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Topic: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangement?

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  1. #1
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangement?

    Hi Friends!

    I thought it may be interesting and informative if the composers/arrangers/orchestrators of this year's Garritan Community Christmas Album Vol 9 - 2012 offered some insights into how they approached and created their various works. (I believe something like this was done after the 2010 vol 7 CD).

    I know I would love to hear some of the behind-the-scenes thoughts that went into your creative processes that produced such stellar and inspirational music. Anything offered ... a line or a white paper! ... would be appreciated!

    This thread could also serve as a consolidated location for any comments or questions about the music on this year's CD.

    So if you have the time and the inclination ... please tell! I'll be working on mine Saturday. And if you have any comments, please post them too!

    Best regards and a Happy, Healthy and Musical New Year to all!

    Frank

  2. #2

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    I will do this but it will be a while before I post. I am on vacation for a week in the sun (I hope) playing golf and enjoying the weather with friends from around the USA. We get together once a year and are all either musicians or associated with the music industry in one form or another.
    [Music is the Rhythm, Harmony and Breath of Life]
    "Music is music, and a note's a note" - Louis 'Satchmo' Armstrong

    Rich

  3. #3

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Ok I'm game...

    I did "In the Bleak Midwinter" which is a poem called "A Chriistmas Carol" by Christina Rossetti written in the early 1870s, the exact date is not known apparently.

    1) I read the poem

    2) I read analysis of the poem, some of which resonated with me. For instance -- the setting is not literal: Baby Jesus was most definitely not born in the dead of winter, etc. Its about the winter of mankind's heart made alive again by the love of God sending us his son, etc.

    3) I knew I wanted a chamber ensemble, strings and woodwind quintet essentially -- GPO has nice winds. I also knew I wanted to try the Player builder for the strings.

    4) So I stared at a bunch of blank staves on my computer screen for awhile...lol. Then I started with the winds and it was good, and I wanted to keep it, but it wasn't the exact beginning I wanted. I wanted to start more, well "bleakly" so the music (and the point of the poem) could travel somewhere. So I added a stripped down piano intro. Later I added harp because its just so darned "Christmas-y" and I liked the movement under the strings. Pepped things up.

    5) The rest was just playing with Holst and Edwin Darke's famous music -- what cheek! It came together fairly painlessly and quickly. (for better or worse). I am firm believer of letting the music tell you where it wants to go, I try not to argue with it. I also quite agree with the idea of not "overcomposing"; of taking just a few ideas and developing them.

    6) The score was exported as a midi into Cubase and realized with GPO4 using some third party ambience.

  4. #4

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Excellent thread concept, Frank! Everyone who worked on Christmas music this year spent a good chunk of thought, time, and effort on their projects. To hear at least some details about the creation process is surely something everyone here at the Forum would be interested in. So I hope everyone joins in and responds - And, as you said, this thread is also a good place for comments and questions about this year's CD.

    I'm looking forward to your next post on here, Frank - You're always so full of interesting info, so I predict it'll be a great read. And when you're through with your sunshine and golf, Rich - it'll be great to hear from you on this topic too!

    Matolen - A+ to you for taking this particular ball and running with it. Wanting to know more about your project, "In the Bleak Midwinter," has been on my mind, so it's great that you've told us more about it. Bleakness isn't something I usually associate with the Christmas season, so I appreciate getting some elucidation from you on that. And I especially like what you said about how music can tell us where it wants to go. Excellent.

    My contribution - "We Three Kings" - Over in The Listening Room I've posted a music video version of my CD contribution. I married the music to some wonderful images from a beautiful film made in 1903.

    "We Three Kings" music video

    In post #10 on that thread, I answered Rodney who asked what Garritan instruments I used in the project. I'll list those 46 instruments again at the end of this post.

    With all my Garritan Christmas CD pieces, I've chosen carols that are very familiar to everyone. I feel that part of the warmth and good feelings about the holiday come from everyone hearing the same music they heard as children. The traditional Christmas carols are part of our culture, part of our shared consciousness. We can all hum those melodies, and because of the unique power of music, we're instantly in touch with magical memories that go back in our personal and collective histories as far as we can go.

