I've moved this reply by Randy from the Listening Area to General Discussion:
I'm going to give you some info in response to your new post. Now we're into topics better suited for General Discussion, but this is fine for now. As you continue your work with Garritan and Sonar, more discussion topics and questions are bound to come. I invite you to post those further inquiries in General Discussion where most members hang out and are likely to see your posts.
Now - going through your post:
--You're not using volume control correctly. You need to reverse those two controllers to start with - CC7 is for setting the overall volume of an instrument, and CC11 is for control throughout a piece. You'll notice in Sonar that when you use CC7 on a MIDI track, it's controlling the volume slider in ARIA. That's most often a "set and forget" general volume level for the instrument.
--Then you use CC11 (or CC1) for Expressive volume control of an instrument as it plays throughout a piece. Garritan instruments are programmed to have their timbre change as well as volume when you use CC1 or 11. Lower values have a darker tone, higher values have a brighter tone, like physical instruments when they're played.
--You don't want to use this instrument performance volume control just for "on the fly adjustments." I believe you mean you're just inserting values when you need the instrument to be louder or softer for a given passage. The intention of the programming, however, is that you use Expressive volume control to perform your music. Here's a screen shot I did recently. This shows the volume data for a flute in a Sonar project. As with all the instruments in this project, the volume is almost constantly fluctuating, just as a live flutist plays his/her instrument. Emulating how physical instruments are played is the basic theory for how to use MIDI software instruments.
--Velocity - You're setting a starting level? You must be referring to the Velocity setting in the Step Record dialogue. I highly recommend you turn that off. You need your Velocities to also vary throughout a piece. Looking again at that screenshot, you can see the flute's velocities are different for each note. That passage was played on a keyboard, so that variety of velocities is a natural artifact. But I think you're using your keyboard when you use the Step Record mode? Turn that Velocity setting off so it can capture a variety of strengths/levels. Velocity levels can also be edited in the PRV with your mouse.
--The rest of your post is describing the difference between how Garritan instruments and other MIDI instruments handle velocity. In the standard MIDI spec, velocity is designated to control volume, along with CC11 Expression. So with most software instruments, the harder you hit a key, the louder the note. That's exactly as you described - the EW instrument sounds change "quite dramatically."
But in Garritan instruments, velocity is only controlling the Attack envelope. The softer you play, the slower/softer the start of the note. The harder you play, the more immediate and sharp the attack. Since you're controlling actual volume separately, with CC1 or 11, you have more control over the instrument. You can have loud notes that start with a soft attack, for instance.
Ok! As I said earlier, please feel free to keep posting questions and comments over in General Discussion. I look forward to seeing you again.
I thought cc's 1,7 & 11 were basically interchangeable, now I see they're not. I get it now. By using 7 to set the overall volume for an instrument, that will move the slider in Aria. In East West, you can move the slider directly, so using 7 in this way for Aria will be the same as moving each instruments slider in EW. That should get me much more volume for GPO instruments, something that's been a problem for me, esp. for the strings.
As for using making volume adjustments on the fly, I've been doing so but infrequently. So, should I be doing that basically for every note? That will be a boatload of new events! (visual: finger flapping lips up and down, with accompanying tremelo sound). Skating is a busy piece, it would take me forever. Or is there an easier way? What about volume envelopes?
Velocity: When I say I set an overall velocity, what I mean is, I've been using the midi effects plug in that comes with Sonar. I try to set a level that gives a nice attack, not to harsh. Now I'm just totally confussed about velocity.
Using step-record: is there a way to humanize a piece after the fact? If I need to completely start over with Skating, I'm just going to shelve it until I retire. Then I can work on new pieces the right way. I guess I've been too anxious to get results. I should have paid more attention to basic midi 101 concepts. Sigh...