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Topic: Timpani Roll Tutorial

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  1. #1

    Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Timpani rolls can be very challenging to execute well in a MIDI environment. Unless your virtual instrument library includes a looped timpani roll patch, it leaves us with two choices. One is to record timpani rolls in real time by MIDI keyboard as either an audio or MIDI track in a sequencer. The other is to write out rolls in a notation program for playback.

    Creating timpani rolls by notation seemed to be an obvious choice given the limitations of what I have available through my software sampler. However, the results clearly demonstrated that playback from notation suffers from a few serious drawbacks. I tried searching some of the music forums for another alternative, and as a result of that search, I found two things. First, it appears this problem continues to vex electronic musicians. Second, the only alternative I could find was the keyboard option. If you're in the same boat here, you came to the right place.

    In spite of my limited skills, I recently tried giving real-time keyboarding a chance. Although I determined that it simply wouldn't work for me, I did make some discoveries that led me to develop a different method for creating timpani rolls which, at least to me sound surprisingly realistic. I'd like to share this method with you, and to do so, I have a tutorial I offer for your consideration. However, before I send you to my tutorial webpage, there are a couple of things I'd like to say:

    1. My tutorial is intended primarily for those of you who find it difficult or impossible to create good timpani rolls through real-time keyboarding. However, even if you are able to do it (or if you have looped roll samples in your virtual arsenal), I invite you to check out what I have to offer. Perhaps there are a few aspects of my method that could help you improve on the techniques you are already using.

    2. I'm not a timpanist, but I played in community orchestras for a number of years, so I have brought some observation and basic common sense to bear on how I approached this project. I welcome feedback from current or former timpani players, especially on any suggestions they might have on how I could improve on the methods and procedures I've developed.

    When you go to my tutorial website, you'll have the opportunity to audition some timpani roll samples. Once you hear them, you can decide whether or not all this will be worth your time and attention. So here we are, the "world premier" (timpani roll, please!):


    I hope you'll get a few useful things out of my tutorial. Thanks, and happy rolling!

    Steve Johnson

  2. #2

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Thanks Steve for posting your excellent tutorial!

    I'd like to add this to our knowledge base system;

    http://www.garritan.com/faq/

    Can I have your permission to publish it there?

  3. #3

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Quote Originally Posted by Tony Monaghan View Post
    Thanks Steve for posting your excellent tutorial!

    I'd like to add this to our knowledge base system;

    http://www.garritan.com/faq/

    Can I have your permission to publish it there?
    Hi, Tony!

    Thanks for your kind words, and I would be honored, so the answer is a definite yes.

    Regards,

    Steve

  4. #4

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I have done much the same as you by randomizing but had never gone to the in-depth approach you have put together. Nicely done!!!
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  5. #5

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Quote Originally Posted by RichR View Post
    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I have done much the same as you by randomizing but had never gone to the in-depth approach you have put together. Nicely done!!!
    Hi, Rich!

    Thank you much for your kudos, I really appreciate it!

    By the way, this was a project that grew beyond I what I started out with, but I had a lot of fun putting it together. One of the great things about these forums is it's a way for musicians to help each other, so I'm glad I could make a contribution here.

    Thanks again, and you'll be hearing from me some more as I realize a symphony-in-progress through GPO/KP2. When I have this done, I'll be posting a link to it in the Listening Room.

    Regards,

    Steve

  6. #6

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    I hope this tutorial is available later when i need it but i must say gpos timpani sounds nice i mean seems very suitable making custom rolls...

  7. #7

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Quote Originally Posted by JUPEKU View Post
    I hope this tutorial is available later when i need it but i must say gpos timpani sounds nice i mean seems very suitable making custom rolls...
    I completely agree, and a big reason why I was so happy to discover the methods I developed as described in the tutorial. I believe (IMHO, anyway) this takes best advantage of the GPO timpani's quality.

    As to the tutorial, it's hosted on a website I own, so it will be there as long as I'm drawing breath and have my mental faculties (or what's left of them! ) intact. You may want to bookmark the link, and please feel free to visit my tutorial page and download the goodies whenever you want.

    Thanks, and happy holidays!

    Steve

  8. #8

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Wonderful work, Steve - Really good of you to put together the tutorial with the excellent examples of what can be achieved.

    You and other people could be interested in the more casually presented tute I did on the same topic back in July of this year. Here's the topic thread:

    My Tympani Roll Technique

    On that thread you'll see the link to my MP3 example, and explanation of how I work up my Tympani rolls.

    The main ingredient with my method is using Sonar's "length" tool, so that my real time playing of the two GPO samples (left and right hands) for each note can be made faster and more agile, and then with some simple Piano Roll View editing work, a useful roll can be achieved without the dreaded "machine gun effect."

    I think you'll find it interesting.

    EDIT: I listened to your MP3 again, Steve, and wanted to note that the amount of reverb one wants to use is totally up to the taste of the recordist and what he/she thinks is appropriate to the piece. I tend to like a close and more intimate sound, while your recording is very "wet" with a large symphonic hall reverb. So there's a very marked difference in the sound of the two recordings, but the reverb is another issue and element separate from the roll performances themselves.

    Randy B.

