Nice surprise to see you post this, Graham. It was a spur of the moment inspiration for the Listening Room thread where tympani rolls came up.
Glad you like that initial louder hit, and then the "humanized" finish.
As I said in the LR, I "roll my own" as needed for projects that need tymp rolls, instead of inserting the same file over and over in various pieces. And also as I said there, this was literally a 2 minute project.
For those interested - here's a more full description of my approach to this:
Playing the two different samples (right and left hand hits) with my two forefingers on the keyboard, I listen to a metronome count in of one measure and then do the best I can to play the notes, alternating as fast as I can, with no concerns about the velocity levels. I do no quantizing, and do No editing to make the Note On events more perfect--the whole point is to capture all the natural timing errors.
Working in Sonar, I use the "Length" tool under Process to change the start times to 50% of the original, but leave the lengths the same. Now the MIDI file is exactly half the length of the original, and the roll is sounding better already.
I copy and paste it right after the original clip. I erase or add as needed to fill the time I need to span - in this demo it was 2 measures.
In the Piano Roll View, with the grid off, holding the Ctrl key down, I sweep through the velocities with the pencil tool to shape the volume the way I want. In this case, leaving the high velocity for the first several hits, then suddenly swooping down. From there it's a slow climb up, leaving just the last few hits at full value of 127.
I make a quick check to make sure none of the velocity values of two consecutive notes are exactly the same, making changes as needed. I also look at the notes to make sure there aren't any gaps that sound clunky. If there are, I hand insert a note or two to fix that.
It's pretty much a done deal then. In this little demo, I rendered it to Audio, applied an S.I.R impulse response of an 1800 seat theatre. I also applied a volume envelope to the .wav file, recording the automation in real time, so that I could broaden the dynamic range even more--boosting the volume at the start, swooping down a bit, then swooping back up again for the final swell. This lets the volume go beyond the full MIDI volume value of 127.
Ta Da. Sounds like a lot, but when that sort of thing is second nature, it clicks right along. I think speed is good when doing something like this, forcing yourself to not become too tight and fussy about it--the whole point is to retain as much natural variation as possible.
Thanks again, Graham for the post. And libitina, since I know you'll be getting GPO soon, there's another little preview for you.