    Because the carols I've chosen, like this one, are so well known, I can start working on arrangements immediately, just relying on my memory of how they go.

    As I often do, I started out with just piano, using the Steinway in GPO. I wanted to nail down a solid foundation before branching out into instrumentation. I improvised with the "We Three Kings" melody, trying out various versions of a chord progression. Just the chords were on one MIDI track, triggering the piano. Then, each on separate MIDI tracks, I worked out a bass line, melody line, and harmonies. Those 4 piano tracks were then the reference material for arranging what I had for the instruments I chose. On those piano tracks, I also had several possibilities sketched in for the opening, transitions, and coda. I knew I'd be settling on final choices once I started working with the instruments.

    My first instance of ARIA had the essential 16 instruments I wanted to use. I knew that, unlike my previous contributions, I wanted to put together a more traditional full orchestra piece. So I loaded up woodwinds, brass, strings, percussion, and harp, knowing that the whole band was going to be beefed up later with more instances of ARIA.

    In some cases I started with copy and pastes from the various piano tracks to the new MIDI tracks for the orchestral instruments, and in other cases I recorded tracks anew while playing back the piano reference tracks. As I progressed, I recorded most of the data in real time with my A-800 Pro Roland keyboard, and as always, did data adjustments via mouse in Sonar's Piano Roll View.

    Things expanded in a natural way as I added two more instances of ARIA and doubled up instruments. Sometimes MIDI tracks would be adjusted copies of previously recorded tracks, sometimes they would be completely new. Sometimes I had doubled instruments set to the same MIDI channels in ARIA so that the same data would drive more than one patch at a time, and sometimes doubled instruments were on their own MIDI channels with fresh data.

    I ended up with 3 ARIAs and 1 instance of the Kontakt Player which hosts the Stradivari and Gofriller string Libraries.

    The total of 46 instruments are listed below (also posted on the LR thread linked above). Two of the MIDI tracks were bounced to a single audio track, so the project ended up with 44 audio tracks.

    Mixing began after all my final MIDI tracks were bounced to audio. The guide piano tracks were muted and archived along with all the other MIDI tracks. I always keep all the original data in my project file, but it's archived and hidden from my work space so I'm only looking at and dealing with audio for the final mixing phase.

    As mentioned in my LR thread, I followed the advice on using Altiverb which DPDAN has posted several times for us. I'd never worked quite in that way before, and decided it'd be another fun challenge to add to the project.

    I found an online reference which basically outlined what Dan has talked about. I used the Track Inserts found in the Global Pre-sets menu which have stage positioning and reverb amounts for each section of the orchestra. In total I used 15 instances of Altiverb. 14 were these orchestral pre-sets which use the Konzerthaus Vienna Large Hall impulse response. On the master, I had the Mechanic's Hall IR, with the Mix knob on Altiverb turned down to 8:00. The rest of the verbs, each in their own Buses, had their Mix knobs up to full. The mix of dry and wet signals are part of the settings in Altiverb, so no Sends were used in Sonar, the way I usually work. All of this set up was as per the reference I found online which jibes with Dan's advice. The 44 audio tracks were directed to the appropriate buses. Here's the Altiverb list:

    Woods 1
    Woods 2
    Strings 1
    Strings 2
    Violas
    Cellos
    Basses
    Trumpets
    Brass
    Horns
    Perc left
    Perc center
    Perc Right
    Harp - a setting I cooked up, based on one of the Perc pre-sets.
    PLUS the Mechanic's Hall on the Master bus for an over-all reverb sheen.

    Perhaps my only divergence from the Altiverb info I'm referring to, is that I also used the individual track pan pots to adjust stage placement. The virtual speakers in Altiverb give a spread to each group's area on stage, but by using the individual track pots, I could place instruments with more separation within the given range as dictated by the reverb unit's speaker spread.

    I usually use more EQ in a project. In this case I relied on the EQ settings which were part of the Altiverb instances, with the exception of the Cellos. I turned on the EQ in the Cellos Bus and rolled off a lot of the bass. I was using so many Cellos, there was a bass frequency build up I wanted to tame.

