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Topic: String portamento/slide

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  1. #1

    String portamento/slide

    Hi everyone! (First post)

    I've been struggling with GPO4 to get a good slow string slide ala-Xenakis.


    I've searched this forum and Garritan wiki, and found several techniques which range from simple portamento CC adjust to elaborate fast legato scale runs with progressive pitchbend applied to each note.

    The results have never been satisfactory, as they all sound like a cheap synth pictchbend (that's what I'm doing after all), and not anything that sounds "real" or resembles the sound in the video.

    I'm afraid the problem is related to the ARIA engine. Most people talking about this subject are using earlier versions with Kontakt Player, which seems to have a more realistic "glide" function.

    ¿It's possible to achieve a sound like the one I'm looking for with GPO4? ¿How?

    I'm using GPO4 and Cubase 5.
    Thanks.

  2. #2

    Re: String portamento/slide

    While some users here might have some insight/advice, I think that you won't have much success trying to realistically render a Xenakis-esque composition using purely sample libraries. This is the big pitfall of sample libraries, as you've observed. There are only a finite number of realistic sounds, and using conventional pitch bending techniques does not sound convincing. You can likely improve your odds by using formant corrected pitch shifting (the sequencer REAPER has a 60 day free trial, and it has a variety of built in pitch shifting methods), which generally use what's called PSOLA (pitch synchronous overlap add). However, since a violin has such a complex, nonlinear sound, the results will most likely remain unconvincing.

    There are other techniques to interpolate between sampled tones using concepts related to wavetable synthesis, but they are not very accessable to the end user unless they are built into a product.

    But, such expressive sounds can be achieved with synthesis technologies based on physical modeling--this was not feasable in the past due to the computational cost. 15 years into the future, I believe that the trend will move away from sample libraries and toward physical modeling.
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau


  3. #3

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Oh my! I just recognized players from the Jack quartet in the video!

    I recorded them when they came to the University of Victoria last year. The performance left the audience writhing in pain and discomfort. At the performance, I witnessed a cello line that sounded like a train crashing (somehow). Fantastic!

    -Tim
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau


  4. #4

    Re: String portamento/slide

    I guess I was expecting too much with this. I've downloaded the Kontakt4 demo, which comes with a cello Ensemble from VSL and the results were about the same (maybe slightly better, but not by much).

    I don't think that any "generic" pitch bending algorithm would sound "real", as you said the sound is too complex to be shifted as a whole, and needs specific processing for each instrument.

    GPO is a nice library that doesn't relies on the "brute force sample-everything" technology so I expected a little more of it.... ¿Maybe a new feat for GPO5?

    Seems like this kind of sounds will be restricted to live execution for a while.

    Wish I would have been there when the "train crashed". I'm jealous now...

  5. #5

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Quote Originally Posted by Tim Perry View Post
    Oh my! I just recognized players from the Jack quartet in the video!

    I recorded them when they came to the University of Victoria last year. The performance left the audience writhing in pain and discomfort. At the performance, I witnessed a cello line that sounded like a train crashing (somehow). Fantastic!

    -Tim
    hmm... and yet most of us try to avoid such crunching and crashing noises in our music...

    Good grief... I looked those guys up. They make even my most dissonant music (which is fairly dissonant) sound like a soft lullaby. I didn't know sound could be so... so painful.

  6. #6

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Yes, echoing Tim's reply, you're not going to achieve these kind of sounds with GPO or any other sampled Library, because these libraries were developed to emulate traditional tonal music, not atonal music of the variety that relies on extreme and unpitched articulations.

    The kind of effects Xenakis gets in the sample you posted are really in the realm of special effects. To emulate them with sampling technology would require sampling each one of those special techniques and then programming all of them into something musically useful. In other words, it would require a Titanically proportioned library.

    Tim's right that physical modeling technology will come closer to emulating this sort of thing more accurately.

    The only soft synth sampled instrument which comes close to achieving anything like these outre, non-musical sound effect noises would be the late, great Garritan Stradivari. That was a library dedicated to a solo violin, a meticulously sampled Stradivari. The size of the library was equal to the size of GPO - You can get an idea of the detail in its programming in that one statistic alone - One instrument the size of an entire orchestra!

