    My 2 cents

  3. #3

    Re: What do you use for orchestral simulations?

    Well said, Fabio!

    I always compose with the sequencer.

    "Music is the shorthand of emotion." Leo Tolstoy

    Listen to me, tuning my triangle http://www.box.net/shared/ae822u6r3i

  4. #4
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Pittsburgh, PA 15206 USA

    Re: What do you use for orchestral simulations?

    I also always compose with a sequencer ... i.e. I play all the parts with a keyboard controller.
    I have Sibelius and if I have to do a score then I re save my final Sonar project as a new name, quantize all midi, export the midi tracks from the sequencer, import into Sibelius and then tweak it for the chart.

    It would be too difficult for me to get a nice performance doing it in the reverse order.

  5. #5

    Re: What do you use for orchestral simulations?

    I seem to have fallen into two distinct work-flows:

    1) Sometimes I just riff on the guitar or keys or whatever and record that into my sequencer and start from there to build a piece. In this mode I generally "play" each part with a MIDI controller (keyboards, guitar, or drum pads) rather than mouse them into a piano roll or staff view. If I need a score I wait until I am 90% certain I'm done tweaking, and then I transfer the MIDI to my scoring tool, and transcribe everything else there.

    2) Other times I'm in my "serious" composer mode, and I'll start in the scoring tool, because I really do enjoy thinking about parts. When I work this way it's quite analogous to pencil and staff paper, I may listen to parts as I go, but it's akin to plinking it out on the piano. Once I've reached some level of completeness I'll transfer the whole mess into the sequencer just to see what happens. Most of the time I end up printing out the parts and playing them in from MIDI controllers, then I tweak, and then, again, if I need the score I transfer it all back over to the scoring tool.

    What would be nice is if scoring tools and sequencers spoke a language that could provide a bit more detail than MIDI - detail is the wrong word, I know! To describe the process, it would be nice if I could work in a scoring tool to write my parts, then transfer them into the sequencer to tweak. BUT, if I needed to move them back to the scoring tool I ought to be able to set limits that prevent the scoring tool from taking some things too seriously. I mean really, how does one notate - in the real world - differences of a few ticks when the timebase is set to 960 ppq?

    FWIW, I use Sonar 8 and Finale (2008 up until recently) and I find that I can get close to my dream workflow. It works better going from Finale to Sonar, but the reverse is improving with every version.
    Bill Thompson
    Audio Enterprise

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