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Topic: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

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  1. #1

    Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Hi dear friends,

    Wouldn't be interesting to compare two notation programs and a live performance with the same little composition (called "Gratioso")?

    Finale is great software to write down and edit notes, pages, layout for printing. Notion is in my opinion better for score performances and sound quality (with its own LSO library or with the supported Garritan libraries and some other well known libraries). I present 3 times the same piece. It's a chamber music composition from the late 18th century, author so far unknown. The arrangement was my work.
    It was made in Finale and exported via xml to Notion afterwards. I didn't work out in a detailed way the score in either program. The live performance is interpreted and longer.
    I leave the judgement entirely to you.

    Gratioso (Finale) (only with GPO-notation + HP Classic)

    Gratioso (Notion4) (only with GPO-notation + convolution small orchestra hall and 40% wet reverb)

    Gratiose (Live) (flute, 2 violins, viola, double bass, in a small radio studio in Brussels)

    Enjoy the listen.

    Max

  2. #2

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Well, Max, there is no comparison. The live is so much more articulate and, well, live! Each of the Finale or Notion4 recordings need more reverb or better yet mix compression. I do like the piece though.

    Bill
    We dream to write and we write to dream.

    Challenge #10 Winner

  3. #3

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Quote Originally Posted by wrayer View Post
    Well, Max, there is no comparison. The live is so much more articulate and, well, live! Each of the Finale or Notion4 recordings need more reverb or better yet mix compression. I do like the piece though.

    Bill
    You're right, Bill, there is no comparison. A live version is always most 'Human Playback' and can't be equaled machinery (although we're able now to come very close with present day means).

    Thanks for your opinion.

    Max

  4. #4
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Hi Max,

    What a neat thing you did here: Two virtual and one live performance of the same material .... great idea and very educational for us. Thanks for posting this.

    As Bill said, yes, you just can't beat the live version. It's beautiful. But hold on: I thought the virtual flavors were very good too. Actually, having played the live version first and then the two MIDI versions, I couldn't believe how nice these virtual versions did sound. The fact you did them exclusively in notation programs makes them all the more impressive. Really nice work.

    BTW, the piece and arrangement is very charming ... nice mixes too; I really enjoyed listening. I've downloaded them for future listening and comparison.

    Frank

  5. #5

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    Hi Max,

    What a neat thing you did here: Two virtual and one live performance of the same material .... great idea and very educational for us. Thanks for posting this.

    As Bill said, yes, you just can't beat the live version. It's beautiful. But hold on: I thought the virtual flavors were very good too. Actually, having played the live version first and then the two MIDI versions, I couldn't believe how nice these virtual versions did sound. The fact you did them exclusively in notation programs makes them all the more impressive. Really nice work.

    BTW, the piece and arrangement is very charming ... nice mixes too; I really enjoyed listening. I've downloaded them for future listening and comparison.

    Frank
    Many thanks, Frank, for your kind words.
    I've recently changed my sound board (the built-in one of my Mac for a Roland Quad-Capture). That may have to do with the virtual sound. It has improved a lot since the change. And now, I can interfere in the direct output of my sound source (which I rarely do).

    Max

  6. #6

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Quote Originally Posted by Max Hamburg View Post
    ...Wouldn't be interesting to compare two notation programs and a live performance...?
    Yes! And, echoing something Frank said, this was really an excellent concept for a post, Max!

    For me, comparison between Live and MIDI versions of a piece can't involve judgements, because it's a given that a live performance is going to be preferred over a computer generated rendition. Comparisons are just interesting, and when both MIDI and Live versions have been done so expertly as in your examples, Max, it makes the exercise all the more interesting. Comparing the two different notation files is another matter. There we maybe can make some judgements about the comparitive results.

    The piece itself is a sweet piece of music, and I can only sit back, smile, and admire your smart musical sensibility at work in your arrangement, Max. Really nice.

    Tech talk - responding to the three different versions.

    --There's a wide disparity between the volume levels of the three versions. The volume of a recording is a major factor in our response to it, and naturally we can compensate for whatever volume a recording has reaching for our system's volume knob - But when we're comparing several files, like we are here, the relative volume differences factor majorly into our reactions.

    --The live recording is twice as loud as the MIDI files, instantly giving it a more pleasing, full sound. The EQ is also more ample, most noticeable in how the cello's bass frequencies are so pronounced and solid. This wide spread of frequencies could very well be just the nature of the live recording, or maybe an engineer did a bit of work to hone what was captured.

    --I imported the three versions into Sound Forge to check on the volume differences. Sure enough, the live recording is literally twice as loud:

    The opening notes of the live version go up to -10 DBs. The Finale version goes to -20, and the Notion version goes to -25.

    The Notion file has some elements that make it a bit nicer than the Finale version, but it's let down b y its extremely low volume. The Finale file gives a better general impression simply because it's louder.

    Because the live version is at an optimum volume, and the EQ is pleasing, it makes the recording an instructive guide for improving the MIDI recordings. And the kind of work it would take to try emulating the live recording more accurately would be more easily done in DAW software. Getting the volumes up to match the live recording would be easy enough, and then using EQ on the cello to come closer to the sound of the real cello would help a lot, because the virtual cello is very thin in comparison. There would be other things to work with too, like trying to match the natural reverberation of the small venue where the musicians were playing. I'd say the convolution reverb in your Notion file is doing a pretty good job, better than what we hear in the Finale file.

