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Topic: A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

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  1. #1

    A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

    I've been using EQWLSO Gold for a month or so now, and my typical process is as following:

    1) Write out music on sketch score paper
    2) Speedy-entry the notes into Finale, dress it up, make it a pretty score so it is very playable in a real setting.
    3) Export MIDI to Logic...and the hilarity ensues.

    The Logic step is killing me. It takes me about 2 or 3 hours to enter a TON of notes and articulations into Finale, and it can take up to 10 just to get something pretty decent in Logic. I think it's because my workflow is scattered and I don't know the best way to fix several recurring problems, such as:
    -Note velocities and volumes don't seem to carry over from Finale well--I delete all pan/volume/expression, because they're pretty worthless. The result is really boring harsh velocities.
    -Should I automate volume for every little crescendo?? This is sooo hard to make realistic, and it takes a lot of time. Surely there's a better way?
    -Legato is really poor, mostly because of the velocities I think. Every note is clearly 'tongued' in brass instruments.

    Essentially, most of my toil comes in the form of volume issues. I don't know how to make the volumes even and expressive without a -ton of automation and velocity-drawing messiness. What do the pros do, anyway? Surely not this game of wild goose-chasing!

  2. #2

    Re: A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

    Hi snazzypadgett!

    Been there for years, done those horrible things and beyond, I can understand your feelings perfectly... My advice may sound strange, but I prefer to give it in case it might work for you...

    I sounds like you have a strong musical background (if you polish the score, and actually care about it being read later ))) so i guess you have some keyboard skills. So the point is - you can change step 3 to actually playing the score into Logic (from midi keyboard) and tune the recorded data till it rocks. Good old multitracking. Takes some time to do it properly (and to get good results) but believe me - might change your life in the long run.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post

    -Should I automate volume for every little crescendo?? This is sooo hard to make realistic, and it takes a lot of time. Surely there's a better way?
    I've owned EW Gold for quite a few years ( I think I got it in 2005 ) and have completed quite a few pieces that were done only with Gold.

    I use CC:11 ( expression ) for crescendos and short term feeling and swells that aren't covered by mod. wheel ... and save CC:07 as more of a *global* fix for larger sections of the track or the whole track.

    The way I do most all of my CC:11 work is with a slider on my keyboard, either recording it when I play the part, or recording just the CC:11 on a second pass. Very rarely I'll draw it in, but only as a last resort.
    Occasionally I'll then take a curve and raise or lower part of it, or the whole thing, it in piano roll view using a CAL script.

    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post
    -Legato is really poor, mostly because of the velocities I think. Every note is clearly 'tongued' in brass instruments.
    If I remember correctly, for Gold, with the brass, the very very low velocities are going to work better to get that sound like the valves or keys on the instrument are only being changed.
    A quick way to test is to ( if you have one ) use the global velocity slider on the track and just turn it way down until you hear it all smoothing out.
    Slightly overlapping the tails of the notes, into the beginning of the next often helps. Problem is it seems to be different for every articulation and sometimes also even different for each note, so there's no real formula other than listen and tweak and get it to sound the way we want.


    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post
    Essentially, most of my toil comes in the form of volume issues. I don't know how to make the volumes even and expressive without a -ton of automation and velocity-drawing messiness. What do the pros do, anyway? Surely not this game of wild goose-chasing!
    Having a controller to transmit the CC:11 data really helps me get it done. It's hard to imagine not playing it in with the slider.

    I draw ( pencil ) in all of my CC:07 which I use very little. Usually CC:07 goes just in areas where I need to control the volume of an expressive section, that has already been done with CC:11, that might need the whole section raised or lowered. And then of course there is always 1 CC:07 at the beginning of every track, but it's not uncommon for me to have only 1 CC:07 on a whole track. CC:11 is what get's most all of the leveling done for me.

    Most all of my mix is done in midi. I render sections to individual stereo tracks and occasionally nudge them a bit to fine tune the mix.

    If you have a look at my music page the orchestral work is in chronological order with newest at top.
    Everything from "One Heart's Azimuth" down, is all EW Gold.
    From that point on ( moving up the page ) I slowly began transitioning to Kirk Hunter Emerald for everything other than percussion.
    By the time I started "Slot Canyon Deluge" I was no longer using any Gold other than percussion.

    Saving templates with all the instruments I like to use really helps me get started easily.

  4. #4

    Re: A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

    I did used to play in my parts one by one, but I am striving to find a more time-efficient manner. Exporting the score saves several hours, and I figure if I can learn to systematically humanize the imports, I can get realizations done quickly.

    Steve, I like the idea of using a slider for expression, I used to do it with Garritan where it's supported. But the mod wheel is not mapped to anything with the EQWLSO samples.

