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Topic: Strings for Aria.....

  1. #1

    Strings for Aria.....

    Hi to everyone. It has been a while I' ve been away from these pages, I hope you are all fine.

    I noticed the "annual string thread" and wanted to share something actually relevant to that discussion with you. I trust your "well tempered ears" and your experience/expertise.

    Somewhere inside Cakewalk Dimension Pro there are some little treasures that lie completely hidden to the user. Most of the sounds are really more than satisfying... but the programming is strangely way too basic... and some other times ...there is no programming at all. Inside the samples' folders, in this case the one concerning strings, lies a full set of useful samples: the 5 sections, a two-layers "espressivo" set per section, a 4-layers "legato up & down" set per section plus some other bits and fx. Sounds are really nice, very warm and powerful, rather dry. In particular, I like very much the vibrato on the violins and the whole cellos character.
    Incredibly enough, no RR patch is available in Dimension Pro for these, and not even all samples are used in the available programs.

    Armed with a bit of patience and some python scripting, I patched the open format samples into programs for Aria. I wanted to completely integrate these with GPO, not just import them like sfz add-ons, with no access to Aria own features (eq and reverb).
    At first, I aimed at creating a full program per section including the 4 layers alternating up and down sets (round robin style), but the large patches would not run smoothly so I decided to import just the two top layers, that play in alternation "RR style", and "carved" the sound in a way similar to the one GPO is programmed.
    The idea was to start with the top layers, which have a very aggressive attack and powerful sound, and work with sample offsets, attack curves, filter and eq to emulate the lower velocity layers. Plus, I tweaked GPO's own legato features and adapted it to these programs and added/changed a few controls to the interface.
    Basically I kept the "lenght" (release) knob, deleted var1 and 2 (no need for them now that there are RR patches), added an attack knob, useful for emulating particular playing styles, and a legato offset knob to fine-tune the legato feature that, like old style GPO, gets activated with cc64 (pedal down).
    I am still fighting with the portamento feature and in particular with the filter settings. Filter doesn' t seem to respond... I try with the official sfz directives....any Plogue guy around willing to give some advise?
    That's the "new" interface:


    By the way, here's how they sound.
    This is Dvorak final movement from the strings serenade(op22). It is a standard midi file, pretty raw, the patches are completely DRY. This was to test the alternating articulation on a quick, aggressive playing style. Fast attack, especially when coupled with quick release, make for a rather convincing staccato articulation without having to change program/keyswitch to a dedicated articulation. This would sound better with proper reverberation (and proper tweaking), of course.


    Always Dvorak, always the serenade for strings but now the 2nd movement, the waltz, to test the legatos. This composition has very nice, flowing, legato phrases executed across the strings. Aria doesn't have to cross any string, but still has to play legato. This is slightly reverberated but still pretty raw.


    The two previous renderings are directly out of Score Writer (Overture's little brother).

    And this is how the strings sound together with GPO. First movement of Grieg's piano concerto op16. This is a bit more taken care of and better rendered, in Sonar. Instruments are all GPO except the piano.


    So, was this a complete waste of time or was it worth to do?
    I know there's a consistent number of Sonar's user, that also own Dimension Pro. If anyone is interested, I would be more than happy to send the patches. You' ve got to have the samples, I can only send the patches. If there's more of us involved, we can speed up the refining and the fine-tuning of the programs.



  2. #2

    Re: Strings for Aria.....

    I don't know if it was a waste of time or not, but I think the main complaint with the current GPO strings is lack of velocity layers and lack of some pretty standard techniques like col legno, harmonics and sol ponticello among others probably.
    Steve Winkler GPO4 JAAB3 Finale 2012 Reaper Windows 7 Pro 64-bit VSL SE+

  3. #3

    Re: Strings for Aria.....

    Thanks for the feedback, Steve.

    Well, my main complaint about strings in GPO is that they sound too artificial and muffled and there is no sound available for short articulations. Basically, they are warm and more than fine for lush sound, legato or legato-ish phrasing, adagios and so on. They are not so capable on quick and aggressive phrasings with lots of repetitions and staccatos. Most of the times attack sounds are plain weird.
    I do not personally mind about lack of harmonics, col legno or any kind of additional articulation. I' d like the strings to do the basic things just fine in a light package and, as much as possible, in a single program with no keyswitching. It is ok to keyswitch for a pizzicato, which is a completely different sound, but the remaining stuff, in my opinion, can be done in a single patch with a bit of help from the controllers. This style, if you think about it, is very much GPO-like (and also JABB-like) and works very well if you handle sounds in a notation program.
    With concern to the multi dynamic layers.... there are four of them in these Dimension samples' sets (definitely more than fine) and I initially made the patches multi layered... but I had issues with Aria and had to follow alternative routes. Basically, two sets (say 1st and 2nd violins) would overload Aria with around 450mb of Ram and Aria would stuck up. Seems that Aria loads everything into RAM (doesn't stream from disk).... or something else I do not get. Feed back from Aria guys would be appreciated also on this one. The 4-layers patches, anyway, do not sound a convincing way better than the single layer ones. I still have both and can't tell the difference. On the other side, the 4 layers' one is a real pain on resources.

