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"Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

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"Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby gogreen » Wed Dec 11, 2013 7:49 pm

Here is my "Horseshoe Curve," a Grade 3 concert band piece, duration about 3:30. The piece was created in Finale/Aria with COMB2 and GPO4 sounds. The anvil and bell tree sounds come from elsewhere, and the slapstick sound is actually a handclap.

With a rendering only in Finale and the Aria player I know I can't come anywhere near as close to wringing out the kind of quality from this rendering as I could in a DAW. I own Sonar X2 Essential, but I haven't jumped off the high dive into that pool yet.

I'd love to hear comments on the composition itself and on the rendering, keeping in mind it's Finale/Aria. And suggestions on creating a better rendering with Finale/Aria are welcome.

Thanks.

Art
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Last edited by gogreen on Mon Oct 06, 2014 4:46 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Arthur J. Michaels
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Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby rbowser » Wed Dec 11, 2013 9:08 pm

This is wonderful, Art - On several counts. The main theme is so gentle and magical, and the second section so interestingly and unexpectedly semi-classical and elegant. I really like the effect of the piece very much.

AND it's great you've joined in with posting music here! As my notation tutor, it's rather nice to see your music and mine be the two pieces christening the new MM Forum.

AND - look at that - You directly attached your MP3! Now that would really help people out if they could do that at NS. I was surprised to see that download link - Very handy for people who aren't using websites to link to.

As far as the rendering goes - You need some reverb on there, my friend! I'm sure you know I'm loathe to use an abundance of reverb, and I'm critical when people use too much. But this sounds dry as a bone, and that's sucking the life out of the recording unfortunately. Use one of the smaller convolution reverbs in ARIA, and just nudge the controls up a bit so this can breathe and sound more like music in a hall.

I don't use Finale, but with the strict rendition in your recording, I would have to guess you haven't used Human Playback to loosen things up a bit?

The percussion, I'm told, is for some reason especially difficult to get up in volume in Finale, and that's the case here. The percussion sounds impossibly soft in comparison to the rest, especially the woodwinds which predominate throughout probably more than they could in reality.

Was that a snare I was hearing throughout?- It sounded odd, and like something else that I couldn't place.

But returning to the music -I truly found it enchanting, and masterfully arranged. Bravo.

Randy
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Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

"Dorian Gray"

Hardware:

Roland A-800 MIDI keyboard controller
Alesis i|O2 interface
Gigabyte Technology-AMD Phenom II @ 3 GHz
8 Gb RAM 6 Core Windows 7 Home Premium x64
with dual monitors
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Posts: 494
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Software Owned:
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Garritan Harps
Garritan Authorized Steinway
Garritan Stradivari solo violin
Garritan Gofriller solo cello

Sundry soft synths:
Dimension Pro, EZDrummer, over 50 others

Sonar 8.5 (have but don't use Sonar X1)
Sony Sound Forge 10
Sibelius 7

Video editing: Cyberlink Power Director 11

Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby Michael.B » Thu Dec 12, 2013 2:38 am

Hello Art,

Thanks for posting this, I enjoyed listening on this dark, freezing, December morning.

It is particularly interesting that you used Finale alone for this and you have done a good job. Perhaps I could add a few thoughts to what Randy wrote in regard to this.

Human Playback .. hmmmm .. I think there probably is Human Playback in this. Listening to the clear phrasing .. the slurring and staccato for example. This suggests Human Playback at work following your phrase marks in the score.

I do agree that this would benefit from some low-level reverb. I am one of those who feel that 'less is more' with reverb. I would certainly recommend using the convolution option available in ARIA. One of the smaller rooms such as the 'Small Orchestra Hall' or the 'Small Chamber Space'. This would make such a difference.

The problems with low audio levels in some instruments is well documented for Finale. Where this is happening, such as in your percussion, the solution for me would be to place the other instruments to a very low level so the percussion sounds about right. To compensate for this turn up your headphones or speakers to complete your mix. Then, export the wav file and use an audio editor to 'normalise' the file. I believe there are some free audio editors available that will do this.

I hope this is helpful and, once more, your music is really enjoyable. Thank you.

Michael
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Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby rbowser » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:46 am

I played my copy of "Horseshoe Curve" again this morning - I sure like it, Art. You have a unique, and very entertaining musical voice, and your arrangements are simply expert. That makes you a perfect role model for me!