    I ended up with seven versions of the project, with multiple test mixes. Each one involved different versions of volume automation on the instrument tracks and on the group Bus tracks. I would do a mix, then let it sit for a month before listening again to see what I'd think. I would find some bits I wanted to emphasize more, by recording more volume automation, and then after doing a new mix, I'd let that sit for another month before listening again with fresh ears. Eventually, I found myself liking a mix without wanting to change it, and that's the one I sent in.

    The project was spread out over 6 months or so. I always find it a really nice thing to have the Christmas project as an on-going thing to return to once in awhile throughout the year. There's nothing quite like working on a Christmas carol in the middle of the summer!

    One more random note that just occurred to me. All of the strings had their Length control turned up. For instance, the default for Violins 1 KS's Length is 49%. That was turned up to 63%. I've noted a few times recently that I find the Length cut off too unnaturally abrupt in GPO, so I turn that knob up in ARIA's Controls window on a routine basis.

    To wrap this up, here's that list of instruments again. When GPO wasn't the source, I've made note of that:

    Flute solo KS
    Flute group 2 COMB
    Flute group 3 COMB
    Oboe 1 modern solo
    Oboe 2 modern solo
    E horn
    Clarinet solo
    Clarinet group 1 COMB
    Clarinet group 2 COMB
    Bassoon 1 solo
    Bassoon 2 COMB
    SAM Horn solo KS
    Horn group COMB
    Horn overlay ff
    Trumpet 1 solo - JABB
    SAM Trumpet section KS
    Trombone solo
    SAM Trombone solo KS
    Sam Trom section KS
    Sam Tuba KS
    Tuba Group 1 COMB
    Tympani (in Basic Orchestra Percussion)
    Cymbals
    Middle East percussion WORLD
    Harp up rapid Instant Orchestra
    Harp plucks IO
    Chromatic Harp 1
    Harp Glisses IO
    Celesta
    Glock
    -Pungi Snake Charmer WORLD (the soloist in the final section)
    Stradivari (Solo violin Library)
    Solo 1 KS
    Solo 2 KS
    1st strings KS
    Solo 3 KS
    2nd strings KS
    Viola solo KS
    Violas KS
    Gofriller (Solo cello Library)
    Cello 1 KS
    Cello 2 KS
    Cello 3 KS
    Cellos KS
    Bass solo KS
    Basses KS

    Randy

  5. #5
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Hi Rich, Mark, and Randy ... FAN-TAS-TIC!!

    This is great, guys ... thanks for jumping on this thread so fast! Hopefully others will chime-in too!

    RICH ... Take your time and enjoy your fun-in-the-sun (I'm guessing you are NOT in Lorain! ). I'm really looking forward to anything you can share on your piece after the holidays ... it really was a special arrangement you created this year; I enjoyed it immensely. Have fun!!

    MARK ... I read your great analysis and will comment soon; lot's of insight there. I also listened to your piece again armed with your 'narration'. Really nice work.

    RANDY ... I want to take my time and really enjoy and delve into your write-up. I'll do so tonight and tomorrow and offer some comments ... wow! ... there's so much to enjoy here; thanks for sharing this ... I'm really looking forward to getting inside it!

    I'm a little behind today ... we had some snow! ... Still hope to get my write-up posted sometime tonight.

    Frank

  6. #6

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Thank you Frank for starting this topic and Happy New Year!


    Quote Originally Posted by matolen View Post
    Its about the winter of mankind's heart made alive again by the love of God sending us his son, etc.
    YES!!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by matolen View Post
    I am firm believer of letting the music tell you where it wants to go, I try not to argue with it. I also quite agree with the idea of not "overcomposing"; of taking just a few ideas and developing them.
    Just an awesome post Mark!

    Randy,
    I read every word of your post and enjoyed it all.
    The one thing that really stood out to me was this...