    Anyway, the patches are up for grabs here, if anyone is interested:


    The installation is not so painless, you need to follow a few steps that will not take, anyway, more than 10/15 minutes.
    Inside the zip you' ll find a few files. They mostly need to be added to specific directories in your GPO installation except one, the bank file, which is more invasive and needs some extra care.
    I assume that, on windows, your GPO installation path is C:\Program Files\Garritan\Personal Orchestra (4, in my case).
    Inside that, there are several folders. We need to copy the "DIMViolin1" file into GUI folder, the section files "DIM Vlns1 KS" in the "Instruments\8.Section Strings\1.Violins 1" and so on for the remaining 4 sections ("DIM Violas KS" into \Instruments\8.Section Strings\3. Violas", for example) and up to now this is easy as we are just adding files, you can delete them if you wish and nothing will have changed.
    Now for the bank file, the GPO.SST.bank. This has to go into "Banks\Standard" but has to overwrite the existing one. So, before doing this, it is better to back up the existing one in a safe place. The new one does no harm, basically just adds a few lines for the new 5 patches, but still one has to have the possibility to go back to normal. In that case, switch back to the original SST.bank.
    Now, the samples, which you need to have in your Dimension Pro folder but also need to move into GPO folder.
    You need to manually copy/paste the samples (the individual samples, not the folders) into "Samples\8.Section Strings" folder of your GPO installation from the following Dimension folders:

    - 1st Violins Legato Vel 4 Up
    - 1st Violins Legato Vel 4 Down
    - 1st violins Pizzicato Vel 3
    - 2nd Violins Legato Vel 4 Up
    - 2nd Violins Legato Vel 4 Down
    - Violas Legato Vel 4 Up
    - Violas Legato Vel 4 Down
    - Cellos Legato Up Vel 4
    - Cellos Legato Down Vel 4
    - Cellos Tremolo Ord Vel 3
    - Cellos Pizzicato Vel 3
    - Basses Legato Vel 4 Up
    - Basses Legato Vel 4 Down

    Dimension folders should be in C:\Program Files\Cakewalk\Dimensiuon Pro\Multisamples\15 - Strings\.
    POSSIBLE PROBLEM. I purchased Dimension Pro last year as an add on to my Sonar X1 Essentials. I remember Dimension Pro used to have a 7GB library. Mine came with a 3GB library of FLAC compressed files. As 3GB of flacs roughly equals 7GB of wav... there is a chance your installation has wav files. In this case, I need to change the patches so I need to be informed. I have only seen my Dimension installation, I do not know what happens in general.
    Now everything should be working, you can fire Aria up and find the patches in the "standard" bank, as you would with the normal GPO sections strings patches.
    To recap: a few controllers are there but are not active, yet. These are the portamento, the two filter knobs and the auto legato switch (use pedal down to activate legato mode). Offset controller just reacts when you are in legato mode and it is useful to fine tune the legato overlap between the notes. The Attack knob is active only on the whole Auto alternate (the first) keyswitch and acts on the attack envelope, it is useful to emulate various playing styles.
    Most of the remaining keyswitches activate the samples that you know well, from GPO. Basically the patches have 5 switches: Auto alternate, Pizzicato, Tremolo, Trill Hand Trills W. The Auto alternate patch is always from the Dimension sets. Remaining patches are from GPO except where I had the alternative: 1st violins and cellos pizzicato, cellos tremolo. Basses just have 3 switches for Auto alternate(DIM), Pizzicato and Tremolo(GPO).
    One problem is that samples are not looped. This is actually half a problem: Notes are long-ish, around 7/8 seconds and will be enough for most situations, exception made for very low bpm's. A 30bpm will create some problems, expecially in case you are also using legato with a high offset value: in this particular case I noticed you can not play more than a dotted half note. If you need more you have to re-trigger it. Still, I think it is not worth the trouble to loop the notes.

    That's all. In case you decide to give it a try, let me know if you have any trouble.


    EDIT: Almost forgetting. I just tested the patches on my Aria, the v1.111. I know there is a newer version around but I had not the possibility to test them on it. I assume some of the behaviors might change.

  4. #4

    Re: Strings for Aria.....

    Quote Originally Posted by sec2 View Post
    EDIT: Almost forgetting. I just tested the patches on my Aria, the v1.111. I know there is a newer version around but I had not the possibility to test them on it. I assume some of the behaviors might change.

    Note Latest ARIA Engine support loops in FLAC files since
    Version Aug 27th 2012
    David Viens, Plogue Art et Technologie Inc.
    Montreal. http://www.plogue.com

  5. #5

    Re: Strings for Aria.....

    Quote Originally Posted by David (plogue) View Post
    Note Latest ARIA Engine support loops in FLAC files since
    Version Aug 27th 2012
    Thanks for chiming in, David, and thanks for the info. This might well be useful.

    Did you have the chance to look into the other couple of doubts I have exposed?
    Is Aria compatible with the "fil_type" sfz opcode? I am trying to implement that as timbre controller on cc1 (instead of eq), so I am defining fil_type and adding cutoff and cutoff_cc1. The problem is that differences in tone are almost imperceptible, probably because a 2 pole filter is just not enough and, on sfz specification, that's the "most invasive" lp filter available. Is this correct, or is it somehow possible to implement lp 4 or 6 pole filters?

    I noticed that a few opcodes in Aria are different from the equivalent sfz opcodes. Are Aria specs public, is there any way we can get them?

    I'd appreciate if you could look into these.



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