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Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

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Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby Michael.B » Wed Jan 29, 2014 7:29 am

I've been using the 'Section Strings' in GPO4 for years but now I want to start creating my own sections. My reasons - well I just want a different sound and I want to experiment with creating my own and having more control over sounds I use. I know we can use EQ and ambience to work with the sound of the section strings but I want to start with a new 'base sound'. Anyway, I digress.

My question is does it matter if I use the solo strings to create my ensembles or should I be using the 'Players' strings.

As an example, say I want to create a four desk, 8 players, Violins 1 section. In the GPO4 Solo Strings folder I have:

Solo Violin 1
Solo Violin 2
Solo Violin 3

Violin 1, Player 1, Player 2, Player 3
Violin 2, Player 1, Player 2, Player 3
Violin 3, Player 1, Player 2, Player 3

So, for my Violin 1, 8 players section does it matter if I use the Solo Violins or should I be using the 'Players' group?

Obviously for my 8 players I will need to use multiples of the available solo violins. I will be having each of my 8 players on individual slots (channels) in the Aria Player. If, as needed, I use 2 or 3 of the same instrument on individual channels, is this still likely to cause phasing problems?

Needless to say I am aware that each track will need 'humanising', the note start times and velocity tweaked so there are subtle differences between each player as in real life. There are tools in Sonar to do this so this won't present any problems.

I'd appreciate any advice from anyone whio has/is creating their own ensembles.

Many thanks.
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby rbowser » Wed Jan 29, 2014 8:46 am

Michael.B wrote:...I've been using the 'Section Strings' in GPO4 for years but now I want to start creating my own sections...I'd appreciate any advice from anyone whio has/is creating their own ensembles...


Hi, Michael - Your new post immediately brought to mind a MAJOR discussion thread from Jan. 2012 at Northern Sounds. Several of us ran experiments after a newcomer inquired about building string ensembles from scratch rather than using any of the section string patches.

There is a lot of info on these links, including MP3s of test results, and lots of opinions and feedback. We were inspired by a YouTube video where someone seems to have made ensemble building work - but we couldn't come up with the same results. Here's that video:

GPO Ensemble demo

I'll give you a BIG Spoiler Alert: We didn't manage to come up with acceptable results. Here's a quote from a very experienced, talented musician at NS:
"...For me personally, the conclusion is that it is not worth the time and effort, and the results are not acceptable..."

Here's a short thread, which references the earlier, bulkier thread I've been talking about:

Ensemble building and instrument articulations

The next link is where people really dug into the idea and tried to give the process a chance. I participated, spent 12 hours working with a MIDI file, and posted the results and my opinioin of the results. Message #14 is where I posted my experiment, then message #22 is where I posted my opinion of my experiment. Among other things, I said:

"...I think my version, in a word is: Awful! I ran a second experiment, using the GPO strings the way I usually do. Section patches plus 1 soloist for each section. Playing the same edited file, the results were 1,000 % better, and took 1/10th the time to put together. That's basically the approach I figured out years ago after a lot of experimenting, and I know it's basically what a lot of GPO users do - Sections+soloists..."

Ensemble building

So - Not wanting to discourage you from trying it out on your own, Michael, but with this big group experiment coming up with negative results - I wanted you to be aware of that discussion and the conclusions we reached.

Randy
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby Michael.B » Wed Jan 29, 2014 9:14 am

Hello Randy and thanks for your reply and the links.

I wonder if I may have used the wrong term. I think I should have written 'section' not ensemble.

I just wanted to create a new first violin section so do those group conclusions apply to just a 'section', ie only first violins, as opposed to an ensemble?

I've always thought that section/ensemble building is a feature of GPO so this has come as a surprise.

Thanks again.
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby rbowser » Wed Jan 29, 2014 10:04 am

Michael.B wrote:...I think I should have written 'section' not ensemble...
...do those group conclusions apply to just a 'section', ie only first violins, as opposed to an ensemble?...
I've always thought that section/ensemble building is a feature of GPO so this has come as a surprise...


