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Topic: Where to start - the sequel

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  1. #1

    Where to start - the sequel

    6 weeks ago I asked you for advice on how to improve my renditions of ragtime orchestra arrangements on my web site http://www.ragsrag.com/vo/vo.html. I was overwhelmed by your response and started right away to revise all tunes, using the advice I got from you.

    I still use Sibelius out of the box as opposed to using a DAW and I will stick to that, because frankly DAWs intimidate me. However, I've made one great step forward on the software side: I purchased GPO 4 and skipped Sibelius Sounds. So now I use GPO 4 for strings and JABB 3 for everything else (e.g. brass, winds, percussion, keyboard). The sound is now much, much better!


    Important advice I got from you included using more reverb and using the ”live playing” feature of Sibelius. So I increased reverb from ”Ambient hall” to ”Concert hall” and experimented a bit with the ”live playing” feature, to see how it worked.


    In Sibelius you can set velocity, start position and duration for each and every note and that's fine but not possible to do in real life for an orchestra score, especially not for the hundreds of orchestra scores on my web site. ”Live playing” is determined in Sibelius by the Style settings in menu Play|Performance. There are three parameters there to set: Espressivo, Rubato and Rhytmic feel. The last one I disregard.

    Espressivo introduces randomness of velocity with the alternatives Meccanico, Senza espressivo, Poco espressivo, Espressivo and Molto espressivo. Meccanico and Senza espressivo does nothing (meaning that the volume is a constant for each set value ppp-fff) and Poco espressivo, Espressivo and Molto espressivo randomly alters the volume from the set value, note for note. Roughly it seems that Poco espressivo has a range of about +-10 %, Espressivo +-25 % and Molto espressivo +- 30-40 %. I decided to use Espressivo.


    Rubato introduces randomness of start position and duration with the alternatives Meccanico, Senza rubato, Poco rubato, Rubato, Piu Rubato and Molto Rubato.


    Live duration is rather straight forward: it's randomly varied from Senza rubato (+- 1 %) to Molto rubato (-4 % to +8 %). This seems rather limited but the worst thing is that each instrument varies exactly the same amount if they have the same written note value and are in the same position in the score. This is the opposite of a live performance where truly random variation per instrument is to be expected! Meccanico does not modify the default values (which are in turn dependent on the % setting of unslurred notes).


    Live start position is also randomly varied, from Senza rubato (-2 % to + 6 %) to Molto rubato (-11 % to +20 %). Here it is even worse than for Live duration: the "random" value for each note - regardless of note value - with the same written position in the score is identical. To make the score sound "live" of course each instrument must vary individually to imitate a real musician.


    With this knowledge I decided to set the Rubato parameter to Rubato (Sibelius engineers do not have much appreciation for selecting words, do they).


    With these settings and with the use of GPO 4 instead of Sibelius Sounds I believe I have taken several steps forward towards reaching my goal: to have at least decent renditions of ragtime orchestra arrangements on my site.


    As for modifying all pieces on my Virtual orchestra page I still have some work to do. I started modifying them right away almost six weeks ago when I didn't have the knowledge I have now and when I still used Sibelius Sounds. So although I have modified most pieces only the ones modified the last two or three days are completely to my satisfaction.


    Here is one sample which I believe is representative for my current knowledge: my own arrangement of my own composition Rag's Rag http://www.ragsrag.com/vo/vo_ragsrag.mp3

  2. #2
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    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    I think you have achieved your original goal. I would certainly enjoy exploring a web site that had MIDI playback this good.

    Congratulations.

    Norman

  3. #3

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Quote Originally Posted by jandjnelson View Post
    I think you have achieved your original goal. I would certainly enjoy exploring a web site that had MIDI playback this good.

    Congratulations.

    Norman
    Thank you, Norman. I'm still not sure how to follow your advice about getting the best possible timbre for each instrument. Now that I use only Garritan sounds, these settings must be made in the Aria player and its interface puzzles me a bit. The control knobs are not described in the manual, so I have to experiment to find out what they achieve. The equalizer for example: the gain knobs seem to adjust the sound level, is that right? And how about the frequency knob - when should that be used? The most important instrument to adjust for me is the trumpet and the instrument controls for this instrument are puzzling. I can understand AirNs (air noise) and ValvNs (valve noise) but what about the other knobs? VibSpd is probably vibrato but adjusting it from the default doesn't do anything. Do you know if there is a detailed description on what these knobs are used for anywhere? I wish the manual could have been more detailed on these issues.

    Ragnar

  4. #4

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Hellspong View Post
    ...The control knobs are not described in the manual, so I have to experiment to find out what they achieve. The equalizer for example: the gain knobs seem to adjust the sound level, is that right? And how about the frequency knob - when should that be used? The most important instrument to adjust for me is the trumpet and the instrument controls for this instrument are puzzling. I can understand AirNs (air noise) and ValvNs (valve noise) but what about the other knobs? VibSpd is probably vibrato but adjusting it from the default doesn't do anything. Do you know if there is a detailed description on what these knobs are used for anywhere? I wish the manual could have been more detailed on these issues.

    Ragnar
    Hi, Ragnar - I'm looking in the GPO manual, and all of those knobs are described and explained. Starting on p. 55, EQ is described first, then the other controls are brought up. Later, starting on p. 65, more detail is given.