  9. #9

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Wonderful work, Steve - Really good of you to put together the tutorial with the excellent examples of what can be achieved.

    You and other people could be interested in the more casually presented tute I did on the same topic back in July of this year. Here's the topic thread:

    My Tympani Roll Technique

    On that thread you'll see the link to my MP3 example, and explanation of how I work up my Tympani rolls.

    The main ingredient with my method is using Sonar's "length" tool, so that my real time playing of the two GPO samples (left and right hands) for each note can be made faster and more agile, and then with some simple Piano Roll View editing work, a useful roll can be achieved without the dreaded "machine gun effect."

    I think you'll find it interesting.

    EDIT: I listened to your MP3 again, Steve, and wanted to note that the amount of reverb one wants to use is totally up to the taste of the recordist and what he/she thinks is appropriate to the piece. I tend to like a close and more intimate sound, while your recording is very "wet" with a large symphonic hall reverb. So there's a very marked difference in the sound of the two recordings, but the reverb is another issue and element separate from the roll performances themselves.

    Randy B.
    Hi, Randy!

    I'm glad you mentioned your tutorial, because when I was floundering around for a solution to the notated-roll problem, I found it and had a look. I really liked the results you get out of your method, although since I don't know anything about Sonar's editing features, I wasn't sure if there was a way to apply your technique in Cubasis. While this led me to develop the techniques I detailed in my tutorial, I think I'll have a go at seeing if I can adapt your method for use in Cubasis editing.

    On the reverb issue, I freely admit that I prefer a big sound space with a good deal of resonance. I find this adds to the expressive qualities of music, but I also know it's a matter of personal taste, so “Chacon son gout” as far as that goes. Now, I will say that I wasn't all that thrilled by the fact that KP2 jettisoned the Ambience reverb I got with Garritan Studio. I prefered Ambience because it gave the user control over more reverb parameters, and therefore more variation in how "wet" the reverb would sound. The KP2 presets don't have as much flexibility. With that said, there's enough about KP2 I very much like, so it's a trade-off I'm willing to live with at least for now.

    By the way, I had trouble finding your timp roll tutorial again, so thanks much for giving me the link in your post.

    Thanks again, and happy New Year!

    Steve

  10. #10

    Re: Timpani Roll Tutorial

    Hi, Steve - Good to hear from you.

    Your Tympani Roll works great, I think. Much the same as what I do really. The big keys are good ol human "error" in playing the notes, AND utilizing the two different samples for each note in GPO--left and right hand hits. That trick of condensing the MIDI recording so the hits are even faster, that works great in Sonar at least.

    Reverb--Yeah, it used to be an oft-discussed topic for me when I was on the Sonar Forum a lot, and also here at the Garritan Forum. Many people like those huge cinematic/cathedral-style reverbs. I just get very weary of all that largeness, and am also unhappy with how muddied it can make recordings. I love the older classical recordings which were done in such small, tight spaces where the notes are much more easily discenered. For me, reverb adds nothing to the emotional impact of a piece, just size, and I prefer to be CLoser to the musicians rather than so far away.

    BUT it sounds like you may not be aware of the tools for reverb right there in the Kontakt Player--You bemoaned the loss of Ambience which had controls--well, the reverb in KP2 sounds just as good and you have as much control over it.

    Short How To:

    --In KP2, on the channel strip for an Aux, choose reverb.
    --Click Edit Effect so you can get at its parameters. Set it all the way wet, zero dry, and whatever else you want to play with--room size etc.
    --On the GUI of the GPO instrument you're working with, in the upper right hand corner you'll see 3 buttons--third one down is Aux. Click that.
    --A controller appears underneath that instrument's GUI. Now you can move that to Send however much reverb you want to the Aux.

    KP2 was built so that people could do virtually all their mixing right there in the interface if they wanted. I don't use many of those controls, preferring to get a straight signal out of the sample player into Sonar where I do most of the work. I have many different reverbs to choose from, and of course all the other effects and editing tools typical of sequencers.

    BUT--since it sounds like you want to do your reverb work there in the player--that brief guide should get you going.

    Randy B.

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Johnson View Post
    Hi, Randy!

    I'm glad you mentioned your tutorial, because when I was floundering around for a solution to the notated-roll problem, I found it and had a look. I really liked the results you get out of your method, although since I don't know anything about Sonar's editing features, I wasn't sure if there was a way to apply your technique in Cubasis. While this led me to develop the techniques I detailed in my tutorial, I think I'll have a go at seeing if I can adapt your method for use in Cubasis editing.

    On the reverb issue, I freely admit that I prefer a big sound space with a good deal of resonance. I find this adds to the expressive qualities of music, but I also know it's a matter of personal taste, so “Chacon son gout” as far as that goes. Now, I will say that I wasn't all that thrilled by the fact that KP2 jettisoned the Ambience reverb I got with Garritan Studio. I prefered Ambience because it gave the user control over more reverb parameters, and therefore more variation in how "wet" the reverb would sound. The KP2 presets don't have as much flexibility. With that said, there's enough about KP2 I very much like, so it's a trade-off I'm willing to live with at least for now.

    By the way, I had trouble finding your timp roll tutorial again, so thanks much for giving me the link in your post.

    Thanks again, and happy New Year!

    Steve

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