    It could perform perfectly believable portamento, for instance. Some of what I heard on your posted video could be reproduced with the Garritan Strad, which was discontinued several years ago for reasons none of us really understand.

    But even that great software instrument couldn't produce some of the pinched, strangled sounds produced by Xenakis. Those sounds are in the realm of real world acoustic instruments, and actually, they probably always will be.

    Meanwhile, we have all these excellent Garritan Libraries which can produce wonderful Music in the way the majority of the world understands the word Music to mean, and which it will always consider Music to mean--sounds produced by instruments playing recognizable frequency tones.

    In other words, you can't ask a cat to behave like a dog and expect acceptable results.

    Randy B.

  7. #7

    Re: String portamento/slide

    I understand that it's extremely hard to generate this kind of sounds with a computer (and sampling technology). It's just that I expected a little more convincing sound for extreme portamento/pitchbend effects.

    I've tried to use the PitchCorrect insert in Cubase in a GPO track (witch is formant corrected as Tim suggested) and the results where a lot more "natural" (though very far from "real").

    It's not that I bought GPO for emulating "non-musical sound effect noises", this was just an experiment. In fact, my intention was to use it as an effect, as a part, not as a whole as Xenakis does.

    The problem with this is trying to (ab)use "real-world" sampled instruments which invariably will sound fake. I think I'll use pure electronic synths that don't need to sound "real" and are much more suited to this kind of work.

  8. #8

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    In other words, you can't ask a cat to behave like a dog and expect acceptable results.

    Randy B.
    You don't know my cat........



    Raymond

  9. #9

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Weird photo, Raymond!--

    Moya - "...I think I'll use pure electronic synths that don't need to sound "real" and are much more suited to this kind of work..."

    EXCELLENT! That is absolutely the best way to work on what you're wanting to achieve Moya.

    There's no turning back the clock. Most musicians/composers using computers have long since embraced sampling technology, and the trend is for soft synths to be more and more natural sounding, resulting in larger and larger libraries which require increasingly larger, more powerful operating systems. It could be said we're on a Quixotic crusade for not-quite-attainable "realism" - and that it can become a trap.

    There is much to be said about the earlier concept and approach to using synthesizers, which was to create music which made no attempt at creating the illusion of it being played on acoustic instruments. Purely electronic sounds can have a great beauty to them, and I think they can be incorporated into our projects which make our recordings go beyond an attempt to be merely emulative. If we think of all our musical tools as way of arranging Sound - we can do much more than if we're stuck always trying to sound "realistic."

    Have fun with your project, Moya.

    Randy B.

  10. #10

    Re: String portamento/slide

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Weird photo, Raymond!--


    There is much to be said about the earlier concept and approach to using synthesizers, which was to create music which made no attempt at creating the illusion of it being played on acoustic instruments. Purely electronic sounds can have a great beauty to them, and I think they can be incorporated into our projects which make our recordings go beyond an attempt to be merely emulative. If we think of all our musical tools as way of arranging Sound - we can do much more than if we're stuck always trying to sound "realistic."

    Have fun with your project, Moya.

    Randy B.
    While I personally tend to prefer realistic to synthetic sounding music, I agree. Some of the vintage analog synths (which can be emulated fairly easily) do sound very cool and have a real character to them. At UVic one assignment of mine was to create/record a piece using a vintage Buchla synthesizer, which was a blast. The Buchla is like a sound making creature that you can manipulate in a very hands on way by physically wiring it's signal/control paths from the outside, and also playing with the many knobs, joysticks, keyboard, ext.


    But in the realm of physical modeling, one of the most interesting possibilities may be the creation of instruments that obey the laws of physics (and sound "real"), but don't actually exist in real life. For example, one could model some outragous instruments that would be impractical to build/play in real life--like an Ozark harp the size of a car that vibrates the solid dragon-sinew strings of a Hardanger fiddle that's made out of a solid peice of brazilian rosewood the size of a house (ok, maybe such a specific physical model is a long way off). Also, one could emulate "destructive" playing forces without destroying the instrument...if one desired.

    A wee bit of a tangent...
    "If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away." – Henry Thoreau


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