    Quote Originally Posted by rbowser- View Post
    With all my Garritan Christmas CD pieces, I've chosen carols that are very familiar to everyone. I feel that part of the warmth and good feelings about the holiday come from everyone hearing the same music they heard as children.
    I could not have said it better. I have never wanted to hurt anyone's feelings about posting an original Christmas tune, but to me, there is nothing better than just a traditional, public domain Christmas song.
    And as Randy has said,
    "the same music we heard as children" I Love it! Great job too all you guys!

    My offering is kinda strange in that this tune really needs vocals, and I really struggled and kept slapping myself from recording real voices. So much of the music production that I do involves vocals, and I have so many great voices and groups that I work with and any one of them would eagerly sing for this purpose. I kept it simple though.

    I did not have anything picked out till October and Jack Cannon called and said "why don't you do an arrangement of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear?", so I said you're on!

    A fantastic arranger, producer, musician and lover of Garritan libraries named David Maddux was once an active member here on NS. For the 2006 project he did "Medley of International Carols" but to me,,, David will always hold an incredible place in my heart for the two CD's that he produced with a Christian group called First Call. He arranged all the songs for two CDs called "An Evening in December" and sang bass on most if not all the songs. My arrangement of It Came Upon A Midnight Clear is an orchestral arrangement that I made by listening to David's A cappella version on the 2nd Volume.

    Order the CD here...
    http://www.amazon.com/Evening-Decemb.../dp/B000002YVZ

    Listen to First Call

    My arrangement is taken, OK stolen from David's medley.

    Here is a look of DP8's mixer for this quick ditty.
    In the interest of screen space for the video, none of the group or reverb masters are shown.
    All the instruments including vocal sounds are GPO.

    here is a Quicktime...
    http://www.dankury.com/videos/DP8.mov


    Dan

  7. #7
    Senior Member Frank D's Avatar
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    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    Hi Friends! ...

    I never intellectualize music when I’m creating or performing it, but for those that may be interested in how an arrangement and recording takes shape from just a few basic ideas … and solving some of the problems faced along the way … read on! I’ve listed
    SUBJECT HEADINGS for the various sections to make it easier to get to what may be of interest to you. If anyone has a question, please feel free to ask it!

    BASIC GOALS …

    I’ve always been a fan of Christmas music and particularly fond of jazz interpretations of these chestnuts. Soon after I had arranged “We Three Kings” as a bright jazz waltz for the Garritan Community Christmas Album Vol 7 – 2010, I began thinking about carols for the 2011 CD. Since my writing was very linear on “We Three Kings”, this time I wanted a vehicle to score in a more traditional, easy going big-band style. I thought “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” might be a good fit for me. A commitment to a local show precluded my doing it for 2011, but I was glad to get it “reserved” for the 2012 project.

    When I signed-up for this traditional carol, there were parts of my arrangement that had been running through my head, completely scored, for at least a year before the sign-up (most of what became the second chorus, including the trombone section/bari sax soli that begins the 2nd time around, as well as the sax section lead that immediately followed it). That was enough to let me know I could structure and create a complete arrangement around it in the simple-but-swingin’ Basie groove playing in myhead.

    I know some of my fellow musicians here pride themselves on having a complete arrangement thru-composed in their heads before they sit down at the computer. I pride myself on NOT knowing how the entire piece will shake-out.
    I do always start with a pretty good plan for the form of the entire chart … intro-to-fine ... good bones as they say ...but I like to be surprised in how it unfolds in the development stages. Once I put in the parts that I’ve worked-out in my head, I like to see where that music and my moods take me. This is the fun part for me! Arriving at the completed arrangement becomes a journey of serendipity, discovery, and inspiration.

    SOURCE MATERIALS …

    These carols are all so familiar, but just to have a handy road map available, I downloaded a free, single-page ‘fake book’-style copy of the sheet music (single staff, melody, lyrics, chord symbols) from an excellent site, Christmas-carol-music.org. It was in F-Maj, so I marked the chord symbols for C-Maj, and on a second sheet, Eb-Maj (See “KEYS and MODULATIONS” …). I didn’t even bother transposing the familiar melody.