Since you asked for feedback also on the rendering, I hope the thoughts Michael and I are passing on are sitting ok for you. You said in your post that you feel you could get a better recording in Sonar, but you haven't "jumped off the high dive into that pool yet" - and I understand that. Even though I find DAW software so much easier and more intuitive to use than notation programs, that's because that's been my primary experience - and the hardware MIDI set up I had before a computer was similar. It takes time to get up to speed on any software - and time is precious.

Michael.B wrote:...I think there probably is Human Playback in this. Listening to the clear phrasing .. the slurring and staccato for example. This suggests Human Playback at work following your phrase marks in the score.


Ah! This could be educational for me! I thought the main purpose of HP was to introduce randomization to the start time of notes, so the quantized score doesn't sound so robotic in playback. But you're saying that HP is also responsible for playing back all the critical performance data like legato, staccato, maybe even dynamics? If that's the case, then obviously a user shouldn't ever have it turned off, or they'd only be getting notes triggered with no MIDI data control. Am I getting it right? HP does all the above - and then the randomization part is something the user can control - as in, loose, looser, sloppy, sloppier, sloppiest?

Reverb - Michael reiterated what I said about that, because I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't agree that you need reverb, Art. Adding even low levels instantly and rather magically makes virtual instruments come alive. I've said it a many times on the NS Forum - I'll say again: In real life, everything we hear has reverberation, even when we're in small rooms. Sound bounces off whatever surfaces are in the area. Since all sound is "impure" in that sense, when we hear virtual instruments without reverb, it sounds totally unnatural, since it's impossible to hear instruments that way in the real world, unless you're inside an Anechoic chamber. Our ears and brains know that something's wrong. That's why to get any semblance of music sounding natural, we have to do at least a subtle job of suggesting it's being played in an actual venue - our reverb plugins are there for that.

Michael.B wrote:...export the wav file and use an audio editor to 'normalise' the file. I believe there are some free audio editors available that will do this.


Always good advice, especially considering how many extremely low volume renderings I've heard from Finale. Art - it's not at all difficult. Get Audacity - the amazingly free and full-featured audio editor. You simply import your .wav file that you exported from Finale, and then click Normalize. Ta Da - your recording is up to the level you want.

Wait a minute - We've talked about this before. I think you Do use Audacity. But Michael's point is still well taken that you can do more volume balancing in Finale, lowering the volumes of all the instruments that are drowning out the weak ones - And that could very well have you end up with an overly quiet recording, but then you can instantly fix it in Audacity.

What a team we are--Art, Michael, me - Hopefully to be joined by other Garritan users on this brand spanking new Forum.

Randy
  • 0

Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

"Dorian Gray"

Hardware:

Roland A-800 MIDI keyboard controller
Alesis i|O2 interface
Gigabyte Technology-AMD Phenom II @ 3 GHz
8 Gb RAM 6 Core Windows 7 Home Premium x64
with dual monitors
User avatar
rbowser
 
Posts: 494
Joined: December, 2013
Reputation: 50
Software Owned:
ARIA Player v1.626
ARIA Engine 1.665
GPO4
JABB 3
COMB 2
Instant Orchestra
Garritan World
Garritan Classic Pipe Organs
Garritan Harps
Garritan Authorized Steinway
Garritan Stradivari solo violin
Garritan Gofriller solo cello

Sundry soft synths:
Dimension Pro, EZDrummer, over 50 others

Sonar 8.5 (have but don't use Sonar X1)
Sony Sound Forge 10
Sibelius 7

Video editing: Cyberlink Power Director 11

Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby Fabio Biolcati » Thu Dec 12, 2013 9:55 am

I think you would be hard pressed to find anyone who wouldn't agree that you need reverb, Art.

Yes, please.
I'm sure it will add that touch of liveliness this beautiful piece deserves.
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Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby gogreen » Thu Dec 12, 2013 4:38 pm

Thank you, Randy, Michael, and Fabio for the feedback. I hear you guys on reverb. Actually, I do use convolution reverb, and I usually set it to "modern symphonic concert hall." I had thought there was too much reverb, so I dialed it down a bit for this rendition. Not enough, though, huh? Well, I can dial it up a bit. I will experiment with that.

One of the smaller rooms such as the 'Small Orchestra Hall' or the 'Small Chamber Space'.

Michael, I see you're suggesting a smaller room. Please tell me why. Do you think the "modern symphonic concert hall" might be too boomy?

Randy, I think you have it right now about HP. It controls just about everything in Finale playback. I've found that with HP off, pieces sound, well, laughable. Others may disagree. I also do some tinkering in the HP settings. The good news is that HP settings in Finale are very, very customizable--if you know how. There are many style choices, and each choice has customizable preferences.

