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Getting Better Legato

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Getting Better Legato

Postby bayswater » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:23 pm

I've been using GPO with Aria Player V 1.61 to sequence some passages that require legato on strings and French horns. I used the auto-legato switch, and overlapping notes. This didn't result in a very realistic sound. It also seems inconsistent in that the amount of note overlap seems to affect the result, so much that for very low notes, overlaps seems to actually prevent legato.

I had a look in the manual and it says that auto-legato is good for quick solution, but better results are obtained by doing it manually. It doesn't say what that entails.

Browsing here, I found the following:

1) Use Controller 1 or 11 for volume (presumably don't use CC 7, although I found it does affect volume. Does it make sense to set CC 7 to 127 and then use CC 1 to vary volume?)
2) Use velocity to control the emphasis on the attack. Very low velocities will reduce the attack levels?
3) Overlap notes, and use CC64 set to 127 to set the first note to sustain after it's attack but before the overlap between notes, and then set it back to zero after the overlap, but before the end of the second note.

Is that all correct? Is there anything else in Aria to look into to get realistic legato?

Does aftertouch have a generic affect on GPO instruments? More generally, is there a document that lists how each instrument in GPO is affected by various CCs?

Thanks
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby rbowser » Tue Mar 25, 2014 4:44 pm

Hi, Bayswater - I have answers for you. I'll insert them in-between quotes from your post:

bayswater wrote:...I had a look in the manual and it says that auto-legato is good for quick solution, but better results are obtained by doing it manually. It doesn't say what that entails.,,


Sure it tesll you what that entails. Look at p.33-34. It describes how to do what we call "Garritan Legato" - the manual way you referred to.

bayswater wrote:...Use Controller 1 or 11 for volume (presumably don't use CC 7, although I found it does affect volume. Does it make sense to set CC 7 to 127 and then use CC 1 to vary volume?)


CC7 controls what we call "instrument volume." That's the basic volume for each instrument, and it's usually a set-forget setting over the course of a piece. CC7 controls the faders in ARIA's mixer. You DO NOT want to set CC7 at 127, unless you like distortion. Just move the sliders and find a good balance between all the instruments you have loaded in ARIA - and none of them should be all the way to the top.

Then you record either CC1 or CC11 for the Performance Volume - and the more of it, the better.

bayswater wrote:...Use velocity to control the emphasis on the attack. Very low velocities will reduce the attack levels?


You gotta crack that manual some more, boy! Right there, also on p.33, it explains the effect of note velocity.

bayswater wrote:...Overlap notes, and use CC64 set to 127 to set the first note to sustain after it's attack but before the overlap between notes, and then set it back to zero after the overlap, but before the end of the second note.


That last part is incorrect. CC64 at the value of zero is inserted AFTER the last note in your legato passage - in fact, Some distance past the last note. That's on p.33-34 noted above.

bayswater wrote:...Does aftertouch have a generic affect on GPO instruments?


Aftertouch doesn't effect Garritan instruments universally - BUT it does control the vibrato on quite a few instruments. Just try it out on any woodwind or brass instrument that doesn't have built in vibrato. Load a trumpet, for instance - It's flat line with no vibrato. Bring in Aftertouch, swoop it in, and you'll hear Vibrato. For more control over vibrato, use CC17 which controls its speed.

bayswater wrote:...More generally, is there a document that lists how each instrument in GPO is affected by various CCs?


Yes - The manaul again!-- you gotta get that thing out and absorb it, boy! p.72-74 is the chart showing you what all the different MIDI CCs do.

Randy
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Garritan Organs demos of all 75 stops

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Sony Sound Forge 10
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby bayswater » Wed Mar 26, 2014 11:48 am

Thanks Randy. On the manual: yes I did find all this. I've been reading a manual for the Aria Player, rather that the manual for Garritan. I bought GPO in version 1 as an NI instrument and forgot about the original documentation on the instruments. I downloaded the GPO 4 manual last night. As you say, it does contain answers to most of these questions.