    Normally, I would play a couple of piano temp tracks all the way through, but since time was becoming an issue, and I had my basic sheet music reference, I opted to just create the bass line throughout, and add plenty of markers (every four measures) to the project’s timeline and go with that.

    INSTRUMENTATION ...

    “Hark! ...” is scored for a fairly standard jazz big-band (18 pieces) w/ reed doubles:

    Reed 1 – Flute, soprano sax
    Reed 2 – Alto flute, alto sax
    Reed 3 – Tenor sax
    Reed 4 – Alto flute, tenor sax
    Reed 5 – Bass clarinet(note 1)(extended-range, Low-C), baritone sax

    Trumpets 1, 2, 3 and 4 – w/ harmon mute (Tp 1) and cup mutes (Tp’s 1-4)

    Trombones 1, 2, 3 and 4 (TB 4 is bass trombone)

    Piano
    Bass
    Guitar
    Percussion 1 –Drum set (incl. misc. percussion)
    Percussion 2 –Vibes

    Note 1– The bass clarinet part goes down to concert Bb. If a low-C model is unavailable, the part should be played on a EEb contra-alto clarinet.

    All instruments are from JaBB except Reed 4’s alto flute (GPO, “alto flute solo”) and Percussion 1’s misc. perc., which uses the GPO“Percussion Toys” sleigh bells, and the GPO “Orchestral Percussion” triangle. The piano is GAS, basic.

    KEEPING IT REAL …

    Part of keeping the arrangement realistic (and hopefully having it performed live some day!) is always keeping to my set instrumentation, and always leaving appropriate times for the reed players to swap instruments. Also, there’s always rests to allow the brass players enough time to insert and remove mutes. The reeds are panned consistently so that whenever a reed player swaps instruments, the new instrument is at the same pan position as the original instrument. (I.E., Reed 1’s flute or sop sax use identical pan settings).

    ATTACKING THE BEAST …

    Note: For purposes of this write-up, a ‘chorus’ , in jazz terms, denotes one complete play-thru of the 20-measure song (divided into five 4-measure stanzas: A1, A2, B, C1, C2).


    The challenge (and fun!) with any of these carols is working around the repetitive nature of them. Many writers approach this with plenty of melodic and harmonic variations, counterpoint, and re-composition, but I chose to do it by contrasting the intensity and color. I felt this was more in synch with the simple, middle-of-the-road-type jazz arrangement I was trying to create.

    For those interested in learning how virtual MIDI tracks need to be created so any simultaneous notes playing are not identically playing at the same time, heres a link to a thread that addresses this topic ...
    MIDI INPUT OF NOTES

    Since I had worked-out about 2/3 of what would become the second chorus, I started there and entered the lead/melody instruments and a bass line throughout that chorus. At the relaxed, easy swing tempo I felt comfortable with, I interpolated I could get three complete choruses plus a short intro and coda in about three minutes or so ... it seemed like a good reality check, so I was off.

    ORCHESTRATION, VOICING, and DEVELOPMENT ...

    3rd Chorus: I knew the third chorus was going to be a “shout chorus” (a jazz term for a powerful, all-stops out, concerted tutti with everyone blowing strong in the same rhythm; the climatic statement in most jazz arrangements). It’s always been a problem for me to make virtual trumpets have that power and depth that they posses in a live situation, so I decided early on that I would not use open trumpets until the shout chorus. I wanted their entrance to be fresh, bold and as powerful as I could get them … or at least create the illusion of power.

    The shout chorus is primarily scored in a slightly-modified “Basie” block voicing to ensure maximum power and mobility. I wanted this part of the arrangement to swing like mad! … to shout to the world; to hear what those heralding angels were singing about … it had to be exuberant and joyful to nail the arrangement (as the message of the song is!) I worked conceptually backwards from this “big-and-brassy”, climatic, shout chorus.

    2nd Chorus: This chorus is a mellow, ‘easy’ swing ... the trombones make their first entrance here (they’re tacit until now) and carry the lead (with the bari sax 8vb) in a close/block voicing for the first 8 bars, then give way to the saxes in a similar type voicing. The trumpets are in cups throughout this chorus and play accents, kick figures and some unison leads ... but they are always cup-muted. This chorus is also the beginning of the straight, continuous swing rhythm .. it’s only been heard in small, sporadic doses in the first chorus.

