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Real sound for Celtic fiddle

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Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby Galandar » Tue Jul 01, 2014 5:09 pm

I use the Garritan instrument packages with Sonar X3 and I've been redoing an old piece I did with a 6/8 Celtic motif. I have a solo fiddle doing melody passages in eighth notes with grace notes, but it seems I just can't get the sound authentic (within reason) enough. I'm using the European fiddle from the World Instruments package. Anybody else try anything like this?
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby kastra » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:04 am

Hi Galandar,

Frankly, I hadn't considered doing anything with the GWI Fiddle - until now, that is! :)

https://soundcloud.com/kastra/diddles

This is just a short passage (32 bars) of "diddly fiddle" that I wrote in Finale and produced in Reaper. Needless to say, I'm no expert on Celtic fiddle, having only heard the occasional live player at local open mic sessions (mostly in the "novice" category) and a couple of tracks that I looked up on YouTube after seeing your OP. Words like "authentic" and "real" are, however, quite subjective when applied to samples, so I hope that the above can serve as a basis for further discussion - if it's short of the mark by your standards then at least a discussion of the shortcomings may prove mutually beneficial.

Please let me know if you find this at all helpful.

Regards,

Keith
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby Galandar » Fri Jul 04, 2014 4:13 pm

https://soundcloud.com/galandar/blood-red-tartan-mp3
Thanks Keith! Sounded really good and set me off in something of a different direction. I really liked the combination of the longer notes in with all of the short ones and I recognized that one of my problems is that I couldn't just write in the length (1/4, 1/8, 1/16) to get the desired sound because when I adjusted the various control knobs, they all came out pretty much the same. Then I started thinking about bowing. I'm not familiar with Finale or Reaper, but in Sonar I write the notes on a staff, but using the Garritan instruments is a little tricky because some of the controller data (volume, mod wheel, etc.) can be entered using envelopes, but some data (sustain, auto-alternate bowing, up-bow/down bow, etc.) have to be entered as actual notes on the staff. Makes my staff music look uglier 'n a mud fence, but the sound is better. I'm still not done with it, but I'm missing closer. I finally figured out (maybe) how to use Sound Cloud (us old duffers take a while) but I think I have the clip posted. Thanks again for the comment!
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Jul 05, 2014 3:49 am

Have you considered creating two tracks both pointing to the same MIDI channel?
That way you can enter all the key switches for alternate articulations on one, and the notes on another. It means too that the 'control' track can be in the bass clef whilst the violin itself is in the normal G clef.
Less messy.

Just a thought!

Regards,
John.
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby Galandar » Sat Jul 05, 2014 6:51 am

And a good one! Thanks!
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby kastra » Fri Jul 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Hi again Galandar :) ,
Apologies for the delay in following up, but I've been a bit distracted by technical issues over the past week.

Firstly, "Blood Red Tartan" seems like a nice "Highland Theme" with great potential for further development. I took the liberty of transcribing it into Finale just to see what the program's Human Playback feature would do with it. Human Playback attempts to interpret the notation as a real player would: this includes phrasing, inserting keyswitches (e.g. bowing, etc.) where appropriate, articulations, expressions and - finally -introducing "human error" into the playback/MIDI to mimic the actions of a real player. Needless to say, those nuances make a lot of difference to the "authenticity" of the rendition and I'm afraid I took them somewhat for granted when producing "Diddles", which was intended as a quick and dirty example (ie a "rush job" :oops: ). I took a brief look at the documentation online for Sonar's staff view but I couldn't see anything there which would be of great assistance in phrasing or articulating (with the possible exception of the "trim notes" and "fill notes" menu options, but an explanation of those wasn't given ...), so it looks like the only way of making those adjustments would be in either the Piano Roll View or the Events View. Sadly, I'm not a Sonar user but it appears there are plenty of experienced users who could help on this, both on this forum and its Northern Sounds counterpart. Afaik, Sonar also has a mature "Humanize MIDI" option but - again - other Sonar users would be better able to comment on how effective it is, the alternative being to "nudge" note start positions and lengths manually :roll: !

Now to the technical issues. In my haste to produce "Diddles", I turned up both cc20 (portamento) and cc22(pitch variance) until I felt that the clip sounded "real" enough. Since I'd never used the Fiddle before, I assumed that the massive amount (80%) of portamento was normal for the instrument. It was only on attempting to introduce portamento into "Blood Red Tartan" that I realised cc20 was having no effect - the amount of pitch variance had convinced me that the portamento was there when it wasn't :? . As an experiment, I substituted the GPO4 Strad for the Fiddle (the Fiddle is actually a Strad - at least, according to the sample filenames). The difference was immediate! With the same portamento setting, my "fiddler" sounded so drunk that I'd swear I heard him fall off the stage :) ! I then realised that something was amiss with the Fiddle and checked the instrument's sfz file, finding that the portamento rules were applied in all the places they shouldn't have been (including pizzicato :shock: ) and none of the places where they should have been (ie the legato layers). I've now been busy in the file at this end with cut and paste, so I have a "fixed" sfz file at this end. The resultant file seems to be working here but I need first to check for library updates before posting (been "out of the loop" for quite a while and don't want to reinvent the wheel!) To that end, I'll be starting a thread in General Discussion very shortly (that seems to be where al the real experts hang out ...)

Finally, I'd advise caution in the use of keyswitches. "Auto Alternate" mode can certainly make staccato or detache passages less mechanical but the "forced" bowstrokes are really intended for occasional emphasis as opposed to "regular" bowing. In addition to this, they can cause weird problems with portamento since keyswitches are also notes. A "downbow" keyswitch, for instance, needs to be cancelled after the note it affects by a "sus+short" keyswitch if the note is starting a legato phrase. When the legato is switched on, the portamento will cut in automatically and take the keyswitch (in this case C1) as the start of its "glide" - and a violin "swoop" from C1 to D3, for instance, can often offend (anyone got a spitoon handy? ;) )!

I hope the preceding screed hasn't bored you so much that you've fallen asleep, and that it's been of some assistance in your endeavours.

Regards,
Keith
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby SysExJohn » Sat Jul 12, 2014 3:28 am

Keith,

That's a very interesting post, thank you for sharing!
Is there any chance that you'd share your altered sfz file with us?

Kind regards,
John.
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby kastra » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:57 am

Hi John :) ,

I've now posted the download link, together with the inevitable screed :oops: , over on my General Discussion thread **here**.

Hope it helps!

Regards,
Keith
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Re: Real sound for Celtic fiddle

Postby Galandar » Mon Jul 14, 2014 4:32 pm

Wow, Keith, I really appreciate the above post on how the Arial switches function in Sonar. For not being familiar with the program, you sure cleared up a lot, and the .sfz files were terrific! John's suggestion for using a separate midi line for the key switches was useful as well (I had done that in the past for drum lines, but alas, I think I left my long-term memory in my Nehru jacket) and that helped, but the new .sfz files cleaned that midi line up as well. Terrific post!
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