    Side note - I hear the Pizz in the Notion version, but not the Finale version. I guess the arrangement had just changed b y the time you were in Notion, and of course we hear the Pizz in the live version.

    Both MIDI versions are of course overly strict, but still aren't actually stiff in the way notation files can sometimes sound.

    The most important thing is to hear how both notation versions gave you a perfectly presentable preview of what the arrangement would sound like with live musicians. It's all there, and the renderings are pleasant to listen to. Once again we can say "Thank heavens!" that we have tools like virtual instruments to work with. Of course the results aren't usually full of the random factors that make live performances noticeably more organic in comparison - the slight timing errors, the subtle difference in tuning of the instruments etc. Those are the aural trivia that can be fun to emulate with some extra work in our software, but the basic essentials are all there in the MIDI renderings, making them more than adequate.

    Great post, thanks for it, Max.

    Randy

  7. #7

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    Yes! And, echoing something Frank said, this was really an excellent concept for a post, Max!

    For me, comparison between Live and MIDI versions of a piece can't involve judgements, because it's a given that a live performance is going to be preferred over a computer generated rendition. Comparisons are just interesting, and when both MIDI and Live versions have been done so expertly as in your examples, Max, it makes the exercise all the more interesting. Comparing the two different notation files is another matter. There we maybe can make some judgements about the comparitive results.

    The piece itself is a sweet piece of music, and I can only sit back, smile, and admire your smart musical sensibility at work in your arrangement, Max. Really nice.

    Tech talk - responding to the three different versions.

    --There's a wide disparity between the volume levels of the three versions. The volume of a recording is a major factor in our response to it, and naturally we can compensate for whatever volume a recording has reaching for our system's volume knob - But when we're comparing several files, like we are here, the relative volume differences factor majorly into our reactions.

    --The live recording is twice as loud as the MIDI files, instantly giving it a more pleasing, full sound. The EQ is also more ample, most noticeable in how the cello's bass frequencies are so pronounced and solid. This wide spread of frequencies could very well be just the nature of the live recording, or maybe an engineer did a bit of work to hone what was captured.

    --I imported the three versions into Sound Forge to check on the volume differences. Sure enough, the live recording is literally twice as loud:

    The opening notes of the live version go up to -10 DBs. The Finale version goes to -20, and the Notion version goes to -25.

    The Notion file has some elements that make it a bit nicer than the Finale version, but it's let down b y its extremely low volume. The Finale file gives a better general impression simply because it's louder.

    Because the live version is at an optimum volume, and the EQ is pleasing, it makes the recording an instructive guide for improving the MIDI recordings. And the kind of work it would take to try emulating the live recording more accurately would be more easily done in DAW software. Getting the volumes up to match the live recording would be easy enough, and then using EQ on the cello to come closer to the sound of the real cello would help a lot, because the virtual cello is very thin in comparison. There would be other things to work with too, like trying to match the natural reverberation of the small venue where the musicians were playing. I'd say the convolution reverb in your Notion file is doing a pretty good job, better than what we hear in the Finale file.

    Side note - I hear the Pizz in the Notion version, but not the Finale version. I guess the arrangement had just changed b y the time you were in Notion, and of course we hear the Pizz in the live version.

    Both MIDI versions are of course overly strict, but still aren't actually stiff in the way notation files can sometimes sound.

    The most important thing is to hear how both notation versions gave you a perfectly presentable preview of what the arrangement would sound like with live musicians. It's all there, and the renderings are pleasant to listen to. Once again we can say "Thank heavens!" that we have tools like virtual instruments to work with. Of course the results aren't usually full of the random factors that make live performances noticeably more organic in comparison - the slight timing errors, the subtle difference in tuning of the instruments etc. Those are the aural trivia that can be fun to emulate with some extra work in our software, but the basic essentials are all there in the MIDI renderings, making them more than adequate.

    Great post, thanks for it, Max.

    Randy
    Thanks a lot, Randy, for taking so much time to inquire and examine the 3 versions and for having checked them in SoundForge. I have to say though, that it was not at all my intention when presenting the issue here, to try to come as close as possible to the original live performance. It was done professional sound engineers and a professional composer in our national radio studios (with hight tech gear). It was my goal to compare the two notation version to a real live version. Actually, we all know that the difference will be huge, unless the recordings were meticulously prepared and elaborated to the extreme detail in DAWs and notation programs. In fact, the discussion should go further and describe the amount of work that went into the respective notation recordings (and that was nothing much, just enough to produce a good readable score and its parts).
    As you know, I don't work with DAWs and sequencers, merely with notation software and detailed scoring. And yes, you heard right, the pizz passage in the Finale version is missing (due to a small error: I simply forgot the "pizz" indication.)
    You know, Randy, I absolutely appreciate your more than skilled approach of the technical matters, but for me, it would be impossible to realise them (I don't have the software, the equipment and the knowledge). The most important thing about music is (in my opinion) to have the music played real musicians. The technical means are a great help to score the music and to check (as you said) the result of the notes input and to have some idea of what the final performance could (should) be. (And that goes of course for all listeners and possible candidates to play the pieces.)

    I was very pleased with your detailed analysis and encouraging words. I might give it a try to fiddle with the notation volumes and EQ settings, but as ignorant as I am, I don't expect much of it.

    With lots of gratitude and respect for all the good work you do here,

    Max

  8. #8

    Re: Listen and compare (Finale/Notion/Live performance)

    I've just normalised the volumes of both the notation versions and set the ambience more or less equal. This should make the comparison somewhat easier.

    Max

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