    1st Chorus, Intro, and Coda: The 1st chorus was the most difficult to arrange and I had no real plan or ideas going in other than that I knew I would start with the reeds playing woodwinds, and the brass would be muted. At this point, I had only sequenced the 2/3rds rough-out of the 2nd chorus … that’s all I had input … and this was very skeletal. But since I knew the 2nd chorus would work just fine, and I had a solid plan for the big ‘shout’ 3rd chorus, I knew I had to tackle and create …completely … the intro and entire 1st chorus before I did anything else. Time to roll up the sleeves!

    I worked-out a decent intro with piano, vibes, guitar, bass and drums, but ultimately discarded it. Since I was going for the type of arrangement that starts very small and climaxes big, the intro I started with just wasn’t starting small enough. I knew I wanted the 1st chorus to have a 2-beat feel with a sinewy, out-of-rhythm bass line, so I started by playing in an alto flute on the melody line, and went to work on the bass line that would kind of playfully cajole the melody. As it started to take shape, doubling the bass line with a bass clarinet seemed to give it just the right edge, resonance, and playful quality I was trying to get.

    At this point, I realized the 1st chorus was sounding very Mancini-ish. Not a bad feel, so I decided to pull out all the stops and go with that. I doubled the alto flute with a sub-tone tenor sax, and added a 2nd alto flute to the unison statement to really smooth the timbre out. That’s when a plan came to me: I’ll just score the entire 1stchorus not as a big-band, but rather with some classic, small jazz combo colors. Along with the mellow Mancini unison sax/alto flutes timbre, I contrasted that with a harmon-muted trumpet/flute (8va), a Quincy Jones favorite. To underpin the whole thing, I went with the classic George Shearing sound of piano, electric ‘jazz’ guitar, and vibes, often in block harmony.

    The 1stchorus ultimately became a conversation between the sax/alto flutes and the muted trumpet/flute. After the rubato-feeling opening statement (with bass line accompaniment), the ‘Shearing’ quintet always plays a restrained swing under the sax/alto flutes, and straight-8th’s under the muted-trumpet/flute. I wanted to withhold a steady pulse until the 2nd chorus. Originally I also used a few trombones, but I deleted them because I felt they were distracting from the focus of the three small-combo groups I was using.

    Once the 1stchorus took shape, I simply took the bass/bass clarinet line and used it for the intro along with a few brief comments from the guitar, vibes, percussion,and the piano playing octave fragments from the last four measures of the song (the C2 stanza … “Glory to …”). I finally had my ‘small beginning’ and a fairly subdued 1st chorus to feed into the bigger and biggest 2nd and 3rd choruses.

    After the arrangement’s climax during the shout (3rd) chorus (about 80% of the way through), I modulated back to the opening key and borrowed the 1stchorus small jazz combo sounds for a very brief recap of the song’s last four-bar stanza (C2 again), with a little elongation. A short fall from the flutes and bass clarinet concludes the piece.

    KEYS and MODULATIONS …

    I remember Jack Cannon speaking about modulations a few years ago and I thought this arrangement could benefit from his comments on the subject. Instrumental ranges dictated the extreme hi’s and lo’s, and thus set the available keys. Alto flutes can go down to concert G, so to facilitate them the first chorus worked out to be C-Maj. I wanted to limit the lead (1st) trumpet in the 3rd chorus (shout)to a hi concert C, so Eb-Maj was set for the 3rd chorus. That left Db-Maj or D-Maj for the 2nd chorus. I chose the ½-step modulation after the 1stchorus up to Db-Maj for the 2nd chorus. After the shout chorus, we suddenly modulate back to C-Maj for the brief coda and fine.

    MIXING …

    I sequenced and mixed my arrangement in Sonar X1. My studio log indicates a project start of Sept 30th, 2012, and the final mix was posted on-line to Dan and Randy on October 30th …during “Storm Sandy”, which knocked-out power and internet here in NY!