Hi, Michael - I think you need to delve more into the long thread. There are several MP3s of experiment results posted, and good discussion that could help you out. Even though you're talking about just one of the string sections, you're still talking about the same thing of assembling a group of soloists, it's the same concept.

BUT, as I said earlier, you need to run your own experiments. You may come up with something you like - such as in that YouTube video, he somehow managed results better than I could come up with.

"Ensemble Building" is something in GPO's manual and its advertising. It's something that works well with woodwinds and brass, I just feel that the concept is more theoretically good than it is in practice when it comes to the strings.

Part of the problem is that the string soloists are probably the weakest instruments in GPO. The samples are small, not terribly convincing on their own, and have strong vibrato that the user can't control. Once you get those samples playing together, with all that vibrato agitating together - well, it doesn't sound so great, IMHO.

As mentioned on the thread I posted, my conclusion is that the best sounding string sound achievable with GPO is with the group patches blended with soloists. The group patches give the section sound, the soloist adds a bit of detail that makes the results more realistic, as long as the soloist isn't very high in the mix.

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
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with dual monitors
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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: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby SysExJohn » Thu Jan 30, 2014 4:37 am

rbowser wrote:"Ensemble Building" is something in GPO's manual and its advertising. It's something that works well with woodwinds and brass, I just feel that the concept is more theoretically good than it is in practice when it comes to the strings.

Part of the problem is that the string soloists are probably the weakest instruments in GPO. The samples are small, not terribly convincing on their own, and have strong vibrato that the user can't control. Once you get those samples playing together, with all that vibrato agitating together - well, it doesn't sound so great, IMHO.

As mentioned on the thread I posted, my conclusion is that the best sounding string sound achievable with GPO is with the group patches blended with soloists. The group patches give the section sound, the soloist adds a bit of detail that makes the results more realistic, as long as the soloist isn't very high in the mix.

Randy


Here I have come to the same conclusion as Randy.

Sometimes I build small string sections for sparse bits of Bach or Mozart for instance. But usually just 2 or 3 1st and 2nd violins. For anything larger then its the same formula as Randy.

The manual specifically states that the solo players shouldn't be mixed with their respective players 1, 2 and 3, as they're derived from the same samples, but can be mixed together.

So, sections plus a small amount of soloist seems to work best IMO too.

Regards,
John.
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby Michael.B » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:35 pm

rbowser wrote: ..... As mentioned on the thread I posted, my conclusion is that the best sounding string sound achievable with GPO is with the group patches blended with soloists. The group patches give the section sound, the soloist adds a bit of detail that makes the results more realistic, as long as the soloist isn't very high in the mix.

Randy

Hello Randy,

Thanks again for replying.

I've tried a solo blend with group but it was still not satisfactory. I'm trying particularly for that crisp, transparent Baroque string sound. All I can get with section strings and solo added is that fuzzy sound I've been beset with since buying GPO and with which I've had a constant struggle with. I've always struggled to achieve a clear, transparent string sound.

Interestingly, I did try creating my own Violin 1 section. Six Aria slots using the three solo violins, each slot with its own channel. Then, in Sonar, each track individually humanised with random note starts and velocity and Altiverb applied. Each track with different random data.

The result; well it was more like the sound I'm seeking. It was clean, clear, transparent much nearer the Baroque strings I'm used to both live and recordings. In fact, my dear lady came into my little studio and asked how did I do it. :D

BUT .. the problem .. just as you say Randy .. that confounded vibrato. If only Gary had sampled those sections without vibrato. We can easily add our own but we can't take it out. :?

Ah well .. on with the experiment. :|
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby Michael.B » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:40 pm

SysExJohn wrote: ..... Here I have come to the same conclusion as Randy.

Sometimes I build small string sections for sparse bits of Bach or Mozart for instance. But usually just 2 or 3 1st and 2nd violins. For anything larger then its the same formula as Randy.

The manual specifically states that the solo players shouldn't be mixed with their respective players 1, 2 and 3, as they're derived from the same samples, but can be mixed together.