Thanks again, guys!

Art
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Arthur J. Michaels
https://www.facebook.com/composerarthurjmichaels
Core i7 860 @ 2.80 GHz, 8.0 GB RAM
Windows 10 Home x64 SP 1
M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496
M-Audio AV40 monitors
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gogreen
 
Posts: 109
Joined: December, 2013
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Software Owned:
Finale 2000 to Finale 2014.5 (currently using 2014.5)
COMB2
GPO4, GPO5
Aria Player 1.860
Aria Engine 1.860

Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby Michael.B » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:07 am

rbowser wrote: ..... Ah! This could be educational for me! I thought the main purpose of HP was to introduce randomization to the start time of notes, so the quantized score doesn't sound so robotic in playback. But you're saying that HP is also responsible for playing back all the critical performance data like legato, staccato, maybe even dynamics? ..... Am I getting it right? HP does all the above - and then the randomization part is something the user can control - as in, loose, looser, sloppy, sloppier, sloppiest?

Randy

That's it Randy, Finale's Human Playback interprets critical data such as legato, staccato, dynamics and other articulations such as trills, mordents, turns so on and so on. Not only does it do that but it interprets them according to style of music and context.

Yes, HP also randomises note start times and velocity where appropriate. We don't have selection like, "loose, looser, sloppy, sloppier, sloppiest" as such but, as shown in Art's screenshot, we can select different styles which may have the same effect.

As an example, I imported a Finale MIDI file of a score with 'HP Jazz style' applied into Sonar and the 'Event List' and the 'PRV' window showed a load of CC data applied for all the events mentioned. The same MIDI file with no HP shows zero CC data applied.

Human Playback is a phenonimal tool and, for me, really makes Finale.

rbowser wrote: ..... If that's the case, then obviously a user shouldn't ever have it turned off, or they'd only be getting notes triggered with no MIDI data control. Am I getting it right?

Randy

Well, Finale does have a 'MIDI' tool where users can enter their own data if they wish. For this option then HP would either need to be turned off or set to 'incorporate MIDI data'. The other thing is that in some caes HP, in doing its work, can introduce undesirable 'happenings'. For example, with the 'Jazz' setting, the 'Swing' causes some shorter duration notes to overlap so causing an almost 'tied notes' effect instead of a clear 'daaaaa da daaaaa da'. The swing effect can be adjusted but, for me, the solution, in Finale, is to turn off HP for the affected section and write the part in full.

My full preference is to leave HP on, import the MIDI file into Sonar, then, in PRV, to adjust the start times of the affected notes. Where there are a load of these, Franks 'Humanize' plugin has its 'Fix note overlaps' tool. This plugin is a gem. I digress, this, of course is no help to Finale users.

However, I consider Human Playback to be amazing and I wouldn't want to be without it. I think a load of other Finale users feel the same.

Hope this explains things a bit more.
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Last edited by Michael.B on Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:04 am, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby Michael.B » Fri Dec 13, 2013 3:21 am

gogreen wrote: ..... Michael, I see you're suggesting a smaller room. Please tell me why. Do you think the "modern symphonic concert hall" might be too boomy?
Art

Hello Art,

Ah, so you do have convolution applied. The "modern symphonic concert hall" you applied would probably be fine with a setting adjustment.

You could try the smaller rooms and see how they work out for your track but playing around with your original choice might be the one. :)
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Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby rbowser » Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:28 am

Michael.B wrote:...That's it Randy, Finale's Human Playback interprets critical data such as legato, staccato, dynamics and other articulations such as trills, mordents, turns so on and so on. Not only does it do that but it interprets them according to style of music and context.

Yes, HP also randomises note start times and velocity where appropriate. We don't have selection like, "loose, looser, sloppy, sloppier, sloppiest" as such but, as shown in Art's screenshot, we can select different styles which may have the same effect


gogreen wrote:...Randy, I think you have it right now about HP. It controls just about everything in Finale playback. I've found that with HP off, pieces sound, well, laughable. Others may disagree. I also do some tinkering in the HP settings. The good news is that HP settings in Finale are very, very customizable--if you know how. There are many style choices, and each choice has customizable preferences...


Educational indeed - Thank you, Art and Michael. Human Playback has come up often in discussions at Northern Sounds, and all this time I thought people were only talking about the "humanization" of timing, not all the rest of the basic performance controls. That's very good that even though there are pre-sets, the user can customize them more specifically if he wants.