    Each instrument has a MIDI track that triggers the various JaBB and GPO instruments in Aria. Aria instances are hosted in associated audio tracks. There were eight separate Aria instances, one each for saxes, flutes, (bass) clarinet, trumpets, trombones, rhythm section, and two for percussion.

    All my pan settings are in the Sonar MIDI tracks.

    The audio tracks all output to group buses (saxophones, flutes, clarinets, trumpets, trombones,piano, bass, guitar, mallets, drums), each with a send to a bus with a single instance of Lexicon Pantheon Reverb with a Hall setting @ 85% max output (wet). However, since each send is usually only sending 10-15% for the ‘wet’ portion of the audio, the reverb is minimal, but sufficient, for this style jazz arrangement.

    All the instrument busses and the reverb bus roll-up to a “Main Mix” final output bus. Several busses have instances of Boost 11 Peak Limiter, but they’re not set for boosting, but rather, as brick-wall limiters for any stray spikes. I check each bus to ensure they are not squishing an overly hot series of tracks … they’re there just for the occasional peak.
    There’s a little hi-boost EQ on the piano and drum tracks, but everything else is out-of-the-box Garritan instruments as-is. BTW, Dan’s (??) mastering really fine-tuned my Mix … he brought out that little cymbal roll/scrape in the very beginning that I just couldn’t bring out myself … THANKS, Dan!!!

    Although its conventional wisdom to generate audio tracks from all the MIDI tracks, and then mute/archive the MIDI tracks and mix only the audio tracks … I don’t. Since I can’t tell the difference between mixing on audio tracks-only vs. the combination of active MIDI and audio tracks (the relationship we all use during the creation phase on a DAW), I prefer the ability to adjust and mix my data with greater flexibility right through to completion.

    This way, I can still tweak cc1 (and all the other cc’s), velocity, and pan in a MIDI track during final mixing, as well as volume in the audio tracks, and trim and volume in the busses. I often use volume envelopes in the audio tracks. I feel I need to mix-as-I-go to assure my ensembles and voicings are working as I envision them, so by the time the arrangement is 100% complete, my mixes are usually already about 75% complete. I would estimate half of my time is always spent mixing an arrangement … this one was no different.

    ABOUT the CAROL …

    The text was written by Charles Wesley and first appeared in “Hymns and Sacred Poems” in 1739. Wesley envisioned the carol sung to his song “Christ The Lord Has Risen Today”. Wesley’s co-worker, George Whitefield, then modified the text to what we use today. Over 100 years later, in 1855, English musician William H. Cummings set the text to music by Felix Mendelssohn, and this is the music we still use and hear today. However, I found it fascinating to learn that the music Cummings adapted was composed by Mendelssohn in 1840 for a cantata to commemorate Johann Gutenberg’s invention of the printing press! Ha!

    EPILOGUE …

    This extensive write-up wasn’t aimed at the composers who created the other wonderful dozen pieces for the 2012 Christmas CD, but rather, to some new writers who may want to participate in the future but feel they don’t have a complete, carved-in-stone arrangement to offer. I wanted those writers to realize that you can take just a basic idea and concept and, with hard work …and lots of fun! … develop it into a decent arrangement.

    Best regards, and a Happy and Healthy New Year to all!

    Frank

  8. #8

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Quote Originally Posted by Frank D View Post
    Hark! The Herald Angels Sing

    Hi Friends! ...

    I never intellectualize music when I’m creating or performing it, but for those that may be interested in how an arrangement and recording takes shape from just a few basic ideas … and solving some of the problems faced along the way … read on! I’ve listed
    SUBJECT HEADINGS for the various sections to make it easier to get to what may be of interest to you....
    --!!!! Now there's one helluva Juicy post! I knew you'd been working on your contribution to this thread, Frank, but wow--I didn't expect this fantastic read of a thesis. This is one for the books, one for future reference, and certainly for having open while giving your great track another, more studied listen.