So, sections plus a small amount of soloist seems to work best IMO too.

Regards,
John.

Hello John,

Thanks for replying; I appreciate it. :)

Its interesting that you mention small string sections using 2 or 3 solo instruments for Bach/Mozart. I mentioned above trying it with 6, two of each solo.

I can see that 3 solo instruments could work and this would avoid any potential phasing. The problem still remains of that vibrato though.

Thanks again, it's always good to see you posting. :)
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby SysExJohn » Fri Jan 31, 2014 3:41 am

Hello Michael,

Small string sections are mostly what's called for in Bach cantatas and in soprano arias in the few Mozart operas that I sequence for the good lady. Two sets of three judiciously used and with the start and end note timings 'humanised' and sometimes a little bit of EQ tweaking gives a reasonable facsimile. Good enough for my purposes anyway when it's the singer that has the focus of attention.

It would be good though to be able to 'throttle back' the vibrato.

I do hope that MakeMusic will see fit, now that the new piano is in an advanced state of production (or even Beta testing), to see its way clear to producing a good string library, with the kind of MIDI control one sees within e.g. JABB3.

I must admit I'm completely sold on the ARIA interface, the only thing that IMHO could be improved would be for the user to be able to decide/assign which MIDI controllers did what. Then one could assign e.g. 1 to vibrato, 11 or 2 to expression and so on. This would mean that MIDI files I've already sequenced, using more industry standard assignment of CCs, would play without having to go through the file altering controllers to make them work with GPO.

The reason I haven't posted too much recently is that we have just moved from Germany to the UK and there is still much to be done.

My new year's resolution is to give up the previous notation program I was using and migrate totally to Finale. I bought it back in 2012, installed it, then promptly forgot all about it! I'm now trying to sequence 'Connais tu le pays' from Ambroise Thomas' opera MIgnon. I've recently posted a question or two to the Finale forum and received a very rapid response. ;) Very pleasing.

Just some random jottings!
Regards,
John.
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Re: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby rbowser » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:14 am

Michael.B wrote:...I'm trying particularly for that crisp, transparent Baroque string sound. All I can get with section strings and solo added is that fuzzy sound I've been beset with since buying GPO and with which I've had a constant struggle with...
...I did try creating my own Violin 1 section. Six Aria slots using the three solo violins...

Oh! I see - Earlier, I had no idea you wanted such a small ensemble, Michael. What you've been "beset" with--hehe--all this time is of course the full orchestra sound that people often need. The "ensemble building" tests and results I posted earlier were about trying an alternative to that modern full orchestra string section sound, not small Baroque groups.

You're certainly right that group patches with a soloist wouldn't be at all what you want, because even though that soloist is in there giving more detail to the sound, it's still the "fuzzy," blended, warm sound of an orchestra, not of a small group with it's "crisp" sound like you're talking about.

GPO isn't equipped to satisfactorily do what you want, because of the heavy vibrato in the solo strings (instantly "anti-crisp"--!) as well as the simplicity of the samples. There's a bit of an attack to the notes, then the loop point starts really soon after that - and generally, the sooner there's a loop point, the more stripped down and incomplete the sound is. You would need to use more complex Garritan Stradivari-type soloists to accomplish what you're going for.

But, your experiment is as close as you'll get with GPO, and it's more Baroque in style than any set ups using the lush group patches - for sure, even with all that vibrato.

Why six slots for three solos? You doubled them - I see, and then with enough massaging of the MIDI tracks, you helped avoid the phasing you'd get otherwise.

Looks like you've squeezed the most out of GPO that's possible for this, Michael!

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
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: Creating Our Own Ensembles GPO4

Postby kingfreeze » Fri Jan 31, 2014 11:10 am

Regarding vibrato, on one of my studio accompanist garritan sweetner tracks, I encountered this issue. The track had solo violin banks and flutes playing whole notes, it sounded awful, the good news was all I did was got rid of the flute vib bank and replaced it with a non vib flute bank and voila! An acceptable track. I did try to find non vib violins, and well, there are none.
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