BUT - since I now know that HP is in charge of legato, staccato, dynamics etc-- I can see that it would be pretty much mandatory to have it on! All of that is basic MIDI control which is essential - I sure couldn't live without it. With HP turned off, you'd just have notes being triggered, da da da, without velocity variety or the rest of it. Yikes! Now I totally get it how essential HP is.

gogreen wrote:...Actually, I do use convolution reverb, and I usually set it to "modern symphonic concert hall." I had thought there was too much reverb, so I dialed it down a bit for this rendition. Not enough, though, huh? Well, I can dial it up a bit. I will experiment with that...

Michael, I see you're suggesting a smaller room. Please tell me why. Do you think the "modern symphonic concert hall" might be too boomy?



Interesting! It really sounds like reverb is totally off, Art, so you'll need to dial it up more than just a "bit." I think it's very possible that when you thought there was too much, and dialed it back, it was due to that extremely large concert hall you chose. Even at low levels, it's extremely reverberant, and while it's realistic, it actually sounds like music being played in an empty hall. Once the levels start coming up, even at low levels you really can get quite a wash of sound that blurs the music too much. So, I would encourage you to try one of the smaller spaces since they don't introduce that problem.

I pulled out a screenshot that shows ARIA loaded with 16 instruments, and the mixer controls set where I wanted them for a particular project.

Take a look at the Sends which are adding the reverb. Those are pretty reasonable, average settings - BUT, it's very critical to understand that there's also a GLOBAL reverb setting on the Effects tab. By default, the Convolution reverb's "Level" setting in the Effects window is set to 12:00. That usually works fine. But you could push that all the way to the right in order to have the full potential "all wet" sound of the reverb available. If you did that the Send knobs in the Mixer window would be drastically lowered to compensate - some just barely pushed up. Notice the Pre Delay control also. The higher that is, the larger the perceived performance space. I always push that up a teeny bit, because it helps make the reverb not obscure the sound so much, since the reverb becomes slightly delayed.

Image

Couple of other notes on this screenshot: Notice the Sends for the Woodwinds are the lowest. I wanted that group closest to the listener in this recording. The Strings have slightly more reverb, which moves them back a bit, and the Brass instruments have the most, making them farthest away. CAVEAT - Notice I used some Overlay patches, and I gave them no reverb - the Send knob is all the way to the left. That's because those are effects patches meant to blend in just once in awhile with their associated instruments, and it can sound pretty rasty to have reverb added to those bright, ringing Overlay patches.

Primarily, I wanted to show you that you're just being far too conservative in your use of reverb. Remember; I'm a champion for not over-using reverb. I prefer renderings on the slightly dry side -But I also know that there has to be at least enough reverb for our ears and brains to have the impression that the music is being played in an actual venue.

Randy
  • 1

Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

"Dorian Gray"

Hardware:

Roland A-800 MIDI keyboard controller
Alesis i|O2 interface
Gigabyte Technology-AMD Phenom II @ 3 GHz
8 Gb RAM 6 Core Windows 7 Home Premium x64
with dual monitors
User avatar
rbowser
 
Posts: 494
Joined: December, 2013
Reputation: 50
Software Owned:
ARIA Player v1.626
ARIA Engine 1.665
GPO4
JABB 3
COMB 2
Instant Orchestra
Garritan World
Garritan Classic Pipe Organs
Garritan Harps
Garritan Authorized Steinway
Garritan Stradivari solo violin
Garritan Gofriller solo cello

Sundry soft synths:
Dimension Pro, EZDrummer, over 50 others

Sonar 8.5 (have but don't use Sonar X1)
Sony Sound Forge 10
Sibelius 7

Video editing: Cyberlink Power Director 11

Re: "Horseshoe Curve," Concert Band Grade 3

Postby gogreen » Fri Dec 13, 2013 9:51 pm

Randy: Thank you so much for the details on reverb and the Aria player. I will experiment! This is very helpful! Thanks!

Art
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Arthur J. Michaels
https://www.facebook.com/composerarthurjmichaels
Core i7 860 @ 2.80 GHz, 8.0 GB RAM
Windows 10 Home x64 SP 1
M-Audio Delta Audiophile 2496
M-Audio AV40 monitors
User avatar
gogreen
 
Posts: 109
Joined: December, 2013
Reputation: 12
Software Owned:
Finale 2000 to Finale 2014.5 (currently using 2014.5)
COMB2
GPO4, GPO5
Aria Player 1.860
Aria Engine 1.860

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