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Topic: So here is my question.

  1. #1

    So here is my question.

    Hello everyone,

    Let me first say that I have been lurking for a while, reading posts and listening to some very inspirational music.

    I have a small studio setup, ADAT, Cubase, Reason, B4, Sampletank, and some other goodies. All told I have been recording for about ten years.

    Well, with computers and soft samplers as powerful as they are these days, it seems possible (with a large initial, and who are we kidding, small continual investments) to get a very viable setup, capable of the wonderful sonic results that you all are acheiving.

    I have been experimenting for a while with my limited equipment and would like to get more into the instrumental, orchestral side of things.

    I am primarily a guitar player, and this would continue to play a large role in my music. I have limited keyboard skills and have managed to get some decent pieces on tape. But...

    How do you all get such realistic performances?

    How do you get the drums and other percussion to play so convincingly?

    I cannot get similar results tapping and playing things on my keyboard, so I imagine that you all must be doing much more then this.

    I have limited skills with Cubase and I know that you can program drums and other parts in, but I prefer to play live from the keyboard. Also this seems to get a bit tedious for me.

    I also play mostly by ear and read little music so, although I know there are notation programs where you write the music and then assign gigastudio to play the parts, this avenue is not for me either.

    So how do you do it?

    Do most of you use notation programs and play very little live?

    Or do you tweak and program endlessly in your sequencer of choice?

    Or do you employ different midi controlers for different parts? (drums, strings, etc.)

    I am used to building a song and recording the tracks one at a time. Can a similar method be employed for orchestral arrangements?

    Do these sample libraries like VSL and the Garritan stuff come so that you can load up an instrument and just play getting the expression you want live from the ribbon controller or modulation wheel on the midi keyboard?

    I apologize for all the questions and am greatly appreciatve for any of you who can take the time from your demanding schedual to answer a few of these questions.

    Again, I get chills listening to the caliber and quality of these recordings you all are making. To think that I might acheive resluts that are even close on my own, in my modest studio is extremely thrilling.

    Best to all, and thank you again for your time.



  2. #2

    Re: So here is my question.

    Whenever I compose, I treat each track almost religiously.

    For drums, I play those in real-time without the usual steps of recording the bass kick first, than snare, ect. I\'m able to do that because I\'ve been doing it awhile.

    Achieving realistic string performances are tough if you want sweeping lines. The way I do this is I use several string libs and play the same part UNperfectly so the attacks can hide the attacks of one another. The release of notes is very important to conclude a string performance for the start of a new. (Bad releases gives away the realism)

    Writing in a notation program and assigning giga instruments to them will never get the performance you can get if your record each track separately.

    Even with Garritan, and I\'m sure VSL, there is a learning curve. Spending time listening to orchestral music and trying to copy the \"sound,\" the strings make as far as attacks go, timbre affected by pressure on the bow, and releases will greatly benefit you. Another great way to achieve realistic perforances is to layer a few real string players on top of the sampled strings. This covers up any sample flaws when playing legato lines and the like.

    I don\'t use different midi controllers for anything really. I\'ve always used the foot expression controller for volume, modulation wheel for crossfade patches, and occasionally the breath controller for some more expressive solo winds.

    It\'s all about treating each track as best as you can until it can\'t sound any better with the current tools you got. Of course, VSL and QLSO will lower the time it takes to tweak and achieve realistic performances.

    My downfall and upfall is that I write fairly slow because of the attention to detail and realism in my works. It\'s difficult for myself to understand why somebody would want to buy VSL, and than just assign it to song made in a notation program. ( Not saying anyone has.. yet! ) It\'s all about spending time with samples and composing with samples too.

    I have limited piano skills myself, but that doesn\'t prevent me from expressing any ideas that I have in my head. It\'s usually the RAM and POLYPHONY that is to blame. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img]

    Hope this helps a little.

  3. #3

    Re: So here is my question.


    This helps tremendously and is very inspiring.

    Having played and recording in a band situation over the last several years I got into doing it all myself. I would lay down a drum track, then build the bass and guitar and vocal parts. I was rather pleased with the results.

    However, I have always yearned to hear my music played with an orchestra and do orchestral arrangments. It was just never that realistic or affordable(?) until recently. I also fought tooth and nail against using a computer (stability) for my recording having started out on reel to reel and then eventually ADAT.

    It seems that you have a similar approach, laying down tracks, playing them live and building the piece up. Surely this is the most expressive way and the one with which I am most comfotable.

