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Topic: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

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  1. #1

    The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Here's a question for everyone out there: How do you simulate an orchestra hit? The orchestra hit is basically the supreme in blended textures requiring virtually the entire orchestra. I'm sure there's some kind of text book definition but I'm also sure everyone has their own way of doing it. Which instruments sections do you put at which octave?

  2. #2

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Sounds like you want to simulate a tutti marcato.

    Tutti being the whole orchestra playing together, marcato being a short, forceful accented note that is just usually about 1 beat in length and quickly tapers to a normal dynamic level before ending. You can have long marcatos as well, obviously.

    How I do these is usually building a chord structure with low register instruments playing my root, and mid level instruments playing the 3rd, and a mix of higher with the 5th/3rd/root - what ever balances out the sound.

    Low - root
    Mids - 3rd and 5ths
    Highs - mix of all 3 (root, 3rd, 5th)
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  3. #3

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    IMSLP has a multitude of orchestral scores, from Bach to Prokofiev and everybody else in between and further. Your CD collection has some orchestral pieces, I hope. Listen carefully to them and read the scores at the same time. There are the hits you are looking for. Analyze them and make your own. Remember that nobody in that "hit-group" does it at exactly the same microsecond. If the "hit" is string based you have this sequence: violins, violas, celli and contrabasses possibly followed by brass players, which in turn start a bit earlier because "they know that they are always too late". If it is "brass-based" then they start out first, followed by the strings if any. And remember that the timpanist is the second conductor (?), he controls the far end of the orchestra. Maybe you never noticed this (I didn't), but they told me that on a course of orchestral practice. How does that influence your hits? He is first, always ( couple of milliseconds). Reminds me of that sketch about "Who is on first"............ Waiting to hear your hits

    Raymond

  4. #4

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Hi, Dane - Like I said last night while chatting on Facebook, I've run an orch hit test this morning. Sheeesh - I'd say it was a lot of work for not a lot of return.

    Orch hits have been a staple of pop music for a long time. In that context, the hit's characteristics don't have to match up to the sound of an orchestra, since one isn't being used in the music. That's why orch hit patches have been popular since the beginning of synths. Garritan Instant Orchestra has some cool orch hits in it, by the way.

    But if there's an orchestral piece being worked on - then all the instruments are in place already, and the Tutti passage is just part of the composition, laid out like the rest of the piece.

    However, I still wanted to do a "stand alone" orch hit as an experiment. It's in the key of C. The only notes in it are C and G, spread out across the octaves of course.

    I worked fast, but it still took me 1 1/2 hours to put this together! yikes.

    I used GPO Ensemble presets - Aggressive String Sections, Woodwinds 1 and 2, and Aggressive Brass. For simplicity I just used the first stereo out from each of the 3 ARIA instances - with one exception. I also had Tympani, and put it on its own audio out so I could better control the decay.

    Dane, you'll see in the Cakewalk/Sonar file that the notes have been shuffled around some so the timing isn't perfect. You'll also see that I bounced each section to its own audio track, because when it comes to mixing, I just have to work with audio - I can't get the same amount of control I want working just with MIDI.

    You'll see that I added a clip volume envelope to the Tympani so it wouldn't ring out so long. I added a similar envelope to ARIA 1's output, because I used Ambience in this, and Ambience's signal comes only out of the first audio out in ARIA, 1/2. So the Tympani reverb was on that track, and I needed to fade that also.

    Quick and dirty work - the tracks aren't labeled the way I usually do, the whole thing is kind of sketchy.

    AND I'll be the first to say that the results aren't spectacular. It's OK - but if I was working on a non-orchestral recording where I wanted to add some orch hits - I'd reach for Instant Orchestra instead of going through this!

    MP3 --ORCH HIT TEST

    WAVE FILE - ORCH HIT TEST

    CAKEWALK BUNDLE FILE*

    * Dane, you probably know about Cakewalk Bundle Files. They're in a proprietary format that has all info in a Cakewalk project bundled into a single file. When you open Sonar and then open a bundle file, it asks where you want to unpack it - All the audio, MIDI, tracks, FX are then opened up. When you want to save it, you would want to save as a Normal file so it doesn't have to be unpacked every time you open it.

    I stuck with just Sonar tools, kept it simple. If you don't have something I used, it will just come up missing and you would ask to skip that. Like I used a Cakewalk compressor on the Master track - I think you'll have that plugin, but I'm not positive.

    Also - I don't know if this will matter, but these instances of ARIA are the new version that will be released soon. I think your version of ARIA will still open the instruments, even though you have a different version of ARIA than I do.

    WHew - OK - well, that was a project that took up the morning. Interesting - but now I know I'd never do that again!

    Randy

  5. #5

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Holy Cow Randy, now I feel bad. Great work! It opened fine and it sounds excellent to my ears. I mix everything down to sections as well and usually spend the last few hours screwing around in the audio world. I guess that's the advantage to IO - not having to score notes across the board like that. I wasn't sure if there was a typical formula that most composers follow or if it was pretty much a free for all of perfect fifths (or whatever sound you want). The reason I asked was because yesterday I had virtually created one with so many instruments in unison or on fifths and I was curious if anyone else had ever done this, if they did it often, and how they did it. Once I suck it up and purchase IO I can definitely see myself using orchestra hit patches as it's definitely a useful texture and one I would rather not have to simulate.

  6. #6

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Quote Originally Posted by Dane Grant View Post
    Holy Cow Randy, now I feel bad. Great work! It opened fine and it sounds excellent to my ears. I mix everything down to sections as well and usually spend the last few hours screwing around in the audio world. I guess that's the advantage to IO - not having to score notes across the board like that. I wasn't sure if there was a typical formula that most composers follow or if it was pretty much a free for all of perfect fifths (or whatever sound you want). The reason I asked was because yesterday I had virtually created one with so many instruments in unison or on fifths and I was curious if anyone else had ever done this, if they did it often, and how they did it. Once I suck it up and purchase IO I can definitely see myself using orchestra hit patches as it's definitely a useful texture and one I would rather not have to simulate.
    I guess I had something slightly different in mind. I have a ton of 'hit' patches but they weren't the more pop music sound. Tutti chords, octaves and such...
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  7. #7

    Re: The mechanics of an orchestra hit

    Quote Originally Posted by Dane Grant View Post
    Holy Cow Randy, now I feel bad. Great work! It opened fine and it sounds excellent to my ears...
    Hi, Dane - Hey, you're not meant to feel bad - I just kind of wrote a blog-like post describing the little project I set up for myself this morning. It was an interesting experiment, and, as I said, not what I'd want to be doing again really - lol. In context of writing an orchestral piece, it would be different, with all the instruments already in place, and having this kind of "hit" would just be part of the score, like the rest of it.

    I love trying things out when I have the time. So even if this went in a different direction than you intended, I'm glad I did it!

    Randy

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