One point of clarification on Sustain: If I have it right, CC 64 does not actually sustain a note; it only changes the transition between pairs of notes (at least for an instrument like a violin layer)? In the passage I've tried this on, Sustain commands trigger the pedal icon in the lower right of the player, but note duration is unaffected.

So I'm wondering about some the specific details behind the differences between 1) auto-legato, 2) sustain, and 3) simply overlapping notes. The manual says that you should experiment with these to get best results, and says that auto-legato figures out note overlap while sustain does not. By this, I assume auto is making a judgement about what should happen to a note still playing when another is triggered, deciding when to cut it off and how long the release should be, etc. With Sustain, you figure out that yourself by the length of the overlap, the release controller, and perhaps velocity.

Am I getting it now?
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby rbowser » Wed Mar 26, 2014 12:04 pm

Hello again, Bayswater - Good, glad you now have the GPO4 manual. That's the ticket.

bayswater wrote:...If I have it right, CC 64 does not actually sustain a note; it only changes the transition between pairs of notes (at least for an instrument like a violin layer)? In the passage I've tried this on, Sustain commands trigger the pedal icon in the lower right of the player, but note duration is unaffected...


That's right. Garritan employed a different use for CC64 than just the standard Sustain. As the manual explains, CC64 triggers a special Legato mode, p.34. BUT notice that the manual is also explaining that CC64 is used in the standard MIDI way for percussion instruments. Piano is a percussion instrument - when you use the sustain pedal for that, you'll get the standard, expected sustaining of notes. But when you use CC64 on strings, brass, woodwinds - it's Garritan Legato which is engaged.

bayswater wrote:...I'm wondering about some the specific details behind the differences between 1) auto-legato, 2) sustain, and 3) simply overlapping notes. The manual says that you should experiment with these to get best results, and says that auto-legato figures out note overlap while sustain does not. By this, I assume auto is making a judgement about what should happen to a note still playing when another is triggered, deciding when to cut it off and how long the release should be, etc. With Sustain, you figure out that yourself by the length of the overlap, the release controller, and perhaps velocity.

Am I getting it now?


That's all good, bays. Your description of what AutoLegato does is actually more complicated that what it actually does: AutoLegato puts an instrument in Mono Mode. Once AL is on, that instrument can only play one note at a time. So there's no question of AL needing to figure out what should happen with an overlapping note - In Mono Mode, it's impossible for more than one note at a time to play. But that's why AL isn't going to work on polyphonic patches, any track where you're using chords.

Also as the manual says, using CC64 is "more flexible and can potentially give superior results but requires more work on the part of the user." That last part is definitely true, since while you want notes to overlap a bit, you can't have them overlapping too much or two notes playing at the same time will be heard. It can involve a lot of hand editing of note lengths.

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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rbowser
 
Posts: 494
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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: Getting Better Legato

Postby SysExJohn » Thu Mar 27, 2014 5:23 am

Hello Randy and Bayswater,

Some clarification (I hope) for sustaining instruments, not percussive ones.
At least this is my view from examining the structure of many Garritan .sfz files.
I hope I'll be corrected by someone from MakeMusic if my analysis is incorrect.

What occurs when ARIA detects that the MIDI 'Hold 1' control (Garritan Legato) is 64 or greater is that it uses a different set of <region>s within the sfz file from those used when Legato is off (0 to 63).

The key area to note is the parameter 'offset' within each <region>.

In the standard 'sustain' set of <region>s this offset parameter will point to the start of the sample, or relatively close to the start.

When looking at a <region> for 'legato' playback, this offset parameter will point some little way further along the sample, thus missing out the 'attack' part of the sample.

An example.
GPO4, Flute Solo Non-vibrato, file name 'Flute Solo NV.sfz'.
The file can be opened using e.g. Notepad.