    EQ is something found on most every sound producing device and program. I think it has to be assumed most people have turned a Bass and Treble knob before, and EQ is just a more detailed version of that same tone control. Even so, it's explained in the manual how to use EQ. It's not for adjusting the sound level, as you asked. It's for boosting or cutting different parts of the sound spectrum, different frequencies. The middle knob is the most versatile, because you choose the frequency you want to have effected, then the gain knob controls how much you cut or boost that area of the sound.

    As with all controls, it's best to start turning knobs and listening. Turn the bass knob down, and you have to hear that the bass frequencies are being attenuated, for instance.

    About VibSpeed - that controls the speed of the Vibrato. You use Aftertouch to control the amount of Vibrato, and CC17 to control the speed. Many of GPO's instruments respond to this Vibrato control, and with instruments like the Trumpet, which you bring up, it's rather essential to use it or the results aren't natural.

    Those MIDI control knobs are often not meant to be just set in one place and left for an entire piece. Vibrato is the perfect example. You obviously only want it to come up part way into sustained notes, the way a Trumpet is played in real life. That means you need to dynamically control the amount of AT and CC17 throughout a passage. This is easiest to achieve in DAW software, it's easy in fact. But it sounds like you know you're way in and out of Sibelius. Translate those controls into ways that work in Sib, and you'll have a lot more control of your instruments.

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Hi Randy,

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Hi, Ragnar - I'm looking in the GPO manual, and all of those knobs are described and explained. Starting on p. 55, EQ is described first, then the other controls are brought up. Later, starting on p. 65, more detail is given.
    Great! That is exactly what I need. I didn't even know there was a GPO manual (just bought GPO 4 on-line) but now I've found it. I was looking in the ARIA manual.

    About VibSpeed - that controls the speed of the Vibrato. You use Aftertouch to control the amount of Vibrato, and CC17 to control the speed. Many of GPO's instruments respond to this Vibrato control, and with instruments like the Trumpet, which you bring up, it's rather essential to use it or the results aren't natural.
    Controlling this type of CC isn't built into Sibelius. There is a plug-in available to do it but I haven't been successful in applying it (so far). And I've been searching on the Internet for a simple list explaining the standard MIDI CCs but I haven't found one. Maybe it's included in the GPO manual as welll? I will soon find out. :-)

    /Ragnar

  6. #6

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Hellspong View Post
    Hi Randy,



    Great! That is exactly what I need. I didn't even know there was a GPO manual (just bought GPO 4 on-line) but now I've found it. I was looking in the ARIA manual.



    Controlling this type of CC isn't built into Sibelius. There is a plug-in available to do it but I haven't been successful in applying it (so far). And I've been searching on the Internet for a simple list explaining the standard MIDI CCs but I haven't found one. Maybe it's included in the GPO manual as welll? I will soon find out. :-)

    /Ragnar
    Ah! I'm glad you found the GPO manual. I didn't even know there was an ARIA manual!-- It must be fairly small, since ARIA is so simple to use, and it wouldn't cover the specifics of using any particular Libary.

    Controlling MIDI Continuous Controllers is often done "behind the scenes" in Sib. For instance when you insert pedals on a piano part, that's sending out CC64 info. I thought the user could specify any other controllers they want to use by hooking up CCs with the effect they want. But I don't know how AfterTouch is triggered in Sib - it's "special case" MIDI data, not considered part of the CC family. There must be a way to use it though.

    Google brought up this MIDI CC chart:

    http://www.nortonmusic.com/midi_cc.html

    But a lot of that won't relate to work you're doing in Sib. ARIA actually makes it easy to see what CCs you want to use with GPO. Whenever an instrument has controls available for it, they appear on the Controls tab, the knobs you were talking about, and which CC controls each knob is listed.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    I didn't even know there was an ARIA manual!-- It must be fairly small, since ARIA is so simple to use, and it wouldn't cover the specifics of using any particular Libary.
    There is, but it's pretty useless.

    Controlling MIDI Continuous Controllers is often done "behind the scenes" in Sib. For instance when you insert pedals on a piano part, that's sending out CC64 info. I thought the user could specify any other controllers they want to use by hooking up CCs with the effect they want.
    Yes, I know of some but some are missing, like vibrato for example. You might be right that it could be possible to hook up CCs - it's a daunting task to find out all the things Sibelius can do. I will try to find out - unfortunately the Sibelius Forum is pretty useless - low traffic and seldom an answer to a question.

    Whenever an instrument has controls available for it, they appear on the Controls tab, the knobs you were talking about, and which CC controls each knob is listed.

    Randy
    I actually found the list I was looking for in the GPO manual. :-)

    /Ragnar

  8. #8

    Re: Where to start - the sequel

    Quote Originally Posted by Ragnar Hellspong View Post
    There is, but it's pretty useless.



    Yes, I know of some but some are missing, like vibrato for example. You might be right that it could be possible to hook up CCs - it's a daunting task to find out all the things Sibelius can do. I will try to find out - unfortunately the Sibelius Forum is pretty useless - low traffic and seldom an answer to a question.



    I actually found the list I was looking for in the GPO manual. :-)

    /Ragnar
    Hello again, Ragnar - Yes, there's a lot to figure out, using GPO with a notation program. DAW software users have their own challenges, but all this stuff is so much easier, more straight-forward.

    Just remember that you don't need to keep looking up info on the controllers in the manual. Everything available is listed right there on ARIA's control tab.

    Randy

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