    Chock full of interesting details - and I'm jumping up and applauding. Not only did you produce a great track for the project, you've given us a great gift again - this eye opening elucidation. Thank you profusely, Mr. D!

    Randy

  9. #9
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    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    This version of Good Christian Men, Rejoice (In Dulci Jubilo) is the last movement of a larger five movement work with a prelude and a postlude. Each movement is based on a carol that expresses an emotion such as sorrow, comfort, hope, and, in this case, joy.

    I grew up in an ethnically mixed neighborhood in El Paso, TX where I discovered that our hispanic neighbors celebrated occasions such as a wedding or a birthday with great passion and joy. They usually had a marimba band or a mariachi band and I was always fascinated by the music. In this piece I deliberately borrowed some of their music's characteristics. These include the free intermixing of 6/8 and 3/4 meters, (3/4 is especially common at the end of four bar phrases but can occur anywhere) Another is using a repetitive chord progression and bass line. Also, using countermelodies against the main melody and harmonizing fast moving lines in parallel thirds.

    I made a copy of the Finale score and added additional staves so that I could have a separate stave for each Garritan patch I wanted to use. I used Finale's "Human Playback" and MIDI tool to shape the expressive character of each instrument and groups of instruments to get as close as I could to the sounds I eventually wanted to hear. I adjusted a lot of note durations, start and stop times, controller data, and levels of accent on emphasized notes. The choir, horns, and strings required the most work and experimentation.

    Deep in the Finale user's manual there is a section on the limitations of Finale's mixer and instructions on how to export each line of the score as an audio file which can then then be reassembled in a DAW. I did this and it all worked well. In Logic Pro I was able to get better balance, panning, etc. than was possible in Finale. I applied channel EQ presets to the choir to help prevent high men's parts from sounding like women and low women's parts from sounding like men. I added channel ambiance to instruments like horn and tuba that bounce their sound off of the walls and ceiling before it reaches the audience. Finally I added room ambiance to the mix.

    When the mix was almost complete I sent a copy to Dan who made some great suggestions that I really appreciate. I still have a lot to learn but I am really enjoying the work and I hope my implementations of the Garritan sounds will get better and better.

    All of the sounds are from GPO4 except a touch of choir oo's that comes from Garritan Instruments for Finale. I auditioned the various woodwind and brass choices and picked from the various players that were available. Because there are unison doublings in places I did not choose solo instruments except in passages that used only the first players. Both horn overlays are used in a few places. The tuba is Solo Tuba 2.

    I used the aggressive short bow patches and the various KS strings where appropriate. The loud string chords that include double and triple stops were augmented with the tutti strings patch. The harp is chromatic harp 1 and I wrote out every note of the glissandos. I've purchased IO and am looking forward to trying out it's harp effects.

    The idea was to make this movement as bright and joyful as I could and still have a piece that was performable by college musicians. I would appreciate any comments and suggestions.

    Norman

  10. #10

    Re: 2012-Annual Garritan Community Christmas-Vol 9 - How Did You Create YOUR Arrangem

    Quote Originally Posted by jandjnelson View Post
    ...Deep in the Finale user's manual there is a section on the limitations of Finale's mixer and instructions on how to export each line of the score as an audio file which can then then be reassembled in a DAW. I did this and it all worked well. In Logic Pro I was able to get better balance, panning, etc. than was possible in Finale...
    Wonderful contribution to this thread, Norman.

    Your piece on the album is certainly a particularly bright, joyful highlight of the collection. I loved hearing about the musical inspiration you got from the Marimba and Mariachi bands which play at events in your neighborhood. I hear that, and feel you really succeeded in marrying that influence to the old, and originally very different sounding carol. Magical.

    I pulled out that particular quote from your post, because it's the first time I've heard of that process available in Finale - to export individual lines from Finale as audio files so they can be worked on in DAW software. I knew people did exports, but I didn't have as clear a picture of the process as I do now.

    All the work you did to make a good mix paid off in a big way. Your recording sounds excellent. Cudos to you for great work, and to DPDAN for helping you out with his expert guidance.

    I love your work on this, and really appreciate getting to hear more about it.

    Randy

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