(N.B. do not make changes to this file unless you're sure you know what you're doing.
Don't change the file without first making a backup copy if you do think you know what you're doing.
You have been warned.
;-) )

About a quarter of the way into the file we see a set of consecutive <region> commands which tell ARIA which sample is to be played for which MIDI note being used, and how to play it for normal 'Sustain'ed playing.

The very first entry goes:
<region> offset=1437 lovel=1 hivel=127 lokey=59 hikey=61 pitch_keycenter=61 amplitude=79.3701 tune=0 loop_mode=loop_continuous loop_start=23160 loop_end=43994 sample=FluteNVC#4_0001102C.audio

This defines that for MIDI note numbers 59, 60 and 61 the sample FluteNVC#4 is to be played.
(MIDI note number 60 is middle C.) i.e sample C#4 is used for Bb3(?), C4 and C#4.
Note that the 'offset' is set at sample position 1437.

Now, half way into the same file we discover another set of <region>s for 'Legato' playback.
The very first entry goes as follows:
<region> offset=4925 lovel=1 hivel=127 lokey=59 hikey=61 pitch_keycenter=61 amplitude=79.3701 tune=0 loop_mode=loop_continuous loop_start=23160 loop_end=43994 sample=FluteNVC#4_0001102C.audio

Note very carefully that it is identical to the first (sustain) one apart from the offset, which has been increased to 4925, thus "jumping over" the attack portion of the sample. And that's the only difference!

So all a high value of the legato control does is to change the start point of sample playback.

Please feel free to examine similar portions of all the sustain and legato regions of any sfz based Garritan library you choose, and you'll find the same, I believe.

Hence, the sustain controller must be on before the start of the 2nd note of any legato 'phrase', and can be switched off at any point after the start of the last note of the phrase, as outlined in the manual. As long as it's off before the next note that needs an 'attack'.

Of course you may agree to differ with my analysis. ;-)

Also,
It certainly seems to create a different sound depending upon the 'note velocity' of any legato note, although as yet, examining the sfz files in some detail, I'm unable to come up with a reason why. Maybe it's a McGurk effect?

Kind regards,
John.

Footnote. The sfz files will typically be found in:
'Program Files/Garritan/Personal Orchestra 4/Instruments/'
The flute file given as an example within Instruments in:
'/1. Woodwinds/1. Flutes/'
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby rbowser » Thu Mar 27, 2014 8:23 am

Hi, John! There's nothing controversial in your post, the way you apparently thought there might be. You've described in detail how that elegant piece of programming for "Garritan Legato" works:

SysExJohn wrote:...When looking at a <region> for 'legato' playback, this offset parameter will point some little way further along the sample, thus missing out the 'attack' part of the sample...


That's right. As the text and images show on p.34 of the GPO manual:

Image

SysExJohn wrote:...It certainly seems to create a different sound depending upon the 'note velocity' of any legato note, although as yet, examining the sfz files in some detail, I'm unable to come up with a reason why...


That's not mysterious really. Velocity controls the Attack envelope for Garritan instruments, so the sound will indeed be slightly different in any passage - legato, or non-legato, depending on how high the velocity values are. For the smoothest legato, we want to use CC64 coupled with very low velocities. You can chop off those levels all the way down to Zero in fact!

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: Getting Better Legato

Postby bayswater » Thu Mar 27, 2014 2:16 pm

Thank you gentlemen. This is very helpful.
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Mar 29, 2014 5:55 am

Hi Randy,
You're most welcome Bayswater

rbowser wrote:That's right. As the text and images show on p.34 of the GPO manual:

Image

I really hate that diagram. It's very simplistic.
It doesn't really show what's happening at all.
For a start where are the attack portions of any of the notes?
And how do the tails of the notes get lifted to the same level as the following notes?
But what the heck!

That's not mysterious really. Velocity controls the Attack envelope for Garritan instruments, so the sound will indeed be slightly different in any passage - legato, or non-legato, depending on how high the velocity values are.