    I still do not know how you play a drum piece live and on a keyboard, you must be good. I have heard some Jazz pieces done using samples for drums and it seems they must be using a drummer with a special midi controller but what do I know.

    Anyway, thank you for your time and insight. I am on my way to check out your web site now.


    Any suggetions for where to start, libraries, which sampler to go with (giga, kontact, etc.) and will it be feasible to get it all done on one machine before long?

    Thank you again.


  4. #4

    Re: So here is my question.

    Hi John,

    If I were to recommend some first libraries they would be Sam Horns, Garritan Strings (there\'s also a lite version for those of us with shallow pockets), and search this forum for G-Town. Tob makes excellent samples though I\'m not sure of his website.

    Hope this helps,
    Ben Ripley

  5. #5

    Re: So here is my question.

    The address for Gtown is - . Also the people that can make realistic sounding music usually have more then 1 pc and some nice reverb units (not to include alot of experience). Hard to believe that Aaron\'s orchestration skills are as good as they are and he is a year younger then me (you\'re 17 right?).

    You will want to get SAM Horns for 2 reasons
    1) they sound great.
    2) they are very affordable.

    Also, I bought the VSL demo disc and was thoroughly impressed, I would definitely buy if I had the cash.

  6. #6

    Re: So here is my question.

    Daedalus and Adam,

    Thank you for the tip on Sam Horns I have been to the web sight and they are good, and cheap.

    I have to say that I would prefer to keep all things on one machine and feel that Kontact might be a good choice once things get a bit more stable with giga conversion.

    I don\'t mind having to work a bit and bounce down since I am sure having it all on one machine would require that.

    But who knows? I would like to see what the next several months and giga 3.0 holds before I jump.

    Thank you again.


  7. #7

    Re: So here is my question.

    Hey John, your budget is a determination on how realistic you want your music to be. In the sampling realm, you get what you pay for. ( There are exceptions, and I\'ll tell you what NOT to buy. [img]images/icons/wink.gif[/img] Email me )

  8. #8

    Re: So here is my question.

    I still do not know how you play a drum piece live and on a keyboard, you must be good. I have heard some Jazz pieces done using samples for drums and it seems they must be using a drummer with a special midi controller but what do I know.
    <font size=\"2\" face=\"Verdana, Arial\">Hi John, I started out as a drummer so I can offer a couple of tips for realistic drum (sample) playing.

    - Don\'t perform drum rolls on the kick drum (unless you are doing dance music, all rules go out the window)

    - Record kick and snare first if you dont feel comfortable playing everything at once. Then;

    - Have a hi-hat patch loaded up that has 2 or 3 different sounds. (i.e. more open or more closed) Plus a few cymbals. - On that note there is usually a function in the sampler so that if one note is sounding the other stops. This is invaluable for hi-hats. i.e. you shouldnt be hearing an open hat and a closed one at the same time.
    Play this along with your already recorded kick and snare. The trick here is to NOT quantize this track. From experience I have found that drum realism stands or falls on the cymbals. I have even played real cymbals along with sampled kick and snares.

    A couple of other tricks; If you are building up to a drum roll start playing the hats a little more open (loose) and aggressive as you build into the fill. (drummers get excited when a drum roll is coming up and tend to get a little messy [img]images/icons/smile.gif[/img] )

    If you are hitting a cymbal, DONT play the hi hat for that note - the drummers right hand usually leaves the hats to hit the cymbal. THe same with a drum roll - dont play hats as both hands are theoretically engaged playing the snare/toms.

    You may want to switch from hats in the verses to a ride cymbal in the chorus if you are playing rock-oriented music. (again dont play both at the same time!)

    Also, if your drums samples are velocity sensitive you could try playing at maximum velocity in the choruses and settling back a little for the verses.

    The instinct with drums is to try and play everything at the same time. It is often surprising what you can stop hitting (playing on your synth) whilst hitting something else.

    Next time you are watching a band, study the drummer. This is often interesting to see for the reasons mentioned above.

    Thats all I can think of for now.

    Hope this helps, Scott.

  9. #9

    Re: So here is my question.


    Thank you for your input. Your advice does help and I have been going along in a similar way. I guess I just need a bit more practice. I have to say though, some of the drum demoes I have heard on various web sites (topaz drums at bigga gigga) really sound like the real thing with a real drummer playing (snare rolls, rim shots, funky beats) it still boggles my mind.

    Anywho, thanks again.


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