    Should I just map my mod wheel to CC 11 in Kontakt, and assign 11 to each track's individual volumes? I don't understand how to make it multi-timbral like it sounds as though you're doing. Does Logic's multi-timbral group of 16 instruments fix the problem? Or to simplify--could you just explain the step-by-step method of setting up CC 11 for editting expression?

    Thanks a lot, it's really helpful to hear other composer's techniques and views!

  5. #5
    Senior Member Steve_Karl's Avatar
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    Re: A good strategy for orchestral realizations?

    First a note about CC:11 vs and in addition to CC:07.

    CC:11 is a volume within the "real" volume. The real volume being CC:07.
    Nothing has to be mapped to it. It just works on everything and anything in EW Gold. ( There might be some initial setup trick ... I'm not sure ... but that would be in Kontakt for you. I have Kompakt )
    Use CC:07 to set global volume for the instrument and CC:11 to do expressive swells ( which will work *within* the CC:07 limit ) i.e. when CC:01 isn't mapped that way, or when you need more control. CC:11 can never get louder than the limit set by CC:07. ( CC:11 is always *within* the CC:07 limit )
    So the trick I found that works for me is to always build a template and refine it over the course of time.
    It took me 2 yrs. or more to get it to where it runs good at the start.
    ( See ********** below )


    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post

    <snip>But the mod wheel is not mapped to anything with the EQWLSO samples.
    It's not mapped to all of them, but it is to quite a few.
    For the brass: ( look for DXF and also explore the Key Switched since some of the DXF are hidden in the KS and not labeled )
    CC:01 ... the functional result is to make a swell the way one would with breath, from a quiet, mello, warm sound to a loud brassy sound. The nice thing about those patches is that they work really well for soft smooth passages but can then open up to a really loud brassy sound just by pushing the mod wheel up.

    For the strings: ( look for DXF and also explore the KS )
    (the ones mapped to CC:01) it doesn't effect the tone but works the same way a CC:11 swell would work. ... so ... you end up with 2 controllers to manipulate it's "feeling" ... because you can use CC:11 also.

    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post
    Should I just map my mod wheel to CC 11 in Kontakt, and assign 11 to each track's individual volumes?
    I suspect you'd have to set it in the keyboard, i.e. so the keyboard sends CC:11 from the wheel,

    BUT ...

    ...you're gonna loose a lot of control by not using CC:01 if you find those instruments that use it well.

    Definitely ~no~ to assigning CC:11 to take over for CC:07.
    No need.
    Use them both. Use them both.


    Quote Originally Posted by snazzypadgett View Post
    I don't understand how to make it multi-timbral like it sounds as though you're doing. Does Logic's multi-timbral group of 16 instruments fix the problem? Or to simplify--could you just explain the step-by-step method of setting up CC 11 for editting expression?
    Thanks a lot, it's really helpful to hear other composer's techniques and views!
    I use Sonar so I have no clue about Logic.
    I'd not use the term "multi-timbral" to describe any of this. Gold is MT by nature. It's a given you need not think about.

    In my opinion, CC:11 doesn't edit expression ... it *is* expression.

    **********
    Here's how I started out with it.
    Find the articulations that work for you and have the most flexibility.
    Put them on a track, name it and refine the orchestra over time.

    Put a CC:7 and a CC:11 at the beginning of "every" track before you do anything, and set them so you have some head room to work.
    Initially I had them both set to 64 but I think they're more like 70 now.

    Fine tune the controllers at the front of the track(s) for the instrument that "lives" ( and I mean lives ... like as in ... bought the house, moved in, had kids and grand kids, and will grow old there ) on that track.
    Eventually you build a template that works smoothly right from the start.

    ------------------
    Just some additional info. ... just in case.
    Every track is receiving only 1 midi channel.
    I was using KompaKt player so my default Gold template was 4 instances (sometimes 5) of Gold, usually split by section.
    4 instances = 4 sets of midi tracks or channels 1 thru 8 .... 4 times.
    Save your miltis as you go and keep refining the setup as you go.
    Eventually you'll have a great starting template.

    Velocity is very important not only because it shows the "performance", but also because it controls which "layer" you're hearing.

    In some of the Gold instruments, the difference, when switching layers, which is of course 1 point on the velocity scale, can either make or break the passage. i.e. unless one is also using velocity, CC:11 and CC:07.
    The combination of the 3 gives one a lot of control.
    There've been quite a few times I've had to drop a note below the velocity layer switch, and then boost it with a quick CC:11 in front and after the note, to make it work in context.
    Example: Vel. 86 ... too loud and harsh ... velocity 85 good tone, but too quiet in context.

    Of course, it's just my way of doing it. Hopefully we'll get more people talking about their methods.

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