But if we've removed the attack part of the waveform, and the note velocity is the same as the previous note, in theory it shouldn't make any difference. But it seems it does and that, to me, is an unexplained effect. N'est ce pas?

Why should note on velocity create a slight hump in volume in a legato phrase? Velocity should be ignored and only expression have an effect. Well, that seems to me to be logical, anyway. ;-)

For the smoothest legato, we want to use CC64 coupled with very low velocities. You can chop off those levels all the way down to Zero in fact!

Careful Randy!
Note on with a velocity of zero is defined as being equal to note off! So I imagine you mean velocity 1. Which is actually the lowest value most MIDI sequencing programs (or DAWs if you prefer) will allow you to input.

Sorry for being so pedantic! ;-)
Regards,
John.
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Re: Getting Better Legato

Postby rbowser » Sat Mar 29, 2014 9:43 am

Hi, John - Have I said recently how glad I am you're participating on the new Forum? In case I haven't - I am!

SysExJohn wrote:...Sorry for being so pedantic! ;-)
Regards,
John.


Aaah c'mon, you love it! :mrgreen:

I have a few replies that should help out, taking things from your post out of order:

SysExJohn wrote:...Careful Randy! Note on with a velocity of zero is defined as being equal to note off! So I imagine you mean velocity 1. Which is actually the lowest value most MIDI sequencing programs (or DAWs if you prefer) will allow you to input...


Literally, pedantically correct. When using what ever velocity value editing method you use, 1, not 0 is the lowest value. The easiest method in Sonar and other DAWs is to sweep through with a pencil in the Velocity lane/pane, chopping the values all the way to the bottom. When you've done that, velocities aren't visible, even with "controller handles" on - So the hyperbole of saying we've gone down to "zero" gets the point across that you've lowered them to the minimum. You can't even see the velocities - I think it's safe to say they're "zero," at least virtually.

And of course we're talking about Garritan instruments, and specifically, the ones that respond to "Garritan Legato," which is everything except the percussion instruments (piano included). These instruments, woods, brass, strings, only use CC1 or 11 for volume control, not velocity. So when the velocities are altered, even down to the minimum, we haven't effected their volume like in most other software instruments.

SysExJohn wrote:...But if we've removed the attack part of the waveform, and the note velocity is the same as the previous note, in theory it shouldn't make any difference. But it seems it does and that, to me, is an unexplained effect. N'est ce pas?

Why should note on velocity create a slight hump in volume in a legato phrase? Velocity should be ignored and only expression have an effect. Well, that seems to me to be logical, anyway.


Regardless if we've used brackets of CC64 to engage legato, the Garritan programming that velocity engages is still in place. An artificial volume envelope is engaged, with its slope of attack controlled by the value of the note's velocity. The lower the velocity, the more gentle the ramp, causing the note to take a split second longer to fade up. So when we're using both legato and low velocities, we're not only starting the sample at a slightly later point (we've "chopped off the attack") but that new start point starts off more softly, as per the velocity value.

So, velocity isn't ignored when we use legato. As always when playing Garritan instruments, the two things - expression and velocity are working hand in hand with the playback of the samples. If velocity was ignored, we'd have samples starting more abruptly, even with their heads chopped off.

SysExJohn wrote:...I really hate that diagram. It's very simplistic. It doesn't really show what's happening at all. For a start where are the attack portions of any of the notes? And how do the tails of the notes get lifted to the same level as the following notes?...


Yes, it's a simplified image, but it gets across clearly what the theory is behind the Garritan programming which is intended to connect a legato passage more continuously. I've always thought it looks like the image of a smooth string patch, something like that which doesn't have a strong initial attack in the first place.

But you seem to be seeing something else in the image differently than I am. The tails aren't being lifted to the same level as the following notes - you can see them fading out. This is showing notes overlapping, and of course without overlapping the notes, the Garritan Legato's not going to work. Some people just do their legato with overlap and low velocities, and skip the step of using the CC64 brackets. That approach is basically what works in any software instrument.

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

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